CyberAlert -- 06/05/1996 -- Selfish Dittoheads & CBS Payoff

Selfish Dittoheads & CBS Payoff

Five brief items today:

1) The former President of NBC News calls Dittoheads "selfish."

2) A Time magazine reporter insists reporters are now "more fair than we ever were." His record shows something different.

3) The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz offers a bizarre reason for why reporters voting for Clinton really doesn't mean they like Clinton.

4) One last example of a network host cheering on the children's march.

5) On the humorous side, a cable TV executive takes money from CBS News to compensate his employees for having suffered while working with a future CBS anchor.


In his Tuesday USA Today column, former NBC News President Michael Gartner explored why, as documented by the Pew Research Center poll, fewer people are watching TV network news. (He recommended more religion, health and crime news. He didn't mention anything about news shows rigging trucks to burst into flames.) Then he added this as the last paragraph:
"Footnote: According to the Pew study, about half the people in America believe 'the government should do more to help needy Americans, even if it means going deeper into debt.' Among listeners of Rush Limbaugh, the number is 19 percent. Dittoheads are nothing if not selfish."


MRC analyst Clay Waters identified this comment from Time magazine Washington reporter Jeffrey Birnbaum during a May 26 appearance on CNBC's Tim Russert show. Talking about media fairness, Birnbaum asserted: "But I do think that there are certain publications that are considered standards of fairness, and I think each of us represent at least one of them....It also can help strengthen the franchises of which we are a part, if we are diligent about continuing being fair. And I think that we put so much pressure on ourselves, even this conversation, that I think in the end we are more fair than we ever were, see I do believe we're moving in that direction, because the marketplace is requiring it."

Lets see how hard Birnbaum has tried:
-- Birbaum in the August 14, 1995 Time magazine: "The Democrats can offer only a cacophony of views, ranging from the leftist tract of [Jesse] Jackson to the more centrist perspectives of House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt of Missouri and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle." In 1992 the "centrist" Gephardt earned a 85 percent rating from Americans for Democratic Action, Daschle 95 percent.
-- Previously, Birnbaum was a Wall Street Journal reporter. Here he is in the October 7, 1994 Journal: "Around the country, President Clinton is routinely trashed by conservative talk-show hosts and Republican candidates for being the most liberal President in modern times...But based on the measures that Mr. Clinton succeeded in getting through Congress in his first two years, he looks like Mainstream Bill....The Clinton record is surprisingly pro-business and centrist."


I was away over the Memorial Day weekend and missed Howard Kurtz's May 27 "Media Notes" column in The Washington Post. In it, six weeks after the Freedom Forum poll was released showing 89 percent of Washington reporters voted for Clinton, Kurtz highlighted the result. But then he offered two "caveats." The second was that Newt Gingrich "says the media mob gave the President a hard time in his first two years in office." Kurtz's first caveat: "Isn't it possible that, like other Americans, some of these journalists held their noses and pulled the lever for Clinton as the lesser of three evils? Or that, like some voters, they have been disappointed in Clinton's performance?"
Yes, Clinton's not been liberal enough for them. The Freedom Forum poll found 61 percent called themselves "liberal" or "liberal to moderate," just nine percent "conservative" or "conservative to moderate."


On Saturday's Today, co-host Jack Ford interviewed Stand for Children organizer Jonah Edelman. He didn't ask one tough question, instead, as transcribed by MRC intern Jessica Anderson, offering up ones like: "You've got a spectacular weather day down there, it sounds like the activities are going to be wonderful, but how then do you hope to translate today's symbolism into some real, positive action?"
Ford ended the pep talk: "Alright, Jonah Edelman, thanks for spending some time with us this morning, and good luck to you today on the session. Sounds like it'll be a lot of fun and very helpful."


CBS News has hired Court TV's Kristin Jeannette-Meyers as the new co-anchor, as of August 5, of the CBS Morning News (5 to 7am ET). She's been co-host of the cable network's syndicated daily show for broadcast stations, Court TV: Inside America's Courts. On May 31 The Washington Post reported: "Court TV sources yesterday confirmed a New York Post story that CBS paid $25,000 to obtain her early release from Court TV contract -- and that Court TV founder and President Steven Brill turned around and shared $15,000 of that with some 20 staffers at the syndicated show to 'compensate' them for 'the pain and suffering' of working with the temperamental Jeannette-Meyers."

If Brill ran NBC one wonders how much he'd compensate Today show staffers for working with Bryant Gumbel.

-- Brent Baker