Tax Cut Helps Rich; Clinton's JFK Jr. Tale False But Media Buy It
1) JFK Jr.'s death again led
all the networks with multiple stories Thursday night as ABC and CBS
examined the "solace" the Kennedy family finds in the sea.
2) "Thousands for the
rich. Pocket change for working Americans. That's the Republican tax
deal," thundered liberal John Lewis in a soundbite highlighted by
ABC, CBS and CNN. But the rich pay more.
3) CNBC's Chris Matthews
proved Clinton's claim, that he afforded JFK Jr. his first chance to
visit the White House since 1963, was false, but USA Today and NBC's
Today promoted the yarn. CBS's This Morning and ABC's GMA refused to
tell viewers Clinton was wrong.
4) Friday night on a repeat of
NBC's Homicide the attack on a Ken Starr-like character continues: He
spread "forty million dollars worth of misinformation."
"Exploiting Tragedy to Polish Up Camelot: National Media Use Funereal
Feeding Frenzy to Recast the Kennedy Family as Heroic Fount of
Values." The latest Media Reality Check fax report by Tim Graham is
now up on the MRC home page thanks to Webmaster Sean Henry. The report
opens by citing what NBC's Tom Brokaw elucidated during coverage of the
burial at sea, just before 10:30am ET on July 22, about why this death
means so much: "I came of age with John F. Kennedy. I was 20 years
old the year that he was elected. It was a sea change in American life, in
our politics, in our culture, in the way that we looked at life. Here was
this large, very dynamic family, of extraordinary wealth but with an
ability also to connect with the populist classes of America....I think
many people in my generation believe that they would define our lives in
terms of accomplishment and achievement and triumph." To read the
whole issue go to the MRC's home page or directly to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/reality/1999/fax19990723.html
Editor's Note: As
usually happens when I plug a media appearance, MSNBC canceled Brent
Bozell's Thursday appearance. Actually, they canceled the whole show so
they could continue showing a far away shot of a blurry image of a Navy
The networks all led again Thursday night, for the sixth straight evening,
with multiple JFK Jr. death-related stories. Like Wednesday night,
however, only NBC Nightly News devoted more than half the newscast to the
topic. (CNN's The World Today allocated the first half its one-hour show
plus its last story to JFK Jr.)
Each began with
the burial at sea for the three victims and added a look at the effort to
recover the plane. NBC's In Depth segment examined how "America
mourns a favorite son" and the show ended by looking at how different
generations view JFK Jr.
Both ABC's World
News Tonight and the CBS Evening News featured pieces on the
"solace" the sea gives the Kennedy family.
Olick concluded her story: "It is a testament to their unquestioning
love of these waters that this family can continue to find peace in a sea
that has stolen so much from them."
At 6pm ET Thursday
night CNN and MSNBC went live with the Irish community-arranged public
memorial service at St. Patrick's in New York City. FNC stayed with a
regular Special Report with Brit Hume until 7pm ET but then joined the
service for a hunk of the 7pm ET Fox Report.
In addition to the
cable networks, CBS and NBC will offer live coverage of today's 10am ET
private service at St. Thomas More church, according to promos run
Thursday night. But since it is private I'm not sure what they plan to
Loving that liberal soundbite: "Thousands for the rich. Pocket change
for working Americans. That's the Republican tax deal." So
thundered Democratic Congressman John Lewis on the House floor Thursday in
a soundbite played by ABC, CBS and CNN, the only clip that made it onto
all three networks.
The CBS Evening
News did not run a full story on the House passage of a tax cut bill, but
Dan Rather still managed a tilt to the left as he relayed Clinton's spin
without mentioning a pro-GOP argument:
"The Republican-controlled House voted today
for tax cuts totaling almost $800 billion over ten years. President
Clinton says he will veto any legislation of the sort. The President
favors a more modest tax cut in the $300 billion range. The President says
his plan will leave some money to knock back the national debt and shore
up Medicare and Social Security."
On ABC's World
News Tonight, Linda Douglass opened with Congressmen Jim Nussle and Dick
Armey saying how the money earned belongs to the people and should be
returned to them. In order to win over resistant moderates, she noted, the
leadership had to craft a "shaky compromise" saying that if
interest on the debt rises then the income tax cut would be suspended for
that year. Douglass continued:
"But some economists warned that plan might
be unworkable because interest on the debt is hard to calculate and the
IRS might have to keep revising tax rates. At the same time other parts of
the tax reduction package would go into effect. The cut in capital gains
and the phase out of the inheritance tax. So Democrats argued the only
people sure to benefit would be the wealthy."
John Lewis: "Thousands for the rich. Pocket
change for working Americans. That's the Republican tax deal."
Douglass concluded: "The President says he
would veto the House plan and the Senate won't pass it either. But House
Republicans think they have scored points with their core voters, the ones
most likely to turn out next year."
Over on the NBC
Nightly News Gwen Ifill outlined how the bill's passage was a big
victory for Speaker Hastert, but he had to twist arms to get a victory.
After allowing Republican Tillie Fowler to argue that tax money does not
belong to the government but to the people, Ifill contended that by
winning Hastert "trounced Democrats who argued the massive tax cut is
outsized and reckless."
She then played the Lewis soundbite:
"Thousands for the rich. Pocket change for working Americans.
That's the Republican tax deal."
Viewers of CNN's
The World Today also heard the Lewis bite in the piece filed by reporter
None of the
stories pointed out how the rich pay a lot more than their fair share in
taxes. As Washington Times Inside Politics columnist Greg Pierce noted
July 22 in picking up a Wall Street Journal item, "the top ten
percent of individual income tax returns for 1996 accounted for 62.5
percent of such taxes collected," but "those taxpayers accounted
for only 41.6 percent of total adjusted gross income."
President Clinton's claim at his Wednesday press conference that he
afforded John F. Kennedy Jr. his first chance to visit the White House
since 1963 was false, but USA Today and NBC's Today gullibly bought the
yarn. CBS's This Morning skipped over Clinton's misstatement and just
told viewers JFK Jr. had first returned during the Nixon years and on
ABC's Good Morning America Ann Compton rationalized: "President
Clinton seemed to think that the visit helped John Kennedy come to terms
not only with his own life, but his family's history."
None of the
broadcast networks or CNN pointed out Clinton's error on Wednesday
night, July 21, but both MSNBC and CNBC did, though that didn't stop
their sister network's Today show from repeating the false story the
On MSNBC's the
News with Brian Williams the anchor of the same name, MRC analyst Mark
Drake noticed, asserted after a story about the press conference which
showed Clinton's claim: "We should also, to end this topic, point
out that minutes after the President's emotional remarks about John Jr.,
CBS Radio pointed out that John Jr. and his mother had been back to the
White House during the Nixon administration."
An hour before, on
CNBC's 8pm ET Hardball, host Chris Matthews observed:
"Well a rather strange thing happened at the
President's press conference today. President Clinton talked in some
detail about a moment that occurred rather recently, a year or two ago,
last year in fact, where he had John Kennedy Jr. to the White House. The
President made a point of saying it was the first time that John Kennedy
had been back to the White House since his father was killed by in 1963 in
Dallas. Quite pointed on this mark, let's hear the President and what he
had to say."
Clinton at press conference hours earlier:
"John Kennedy had actually not been back to the White House since his
father was killed until I became President. First he was on an advisory
committee that made a report to me and he came back to the Oval Office
where he saw the desk that he took the famous picture in, you know, coming
through the gate for the first time since he was a little boy."
played a clip from his February 6, 1996 interview with JFK Jr. in which
JFK Jr. confirmed a revelation in Matthews' book, Kennedy & Nixon:
The Rivalry that Shaped Post War America, about how Nixon invited him, his
mother and sister Caroline to dinner at the White House in 1971. JFK Jr.
recalled how "it was very warm and he was a wonderful host and we saw
the rooms where we had lived," which clearly suggested he saw the
residential quarters, thus eliminating Clinton's out that he first
allowed JFK Jr. to see where he once slept. JFK Jr. also recounted how at
the dinner he spilled milk into Nixon's lap.
After the 1996
show excerpt Matthews asserted that proves Clinton's dissembling:
"It strikes me as another Clinton moment." He then asked guest
Tom Squitieri of USA Today: "What is it about this President that
makes him make claims that are really irrelevant. It's not important
except that it's a character problem I think, he just keeps doing
this." Squitieri couldn't bring himself to call Clinton a liar,
instead he impugned politicians: "This often happens to some
politicians. They overreach when they don't really need to
that during the 1971 visit Nixon took John and Caroline to the Oval Office
so they could see it for first time since 1963 and Nixon's children
"stayed out of the way so that their father could have this moment
with the kids."
+++ Watch and
listen to JFK Jr. in 1996 recalling his 1971 visit to the White House.
Friday morning the MRC's Sean Henry will post a RealPlayer clip of
Wednesday's Hardball when Chris Matthews played the archive video. Go
apparently failed to inform the USA Today copy desk of what he learned
from Matthews as Thursday's USA Today featured a story by Susan Page
"John F. Kennedy Jr. was 2 years old when
his father was assassinated, and more than three decades would pass before
he returned to the White House..."
In fact, JFK Jr.
not only returned to the White House in 1971 but again in 1981. In his
Inside the Beltway column in the Washington Times on Thursday John
McCaslin reported that the Kennedy clan, including JFK Jr., "also
gathered at the White House in 1981 for a ceremony hosted by President
Reagan, who presented a gold medal to Mrs. Robert F. Kennedy in honor of
her husband's service to the country."
apparently don't watch CNBC or MSNBC as just after 8am on Thursday, MRC
analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed, co-host Katie Couric repeated as fact
the false claim about the first return visit occurring only recently:
"John F. Kennedy Jr. spent the first years
of his life in the White House and had returned to visit just recently. As
NBC correspondent Bob Kur reports, both the President and Mrs. Clinton
have very fond memories."
highlighted Clinton's supposed connection: "The President and First
Lady remember meeting John F. Kennedy Jr. and his wife Carolyn Bessette
many times. But only twice in the White House."
Bill Clinton at the press conference: "John
Kennedy had actually not been back to the White House since his father was
Kur: "In her newspaper column this week,
Hillary Rodham Clinton recalls Kennedy's last visit to the White House,
March 1998. A special screening of a TV series about the history of the
Apollo space program. Young Kennedy called it his father's proudest
Following a clip of John F. Kennedy Jr. Kur
continued: "After the screening and the White House reception that
followed the night became an emotional journey back in time. Not only for
young Kennedy but for the President who was inspired by Kennedy's
Following another clip of Clinton Kur elaborated:
"From an early childhood scenes that
understandably evoked more memories for another generation than for the
visitor who lived in the White House as a little boy. In her newspaper
column Mrs. Clinton also recalls the White House tour that night with JFK
Jr. 'John,' she writes, 'had trouble sorting out what he remembered from
what he had seen only in pictures. We showed him the room where he slept
and we walked around the grounds where he and his sister played. In the
Oval Office he saw the President's desk. The same desk under which he was
caught by a photographer playing hide and seek as a toddler.'"
Kur ended by again
repeating the falsehood: "Almost 35 years past since from the time
JFK Jr. said goodbye to his father and the White House until he had the
desire to come back."
That was probably
a piece produced the afternoon before, but Today didn't have to run it,
especially after its two sister networks disproved the Clinton fairy tale.
But while ABC and
CBS knew Clinton had lied, neither pointed that out to viewers on Thursday
On CBS's This
Morning Bill Plante realized how JFK Jr. had visited Nixon but failed to
say how that contradicted Clinton. After Plante explained how the Clintons
planned to attend the Friday memorial service, anchor Thalia Assuras
"How much contact indeed have they had with
the family, does anyone really know?"
Plante replied, as taken down by MRC analyst
Brian Boyd: "JFK, Jr. and his wife had been here a fair number of
times over the years. And believe it or not, the first time that young
John Kennedy was back here at the White House was about 29 years ago. He
was 10 years old and his mother and his sister and he came to visit the
Nixons. And they were taken on a private tour. We have a letter, a copy of
a letter which he wrote. A thank you note. A perfect little bread and
butter thank you note telling the Nixons that the steak was the best he
had ever eaten."
Over on ABC's
Good Morning America on July 22 Ann Compton acknowledged that JFK Jr. had
visited Nixon but she refused to say Clinton misspoke and instead, MRC
analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, simply stressed Clinton's claim that
his invitation helped JFK Jr. "come to terms" with his life:
"When President and Mrs. Clinton attend a
closed-door memorial mass for John and Carolyn Kennedy in New York
tomorrow, they will no doubt be thinking of the evening last summer when
they invited John and Carolyn Kennedy here to the White House for an event
and took them upstairs to show them the family quarters. Now John Kennedy
had been back, apparently, at least once during the Nixon administration
to look at the house where he was a very small toddler, but President
Clinton seemed to think that the visit helped John Kennedy come to terms
not only with his own life, but his family's history."
certainly don't seem to have any interest in making Bill Clinton come to
terms with his made up, self-aggrandizing, history.
More Starr bashing tonight, Friday July 23, on NBC when the network
re-runs part two of the Law & Order/Homicide crossover arc from
February. In part one last Friday night independent counsel "William
Dell," obviously meant to be Ken Starr, was portrayed as a
sex-obsessed prosecutor who prompted a victim to recall Joe McCarthy in
demanding "Have you no shame?"
In part two
tonight in the Homicide half of NBC's use of entertainment shows to make
a political point, the attack on Starr will continue as a lead character
bemoans how he spread "forty million dollars worth of
misinformation" and another character bitterly complains that
"in an impeachment report to Congress he can allege just about
anything he wants" without proof.
For details about
part two, as well as a review of part one, along with a video clip in
RealPlayer format, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990222.html#4
With CBS running a special at 8pm ET/PT, 7pm
CT/MT on the Kennedy memorial service and the regularly scheduled editions
of NBC's Dateline and ABC's 20/20 focusing on the same thing, your
broadcast network prime time viewing choice tonight: More JFK Jr. and
Kennedy family tributes, or some Starr bashing.
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