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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| Thursday July 20, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 119) |

Printer Friendly Version

Tax Cuts = Spending; Rich Helped Most?; Jennings Embarrassed by Boy Scouts

1) Exempting more income from taxation equals "Republican spending of the surplus." CBS's Bill Plante adopted the Clinton spin in a story on House approval of higher retirement plan donation limits.

2) Tuesday night Plante recited, without rebuttal, the Clinton analysis of how the marriage penalty tax break will "give the wealthiest one percent of taxpayers a tax cut 84 times as large as they give an average family." ABC and NBC relayed the same spin but, in fact, the richest Americans won't get their fair share.

3) ABC's Peter Jennings called the Boy Scout ban on gay leaders an "embarrassment" as he introduced a story on how "some of the leading Scouts have objected" to the policy and are supposedly turning in their Eagle badges. Bob Woodruff: "Kevin Peter once dreamed of his son becoming an Eagle like him, not anymore."

4) ABC's Terry Moran asked Paul Fray "why should people believe you" when the "Supreme Court of Arkansas said" you don't have "the moral character to practice law"? Same thing could be said of Bill Clinton. Geraldo Rivera called the Oppenheimer book "crap."

5) FNC revealed "the man who helped bring the Chinese spying allegations to light," Notra Trulock, "says the Clinton administration has now targeted him for political payback" after a National Review article. The FBI seized his computer.

6) Boston Globe editorial page editor Renee Loth promised the paper will include "a conservative voice." FNC's Brit Hume pointed out "the paper's remaining stable of seven regular staff columnists now consists entirely of writers regarded as liberal."

7) Katie Couric flexed her muscles for Jay Leno on the Tonight Show.


Tax cuts = "Republican spending of the surplus." In a CBS Evening News story Wednesday night on the House passage, with many Democratic votes, of a bill to increase the non-taxable contribution limits for IRA and 401(k) plans, Bill Plante adopted the White House spin that cutting taxes, or in this case subjecting less of a person's income to taxation, is the same thing as spending.

     In his July 19 story from the White House, Plante outlined how the bill would increase the IRA contribution limit from $2,000 to $5,000 over three years and the 401(k) contribution amount allowed from $10,500 to $15,000 by 2005. Viewers then saw a clip of Ohio Republican Rob Portman asserting the plan helps the many who don't have a pension plan.

    Noting how the White House says the bill won't fix the lack of pensions, Plante relayed:
"The President's Chief-of-Staff, John Podesta, fired off what one official called a 'stop the madness' letter to Congress. 'The President is increasingly concerned about the spending binge under way in Congress with the political conventions drawing near...[ellipses in on-screen text which Plante read] on bills that deplete the projected budget surplus at a rapid rate.'"
    Probably also referring to the marriage penalty reduction vote from the day before, though he didn't mention it, Plante concluded: "The vote today and the letter to Congress signal a concern here bordering on panic that the Republican spending of the surplus is hitting a chord with the voters. For years it was the Republicans who preached fiscal responsibility, now the Democrats are finding it just as hard to sell."

    Plante didn't offer any vote numbers, but the retirement contributions bill passed 401 to 25, meaning 182 Democrats went against the White House position.


Plante's Wednesday night adoption of the White House spin followed his Tuesday night recitation, without rebuttal, of how a Clinton administration analysis of the marriage penalty correction tax break "claims that the Republicans give the wealthiest one percent of taxpayers a tax cut 84 times as large as they give an average family." NBC's Lisa Myers relayed the same spin but at least allowed a retort from a GOP Senator. In fact, the wealthiest Americans won't get their fair share of the tax break.

Instead of passing one all inclusive tax cut bill, this year Republicans are gaining some rank-and-file Democratic support by introducing tax cuts one at a time, Bill Plante explained in his July 18 CBS Evening News story. Tax bills include, Plante noted, marriage penalty relief, elimination of the estate tax and a tax cut on some Social Security benefits.

    Plante then observed: "Democrats have mounted a furious battle to regain the offensive."
    House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt: "When it comes to taxes Republicans haven't changed their tune. They are more interested in taking care of their wealthy friends than working families."
    Plante helpfully added: "A Treasury Department analysis claims that the Republicans give the wealthiest one percent of taxpayers a tax cut 84 times as large as they give an average family."

    Without allowing for another point of view, Lockhart moved on to a soundbite from Joe Lockhart denouncing how Republicans have put politics ahead of responsibility.

    Over on NBC Nightly News the same evening, Lisa Myers noted how "the Senate bill also would cut taxes for married couples who are not hit by the marriage penalty. How? By increasing the standard deduction for couples to twice that for singles and by expanding the lowest tax brackets. Democratic leaders charge this tax cut and last week's vote to cut inheritance taxes benefit the rich."
    Viewers head the same Gephardt clip: "When it comes to taxes Republicans haven't changed their tune. They are more interested in taking care of their wealthy friends than working families."
    But, Myers then allowed a retort from Republican Senator Don Nickles: "That's hogwash. The bulk of this benefit really applies to couples that have incomes above $43,000 and into the $60,000."

    Myers added: "Still, today the President in a statement calls this bill 'fiscally irresponsible and regressive,' but says he'll sign it if the Republicans also approve prescription drug coverage for the elderly. The Senate's top Republican says no deal, claiming polls show most voters support Republicans on this one."

    ABC's World News Tonight took up the marriage penalty bill on Monday night. After a balanced piece on the basics by Linda Douglass, she told anchor Peter Jennings that Clinton will somehow be "forced" to veto it: "Now this is a popular measure and the President tried to cut a deal with the Republicans so that he wouldn't be forced to veto it, but Peter, they said no way."
    Jennings: "Linda, first of all, why does the President want to veto it if he has to?"
    Douglass: "The President says that it is too expensive. He says that it also benefits the rich too much. The Democrats have a proposal they say would be cheaper and fairer. That's what they say."

    And what they say seems to be what the media say. If you make more money and pay more in taxes then you will get a larger cut in raw dollar amount than someone making less, an obvious fact none of the networks pointed out. Nor did any note how it's pretty hard to give an income tax cut to those not paying income taxes. Indeed, a July 18 Washington Post story on the Treasury analysis noted that Joint Economic Committee studies have determined that "one-third of Americans already pay no taxes."

    As for the distribution of the marriage penalty reduction, the July 19 Washington Post passed along some numbers from the Congressional Budget Office showing how it will shortchange the rich and unfairly help the poor. Those earning $75,000 to $200,000 now pay 79 percent of income taxes collected by the federal government but will get only 68 percent of the tax cut. Those making $50,000 to $75,000 will get 17 percent of the cut while contributing 16 percent of taxes collected. People in the $30,000 to $50,000 range match up evenly at 7 percent for each measurement.

    But the lower income earners make out the best. Those in the $20,000 to $30,000 range pay a mere one percent of taxes collected but will get five percent of this tax cut. And, thanks to the earned income tax credit, those below $20,000 who now pay a negative 2 percent of taxes collected will get three percent of the tax cut even though in the end they don't pay a dime in income taxes.


Ashamed of the Boy Scouts. They won their Supreme Court case but long ago lost the news media. "On Capitol Hill today there was a bill proposed to strip the Boy Scouts of their honorary charter. It is another embarrassment the Scouts could do without," Peter Jennings announced on Wednesday's World News Tonight. "Another embarrassment"? Apparently to Jennings and ABC the Scouts should be "embarrassed" by a policy which the Supreme Court found constitutional. Jennings reminded viewers: "The Scouts, you'll recall, won their battle in the Supreme Court last month to ban gay Scout leaders, but now some of the leading Scouts have objected."

    "Some leading Scouts," ABC watchers soon discovered, actually meant one guy in Philadelphia and a female Member of Congress.

    Reporter Bob Woodruff began: "Kevin Peter became an Eagle Scout 21 years ago, but this month, after the Supreme Court decision, he wrapped up his Eagle badge and mailed it back to Boy Scout headquarters. Although Kevin is not gay, he was furious."
    Kevin Peter, former Eagle Scout from Philadelphia: "I knew that when the Scouts came out and said a gay man can't be an appropriate role model, a gay man is immoral, I knew that I had to take a stand against that."
    Woodruff then relayed an activist group's claim without offering the slightest evidence: "The founders of the Web site Scouting for All say they've heard from hundreds of Eagle Scouts who have turned in their badges since the Supreme Court decision and today in Washington Kevin Peter and other Eagle Scouts stood with Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey as she introduced legislation that would strip the Boy Scouts of its federal honorary charter, a symbolic seal of approval."

    Woolsey a Democrat from California, in front of four or five men, asserted the Boy Scouts are promoting "intolerance." Woodruff added that last week "some liberal Democrats" asked Bill Clinton to resign as honorary head of the Boy Scouts, a position held by the President. The Scouts are starting to lose "significant" money Woodruff explained, as eight United Way chapter have pulled their funding, most recently in Providence.

    Woodruff then gave a token few seconds to Robert Knight of the Family Research Council to defend the Boy Scouts. He asserted the Scouts have much support because parents have the right to say who will be around their kids.

    Over video of Peter next to a kid on a tricycle, Woodruff concluded: "Kevin Peter once dreamed of his son becoming an Eagle like him, not anymore."


ABC's Terry Moran ironically attributed to Paul Fray a list of discrediting transgressions which could similarly be listed for Bill Clinton and Geraldo Rivera wondered if the author of the book, which included Fray's recollection of being a called a "f***ing Jew bastard" by Hillary Clinton, ever talked to "far right publisher" Rupert Murdoch.

    ABC's Good Morning America on Wednesday played a taped interview by Terry Moran with Paul Fray, manager of Bill Clinton's unsuccessful 1974 House race. One of Moran's questions:
    "What are we to think of somebody who had to surrender their law licence for altering court documents, who was drug dependent. Who the Supreme Court of Arkansas said doesn't have the moral character to practice law in this state. Why should people believe you?"

    Why should people believe Bill Clinton when the same state court committee has concluded that he too doesn't have the moral character to practice law in Arkansas? But Moran didn't mention Clinton's situation.

    The night before, Jerry Oppenheimer, author of State of a Union: Inside the Complex Marriage of Bill and Hillary Clinton, was pummeled by Geraldo Rivera on CNBC's Rivera Live, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed.

    Rivera demanded: "I have to ask you Jerry, in fairness, did you ever have any conversations with Rupert Murdoch, the far right publisher, business mogul, who owns the New York Post, who owns Harper-Collins Publishing, about writing this book about the Clintons?"

    After pressing Oppenheimer repeatedly about how he found a quote other authors had not and about Fray's stability, Rivera ended a segment: "'This is crap!' the President said., I agree, 'This is crap!' the President said. That's our title, our focus. Back in a flash stay tuned."

    Rivera concluded the interview: "If you believe this my friends, I got a bridge to sell you. Anyway. 'This is crap!' the President said. Jerry Oppenheimer good luck with the book. I'm sure that there will be people who will believe the allegations contained therein, and there is much more to it, ladies and gentlemen, in fairness, than this whole Jew-baiting nonsense."


A blast from the past. FNC Wednesday night revealed how Notra Trulock believes he's the victim of Clinton administration retribution for an article he wrote in the July 31 National Review which criticized how the Energy Department resisted security improvements.

    On FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume the anchor of the same name explained: "A former Energy Department employee is accusing the government of intimidation. The man who helped bring the Chinese spying allegations to light says the Clinton administration has now targeted him for political payback. After the scandal broke, he lost his job, but his former employer insists it was not because of political pressure."

    Rita Cosby began her July 19 piece with a clip of Notra Trulock inside his home: "Friday night the FBI came to the door with the owner. They had threatened the owner with breaking the door in, search warrant-"
    Cosby jumped in, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Notra Trulock, the former Energy Department intelligence director who blew the whistle on suspected Chinese espionage at U.S. nuclear labs, says he was shocked when FBI agents came to his Virginia home last week and seized his computer hard drive."

    Viewers saw Trulock pointing to unconnected computer cables where his computer used to sit. Cosby noted how the seizure was "a move he says was payback."
    Trulock: "This is the most blatant form of retaliation, and in my judgment, it's an abuse of power."
    Cosby: "Trulock claims the FBI's action was in response to an article he wrote in the current issue of the National Review magazine in which he repeated his criticism of the FBI and Energy Department's handling of possible spying at the nuclear labs."

    Trulock asserted Energy had a "disinclination" to reform security vulnerabilities. Trulock denied his article contained anything classified.

    Cosby continued: "He was fired last month from TRW and says a senior TRW executive told him Energy Department officials said the company would lose government contracts if they did not let Trulock go....Trulock says what happened to him sends a strong message to all whistle blowers."
    Trulock: "The message is 'shut up' and go away. We don't want to talk about these things."
    Cosby concluded: "TRW and the Department of Energy say there was no pressure exerted to cause Trulock's firing. He's now looking for a new job and is considering taking some legal action against several federal agencies."


7-to-0 at the Boston Globe. Brit Hume better at counting than was CyberAlert? The July 18 CyberAlert pointed out how in his July 17 column on the suspension of conservative columnist Jeff Jacoby, ombudsman Jack Thomas quoted editorial page editor Renee Loth's promise that the Globe would feature "a conservative voice." CyberAlert observed that would compare to "at least four regular Globe-based liberal columnists."

    Wednesday night FNC's Brit Hume picked up on the promise of "a" conservative, but offered a higher count of liberal regulars at the Globe. On the July 19 Special Report with Brit Hume he relayed:
    "The Boston Globe editorial page may be without a single conservative voice following the suspension of columnist Jeff Jacoby, but the paper is assuring readers there will continue to be quote, 'variety,' in its opinion pages. Editorial page editor Renee Loth said that variety would include quote, 'a conservative voice.' The paper's remaining stable of seven regular staff columnists now consists entirely of writers regarded as liberal."

    Indeed, a check of the Globe-based "op-ed" columnists, several of whom are syndicated but not including non Globe-based liberals like Mary McGrory, found: David Nyhan, Ellen Goodman, Derrick Jackson, Joan Vennochi, Tom Oliphant and Martin Nolan. That's six. Plus, there's liberal ombudsman Jack Thomas who once wrote that running Jacoby's conservative columns is "a high price to pay for freedom of the press." And this list does not include any of the occasional writers whose selection definitely skews left. To see the list of regular Globe columnists, go to: http://www.boston.com/globe/columns/

    As for that last rebuke by Thomas, John Leo featured it in his latest column in this week's U.S. News & World Report. Here's an excerpt from the article titled, "Banned in Boston: The Globe censures its lone conservative voice," picking up with an incident in 1997:

Robert Hardman, one of the two gay copy editors who handle Jacoby's column, is furious about a Jacoby column criticizing gay militants at Harvard for not letting others speak. Hardman tries to get the column killed. This is not part of a copy editor's duties, even at the Globe. Editorial page editor David Greenway refuses to censor the column, which he finds to be "not some wacko neo-Nazi position" but "mainstream." Hardman, among others, urges the Globe ombudsman, Jack Thomas, to go after Jacoby in print. The ombudsman, as orthodox as the next man at the Globe, writes about Jacoby's rather staid and balanced column as if it were stunningly toxic, calling it "a high price to pay for freedom of the press." The ombudsman will always have a job at the Globe. But will Jacoby?

    END excerpt

    To read the entire piece, go to:

    Hardman is more forgiving than Thomas whose Monday column on Jacoby's four month suspension without pay was headlined: "Was Jacoby's punishment excessive? No, it wasn't." As noted in the July 13 CyberAlert, Hardman told the Boston Phoenix's Dan Kennedy that the penalty was "extremely harsh, and I agree with those who say it's disproportionate."

    Conservative columnist Cal Thomas has also penned a piece on Jacoby's plight. It appears in the back page "Shoptalk at 30" slot in the July 17 Editor & Publisher, but it's not online.


Watch Katie Couric flex her muscles. MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a video clip from Wednesday's Tonight Show of the Today co-host demonstrating for Jay Leno the results of her work-outs with her trainer, "High Voltage." Couric held her arms up to show her upper arm muscles and then flexed one arm. Jay joked that he'd mention her improved physique to Ellen DeGeneres. To see the clip from the July 19 show, go to: http://www.mrc.org

    She looks to have bigger muscles than Matt Lauer and certainly Al Roker. -- Brent Baker


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