Woman's Plight: "Wow, "It Resonates"; Drug Company Profiteering; Unexcited About Bush Lead in Polls; Only FNC Noted Gore Gay Gaffe
-- Extra Edition
1) ABC, CBS and MSNBC eagerly
hyped the Gore issue agenda promoted by an elderly woman at a Gore event who
claimed she has to pick up cans along roadsides to pay for her prescriptions.
ABC's Terry Moran enthused about her "poignant" story: "This is
the way campaigns are supposed to work. A candidate, a voter and a big
issue." MSNBC's Chip Reid: "Wow, is it resonating."
2) ABC's Good Morning America
brought the can collecting woman aboard Thursday. Diane Sawyer called her the
"new face of outrage against the high cost of prescription drugs."
3) Wednesday night ABC ran another
story on the supposed high price of drugs in the U.S. versus Canada where
regulation keeps prices lows. NBC relayed claims from a left wing group about
how drug prices are so high because of "profits" for drug-makers.
4) A lack of enthusiasm for polls
showing Bush now ahead. Peter Jennings grudgingly noted the "latest batch
of polls seems to show that George W. Bush has picked up some of the points he
lost to Al Gore."
5) The Joint Chiefs of Staff
asserted that their branches need more money. ABC and NBC had time for
pharmaceutical profiteering and cost stories which support Al Gore's agenda,
but not a second for the news which backed George Bush's agenda. CBS buried
what the chiefs said and focused on bickering among Senators.
6) Only FNC picked up on how
during the MTV forum Al Gore promised he would work to change the law so a gay
foreigner who joins in a civic union would be entitled to residency status.
Gaffe or evidence of his suppressed liberal views? Not news to ABC, CBS...
7) The broadcast network evening
shows continue to ignore the "mole" in the Bush camp allegation, but
Wednesday morning both ABC and CBS picked up on it and Wednesday night FNC's
Carl Cameron disclosed a woman who was questioned once toiled for...
CBS and MSNBC enthusiastically promoted the issue agenda of the Gore
campaign Wednesday night by showcasing a supposedly
"spontaneous" anecdote told by a 79-year-old woman at a Gore
event in Iowa, complete with video of Gore empathizing by hugging and
evening," Brian Williams opened his MSNBC show by leading with
her problems as he readily acknowledged how it played into Gore's
agenda: "When an elderly woman stood up today and told the Vice
President that she collects aluminum cans by the side of the road to
help pay for prescription drugs, it was political red meat. The Gore
campaign could not have scripted a better moment as their man
continues his cross-country pummeling of Texas Governor George W. Bush
on the topic of Medicare."
eagerly promoted the cause of Winifred Skinner. Seconds later MSNBC's
Chip Reid called her story "spontaneous" and excitedly
proclaimed: "Wow, is it resonating." He seriously asserted:
"And it wasn't just political. I think most of us in the room
thought that he and the entire room really were moved by her very
Moran approved: "This is the way campaigns are supposed to work.
A candidate, a voter and a big issue -- the high cost of prescription
drugs." Moran tried to pretend that her issue cause matched the
agenda of both candidates as he maintained "she got up and told
the kind of poignant story both Gore and George W. Bush have heard
from voters all year long."
her with Gore clearly linked her sympathetic story to Gore and, on the
larger issue agenda, ABC's story furthered the standard media practice
of using victims to argue for expanded government spending to solve a
social need, thus helping to create the public desire for a new
spending program that Bush decided he had to meet. The conservative
position is against any new prescription drug giveaway program paid
for by taxpayers, but you'll never see a network demand that a
candidate justify the new burden on a squeezed middle class taxpayer.
CBS's John Roberts tried to pretend the anecdote helped both campaigns
as it highlighted a problem faced by elderly voters and "both
campaigns are becoming more aggressive in trying to win them
over." Roberts oozed: "It was one of those rare moments when
an ordinary citizen can convey the importance of an election year
issue better than any candidate ever could."
Now to the
complete stories from Wednesday night, September 27:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. After unenthusiastically noting how Gore is no longer
ahead in polls (see item #4 below), anchor Peter Jennings simply
noted: "Al Gore was in Iowa today campaigning against the high
cost of prescription drugs."
then enthused: "This is the way campaigns are supposed to work. A
candidate, a voter and a big issue -- the high cost of prescription
in audience before Gore: "My name is Winifred Skinner."
explained: "She is 79-years-old, a widow, a retired auto worker
from Des Moines and at an open meeting in Altoona, Iowa, designed to
showcase the Vice President's plan for a Medicare prescription drug
benefit, she got up and told the kind of poignant story both Gore and
George W. Bush have heard from voters all year long."
this lengthy for TV soundbite from Skinner which lasted 20 seconds:
"Today I just called in for my prescriptions for this month and
they're going to be between $230 and $250 and what I do to put food on
the table is I pick up cans. I walk an hour-a-half to two-and-half
hours, sometimes three hours, seven days a week."
"The Vice President asked an awkward question."
"How much do you earn a week, seven days of picking up
"Not going to tell the government are you?"
laughed, but instead of playing up her fear of the IRS and taxes,
Moran intoned: "And then she told a hushed audience how a
passerby mocked her one day."
"He looked at me and he yelled back, he says, 'Get a life.' And I
thought if I wasn't picking up these cans I wouldn't have a
over video from the rear of Gore hugging and kissing her: "The
candidate then kissed Mrs. Skinner several times."
concluded: "That brief exchange shows why both campaigns are
spending so much time, energy and money trying to convince the Mrs.
Skinner's of the nation that they have the answer to this complex
ABC's story promoting the liberal cause and Gore's agenda of
government expansion by sympathetically relaying the plight of a
victim. By noon ET Thursday MRC Webmasters Andy Szul and Eric Pairel
should have a RealPlayer clip up of a hunk of Moran's story. Go to: http://www.mrc.org
-- CBS Evening
News. Dan Rather plugged the upcoming story before an ad break:
"She's no child, but she belongs on a poster about high drug
observed: "Both candidates recognize health care and the high
cost of prescription drugs as pivotal issues, especially for older
voters and out on the campaign trail today correspondent John Roberts
connected with a woman whose day to day existence illustrates why this
Yeah, he alone
"connected" with her.
by gushing: "It was one of those rare moments when an ordinary
citizen can convey the importance of an election year issue better
than any candidate ever could."
Skinner in the audience at a Gore event: "My name is Winifred
"This was just another campaign event, until Winnie Skinner
stopped the room cold by explaining how she can afford her
prescription drugs and still eat, by wandering Iowa's highways looking
"I walk an hour-and-a-half to two-and-a-half hours, sometimes
three hours, seven days a week, and I pick up cans and that's what
puts food on my table."
argued: "Voters like Skinner could turn this election, and both
campaigns are becoming more aggressive in trying to win them
another event, outdoors: "The other side is putting out a plan
supported by the big drug companies."
September 5: "The Gore plan forces seniors into a government
after the event, outside to a CBS camera as she stood alone: "If
they can lower the price of prescription drugs then I could make
suddenly on a first name basis, asked but did not really answer a
question: "Politics aside, who really has the better plan for
Winnie? Between Social Security and a small pension, she brings in
$10,900 a year -- $200 a month goes to prescription drugs, $111 for
MediGap insurance to cover doctor bills. At her income level Gore's
plan would pick up all of her prescription costs by 2002, leaving her
to pay just the MediGap. Bush would provide funding to immediately pay
her prescriptions and, four years from now, eliminate the MediGap cost
as well, saving her more than $300. But the Bush plan relies on states
implementing it -- and studies suggest as few as 25 percent of seniors
would participate. Winnie wears her self-reliance like a badge of
pride, but pride sometimes isn't enough."
CBS's camera: "There was a fellow that came along in a pickup
truck and I was picking up cans and he yelled at me, 'get a life,' and
concluded by endorsing the effort to create another entitlement
program: "That frustration to make ends meet is one of the most
powerful forces driving this election. And with 13 million more
seniors like Winnie on the line, the battle to court their vote can
"wears her self-reliance like a badge of pride," then why is
she demanding that the government resolve her problem?
-- MSNBC's The News with Brian
Williams. Following the show opening quoted above in which Williams
readily admitted "the Gore campaign could not have scripted a
better moment as their man continues his cross-country pummeling of
Texas Governor George W. Bush on the topic of Medicare," Chip
Washington, DC studio he crusaded for Gore's effort to find just the
right victim: "They have been trying for weeks to have this
Medicare issue really resonate with the American people. Al Gore has
told stories about people who chose between food and medicine, people
who didn't take their pain medication and lived in pain because they
couldn't afford it, because they had to buy food, a woman who bought
nothing but macaroni and cheese for weeks and ate nothing else because
she had to buy her medicine. But those were all scripted by the Gore
campaign. This one was spontaneous and wow is it resonating."
It sure is with
lengthy soundbite from Skinner, Reid suggested he was in Iowa earlier
in the day, as over video of Gore kissing and hugging her he raved:
"It was a very powerful moment in that room and if you thought
Tipper got the kiss treatment from the Vice President at the
convention, she got five from the Vice President! And it wasn't just
political. I think most of us in the room thought that he and the
entire room really were moved by her very compelling story. There have
been a lot of people we've seen out there who really struggle to pay
for their prescription drugs but her story really resonates."
He said it
twice, so then so will I: It sure does "resonate" with
Special Report with Brit Hume reporter Jim Angle also played a
soundbite from Skinner, but he uniquely pointed out how at her low
income Skinner would equally benefit from both the Bush and Gore plans
and in setting up the exchange where she asked Gore to not tell the
IRS how much she makes from picking up cans, he pointed out: "But
as a sympathetic Gore asked questions, she also talked about
government and taxes in a way that would have brought a smile to
George Bush's face."
Winifred Skinner featured Thursday morning on ABC's Good Morning
America. While writing this CyberAlert I noticed her GMA appearance,
which Diane Sawyer introduced:
turn now to the woman, who as we said, has become the new face of
outrage against the high cost of prescription drugs. With indomitable
spirit she told how she makes a little secret extra income by picking
up cans to pay for food and medicine."
revealed she has a son who knows about how she walks along highways to
pick up cans and "admires me for it."
If he admires
her for it then why should we all feel guilty about it?
And if she has
a son shouldn't the responsibility be on him to slip her a twenty
dollar bill once a week and not on the rest of society to resolve her
In addition to making Winifred Skinner the poster woman for the cause
of creating another entitlement program, Wednesday night ABC's World
News Tonight ran another story on the supposed high price of drugs.
NBC skipped Skinner, but devoted its "In Depth" segment to
how pharmaceutical companies are "gouging" Medicare and to
relaying the claims from an unlabeled left wing group about how drug
prices are so high because of "profits" for drug-makers.
Keyed to a
hearing on the price of prescription drugs, ABC's Linda Douglass
reported that Republicans know they must do something. Douglass
recounted how a woman in Bangor, Maine drives to Canada where she pays
$400 for what would cost $1,000 in the U.S. Douglass asserted:
"Canadian prices are much lower because they are regulated by the
government. Republicans here are feeling the pressure."
Gutknecht, R, Minn: "We do not have stupid tattooed across our
forehead. We are not going to allow this to continue."
"Some Democratic candidates have been taunting Republicans by
busing seniors to Canada so they can be seen buying cheap prescription
out the GOP plan to allow the re-importation of drugs from abroad, but
let a pharmaceutical industry spokesman express concern about the
safety of the practice.
News anchor Tom Brokaw set up pieces which promoted the liberal
anti-business agenda: "As Al Gore and George W. Bush trade
charges on prescription drugs plans for Medicare the question is
what's behind the high price of those drugs? First those drugs that
are covered by Medicare. Right now almost 40 million older and
disabled Americans are Medicare recipients. It's estimated that number
could rise to 77 million by the year 2030. Now new information on how
drug companies may be gouging Medicare, leaving older Americans and
all the taxpayers with the bill."
outlined how "congressional investigators" found
pharmaceutical companies make deals with doctors but the doctors then
get reimbursed by Medicare for the much higher wholesale price.
Thompson looked at "sticker shock" at the drug store,
focusing on a Minnesota man and wife who at $400 a month pay more for
medicine than for food. Thompson declared: "As one of 13 million
older Americans with no prescription drug coverage he wonders how they
will manage if they need more medicine."
identifying their ideology, Thompson passed along how a Families USA
study found prescription prices soared 48 percent from 1992 to 2000.
She asked: "Why do drugs cost so much? Doctor Stephen
Schondelmeyer says Americans are paying for profits and
Stephen Schondelmeyer: "Pharmaceutical companies have been
America's most profitable industry and they've been America's most
profitable industry since 1982."
"He says for every dollar drug companies take in 23 cents goes to
producing the drug, 21 cents to research and development, eight cents
to taxes, 18 cents to profit and 30 cents to marketing, advertising
squeezed in how "the drug industry points out it takes 15 years
and $500 million to bring a drug to market. Only one out of three turn
a profit and it argues that drugs are still cheaper than the
alternative," such as surgery.
So just who is
the unidentified Dr. Stephen Schondelmeyer? A check of the Families
USA Web site found his name on the last page of their report,
"Still Rising: Drug Price Increases for Seniors 1999-2000."
He's the first name under "Special Thanks to:" He's listed
as: "Stephen Schondelmeyer, Pharm.D., Ph.D."
As for the
Families USA agenda which NBC News didn't find worth alerting viewers
to, a September 5 press release was headlined: "BUSH PRESCRIPTION
DRUG PLAN 'DISAPPOINTING'; Lack of broad coverage and defined benefit,
limited financial commitment cited."
USA Web site: http://www.familiesusa.org
Do you sense a lack of happiness here? Check out how the ABC and CBS
anchors Wednesday night reported, sort of in ABC's case as Peter
Jennings cited no numbers, how Bush now leads Gore in national polls.
Both these short September 27 items led into the Winifred Skinner
stories, so the ends of the quotes were already cited in item #1
Jennings on ABC's World News Tonight: "In presidential politics
today, the latest batch of polls seems to show that George W. Bush has
picked up some of the points he lost to Al Gore in recent weeks. In
California today Mr. Bush said he would work to apply the high
standards and zero tolerance enforced in parochial schools in public
schools. Al Gore was in Iowa today campaigning against the high cost
of prescription drugs."
-- Dan Rather
on the CBS Evening News: "In the presidential campaign many
recent polls have indicated Democrat Al Gore might be ahead. Now some
have switched back and again say that Republican George Bush appears
to be pulling into a lead, including a poll in today's Los Angeles
Times. It shows, nationally, Bush with 48 percent of likely voters to
42 percent for Gore. For whatever this or any other poll might be
worth, both candidates recognize health care and the high cost of
prescription drugs as pivotal issues, especially for older voters and
out on the campaign trail today correspondent John Roberts connected
with a woman whose day to day existence illustrates why this is
Rather cited an actual poll, unlike Jennings. And at least ABC and CBS
suggested Gore might not still be ahead, unlike NBC Nightly News which
Wednesday night passed along nothing about poll standings.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff appeared before a Senate committee Wednesday
to make the case that their branches are over-extended and they need
more money. ABC and NBC had time for pharmaceutical profiteering and
cost stories which support Al Gore's agenda, but not a second for the
news which backed George Bush's agenda on the need to rebuild the
a story on the military's needs, but concentrated on partisan
bickering among Senators and so didn't get to the main point made by
the chiefs until the last sentence of its story. CNN provided a
Dan Rather set
up the September 27 CBS Evening News piece: "George Bush has been
sharply critical of the Clinton-Gore administration for allowing what
Republicans say is a dangerous decline in American military readiness.
Today the nation's top military officers went to Capitol Hill to have
their say on the matter, but as David Martin reports they didn't get
to do much talking."
his story to back-and-forth points by Republican Senator John Warner
and Democratic Senator Carl Levin about whether Clinton or Reagan-Bush
are to blame for cutbacks. Wrapping up, Martin got to what the chiefs
actually told the Senators: "By the way, the Joint Chiefs
testified that while the front line troops are ready for combat the
back up force have been neglected with the result that the risks of
executing the national military strategy are increasing."
On CNN's The
World Today, Jamie McIntyre put his priorities in order, reporting:
"Joint Chiefs Chairman Hugh Shelton labeled as clearly inadequate
the current Pentagon procurement budget of $60 billion a year."
added: "The Army, Navy and Air Force chiefs all indicated they
needed roughly $10 billion more a year, a total of at least $30
billion annually, roughly what the Congressional Budget Office
estimated in a recent report."
getting out those basic facts did he show conflicting soundbites from
Warner and Levin assigning blame.
Al Gore would change the law so a gay foreigner who joins in a civic
union would be entitled to residency status? Whether a gaffe or
evidence of his suppressed liberal views, or both, you'd think such a
controversial policy recommendation would be newsworthy. But not a
word about this Gore assertion, made during Tuesday's "Choose or
Lose 2000" forum on MTV, has aired on ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC or
NBC. Only Fox News Channel cared.
morning on Today, news reader Ann Curry reported only: "And
making a pitch to young voters, Gore appeared on MTV last night
telling the twenty-somethings to call him Al."
In a piece
aired on Wednesday's Special Report with Brit Hume, Jim Angle showed
Gore at the September 26 MTV town meeting, and noted: "Gore told
a gay man he does not support gay marriage but does support civic
unions of gays that afford the same legal rights. Then Gore was asked
if those legal rights should also apply to immigration."
"Would you favor the INS relaxing its rules to include the same
the MTV forum: "I think that the rights afforded on an American
who gets married to someone from another country should be afforded
under a legally protected civic union in the same way."
translated: "In other words, a gay foreigner who comes to the
U.S. to join in a civic union with an American would be entitled to
residency status and eventually citizenship."
MTV: "I think there is a difference between marriage as the
institution has traditionally been known and celebrated and recognized
and civic unions, but I think the legal protection should be on an
passed along the campaign's clarification: "But a senior Gore
aide says that won't work, that immigration authorities can't
recognize gay spouses without a federal statute recognizing gay
unions. And Gore aides shudder at the thought of leading a battle in
Congress over something that controversial. So despite Gore's
assurances, he will not try to change immigration laws."
I bet that
when George W. Bush needs his staff to explain how he didn't really
mean what he promised a voter, we'll hear about it from more than just
The "mole" in the Bush camp allegation has yet to see light
on a broadcast network evening show, but Wednesday morning both ABC
and NBC picked up on it and Wednesday night FNC's Carl Cameron added a
intriguing bit of info about the Democratic activist background of a
woman who was questioned.
advisor Mark McKinnon appeared on ABC's Good Morning America, MRC
analyst Jessica Anderson noticed. She explained: "Well, this
morning high political intrigue. A new development in the
investigation into who sent George W. Bush's top secret debate
preparation materials, including a videotape of Bush rehearsing, to a
Gore campaign advisor. Well, the Bush campaign is crying foul,
accusing the Justice Department of playing politics with the
investigation by leaking the name of a target of the
"As we know, on the surveillance tape in a Post Office, according
to these sources, is Yvette Lozano, who works in your office, mailing
a package on the day that the package could have been and probably
would have been mailed to the Gore campaign. What was she
she was returning pants for him to The Gap.
Nice to know
he has employees handling his personal errands.
After a few
follow up questions, she raised the Gore team's spin: "You know
that there's one theory, however out there it might be, that the Bush
campaign itself mailed it in order to try to catch the Gore campaign
and then accuse them of dirty tricks."
Over on NBC's
Today, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed, Ann Curry introduced a
story: "Now to scene seemingly out of a mystery movie, who sent a
videotape of George W. Bush preparing for the presidential debates to
the Gore campaign? A top Bush aide is lashing out at the FBI's
handling of the case."
Cameron filled in Yvette Lozano's resume, disclosing on Wednesday
night's Special Report with Brit Hume that "she's a Democratic
activist. She in fact worked for former Democratic Texas Governor Ann
-- Brent Baker
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