Search Results for: John L. Hess

Nov
01
1998

Brookings: The Establishment's Think Tank

"I want it implemented.... God damn it, get in and get those files. Blow the safe and get it." So railed President Richard Nixon (Abuse of Power, Stanley Kutler) to his aides about papers regarding the Vietnam War that he thought were at the Brookings Institution. The documents the White House apparently wanted to get hold of allegedly showed that Johnson curtailed the bombing of Vietnam in 1968 to boost the Democrats' election prospects. How things have changed: In the strange world of 25 years ago, stopping a bombing boosted a president's standing, and Brookings could be at serious odds […]

Mar
01
1997

Here We Go Again

Can Social Security Survive Another "Rescue"?

The rescue of Social Security has been a staple of American journalism for 20 years now—a story all the more remarkable in that Social Security has never been in peril except from its rescuers. The rescues have all been based on faulty arithmetic. First, in 1977, the rescuers humbly confessed that they had made a mistake in adjusting benefits to inflation, as a result of which Social Security was threatening to go broke. (They never say the Army is threatening to "go broke," only that it needs more money to do the job that it's asked to do.) Not to […]

Sep
01
1995

A Skeptical Look at 'Cynical' Reporters

Talk about being hoist on your own petard! That indispensable tool of modern journalism, the opinion poll, has dealt us journalists a cruel blow. And our own journalistic establishment--the Tunes Mirror Center for the People and the Press, and how much more poohbah can you get?-- paid for the poll. The poll determined, scientifically as all get out, that the American public is nearly twice as "cynical" (they mean skeptical) as journalists. To be precise, 77 percent of the people but only 40 percent of the Washington press corps give low marks to politicians for honesty and ethics. Shocking. And […]

May
01
1995

Seeing the Bright Side at the New York Times

For those fearing inflation, analysts said, one of the most reassuring elements of today's report [of rising employment] was that average hourly earnings declined by 2 cents, after an October surge of 7 cents. --New York Times, Dec. 3, 1994 A common complaint is that the media favor bad news, but that isn't fair. Given that news, as Voltaire says of history, is "indeed little more than the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind," it's hard for mainstream reporters to be upbeat, but they do try. One way is by euphemism, like calling the military budget "defense […]

May
01
1995

Desperately Seeking Difference:

ABC Finds Biology Is Destiny

With the February 1 ABC News special, Boys and Girls Are Different: Men, Women and the Sex Difference, reported by correspondent John Stossel, hormonally induced haircut prices joined gay brains and race-based IQ as the politically charged science of the media moment. The show asked the eternal question, "Are men and women supposed to be the same, or are we different creatures right from birth?" Stossel argues that any remnants of sexism in today's egalitarian society can't explain noticeable sex differences in our behavior ("men are obsessed with sports, women have more friends"), nor account for women's failure to reach […]

Mar
01
1995

AM Armies

Government "Cleansing"

Tired of easy listening? If you're in Colorado Springs, you can tune into KVOR, where talkshow host Chuck Baker mimics the sound of a firing pin--"kching-kching"--as he raves against the government and talks to listeners about shooting members of Congress and forming guerilla cells. Baker's three-hour talk show piggy-backs Rush Limbaugh, forming a solid bloc of conservative talk five days a week. But Baker's show took a radical turn to the right last summer, when he found that more callers were associated with the "patriot" movement than the Republican Party. "Patriot" is a generic term for an anti-government movement that […]

Oct
01
1991

So You Want To Be a City Editor?

So you want to be a big-time city editor like Lou Grant? Well, fine, but remember what happened to Lou Grant. He got cancelled. In real life these days, city news is bad news: taxes up, jobs and wages down; no money for schools, parks and bridges; banks in trouble, business threatening to leave; homelessness on the rise; waste and corruption rife--and as for federal help, forget it. In journalism, the news is bad too, but it's different. Take TV news, where Lou Grant began as Mary Tyler Moore's crusty but lovable boss: Ratings are in the toilet, competition is […]

Mar
01
1990

Capital Cities/ABC

No. 2, and Trying Harder

Thomas Murphy

In 1985, Capital Cities, a company with interests in TV, radio and publishing, spent $3.4 billion to take over the American Broadcasting Co., a company four times its size. At the time, ABC employees feared their new parent’s tight fists and sharp eyes. Cap Cities management has certainly lived up to its advance billing; the acquisition, which looked a little grandiose in 1985, effectively paid for itself in four years. Cap Cities/ABC is a diversified media conglomerate with little debt and $1.1 billion in the bank. just tinder 80 percent of 1989 sales (which totaled $4.96 billion), and 86 percent […]