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Bad News Dems? Not On The Networks


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Regular readers know by now of the Monitor’s high regard for the Media Research Center (www.mrc.org). MRC’s Tim Graham has written a concise summary of how television news habitually downplays or ignores the party affiliation of Democrats caught up in scandal or otherwise deemed unfit for civilized society.

Why is this important? Well, not only is it one more indication of the liberal bias, subtle and unsubtle, that permeates network news departments; it’s also a stark reminder – particularly to those dismayed by the anti-Israel tone they detect in the media and wonder where it comes from – that the pro-Palestinian slant of the networks is merely a symptom of that pervasive liberal bias.

It’s pretty much become a rule of thumb: the more liberal a reporter, journalist or news outlet, the more reliably sympathetic will be the coverage afforded the Palestinians – which is why you find NPR, CNN and The New York Times on one end of the spectrum when it comes to Israel, and Fox News, the New York Sun and National Review on the other.

Some excerpts from the MRC report:

* When news surfaced of the death of segregationist Gov. Lester Maddox (D-Georgia)…the networks were very shy about labels. News readers at ABC’s Good Morning America and NBC’s Today both avoided the D-word. CNN and FNC readers also missed the party label.

A quick rip and read off the AP wire might be blamed: the morning dispatch by Dick Pettys didn’t get to a party label until the 19th paragraph. But the omission continued that night. Brief stories on CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News didn’t carry the D-word.

Even more surprising, ABC’s World News Tonight and CNBC’s The News with Brian Williams ran full stories which consumed more than two minutes each, yet neither ABC’s Peter Jennings nor CNBC’s Don Teague found Maddox’s party affiliation worth mentioning.

* On May 4, 2001, Rep. James Traficant (D-Ohio) was indicted for bribery, fraud, and racketeering. But some networks aided Democrats in trying to turn that into a GOP embarrassment. On ABC’s World News Tonight, reporter Linda Douglass claimed: “Traficant is a Democrat, but this indictment is actually an embarrassment to Republican leaders. They gave him $20 million last year for a project in his district in return for his support of the Republicans.”

On CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Reports, Blitzer asked reporter Jonathan Karl: “Jon, is this more of an embarrassment for Democrats or Republicans? He’s a Democrat who voted for the Republican Speaker.” Karl related the same facts as ABC, but called it “the spin from the Democrats.”

* Rep. Gary Condit (D-California) had an affair with intern Chandra Levy and then misled police when she disappeared (and was later found dead). From the story’s national emergence on May 14, 2001 through July 11, ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news shows aired 179 stories on Condit – 121 full-length reports or interviews, plus 58 brief anchor-read items. MRC analysts found Condit was labeled a “Democrat” only 14 times, or in fewer than eight percent of stories.

* On May 9, 2000, former four-term Gov. Edwin Edwards (D-Louisiana) was convicted on 17 counts of fraud and racketeering. CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News passed on the news with no Democratic label. ABC World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings avoided the D-word around his conviction, but later arrived at the party identification indirectly: “He got support from old line white Democrats, blacks and Cajuns. He was one of them.” If the governor had been a Republican, his affiliation would not have been such a sensitive secret.

* * *

Note To Readers: Subscribers to The New York Times who’d like to protest the paper’s slanted Middle East reporting may want to participate in a one-week boycott set for July 7 to 14. Call the Times (1-800- NYTIMES, option 4 and 2 for customer representative) and suspend your subscription for that week – and be sure to tell the rep why you’re doing so. Further information can be obtained at www.nytimesprotest.org.

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press.


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