NBC's Williams Says Dems Are Measuring Drapes; ABC's Vargas in Feminist Overdrive

In Monday's Media Notes column in the Washington Post, Howard Kurtz found the media are attracted to polls like crack cocaine, and they've "grown addicted to the GOP-in-trouble narrative." Kurtz says it isn't about liberal bias, but the desire for a change in story line. Riiight. Journalists confirm that Democrats have been boasting of a takeover:

"If you mention something enough times, you make it seem as if it must be so," says NBC's Williams. But, he says, "if the media are guilty of beating the Democratic House takeover drums, the media share that guilt with prominent Democrats, who in on- and off-the-record settings have indeed been all but measuring the drapes."

Mark Halperin, ABC's political director, says all the data suggest a good year for Democrats. "I don't think there's anything wrong with reporting the reality of what's going on," he says. Most revealing, he says, are "Republican sources who say, 'We're going to lose a lot of seats and, if nothing changes, we will lose the House and maybe the Senate.' "

Kurtz admits that some of the fall's campaign coverage has been excessive with a liberal tilt:

There surely may be some instances of liberal bias. Maybe the press made too much of Sen. George Allen's "macaca" moment, or wallowed too long in the finger-pointing fallout from the Mark Foley page scandal. At the same time, the press can't very well ignore the rising death toll in Iraq, which is also being cast as bad news for President Bush and his party.

But he also claimed the GOP doesn't investigate its own government: "One-party rule is, let's face it, rather predictable, especially with a Republican Congress that has basically gotten out of the oversight business during the Bush presidency."

In his second item, Kurtz previewed an upcoming piece by spurned ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas, who is turning her dumped-anchor-mom outrage on America:

For the "20/20" piece airing Friday, Vargas examines the lives of three working women with children, interviews politicians and serves up a slew of statistics on the problems faced by working mothers. As an example of public attitudes, she cites a Cornell University survey of undergraduates who said that if they were employers, they would offer women with children $11,000 a year less in salary than childless women, and be 44 percent less likely to hire those with kids.

"There is still in this country real discrimination against working mothers," Vargas says.

She also reports that the United States is one of five countries, out of 168, that do not mandate paid maternity leave. "North Korea and Iran offer more benefits," Vargas says.

If it sounds like she's become an advocate on the issue, she doesn't dispute that. "I have a strong point of view on it, yes, because of what I've been through," says Vargas.

Earth to Elizabeth: Do you really want to trying being a working mom in North Korea? Would there be any food there? And would she prefer being covered head-to-toe in Iran? The hype is too intense.

Campaigns & Elections Feminism ABC NBC NBC Nightly News 20/20
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