CyberAlert -- 05/23/1996 -- Another Admission

Another Admission

Three items today:

1) Another media star concedes liberal bias.

2) But NBC News correspondent Gwen Ifill denies any campaign bias as she and Tom Brokaw denounce the free TV air time idea.

3) FOB Rick Kaplan pulls in a favor for ABC from Bill Clinton.


On CNBC's "Politics with Chris Matthews" Tuesday night (May 21), a caller asked ABC Good Morning America co-host Charles Gibson about liberal bias and how it might impact Dole. MRC intern Jessica Anderson transcribed Gibson's response:
"I don't deny for a minute that I think that the basic political bent of most reporters is probably to the liberal side. Do, you know, do people try, David Brinkley always says there's no such thing as objectivity, there are just lesser degrees of subjectivity. Reporters try to get around that. I think, I don't think that's a particular problem for Bob Dole, I really don't. I mean if, you know, if it was, if it was so overwhelming, the press's influence, you know, why did we have the results we had in 1994? But, but is the press intrinsically liberal? Yeah, probably."


In Wednesday's (May 22) Philadelphia Inquirer, TV Talk reporter Gail Shister quotes a few network leaders denouncing the idea of giving presidential candidates some free air time. "'Flavor of the month,' sniffs NBC anchor Tom Brokaw....In Brokaw's view, candidates already get much exposure on networks news shows."
I recall a Center for Media and Public Affairs study earlier this year found candidate soundbites averaging eight seconds.
Shister continued: "ABC World News Tonight chief Kathryn Christensen agrees with her NBC competitor. 'Generally, I'm not comfortable with unfiltered air time on the networks'....Like Brokaw, Christensen says that giving candidates an open forum, minus journalists, could cause the so-called forums to degenerate into the same kind of 'attack ads' reformers are trying to abolish."
And network news is so positive!
But not to worry, the networks aren't biased, so the public will get the full story. NBC's Gwen Ifill told Shister:
"I don't think journalists get in the way of a story. Five minutes of somebody just talking is fine, but I'm not sure it will accomplish what it sets out to accomplish. My problem is that the premise out there is thatcoverage has been unbelievably biased or inadequate."


Rick Kaplan is back and using his Clinton connection to help ABC. As you may remember, during the 1992 campaign, Rick Kaplan, a FOB and at that time the Executive Producer of ABC's Prime Time Live, advised Clinton on how to handle the Gennifer Flowers story. As we wrote in MediaWatch:
"'Clinton called Kaplan for advice' Los Angeles Times reporter Tom Rosenstiel recounted in his campaign book Strange Bedfellows. On the way to the airport, Clinton made another call to Kaplan and the 'night ended for Kaplan at 4am, when Clinton called one last time.'" It was also reported that Kaplan arranged Clinton's pre-New York primary appearance on the Don Imus Show. In 1994 Kaplan became Executive Producer of World News Tonight, but he left that slot a few months ago.
USA Today's Peter Johnson reported May 22: "President Clinton taped a video gag for the fall schedule show ABC made to advertisers Monday. Hubba, hubba, getting Bubba, so to speak. Actually, Clinton did it all at the request of ABC's Rick Kaplan, a pal who produced the show."

Finally, the two-hour CBS special "Cronkite Remembers" airs Thursday night May 23.

-- Brent Baker