Accuracy in Media

Dan Rather, anchor and managing editor of The CBS Evening News, has been flaunting his liberal bias lately. On “The O’Reilly Factor” on The Fox News Channel, he declared that “Bill Clinton is an honest man.” Before that, he came under criticism for appearing at a Democratic Party fundraiser in Texas. But Rather’s liberal bias is clearly manifested in how he slants and manipulates the news on his broadcast. On April 19, he provided a case study in how to spin the news in a liberal direction.

The occasion was the release of the largest long-term study of day care ever conducted. More than 1,100 children in 10 U.S. cities from birth to kindergarten were studied. It found a direct correlation between time spent in day care and developmental problems such as aggression, defiance and disobedience. The results were a bombshell. At a time when the media have been quick to publicize cases of student aggression in schools, some of them stemming from bullying by other students, the study provided an opportunity for the media to examine a cause other than guns.

Liberal groups such as the Children’s Defense Fund have insisted for years that day care has no negative impact on children. Conservative pro-family groups, including the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America and Eagle Forum, have been saying that day care isn’t good for kids. They have said that a child needs to be with his or her mother, especially in the early years. Their warnings were ignored because they conflicted with the drive to give women their “rights” outside the home and place them in the career world.

Study Refutes Hillary Clinton

They also conflicted with the drive for government to play more of a role in raising children. Former First Lady and New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s book, “It Takes a Village,” argued for less of a parental role in raising children. In her view, the “village,” consisting of day care “professionals,” teachers, and social workers, should raise kids.

The CBS Evening News aired a story by correspondent Cynthia Bowers on the new study. It examined the study and its ramifications, and she aired the views of its critics, including a representative of the “Families and Work Institute.” Bowers tried to put a good face on it, saying the study didn’t prove that problem children would necessarily become violent later in life. This was meant to reassure those who feared that day care could be laying the groundwork for more Columbine-style school shootings.

Bowers also said that while children in more expensive day care still had problems, the study also found they may also have better cognitive skills than other kids. This was the only “silver lining” in the study that the advocates of more day care kept coming back to. They argued that children in day care may tend to be meaner, but they were smarter.

Rather To The Rescue

The balance provided in Cynthia Bowers’ story was not enough to satisfy Dan Rather. He added an interview with Marian Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), an advocate of federally-financed and controlled day care who is a close friend of Hillary Clinton. Mrs. Clinton served on the CDF board from 1986-1992, and Edelman was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award by President Clinton last year.

Rather did not identify the CDF as being liberal. Referring to conservative organizations without naming them, Rather asked Edelman to respond to “To those who know say-and you know there will be those who say it-‘look we’ve been saying for a long time that day care is not a good idea and here we have, if not proof positive, at least substantial evidence that day care just doesn’t work.'”

Edelman said most children were doing fine in day care and that the problem could be solved by spending more. She said we should not blame day care, but improve it. “There’s no evidence in this study that day care doesn’t work,” she said, “and what are the alternatives?” She urged creation of a “comprehensive system” of day care that she said was available in some European countries. An alternative that never occurred to her or Rather is to lower taxes and raise tax credits for children so both parents don’t have to work to make ends meet.

Wanted: No Criticism, More Money

CBS News correspondent John Roberts, a possible successor to Rather, weighed in with comments about the day care study on May 6. Roberts, who also served as anchor of the newscast, suggested that what America needs for its children is higher taxes on families to pay for babysitters for employed moms. He opened the story by focusing on a family with one child in Massachusetts, where both parents work outside the home and they spend $13,000 a year for day care.

While claiming that day care is too expensive, Roberts also featured complaints that day-care workers aren’t being paid enough. He said there’s too much staff turnover in the industry. In Massachusetts, where the quality of day care was said to be good, pay for day-care teachers is “horrendous,” Roberts said. One so-called expert said day-care workers are paid less than the person who cuts your hair. Salaries are said to average only $15,000 a year.

The salaries of day care workers can’t be increased without raising the cost of day care. That means that the annual cost of $13,000 for that family in Massachusetts could rise several thousand dollars a year. So how does that solve the problem? John Roberts was caught in a dilemma of his own making. His solution was more spending by the federal and state governments on day care, but he recognized that at the present time, “there is not enough money” for that.

And whose fault is that? Of course, President George W. Bush. If Bush is sincere in saying he wants to leave no child behind, Roberts suggested, why isn’t the federal government spending more on day care? He said a “political storm” was brewing over the failure by the administration and Congress to do so. He brought on Marian Wright Edelman to say it’s hypocritical for politicians to say they care about children but not spend more money on day care. In the coming “political battle,” Roberts said “child advocates” will recast day care as “early education” and try to get government funding that way.

Roberts didn’t try to explain how more money for day care would eliminate the problem of aggressive and disobedient children. It simply wasn’t an issue for him. He also didn’t mention that more government money for day care means higher taxes on families, some of whom now sacrifice so that the mother can stay home with the children. Increasing the tax burden on these families makes it more likely that more mothers with small children will have to enter the work force. In effect, Roberts wants to further penalize stay-at-home moms who are raising their own children and avoiding day care. These families want lower and not higher taxes. But they don’t exist in John Roberts’ world.

The treatment of Edelman and the CDF by CBS News is not unique. The organization has enjoyed a cozy relationship with the media for many years. At its 1997 convention, NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw was scheduled to speak, only to be replaced at the last moment by NBC newsman John Siegenthaler. The very next day, on the NBC Today Show, Maria Shriver interviewed “the incredible” Marian Wright Edelman.

A Media-Funded Expert

On ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, a different expert was consulted to rebut the day-care study. Reporter Michelle Norris noted that the study found that children in day care tend toward “explosive behavior,” and that Jay Belsky, one of the lead investigators, said the study found “high levels of aggression” among these children.

Faith Wohl, president of the Child Care Action Campaign (CCAC), was brought on to say that the solution lies in more funding for day care. It was announced that she would be participating in an on-line chat with viewers after the program. Like Edelman and the CDF, Faith Wohl and her organization were presented as being objective.

Peter Jennings followed the Michelle Norris story by suggest-ing the answer was that the federal government should pay parents or force corporations to allow them to spend more time with their children after they’re born. He didn’t suggest that reducing the tax burden on families, so that mothers could afford to stay home, was another alternative. For Jennings, the solution was a government mandate and more tax dollars.

Actually, Faith Wohl and her group have been funded by ABC and many other media organizations. The CCAC annual report discloses financial contributions from ABC, Inc./ESPN, Lifetime Television, Hearst Magazines, A&E Television Networks, New Line Cinema/TV, Nickelodeon/Nick Jr., HBO, Liberty Media Corporation, Paramount TV Group, Time Life Inc., Time Magazine, Time Warner Cable, Columbia Tri-Star Television, Cox Communications, Newsweek Inc., Showtime Networks Inc., Warner Bros., The Weather Channel, and Viacom Inter-national.

Echoing the line of Edelman and Wohl, Nancy Gibbs wrote a May 21 column in Time magazine, “What Kids (Really) Need.” In it, she argued that “some experts” say the problem “is not child care, but bad child care.” She urged more spending on day care. However, she also took a novel approach on the matter of children being aggressive and disobedient, saying such traits might actually translate into being “spunky and independent.” She said such behavior might be “natural and healthy” if you are put “in a room with 16 other kids.”

The Washington Post put the story on the child-care study back on page 6, and quotations from “child advocates” in the Children’s Defense Fund were liberally included. The New York Times on the Web carried an Associated Press story about the findings, which was followed by a story by Sheryl Gay Stolberg. She, too, went to left-wing critics from the Families and Work Institute, the Center for the Child Care Workforce, and the Children’s Defense Fund.

What explains the outpouring of media support for the CACC and its strong advocacy of more government money for day care? As Hillary Clinton’s book showed, this is a popular feminist issue, right up there with abortion rights. It appears that feminist influence in the media rivals homosexual influence in determining what news is fit for our eyes and ears.

A Liberal Dissenter

The liberal media didn’t go to representatives of Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council or Eagle Forum for any comment on the day care study. Nor did they go to Charles Siegel of the Preservation Institute. Siegel is a liberal, a member of the Green Party, who has been taking out ads in publications such as the Nation magazine asking, “What’s Wrong with Day Care?” That’s also the title of his new book. Siegel’s research doesn’t demonstrate a link between day care and aggression or disobedience. But he cites circumstantial evidence that day care may produce adults with little inner life, little capacity for intimacy, and no commitment to ideas or ideals.

These are controversial but newsworthy findings. The central problem, he says, is the lack of a mother and father in the home. Fifty years ago, he points out, a typical family was supported by a father working 40 hours a week. Fifty years ago only 12 percent of married women with young children were in the workforce. Now it’s 63 percent. Siegel says a typical family today has two cars because both parents have to work outside the home but they can’t afford to cut back on work to care for their own children. Siegel says people who take care of their own children are becoming extremely rare in this country.

President Bush proposes to reduce but not eliminate the marriage penalty and double the $500-per-child credit over ten years. The liberal solution is to soft-pedal the evidence that day care is not good for a lot of children and to tax families even more to pay for government-run day care. That’s more of the same, even worse. But that’s the approach favored by the media.

MEDIA PANIC BUSH INTO GOING GREEN

Dr. Arthur B. Robinson of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine saw a hopeful sign in President Bush’s rejection of the global warming treaty. In that decision, Bush chose science, not politics. Robinson expressed the hope that Bush would go further, and reverse the ban on DDT, which saved millions of lives by preventing the spread of malaria before its use was banned or curtailed in many tropical countries.

Robinson called the ban on DDT genocide. He said a reversal of the ban on DDT would undermine the radical environmental movement, perhaps resulting in its collapse. “Reversal is difficult,” he wrote, “because DDT has been so completely demonized. There is, however, now a chance.”

That chance disappeared after Bush decided to endorse a United Nations treaty that seeks a global ban on DDT. Bush had made the announcement on April 19, on the eve of Earth Day, in an action widely interpreted as an attempt to make himself look “green.” The treaty was signed on May 23.This came after the Administration had been criticized by the media and the environmentalists on such issues as arsenic in drinking water.

“Fairly or unfairly,” declared Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News on April 19, “critics of President Bush’s environmental policy believe the only green policy he’s displayed is the color of big business money.” This is typical of how the media have treated Bush on environmental matters.

Rather than do the right thing-reverse the ban on DDT- Bush decided to pander to those attacking him. In his announcement, Bush said the chemicals banned by the treaty on “Persistent Organic Pollutants” were “dangerous,” and that the ban was “based on solid scientific information.” That is just not true. The science shows the value of DDT.

Dr. Robinson says the campaign against DDT coincided with the rise of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the modern environmental movement. It was a campaign marked by deliberate falsehoods. The EPA hearing examiner had concluded that DDT was harmless to the environment and was a beneficial substance. The book that spearheaded the demon-ization of DDT was Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.

There is an exemption in the treaty for the use of DDT by countries that meet onerous, costly and complex restrictions and reporting requirements. Experts say this means that countries with scarce resources will find it more difficult to use DDT and save lives. This narrow loophole for continued use of DDT may be closed soon if the left-wing environmental groups have their way.

A graph that correlates the spraying of DDT with cases of malaria demonstrates that as DDT was phased out, malaria has risen dramatically. Malaria now afflicts 250-500 million people and kills about 3 million a year. This means one child is dying of malaria every 30 seconds. Robinson said about Bush that he is a decent and well-meaning man, and that if he was just given the facts, he would do the right thing. Robinson said, “Another child’s life depends on it.”

Bush did the wrong thing, panicking under the assault of the media and the environmentalists. This sets a dangerous precedent. Now there are even reports that Bush is re-thinking his rejection of the global warming treaty. If Bush can be stampeded into endorsing this measure, perhaps he can be pressured by the left into supporting other dangerous treaties, such as the one creating an International Criminal Court.

Media coverage on this issue was terrible. The New York Times called the chemicals outlawed by the treaty “lethal.” The Washington Post called them “dangerous.” Both papers highlighted the reaction of the radical environmentalists who had been criticizing the President. They were pleased by what he did. Only the Washington Times featured criticism of Bush from the right-from Fred Smith of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who called Bush’s action a big mistake.

The tendency to “go green” also affected columnist John Leo, who usually takes conservative positions on major issues. One of his recent columns, appearing in the New York Daily News, was a real shocker. It argued that Republicans and conservatives should embrace environmental causes such as the global warming treaty. He claimed those opposing the treaty sound “a lot like the tobacco lobby arguing that the link between smoking and lung cancer has not been established.” It was difficult to understand how he came to the bizarre conclusion that opposing the global warming treaty is comparable to lying about the effects of tobacco.

The satellite data, the best measure of global temperature, have shown no significant warming trend since 1979. Leo seemed unaware of this. The fearmongers accept the theory that the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was responsible for the modest warming that took place in the last century. Actually, most of the warming of one degree Celsius took place in the first half of the century before CO2 emissions increased greatly. The treaty attempts to curtail warming by restricting the burning of fossil fuels, such as oil and coal, which emit carbon dioxide. But carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, as President Bush recently conceded. It is good because it contributes to the growth of plants and crops. The U.S. relies heavily on fossil fuels, and the treaty’s mandated reductions in their use would devastate our economy.

Under one version of the treaty, we could continue using traditional levels of energy only if we paid off the rest of the world through billions of dollars in foreign aid. This is why the Senate overwhelmingly voted against ratifying it. It is sad to see sensible people like John Leo, Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill, and many businessmen, writers and political leaders disregard the empirical evidence and swallow the greenhouse-gas global warming theory. As the DDT example shows, our media can be as persuasive as they are wrong.

IT’S THE BEHAVIOR, STUPID

On the issue of AIDS in Africa, which is being emphasized by Secretary of State Colin Powell on his African tour, the media have featured endless stories about the campaign to cure, treat, or vaccinate against the disease. In an interview Powell gave to Anthony Lewis, a liberal columnist of the New York Times, he called AIDS a “crisis of democracy.” Billions of dollars are being committed to AIDS drugs and a vaccine, but nothing much seems to work so far. Drugs only delay the onset of AIDS, and a vaccine could backfire and spread the disease to more people. A recent General Accounting Office (GAO) study revealed that the main contribution of the U.S. Agency for International Development to fighting AIDS in Africa has been to distribute condoms.

The obvious answer to AIDS, both here and abroad, is sexual abstinence outside of marriage. But few in the media or government want to talk about that. Powell came close in his interview with Lewis, saying young blacks need “to protect themselves.” But that statement could have been a reference to condoms. The federal government has been pressured into providing funds for abstinence programs in the U.S., rather than just explicit sex education, but there’s no evidence that a major push has been made in Africa.

In Congressional testimony, the Rev. Franklin Graham of the Samaritan’s Purse organization said the only true solution to AIDS is “behavioral change.” He said condoms were an “inadequate” solution that had not slowed the spread of the disease. He pleaded for support for African churches and faith-based institutions.

Some of the media have discussed the rampant sexual promiscuity in Africa. CBS’s “60 Minutes II” ran a story last year about African men who had spread the disease after having sex with prostitutes. Miners who have migrated to South Africa, the worst-hit country, have a 25-percent infection rate. Truckers have a 56-percent infection rate. The survey found that 34 percent of truck drivers always stopped for sex on their routes. The Wall Street Journal on January 12, 2001, carried a story about the risky African traditions and sexual practices that were spreading the disease. In one tribe, which practiced polygamy, the tradition was that a widow and her children and property would come under the control of the brother-in-law. But if the husband had AIDS and he gave it to his wife, the brother-in-law and his wives were put at risk of contracting AIDS.

The politically incorrect conclusion is that blacks have a more permissive attitude toward sexual promiscuity. But this doesn’t just apply to Africa. 1995 statistics show that Africa had an HIV infection rate of almost 600 per 100,000 population. The region with the next highest rate of infection was the black Caribbean at about 220. North America’s rate of infection was about 40. Here in the United States, blacks now account for more than 50 percent of new HIV infections.

Some of those infections may result from reliance on condoms, to prevent transmission of the virus. By the government’s own figures, condoms are far less than 100 percent effective. Yet the Clinton administration ran an advertising campaign on the major television networks telling people that condoms prevent AIDS. Clinton’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, Donna Shalala, refused to even consider warning homosexuals that their promiscuous sex reduced life expectancy far more than smoking cigarettes. The Bush administration has yet to broadcast that politically incorrect message here and abroad.

What You Can Do

Enclosed are cards to Dan Rather and Bernard Goldberg, one of Rather’s severest critics, and a petition asking the NTSB to reopen the TWA Flight 800 investigation. We urge you to support this petition by authorizing use of your name.




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