GMA Noted Lack of Hearings Coverage; Class Envy on Tax Bill
Correction: The August 1
CyberAlert quoted Tom Brokaw as saying that "Warriors for Paula
Jones served a subpoena on a former White House aide...." Brokaw
actually said that "Lawyers for Paula Jones..."
- GMA offered
no update on the hearings, but noted that "media watch
groups" think they were undercovered. Medicare reform is the
only "storm cloud" on Clinton's horizon, asserted
Today's Matt Lauer.
story non-existent over the weekend. Even news of another policy
payoff to a donor failed to stir the networks.
- MSNBC claimed
that "the new tax bill will shower most of the goodies on the
wealthiest" but a real-life analysis shows that the poor will
get the most.
contrasts on China and the line item veto.
1) The Friday morning shows
treated the end of the current round of fundraising hearings the same
way they most often dealt with them over the four weeks -- by ignoring
them. One show discussed an undercovered news story, but it was not
the hearings, and another raised conservative concern about the lack
of hearings coverage.
-- This Morning skipped the
hearings for the 17th straight weekday on Friday, August 1. The last
mention of fundraising on the CBS show came on Wednesday, July 9
before the first witness even appeared. Friday's This Morning aired
two lengthy and separate segments on baby talk as a universal language
employed by mothers around the world.
-- ABC's Good Morning
America, in a show that failed to offer any update on the hearings,
highlighted how "conservative media watch groups" (sounds
like the MRC) think the hearings are undercovered. In the second
interview segment during the 7am half hour, co-host Bill Ritter asked
Cokie Roberts for the latest on the Helms/Weld fight. Next, viewers
heard this exchange:
Bill Ritter: "Let's move
on to another Republican issue: Senator Fred Thompson's committee
having hearings on campaign financing. A lot of conservative media
watch groups are saying that we, the mainstream media, are not paying
as much attention as perhaps we should be to these hearings. Are we
missing some bombshells here, and not telling the American
Cokie Roberts: "Well,
Senator Thompson would say that there's been some very important
revelations in these hearings, that basically the White House was up
for sale. But he says, 'Look, there'll be, there'll be exciting days
to come in September and a lot more boring days to come.' The truth is
that the witnesses that have come so far have not been names that
anyone that in the media would recognize, for the most part. There
will be some of those, some close White House aides when they come
back in September, and you can be sure we'll be there."
Well, they haven't been so
far. On Thursday, the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee repudiated
the White House as all the Democrats joined the Republicans for a
unanimous vote to issue a subpoena to the White House for all
outstanding documents. The action followed the White House decision to
hold the release of documents showing ten visits by Mr. Wu until after
the committee heard from witnesses about his role. But none of
Thursday's evening shows of Friday's morning shows mentioned this
evidence that neither committee Republicans or Democrats believe the
White House is acting in good faith.
-- Today viewers did not hear
a word about fundraising as the NBC show put a higher priority on some
other news. The 7am "Close-Up" segment highlighted a Miami
Herald story on how Andrew Cunanan didn't have AIDS. Next, a story and
interview about prisons that have banned smoking.
During the 7:30am half hour
Today brought on Newsweek's Jonathan Alter to discuss the week's
events. Fundraising was not one of them. Alter deemed more important a
new S&M cafe in Manhattan and Bill Cosby's paternity suit. Though
he ignored fundraising, Alter complained about lack of coverage of
another subject: Pol Pot.
Following Alter's comments
about Autumn Jackson and Bill Cosby, Matt Lauer inquired:
"Alright, let's move onto another subject that didn't get as much
attention: Pol Pot, the Cambodian dictator, was shown photographed
this week and apparently put on trial for crimes he's committed in the
past. Why do you think this didn't receive the kind of attention in
this country that some say it should have?"
Alter explained: "It
really should have. This Pol Pot character is an Asian Adolf Hitler.
Just imagine if 20 years after World War II, pictures of an aging
Adolf Hitler had showed up, that would be very big news. Well, this
should be, too...."
Lauer later followed up:
"Did we blow the coverage of this story, you say? We didn't give
it enough emphasis?"
Alter: "I think that's
right. This should have been a much bigger story in the United
Lauer: "Yeah, when we
discussed this segment, the first story you wanted to talk about was
Autumn Jackson, also."
Alter: "Hey, she's got
better name recognition, what can I tell ya?"
Next, the duo moved on to
Clinton's 58 percent popularity which Alter credited to the budget and
Lauer incredibly asserted:
"But there aren't any major storm clouds on the horizon for Bill
Clinton, other than maybe Medicare reform."
Alter: "Yeah, but of
course there are these possible scandals, but when the economy is
doing well, the public really doesn't seem to care much about anything
Especially when the networks
don't tell them anything about them. In the week ending with Lauer's
appearance, a week in which money laundering generated some evening
show interest, Today aired a grand total of one story on the hearings
during one half hourly news update. And Today failed to mention
another "storm cloud" on Clinton's horizon: the subpoena
issued by lawyers for Paula Jones to a former female White House
2) The broadcast networks did
not utter a word about fundraising on their Friday, Saturday or Sunday
evening shows. As noted above, the networks failed to tell viewers
about the committee's unanimous vote on Thursday to subpoena the White
House. They also ignored a new example of how large donors got the
changes they desired in government policy.
"DNC Donor with an Eye
on Diamonds: Tempelsman Plan Got the Ear of U.S. Aides" read the
front page headline over the August 2 Washington Post story. Reporter
Susan Schmidt's lead:
dealer Maurice Tempelsman, a generous contributor to the Democratic
Party, has won unusual support from high Clinton administration
officials for a business proposal hat could position him as a key
marketer of billions of dollars worth of Angolan diamonds, interviews
and classified government cables show."
Coverage: Zilch on Saturday's
ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News. Not
even CNN's The World Today aired a word about it.
3) MSNBC approached the
budget bill from the left, emphasizing how it will help the rich but
not the poor. Anchoring The News with Brian Williams on July 29 John
Hockenberry introduced a piece by Jonathan Alter:
"Now some people busy
calculating the actual tax relief generated by the budget agreement
think it will end up mostly benefitting people who need it the least:
the rich. But as NBC's Jonathan Alter found, exactly who falls into
that category depends on whom you ask."
Several times Alter insisted
that the rich would benefit most: "After the back-slapping, after
the fine print, the bottom line on the tax bill is still this: The
richer you are, the richer you'll be....
"By slashing capital
gains by almost a third, the new tax bill will shower most of the
goodies on the wealthiest 20 percent of all Americans. That's families
earning more, often much more, than $64,000 a year....
"The biggest winners
from the new tax cut are those...making more than $200,000 a year, the
top one percent of all taxpayers. They'll get an average of well over
$5,000 a year in new tax relief, enough for a couple of weeks here at
The Plaza. Enough to make them feel richer, but not rich. Jonathan
Alter, NBC News, New York."
Next, Hockenberry interviewed
tax attorney Clint Stretch. Here are his class warfare questions, as
transcribed by MRC intern Jessica Anderson:
-- "Are we back to
voodoo economics, or is this a brave new world?"
-- "Although in looking
at the broadest scale, people making over $230,000 a year would get
roughly on the order of twelve to sixteen thousand dollars in tax
relief, whereas people making $12,000 would get $14 in tax
-- "Does a capital gains
tax of this order of magnitude, at this point in the year, encourage
other things to happen in the economy? Are we likely to see massive
profit-taking sometime in December?"
Alter and Hockenberry relayed the same numbers on how much a $200,000
plus and $12,000 income person will "get" under the plan as
ABC's World News Tonight reported the same night. Diane Sawyer
announced that "The range of the tax cuts is huge, as you can see
[on screen graphic], ranging from $14, at the lowest income levels
[$12,800] to nearly $17,000 at the highest levels [$246,000]. Those
with the very highest incomes benefit the most from cuts in capital
gains, estate, and inheritance taxes."
Of course, it's the percent
not the dollar figure that best reflects impact. In reality, the
convoluted and targeted plan means that the rich only benefit if they
make a capital gain or sell property while the poor, if they have
children, benefit the most by getting a payment from the government
far in excess of any tax payment -- in effect, a greater welfare
Indeed, Friday's Washington
Post offered examples of how the tax plan will impact five families.
Two come close to the ABC/MSNBC income levels:
-- "The Working Mom. Two
children younger than 17. Receives $771 tax refund through the earned
income tax credit for the working poor.
"Tax refund under current law: $771
"Tax refund under agreement: $1,771
"Tax cut: $1,000 (130%)"
-- "The Power Couple.
Two children, one in college, one younger than 17. $100,000 in capital
"Tax under current law: $96,080
"Tax under agreement: $88,080
"Tax cut: $8,000 (8%)"
Only a liberal, or a
journalist, could think that 8 percent is greater than 130 percent.
4) Two examples of
conflicting headlines from Saturday's newspapers:
Says Hearings Point to China Role."
-- Los Angles Times, August 2.
Backpedals on China Election-Meddling Claim."
-- Washington Times, same day.
House Considering Line-Item Veto of Tax Cuts."
-- Washington Post, August 2.
Seems Unlikely to Use Line-Item Veto on New Tax Bill."
-- Washington Times, same day.
It just shows why you should
read beyond the headlines.
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