Book Skewers Media's Role in '92 Race: Activist-Author Cites Examples of Pro-Clinton Bias

Article excerpt

The news media decided 1992 would be different. No carte blanche for political candidates. Campaign ads would be double-checked. Hot rhetoric had to be backed up with facts.

Former President George Bush can attest the media kept their word.

But President Clinton lived by far easier rules, according to Tim Graham, associate editor of the monthly newsletter MediaWatch.

In a new book, "Pattern of Deception: The Media's Role in the Clinton Presidency," Mr. Graham tracks what he says are big media's conflicts of interest, biases and omissions that helped Mr. Clinton capture the White House.

"I think one of the things that this book does is cause the media to reflect on how outrageously in favor of Clinton they were," Mr. Graham said in an interview.

Mr. Graham is not breaking new ground in alleging a liberal media bias. His newsletter is published by L. Brent Bozell III's Media Research Center, which regularly zings the press for promoting left-leaning people and ideas.

The Washington Post's ombudsman, Joann Byrd, said her own paper's news pages favored Mr. Clinton - decidedly. "If the Post is an example, news coverage at the end of the campaign was lopsided - very lopsided," she wrote in The Post a few days after the 1992 election.

In April of this year, the Freedom Forum, a First Amendment foundation funded by the Gannett Corp., released a survey of Washington reporters and bureau chiefs.

In that survey, 89 percent said they voted for Mr. Clinton in 1992 (by contrast, Mr. Clinton received 43 percent of the vote overall). Only 2 percent considered themselves conservatives, and just 4 percent were registered Republicans.

Mr. Graham said that while the Freedom Forum poll shows the Washington press corps is potentially ripe for biased reporting, "Pattern of Deception" documents its existence.

The Media Research Center stores virtually every major political newscast and newspaper story. Researchers break down the content for negative-vs.-favorable comment and count the number of stories on a particular subject.

That's how Mr. Graham can write that just four stories were written on Whitewater in the mainstream media before the election, and point out that Mr. Clinton faced only a fraction of the negative stories about his draft evasion that Dan Quayle endured over joining the National Guard.

To critics who charge "Pattern of Deception" is merely a conservative attack on liberal reporters, Mr. Graham issues a challenge.

"People are going to say the Media Research Center is coming from a conservative viewpoint, and, clearly, that's the case," he said. "But this is documentation that people are going to have to take on and try to refute it. If their only argument is, `You're a conservative, so who cares what you think?' that's not a very effective argument. …