Newt Meets The Press p.16

By: DEBRA GERSH HERNANDEZ THAT SPEAKER OF the House Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) has no love for what he calls the liberal, elite media should come as no surprise to anyone.
Time and again Gingrich has criticized the press for outright bias and for misrepresenting conservative initiatives ? a position he considers bolstered by a Freedom Forum survey showing that 89% of Washington reporters polled voted for Bill Clinton in the 1992 election.
During his remarks to the American Society of Newspaper Editors conference in Washington, Gingrich said that both legislators and the news media have done badly at their "mutual business," which he described as "trying to help a free people govern themselves."
Gingrich also had words of praise for newspapers: "Because you can look at them, you can clip them, you can Xerox them, you can refer back to them, because they carry a much denser layer of information than either radio or television, newspapers are inevitably part of the nervous system of a free society and they are vitally important.
"I think that it is extraordinarily important that we work with each other, with guarded hostility on both sides, and we recognize that while we don't have the same narrow interests, we have exactly the same broader interests, which is to find a way for a free society to govern itself," the speaker commented.
Citing a news story featuring anonymous quotes, Gingrich explained that one thing that never works for any administration is secrecy, "particularly secrecy in defense of dumbness."
"What happens is, someone does something dumb," he told the ASNE. "They convince themselves, 'This'll work as long as I keep it secret.' It never stays secret. That's one of the major rules of the information age."
Further, Gingrich noted, "You never ever stop leaks in the White House.
"People take White House jobs, not just for the money, but for the opportunity to become important," he said. "And they know they are important, because famous reporters talk to them. And famous reporters talk to them because they leak. And if they don't leak, famous reporters won't talk to them. And if famous reporters don't talk to them, they can't be important. And then why are they at the White House?
"These guys don't leave a big-time law firm and the big bucks to go in obscurity," Gingrich added. "They leave it for power. They only know they're powerful because they read their own anonymous quotes."
The speaker, noting other prominent Republicans who have come from behind to win elections, said he believed that Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole (R-Kan.) will win the presidential election.
Gingrich explained this by noting that "in the age of television, the bias of information shapes the debate, for most of the time, against conservatives."
"The issues that are on Page One, the issues that are at the top, the general pattern is that, frankly, liberals look better, as long as people don't pay much attention," he said.
"When you get about seven or eight weeks out from an election, people begin to pay attention. The closer they get to the decision making, the more they pay attention," and the more they tend to favor Republicans on the core issues, such as state versus federal power, a balanced budget and judicial nominations.
Nevertheless, Gingrich said that the "bigger problem" for him "is not just liberalism in the media, but cynicism" and "the degree of hostility."
In the weeks following the ASNE speech, Gingrich urged his fellow Republicans to call talk radio and write letters to the editor and engage in "local communications . . . which allows us both to undo $60 million of false advertising, to undo the bias of the elite media, and to unmask the systematic misleading by the president of the United States."
In his remarks to the Republican Network to Elect Women conference, Gingrich repeatedly spoke about overcoming the liberal bias of the media and chastised news programs for not reporting about teenage drug use during the Clinton administration.
Citing the "shameful performance by the elite media," Gingrich also hit the news media for not asking the right questions about Medicare.
"Instead," he said, "you had this passive conspiracy of telling us how clever Bill Clinton is, because he says things that are false with such ?lan and flair, so that we measure him as though he were a talk show host; you know, Phil Donahue brilliantly carrying off a conversation."
But things can look very different when you are inside the Clinton Administration.
In response to a question at ASNE about Gingrich's comments on bias in the media, Vice President Albert Gore Jr. said the speaker "has a pretty heavy burden to carry if he wants to try to make the case that the newspapers of America have treated Bill Clinton with kid gloves."
"Where is the evidence?" the vice president asked.
"I don't see it. In fact, I could make a case on the other side very readily here, but out of respect for this distinguished gathering, I will not do so," he joked.
"But seriously," Gore continued, "I really don't believe that any serious logician can sustain an argument that the news media in America have shown favoritism towards the Clinton Administration.
"You could probably make a case that the news media in this country have been very aggressive, very tough, [have] bent over backwards to perform the traditional functions of a free press: to question everything, to not take it on face value, to really dig hard, and even when things are not fully cooked to say, 'Well, here's what it might be,' " he said.
"It sure feels different from inside the administration than the case he's trying to make. I just don't think it's there," Gore said.
?(People take White House jobs, not just for the moeny, but for the opportunity to become important. And they know they are important, because famous reporters talk to them because they leak. And if they don't leak, famous reporters won't talk to them.")[Caption]
?(-Newt Gingrich, Speaker of the House of Representatives) [Photo & Caption]


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