Slumlord Slant Slammed; GOP "Fairy Tales" About Death Tax; Celebrating Partners
1) Tony Blankley, Michael Barone
and Brit Hume all commented on the lack of network interest in the Gore as
"slumlord" story. Hume: "Can you imagine the same kind of media
treatment if this were happening on the ranch that George W. Bush owns in
2) The networks ignored Dan
Burton, his hearing and the LaBella memos during the week, but on Sunday
Burton appeared on two shows and Labella and Lee Radek were also quizzed.
3) CBS's Diana Olick discredited
those favoring elimination of he inheritance tax, claiming their worry about
small businesses having to be sold to pay the tax "is more like a fairy
tale." And she showcased a liberal who claimed that those who want the
tax phased out "have to lie" when making their case.
4) ABC and CBS celebrated the
decision by automakers to offer benefits to gay and lesbian partners as both
led with it Thursday night. Peter Jennings trumpeted "an important event
in the history of American industry." CBS's Jim Axelrod credited
capitalism for "the progressive direction."
5) "Al Gore gets in touch
with his feminine side. Tonight at 9," promised a newspaper ad touting
Gore on the Oxygen cable channel.
6) Letterman's "Top Ten
Things That Will Get You Kicked Off the Survivor Island."
the weekend, Tony Blankley, Michael Barone and Brit Hume all commented on
the lack of interest by the networks in what Hume described as "a
pretty darn good and compelling story" about Gore as an absent
Since NBC News, the
usual supplier of video for the McLaughlin Group, never did a story and
therefore had no video, McLaughlin set up a segment on the tenant problem
by showing FNC's video with credit to Special Report with Brit Hume.
This marked the first non-FNC showing on a national show of video of the
Carthage, Tennessee home with backed-up sinks and toilets.
During the segment,
columnist Tony Blankley suggested the incident "would be more
damaging [to Gore] though if the networks had covered it." Michael
Barone of U.S. News pointed out: "The networks, which are 90 percent
run by Democrats, don't want to run this stuff."
On Fox News Sunday,
after moderator Tony Snow raised the subject, Brit Hume cryptically
explained: "This is the now famous -- at least to viewers and readers
of some news organizations' product -- house on Gore's family property
in Tennessee which is a hundred fifty yards or so from the big house where
he stays when he's there...."
Of course, as CyberAlert
readers know, the only network to cover the topic, other than a 17-second
video-less item on NBC's Today, has been the Fox News Channel.
Hume tried to educate
his colleagues as to why FNC considered the story newsworthy:
"This is a man that belittles the compassionate
conservatism that is argued for by George W. Bush and purports to be the
real thing, the real man of the people, the real man of compassion and yet
you see this unattractive sight on his own property. And I don't know
whether it's better for him to say, 'yeah, I knew about it but I
wanted her to get out of there,' or to say he didn't know about it and
was oblivious to it. Either way, it seems to me, an unattractive
commentary on him. The only thing more unattractive has been the behavior
in this instance of the news media. Major networks have ignored the story.
Most major newspapers have run only one wire story on it. It's a pretty
darn good and compelling story and the most shameful performance of all I
think is the Nashville Tennessean which ran a single wire story. This is a
neighborhood newspaper and a newspaper of considerable renown in this
Snow: "And one for which Gore worked."
Hume: "One for which Gore once worked, and for
whose publisher, I believe a man named Frank Sutherland appeared in a
recent Gore video, which he later said he probably shouldn't have done,
but it gives this paper a terrible taint. It refused to assign a reporter
to this story. It gives this paper a terrible taint of just being utterly
Hume soon wondered:
"Can you imagine the same kind of media treatment if this were
happening on the ranch that George W. Bush owns in Texas?"
NPR talk show host Juan Williams made clear the media
would apply a different standard: "I think it would be more intense
because of the way that Republicans are seen in this country as, you know,
representing the rich."
Now online, the MRC's
Media Reality Check by Tim Graham about lack of media interest in this
topic, "Al Gore's Tennessee Tempest In a Toilet'? Veep's Renters
Go To TV Station to Force Plumbing Repairs, But Big Media Flush Another
Gore Gaffe." The report recalls how the networks weren't so
reticent about reporting, or making up, Bush mistakes in the 1992
To read the report via
HTML or see it as an Adobe Acrobat PDF:
To watch, via RealPlayer,
FNC's June 5 story with video from inside the rental home, go to:
Sunday focus. Last Tuesday when Dan Burton's House Government Reform
Committee released many documents related to former campaign finance task
force chief Charles Labella's memos, ABC, CBS and CNN all ignored it
while NBC Nightly News gave the development 35 seconds. FNC ran a full
story on a committee hearing that day with former Justice official Robert
Esposito, who recounted how he heard Reno deputy Lee Radek say she was
under pressure to avoid appointing an independent counsel, and Radek
denying such an observation.
The June 11 Sunday
morning interview shows took a bit more interest. Burton appeared on Fox
News Sunday as well as on NBC's Meet the Press on which Tim Russert gave
him and Lee Radek an equal grilling in the rare media appearance for Radek.
ABC's This Week brought aboard LaBella as well as former Justice
official Robert Litt.
night Dan Rather promised "the facts and figures on death and
taxes," but instead of relaying any basic facts about the
overwhelming 279 to 136 House vote to phase out the inheritance tax,
CBS's Diana Olick discredited its conservative advocates by claiming
their worries about small businesses having to be sold to pay the tax
"is more like a fairy tale." She showcased an unlabeled
liberal's claim that those in favor of eliminating it "have to
lie" to make it appear to hurt average people. Olick helpfully
explained: "The fact is, because of large tax exemptions, the farms
and businesses Republicans are talking about make up just three percent of
all taxable estates. The rest are the really rich."
NBC's Anne Thompson
also focused how few actually have to pay the tax, but at least informed
viewers of its exorbitant 60 percent top rate and how it's a tax
"more and more Americans could face as the economy booms and assets
and dreams are passed from one generation to the next."
Neither story picked up
on one the strongest arguments to eliminate it, that it rewards those who
spend all their money before death and punishes those who provide the
economy with saving and investment.
Dan Rather set up the
June 9 CBS Evening News story: "The House did vote today to phase out
inheritance taxes by the year 2010. President Clinton calls it an
expensive tax giveaway to the rich and says he'll veto it. So the
question becomes, will Congress override his veto. We asked CBS's Diana
Olick to dig deeper into this story for the facts and figures on death and
Diana Olick began with
an anecdote supporting the anti-tax position: "Jeanine Mizell knew
inheriting the family business would be hard work, but she had no idea how
truly taxing it would be."
Mizell, who inherited lumber company: "Had to
liquidate all of my parents CDs, their bank accounts, stock funds and we
sent as much cash as we could come up with off to the IRS."
Olick: "With her inheritance came a quarter of a
million dollar tax bill."
Mizell: "It's very unfair."
Olick: "And it's exactly the story Republicans
used over and over today before they voted to kill the death tax."
Collage of three unidentified House Members on the
floor: "It kills small businesses....Minority and woman owned
businesses....You lose family farms in my district in droves." [Last
one was Lindsay Graham.]
Having dispensed with
the Republican view, Olick decided to discredit it: "So why has such
a tax, that punishes the little guy, lasted 84 years? Because, some say,
the Republican story is more like a fairy tale."
Olick to Robert McIntyre of Citizens for Tax Justice:
"The argument we're hearing from Republicans over and over is the
small businesses need help."
McIntyre, walking in front of the Capitol: "Well
that's because they don't want to tell the truth. Imagine if they got
up on the House floor and said we want to give a hundred million dollars
to Bill Gates or Warren Buffet or some other really wealthy person?
They'd be laughed out, so they have to lie."
Of course, not taxing
away someone's money is not a way to "give" them anything.
Olick further elaborated
on the liberal view, giving it much more time than she had to the other
side: "The fact is, because of large tax exemptions, the farms and
businesses Republicans are talking about make up just three percent of all
taxable estates. The rest are the really rich."
McIntyre: "People with hundreds of millions of
dollars, the people who give them campaign money."
Olick: "And, Democrats argue, cutting the whole
death tax will cut out $400 billion dollars in revenue over the next
Congressman Charles Rangel: "It just doesn't
make any economic sense at all for our great country, that's just
getting out of this deficit spending, to get back in it."
Olick concluded: "The President promises to veto a
total estate tax repeal but says he would consider a more targeted cut to
help out the small businessmen and farmers. Now it's up to the Senate to
cut that deal."
Over on the NBC Nightly
News Tom Brokaw delivered a more sympathetic look at why many might
reasonably oppose the tax:
"One of the most unpopular taxes of the federal
government could be on its way out. It's the estate tax. The high cost of
dying for farmers, small business owners and the very wealthy who've spent
a lifetime building value in their estates, only to see a lot of it go to
the government before it goes to their children. With America's aging
population set to pass on trillions of dollars, today the House voted
overwhelmingly to phase out the tax completely, while President Clinton
said the congressional action goes too far."
Anne Thompson began by
looking at a Chicago-area grocery store owner who is unsure he can pass it
along to his kids as they may have to sell it off in order to pay the
inheritance tax. Thompson added: "The measure getting broad
bipartisan support in this election year. The president promising to veto
it. The White House saying he's willing to take care of family farmers and
small businesses, but this bill is just too sweeping."
After a soundbite from
White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart, Thompson offered some basic
facts skipped by CBS: "Though the polls show nearly three quarters of
Americans support the repeal, the current tax only affects two percent of
the population, those with estates over $675,000 who are taxed at rates
from 18 to 60 percent, projected to bring in $390 billion by 2010. The
bill would eliminate the tax over ten years, using $105 billion from the
projected budget surplus."
Following a clip of
Robert Greenstein from the unlabeled liberal Center for Budget &
Policy Priorities, Thompson gave the liberal view followed by some
arguments forwarded by repeal advocates:
"Critics warn, if the bill becomes law, charitable
contributions will go down, the super rich, they say, will have no
incentive to give and federal support for programs such as Medicaid and
Social Security could also diminish, just as the baby boomers need those
services more. And over the next two decades, boomers will be the ones
inheriting the money. A recent Boston College study estimates boomers'
parents could leave behind nearly $11 trillion, the largest amount ever.
Liz Minhard's father and siblings started a grocery store in Dallas and
built it into an 82 store chain. When they died within three years of each
other, Liz not only had to deal with her grief, but also consider taking
the family business public against her father's wishes to pay the tax
Liz Minhard: "Anytime you deal with the loss of a
parent or a loss of a close relative, it's difficult. And then you have
the added problem of sitting there thinking, 'Oh my God, how do I pay all
Thompson concluded with a spin favoring phase-out of
"A problem more and more Americans could face as
the economy booms and assets and dreams are passed from one generation to
and CBS celebrated the decision by Ford, Chrysler and GM to offer benefits
to gay and lesbian partners as both led Thursday night with the
announcement, which Peter Jennings trumpeted as "an important event
in the history of American industry." CBS's Jim Axelrod noted how
"old-fashioned capitalism may have dictated the progressive direction
American industry may be headed."
Both stories featured
comments from car company executives and gay rights advocates, but not a
word from anyone displeased with the move.
ABC's Peter Jennings
opened the June 8 World News Tonight:
"We begin tonight with an important event in the
history of American industry. Powerful for its symbolism as well as its
impact. The big three carmakers, the anchors of the country's industrial
base, are going to extend health benefits to the partners of their gay and
lesbian employees. The big three are not leading as much as they are
CBS Evening News anchor
Dan Rather declared:
"The Big Three U.S. automakers rolled out what
could be a new model for worker benefits in this country. They will offer
health-care insurance to same-sex partners -- not opposite-sex partners,
same-sex partners -- just as they do for married couples. This action by
General Motors, Ford and Chrysler may herald changing corporate views on
alternative lifestyles. But as CBS's Jim Axelrod reports, it's also a
hard-nosed business decision driven by economic realities."
Axelrod celebrated: "Add up the Big Three work
forces and the offer applies to 465,000 workers. While it's expected only
one percent will take advantage, the importance, say gay rights advocates,
cannot be measured solely by the numbers."
Kim Well, Human Rights Campaign: "The
manufacturing sector in this country has not been in the vanguard with
respect to domestic partner benefits, and so to see the Big Three come out
all at once really opens up the door."
Axelrod: "But if today's announcement signals a
new breeze, it is one that's been blowing for a while. Thirty-four hundred
companies, including 93 Fortune 500 companies, already offer same-sex
benefits. So far this year, companies like Citigroup, Boeing, Motorola,
American Airlines, Texas Instruments and General Mills joined the
Mills: "I think that this is something that's been
building within business over a number of years."
Axelrod credited capitalism for the
"progressive" move: "The realities of a tight job market
may also have fueled the carmakers' move. In the end, old-fashioned
capitalism may have dictated the progressive direction American industry
may be headed."
Gore gets in touch with his feminine side. Tonight at 9," promised a
June 12 Washington Post newspaper ad touting Gore on the Oxygen cable
television channel. Oxygen, which promotes itself as delivering "a
woman's view of the world," is a just-started cable service created
by TV producers Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner with an investment from Oprah
Monday night, June 12,
from 9 to 10:30pm ET Gore will participate in an "Oxygen Women's
Forum" from Trenton, New Jersey co-hosted by Farai Chideya and May
Lee. Oxygen's press release claimed it has also invited George Bush to
take part in a similar forum.
The 90-minute event will
air on the Oxygen cable channel, on Oxygen.com and, since so few cable
systems carry Oxygen, will be simulcast on C-SPAN at 9pm ET. In the
Washington area, the only cable system to carry Oxygen system-wide is Cox
Communications in Fairfax County which runs it on channel 102.
the June 7 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Things That
Will Get You Kicked Off the Survivor Island." Copyright 2000 by
Worldwide Pants, Inc. Okay, so not exactly a political list but a pretty
funny list about a TV show which actually last week beat ABC's Who Wants
to Be a Millionaire head-to-head. Survivor, a chronicle of two groups of
eight people left on an island who must vote off one participant each week
with the last of the 16 earning $1 million, airs each Wednesday at 8pm
ET/PT, 7pm CT/MT on CBS.
10. Shrieking, "This was a mistake,
we're all gonna die here!" an hour into day one.
9. Wasting entire first week building "the awesomest tiki bar
8. Touching someone else's coconuts.
7. Your weight: 300 pounds. Favorite hobby: naked aerobics.
6. Telling women that if food runs low, they can eat you.
5. Skipping your turn to scrub down the old guy.
4. Mentioning the "island" is actually large indoor set at
3. Being a loudmouth redneck moron (sorry, that'll get you kicked off the
2. Ocean always seems to be a little warmer right next to you.
1. Eating more than your fair share of rat.
And, from the Late Show
Web site, some of the "also-rans" from the "over-achieving
writers" who "keep producing more brilliant jokes than can fit
in a Top Ten List."
-- Inappropriate relations with conch
-- Keep saying, "What would Don Ho do?"
-- Breaking strict "Three-strikes-and-you're-out" policy towards
-- Replacing bunkmate's sunblock with Miracle Whip.
-- Finding nest of writhing waterbug larvae, not sharing lunch.
How tasty. -- Brent Baker
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