CyberAlert -- 10/25/1999 -- Cutting "The Penny That Cures Cancer"; Bathtubs Kill More Than School Shooters

Cutting "The Penny That Cures Cancer"; Bathtubs Kill More Than School Shooters

1) Sam Donaldson warned the House GOP's proposed 1.4 percent cut may mean the loss of "the penny that cures cancer." On the McLaughlin Group the Chicago Tribune's James Warren declared the defeat of campaign finance "reform" a victory for "corruption."

2) Contrasting headlines about NH debate: "At GOP Debate, a Unified Blast at Bush" versus "Clinton Foreign Policy Assailed."

3) It's not just Dan Rather. ABC and CNN anchors also refused to adopt the term "partial-birth abortion."

4) Again Sunday night a network anchor tied Christian Right "rhetoric" to the murder last year of gay college student Matthew Shepard, but major media outlets have not picked up on how two gay men are charged with the beating death of a 13-year-old boy.

5) John Stossel's "Give Me a Break!" segment on ABC's 20/20: "Lightning kills more people, bathtubs kill more kids. But the media's obsessed with school shootings."

6) Seven days until Bryant Gumbel returns to morning TV. In #5 of the MRC's Top Ten Gumbel Stumbles, Gumbel argues in 1996 that Clinton's liberal policies display his "true character."

7) Washington Post/CNN media reporter Howard Kurtz dismissed concern about Bryant Gumbel's liberalness by highlighting his friendliness with Richard Nixon, George Bush and Roger Ailes.

8) Meet the Press provided an illustration of media bias from the Reagan years. Remember the "gender gap"?


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) From the weekend talk shows: On This Week ABC's Cokie Roberts argued that a measly 1.4 percent budget cut would "threaten" drug rehab while Sam Donaldson warned such a cut could imperil "the penny that cures cancer"; on Fox News Sunday NPR's Mara Liasson took on the accuracy of Republican ads which say Democrats want to spend the Social Security surplus; and on the McLaughlin Group the Chicago Tribune's Washington Bureau Chief, James Warren, declared the defeat of campaign finance "reform" a victory for "corruption."

-- ABC's This Week. During an interview with John and Cindy McCain, Cindy McCain promoted the value of government spending on drug rehabilitation programs. Co-host Cokie Roberts, referring to a House GOP plan to reduce spending across the board, with some major exceptions, by 1.4 percent, retorted:
"Senator, that's one of the things that is threatened by this across the board budget cut that is being talked about in the House of Representatives. Where are you on 1.4 percent across the board budget cuts?"

Even if such a small reduction hurt the program, why is it up to taxpayers to pay for treatment for people who can't control themselves?

Two segments later in the show House Majority Whip Tom DeLay came aboard to defend the 1.4 percent idea, calling it a cut of a mere "penny" of every proposed dollar in spending. Demonstrating an extreme use of the Washington Monument syndrome, that is, the usual government maneuver to maximize the public's outrage over a budget cut by making it inconvenience or scare as many as possible, co-host Sam Donaldson preposterously suggested:
"If you take that penny, for instance, out of the National Institutes of Health grants, that may be the penny that cures cancer. Are you willing to do that?"

By that reasoning, why don't we spend thousands of pennies more since any one of them might lead to the cure?

(DeLay did tell Donaldson that the NIH's budget grows every year and the agency could cut from areas other than research grants.)

-- Fox News Sunday. For years Democrats have demagogued about Social Security, striking fear in recipients that Republicans will leave them on the street starving, but National Public Radio's Mara Liasson doesn't want Republicans to get away with an accurate ad about Clinton's plans for Social Security.

Referring to how since the late 1960s Congress and the President have counted the Social Security surplus as regular revenue to be spent on programs of all kinds, she demanded of House Speaker Dennis Hastert: "Let me ask you about some of these ads you're running against key Democrats. You're saying that the President wants to raid the Social Security surplus? Isn't that something that you yourself and almost every other member of Congress has voted on in your entire careers in the House until this year?"

Liasson pressed a second time: "Well, those ads are pretty heavy handed and they seem to send a message to seniors that the President is going to do something that is going to prevent them from getting their Social Security checks. Is that what you're saying?"

In fact, the National Republican Congressional Committee ad, which This Week played, begins: "Take a look behind the doors of the Democrats in Washington and you'll be in for a big surprise. That's because the Democrats see the Social Security surplus as a source of big money they can spend on more big government programs."

-- McLaughlin Group. Newsweek's Eleanor Clift blamed Elizabeth Dole's poor showing on not sticking to a liberal policy prescription: gun control. Clift contended: "Her problem is that she didn't stick with the issue that she had which is gun control."

Later, host John McLaughlin asked: "Question, was this rejection of campaign finance so-called 'reform' a victory for free speech or was it a victory for political corruption? James Warren."
The Chicago Tribune Washington Bureau Chief gave the liberal answer: "I go with corruption. The fact is also that a majority of Senators still voted against it. The fact is that Mitch McConnell's linkage of free speech with campaign fundraising is bogus, it involves a bogus interpretation of the relevant Supreme Court decision. If you want to see a terrific analysis of this look at a new book by Elizabeth Drew called The Corruption of American Politics."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Saturday's editions of Washington, DC's two papers delivered contrasting spins on Friday night's debate in New Hampshire amongst Gary Bauer, Steve Forbes, Orrin Hatch, Alan Keyes and John McCain.

The October 23 Washington Post headline announced: "At GOP Debate, a Unified Blast at Bush"
The subhead: "Rivals Attack His Absence at New Hampshire Event and Differ on Little Else"

The Washington Times relayed: "Clinton Foreign Policy Assailed"
The subhead: "5 GOP Presidential Hopefuls Cite Failures in N.H. Debate"


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) It's not just Dan Rather who refuses to accept the term "partial-birth abortion" while gladly adopting such liberal terms as "campaign finance reform" and "affirmative action." As noted in the October 22 CyberAlert, on the October 21 CBS Evening News Rather announced that "the U.S. Senate tonight approved a measure to ban a type of late-term abortions.....Supporters of the ban refer to these abortions as quote 'partial-births.' Opponents say it's all really aimed at reversing a woman's legal right to choose whether or not to have an abortion."

MRC analyst Paul Smith noted that the same night on CNN's The World Today, anchor Wolf Blitzer intoned:
"The Senate has again approved a Republican-led effort to outlaw a late-term abortion procedure. But the vote to ban what anti-abortion groups call partial-birth abortion fell short of a crucial threshold."

The next day on ABC's Good Morning America, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson observed, during the 7am news update news reader Morton Dean relayed:
"For the third time, the Senate has voted to ban the type of late-term abortion critics call partial birth. There were not enough votes last night to suggest a promised presidential veto can be overridden. The Senate also took its first vote on Roe vs. Wade, approving a non-binding resolution supporting the decision that legalized abortion. The vote on the divisive issue: 51 to 47."


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Again Sunday night a network anchor tied Christian Right "rhetoric" to the murder last year of gay college student Matthew Shepard, but as the Washington Times reported on Friday, neither major television nor print outlets have picked up on how two gay men are charged with a September beating death of a 13-year-old boy in Arkansas.

Sunday night, October 24, on World News Tonight anchor Carole Simpson continued the media mantra about Shepard as she introduced a story about a meeting between Jerry Falwell and some gay leaders:
"Tomorrow in Wyoming opening arguments begin in the trial of the second man accused of murdering a gay college student. Some call Matthew Shepard's murder a hate crime. Gay advocates say rhetoric from the Christian Right is partly to blame for this kind of violence. But as ABC's Karla Davis reports, this weekend two groups got together in an attempt to change that."

About a year ago, on the October 13, 1998 Today, Katie Couric also made the cause and effect link: "Then the fallout from the death of Matthew Shepard. The tragic beating of the college student in Wyoming has some activists in this country saying there is a climate of anti-gay hate that's been fostered by a provocative advertising campaign by the political right in this country. We're going to get into that debate after news and weather."

"Media Tune Out Torture Death of Arkansas Boy: Homosexuals charged with rape, murder," read the headline over an October 22 Washington Times story by Joyce Howard Price. Here's an excerpt from the piece which quotes the MRC's Tim Graham about the lack of media interest:

Most of the nation has not heard about two homosexual men who face the death penalty in Arkansas, charged with raping and torturing a 13-year-old boy to death last month.

The brutal crime against Prairie Grove, Ark., seventh-grader Jesse Dirkhising -- who was raped repeatedly and suffocated with his own underwear in the pre-dawn hours of Sept. 26 -- was reported by news organizations in Arkansas and also covered by newspapers in Oklahoma and Tennessee.

But the boy's death did not receive national media attention. Tim Graham, director of media analysis for the Media Research Center, said he is not surprised.

"Nobody wants to say anything negative about homosexuals. Nobody wants to be seen on the wrong side of that issue," said Mr. Graham, who sees "political correctness" at work.

But David Smith, spokesman for a major homosexual lobbying group, the Human Rights Campaign, said yesterday of the Jesse Dirkhising case: "This has nothing to do with gay people."

The muted press reaction to the Dirkhising slaying starkly contrasts with coverage of the murder of Matthew Shepard, a homosexual University of Wyoming freshman who was beaten to death last October.

Christopher D. Plumlee, deputy prosecuting attorney for Benton County, Ark., who investigated Jesse's death, admits he was a "little surprised" at the limited coverage this "horrible crime against a child" received.

Joshua Macave Brown, 22, and Davis Don Carpenter, 38, described as homosexual "lovers" in a police affidavit, have both been charged with capital murder and six counts of rape and are being held without bond in connection with Jesse's death.

The accused killers pleaded not guilty at an arraignment earlier this month and face another court date Dec. 8. Mr. Plumlee said their trial is scheduled for April 10, 2000.

Mr. Carpenter was a friend of Jesse's parents, Tina Yates and Miles Yates Jr., and the boy had been staying with the two men at their apartment in Rogers, Ark., on weekends for two months prior to his death, Mr. Plumlee said. The prosecutor said the child's family had been falsely told Jesse helped out at a Rogers beauty salon Mr. Carpenter managed.

According to the affidavit, Mr. Brown told police that on the morning of Sept. 26, he sneaked up on the boy, tied his hands behind his back, placed his pair of undershorts in the teen's mouth and secured the briefs with a bandana and duct tape. He said he blindfolded the youth, bound him to a bed and repeatedly sodomized him.

Mr. Brown said he went to the kitchen to get a sandwich and that when he returned to the bedroom, Jesse was not breathing. He alerted his roommate, who called 911.

Asked about Mr. Carpenter's role during the crime, Mr. Brown said Mr. Carpenter stood at the bedroom door and masturbated as he watched. Police also recovered notes they believe implicate Mr. Carpenter in planning the crime.

Mr. Plumlee would not speculate on why this slaying received such scant coverage. But "this was murder and rape in an area that has a low crime rate, a particularly low rate of violent crime. We generally don't have crimes with this degree of brutality here," he said.

He added he sees local outrage at the "torture" Jesse endured. "But I don't see outrage directed at homosexuals," he said.

News stories published about the crime, to date, have not indicated the suspects are homosexuals.

Jack Stokes, director of employee publications for Associated Press, confirmed yesterday that AP ran stories about the case on state and local wires but not on its national wires. "I do not know why the story has not moved nationally, but it's a continuing story, so that could change," he said late yesterday. AP last covered the story Oct. 11, when the two suspects were arraigned.

By contrast, the day after Mr. Shepard's Oct. 8, 1998, beating in Wyoming, the Associated Press national wire carried its first 400-word story by staff writer E.N. Smith headlined: "Openly gay student critically injured in Wyoming attack."

The next day, Oct. 10, AP produced a 700-word story with the headline: "Gay student clings to life after savage beating." On Oct. 11, AP moved a 500-word story headlined: "Call for tougher laws after attack on gay student." A search through Associated Press on-line archives showed the Shepard story was reported as a national story every day for a week following the beating.

Barbara Levinson, a spokeswoman for "NBC Nightly News," said, "We did not cover" the Dirkhising case. Given that the broadcast is only 30 minutes long, she said, "There are many crime stories that don't make it on the air."

Another network spokeswoman said the story of Jesse's killing has not been presented on "Today" or "Dateline NBC" either.

A spokeswoman for CNN said, "Our affiliate station in Atlanta was tracking the story. But the week it happened, there was also Hurricane Floyd, the nuclear power plant explosion in Japan, the

London train wreck, and the flare-up in East Timor."....

Paul McMasters, national ombudsman for the Freedom Forum, a private media foundation, acknowledged he had not heard about the Dirkhising murder until yesterday when a reporter called and inquired. "I'm at a loss to explain why a story like this didn't get more national play," he said. "We don't know how many stories just like this one don't make it to the national news."....

END Excerpt


stossel1025.jpg (9245 bytes)cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) "Excessive" coverage of school shootings, which distorts the true risks to kids, earned John Stossel's "Give Me a Break!" segment at the end of Friday's 20/20 on ABC. To supplement examples of media hype and exaggeration from ABC News, about a week ago the MRC provided Stossel's producer with relevant video clips from CBS and NBC from which Stossel picked some to feature in his piece.

Countering a claim by Bob McNamara on CBS, Stossel asserted in his October 22 report:
"But it's not 'a nightmare schools know too well.' In truth, when kids are in school they're safer than anyplace else. Safer than at the mall. Safer than at home. Now all the massive coverage of school shootings might be justified if school violence were getting worse. But it isn't. Since 1992 schoolyard killings are down 50 percent."

Stossel later added: "Lightning kills more people, bathtubs kill more kids. But the media's obsessed with school shootings. We make it seem like this is likely to happen in your town soon."

+++ To see a clip of Stossel's story, in RealPlayer format, go to the MRC home page where the MRC's Kristina Sewell and Sean Henry will post it by 10am ET Monday morning:


cyberno6.gif (1129 bytes) Number 5 in the MRC's Top Ten Gumbel Stumbles, a quote countdown to Bryant Gumbel's return to morning TV on November 1 as co-host of CBS's The Early Show, is now up on the MRC home page in RealPlayer format.

In this latest highlight from Gumbel's career as a liberal advocate, Gumbel argues that Bill Clinton's liberal policies make up his true character, asking Clinton biographer David Maraniss on the October 10, 1996 MSNBC InterNight: "In the first two years this is a man [Clinton] who tried his best to balance the budget, to reform health care, to fight for gay rights, to support personal freedoms. Couldn't those be considered doing the right things, evidence of true character?"

To watch this quote and #4 as picked by MRC Communications Director Liz Swasey, which will be posted Monday morning, go to:


cyberno7.gif (1643 bytes) Despite quotes like the one above, "the private Gumbel" might "surprise people" who think he's liberal. How? By learning of his friendliness with Richard Nixon and that George Bush once helped him out.

Instead of exploring Gumbel's political agenda and how it may turn viewers away from the new CBS Early Show, in a Saturday Style section profile of Gumbel, Washington Post/CNN media reporter Howard Kurtz dismissed the concern. An excerpt from the October 23 piece:

Gumbel often draws flak from the right because he makes no secret of his liberal leanings. But here, too, the private Gumbel might surprise people. He became friendly with Richard Nixon during his twilight years, interviewing him at NBC and dining at his New Jersey home. George Bush helped get him into Bethesda's exclusive Burning Tree Club. Gumbel is also pals with Fox News President Roger Ailes, who appeared on a weekly "Today" segment when he was a Republican strategist.

"He does start to twitch a little when he hears Ronald Reagan's name," Ailes says. But he adds: "People warned me that Bryant won't agree with you politically and he'll be very tough on you. Exactly the opposite took place. Bryant was friendly, always fair and never took a cheap shot."

END Excerpt

Who but liberals consider the wage and price control-imposing, EPA-creating and Detente-promoting Nixon to be "conservative"? And the fact that Ailes, who rescued Geraldo Rivera's career by giving him a prime time show on CNBC, likes the guy hardly means anything. In Kurtz's world is it impossible for conservatives to get along with liberals?


cyberno8.gif (1522 bytes) Sunday's Meet the Press provided a reminder of media bias from the Reagan years. The October 24 "Meet the Press Minute" featured clips from then Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Dole's appearance on December 18, 1983. Tim Russert picked a section of the show when Business Week reporter Maria Recio proposed this liberal theory to Dole:
"President Reagan's policies seem to have alienated some women voters and created something of a gender gap. Why do you think this gap exists and what do you personally plan to do about it?"

Instead of responding that Democrats had a gender gap with men, ever the non-conservative, Dole agreed with the assessment.

I've never heard of Recio, so her Meet the Press appearance may have been her career high point. -- Brent Baker


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