"Stupid" Tax Cut; "Alleluia" to Spending; Christmas "Saved" by Regulator
1) Washington media on the
Bush tax cut. Evan Thomas: "It's stupid" policy driven by
"wing nuts." Al Hunt: "This is a Trojan Horse which
disproportionately gives huge tax cuts to the very wealthy." Eleanor
Clift: "It is a huge income shifter."
2) Sam Donaldson heralded
"alleluia" to the "enrichment of the welfare state"
over a tax cut.
3) Not one word about the
debates on ABC, CBS or NBC the next night. Ted Koppel focused on how Bush
had to "fall back three times on that, sort of, tired old"
mantra about Texas as 11th largest economy. On Today NBC's David Bloom
said "Bush calmly and skillfully fended off" attacks from rivals
but Tim Russert found him "a little too programmed," not "a
4) "Another Christmas
saved" oozed NBC's Bob Faw of a federal bureaucrat. "Luckily
there's someone in Washington whose job is to make sure" toys are
safe, assured anchor Brian Williams.
5) FNC gave time to John
Cochran's side of the Al Gore dinner controversy, but USA Today, which
started it all, did not.
6) Is NBC's "Gadget
Guru" a Gear-Head or a Coke-Head? Andy Pargh was arrested Saturday
for buying 250 grams of cocaine.
7) Letterman's "Top Ten
Other Achievements Claimed By Al Gore."
disdain from the left on the weekend talk shows from reporters sitting in
the liberal chairs for George W. Bush's tax cut plan. Bush may have
tried to dissuade such class warfare attacks by giving those in the 15
percent tax bracket a one-third cut, much larger than for those at higher
incomes, but the members of the media still took up the left-wing mantra
-- Newsweek Assistant
Managing Editor Evan Thomas on Inside Washington: "I'm against a
tax cut. Just on policy matters it's stupid and we shouldn't have one.
But it's Republican pandering and it was kind of a mild Republican
NPR's Nina Totenberg added that "It's still a
tax cut that doesn't really do very much for the moderate and low income
An astonished Jack White
of Time later chimed in: "What he was criticized for was he doesn't
want to abolish the Internal Revenue Service right now. I mean that was
That prompted Thomas to denigrate conservatives:
"Because he's in the company of wing nuts, so anything he says
looks moderate by comparison."
-- Wall Street Journal
Executive Washington Editor Al Hunt and Time columnist and sometime
reporter Margaret Carlson on CNN's Capital Gang:
Hunt asserted: "I give them credit. I think they,
the Bush campaign, they rose to Clintonian levels with their ability to
spin this beforehand. It really was a masterful job. They said this is
focused on the middle class and the working poor. Now they did a great job
of spin. The problem is it's not true. It's absolutely totally untrue.
This is a Trojan Horse which disproportionately gives huge tax cuts to the
very wealthy, to Bob [Novak] and his friends."
Hunt proceeded to make
the usual complaint about how those who don't pay income taxes won't
get an income tax cut:
"You know, both Bush and his my old friend Michael
Boskin, his chief economic aide, one of his chief economic guys, said take
the waitress who makes $22,000 a year with has three kids. Do you know
what she gets out of that Bush plan? Zero, because I tell you, there are a
whole bunch of working poor people like that who don't pay income taxes,
but they pay 15.3 percent of their low salary to payroll taxes. They get
absolutely nothing in this plan."
Later, reacting to a
McCain operative's claim that he has offered a more responsible,
"adult" tax plan, Mark Shields asked: "Margaret, looking
for an adult?" Carlson replied:
"Yes, and George Bush may not be it. He's putting
the ice cream out in his tax plan, very much a profile in courage. And you
know, how much stimulation can one economy take? I mean the market hit new
highs yesterday, and in and all the economic reports, you know, Greenspan
keeps saying, you know, tamp it down. This is skewed toward -- not toward
the working class, and it seems that the compassionate conservative should
want to move the working class into the middle class. Sixty-three percent
of the benefits go to the top five percent of taxpayers, and this is not
what the economy needs."
-- Newsweek's Eleanor
Clift on the McLaughlin Group: "This was a tax plan designed to
pacify the right. It is a huge income shifter and his plan to get rid of
the estate tax would cost $40 billion a year -- 98 to 99 percent of people
in this country are exempt from the estate tax. He's mortgaging the
entire surplus. Totally irresponsible."
Rich Lowry of National
Review soon pointed out: "He takes six million off the rolls, lower
and middle class taxpayers, Eleanor. They are not the rich."
Sunday morning Sam Donaldson assessed the Bush tax plan by comparing it to
"Reaganomics," which he did not mean as a compliment. Donaldson
also proclaimed that if the choice is between voting for a tax cut or
further "enrichment of the welfare state," he'd pick more
spending. Here's the relevant exchange from Sunday's This Week on ABC:
Sam Donaldson: "The
Republicans tried to get through a huge tax plan this last year and found
the country said 'wait, we can't pay for this. We get it. This would
create more deficits.' And George Bush comes along now and says we'll
grow our way out. It's Reaganomics."
George Stephanopoulos: "I think you're right
about the internals of the tax plan does help some single working mothers.
But when you add up his tax plan and his defense increases, there will be
nothing left for Medicare and Democrats won't stop talking about
George Will: "But everyone who has added up the
cumulative Bradley and Gore promises said they too have spent the surplus.
This is why we have framed a serious presidential campaign for next year,
because you have on the one hand a trillion dollar tax cut, on the other
you have an enrichment of the welfare state. Let's vote."
Donaldson: "An enrichment of the welfare state to
help people who are medically in need. Yes, let's vote. And to help
people who need education. Right. Let's vote. I mean if that's what
you call the enrichment of the welfare state, alleluia."
So, how much network coverage did George W. Bush's first debate
appearance generate Friday night, the night after the New Hampshire
confab? Not one syllable, incredibly, on ABC's World News Tonight, CBS
Evening News or NBC Nightly News. The night of the 8pm ET debate,
Thursday, ABC and CBS, but not NBC, ran preview stories. West coast
viewers may have seen something about the 5pm PT debate Thursday night,
but broadcast network viewers in the ET and CT zones never learned
anything about it.
While all led Friday
night with the Mars lander situation, instead of telling viewers anything
about the debate ABC ran a full story on the woman who rowed across the
Atlantic and controversy over the UN letting companies pay for programs
through its "Adopt-a-Minefield" fundraising scheme. CBS also ran
a full piece on the rower and a piece on problems at Boeing, which Dan
Rather dubbed: "Tough going at Boeing." NBC spent several
minutes "In Depth" on ideas about sending man to Mars, plus how
a regulator has "saved" Christmas for kids. See item #4 below.
-- The night of the
debate Nightline brought aboard two former Clinton-Gore administrations
aides to assess the Republicans: David Gergen and George Stephanopoulos.
Ted Koppel, as noted by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson, seemed displeased by
one of George W. Bush's answers, raising the issue twice. Early in the
show Koppel complained:
"If anyone was counting on Governor Bush to trip
on his own shoelaces, he did not. Although three times when he seemed a
little uncomfortable with questions, he fell back on exactly the same
answer, although it had little or nothing to do with any of the
Bush: "I've been the Governor of the second
biggest state in the United States. If it were a nation, it'd be the
eleventh largest economy in the world. I was overwhelmingly reelected
because the people in my state realized I know how to lead and I've shown
good judgment....There's only one person on this stage, only one person,
who has been in a chief executive office or position, in terms of
government. That's me, governor of the second biggest state....A test of a
leader is when given responsibility, can you perform? And I've got a
record of leading. It's the second biggest state in the Union. If it were
a nation, it'd be the eleventh largest economy in the world."
Later, Koppel asked
Stephanopoulos: "And what does it mean, I mean, if you're standing on
the side of the stage and he's your man, and he has to fall back three
times on that, sort of, tired old 'well, I'm governor of the second
largest state in the country and if it were a country, it would be the
eleventh largest economy,' sort of suggests that he's not able to answer a
couple of those questions."
Stephanopoulos: "But he doesn't, but there's not a
lot more there. In fact, throughout the whole debate, Bush never really
used up his entire time and we only had minute-long answers and 45-second
long answers when you had a lot of the other candidates using the time to
go back to other issues, to talk about different issues, both foreign
policy and domestic policy. I think that Bush will get better over time as
he has more practice in these debates, but it wasn't, he didn't walk off
the stage saying, 'I am the only President on this stage tonight.'"
-- On Friday's Today
David Bloom and Tim Russert offered contrasting assessments of how Bush
performed, MRC analyst Mark Drake noticed.
At 7:04am Bloom
reported: "Having finally been pressured into debating his Republican
rivals, Governor Bush calmly and skillfully fended off their attacks last
night on everything from his tax cut plan to Social Security. At a post
debate rally, Bush, giddy and breathing a sigh of relief, predicts victory
here in New Hampshire, which is now his for the taking. Bush appears to
have emerged unscathed from last night's debate despite sharp attacks from
his Republican rivals, most especially from an increasingly desperate
Steve Forbes, who called Bush's proposed $1 trillion tax cut, measly and
criticized Bush for even considering raising the minimum age for older
Americans to receive Social Security benefits...."
Four minutes later Katie
Couric asked Russert how Bush performed and Russert replied: "I think
a little too programmed, Katie. It wasn't a stellar performance but it was
adequate and steady enough for him to maintain his front runner
Russert went on to say
that he thought "John McCain and Steve Forbes probably helped
themselves a little bit. John McCain really did try play to the
independent voter of New Hampshire. They represent a third of the
electorate and emerge as the maverick reformer. I think he did quite well
in that regard and also tried to deal with this image of temperament and
he did it with humor in a rather clever way. Steve Forbes is trying to
become the conservative alternative: attack on taxes, attack on Social
Security, and I think he solidified his conservative base. In fact, Katie,
after the debate, in this morning's Manchester Union Leader, he received
that paper's endorsement, which is very, very important for true right
wing believing Republican conservatives in New Hampshire."
Thank God for federal regulators. Or just one. He's the only thing
standing between you and toys that would kill your kids. Friday night NBC
Nightly News anchor Brian Williams noted that many ask if the toys they
buy are safe. "Luckily," he assuringly noted, "there's
someone in Washington whose job is to make sure they are." After
profiling the bureaucrat, NBC's Bob Faw concluded that he had once again
Introducing the last
story on the December 3 NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams declared:
"If you're like most Americans your weekend plans will include some
form of holiday shopping and if kids are involved that means toys and that
of course always leads to the question: Are they safe. Luckily there's
someone in Washington whose job is to make sure they are."
Bob Faw began the
laudatory story: "Tucked away in a sprawling federal laboratory,
outfitted with the tools of his trade, is the Consumer Product Safety
Commission's counterpart to, well, to James Bond's Q."
The man identified himself as the "toy
policeman" before Faw warned that he found 38 toys so dangerous they
needed to be recalled. After allowing David Miller of the Toy
Manufacturers Association to insist toys are the safest ever, Faw
countered by relaying the view of a left-wing group he failed to label:
"Despite all the pleasure, last year toys caused
153,000 injuries and one private watchdog group thinks the federal
government should be much tougher."
Rachel Weintraub, U.S. Public Interest Research Group:
"Last year 14 children died as they were playing with toys and eight
of those deaths were due to choking."
Faw concluded: "Which is why, back at the lab, the
pinching and poking -- the protection of children -- goes on. Another
Christmas saved. Q, eat your heart out."
John Cochran's adamance that he did nothing wrong in inviting Al and
Tipper Gore to his house Thursday night, surprisingly the reporter who
started it all did not update his story Monday morning. Peter Johnson's
"Inside TV" column in the December 6 USA Today made no mention
of his December 2 item with which ABC News took exception. See the
December 3 CyberAlert for details.
As noted in CyberAlert,
the December 2 Special Report with Brit Hume ran a story December 2 on the
aborted controversy. The next night, Friday night, substitute host Tony
Snow updated viewers: "I want to begin by referring to a story that
ran on this program yesterday. It concerned ABC correspondent John
Cochran.... invited the Vice President and Tipper Gore over to the house
for dinner, which took place Thursday evening in Washington. John Cochran
called today and wanted to clarify things. He said, 'people I cover, it
is by nature an adversarial relationship. In the past, I've had Republican
office-holders to my house for dinner, including Senator Richard Shelby,
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, and Senator John McCain. They were, as
with the dinner with Gore, working dinners.'"
Snow added that Cochran
reported that Gore answered questions for 45 minutes, quoting Cochran:
"They were tough questions, and I think that's part of my job. I
found it very informative, and I would do the same thing if I were
covering George W. Bush or Steve Forbes."
Let's see if and when
anyone at ABC invites over Bush or Forbes.
show's "gadget guru" a gear-head or a coke-head? The
"gadget guru of NBC's Today, who most often appears on the Saturday
edition to show off the latest appliances and tools, was arrested Saturday
for buying cocaine. Here's a short December 5 Reuters item on his
MIAMI (Reuters) -- Andy Pargh, the NBC
Today show correspondent known as the "Gadget Guru," was
arrested on a cocaine trafficking charge in Miami, jail records showed
Pargh, 45, was booked in the Miami-Dade
County jail Saturday on the charge and was released after posting $50,000
bond, a jail official said.
Television station WTVJ, an NBC affiliate
in Miami, said Pargh was arrested near his home in the Sunny Isles
neighborhood after allegedly buying 250 grams of cocaine from an
undercover policeman. Police who made the arrest could not be reached for
Pargh reports on new products on the Today
show and also writes a technology column that appears in USA Today.
the December 3 Late Show with David Letterman, the Top List inspired by Al
Gore's series of outlandish claims, including the latest that he had
first "found" Love Canal, though he called for hearings after
people had already been evacuated. Here are the "Top Ten Other
Achievements Claimed By Al Gore." Copyright 1999 by Worldwide Pants,
10. Was first human to grow an opposable
9. Only man in world to sleep with someone named "Tipper"
8. Current Vice President -- Moesha fan club
7. He invented the dog
6. While riding bicycle one day, accidentally invented the orgasm
5. Pulled U.S. out of early 90's recession by personally buying 6,000
4. Starred in CBS situation comedy with Juan Valdez, "Juan for Al, Al
3. Was inspiration for Ozzy Osboune song "Crazy Train"
2. Came up with popular catchphrase "Don't go there, girlfriend"
1. Gave mankind fire
And from the Late Show
Web site, some of "the extra jokes that didn't quite make it into the
-- 1991: Invented the Internet, Post-It
Notes and Cheese-In-Crust pizza
-- Learned dolphin language, convinced them to call off all-out attack on
-- Said to Ashford and Simpson -- "You two kids should get
-- Told young Michael Jordan to give that basketball game a whirl
Republican debate with Bush tonight, Monday, at 6pm MT in Arizona. CNN
will carry it live at 8pm ET. --
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