An article on the front page of this past Sunday's Times was a classic demonstration of how Berke spins "news" to the Democrats' advantage. In fact, compared to a contradictory Washington Post article that ran the same day, Berke appears to be doing more than spinning the facts: He looks like he's distorting them.
Berke's article ran under the absurdly panicked hed and subheds:
DEMOCRATS WORRY OVER WAR CHEST AMASSED BY G.O.P.
Blizzard of Ads Feared
Some in Party Fear Defeat and
Say Clinton Is Distracted
by Own Fund-Raising
"Many prominent Democrats say they are deeply troubled that the Republican Party is collecting so much more money than the Democrats that it will enjoy an insurmountable financial advantage?perhaps enough to cost them the White House," Berke led off. He goes on to air Democrats' fears that if, as this election year proceeds, "the Republican National Committee has a big surplus of unregulated 'soft money' [over the Democrats], they say, the Democratic candidate would face a relentless blizzard of television commercials condemning Democratic programs." Farther along, the odious Rep. Robert Torricelli (NJ) complains that Republicans "could 'easily have a three- or four-to-one' advantage," and there is yet more hand-wringing that makes the soft-money gap sound as menacing as the Cold War missile gap. Although it's not plainly stated, what Clinton is too "distracted" to fundraise for is obvious: Al Gore's campaign.
We can see no reason for this piece to have run on the front page, even on a slow-news Sunday, other than that it was yet another of the Times' thinly disguised advertorials for their man Gore, and a fine public outreach effort for the Democratic National Committee, shaking down potential Gore donors with its repetition of "fear," "feared" and "fears," its dire threats of blizzards and "defeat," and the ominous, implied impropriety of that "unregulated soft money." Imagine the treatment if the situation were reversed:
DEMOCRAT COFFERS OVERFLOW AS POPULARITY SOARS
Gore Plans New Ad Campaign
To Take Message to Voters
As Donations Pour in,
Confirming His Mandate
Or maybe it should be more simple, something along the lines of:
Democrats End '99 With A Cash Edge
House Campaign Committee Has More Left Than GOP
That's from page 4 of the Sunday Washington Post, reporting that Democrats in the House, at least, "will head into the 2000 elections with significantly more money left to spend on this year's contests" than their GOP rivals. That includes landmark levels of "unregulated soft money," by the way?which, it is widely predicted, will help Democrats take back the House in 2000.
True, the Times piece focused mostly on presidential campaigns, the Post on Congress. Still, the disparity suggests someone is playing fast and loose with the news, and we think we know who that is.