Walters Pressed Bush from Left; Gumbel Complained Ashcroft "Not Going Quietly"; CBS Blamed Deregulation for Electricity Shortage
1) The networks all reviewed how at the hearings Ashcroft
assured Senators he would not pursue his anti-gun control and abortion
agendas. Barbara Walters told Bush that Ashcroft is "not considered a
friend to civil rights" and demanded: "Can an Attorney General
enforce federal laws and protect rights that he personally, vigorously,
2) ABC and NBC relayed new poll numbers Wednesday night
about Clinton's popularity, lack of trustworthiness and how most
aren't going to miss him as well as how less than a majority have
confidence in Bush's policies and personal characteristics.
3) Bryant Gumbel called John Ashcroft's tone during the
first day of his hearing "aggressive" and complained: "He's
not going quietly, shall we say."
4) "The deregulation of electric utilities in
California was supposed to bring cheap, plentiful energy," John
Blackstone declared on the CBS Evening News. "Instead it's brought
high prices and today a critical shortage." In fact, utility prices
are regulated and environmentalists blocked new power plants.
5) Letterman's "Top Ten Things We've Learned from
the Clinton Years." Number 6: "You can have sex without having
sex as long as while you're having sex you don't actually have
California rolling power outages topped the ABC, CBS and NBC newscasts
Wednesday night, but all three ran full stories on the second day of
hearings for John Ashcroft and how he promised not to pursue his personal
agenda on abortion or guns.
Nonetheless, ABC featured an excerpt from Barbara
Walters' upcoming 20/20 interview with George W. Bush in which she took
the usual media slant of putting all the burden on Bush for improving
Washington's tone as she declared as fact that Ashcroft is "not
considered a friend to civil rights" and demanded: "The big
question is, can an Attorney General enforce federal laws and protect
rights that he personally, vigorously, opposes?"
Of course, the "big question" is really
just a tactic adopted by liberal activist groups to discredit
conservatives they oppose.
Bob Schieffer began his CBS Evening News story:
"Democrats know they don't have the votes now to block Ashcroft
from becoming Attorney General, so they're using these hearings to
extract promises from him on how he'll run the Justice Department. And
from the promises so far you might think he's an abortion rights, gun
Like ABC's Linda Douglass and NBC's Lisa Myers,
Schieffer showed clips of Democratic Senators extracting promises from
Ashcroft that he would not pursue overturning Roe v Wade, would enforce
laws protecting a women getting an abortion against disruptive protesters
and would continue the Justice Department's position in favor of banning
Lisa Myers opened her NBC Nightly News piece:
"A very different mood here on day two. John Ashcroft comes
face-to-face with his past as Democrats accuse him of re-inventing himself
to try to gain confirmation."
ABC's World News Tonight followed up the story by
Linda Douglass with an excerpt of interview conducted by Barbara Walters
on Tuesday in Crawford, Texas with President-elect Bush. Here it is in its
entirety, showcasing how Walters pursued Bush with liberal cliches:
Walters: "Did you expect him to be as much of a
Walters: "You really
did. And you did it anyway even though you talk about wanting to
Bush: "It doesn't mean we can't unite the nation
once we put somebody in place who can do the job as Attorney
Walters: "He's not
considered a friend to civil rights, he's been against court ordered
desegregation. The big question is, can an Attorney General enforce
federal laws and protect rights that he personally, vigorously,
Bush: "Yes. His job
is going to be to enforce the laws and there's no question in my mind he
will. I know there's a lot of people out there hollering, mainly voices
of special interests in Washington. That's what they're paid to do.
And they're paid to create noise and emotion, but John is a steady hand
who will do a fine job."
Friday's 20/20 will feature a lengthier treatment of the
NBC relayed some new poll numbers Wednesday night about Clinton's
popularity, lack of trustworthiness and how most aren't going to miss
him as well as how less than a majority have confidence in Bush's policy
positions and personal characteristics.
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings
relayed how an ABC News/Washington Post
poll found 65 percent approve of the way Clinton has handled his job, one
point higher than Reagan earned in 1989, but 77 percent described him as
"neither honest nor trustworthy."
-- NBC Nightly News. In
a story on Bush's farewell in Midland, David
Gregory related how an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll determined that
only 40 percent have a "high level of confidence in Bush's policy
positions and personal characteristics."
At the very end of the broadcast Tom Brokaw passed
along some numbers about Clinton: 56 percent think Clinton will be
remembered as "better than most" [40 percent] or "one of
the very best Presidents" [16 percent] while 53 percent are "not
going to miss" him and 43 percent said they "are going to
Put CyberAlert in the former category.
Gumbel thinks John Ashcroft is going to lose? At the top of Wednesday's
The Early Show, MRC analyst Brian Boyd noticed, Gumbel called Ashcroft's
tone during the first day of his hearing "aggressive" and
complained: "He's not going quietly, shall we say."
Right at 7am on the January 17 CBS show viewers
witnessed this exchange between The Early Show's co-hosts:
Gumbel: "You watched some of the Ashcroft stuff
yesterday, what did you think?"
"It was quite contentious wasn't it?"
I thought it was pretty aggressive actually on his part. He's not going
quietly, shall we say."
up for a fight."
got that right."
in item #1 above, the rolling power outages in California led the
broadcast network newscasts Wednesday night, an event Dan Rather dubbed
"the California lightmare." For the third time in a week, CBS
News blamed the problem on "deregulation" though the problem is
too much regulation as utilities are barred from passing on higher costs
to customers and environmentalists have successfully blocked any new
plants while demand has surged. ABC and NBC refrained from the misplaced
blame on deregulation.
CBS reporter John Blackstone declared on
Wednesday's CBS Evening News: "The deregulation of electric
utilities in California was supposed to bring cheap, plentiful energy.
Instead it's brought high prices and today a critical shortage."
Tuesday night Dan Rather introduced a story which
focused on the culpability of power companies, not environmentalists and
government regulators: "CBS's John Blackstone reports there are new
questions tonight about whether the deregulated power industry is
manufacturing the electricity shortage to generate profits."
Last week, on January 11, Rather announced:
"Millions of Californians face rolling power blackouts tonight after
a powerful storm piled natural disaster on top of the state's manmade
In the latest edition of MediaNomics Rich Noyes, of
the MRC's Free Market Project, demonstrated the fallaciousness of the
media's penchant, especially CBS, for blaming deregulation.
Below is a reprint of the article posted on January
11 titled: "Journalists Blame 'Deregulation' for California
Shortages, But Electricity Rules Are Plentiful"
As winter has settled over the nation, it has become a media mantra:
the current crisis in California is the result of the state's
deregulation of the electric power industry. The implication, of course,
is that the powerful and uncaring forces of the free market have been
loosed to wreak havoc on citizens who now lack government's
"protection." And, with many other states at various stages of
deregulation, some journalists seem to think that what is now a regional
crisis could soon be a national one. After blaming deregulation "in
part" for California's troubles, Dan Rather warned viewers of the
January 4 CBS Evening News that "residents of many other states could
CBS correspondent John Blackstone then discussed the mounting costs of
a California dairy farmer who uses electric milking machines. Declared
Blackstone: "Blame it on deregulation, an experiment state officials
once embraced, but now wish they could end....Consumer advocates say
California's dismal experience provides a powerful warning to 25 other
states moving toward deregulation."
But as Washington Post business writer Peter Behr explained in a
January 9 article, California officials left in place many
regulations that have effectively undermined
the promised benefits of a free market system, and he contrasted the
California experiment with the deregulation program, pushed by then-Gov.
George W. Bush and the state legislature, that will take effect in Texas
in about six months.
"California, whose system depended on competition among independent
electric power generators, has not had a major new power plant built in a
decade, largely because of the state's stringent environmental and
siting regulations," Behr wrote. "By contrast, Texas is awash in
power plants, and more are being built."
"Furthermore," Behr continued, "California has attempted
to shield consumers from price rises with a complex, sometimes conflicting
set of price controls. The system has brought two major utilities close to
insolvency because they cannot pass $11 billion in higher energy costs on
to customers....Under Texas's plan, electricity rates can go up twice a
year to reflect higher costs for producing power, including higher
[natural] gas costs."
In other words, while California let local power companies bid for
electricity from competing independent producers, regulations prohibited
them from passing along higher than expected costs to their customers.
Government red tape also restricted the building of new plants. That,
coupled with the lack of long-term contracts for electricity purchases,
practically guaranteed supply shortages that meant those independent
producers could demand top dollar at times of peak demand.
Thus, the media's condemnation of "deregulation" is
simplistic and inaccurate. As Investor's Business Daily's Charles
Oliver reported January 8, "many economists say deregulation isn't
to blame because the state never deregulated," Oliver wrote.
"The real problem, they say, is the complex rules that govern the
state's power system. These rules drive up the cost of electricity and
make it hard to add capacity when things are tight."
Yet despite the fact that economists won't call California's
experiment "deregulation," the media don't call it anything
else. On CNN's Morning News on January 9, for example, reporter Greg
LaMotte asserted that "deregulation...has become a political
nightmare." But if states such as Texas manage to deregulate their
electrical power industries in a way that benefits consumers, will those
same reporters be ready to declare deregulation "a political dream
come true?" Don't count on it.
For the other pieces in the January 11 MediaNomics,
"Shriveling Network News Shows Shocked By Shrinking Snack Chip
Bags!" and "Media Spin Bush Tax Cut as Huge and
Ineffective," go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/fmp/medianomics/2001/welcome.html
January 17 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Things
We've Learned from the Clinton Years." Copyright 2001 by Worldwide
10. That Hee-Haw crap's funny on TV, but not in the White House
9. A White House internship provides hands-on experience
8. It's a good idea to replace the Oval Office carpets every once in a
7. You can jog every day and still be a chunky tub
6. You can have sex without having sex as long as while you're having
sex you don't actually have sex
5. As long as the economy is good Americans believe anything you tell them
4. Considering his taste in ladies it's a good bet Bubba's been drunk
3. Hillary looks really hot in those pantsuits
2. You can be Vice President during the most prosperous time in America,
run against a dumb guy, get more votes and still lose
1. It's bent
*** Editor's Note: I'll be a bit busy over the
next day or so with some MRC events and won't get to see Ronnie
White's appearance or network coverage of it on Thursday night, so there
won't be a regular CyberAlert Friday. But I will send the text of a
special Notable Quotables we put together on Wednesday: "Eight Years
of Fawning Over the Clintons." It's full of classic quotes.
-- Brent Baker
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