CyberAlert -- 05/17/1996 -- Newt Fawning?

Newt Fawning?

1) A U.S. News reporter claims reporters are just against incumbents and are tougher on those they agree with.

2) The Chicago Tribune's Washington Bureau Chief rewrites history by claiming the media fawned over Newt Gingrich.

Two quotes and a reality check today. On Thursday we sent to the printer the May 20 issue of Notable Quotables. You should get it in the mail early next week. Here are a couple of quotes that didn't make the issue but I think are quite illuminating.


MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens caught a very creative denial of bias from Kenneth Walsh, U.S. News & World Report White House reporter, on the May 10 Fox Morning News, a Washington, D.C. morning news show on WTTG-TV. Asked about Gingrich's compaint about media bias, Walsh responded:
"I think what you have now in the mainstream media is a bias against power almost. It's a sense of anti-incumbency that we in the media always zero in on people who have power and try to hold them up to scrutiny and I think many times we focus on only the negative and I think that's what the politicians object to. In a book I've just written about the presidency and the press I talk about this. And I do criticize the media for being too cynical in dealing with politics and public life but I don't think it's so much a liberal bias I think it's more just an engine of anti-incumbency."

Then asked about the Freedom Forum poll showing 89 percent of Washington reporters voted for Clinton, Walsh replied: "Right it does. Well, I found something different. I did a survey of the White House press corps. And I found that the overwhelming number of reporters in that press corps identify themselves as moderates and the interesting phenomenon is that most of us in the White House press corps are baby boomers and like Bill Clinton. And there is a phenomenon where many reporters say they're getting more conservative as they get older. Now this is what a lot of Republicans say happens in the general population. And a lot of reporters now say they maybe more liberal on social issues but they're more fiscally conservative. It's an interesting phenomenon as the press corps ages how that's going to affect our coverage. And I think that there is a built-in mechanism that reporters try to lean over backwards perhaps to be tougher on people they agree with than people that they disagree with."


Jim Glassman also raised the Freedom Forum poll on CNN's Capital Gang on Sunday night May 12. Chicago Tribune Washington Bureau Chief James Warren then declared:

"Yes, I will stipulate that yes much of the elite media are Democrats and that they doth protest too much when they are, when it's suggested they are partisans. But can we go back about a couple of years when the Republicans took over the Congress. Many of those same members of the elite Democratic media were positively fawning over the new Speaker. 'The high-tech, visionary leader taking over the moth-eaten seniority-infested Congress. Usurping power from the White House. Making the Congress the center of it all.' I mean we were just positively fawning over him. Now fast forward a little bit. How has he gotten into trouble? You talk to people in Chicago and this is not exactly, you know, empirical. But what do they talk about? They talk about the two partial government shutdowns and the tactical blunders of the Republicans. Is that our fault? No! And what else do they talk about? They talk about things like the whining over the seating on Air Force One. Now is that our fault? No."

Reality Check:

Here's how Warren's colleagues in the Tribune Washington bureau summarized the economic plans of the new GOP House, in a November 11, 1994 news story: "The fiscal centerpieces of the GOP program have surface appeal but do not appear to meet the traditional math test: They don't add up. President Ronald Reagan tried cutting taxes and increasing defense spending on the theory that growth would increase, which eventually would bring in more tax revenue. Then-Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker (R-Tenn.) called it a `riverboat gamble.' And it was a gamble that lost: The federal budget deficit ballooned." The authors of this story? Chicago Tribune Washington reporters Elaine S. Povich and Michael Arndt. Povich headed up the Freedom Forum poll which she denied proved liberal bias.

I guess Warren also missed the cover of the December 26, 1994 Newsweek: "How the Gingrich Stole Christmas!" Or, the cover of the December 19, 1994 Time magazine: "Uncle Scrooge: 'Tis the Season to Bash the Poor. But is Newt Gingrich's America Really That Heartless?" Fawning?

-- Brent Baker