- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 26, 2002

ABCs of Ls and Cs

Comes now the latest shot in the battle over whether the media tilt to the left a study from the Media Research Center, showing that the three major television news networks attach the label "conservative" far more often than they do "liberal" in their news reports.

Former CBS newsman Bernard Goldberg wrote in his book "Bias" that networks feel it necessary to label conservatives as persons out of the mainstream who need the identifier, while liberals are the mainstream and viewers don't need the reminder.

Stanford University researcher Geoffrey Nunberg responded with a study in which he plugged in names of prominent liberals and conservatives and found liberals were identified 30 percent more often than conservatives.

The Media Research Center countered yesterday with its own search of Nexis transcripts from five years of newscasts, looking for times when the reporter labeled a person or group "conservative" or "liberal" in a political story. It found 204 stories in which someone was identified as liberal, and 720 stories with an identified conservative.

When the center tallied the individual labels in those stories, it found 992 times someone was called conservative, and 247 times someone was called liberal.

The report found that Sen. Jesse Helms, North Carolina Republican, was labeled more than any other senator, 16 times, while Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, was labeled 11 times. In the House, eight members were identified as liberal, while 34 were called conservatives including Democratic Reps. Gary A. Condit from California, Allen Boyd from Florida and Bart Stupak of Michigan.

Limiting the limits

Republican senators yesterday voted to ease a term-limits rule that would have drastically reconstructed committee leadership at the end of this year.

The 6-year-old rule said: "A senator shall serve no more than six years as chair and six years as ranking member of any standing committee." Some said that should mean six years in each slot, while others wanted it to mean six years total as the top Republican on the committee.

If the latter view had won, many of the top Republicans on committees would have relinquished their slots for next session. But senators voted by secret ballot for a new rule that specifically allows six years of service in the chairmanship and six years in the ranking minority slot. But someone couldn't serve as ranking member if he has already served a full six years as chairman.

The issue came into question when Sen. James M. Jeffords from Vermont bolted the GOP to become an independent, and delivered control of the chamber to Democrats five months into last year's session. Under yesterday's agreement, last year's five months won't count against the six years as chairman.

New protection

U.S. Capitol Police plan to distribute masks to members of Congress, Roll Call reports, citing sources who said Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer will brief House members today during close-door caucus meetings.

"The devices that will be given to Members are technically not gas masks, but rather 'quick masks' less-elaborate instruments that are often used to equip first-responders at the scene of emergencies." The masks "can be deployed easily, [but] they provide only temporary protection typically not more than 15 minutes."

Roll Call said that "the masks are being distributed as part of an overall security plan that is coming on line, and not in response to any current or specific threat."

Paranoia alert

Citizens worried about the erosion of American sovereignty in a New World Order probably won't be attending a celebration hosted this evening by the World Federalist Association.

"Join Washington's leading advocates for global justice, embassy representatives and friends for a festive party celebrating the birth of the International Criminal Court," reads the invitation to the 5-8 p.m. shindig at the Stewart R. Mott House on Maryland Avenue across from the Supreme Court.

"The Court, which will go into operation on July 1, 2002, as the first permanent international tribunal for the prosecution of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, is a victory for everyone concerned about global justice.

"Come help us celebrate this historic occasion," says the invitation, adding that birthday cake for the soiree is provided by Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream.

Rosie blasts Bill

Former talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell refused to speak to former President Bill Clinton Saturday night, then blasted him during her first stand-up show in six years, according to the New York Post.

"He disgusts me," the paper reported her telling the crowd. "And I know I'm not supposed to say this because I'm a good Democrat, but I didn't want to [talk] to him because he lied to me when he said, 'I did not have sexual relations with that woman,' and then put the scarlet letter on her for the rest of her life. I still hate you."

Breaking new ground

Massachusetts Democratic gubernatorial-nomination candidate Robert B. Reich has announced he supports same-sex "marriages."

The position puts Mr. Reich out in front of other prominent politicians, according to the Boston Globe.

"I became convinced that it was really a matter of leadership, and that it was a civil rights issue, and that it was important to make a stand," he told the paper.

The four other Democratic candidates in the race for the nomination support some sort of domestic unions that would allow homosexuals some of the benefits of marriage, like health insurance coverage and inheritance. But Mr. Reich said marriage would give couples more legal standing to sue for recognition in states that do not recognize "civil unions."

Running man

Mitt Romney, Republican candidate for governor of Massachusetts, was given the green light yesterday by a state board that had been asked to consider whether he met the eligibility requirements considering the time he spent in Utah running the Salt Lake Winter Olympics.

State law requires a candidate for governor to have lived in the state for seven years before the election. Mr. Romney maintained a home and was registered to vote in Massachusetts during the two years he was in Utah. But he filed tax returns as a part-time resident of Massachusetts in 1999, and as a nonresident in 2000, and received a tax break of more than $50,000 by listing his Utah residence as his primary residence.

Mr. Romney changed those returns earlier this year and blamed the mistake on his tax adviser but Democrats challenged his candidacy qualifications.

The state board unanimously agreed that Mr. Romney satisfied the requirements. The Associated Press reported that Democrats said they will not appeal.

Decision time

The Justice Department yesterday gave temporary approval to New York's congressional-redistricting plan, which reduces the state's 31 seats to 29 and throws two Democratic incumbents into one district and two Republicans into another, the Associated Press reports.

The department told the New York State Legislative Task Force that the plan had been precleared late Tuesday. But the notice advised that the attorney general still had a 60-day review period in which to object to the plan if new information was received.

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