Gingrich on China Gets Seconds; Fearing Social Security Reform; Latest NQ
1) Networks gave just
seconds Tuesday night to Gingrich's plan for a select committee, finding
"fish-cams," Powerball and jet ski safety more newsworthy.
Opposition to raising retirement age and the unfairness of the market
stressed on Social Security reform.
2) May 18 edition of Notable
Quotables: "Tonight's Special: CNN vs. Burton" and "Not
Another Costly Counsel!"
3) "If there's any job
where you should be able to....it should be the President. Now, Kenneth
Starr -- somebody needs to...." A crude suggestion from a
Grammy-winning band leader.
The broadcast networks continue to avoid the China connection. Tuesday
morning neither Today or Good Morning America uttered a word about any
aspect of it. The fires in Mexico, breast cancer treatment and "Powerball
fever" filled GMA's 7am half hour, MRC news analyst Clay Waters
noted. Today's 7am features started with a look at the case in Chicago
where hospital workers refused to go outside to retrieve the body of a
shooting victim. (Today has yet to mention China: nothing Friday, Sunday,
Monday or Tuesday morning.)
In the evening,
the networks each gave a few seconds to announcing Newt Gingrich's plan
to establish a select committee to examine if political donations prompted
the Clinton administration to grant a waiver to allow the transfer of
missile technology to China. But those items still left the total time
devoted over five nights by the CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News to
the China connection at under one minute on each show.
CBS, CNN and NBC
all ran full reports on the recommendations released by a commission which
studied Social Security, but all emphasized opposition to raising the
retirement age. CNN highlighted the unfairness that would result from more
private investment and NBC allowed only negative comments from the liberal
Here are some
highlights from the Tuesday, May 19 evening shows:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight led with a look at India's "elaborate effort to fool
the United States."
Next, anchor Peter Jennings took 17 seconds to
tell viewers about Gingrich's plans: "Other news in Washington.
House Speaker Newt Gingrich said today he will seek a special House
inquiry into the Clinton Administration's export of sensitive missile
technology to China. The Republican leader says the panel wants to know
whether national security was breached. The Democratic minority leader,
Richard Gephardt, says he will oppose the investigation."
-- CBS Evening
News. Dan Rather opened:
"A special commission is out tonight with
the most sweeping plan yet for changing this nation's Social Security
system. Under this proposal, workers could direct a portion of their
payroll tax into a personal investment account and the age for collecting
Social Security benefits would be raised ever closer to the current life
expectancy of 75."
Eric Engberg began his story with opposition from
those not even affected: "For workers, the biggest and most likely
controversial change suggested, raising the retirement age to 70 by the
year 2029. That's a change hitting those born after 1969, including
workers with physically punishing jobs, like those we talked to
Viewers saw complaints from two construction
workers obviously older than 18 -- so unaffected by the proposal. Engberg
then ran down the other ideas suggested, noting: "Another big change
recommended, allowing people to shift a small slice of their payroll tax
money to a variety of private investment funds the government would
The Eye on America
segment, in Dan Rather's words, highlighted "how the gun industry,
with help from Hollywood and television, is legally marketing gun products
Earlier in the
show Dan Rather allocated 18 seconds to Gingrich:
"House Speaker Newt Gingrich is now
proposing another new committee to investigate President Clinton and those
around him, this time over the transfer of U.S. missile technology to
China. Gingrich says administration waivers that granted U.S. missile know
how to China for civilian purposes may have in fact helped China's
Total CBS Evening
News time given to the China connection since the story broke on May 15:
45 seconds. (27 seconds on May 15, 18 seconds on May 19. Zero on May 16,
17 and 18.)
Just 18 seconds
for China, 45 in total, so CBS Evening News viewers still have never heard
anything but the vaguest summary of what's involved. What is more
newsworthy to CBS? Tuesday night viewers were treated to a full story on a
new weather satellite that offers 3-D pictures of storms, a full report on
the controversy over the use of "fish-cams" by those fishing in
Minnesota and a piece on the incident in Chicago where friends of a teen
shooting victim drove him to a hospital and left him in an ally within
sight of the emergency room, but he died after hospital workers refused to
leave the hospital to get him. CBS, like ABC's World News Tonight and
NBC's Today, had plenty of time for those blaming the hospital workers.
But, all failed to put any blame on the moronic or lazy friends who left
him in an ally instead of driving up to the emergency entrance.
-- CNN's The
World Today at 8pm ET opened with the Social Security commission report.
Eileen O'Connor ran through the proposals and then offered this reaction
leading into two matching soundbites: "For many, raising the
retirement age raises problems." O'Connor also found the private
investment problematic: "Experts also say people will need to be
taught how to invest in the personal savings accounts."
Don Marron of Paine Weber, a commission member,
worried about unequal results: "One thinks the right thing to do is
to be conservative and buy bonds. The other buys stocks. Thirty years
later, one has four times as much money as the other. I think it's a big
As if everyone
gets the same amount from Social Security now.
As for 70 being
too old for a new retirement age, CNN then ran a story about how 12
percent of workers eligible for Social Security are still working past the
current retirement age. More than halfway through the show CNN offered a
piece showing how much better the market serves retirees than the Social
Security system. Charles Zewe checked in from Galveston County Texas where
a special exemption decades ago allowed the county to opt out of Social
Security and invest county workers' money in annuities. "The
results have been phenomenal," two to three times Social Security's
payout, Zewe discovered.
-- FNC's 7pm ET
Fox Report began with the shooting of three police officers followed by a
standoff in Florida. Co-anchor Catherine Crier noted Gingrich's plan and
added that the Speaker told Human Events that the world sees Clinton's
White House as the "rough equivalent of the Jerry Springer
-- NBC Nightly
News led with Indonesia and Suharto's status. Gwen Ifill's piece on
the Social Security reform proposal began by noting many are skeptical
since "Social Security promises have already been broken." After
running down the basics (moving retirement age from 65 to 70 by 2029,
sliding early retirement from 62 to 65, and allowing people to invest two
percent of their withholding in stock market), Ifill turned to one man for
expert analysis, John Rother, head of the left-wing AARP. Ifill declared:
"But the American Association of Retired
Persons says worker want to retire sooner, not later....Another problem
according to AARP, older workers can expect to encounter age
discrimination. The White House and Congress will wrestle with this latest
plan to fix Social Security, but the reality is beginning to hit home:
Americans will have to work harder and invest more to get the same
benefits their parents took for granted."
commission did not propose any tax increase and if retirees had invested
their money in the stock market over the past 50 years they would have
more than they now get from Social Security. So, stock market investing
would mean more benefits for the same amount invested.
Later Brokaw gave
23 seconds to explaining: "House Speaker Newt Gingrich said tonight
that he wants to set up a special investigative committee with
far-reaching powers to get to the bottom of reports the Clinton
administration traded campaign contributions from Chinese nationals for
missile technology deals. The White House and Chinese officials are
denying that. It is not clear whether Democrats in Congress will go along
with Gingrich's plan."
Total NBC Nightly
News time given to the China connection since the story broke on May 15:
38 seconds. (15 seconds on May 15, 23 seconds on May 19. Zero on May 16,
17 and 18.)
And what did NBC
consider more newsworthy Tuesday night: the danger of jet skis and the
long odds, 80 million to 1, of winning the Powerball jackpot of $175
million. Reporter Jim Avilla relayed how one analyst called it a "tax
on the mathematically challenged" and Avilla noted that taxes make it
an even worse way to gamble as the government operators take 50 percent,
but bingo handlers usually take 26 percent, horse tracks 19 percent and
casinos 11 percent from slot machines.
The May 18 edition of Notable Quotables, the MRC's bi-weekly compilation
of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media.
Quotes fresh to CyberAlert readers include "Buy This Deadly
Book," a quote in Time from Barbara Ehrenreich tying the Communist
Manifesto to Jesus, noticed by MRC analyst Tom Johnson; and some worry
from Judy Woodruff under "Not Another Costly Counsel!" caught by
analyst Eric Darbe.
The issue follows
May 18, 1998 (Vol. Eleven; No. 11)
Wolf's So-Called Objectivity
"John, what is the White House
strategy right now in dealing with all of these late breaking developments
involving this so-called scandal?" -- CNN Late Edition host Wolf
Blitzer to John King, May 3.
Not Another Costly Counsel!
"I can hear people out there saying,
'What? Another one?' I mean, Brian Ross reported that it's already cost
something like $63, $73 million for the previous six. How much is this
going to cost?" --Good Morning America host Kevin Newman to ABC legal
analyst Jeffrey Toobin on the independent counsel assigned for Labor
Secretary Alexis Herman, May 12.
"At a time when many Americans are
uneasy about the work of independent counsels, and the Clinton
administration is downright fed up, another counsel appointment may be in
the offing...The prospect of another independent counsel probe may have
taxpayers seeing dollar signs. After all, in some people's minds,
investigating the Clinton administration has become a costly cottage
industry." -- CNN anchor Judy Woodruff's first two introductions on
the May 11 Inside Politics, before the probe was announced.
Incivility, Put in Perspective
CBS reporter Mark Knoller: "Dan Burton
referred to the President, as a quote, 'scumbag.' It sent the incivility
index in Washington to a new low. But the President made a strategic
decision not to respond in kind to the vulgar name-calling." Clinton:
"A President can not repair the breaches in a country, cannot unify a
country, and cannot lift its vision if he takes personally personal
assaults." -- CBS News Saturday Morning, April 25.
"The use of a two-syllable vulgarity
by the Chairman was rather ambitious." -- Clinton Press Secretary
Mike McCurry, April 23.
Get This Harsh, Outrageous
Reporter Thalia Assuras: "Democrats in
New Hampshire walked out on the Speaker this week because of his harsh
words against the President."
Newt Gingrich: "That you have the right to know what happened if a
law is broken." -- May 9 CBS Evening News.
Tonight's Special: CNN vs.
"Tonight, a CNN special report,
'Burton vs. Clinton.' Thank you for joining us. It is a remarkable
political and personal battle, even for a President who has been under
attack from Day One, even for a Congressman known for harsh words and
partisan hardball. As we will explain in the next hour, 'Burton vs.
Clinton' is about the Webster Hubbell tapes and so much more, including
Dan Burton's power, his tactics, and even his personality." -- Judy
Woodruff introducing CNN's May 5 prime time special "Burton vs.
"Dan Burton pulled a stunt that was so
outrageous it enabled Democrats today, this week to seize the initiative.
They were able to distract attention from Starr's campaign to build a case
for a cover-up and have enabled Democrats to try to discredit the whole
investigation as partisan and unfair. Starr and Burton and Gingrich have
been doing that all along. Their behavior has allowed the White House to
depict them as zealots and partisans out to get the President, and
Democrats hope that discredits anything they could turn up." -- CNN
political analyst Bill Schneider, same program.
"In this tale of truth, lies and
audiotapes, the media is smack in the middle of a confusing, complicated,
and constantly changing story. Critics say journalists were too late to
question being handed only a one-hour edited version out of 150 hours of
recorded jail house conversations....News organizations argue that there
is intrinsic news value when the chairman of a major congressional
committee releases information, but there is no doubt that some are
somewhat uncomfortable with the role they played in this episode. But are
they uncomfortable enough to change the way the media is covering this
continuing saga in the nation's capital?" -- CNN reporter Linda
Pattillo on the media, same program.
Media Too Scandal-Obsessed?
"At least he did acknowledge the
presence of network correspondents this time Claire. In the last news
conference he pretty much avoided all of you. Most of the questions that
did come from what we would call the prominent members of the White House
press corps had to do with the Lewinsky scandal. Is there a possibility
that he is only building more political capital by letting you ask those
questions, batting them away and the American public beginning to say
there is a kind of obsession with the subject?" -- Tom Brokaw to NBC
reporter Claire Shipman on MSNBC after Clinton's April 30 press
"President Clinton today said little
and shrugged off any similarity between a federal court rejecting his
assertions of executive privilege in the Ken Starr investigation of his
personal life, and the Richard Nixon executive privilege claims during the
crimes of Watergate. But, President Clinton's spokesman Mike McCurry put
it bluntly, and I quote, 'In Watergate crimes were committed,'
unquote." -- Dan Rather, May 6 CBS Evening News.
"In a CBS News poll out tonight just
29 percent believe Starr is conducting an impartial investigation of
President Clinton. And 57 percent want Starr to drop his investigation of
the President's personal life." -- Rather, May 8.
Immoral House Republicans
"You're also talking to people who are
not popular because they closed the government; they're not popular
because they never came up with campaign finance reform, which they
promised -- that could be a moral issue, too, taking money from people to
vote. So morality covers a lot of areas and some of the people you're
talking to have the questionable morals themselves." -- CNN's Larry
King to Focus on the Family head James Dobson, May 6 Larry King Live.
Hunt's Helping of Burton Bashing
"I think the idea of taping a prisoner
is absolutely good, desirable, should happen, and if they say something
incriminating, it ought to be used against them by a prosecutor. But to go
to what Tom Lantos said, I think what Dan Burton did, if the Justice
Department had done it, it would have been against the law, would have
made Joe McCarthy proud. And one more point I would make is that these
tapes were selectively edited and given Dan Burton's track record, I would
not be at all surprised if we find out that some of it was done quite
dishonestly." -- Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt on CNN's Capital Gang,
"I think Republicans are doing a
rendition -- remember that old Zero Mostel parody Springtime for Hitler? I
think that's what they're doing. The moral charge against Bill Clinton is
being led by Newt Gingrich, the only Speaker in history to be sanctioned
for unethical conduct, the most unpopular political figure in America. Dan
Burton, the committee chairman, now has, at least according to the
Washington Times, has his staff wearing latex gloves because he says
left-wingers are sending him condoms in the mail. His staff aide, Mr.
Bossie, most reporters I know think was a duplicitous wacko." -
Hunt, May 9 Capital Gang.
Dan Burton Plays Pinochet?
"From the outset of the campaign
finance hearings, Dan Burton has been a lightning rod for partisanship and
accusation. His adversaries say he has run the committee with
authoritarian zeal, that he's steamrolled Democrats and shattered
precedent." -- CNN Washington Bureau Chief Frank Sesno beginning a
profile of Burton, May 4 Inside Politics.
Buy This Deadly Book
"The Communist Manifesto is well worth
the $12 that Verso is asking. Despite the hype, its message is a timeless
one that bears repeating every century or so: The meek shall triumph and
the mighty shall fall; the hungry and exhausted will get restless and
someday -- someday! -- rise up against their oppressors. The prophet
Isaiah said something like this, and so, a little more recently, did
Jesus." -- Time columnist Barbara Ehrenreich in an April 30 book
review for the Web site Salon.
White House Disavows Hillary,
Rather Disavows Republicans
"President Clinton is sending his top
Middle East negotiator, Dennis Ross, back to Israel tonight at a crucial
point in the peace process. This amid new Republican attacks aimed at
First Lady Hillary Clinton for remarks she made yesterday telling
international students that she favors the idea of a Palestinian state.
The White House says that's just her opinion." -- Dan Rather, May 7
CBS Evening News.
For Bashing the NRA: Four
"It could easily be argued that any
movie that upsets the National Rifle Association has to be worth
something. The Long Island Incident: The True Story of Carolyn McCarthy is
worth plenty and, as it happens, will give the NRA fits. Hooray.... News
footage of Babsy's [Executive Producer Barbra Streisand] pal Bill Clinton
is included showing him favoring the assault weapon ban. The bill passes
but then a new Congress comes in and then-Sen. Bob Dole (not shown
on-screen) vows to have the bill repealed. Dole likes to romp around TV
now, in commercials and sitcom cameos, playing the cuddly geezer. The film
is a reminder that in his day he was one of the most vicious hatchet men
ever to wield an ax in Washington. Eventually McCarthy is entreated to run
for Congress, and though she's a Republican the Republicans are happy with
their incumbent, dull Daniel Frisa. So McCarthy runs as a Democrat and
fries Frisa in the election. You'll want to cheer." -- Washington
Post television reviewer Tom Shales in a May 2 review of the May 3 NBC
-- L. Brent Bozell III, Publisher
-- Brent H. Baker, Tim Graham; Editors
-- Eric Darbe, Geoffrey Dickens, Clay Waters; Media Analysts
-- Kristina Sewell, Research Associate; Michelle Baetz, Circulation
-- Rebecca Hinnershitz, Karen Sanjines, Interns
Much of the Washington press corps have little respect for Ken Starr as
the preceding and earlier editions of NQ have demonstrated, but he's
even more reviled by those in the entertainment community. The latest
example: Dave Matthews of the Dave Matthews Band. MRC entertainment
analyst Tom Johnson caught the following bit of wisdom from Matthews as
quoted in a profile in the June issue of Details magazine. BE WARNED: If
slang references to sexual acts upset you, read no further. I put this
quote at the end of the issue so you won't miss anything else if you
stop reading now.
-- Brent Baker (Matthews quote follows)
Dave Matthews, as
quoted in a profile by David Keeps in the June Details:
"If there's any job where you should be
able to get a blow job, it should be the President. Now, Kenneth Starr --
somebody needs to suck the hell out of that man's dick."
-- Brent Baker
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