Medicare Plan Doesn't Spend Enough; Clinton's Killer Fundraiser
1) ABC and NBC focused on
Medicare beneficiaries, not taxpayers. ABC's John Cochran hit the
Clinton plan from the left, arguing it doesn't transfer enough money to
2) Katie Couric endorsed
Clinton's plan: "It sounds like a no-brainer. Seniors spend
billions of dollars on prescription drugs every year, often putting them
in terrible financial situations."
3) FNC's Carl Cameron
surprised the Energy Dept. counter-intelligence chief with information.
Cameron also uniquely revealed a probe at Defense for abuse of a
4) NBC's Lisa Myers reported
that "Starr does not yet appear to be closing shop" as "his
Travelgate investigation is intensifying" with evidence Hillary
Clinton lied under oath about it.
5) Clinton attended a
fundraising performance of a Broadway show the New York Post described as
"about a man who habitually cheats on his wife and ultimately kills
"What If Clinton Knew of Espionage in '95? A Suddenly Irrelevant
Question: What Did the President Know and When Did He Know It?" In
this latest Media Reality Check fax report the MRC's Tim Graham reviewed
how the networks have shown no interest in pursuing Clinton's changing
story line and evidence he and his aides knew about espionage earlier than
they admit. MRC Webmaster Sean Henry has posted the fax report. Go to:
President Clinton's Medicare spending plan topped the ABC, CBS, CNN, FNC
and NBC evening shows Monday night, but only CBS and FNC stressed how he
is proposing, as FNC's Wendell Goler put it, "the largest ever
expansion of the nation's second largest entitlement program." No
network raised the cost to taxpayers or considered whether it would be
fairer to return some of the surplus to those who created it: taxpayers.
Instead, ABC, CNN
and NBC all focused on beneficiaries. NBC's Lisa Myers talked to a
pharmacist who she said "sees a serious, perhaps deadly toll on
elderly customers" who now can't afford drugs. ABC's John Cochran
hit the Clinton plan from the left, arguing it doesn't give enough money
to the recipients, focusing on an elderly couple who can't afford to fix
their roof and will only "only" get $83 a month. Cochran
concluded: "His doctor urged him to go to Mexico where drugs are
cheaper. But as a war veteran who paid taxes all his life, Willie can't
understand why his own government can't help more."
Here's a rundown
of how the networks treated Clinton's Medicare plan on their Tuesday,
June 29, evening shows:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. First, Jackie Judd summarized the plan: "President
Clinton said his plan would do two things: keep Medicare from going broke
and modernize it by offering coverage for prescription drugs."
Specifically, he proposed how for $288 a year starting in 2002 Medicare
recipients would get 50 percent cost coverage for prescriptions up to
$2,000 a year. She noted that how to pay for it was buried but that
"providers take the biggest hit" with cuts planned for payments
to doctors and hospitals.
then introduced John Cochran's piece on deserving seniors are of the
additional money transfer from currently productive workers:
"The President's proposal for Medicare has
a certain urgency to it for many people. One of the companies that manages
drug benefits for several major health plans reports that the prices of
popular drugs are up as much as 20 percent over the past two years, so the
plan to have Medicare pay for prescription drugs is a recognition of the
John Cochran: "Across the country the
elderly watched the President Clinton tell them help may be coming for
prescription drugs. In New York:"
Man: "I think it's a step in the right
direction. I think it should have been done a long time ago."
Man: "What he said sounded wonderful to me
but it seemed like all the benefits for the future. I need help now in my
Cochran: "In Los Angeles:"
Woman: "It sounded great and I hope it
Cochran: "A 90-year old said Congress will
pass a drug benefit only if older folks fight for it."
Man: "We can do it, but we have to make
90-year-old: No you can't do it. You want others to pay for you.
by outlining how Clinton is too conservative in his spending spree:
"For many older people the Clinton plan is welcomed, but it would
hardly solve the problems of those who have huge drug bills every month.
That would include the Mitchells who live in Florida. 68-year-old Willie
has kidney problems, heart problems and diabetes. The Mitchells'
combined income each month from Social Security is only $1,200. Last month
Willie's drug bill alone was more than $1,000. To make it through each
month he cuts back on food and on medications, cutting his pills into
quarters....Meanwhile other things don't get done. The leaky roof stays
leaky, bills don't get paid, lot's of bills."
Shirley Mitchell: "It's hard to pay
because we just don't have the money."
Cochran: "Under the Clinton plan Willie
would only get $83 a month, not enough and he is skeptical Washington
politicians will do even that much."
After Willie asserted that politicians don't
care about the elderly and just want to get their political support,
Cochran concluded: "His doctor urged him to go to Mexico where drugs
are cheaper. But as a war veteran who paid taxes all his life, Willie
can't understand why his own government can't help more."
"working families" of thirty-somethings could afford to fix
their roofs if they didn't have to pay so much in payroll taxes to
support another entitlement expansion?
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather stressed the
government expansion, opening the show: "Good evening. President
Clinton today proposed the biggest expansion in Medicare since the program
began in 1965."
explained how Clinton wants to spend $794 billion from the surplus on
Medicare over the next 15 years and, unlike ABC's Judd, Plante added
that the drug benefit grows in six years to $44 a month for $5,000 a year
in coverage and that couples making/getting from Social Security less than
$17,000 a year would pay nothing. Plante noted: "The prescription
benefit would begin in 2002 and cost the government $118 billion over the
next ten years." Actually, that would cost taxpayers.
From Capitol Hill
Bob Schieffer relayed bipartisan concern about costs and giving the
benefit to everyone when 65 percent already have private insurance to
cover prescriptions. As to limiting the new entitlement to just the 13
million without prescription coverage, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle
maintained: "Medicare is an insurance plan. Insurance has always been
available to everybody regardless of resources."
Schieffer didn't explain that means-testing
would expose the program for what it is: a transfer of money from
currently productive taxpayers to former taxpayers and others, in other
words, a welfare program.
-- CNN's The World Today. John King began:
"The President's plan is anchored by a new prescription drug
benefit sure to be popular among Medicare's 39 million
recipients..." But he also noted that "it carries a daunting
price tag" that Republicans find too great.
Jeff Flock looked
at senior political power and focused on one woman who can't afford her
drugs now: "And like a lot of seniors she says she will vote in the
future for the party that shows it cares."
spending money confiscated from others.
-- FNC's Fox Report led with a piece by James
Rosen. The 6pm ET Special Report with Brit Hume went first to Wendell
Goler who pointed out: "In an East Room ceremony the President
proposed the largest ever expansion of the nation's second largest
-- NBC Nightly News. Claire Shipman stressed how
Clinton is saving the program: "The Medicare program stands to go
broke in just 16 years, right about the time baby boomers like 52-year-old
Bill Clinton are ready to take advantage and today the President proposed
a remedy that will give it another 12 years of life and a substantial
increase in benefits..."
Shipman gave the
only broadcast network air time to a conservative voice: "The White
House says encouraging competition among HMOs will save some money, but
critics say it's not enough."
Greg Scanlon, Cato Institute: "What he's
doing now just doesn't cut the grade. It's just adding band-aids to a
fundamentally flawed program."
Williams got to the truly greedy. Not retired people demanding those still
working turn over more of their money but the "cash cow"
pharmaceutical industry: "The bills, the liquids, the inhalers that
make up the cash cow industry known as prescription drugs..."
Lisa Myers zoomed in on a woman who pays $3,000 a
year on prescriptions and must dip into savings and scrimp. She doesn't
get a discount like HMO patients who pay less because the HMO worked a
discount deal. Myers lamented:
"Seniors without the bargaining muscle also
must deal with rising overall drug prices, up 68 percent in the last eight
years. Now the average prescription costs $37, the average brand name drug
almost $52. Pharmacist Jack Collins says he sees a serious, perhaps deadly
toll on elderly customers."
Collins: "They just don't take the
medicine. Many people who are supposed to take one a day take one every
day. And we go out there and caution them 'Mrs. So and so you're not
taking your medicine the way you're supposed to.' She'll look at
you, she says 'I don't have the money, are you stupid?'"
Myers: "The President's plan, however,
will try to change that and require that seniors be given a discount of
about ten percent on all drug purchases. O'Laughlin [woman cited at top
of story] says every little bit helps and hopes Medicare will finally
begin to meet her changing needs, so that she can both stay well and
afford to live well."
Today co-host Katie is baffled as to how anyone could oppose Clinton's
"no-brainer" Medicare expansion plan and when someone did
suggest a downside she offered up a counter-argument.
Today, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, Couric interviewed Alan
Holmer of a pharmaceutical trade association and a representative from the
AARP. Couric began:
"Let me start with you Mr. Holmer. It sounds
like a no-brainer. Seniors spend billions of dollars on prescription drugs
every year, often putting them in terrible financial situations. So
what's wrong with this plan?"
After tossing some
softballs to the woman from the AARP Couric offered this retort to
Holmer's concern that price controls and reduced payments for drugs will
hurt research and ultimately patients who need new drugs:
"And while I appreciate your concern about
medical research, certainly I feel passionately about that as well, it's
important for people who are sick now and who are experiencing problems to
be able to get affordable drugs, isn't it?"
Maybe the Energy Department should hire FNC's Carl Cameron. Tuesday
night he showed how he knew about testimony from a counter-intelligence
agent that the agent's boss, the Energy Department's
counter-intelligence chief, wasn't even aware of. And Cameron added
unique TV play for a story on the wires Tuesday and in the Washington
Times Wednesday about how a Defense official was transferred pending the
outcome of a probe about how the supervisor improperly tried to access the
computer files of a whistleblower testifying at that moment on Capitol
In a piece
featured on both Special Report with Brit Hume and the Fox Report, Cameron
revealed what went on behind the scenes at a House Government Reform
Committee hearing last week:
"Inadvertently on Capitol Hill last week
several lawmakers at a closed door meeting found themselves hearing new
allegations of security breaches at Energy Department nuclear labs.
Democrats and Republicans say the secret testimony of Energy Department
counter-intelligence agent Bob Henson caught them completely off-guard.
Lawmakers are mum on the classified details which sources say involve
weapons labs, like Los Alamos, over the last five years and may have been
part of China's nuclear espionage.
"The Energy Department's top spy catcher,
who admits security cannot be guaranteed, said he was unaware of his
agent's testimony until Fox News told him."
Ed Curran: "I'm surprised at your comment.
As director of counter-intelligence I think I have a responsibility to
know what was said in closed hearings. I have not been informed of Mr.
Henson's comments to anybody concerning security breaches in the past. I
would certainly be more than interested in finding out though."
Cameron went on to
explain that when House members realized what Hansen would disclose he was
removed from a panel of officials testifying about reprisals for their
efforts to expose security shortcomings and stop dangerous technology
transfers. This was the June 24 hearing that all but FNC ignored. See the
June 25 CyberAlert for details: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990625.html#1
Cameron picked up
the story with this bit of intrigue: "At the exact time Defense
Department analyst Peter Leitner was telling Congress that his bosses have
in the past planted evidence in his desk to discredit him, over at the
Pentagon those supervisors were allegedly trying to get into his computer
without proper permission. A trail of e-mails obtained by Fox News
indicates that several Defense Department officials were involved.
Ultimately they did not gain access, but the Defense Threat Reduction
Agency has announced an investigation and pending the outcome Leitner's
supervisor at the Pentagon has been transferred to another post. Congress
continues to investigate alleged reprisals and has subpoenaed Leitner's
supervisors to explain their actions next week."
"As to ongoing security breaches, despite Energy Secretary Bill
Richardson's insistence that the problem has been fixed, one senior
counter-intelligence official said quote, 'They continue to steal us
But only Fox News
Cameron's story. While over 50 percent of cable homes now have access to
the Fox News Channel, many still don't, including mine. So that all
CyberAlert readers have the chance to view another of Cameron's unique
stories, the MRC's Kristina Sewell and Sean Henry will post it Wednesday
morning. To watch it via RealPlayer, go to the MRC home page: http://www.mrc.org
Is Starr finished? NBC says maybe not yet. "Hubbell to Plead Guilty
as Starr Wraps Up," the Washington Post headlined its hopeful June 29
story on the plea deal in Starr's last scheduled trial.
Tuesday morning on
Today NBC's Lisa Myers, in a piece that never aired on Nightly News on
Monday or Tuesday, shot a hole in liberal dreams that Starr will go away
without getting at the First Lady: "But Starr does not yet appear to
be closing shop. NBC News has learned that in fact his Travelgate
investigation is intensifying. With testimony recently from witnesses who
quote a White House official as saying Hillary Clinton ordered the firing
of travel office workers contrary to what she said under oath."
Best lines of the week. Monday afternoon Bill Clinton attended a special
Democratic fundraising performance on Broadway in New York City of the
play The Iceman Cometh, which stars Kevin Spacey.
paragraphs in stories about Clinton's attendance:
Press reporter Kevin Galvin in a dispatch distributed Tuesday morning:
"After the special matinee of the Eugene
O'Neill classic, which drew some 1,000 Democratic contributors, Clinton
entered from the rear of the stage to thank the cast, greeting star Kevin
Spacey with a bear hug. He said the tale of besotten souls living on lies
they tell to themselves gave him and the audience 'too much to think
Robert Hardt Jr., Deborah Orin and Marilyn Rauber in their June 29 New
York Post story offered a harder-edged summary of the play's plot:
"Clinton thanked the cast -- starring Kevin
Spacey -- 'for giving us too much to think about' after the play about
a man who habitually cheats on his wife and ultimately kills her."
He can't do that now or he'll deprive the
national media of its favorite Senate candidate. --
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