Homeless Resurface As Liberal Prop - Conservatives on NYC flap

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sun, 26 Dec 1999 21:27:34 -0800 (PST)


FWD from Media Research Center [creators of the Conservative News Service]:

Years After Homelessness Vanished from Network News, Reporters Pick Up Issue
to Hit Hillary Foe

THE HOMELESS RESURFACE AS A LIBERAL PROP

For Immediate Release: Dan Gabriel (703) 683-5004 - Thursday, December 16,
1999 - Vol. 3, No. 46
http://www.mrc.org/news/reality/1999/Fax19991216.html

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Habitual news watchers remember the networks' panicked reports on exploding
homelessness in the 1980s. For example, CBS This Morning anchor Charles
Osgood relayed on April 19, 1989: "It is estimated that by the year 2000, 19
million Americans will be homeless unless something is done, and done now."

On August 8, 1989, CNN anchor Lou Waters topped that wild estimate with a
Rutgers University report: "There now are up to 40 million Americans living
on the knife edge of homelessness, just one paycheck, one domestic argument
from the streets."

In 1990, a partial count by the Census Bureau estimated only 230,000
homeless Americans. But the networks pushed the homeless story hard and
blamed hard-hearted Republicans. Once Democrats took the White House, the
problem disappeared. In a 1996 study of the evening news programs of ABC,
CBS, NBC, and CNN, we found:

Under Bush, there were 44 TV stories on homeless-ness in 1989, 71 in 1990,
54 in 1991, and 43 in 1992. The average was 52.5.

Upon Clinton's arrival in 1993, the numbers slowly dropped off: 35 in 1993,
32 in 1994, and just nine in 1995, for an average of 25.3.

Of the 76 stories in the first three years of the Clinton era, not a single
one attached the problem to the Clinton administration. As ABC's Judy Muller
explained during Clinton's glitzy first inauguration in 1993: "The
Republicans were criticized for their show of wealth in the face of need.
The Democrats seemed to have avoided that criticism. Perhaps because
President Clinton has promised to help those less fortunate."

Since 1995, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson discovered the pattern of
homelessness avoidance continued: eight stories in 1996, ten in 1997, and
only four in 1998. Until last week, the 1999 network total was only six.

But TV reporters rediscovered the issue in New York, where Mayor Rudolph
Giuliani, the expected opponent to expected Senate candidate Hillary
Clinton, instituted a policy of jailing homeless people who refuse to
present themselves for shelter and other services.

On December 8, ABC's World News Tonight crusaded against Giuliani's effort
to improve the city. A woman praised a court decision against what she
called Giuliani's plan "to take children from the arms of their mothers."

That night on the CBS Evening News, Dan Rather also took a shot at Giuliani
as he summarized a HUD study of homelessness (assisted by the liberal Urban
Institute): "Overall, this study found that programs to help the homeless do
work, even as New York City has begun arresting some of the homeless."

CBS reporter Wyatt Andrews claimed "the homeless remain as prominent as ever
on America's city streets." But the homeless only achieve prominence on TV
when they're serving a political purpose. -- Tim Graham

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