Bush's Tax Plan Assaulted; Gore's Spending Ignored; FCC Hit CBS Over Kilborn
1) Janet Reno's decision to not
name a special counsel to probe Al Gore earned full stories on CBS and NBC but
only a brief item on ABC. CBS's John Roberts lamented the "burden"
on Reno since "she takes the heat for refusing to appoint a special
2) ABC jumped Wednesday night on
how the Bush campaign is now "playing defense" while the Gore team
is "riding high playing offense," because of George Bush's
admission that he needs to do a better job of explaining his tax cut plan. But
ABC did nothing to help viewers understand it.
3) CNN's Brooks Jackson devoted
two stories to the arguments against Bush's tax cut. "So the richer you
are, the more you would gain under Bush's tax plan," Jackson relayed
after a clip of a left-wing activist, his only expert in one story. Jackson
found a waitress who would rather get day care and he worried about the tax
cut's impact on the surplus but skipped Gore's spending plans.
4) Tuesday's Boston Globe front
page: "Texas Diversity Plan Rapped." Wednesday's page one:
"Heavy Cuts in Defense Trace to Bush Presidency."
5) An FCC commissioner has
demanded CBS provide a better explanation for how and why "Snipers
Wanted" appeared over video of George W. Bush on the Late Late Show with
Reno's decision to not name a special counsel to investigate Al Gore
generated full stories on CBS and NBC Wednesday night, but only a brief
item on ABC. CBS's John Roberts worried that "what's good for
Gore has become a burden for Janet Reno. She takes the heat for refusing
to appoint a special counsel for the third time."
World News Tonight
anchor Charles Gibson reported in full on ABC: "Once again, the
Attorney General has refused to appoint an outside counsel to investigate
Al Gore's fundraising. Janet Reno said today she has reviewed Mr.
Gore's recent interview with Justice Department officials about
fundraising in 1996, and she said she finds quote, 'no reasonable
possibility that further investigation would produce evidence to warrant
CBS Evening News anchor
Bob Schieffer introduced the August 23 story: "The presidential
campaign trail got a little smoother for Al Gore today. Attorney General
Janet Reno again declined to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate,
but Reno said the Justice Department's own investigation will go
Just like OJ's search
for the real killer?
Reporter John Roberts
proceeded to inform viewers of how the controversy stems from whether Gore
made false statements in April about the Buddhist temple fundraising and
his knowledge of how the White House coffees were used to raise money.
After a clip of Reno maintaining that she saw no criminal intent, Roberts
argued: "What's good for Gore has become a burden for Janet Reno.
She takes the heat for refusing to appoint a special counsel for the third
He also played this soundbite from Senator Arlen
Specter: "The inference is undeniable that's she protecting Vice
NBC Nightly News anchor
Pete Williams announced: "A near-miss tonight for the Vice President.
Attorney General Janet Reno says she will not appoint a special prosecutor
to further investigate statements Mr. Gore made about his campaign
fundraising. Reno's decision means she rejected the recommendation of
one of her own top investigators and, not surprisingly, her announcement
did not please everyone."
Pete Williams covered
the same background as did Roberts, but played a bit longer clip from
Specter: "The inference is undeniable that's she protecting Vice
President Gore, but at this stage it's up to the American public."
jumped Wednesday night on how the Bush campaign is now "playing
defense" while the Gore team is "riding high playing
offense," because of George Bush's admission that he needs to do a
better job of explaining his tax cut plan. But ABC did nothing to help
viewers understand the tax plan as Dean Reynolds passed on without
rebuttal the Gore charge that it "would squander the nation's
surplus" and without setting the record straight Reynolds showed Bush
mangling his explanation.
World News Tonight
anchor Charles Gibson marveled, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad
"In presidential politics today, the Bush campaign
finds itself in an unfamiliar position, playing defense. You might even
say the campaign is a bit rattled after Governor Bush acknowledged
yesterday that he needs to do a better job explaining his tax cuts. The
Gore campaign, on the other hand, is in an equally unfamiliar situation
riding high playing offense."
Dean Reynolds began the
August 23 story: "The Democratic ticket had a confident look today in
Florida. Bolstered by positive polls and a dawning realization that they
may be onto an issue that puts George W. Bush on the defensive."
Joe Lieberman: "You know, yesterday George W. Bush
said that he hadn't done a good job at explaining his tax plan. The
problem isn't explaining the tax cut plan. The problem is the plan
Reynolds: "The Bush campaign has had to go to
extraordinary lengths this week to rebut charges by the Gore campaign that
their $1.3 trillion tax cut would squander the nation's surplus. The
Governor and his aides have repeatedly stressed that with a projected U.S.
surplus of $4.6 trillion over the next decade, there should be more than
enough money for his tax cuts and important government programs like
Social Security and Medicare."
After a soundbite from
Karen Hughes, Reynolds asserted: "But part of making the case is
making it coherently."
George W. Bush: "Our budget's gonna grow from
roughly $1.9 billion to an additional spending of, $1.9 trillion, to
additional spending of $3.3 trillion."
Reynolds: "And this week the Governor has had some
difficulty talking numbers."
Bush: "We will spend $3.3 trillion over the next
ten years on top of, on top of the $1.9 trillion budget."
Reynolds: "It didn't help yesterday when the
Republican Congressman who introduced him at this rally in Peoria, Ray
LaHood, confided to the reporters on hand that Bush should be saying more
about reducing the nation's debt, a point made repeatedly by none other
than Al Gore. For Bush, this was supposed to be a week devoted to
education issues, but the interference of the debate over taxes has taken
the usually disciplined campaign off its message, to a degree seldom seen
before. Dean Reynolds, ABC News, Austin."
As for who and what will
"squander" the surplus, see the end of item #3 below for a study
which found Gore will spend it all on new programs.
of the reason why the public may be gullible to Al Gore's spin that
Bush's tax cut is a sop to the rich and does little for lower-income
workers is how the media have portrayed it.
Bush's tax cut plan is
quite "progressive" since it reduces the marginal rate for those
at the bottom who now pay 15 percent to 10 percent, a one-third reduction,
while those in the middle bracket would get a one-fourth rate cut and
those paying the top rate only a one-fifth cut of their marginal rate. And
of course those who pay the most taxes get a bigger tax cut in raw
dollars. As noted in the July 20 CyberAlert which picked up on some CBO
numbers, those earning $75,000 to $200,000 now pay 79 percent of income
taxes collected by the federal government while those in the $20,000 to
$30,000 range pay a mere one percent of taxes collected.
But those points seldom
make it onto TV. Disappointingly, CNN's Brooks Jackson has produced two
distorted stories in a row this week which relied on two liberal analysts
as experts as he failed to explore the above points and simply passed
along the liberal class warfare argument based on the raw dollar amounts
of the Bush tax cut by income class. I said "disappointingly"
because historically Jackson has been a reporter who goes beyond the
partisan spin of the day to dig out the real facts or a contrarian angle
on a policy dispute. And, in worrying about the size of the Bush tax cuts,
he never raised the cost of Gore's proposed spending programs.
Jackson opened his
August 22 piece for Inside Politics by showing a women who "is just
the sort of waitress mom Bush says needs a tax cut."
He played a clip from
Bush: "Under current tax law, for example, a single waitress
supporting two children on an income of $22,000 faces a higher marginal
tax rate than a lawyer making $220,000. Under my plan, she will pay no
income tax at all."
"Sounds good, but look more closely. The truth is that Bush's
hypothetical $22,000-a-year waitress, who makes a bit more than our
waitress, isn't paying any income tax now. In fact, she gets a $1,688
refund thanks to the earned income tax credit, a subsidy benefitting
low-wage workers. We asked accountant Charlie Bish to calculate exactly
how much Bush's waitress and Bush's $220,000-a-year lawyer would benefit
under Bush's plan. His $22,000-a-year waitress gains $114. Her after-tax
income increases by half of one percent."
Back to the women,
Jackson asserted: "Our waitress is not impressed." She
complained: "I could put a penny in a cup for the whole year and I
can see that."
Jackson moved on:
"But that $220,000 lawyer? He gains more than $7,000, increasing his
after-tax income more than four-and-a- half percent. Just simple
The accountant noted the
obvious: "Whenever you cut the tax rates, basically the people at the
higher end of the spectrum will tend to enjoy a better savings simply
because of the numbers."
But instead of
explaining how the rich pay the most, Jackson then summarized Bush's
plan: "The heart of Bush's plan is an across-the-board rate cut,
dropping the top rate from 39.6 percent to 33 percent, and lowering the
bottom rate from 15 percent down to 10 percent. It'd also abolish the
estate tax, increase deductions for two-earner families, allow non-itemizers
to write off charitable deductions."
Viewers then heard from
Bob McIntyre, head of the left-wing, but unlabeled, Citizens for Tax
Justice: "The truth of it is it's a pretty traditional Republican tax
cut plan that gives 60 percent of its benefits to the top tenth and 42
percent of its benefits to the top one percent."
Jackson reinforced the
point: "So the richer you are, the more you would gain under Bush's
tax plan. And not only that, it would consume most -- and some say all --
of the budget surplus outside Social Security. The Bush plan would cost
$1.3 trillion this decade, according to the bipartisan Joint Tax Committee
of Congress. Right off, that's most of the $2.2 trillion non-Social
Security surplus projected by the Congressional Budget Office and an even
bigger bite out of the $1.9 trillion forecast by the administration's
Office of Management and Budget. But even that's not the whole
William Gale of the
Brookings Institution added: "That $1.9 trillion figure is funny
money. According to my calculations, a better estimate would be about 0.3
"Bush's tax cut by itself would shrink the surplus an estimated $275
billion, because the national debt would not be paid down as fast and the
government would have to pay more interest. The surplus would shrink even
more if Congress boosts military spending as promised or expands Medicare
to cover prescription drugs or -- well, you get the idea."
Jackson slyly added:
"And our waitress mom? She'd rather have day care than a tax
cut." She insisted: "That helps a lot of single parents a whole
lot more than giving them a tax -- an earned tax credit at the end of the
Jackson then assessed
Gore's tax cut plan, explaining how he wants "targeted" cuts:
"In fact, Gore opposes any outright rate cut that would favor most
those who pay the most: upper-income taxpayers....Gore's broadest tax cut
would increase the standard tax deduction for married couples: no help for
upper-income marrieds who itemize. Gore's other targeted cuts include tax
breaks for health insurance, child care, college expenses, long-term
health care, even a permanent tax credit for business research. Hardly tax
cuts at all, some say."
Jackson's expert? Once
again Robert McIntyre who was critical but not on a class envy basis:
"Well, what Gore has proposed is a whole bunch of government spending
programs that would be run by the Internal Revenue Service. He's got a
plan to encourage people to buy more energy-efficient appliances. Who's in
charge of that? The Energy Department? No. The Internal Revenue Service.
And down the list. It adds up to about 500 billion in spending programs
that would be run by IRS."
"The tax code already is growing more complicated. Taxpayers spend
untold billions trying to comply. And Gore's list of proposed new tax
breaks makes advocates of a simpler tax code cringe."
Following another clip
of Gale, Jackson concluded by endorsing Gore's position:
"Republican George W. Bush says the growing federal surplus is money
the government doesn't need and should give back...But Gore would use the
surplus to pay down the national debt by the year 2013, more quickly than
Bush proposes. That would put downward pressure on interest rates. And
Gore says lower interest rates benefit family budgets just as well as
federal tax cuts."
Wednesday night, August
23, Jackson returned to Inside Politics with another piece showcasing only
Robert McIntyre's left-wing class warfare analysis of the Bush tax cut
Jackson devoted most of
the story to explaining how Gore and Bush each offer different numbers for
how people at different incomes will fare under their plans. For instance,
Gore says a $60,000 family will get a bigger cut under his plan, while
Bush says Gore's will not given them any cut. Jackson explained that's
because Gore assumes they are saving a lot and so will get a $2,000 tax
credit and that they have a kid in college and so will get his college tax
credit while Bush assumes neither.
After another example
about a low income family, Jackson gave a soapbox to McIntyre to espouse
the liberal line on Bush's tax cut idea. "These carefully massaged
examples actually obscure the big picture," Jackson warned. McIntyre
then got this lengthy forum:
"Here's what we know. We know that Gore's
plan, while very complicated and hard to get firm numbers on, has income
caps on all the tax breaks. So nobody over $100,00 is going to get
anything. And most of the money looks like it will go to people from
$60,000 and down. Bush's plan, we know, that most of the money goes to
people over $100,000 and that the very rich, the top one percent, get
almost half the money. That's the bottom line."
Jackson then concluded
as if McIntyre had made some criticism of Gore too: "So both sides
are being, to say the least, selective about their facts and in the
process doing more to confuse than to inform."
The only thing being
obscured is complete reporting. In addition to ignoring how Bush's rate
reductions actually skew in favor of the less wealthy, in relaying without
rebuttal claims that Bush's tax plan would "consume most" of
the surplus, Jackson ignored how Gore would spend it all.
In a study released last
Friday, the National Taxpayers Union Foundation determined Gore's
spending proposals are five times greater than Bush's. In "Risky
Schemes and Squandered Opportunities: A Comparison of Al Gore's and George
W. Bush's Spending Proposals," Tom E. McClusky wrote:
extensive examination of the two Presidential candidates' speeches, press
releases, agendas, issue briefs, and fact sheets by National Taxpayers
Union Foundation (NTUF), in this time of a projected ten-year surplus of
$2.173 trillion1 both candidates are campaigning on who can spend the
surplus quicker -- and one of them has pulled far ahead. As seen in Table
1, Governor Bush, while addressing issues not usually associated with
Republicans such as education, health care, and low-income housing, would
like to increase annual spending by over $42 billion a year, or $425
billion over ten years.
"The Democratic candidate, Al Gore, approaches
traditional Republican issues like national defense and crime, and ends up
with a total five times larger than his opponent -- an increase in
spending of over $233 billion a year (see Table 2). As Figure 1
illustrates, Vice President Gore's total agenda over ten years would equal
$2.334 trillion, swallowing all of the surplus -- actually creating a
deficit of $161 billion."
To read the whole study
and to see the tables, go to:
that media bias in Massachusetts matters much to either the Bush or Gore
campaign since the state is a solid lock for Gore, but I noticed for two
days in a row this week that the Boston Globe's front page featured
attack pieces on Bush policies.
-- August 22 front page
piece by Patrick Healy, headlined "Texas Diversity Plan Rapped."
Call it the "compassionate
conservative" alternative to affirmative action.
Instead of picking minority students for
Texas universities based on their race, Governor George W. Bush signed a
law in 1997 that guaranteed a spot for all students who graduated in the
top 10 percent of their high school class.
The idea had an immediate, egalitarian
appeal: All applicants would be judged strictly by their performance. And
yet, at urban schools where black or Hispanic students are predominant,
minorities would surely fill the top 10 percent as well, getting into
public campuses by virtue of their own pluck.
But, rather than emerge as the national
model some Texas officials hoped for, the plan has run into a wall from
Massachusetts to Washington, where officials criticize the idea as
simplistic. Though Florida recently adopted a Texas-style policy,
officials in other states say the 10 percent rule allows the admission of
too many unqualified students and promotes diversity only in states with
highly segregated high schools.
"We don't think it solves
anything," said Joseph Marshall, who oversees enrollment at the
University of Massachusetts at Amherst, which has scaled back affirmative
action and rejected the idea of basing admission on class rank....
To read the whole story,
-- August 23 front page
story by Michael Kranish and John Donnelly, headlined: "Heavy Cuts in
Defense Trace to Bush Presidency." It began:
Ten years ago, President Bush ordered
Defense Secretary Dick Cheney to slash the defense budget and reduce troop
levels 25 percent by the mid-1990s.
This week, Bush's son, Republican
presidential candidate George W. Bush, and his running mate, Cheney,
accused the Clinton administration of "hollowing out" the
military during much of the past decade.
Those two conflicting points are now at the
heart of a dispute in the 2000 presidential campaign over the levels of
money spent for defense, military pay, and benefits, and the fighting
ability of US forces.
The differences were on display in speeches
to the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, as Bush said
Monday that "the next president will inherit a military in
decline," and Vice President Al Gore responded yesterday that the US
military is the "strongest and best in the entire world."
Strictly in terms of dollars, Bush's charge
is questionable. William J. Perry, a defense secretary earlier in the
Clinton administration, said two-thirds of the decline in defense spending
during the Clinton administration was put in place by President Bush.
"This is the silliest thing I ever
heard," John Pike, a defense analyst with the American Federation of
Scientists, said of Bush's charges. "The Cold War is over. Most of
those force reductions were either accomplished or planned under the Bush
administration. The Clinton administration came in and ratified them and
modestly tinkered with the force structure. The big draw-downs were under
In terms of morale and mission, however,
Bush may have tapped into a frustration among some within the military
that has existed since Bill Clinton became commander-in-chief....
To read the entire
article, go to:
Wanted" still causing trouble for CBS. As noted Tuesday night by Tony
Snow on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, an FCC commissioner wants a
better explanation from CBS for how the "Snipers Wanted" caption
appeared over video of George W. Bush during a comedy item on the Late
Late Show with Craig Kilborn.
Pamela McClintock of
Variety reported Tuesday:
Though CBS publicly apologized for running
a picture of GOP presidential contender George W. Bush with "snipers
wanted" as a caption on Craig Kilborn's late-night show, FCC
commissioner Gloria Tristani has admonished the network to further account
for the "appalling broadcast."....
In a letter to CBS Television president
Leslie Moonves dated Aug. 18, Tristani wrote that many viewers have
contacted her demanding the government take action over the spot on The
Late Late Show With Craig Kilborn, aired earlier this month during the
week of the Republican National Convention.
"Perhaps there is no government
solution for bad taste or the thoughtless broadcast of misguided humor.
However, Americans' patience with gratuitous violence on her airwaves is
perilously thin," Tristani stated in the letter.
"Calls for voluntary codes of conduct
are changing to calls for enforceable regulatory standards. I urge CBS to
meaningfully respond to these citizens and use this incident to assess its
public interest obligations," the letter continued....
Sounds like the "Freepers"
at freerepublic.com, who have been publicizing Kilborn's bad joke, are
having an impact.
As noted last week in
CyberAlert, on the Monday, August 14 show, Kilborn did "apologize for
a mistake we made....with a caption on our screen concerning Republican
presidential candidate George W. Bush that should not have made it on the
air." He added: "I want to apologize personally to George W.
Bush, our audience, the viewers at home, and to anyone else who was
offended. I am sorry it happened."
A couple of weeks ago
the MRC posted a video clip of the incident as shown by FNC, but it was
without the Kilborn audio. MRC research associate Kristina Sewell has
since obtained a copy of the original show and this afternoon MRC
Webmaster Andy Szul will post it in this item in the posted version of
The event occurred on
the show aired the night of August 4 as Kilborn told this joke in his
"In the News" segment parodies of news events: "Our top
story, news from the dark side of the force. George W. Bush accepted the
Republican nomination for President with a very stirring speech at the
convention last night in Philadelphia. The delegates got a real sense of
George W. or as he's known to most Americans, Hollow Man."
Kilborn's next joke:
"Bush excited the crowd with his indictment of President Clinton,
asking do you really want eight more years of peace, low inflation and
To watch this segment,
after 1:30pm ET today, go to:
http://archive.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2000/cyb20000824.asp#5 -- Brent Baker
Support the MRC, an educational foundation dependent upon contributions
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