CyberAlert -- 05/21/1996 -- Cranky Cronkite

Cranky Cronkite

Four items today:

1) Walter Cronkite dumps on Reagan; Charles Osgood calls him a hero and urges every "aspiring journalist" to watch his special.

2) Only Republicans lie, Dateline NBC story shows.

3) Poll of newspaper executives reveals few think campaign coverage is unbiased.

4) Gumbel for Senate in '98?


The CBS News show "Sunday Morning" on May 19 showed an excerpt of Walter Cronkite's upcoming CBS special. Host Charles Osgood introduced the segment with this tribute to Cronkite as his hero:
"Here on Sunday Morning we like to celebrate heroes of all sorts. Over the years I've been privileged here at CBS News to have as my friends and colleagues some of the greatest of broadcast journalists. Many have been heroes to me. But it takes nothing away from any of them to tell you who is on top of my list, because I believe the same person would be at the top of their lists too. His title was CBS News correspondent. He never wanted or asked for any other. He has been called, and this was not some public relations man's gimmick, but result of any number of polls take time and again over the years, the 'most trusted man in America.' He set the standard for the rest of us. I just wish there were some way I could take every aspiring young journalist of today and sit him or her down in front of a television set this Thursday night to watch a special on CBS entitled 'Walter Cronkite Remembers.'"
And here's Cronkite on Ronald Reagan in a portion of that excerpt: "Reagan was an exceedingly likeable guy, just a heck of a nice fellow, despite his politics. He was funny and loved a good joke, the dirtier, I'm afraid the more ethnic, the better. I don't think he brought very much to the presidency, except charisma and success."
The special airs Thursday night (May 23) from 8-10pm ET, 7-9pm CT.


Sunday night, NBC's Dateline, aired a segment of NBC's week-long series "Lie, Cheat & Steal: Dishonesty in America." Reporter Sara James featured a professor who claimed he could tell when someone is lying. At the top of the story James showed clips of three people lying: Mark Fuhrman, "a notorious liar;" Susan Smith, "a monstrous liar;" and Oliver North, "lies in the name of country." Later in the story, James showed clips of Admiral Poindexter at the Iran/Contra hearings as the professor explained how he could tell Poindexter was lying. To show how difficult it is sometimes to tell when someone is lying, James showed a Nixon speech.
Notably absent from the story: any Democrat (if you don't count Kato Kaelin), and no video of Bill Clinton.


It's not only conservatives who don't think the media are unbiased: Newspaper executives agree. The May 11 "Editor & Publisher" magazine has a story on a poll of 888 publishers, editors and advertising directors, "fewer than one in ten participants say the media are doing an excellent job of reporting on the campaign thus far." The poll was conducted by American Opinion Research for the annual State of the Newspaper Industry study issued by the Foundation for American Communications.
The most interesting finding: "Grading the media on providing fair, unbiased coverage of candidates, 14 percent of the editors rate the media excellent, compared with 9 percent of the presidents/publishers and 6 percent of the advertising/marketing directors." The story didn't give a breakdown for "good," "fair" and "poor."


On Fox News Sunday on May 19, host Tony Snow asked Senator Al D'Amato about rumors that Bryant Gumbel plans to run against him as a Democrat. D'Amato just said it would be a "terrific race." Gumbel has announced that he plans to leave Today at the end of this year. The May 20 New York Post reported only that "Sources close to Gumbel said he laughs at the speculation."

If Gumbel wins the Democratic primary, it will be interesting to see whether he or D'Amato offers up more attacks on the Christian Coalition and Gingrich.

-- Brent Baker