3. CENSORED ELECTION YEAR ISSUES
Sources: (1) Common Cause Magazine, 2030 M Street NW, Washington, DC
20036, Date: April/May/June 1992, Title: "George Bush's Ruling
Class," Authors: Jeffrey Denny, Vicki Kemper, Viveca Novak, Peter
Overby, Amy Young; (2) Washington Post 115015th Street NW Washington,
DC 20071, Date: January 9, 1992, Title: "A Profound Silence on
Homelessness," Author: Mary McGrory; (3) The Progressive, 409 E.
Main Street, Madison, WI 53703, Date: May 1992, Title: "Deregulatory
Creep: Dan Quayle Clears the Way for Industry," Author: Arthur
E. Rowse; (4) "This World," San Francisco Examiner, 110 Fifth
Street, San Francisco, CA 94103, Date: October 11, 1992, Title: "46,900
Unspectacular Deaths," Author: Mike Royko, Chicago Tribune Columnist;
(5) Unclassified, 2001 S Street NW, Ste. 740, Washington, DC 20009,
Date: February/March 1992, Title: "The Mena, Arkansas, Story,"
Author: David MacMichael - (Note: References to these articles are noted
in bold face numbers in the following synopsis.)
SYNOPSIS: While the candidates and the media had us focusing
on alleged infidelities, family values and rap-music lyrics, other far
more important issues were ignored or underreported during the 1992
election year. Here are just some of the stories that played second
fiddle to Gennifer Flowers, Sister Souljah and Murphy Brown:
o George Bush and Iran/contra. Unanswered questions still lingering
from the 1988 campaign remained unanswered and largely ignored by
the mainstream media before election day. It was not until October
30, four days before the election, that Caspar Weinberger's "smoking
gun" memo, implicating Bush in the arms for hostages intrigue,
was widely publicized.
o Bush's Team 100. A series of articles in Common Cause Magazine
documented how major campaign contributors to George Bush were given
ambassadorships and federal advisory committee appointments, and how
federal regulatory issues that adversely affected members of "Team
100" were toned down. (1)
o Homelessness. Despite a critical status report by the National
Conference of Mayors that showed 25 cities suffer a serious problem
with homelessness, and reporting an average 13 percent increase in
requests for shelter, the presidential candidates barely mentioned
it and the press did not pursue it. (2)
o Dan Quayle's Council on Competitiveness. Many a questionable (and
unpublicized) action stemmed from this committee, whose intent was
never really made clear. One of the most egregious dictates mandated
in the Clean Air Act would allow polluters to increase emissions if
the appropriate state agency did not object within seven days. After
these revisions were enacted, it was discovered that 11 big air-polluting
firms donated $788,270 to Bush and to Republican committees. The media
muted the event. (3)
o An Unpublicized Result of the Iraq War. The death rate of Iraqi
children rose dramatically in the months after the Gulf War, largely
because of an outbreak of diarrhea caused by disabled water and sewage
systems. In the first seven months of 1991, about 46,900 more children
died than would have been expected, according to a study in the New
England Journal of Medicine. (4)
o Where Was Bill? Covert operations run from a clandestine airfield
at Mena, a small town in western Arkansas, included guns, drugs and
other activities related to the Iran/contra travesty. Even though
this trafficking occurred during Bill Clinton's administration as
governor of Arkansas, and could not have happened without his knowledge,
it attracted little attention from the mainstream media.(5)
SSU Censored Researchers: Blake Kehle, Kimberly S. Anderson, John Faiola,
COMMENTS: If there is a cyclical pattern to Project Censored, it centers
around the quadrennial spurt in censored political issues coinciding
with presidential election years. The Project Censored Yearbook for
1991 documented two decades of critical issues that might have affected
presidential elections but did not because of the lack of media coverage.
Critical underreported presidential election year issues cited included
o 1972 Richard Nixon and Watergate
o 1976 Jimmy Carter and the Trilateral Commission
o 1980 Ronald Reagan and "The October Surprise"
o 1984 Ronald Reagan and Three Unreported Stories About Paul Laxalt,
Edwin Meese and Charles Z. Wick
o 1988 George Bush and the News That Wasn't Fit to Print, a compilation
of 15 serious questions about Bush's qualifications to be president
that were not asked by the major news media during the campaign.
Thus, it is not surprising that a similar collection of issues went
underreported during the 1992 election. As noted in the synopsis above,
Project Censored focused on just five articles concerned with some of
these issues. Here are comments by some of the authors:
Common Cause Magazine: Peter Overby responds on behalf of the authors
of the potentially explosive Common Cause cover story about George Bush's
"'George Bush's Ruling Class' investigated favors bestowed by
the Bush administration on members of Team 100, the 249 wealthy donors
who gave at least $100,000 each in 'soft money' to the 1988 Bush-Quayle
effort. Soft money-huge campaign contributions that are channeled through
a legal loophole, in effect violating federal election law-has been
perhaps the most underreported aspect of national politics during the
past four years. In that time, few publications had the resources and
time necessary to report on soft money donors and their influence on
Overby believes it is important for the public to be more aware of
this issue: "The $100,000 contributions and the influence we traced
to their donors signal that government is for sale. Even Bush spokesman
Marlin Fitzwater conceded, 'It's buying access to the system, yes.'
Spotlighting such abuses will increase public pressure to close the
soft money loophole."
The people who benefit from the lack of coverage given this issue,
according to Overby, are the soft money players, both donors and recipients,
who have "much to gain by keeping the public in the dark. George
Bush, for one, vetoed a bill that would have banned soft money just
days after the President's Dinner, which raked in some $9 million in
soft money. He signed the veto statement on a Saturday night while White
House reporters were being entertained at a semi-official dinner for
the press corps."
Overby also notes that although Bill Clinton has expressed support
for campaign finance reform, the Democrats raised more soft money than
the Republicans during the last campaign.
The Progressive: Arthur E. Rowse, author of "Deregulatory Creep,"
which focused on the quid pro quo of campaign financing, provides an
additional insight into the electoral abuses cited above:
"As the article pointed out, the mainstream media showed little
interest in the way Quayle's Council on Competitiveness was assaulting
the health and safety of Americans by blocking the implementation of
federal laws. They were even less interested in correlating campaign
contributions with companies benefiting from the regulatory slowdown.
News coverage of the regulatory process -- where laws are often negated
after passing Congress-have routinely been minimal.
"A few of the larger newspapers occasionally tracked Council actions
on wetlands and air pollution. But, true to form, it was a personal
angle -- when Quayle's top aide was caught feathering his own nestthat
got the most attention. Quayle's own conflicts of interest stirred no
journalistic follow-up of Congressional charges. Evening news programs
dismissed almost everything. While campaign contributions to Congress
were receiving broad coverage, the White House angle was ignored.
"When the article came out, I thought it might stir some further
reporting in the major media, especially on the relationship of campaign
contributions to regulatory relief. But nothing happened. After another
small magazine showed interest in pursuing the topic, I tried to obtain
copies of Vice President Quayle's detailed itinerary for leads on contributions
that might be linked to specific regulatory actions. But the itinerary
was not supplied, despite numerous calls to his office and many other
likely sources. The possibility of finding incriminating quid-pro-quos
was there, but the election killed the idea."
Ironically, despite the criticism of Rowse and many others, in mid-January
1993, Quayle, in a moment of extreme chutzpah, warned Bill Clinton that
he would make a terrible mistake if he were to abolish the Council on
Competitiveness. Unclassified: David MacMichael, editor of Unclassified,
published by the Association of National Security Alumni in Washington,
says that the expose of Iran/ contra activities in Arkansas received
practically no coverage except for investigative stories by Alex Cockburn
in The Nation and a smear article in Time.
"This story illustrates how bipartisan involvement in U.S. government
covert operations influences not only national but state and local politics,
and corrupts law enforcement and the judicial process. There is a general
conspiracy of silence that masks criminal activity under the guise of
"The Clinton campaign avoided hard questioning about Governor
Clinton's tolerance of illegal contra support activities in the state
of Arkansas-with accompanying possible narcotics trafficking during
the 1980s. The Bush campaign was also spared questions about the activity
in the district of one of Bush's key congressional supporters-John Paul
"Information on this was provided to all Democratic primary candidates,
but none used it. The Brown campaign said they would use it only if
major media played it first."
MacMichael believes that the major media weren't interested, since
they looked upon the issue as an Iran/contra leftover and basically
went along with the Democratic campaign decision that Iran/ contra was
a dead issue.
Noting that "nobody wanted to touch this story with a pole,"
MacMichael says he received no calls from any major news media in the
U.S. about the issue. Ironically, on December 29,1992, he was contacted
by a major media outlet -- the French National Radio -- for comments
about the Caspar Weinberger pardon.