Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Media coverage

Sen. John Kerry “had the best press of any nominee we’ve ever tracked — 81 percent positive,” the nonpartisan Center for Media and Public Affairs said in announcing a content analysis of network evening newscasts in January and February.

The organization also found that “Democratic primary candidates have gotten 60 percent good press since 1988, compared to 45 percent for Republicans.”

“The numbers, from the group founded and headed by Dr. S. Robert Lichter, were featured in the March/April issue of the group’s newsletter, Media Monitor, an issue just mailed at the end of last week,” another news watchdog group, the Media Research Center (www.mediaresearch.org), said yesterday.

As of yesterday, the Center for Media and Public Affairs had yet to post the results on its Web site (www.cmpa.com).

Meanwhile, the latest report from Media Tenor (www.mediatenor.com), an independent media analysis institute, found that “since April, the networks have practically abandoned coverage of President Bush’s economic policy — even as the economy and labor market have shown signs of significant improvement.”

Patriot games

Teresa Heinz Kerry says she quit the Republican Party because it questioned the “patriotism” of Vietnam triple amputee Max Cleland, a U.S. senator from Georgia who was defeated in 2002.

Mrs. Kerry’s charge went unquestioned in an Associated Press dispatch.

“The GOP had raised questions about Cleland’s patriotism because of his position on legislation to create the Department of Homeland Security,” the AP said. “Cleland supported the concept behind the department, but insisted that a workers’ rights provision be part of the bill.”

What the wire service failed to point out was that President Bush had vowed to veto the bill creating the department unless he had the same authority as previous presidents to shift national-security employees as judged necessary. Senate Democrats, at the urging of their labor-union allies, refused to budge. Thus, it became an issue in the Georgia contest.

Mrs. Kerry, in an interview scheduled to be broadcast last night on “CBS Evening News,” said: “Three limbs, and all I could think was, ‘What does the Republican Party need, a fourth limb to make a person a hero?’ And this coming from people who have not served. I was really offended by that. Unscrupulous and disgusting,” she said, apparently referring to Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Patriot games II

Singer Jon Bon Jovi says his support for the presidential candidacy of Democratic Sen. John Kerry has led hecklers to question his patriotism.

“I’ve received hate mail at my house. I’ve had people drive by my home and shout things out,” Mr. Bon Jovi told guests gathered outside his New Jersey mansion Monday for an event that raised more than $1 million for Mr. Kerry. “And I think that they question my patriotism because I decided to stand up and have a voice. And I stood up to have a voice because I think that’s the most American thing that you can do.”

More than 300 people attended the fund-raiser, including actors Meg Ryan and James Gandolfini and Steve Buscemi, both of HBO’s “The Sopranos,” and Richard Belzer of NBC’s “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit,” the Associated Press reports.

Catholic action

The Massachusetts Catholic Conference is sending letters to all 710 parishes in the state urging Catholics to “share their profound disappointment” with state legislators who did not vote to ban homosexual “marriage” earlier this year, the Boston Globe reports.

“The mailings, issued by the lobbyist for the state’s Catholic bishops, also prodded Catholics to offer their ‘highest praise’ for lawmakers who opposed gay marriage during this spring’s Constitutional Convention, saying they acted ‘so courageously in favor of traditional marriage,’” reporters Raphael Lewis and Michael Paulson said.

“While the letters made no reference to Election Day, they are arriving just five months before all 200 seats in the [state] House and Senate are up for grabs on Nov. 2. The mailings did not endorse particular lawmakers or compare incumbent legislators to their opponents, but they follow earlier attempts by the bishops and the conference to influence the legislature on gay marriage.”

Kerry’s absences

A Hofstra University Law School student wants to see Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry return most of his Senate salary for the past two years to cover the days he has been absent campaigning.

Law student Johnathan M. Stein, 28, filed a complaint against Mr. Kerry of Massachusetts for cashing the pay checks and Senate Secretary Emily J. Reynolds for not deducting pay for his absences.

“I learned about the issue by accident,” Mr. Stein said.

“Mrs. Reynolds has knowingly and willfully” violated section 2 paragraph 39 of the U.S. Code by giving Mr. Kerry his salary without deducting daily wages for each day that he has been absent from the Senate, Mr. Stein said.

Mr. Kerry began his day in New Jersey facing questions from reporters about Massachusetts Republican Gov. Mitt Romney’s request that the senator resign his seat so the governor could appoint someone with the time to fill it.

“It’s not fair, it’s not right, and the public is not being well-served,” said Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey.

She said Mr. Kerry has missed 64 percent of roll call votes last year and 87 percent this year.

Mr. Kerry refused to resign, saying: “I believe I am serving the citizens of Massachusetts and the country in the proposal I’ve laid out about health care for all Americans, which George Bush has not, to balance the budget, to be fiscally responsible.”

Attack ads

A liberal interest group said it was airing a new television commercial yesterday in four battleground states that accuses President Bush of “a failure of leadership” and criticizes Vice President Dick Cheney’s ties to Halliburton.

MoveOn.org’s political action committee will spend about $1 million over a week to run the 30-second ad in Missouri, Nevada, Ohio and Oregon, the Associated Press reports.

The ad accuses the Bush administration of giving Mr. Cheney’s former company no-bid contracts to work in Iraq “on a silver platter.”

Steve Schmidt, a spokesman for Mr. Bush’s re-election campaign, said: “This is another incredibly misleading ad from an organization completely outside of the mainstream of American politics.”

Separately, the Media Fund, another Democratic group, ran new radio and newspaper ads in Kansas City, Mo., criticizing Mr. Bush’s record on health care and prescription drug costs. Mr. Bush visited the state Monday.

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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