CyberAlert -- 04/24/1996 -- Jim Wright Returns

Jim Wright Returns

Two items today: A very telling contrast in coverage of House Speakers, and Time on the minimum wage.

Five words you'll never hear or read about Newt Gingrich: "courtly, gentle, warm, wry, wise."
But you will read them about former Speaker Jim Wright. MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens caught Boston Globe Washington Bureau Chief David Shribman's review of Jim Wright's book "Presidents and Congress from the Era of McCarthyism to the Age of Gingrich." In the April 21 New York Times Book Review the usually reasonable Shribman wrote: "Like the man, Mr. Wright's book is courtly, gentle, warm, wry, wise -- and florid. But this is not a volume without virtue, just as Mr. Wright was not, as Mr. Gingrich portrayed him, a man without virtue." How? Well, "his role in winning peace in Central America is beyond debate." Yea, if you define peace as trying to eliminate opposition to the communist Sandinistas.
Shribman, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, concluded: "There are also some striking asides about politics, and about the personal price of politics. More than anything, Mr. Wright is an expert in that. He, after all, was the man who gave back to the House, as 'a propitiation for this season of ill will,' the job he sought so lustily, enjoyed so thoroughly, departed so tragically -- and, this book shows us, misses so desperately."
You'd never know he resigned amidst charges of influence peddling and creating a phony book deal to funnel honoraria to himself.
Shribman is a bit less forgiving, however, of Republicans in the House. Here's part of Shribman's front page Globe "news analysis" from April 25, 1995, a few days after Oklahoma City: "Public antagonism toward government has been one of the principal themes of American political discourse for nearly two decades, growing in shrillness in the past year. This sentiment has been voiced and amplified by the new Republican House, which just this month completed its 100 days of action, much of it aimed at paring back the growth of the federal government. But now that an attack on a government building has left scores dead, including children, the allure is coming off the anti-government rhetoric."

A very good sign of how the media will cover liberal-conservative policy conflicts during the presidential campaign appeared in the April 29 Time magazine. Headline: "Give 'Em a Raise, Bob." Subhead: "Republicans may abandon Dole and agree to raise the minimum wage. It's OK, say some economists." The story was even less balanced. It appears Dole has taken their advice.

-- Brent Baker