Gumbel Hits Starr; ABC, CBS & CNN Skip Encryption; Tax Cut Enrages NBC
1) Ken Starr is just like
other federal prosecutors. That's not reassuring to Bryant Gumbel.
2) China absconded with U.S.
encryption technology, top officials told a House committee. Tuesday night
only FNC cared. A New York Times story spurred a Today mention and a
Nightly News piece.
3) Wednesday night CBS ran a
tough piece about Chinese oppression of Tibet, but ABC highlighted a
Chinese woman urging Clinton to "not lecture us on human rights. We
have our own culture."
4) Taxes no longer certain for
the rich, NBC's Gwen Ifill falsely asserted in a class warfare story
about how an inheritance tax change "will end up costing everyone
else $800 million."
>>> "Only Liberal HMO
Solutions Allowed: Networks Push for New Regulations of Managed Care,
Disregard Free Market Ideas," the latest MRC Media Reality Check fax
report, should be posted on the MRC home page by the time you read this.
Tim Lamer, Director of the MRC's Free Market Project, wrote this
week's edition. <<<
Bryant Gumbel is getting in all the political hits he can while CBS is
still airing his now canceled show, Public Eye with Bryant Gumbel.
Introducing a piece Wednesday night, June 24, on federal prosecutors who
abuse their power, Gumbel tied in Ken Starr:
"Whenever the methods of independent counsel
Kenneth Starr are attacked someone is bound to claim that his tactics are
no different than any other federal prosecutor, as if that's supposed to
be comforting. Well, a Public Eye investigation has found that such claims
are anything but reassuring. Rita Braver has the troubling story of some
John Q. Public encounters with hardball prosecutors."
Wednesday's New York Times featured a front page story about how during
a Tuesday congressional hearing officials disclosed that they believe
China took a secret encrypted circuit board from a crashed satellite, but
Wednesday only NBC picked up on the evidence China has gained valuable and
possibly dangerous technology, running a brief item on Today and a full
piece on Nightly News. Tuesday night only FNC had even mentioned the
disclosures made during the hearing earlier that day.
Device Missing in Wreck of Chinese Rocket," declared the front page
story in the June 24 New York Times. Reporter Eric Schmidt explained:
"A secret encoded circuit board containing
sensitive technology was missing from the wreckage of an American
satellite aboard a Chinese rocket that exploded in 1996, and American
officials said Tuesday they suspected that Chinese authorities took the
"The disclosure of the missing circuit
board, which tells an orbiting satellite which way to point to receive and
transmit signals to and from Earth, was made Tuesday at an unusual joint
hearing of two House committees, National Security and International
"If China did steal the circuit board, it
would be a violation of a technology safeguards agreement that Beijing and
Washington last amended in 1993, to prevent the transfer of sensitive
American military technology. In raising that possibility, the news
disclosure opened a new front in Congress' inquiry into whether sensitive
space technology was transferred to China by American aerospace
corporations using Chinese rockets to launch their satellites....
"On Feb. 15, 1996, American military
monitors had watched the Chinese rocket launch from a command post in
southern China as it streaked toward space carrying a $200 million
American communications satellite. But 22 seconds after liftoff, the Long
March rocket exploded, showering debris, burning fuel and chaos on a
nearby Chinese village, where by American accounts as many as 200
civilians were killed.
"For five hours, American officials said,
Chinese authorities barred them from the crash site, saying it was for
their own safety. When the Americans finally reached the area and opened
the battered but intact control box of the satellite, a supersecret
encoded circuit board was missing...."
Coverage: Not a
syllable on ABC, CBS, CNN or NBC Tuesday night. Only FNC's Fox Report
reported on the hearing. Carl Cameron, noting that FNC had previously
raised the issue of how after a Loral satellite failed, China kept U.S.
observers from the wreckage for five hours, relayed what the Congressmen
were told: "Now the Defense Department has confirmed to Congress a
Fox News report that classified computer microchips were taken from the
satellite by the Chinese." Cameron also highlighted what he dubbed
"another bombshell," how "a year earlier another Chinese
launch failed destroying Hughes Corporation satellite. Afterward, Hughes
helped China investigate the crash and announced plans to improve
China's rockets. Because China's rockets are nearly identical to their
nuclear missiles, such assistance must be approved and monitored by the
U.S. Defense Department. It was not."
coverage: MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens alerted me to this one, brief item
read by Sara James during the 7am Today news update: "Bill Clinton
leaves Washington today on the most controversial trip of his presidency.
As he heads for China the New York Times says American officials suspect
Chinese scientists may have stolen a crucial piece of American high
technology. It is the secret encoded circuit board that couldn't be
found in the wreckage of an American satellite aboard a Chinese rocket
that exploded in 1996."
But that was it Wednesday morning. Zilch on CBS
This Morning, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson observed, and nothing on Good
Morning America which, the MRC's Clay Waters noticed, spent a half hour
showing swing dancing.
only NBC offered a story. Tom Brokaw announced: "Right up to the
moment that he left today congressional Republicans were giving the
President a hard time over this China trip, especially on the issue of
American technology and China's military. Ever since the Tiananmen
massacre in 1989 the transfer of American technology to the Chinese
military has been forbidden. But, as NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports now,
there's widespread suspicion that Beijing has its ways."
Mitchell began with "exclusive home
video" showing soldiers carrying away the downed satellite with the
missing circuit board. Catching up with a late May FNC story,
Mitchell reported that the Justice Department is looking at an export
violation involving McDonnell-Douglas: "It started here, at this
McDonnel-Douglas plant in Columbus Ohio. August 1994, a tractor trailer
pulls out. Its cargo: high-tech machine tools, supposedly to make Chinese
commercial airliners. The real destination: A grand jury has been told, a
Chinese cruise missile plant and another factory that producers top of the
line fighter jets." Leading into a soundbite from Commerce Secretary
William Daley, Mitchell asserted: "Pentagon experts opposed this and
other deals, but the Clinton administration's Commerce Department
routinely defends them."
Clinton's trip to China topped the Wednesday night newscasts on ABC and
NBC while CBS and CNN went first with the big AT&T-TCI merger. FNC led
with an exclusive about how the AMA protects incompetent doctors.
ABC, CBS and CNN failed to specifically raise the
latest technology transfer charges, but Wednesday night ABC and CBS made
brief reference to the controversy over satellite waivers and Chinese
donations to Democrats. CNN insisted Clinton's campaign
"unknowingly" accepted Chinese money. While CBS ran a tough
piece about Chinese oppression of Tibet, the China preview piece by
ABC's Peter Jennings featured a Chinese woman urging Clinton to
"not lecture us on human rights. We have our own culture."
from the Wednesday, June 24 evening shows:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. Peter Jennings opened the broadcast with this introduction
to a story by Sam Donaldson: "Good evening. The President's trip to
China is as important as any he has made since he won the White House
almost six years ago. The American relationship with China is about
economics and strategic relationships. It is complicated by different
values, Chinese and American. It's about China as an ally and a
competitor, sometimes an adversary. Moreover, the President took off for
China today with critics of his China policy, here at home, still nipping
at his heals."
Despite the expansive opening, from Xian China
Donaldson devoted most of his piece to the cancellation of visas for three
Radio Free Asia journalists before he ran a soundbite from Democratic U.S.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi complaining about China's lack of free speech. He
ended by noting that a former Chinese premier said Tiananmen Square was
one of the biggest human rights problems of the century.
Later, in A Closer
Look segment, Donaldson ran down Clinton's goals, such as improving the
trade imbalance and having the Chinese de-target their missiles U.S.
cities. Donaldson wrapped up: "He also wants to discuss high-tech
transfers. The Chinese want more high technology, but given the present
state of discussion over the question over U.S. campaigns, contributions
and all of that, that too will be a ticklish matter. Big agenda
In his "The
New China" piece Jennings found the Chinese flattered by Clinton's
visit and wishing Americans knew more about their country. Jennings
discovered content people less concerned than Americans with human rights.
Jennings: "Along the Great Wall, built
originally to keep foreigners out, which President Clinton will visit this
weekend, a sense of Chinese pride."
Woman through Jennings: "Please, this woman
said, your President should not lecture us on human rights. We have our
Jennings: "It is hard to tell how freely
people might talk about human rights. The state can be very oppressive
when it feels threatened. But the general impression we got is that most
people do think their life is better and they want to get on with
-- CBS Evening
News. Dan Rather took 20 seconds to show Clinton getting on a plane and to
note that he had given an interview to the three barred journalists. Later
in the show Barry Petersen focused on the "plight of Tibet"
since the 1949 invasion. Petersen discovered: "When the Chinese
realized that bullets and beatings were not winning hearts and minds here,
they tried another idea; hard cold cash. The motherland, as they are told
to call it here, has poured in millions of dollars to re-build monasteries
and start up manufacturing."
-- CNN's The
World Today at 8pm ET. John King handled the China trip story, complete
with a critical soundbite from Democratic Senator Paul Wellstone. Over
video of Reagan in China, King oddly asserted: "In the old days a
President traveling overseas could count on quiet back home, but politics
no longer automatically stops at the water's edge. And China's plan to
welcome the President in the shadow of Tiananmen Square is striking a raw
nerve." Democrats were silent during Reagan's trip to Bitburg?
Viewers saw a clip of a Chinese student leader in
the U.S. before King led into a bite from Republican Congressman Dana
Rohrabacher by briefly noting: "Also shadowing the President are
questions about China gaining access to U.S. missile technology."
Utley explored how our two cultures are intertwined. Utley asserted:
"In dealing with the Chinese, the only weak card Clinton is taking
with him may be himself. The disclosures that his campaign accepted,
unknowingly, contributions from official Chinese sources, and that he
authorized, knowingly, the transfer of satellite technology, which China
might be able to use for military purposes."
"Unknowingly"? Not what the June 20 Washington Post reported
that Johnny Chung observed. See the June 22 CyberAlert.
-- FNC's 7pm ET
Fox Report. Co-anchor Jon Scott ventured: "Now the uproar over the
China visit. It's probably the most controversial overseas trip for Bill
Clinton since he went to England and didn't inhale..."
Jim Angle went through a list of complaints from
right and left, from Republican Senator Tim Hutchinson to actor Richard
Gere. Only Angle Wednesday mentioned forced abortions. He concluded by
contrasting the Clinton of 1998 to the Clinton of 1992:
"The President argues the U.S. has to work
with China in spite of differences. The irony of course is that six years
ago President Bush made the same argument and candidate Bill Clinton
dismissed it as coddling dictators."
-- NBC Nightly
News. David Bloom checked in from Xian with a quick update and schedule
rundown before NBC went to Andrea Mithchell's piece detailed above #2.
Another example Wednesday night of an issue on which the networks see know
need for balance, fairness or honesty. Just bash away with liberal cliches
about class warfare and how the rich are hurting everyone else. Noting
that Clinton announced Wednesday that he plans to sign the IRS reform bill
which shifts the burden of proof back to the IRS, Brokaw cautioned:
"But, if you also read the fine print, at least one tax break heading
for the President's signature will end up costing the average taxpayer
millions of dollars, taken collectively."
Picking up on a New York Times story, but not
giving credit, Gwen Ifill warned over video of polo playing:
"Hidden away, deep within the 500 page bill
to overhaul the IRS, is this little nugget, a tax break for the richest
Americans. The new bill, completed in darkness late last night, is
supposed to help the middle class, but amazingly it also allows a year-old
tax break for those who need it the least, Americans who inherit estates
worth $17 million or more and that will end up costing everyone else $800
million over ten years."
Robert McIntyre of Citizens for Tax Justice then
got a chance to reinforce Ifill's contention that everyone else will
have to pay more "to make up" for the thoughtless rich.
Ifill, feigning bafflement, continued: "How
could this happen? It all begins with a simple mistake, the kind that
frequently occurs in huge and complicated laws, but when congressional tax
writers tried to fix it they hit a brick wall, the powerful Chairman of
the House Ways and Means Committee, Republican Bill Archer of Texas. He
says all inheritance taxes, he calls them death taxes, are unfair."
Archer suggested the policy of letting the
government take 60 percent of a farm or small business someone wants to
pass on "is outrageous."
Instead of exploring how the high rate destroys
small businesses, Ifill stuck to the liberal zero-sum mantra:
"Archer's tax break for the wealthy is just part of a $13 billion
After running down some of the less offensive
features, she let Democratic Senate Leader Tom Daschle complain about how
the inheritance provision benefits the wealthy.
Ifill then preposterously concluded with this
demonstrably false contention: "Death and taxes are supposed to be a
certainty in this life. That may be true for most of us, but at least half
of that, the taxes part, may not be so true for the wealthiest
So, thanks to this
late-night, secret Archer deal the wealthy can escape inheritance taxes?
Not quite. Going to the more complete June 24 New York Times story from
which Ifill lifted her story, I learned that the inheritance tax exclusion
is rising year by year from $625,000 in 1998 to $1 million by 2006. The
inheritance tax rate begins at 18 percent and rises, reporter David
Rosenbaum explained, "to 55 percent on the taxable amount over $3
What's the big giveaway to the rich? Rosenbaum
wrote: "The old law required the value of the exclusion to be
gradually eliminated, a process called a phase-out, on estates worth more
that $17,184,000." Now, estates over $17 million can also use the
exclusion. In other words, everyone will be treated the same.
I'm no tax
accountant, but let me try to translate. Before this change saved by
Archer someone inheriting a $20 million estate would have to pay tax on
the entire $20 million. Now, they'll only pay on a mere $19 million ($20
minus the $1 million exclusion). Let's take some rough numbers: 55
percent of $20 million equals $11 million. Under the new rules, let's
exclude $1 million and assume a slightly lower overall tax rate since a
bit less would be subject to the highest rate: 52 percent of $19 million
is $9,880,000. $11 million minus $9.88 million equals $1,120,000 less tax
to be paid.
Bottom line: Ifill
claimed the certainty of paying taxes "may not be so true for the
wealthiest Americans." $9,880,000 instead of $11,000,000. Outrageous.
The wealthy are so irresponsible, refusing to pay their fair share and
making us pick up their tab. How can the rich get away with paying so
-- Brent Baker
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