Small COLA Bad; Admiring Hillary's Liberalism; Skipping Video News
1) The Social
Security COLA news is "bad" for seniors, all three broadcast
networks insisted. It "will amount to peanuts this year."
2) CBS ran a
story applauding Hillary Clinton's liberal speech: While the President
"was accepting the keys to the city she was unlocking a debate
for women in all the Americas."
3) In the videos
Clinton boasted of subverting the hard money limits by misusing the
DNC ads, but the networks passed, even CNN.
1) An AARP
survey on how too few have saved enough tomaintain the same living
standard in retirement led the three broadcast networks Thursday
night. Each also emphasized, as ABC anchor Lisa McRee put it,
"bad news for those who are already retired" as Social
Security recipients will get the smallest cost of living hike in a
decade. Other than a mention of a U.S.-Japan dispute over port fees,
the ABC and NBC evening shows were free of any political stories. CBS
aired a fawning review of how Hillary Clinton wowed an Argentine
audience "with a passionate plea for women's rights and birth
None uttered a word about the videotapes or any aspect of fundraising
even though a Thursday Washington Post story detailed how the tapes
show that Clinton knew the party-paid soft money ads were designed to
circumvent hard money limits. See item #3 below for more on this
disclosure which was picked up by CNN's Inside Politics.
Here's a rundown of the Thursday, October 16 shows:
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Substitute
anchor Lisa McRee opened with the AARP survey which found "too
many workers counting on Social Security and other investments to bail
them out." After a story on the poll and another on how people
have a mental block against retirement planning, McRee got to Social
"And some bad news for those
who are already retired. The government says next year's cost of
living increase for Social Security checks will be just 2.1 percent.
Now that's the smallest rise in a decade because of the low rate of
" Bad news? The cost of living index may not be exactly accurate,
but it is meant to match inflation. So the elderly are really no
better or worse off whether the hike is 1 percent or 8 percent. Either
way it just matches inflation. Of course, even within the network
perspective of dollar amount equals good or bad news, no network
looked at the issue from a taxpayer's point of view, that taxpayers
won't have to cough up so much more next year.
-- NBC Nightly News broadcast from Seattle. Tom Brokaw also portrayed
the Social Security hike as bad news, opening the show:
"Good evening from
Seattle. These are prosperous times in the state of Washington and
across America, maybe the most prosperous ever. But tonight, there are
some stark warnings about that time almost everyone looks forward to:
retirement. It is going to be very expensive and the current safety
nets simply cannot keep pace. All of this came out on a day when the
Social Security Administration had some jarring news for senior
citizens -- their Social Security cost of living increases will amount
to peanuts this year, just 2.1 percent, that's the lowest in a decade.
More on the retirement crunch from NBC's Lisa Myers tonight."
NBC didn't have time for a White House videotape update, but Nightly
News dedicated the "In Depth" segment to an update what has
happened to all those involved in the "Baby Jessica" rescue
-- Dan Rather started the CBS
Evening News by plugging the AARP report, but first went to Eric
Engberg for the Social Security news. Engberg called the cost of
living increase "the smallest in a decade" which "was
unwelcome news for many of the 44 million people who receive
benefits." Of the three network reporters, only Engberg found any
upside to the small hike, concluding his piece: "While the small
size of the benefits increase may crimp people living on Social
Security it's also a sign of reduced inflation which is good news for
the overall economy."
the Great. In a top of the show tease Thursday night, CBS Evening News
anchor Dan Rather announced: "In Argentina, no tango but Hillary
Clinton wows her audiences with a passionate plea for women's rights
and birth control."
Scott Pelley filed his report from Buenos Aires, providing a laudatory
review of how she heroically took on the Catholic church and pushed
her liberal views as she enters a new stage in her life. Here's the
full story. (Note how about half the story is made up of soundbites
from Mrs. Clinton nicely set up by Pelley, who found no critics.)
Scott Pelley: "In the old Opera House, the First Lady of the
United States said what politicians do not say in Argentina. Listen to
the reaction to her message of contraceptive freedom among a people 90
percent Catholic, in a nation where abortion is illegal."
Hillary Clinton: "Access to
quality health care, especially family planning and reproductive
health services...[audience applauds]...is also crucial to advancing
the progress of women."
Pelley: "She recalled a
visit to a Brazilian hospital and family planning clinic."
Hillary Clinton: "The result
of a program like that was that rates of maternal mortality, and
importantly of abortion decreased because women received the health
care that they needed in a timely manner. For the first time, poor
women received the same heath services that rich women have always
been able to receive for themselves."
Pelley: "Mrs. Clinton
has delivered straight talk before -- a tough human rights speech in
China for example. A First Lady often has more freedom to speak than
her husband. And her friends say there will be more of this as she
reaches a turning point in her life. Mrs. Clinton turns 50 this month,
but it was taking her daughter to college that caused her to reassess
her life and expand her work. On a day her husband was accepting the
keys to the city she was unlocking a debate for women in all the
Hillary Clinton: "In too
many countries, my own as well, too many rights are still denied and
too many doors of opportunity still remain tightly closed."
Pelley: "Mrs. Clinton is
said to be thinking about opportunities for herself after the White
House and an identity apart from her husband's. For the First Lady it
is perhaps the beginning of the second act. Scott Pelley, CBS News,
Maybe she could get a job as a network reporter. She'd fit right in
and her colleagues certainly like her political agenda: a true liberal
unlike her husband who keeps moderating too much.
Tape, Clinton Links Lead in Polls, Issue Ads" announced a front
page Washington Post headline on Thursday. Post reporters Susan
Schmidt and Lena Sun explained how the tapes raised the possibility of
an illegal funding move:
"President Clinton can be seen on
a newly released fundraising videotape telling a group of major
Democratic Party donors last year that a nationwide campaign of
televised issue ads was boosting his standing in the polls. The tape
seems to support the assertions that the ad campaign was intended not
simply to promote issues important to the Democrats but to strengthen
the President's reelection campaign and bypass strict spending limits
imposed on federal candidates."
"'Many of you have given
very generously and thank you for that,' the President told party
donors invited to he May 21, 1996 White House lunch recorded on the
tape. 'The fact that we've been able to finance this long-running
constant television campaign...where we're always able to frame the
issues...has been central to the position I now enjoy in the polls,'
The Post reporters later emphasized the relevance of Clinton's
remarks: "While the legal rules on the subject are murky,
Clinton's comments could add new fuel to arguments that the
advertising was a blatant end-run around the spending restrictions and
offer a sharp contrast to party officials' repeated public statements
that the advertising effort was not focused on Clinton's
Thursday afternoon CNN's Inside Politics picked up on the angle. Judy
Woodruff reported that "some Republicans say that they see
something illegal in the videos showing President Clinton talking
about TV ads financed with soft money." CNN's John King
"It is the pictures that capture
the eye, but investigators poring over 100 hours of White House
videotapes are more interested in the President's words -- words like
Clinton in video: "Now on
the media front, let me just say that I want to thank everybody who's
done so much work already to help do that. One of the reasons this
campaign is winning today is that between 25 and 45 percent of the
country nearly every week for more than six months now has heard what
we think the message is."
King: "Mr. Clinton is referring to the millions of dollars spent
by the Democratic Party on TV ads last year." Clip of DNC ad:
"The Oval Office -- if it were Bob Dole sitting here, he would
have already cut Medicare $270 billion."
King: "What interests Mr.
Clinton's Republican critics is that large contributions raised at
these events is called soft money. It is not supposed to be spent
directly to help a federal candidate. Senate investigators plan to use
the new videotapes to explore whether Mr. Clinton used these party ads
to avoid the campaign spending caps. Sources tell CNN this is one of
the areas Justice Department investigators are exploring, too, now
with the tapes as exhibits...."
Other coverage: Zilch. King's story did not even run on CNN in prime
time. Thursday night's The World Today skipped it and did not air
anything about fundraising. The ABC, CBS and NBC evening shows went
fundraising-free Thursday night, October 16.
Similarly, the morning shows ignored the angle:
-- During the 7am news Today ran a re-edited version of the same piece
by Pete Williams that ran on Wednesday's Nightly News. The three
topics explored in the 7am half hour interview segments: Baby Jessica,
the nanny murder trial in Massachusetts, and the anniversary of 1987
crash. At 8am news reader Ann Curry went to David Bloom in Buenos
Aires for a report on how the Clinton team is upset that the trip is
being "overshadowed by the flap over fundraising."
Of course, instead of airing White House complaints, Today could have
used the time to talk about fundraising AND what Clinton is doing
policy-wise in South America.
-- Good Morning America ran two stories with nothing new, a 7am piece
from Karla Davis and another at 8am from Linda Douglass who emphasized
how the tapes showed nothing unusual. When news reader Kevin Newman
asked "shouldn't we be surprised" by a President so actively
fundraising, Douglass reassured him that everybody does it:
"President Clinton was more
active in the fundraising effort than any President has been before
him. His aides cleared his schedule so that he could spend hours and
hours on end interacting with donors. But the fact is this is what
goes on in Washington eery day. Members of Congress routinely spend
hours with their donors, they're on the phone with them raising money.
The fact is that if you pay you will get access to a politician."
Case closed. End of scandal. Clinton did what everybody does all the
Coming Monday: a special MRC 10th Anniversary edition
of Notable Quotables: A Decade of Bias. It's a four page issue with
some of the most biased quotes since 1988.
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