CyberAlert -- 11/11/1999 -- Gumbel: Conservatives Ruin "National Prestige"; FNC Showed What ABC Spiked

Gumbel: Conservatives Ruin "National Prestige"; FNC Showed What ABC Spiked

1) Gumbel put himself to the left of Jesse Jackson, seeing race as paramount in the Decatur expulsions. On UN dues, he demanded of a GOP House leader if he was "comfortable" with "our national prestige being held hostage by the most conservative wing?"

2) CBS: Decatur fight video "hurts the school board case"; ABC: It "clearly undermined Jackson's argument that the punishment was too tough." CBS's Eric Engberg: "What does the U.S. have in common with" Moldova? The UN's "deadbeat club." Blame Chris Smith.

3) On the 10th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, no mention of Reagan as ABC looked at those "nostalgic" for it.

4) "While they bicker about it in Washington, some cities in the country have already raised the minimum wage," Peter Jennings noted in introducing a look at the "living wage" idea. CBS also relayed anecdotes about the hapless poor in pushing a hike.

5) FNC showed the part of ABC's Clinton interview the network spiked in which Clinton claimed he was a victim of a "partisan onslaught" and that "people were persecuted because they wouldn't commit perjury against me."

>>> Web Site Update. Due to problems associated with the move of our offices, we are unable to post any new videos, but between solving computer network problems the MRC's Eric Pairel is managing to post text documents. On Wednesday he posted the latest MagazineWatch compiled by Tim Graham and Mark Drake. Topics covered:
1. Newsweek and Time haven't tired of touting the media-empowering campaign "reform" die-hards Bradley and McCain against front-runners Bush and Gore.
2. George W. Bush's "pop-quiz fiasco" was highlighted by Newsweek with transcript helpfully provided for readers. Time called it a "critical moment" that showed Bush is "under water when grappling with foreign- and defense-policy basics." But neither magazine noted Al Gore's fumbling farm quiz in June with ABC's Diane Sawyer.
3. U.S. News & World Report summed up Campaign '99: "There seems to be no penalty for ignoring conservative issues."
4. Newsweek columnist Anna Quindlen suggested objectivity is "impossible" in defending her endorsement of Bill Bradley before she signed up.

To read these items about the November 15 issues, go to: <<<<


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Jesse Jackson and House Republicans are too conservative for Bryant Gumbel. On Tuesday's The Early Show Gumbel hit Jackson from the left for not realizing that a decision made by white school committee members to expel some black students is an issue of race not discipline and on Wednesday's edition of the CBS show he asked J.C. Watts if he was "comfortable" with "our national prestige being held hostage by the most conservative wing of your party?"

-- From Decatur, Illinois, on November 9 Jackson and Superintendent of Schools Ken Arndt appeared live to discuss Jackson's protest efforts over the school board in that city expelling seven high school students for two years for instigating a brawl at a football game.

As noticed by MRC analyst Brian Boyd, Gumbel zoomed in on the race issue, demanding of Arndt: "Has the board's zero tolerance policy regarding violence yet been used to punish any white students in Decatur?"
Arndt: "Oh absolutely."
Gumbel, seemingly astounded: "It has?"
Arndt: "Absolutely."
Gumbel: "They've been expelled?"
Arndt, referring to a student who was expelled for making a bomb threat: "In fact, the student that's in question was a white student, that's been referred to as the bomber."
Jackson then observed: "The issue is not so much black and white as it is wrong and right, an issue of judgment."
To which Gumbel retorted: "Reverend Jackson how can you say that when all of those being expelled are black and all those voting to punish them are white?"

-- Wednesday morning, November 10, Gumbel conducted back-to-back interviews with White House Chief-of-Staff John Podesta and House Republican Conference Chairman J.C. Watts. He opened with Podesta by actually challenging him on his position on education spending: "The White House wants $1.4 billion to reduce classroom size. Republicans want $1.2 billion given to and distributed by local school boards. What's wrong with that? That sounds reasonable."

Moving beyond education with Watts, an incredulous Gumbel inquired: "Speaking of doing the right thing, let's move to the UN issue. Republicans are tying release of back funds to anti-abortion language. To your mind is that issue worth losing the U.S. presence at the UN?"
Watts explained the need for reforms and accountability at the UN. Gumbel countered by blaming conservatives for damaging the national dignity:
"But are you comfortable with our national obligations, our national prestige, being held hostage by the most conservative wing of your party?"


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Decatur captured network attention Tuesday and Wednesday night as did the UN dues on Wednesday. Tuesday night CBS's Dan Rather relayed how Jackson told him video of the fight in the stands "hurts the school board case." The next night ABC viewers were told that the video "clearly undermined Jackson's argument that the punishment was too tough." The same night, CBS's Eric Engberg identified the troublemaker denying the UN money: "The hang up isn't global diplomacy, it's abortion politics and UN backers say the man to blame is Christopher Smith of New Jersey."

-- Decatur. On the Tuesday night CBS Evening News reporter Cynthia Bowers played video of the fight at the high school football game: "With this fight, captured on videotape obtained by CBS News and seen for the first time tonight, in slow motion you can see the melee move across the stadium bleachers as frightened bystanders flee..." NBC Nightly News played the same video sans the false claim of exclusivity.

After the piece from Bowers Rather announced: "The Reverend Jackson had not seen the video of the incident until CBS News showed it to him this afternoon. He then told me a short time ago that in his view the tape hurts the school board case."

Wednesday night, November 10, on ABC's World News Tonight Dean Reynolds concluded the opposite in a report on how Jackson and the school were moving toward an agreement that would allow the seven students to attend an alternative school:
"Having the incident on tape for all to see clearly undermined Jackson's argument that the punishment was too tough. And new details about those involved hurt his case that their education was a terrible thing to lose. It turns out that several of the students are chronic absentees from class, and three of them are taking freshman courses for the third straight year."

-- CBS pounced Wednesday night on the demand by conservatives that the UN stop funding abortions if it wishes to receive dues money from the U.S. Eric Engberg opened his CBS Evening News "Reality Check" check piece by snidely asking:
"What does the U.S. have in common with the Republic of Moldova, Somalia and our frequent nemesis Iraq? All are members of the United Nation's deadbeat club, countries behind in paying their dues. And if the U.S. doesn't pay by the end of the year it will lose its right to vote in the general assembly. The hang up isn't global diplomacy, it's abortion politics and UN backers say the man to blame is Christopher Smith of New Jersey. Smith is a leader of the anti-abortion forces in the House and for three years they've attached a condition to paying UN dues: a near-ban on UN support of population control groups that advocate abortion."
After letting Smith explain how he wants to save some lives, Engberg displayed a bit of imbalance in labeling by tagging those on the other side with a more positive label: "The pro-abortion rights Clinton administration has vetoed the abortion restrictions and threatens to do so again."


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Finding the downside to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Tuesday night the three broadcast networks all ran pieces marking the tenth anniversary of the 1989 demolition of the Berlin Wall. While NBC's Tom Brokaw found some losers as he stressed success stories among those now freed by the wall's demise, ABC and CBS focused on the negative. ABC looked at those who are "nostalgic" for the wall and "miss it" while CBS's Dan Rather suggested that though "the most famous symbol of division is gone, another kind of wall is very much intact." Before running their taped stories, all featured a brief clip of the anniversary celebration in Berlin.

On ABC's World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings asserted: "It is probably hard for most Americans to imagine anyone feeling nostalgic about living behind the wall. It may also be hard to imagine that anyone in the Western part of Germany would miss the wall either. But miss it, some people do."

ABC's Jim Wooten recalled "the irrepressible joy of it" when the wall came down but, he cautioned, "it's not that simple." He went on to outline how there's still a wall in people's minds as Easterners see themselves as second class citizens while Westerners don't think Easterners appreciate all the money spent on them.

Over on the November 9 CBS Evening News, Dan Rather intoned: "Despite tonight's festivities, the reunited Germany still has some growing pains. Tom Fenton found while the most famous symbol of division is gone, another kind of wall is very much intact."

Tom Fenton's story didn't quite match Rather's dour summary. Fenton shared the recollections of a U.S. soldier and the former U.S. Ambassador about the euphoric mood at time and how dangerous things were as they were afraid Russian forces would move into Berlin. Getting to Rather's theme, Fenton continued:
"It never came to violence. Still, the euphoria did not last. Unemployment in what was East Germany is now nearly twenty percent. People there feel like second class citizens in the new Germany." The East votes left wing, the West votes right wing, Fenton noted before showing viewers a former border town where the wall remains as a tourist attraction and people from both sides get along.

Referring to the wall as "the cold, gray slab that imprisoned millions," on the NBC Nightly News Tom Brokaw worried: "While Germany is now one again it is not yet whole. The decade since the fall of the Berlin Wall has been difficult, especially for those who lived in the East for so long."
His story, however, focused mainly on the success stories of two Eastern families who have built businesses, though he ended with a down note about a family restaurant, just over a bridge into the East, being closed because the owners got into too much debt, "a surrender, for now, to capitalism."

A name the MRC's Rich Noyes noticed was never uttered in any of the three stories: Ronald Reagan.


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Maximum network interest in raising the minimum wage. Tuesday night ABC and CBS ran slanted pieces pushing a minimum wage hike. While both stories delivered quick lines about how it would hurt small businesses, both stories ignored all other arguments against such a hike and focused on anecdotes about those who would supposedly be helped. ABC's Linda Douglass highlighted the "living wage" idea pushed in Santa Monica, approvingly noting how "local governments will not wait for Washington. At least 40 more communities may adopt a living wage next year." CBS's Byron Pitts concluded his piece by lamenting how low-end workers "call this debate over minimum wage a mirage" since they "still need at least two jobs to make ends meet."

-- ABC's World News Tonight, November 9. Peter Jennings used the Republican approval of a hike as a jumping off point:
"In Washington today, the Senate, which is of course controlled by Republicans, approved a gradual increase in the minimum wage. And if the House of Representatives and the President agree, the minimum wage will go from $5.15 an hour to $6.15 over the next three years, and it may not happen. But while they bicker about it in Washington, some cities in the country have already raised the minimum wage. And in Santa Monica, California, they are considering the highest minimum wage in the country."

Douglass began: "They call this the 'People's Republic of Santa Monica,' a community that showers social services on the homeless, where renters have more power than landlords. These days city officials are focused on the widening gap between the people who live well here and those who serve them. Political leaders want to impose a living wage of nearly $11 an hour, plus benefits. The Reverend Sandie Richards says Santa Monica's bustling tourist industry has failed to share its bounty with its workers."
Rev. Sandie Richards, Church in Ocean Park: "We have deluxe hotels and upscale restaurants paying Motel 6 and coffee shop wages."
Douglass: "Even with tips, that is not enough to support hotel worker Hector Cuatepotzo and his family. They live near the poverty line and need government assistance for food."
Hector Cuatepotzo, hotel worker: "They need to understand how the poor people live. I mean, they should come to our homes. It's so different, their homes to our homes."
Douglass: "Santa Monica is joining roughly 40 communities around the country which have implemented some version of a living wage. But Santa Monica's is higher and would be applied more broadly. The Chamber of Commerce warns it could kill some businesses."
Tom Larmore, Chamber of Commerce: "If you take a restaurant, for example, its labor costs will probably go up 30 to 50 percent, which would wipe out its profit entirely."
Douglass: "And, says Tom Larmore, the high wage may attract workers with better skills, squeezing out the very people it was meant to help. The workers do not understand why it is all so complicated."
Cuatepotzo: "If they pay a little more to the workers, it is not going to be a big difference for them. I mean, and it's going to be a big difference for us."
Douglass concluded: "The debate in Santa Monica is worlds away from the one in Washington, where even a small increase in the federal minimum wage can tie Congress in knots. But local governments will not wait for Washington. At least 40 more communities may adopt a living wage next year."

-- November 9 CBS Evening News Byron Pitts opened his story:
"At Fat Matt's Rib Shack, where the music like the menu simmer in the blues, you won't find a vegetarian sandwich in this restaurant or a single employee who earns minimum wage. Most make a dollar or two more because the economy in Atlanta, like in much of America, is booming. Businesses can't compete for good workers unless they pay more. But if Congress were to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $ 6.15, small business owners say they would suffer."
After a restaurant manager complained that "If we're having to pay out more in labor costs, then the way to make up for that would be to increase our prices," Pitts countered: "Still, proponents call the wage hike long-term planning."
Jared Bernstein of the liberal Economic Policy Institute asserted: "Make sure that the wage floor is solidly in place so that when unemployment begins to increase, wages don't tumble for those at the bottom of the wage scale."

Applying static analysis, Pitts insisted: "More than 11 million people in America would benefit from a minimum wage increase. That's approximately ten percent of the nation's work force. Most of them are under 25 and work part-time. The average blue-collar worker is in the same boat with Tim Many. He does a bit better than minimum wage, but a government increase could mean more money in his pocket."
Tim Many, a car wash manager, agreed a hike would be nice: "To me, like, if I was to get $1 more an hour, well, you figure that's about $40 more a week. Yeah, that would definitely make a big difference."
Pitts then concluded by suggesting it's unfair to need to put in more than eight hours a day: "But Tim, his boss and men and women just like them, call this debate over minimum wage a mirage. No matter what the politicians in Washington decide, the workers at this car wash and in kitchens across America will still need at least two jobs to make ends meet."

No exploration in either story of how many will lose jobs when business can afford fewer employees or fold, nor of the right of a government to impose a rule that interferes with a private company's ability to pay what it wishes.

But last Friday night, MRC analyst Paul Smith noticed, CNN's Brooks Jackson delivered a balanced story with arguments which contradicted the ABC and CBS anecdotes. On the November 5 The World Today, Jackson wondered:
"So who would be helped? Experts say fewer than one worker out of every ten, most of them part-time workers, and mostly not in poverty."
Economist Richard Burkhauser explained: "The image of a minimum-wage worker being someone in a poor family who is supporting kids is a good image for the 1930s, but it's just not very realistic for today. A minimum-wage worker is much more likely to be a teenager than the head of a household."

Jackson elaborated: "In fact, teenagers make up 28 percent of those who would gain, and only 23 percent of the gainers are the main earners in their families. Opponents say there's still good reason to raise the wage."

After letting Jared Bernstein of the Economic Policy Institute argue a hike would benefit the poor, Jackson countered the claim but concluded by portraying an increase as harmless:
"Those working poor households would get only 17 percent of the gain from raising the minimum wage. More benefit actually goes to the upper end of the scale. Household with income over $50,000 would get 21 percent. Laws of supply and demand predict that higher pay means fewer jobs or higher prices or both. But with today's booming economy already raising pay for so many low-wage workers, those negative affects should hardly be felt."


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Carole Simpson's egomania squeezed out Clinton's angry claim that the charges against him in he impeachment process were "totally false and bogus, made up," and that "people were persecuted because they wouldn't commit perjury against me."

As detailed in the November 9 CyberAlert, Sunday's World News Tonight featured a taped interview segment with Bill Clinton in which ABC anchor Carole Simpson made the story about herself, asking Clinton: "I am an African-American woman, grew up working class on the south side of Chicago, and this is a pretty special moment for me to be here talking to you. How does it feel talking to me?" For more on what ABC showed, go to:

Tuesday's Washington Post revealed that ABC didn't air a portion of the interview in which an angry Clinton lashed out and avoided any personal responsibility. ABC has now posted on its Web site this part of the interview which it has not shown it on the television network, but FNC did play it Tuesday night on Special Report with Brit Hume.

Hume explained: "President Clinton, it turns out, has been talking again, and in strong terms, about his impeachment and its effect on his place in history. The reason you may not have heard this is that he said it to ABC News, which decided not to air those comments."

Jim Angle elaborated: "President Clinton now argues that his affair with Monica Lewinsky and his impeachment trial will not tarnish historians' judgment of his presidency. In an interview with ABC News, Mr. Clinton calls the accusations that led to his impeachment 'the most severe, bitter, partisan onslaught.'"

Angle showed how the interview "was primarily about encouraging investment in poor areas," adding: "But ABC did not air the President's response when he was asked if he has any regrets about his presidency. After The Washington Post printed those remarks, however, ABC put them on its Web site."
Clinton in ABC's Web video: "I have regrets because I made a personal mistake."
Angle: "But the President's anger is reserved for his accusers."
Clinton in another Web clip of video not shown on the TV network: "And they spent $50 million trying to ferret it out and root it out because they had nothing else to do because all the other charges were totally false and bogus, made up. And people were persecuted because they wouldn't commit perjury against me."

Angle offered an explanation of Clinton's charge: "Clinton friends, such as Susan McDougal and Web Hubbell, were pressured by Ken Starr's office out of the suspicion that they, like the President, had lied. But they never testified against him. As the President now remembers his darkest hours, he skips over some key facts: that he complicated the investigation by lying about it for eight months and that the Senate voted 100 to nothing to proceed with an impeachment trial because even Democrats had serious questions about whether the President lied or obstructed justice."

In ABC's decision not to run Clinton's comments in Simpson's piece the White House saw evidence it wasn't newsworthy as Joe Lockhart asserted: "I don't see anything he said in that interview, I think, as evidenced by the play that remark got on television, as anything new or that adds anything to the subject."

Angle concluded: "In fact, the President has been busy subtracting things from the account of his darkest days. He admits a serious personal mistake, but puts most of the blame on his opponents, forgetting, it seems, that even Democrats signed a letter of censure saying Mr. Clinton brought shame and dishonor on the presidency, and that a federal judge fined the President for lying to the court and subverting the process of justice."

To see via RealPlayer ABC's posting of the portions of the interview not shown on the November 7 World News Tonight, go to:

Later, Hume opened the roundtable portion of his show by playing a clip of the part of the interview which ABC showed where Simpson decided her life story was most important:

Carole Simpson to Clinton: "I have to bask in this moment, for a moment, because I am here talking to the most powerful man on the planet, who was a poor boy from Arkansas..."
Clinton jumped in: "A place like this."
Simpson continued: "Place like this. I am an African-American woman, grew up working class on the south side of Chicago, and this is a pretty special moment for me to be here talking to you. How does it feel talking to me? That I made it, too, when people said I wouldn't be able to?"
Clinton: "It's a great country."

Morton Kondracke's reaction: "I'm embarrassed." So should ABC News. -- Brent Baker


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