CyberAlert -- 07/17/1996 -- No Democratic Obstructionism

No Democratic Obstructionism; No Facts on NBC

Two items today:

1) The Weekly Standard magazine documents a case of a media double standard. In 1993-94 Republicans were blamed for "obstructing" progress by blocking Senate votes. Now that Democrats are obstructing Republican bills where's the media indignation?

2) Former NBC News President Michael Gartner praises the late John Chancellor, but in so doing he says that during his tenure NBC Nightly News didn't include many facts.


The Weekly Standard found a good contrast in coverage that reflects the media's biased mind set. In the June 22 editorial, David Tell noted that in 1993-94 Republicans in the Senate were "jeered as goats" for blocking Democratic initiatives, such as the Clinton health plan. " Republican obstructionism' enter the lexicon."
Tell then explained the different spin taken when the Democrats became the obstructors: "Two years later, when a Republican majority's legislation is shot down or stalled by Democratic filibuster and veto threats, is there comparable anguish about the minority party's power to spoil American progress? Don't be silly. There are literally millions of stories from 1996 in the giant Nexis computer database of print and broadcast news sources. A search of those stories turns up the phrase Democratic obstructionism' exactly...never. [ellipses Tell's]
"President Clinton's claim that Senate Democrats have not abused the filibuster in their minority position the way the Republicans did for two solid years in 1993 and 1994' raises not a singe reporter's eyebrow in the White House briefing room."
In fact, Tell relayed, "The Republican 104th Congress of 1995-96 is by far the most filibuster-clotted in American history. During the entire, famously gridlocked' 103rd, then-Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell's Democrats sought to end debate against real or threatened Republican filibusters a total of 51 times. The current Republican Senate majority has already been forced into 71 similar cloture petition' maneuvers -- on 32 separate pieces of legislation."


In his weekly USA Today column on Tuesday (July 16), former NBC News President Michael Gartner remembered his years with John Chancellor. Gartner wrote:
"He dealt in facts. He painted in words.
"For his last 10 years at NBC, he delivered 90-second commentaries three nights a week. For five of those years, I worked with him. I watched him phone to get the facts, labor to get the words, fret to get the tone for his commentaries -- which were to stimulate, not to provoke. The facts, the words and their tone were always right."
Then Gartner recalled: "At dinner one night, I remarked that he got more facts into 90 seconds than we could get into the rest of Nightly News in 21 minutes."

I couldn't agree more.

-- Brent Baker