CyberAlert -- 05/24/1996 -- CBS: Clinton Spinsters

CBS: Clinton Spinsters

Two items today:

1) CBS Evening News relays Democratic spin on minimum wage and skews analysis of the Dole/Clinton abortion clash.

2) The May MediaWatch and MediaNomics are in the mail with studies on the pro-minimum wage hike slant on network news and on the lack of Whitewater coverage.


Here's Dan Rather opening the May 23 CBS Evening News Thursday night: "A win for the working poor. The House approves an increase in the minimum wage." Except for those who will lose their jobs.
Later in the show, CBS aired clips of Bob Dole and Bill Clinton sparring over partial birth abortion. Rather then turned to reporters Phil Jones and Rita Braver for "analysis" of the two camp's views the politics of the clash. This was hardly the worst bias of the year, but notice which candidate is using "code" words, which candidate has gone negative and which candidate's remarks were "very well thought out." It's like 1988 and 1992 all over again.
Phil Jones: "Well this helps Dole energize all the voters who want to make abortion a major issue in the presidential campaign, the pro-lifers and the Christian Coalition forces. But it's also Dole campaign code. When he talks about abortion, that leads to morality. When he talks about morality, that raises the issue of character. And that's exactly what Dole and the Republicans want -- to force a presidential election based on Bill Clinton's character. Rita."
Rita Braver: "Well I think you can mark your calendar because this was the first day that Bill Clinton really engaged Bob Dole in full campaign mode. Now the White House had expected the Republicans to go negative, but not this hard, this fast. And the President's remarks were very well thought out. He was sending Dole a message that your remarks are not going to go unchallenged. In addition, you could see the President's strategy here, and that is to tell Americans that Bob Dole is dragging the campaign into the mud and trying to divide the country."


The May MediaNomics features a study of minimum wage coverage. Here are the key findings of the study completed by Tim Lamer of the MRC's Free Market Project:
"Media Research Center analysts reviewed all of the minimum wage stories on evening news shows (ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC) and morning news shows (ABC, CBS, NBC) from January through April. There were 36 stories and anchor-reads about the debate. With a few notable exceptions, the networks took the side of those supporting a minimum wage increase. For example:
-- Soundbite sources were almost twice as likely to be supporters of the minimum wage increase than opponents. Out of 60 soundbite sources, 39 supported the minimum wage increase, while only 21 were opposed to it. Several stories contained soundbites from only Democrats and their allies....
-- The political horse-race aspect of the debate was emphasized far more than the economics of the debate. There were only three soundbites from economists. There were 46 soundbites from politicians. The networks were much more interested in who would win and lose politically from the debate than what the effect would be on the country....
-- Journalists were more interested in interviewing other journalists than in interviewing economists. On the morning news shows, the obsession with political angles reached almost comic proportions. On the morning shows, where live interviews are common, there were five such interviews of journalists about the minimum wage. There were none with economists.
-- There was more skepticism of Republican motives than Democratic motives. Three stories suggested that Republicans opposed raising the minimum wage because their business allies opposed it.

> The May MediaWatch includes a study titled "McDougal Trial, Senate Hearings Filibuster, and Other Whitewater News Downplayed: Trial? What Whitewater Trial?"
Here's an excerpt of the study done by Tim Graham:
"To determine how much coverage the Whitewater trial and related stories generated, MediaWatch analysts reviewed network morning news and evening news programs on ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC from February 29, a few days before the trial began, to April 30, as the trial neared its end. Analysts also reviewed corresponding news magazine coverage in Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report from issues dated March 4 to May 6. In nearly two months of the trial, the four networks aired only 15 reporter-based Whitewater stories on the evening news shows -- an average of less than four per network over a two-month period. Seven of the 16 (44 percent) were on the President's testimony. Although Time carried a long cover story excerpting James Stewart's Whitewater book Blood Sport, the news magazines devoted fewer pages to the Whitewater trial than to the Jackie Onassis auction.
Some significant stories barely or never made the air. On February 29 and again on March 7, Senate Democrats blocked votes extending the tenure of the Senate Whitewater Committee. The Democrats upheld further hearings until agreeing to a deal on April 18. One Jackie Judd report on ABC's World News Tonight and an anchor brief on ABC's Good Morning America and on CNN's The World Today were the only coverage of the Democratic filibuster until hearings resumed April 24. Jennings introduced the Judd story by calling it the "endless Whitewater saga."
On March 15, a federal appeals court removed Judge Henry Woods from the Jim Guy Tucker case and reinstated four fraud counts struck down by Woods, finding the judge was too close to the Clintons. Despite several network stories and a Nightline on the integrity of independent counsel Kenneth Starr, the networks never covered this story.
On March 24, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found 52 percent of respondents believed the First Lady was not telling the truth about Whitewater and 49 percent said they thought she acted illegally. While the Post published the poll on page A16, ABC never reported it. When word leaked on April 29 that the FBI found Hillary Clinton's fingerprints on the long-missing Rose Law Firm documents discovered in the White House, it drew only four anchor briefs. The most stunning lack of coverage came from NBC Nightly News, which did not air a single reporter-based story in two months -- and only two anchor briefs."

> Both newsletters should be arriving in your mail in a day or two.

-- Brent Baker