CyberAlert -- 05/12/1996 -- Bias Admitted

Bias Admitted

Three items today:

1) New poll finds TV network credibility heading south.

2) 60 Minutes correspondent delivers speech in which he bashes Reagan, calls for more social spending.

3) Newsweek's Washington Bureau Chief concedes widespread liberal bias -- even at his magazine! And says ABC execs consider Brit Hume a "right-wing nut."


The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press (formerly Times Mirror Center for the...) will release on May 13 a poll taken in April of how the public views the media. Since many of the questions match those asked in earlier years, they can track trends. Here are some of the interesting findings:
-- "Respondents were asked to rate various individuals and organizations on a four-point scale, with 4, the highest ranking, meaning that 'all or most' of what that person or organization says was considered believable. Dan Rather and Peter Jennings both slipped seven percentage points in this highest ranking compared to February 1993 -- to 29 percent for CBS' Rather and to 27 percent for ABC's Jennings." Tom Brokaw fell from 32 to 29 percent.
-- "Nightly network news shows are viewed regularly by 64 percent of people 65 years old or older compared to only 22 percent among under 30's. Democrats are more likely than Republicans to tune in (47 percent vs. 39 percent), as are non-computer users more than users (71 percent vs. 60 percent).
-- "MTV viewers are least critical of the federal government."
-- "Clinton gets his highest approval rating from viewers of TV magazine shows (Dateline, 20/20) and readers of tabloid newspapers (National Enquirer)."
-- 37 percent cite talk radio as a source of campaign news.
-- "The percentage of Americans who say they regularly watch two or more of the basic TV outlets (network, local and CNN) has declined from 62 percent in 1993 to 51 percent in 1995 to 44 percent in the current poll. The percentage not using any TV outlet regularly rose from 14 percent to 25 percent over this period."
-- Asked why they watch network news less often, a plurality (31 percent) of those over 50 said they were "critical of coverage."
-- "The percentage watching TV news 'yesterday' fell more among people who use computers and go on-line than among people who do not."


As part of its "American Perspectives" series, on Saturday night (May 11) C-SPAN ran an April 28 speech from Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes at Benedictine University in Naperville, Illinois. He spent most of the speech bemoaning the amount of defense spending and how Congressmen now put their district's needs (pork-barrel defense projects) ahead of the nation's real needs, calling for less campaign spending and explaining his view of why blacks don't trust the criminal justice system.
Here's how he began his concluding remarks:
"The legacy of the Reagan administration will be with us for years. The deficit under Ronald Reagan totaled more than a trillion dollars. Someday we're going to have to pay those bills. As officials look to cut spending and taxes at the same time, we can't afford another round of voodoo economics. We've been there before. They're still figuring out what the final cost will be to get us out of the savings and loan mess. We, that is the taxpayers, didn't get us into it. But you know who will have to pay the price to get us out of it. Already it has cost a hundred billion dollars. Just think, that for one billion dollars we could make sure that every child in America is immunized against diseases that kill. But we put 100 billion dollars to get us out of that sinkhole that someone, not us, put us into in the savings and loan mess. I remember that campaign slogan one year -- It's Morning Again in America. Well, it may have been morning for some, but for a lot of people in this country it's become a nightmare."
There are some more good quotes and I'll e-mail them after I get them transcribed by an MRC staffer this week. (It take me awhile with my one finger typing!)


On this weekend's Inside Washington, panelists were asked to respond to Newt Gingrich's charge that the media are liberals biased in favor of Clinton. Evan Thomas, Newsweek's Washington Bureau Chief, made this incredible admission:
"This is true. There is a liberal bias. It's demonstrable. You look at some statistics. About 85 percent of the reporters who cover the White House vote Democratic, they have for a long time. Particularly at the networks, at the lower levels, among the editors and the so-called infrastructure, there is a liberal bias. There is a liberal bias at Newsweek, the magazine I work for -- most of the people who work at Newsweek live on the upper West Side in New York and they have a liberal bias."
Of course he didn't admit any bias with those under his command, adding a few seconds later: "I don't think it's so much Washington. It's New York. You have to look at which city we're talking about. It's where the networks are based. It's where The New York Times is based.
I think the greatest liberal bias is amongst the people who work for large, major news organization in New York."
After Nina Totenberg countered that one network reporter writes for The American Spectator, Evans shot back with this interesting revelation about ABC News executives: "Brit Hume's bosses are liberal and they are always quietly denouncing him as being a right-wing nut."
Defining what he meant by liberal bias, Evans explained: "It's an anti-Republican, anti-right, anti-Christian Coalition bias."

> Let's see. First reporters denied they were liberal. Then, OK we're liberal but it doesn't impact coverage. Now, we're not liberal in the D.C. print media, but watch out for those biased TV guys and all the people in NYC. We're making progress.

-- Brent Baker