Oct
28
1992

Counterspin No. 17: October 28, 1992

A Memo on Campaign Coverage From FAIR

POLLS, PERSONALITIES, AND PRIORITIES: The Sunday, Oct. 25, issue of the Washington Post is a good example of what’s been wrong with mainstream election coverage this year. The lead story is a typical horserace article: “Presidential Race Looks Narrower.” Next to that was an examination of Clinton’s personality: “What Kind of President? On Clinton’s Inner Steel, Candor and Conciliation, the Evidence is Conflicting.” And, below that, a story about Ross Perot’s campaign strategy: “Perot Card’s Wild in Game With New Rules.” But a report of newly released documents showing that James Baker had pushed for loans to Iraq, despite warnings […]

Oct
21
1992

Counterspin No. 16: October 21, 1992

A Memo on Campaign Coverage From FAIR

UNLEVEL PLAYING FIELD: That creaking you hear is the sound of the press corps bending over backwards for the Bush/Quayle ticket. One example of what seems to be a deliberately unlevel playing field was NBC’s tally of likely electoral votes for Bush and Clinton (10/19): NBC estimated that Clinton was likely to get at least 247 electoral votes, compared to Bush’s 151. This seems like bad news for Bush, until you note that the count on CBS was 311-14 in favor of Clinton. The difference is that CBS relied on the latest state-by-state polls, while NBC told Counterspin it was […]

Oct
15
1992

Counterspin No. 15: October 15, 1992

A Memo on Campaign Coverage From FAIR

INTIMIDATION FACTOR: Nothing more clearly shows the impact of the Bush campaign’s efforts to intimidate journalists than the timid response of much of the media to Dan Quayle’s daring them to check his facts. When Quayle treated “telling the truth” as the central issue in the campaign, and responded to factual disagreements by saying that he would provide the real facts to the press “if they’re interested,” one expects that journalists would do voters the favor of telling them who, if anyone, was telling the truth. Instead, the media mostly waffled. Dan Quayle got mostly positive reviews for a performance […]

Oct
01
1992

Counterspin No. 14: October 1, 1992

A Memo on Campaign Coverage From FAIR

GOOD MORNING, MR. PRESIDENT: How did ABC get President Bush to agree to do three live interviews on Good Morning America? By allowing him to pick what subjects he wanted to talk about and declare certain issues off limits, according to a report by Cox News Service (9/28). The setup was that Bush would be interviewed on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of this week, with the subjects limited to taxes, crime and healthcare. While at least the first two topics are favorite Republican themes, an issue Bush is more vulnerable on, the economy, is not featured, even though voters consistently […]

Sep
18
1992

Counterspin No. 12: September 18, 1992

A Memo on Campaign Coverage From FAIR

WORKING THE REFS: Asked by the Washington Post (8/20) about Republican complaints about the media, Republican national chair Rich Bond helpfully explained: “There is some strategy to it. I’m the coach of kids’ basketball and Little League teams. If you watch any great coach, what they do is work the refs. Maybe the ref will cut you a little slack next time.” Judging by recent coverage of Bill Clinton’s draft record, the Republican strategy of “working the refs” may be paying off. PLAYING THE DRAFT CARD: Clinton’s draft avoidance has been a major theme of election coverage since the primaries; […]

Aug
21
1992

Counterspin No. 11: August 21, 1992

A Memo From FAIR on Campaign Coverage

KEEPING POLITICIANS HONEST: After the 1988 election, journalists promised themselves that they would no longer, in the name of “objectivity,” allow candidates to get away with blatant falsehoods. Speeches and commercials were to be scrutinized for accuracy, with reporters serving as referees who would blow the whistle when politicians crossed the line between campaign rhetoric and lies. One reporter who seems to be doing a good job at this is Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times. Covering President Bush, he has not hesitated to point out the candidate’s bogus claims. After Bush promised disabled veterans that he would veto […]

Jul
20
1992

Counterspin No. 10: July 20, 1992

A Memo on Campaign Coverage From FAIR

MANAGED DEMOCRACY: One got the impression from the coverage of the Democratic Convention that democracy is something that many in the national press corps are uncomfortable with. CBS’s Richard Threlkeld (7/13) put it this way: “Americans are going to be watching to see how Bill Clinton manages this convention to see how he can manage the country.” Again and again, Clinton won praise for “managing” to stifle any substantive discussion of issues, which raises the question of how the press would respond to similar “management” of the country. “Are you annoyed that you have to deal with people like Jerry […]

Jul
14
1992

Counterspin No. 9: July 14, 1992

A Memo on Campaign Coverage From FAIR

ANTI-DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION: It’s fashionable to bemoan the networks’ lack of gavel-to-gavel coverage of the conventions. Even Peter Jennings (Washington Post, 7/12)  said it was “a little sad” that the networks were passing up “a chance to present the democratic process in the purest sense.” Of course, the modern stage-managed conventions are anything but a democratic process--and the media bear a lot of the blame. In the last few Democratic conventions, anything that resembled democracy--a debate over a pressing issue, a resolution that wasn’t pre-approved--was denounced as “mischief” from “special interests.” This year is supposed to be different: “Certainly the portents […]