CBS Tagged Offner "Policy Expert"; Critics Won't "Let Go" of Clinton; NBC Picked Up on Trashing of OEOB, FNC on Plane Theft
1) Without caveats ABC and NBC
relayed how Alan Greenspan favored the idea of a tax cut, but CBS's Dan
Rather emphasized how Greenspan "did not endorse the big Bush tax cut
plan." A follow up story reminded viewers how "the tax cut was
roundly criticized during the election campaign for catering to the
2) The CBS Evening News ran a one-sided story relaying the
claims of two critics brought forward by John Ashcroft's enemies. Bob
Schieffer described Paul Offner as simply "a policy expert."
FNC's Brian Wilson realized he's "a long time Democratic activist
who served on the Hillary Clinton health care task force."
3) CBS finally ran a story on the pardon for Marc Rich,
but painted Bill Clinton as the victim of over-zealous critics.
"Critics of former President Clinton are going beyond the very
end....Exiting the White House Bill Clinton left the door wide open for
critics not ready to let go."
4) Geraldo Rivera boasted that "Denise Rich happens
to be a real good friend of mine." He argued that criticism of
Clinton's pardon is "hypocritical when you consider that the Reagan
administration was dealing with the same Ayatollah government at exactly
the same time" and President George H. W. Bush pardoned them.
5) Dan Rather and Charles Gibson used the fact that
President Bush opposes price controls as evidence he's influenced by
donations from Enron. Gibson to John McCain: "Is that an example of
the kind of influence that money buys?" Gibson encouraged McCain's
crusade, but NBC's Katie Couric actually challenged him on paycheck
protection and how donations are protected by the First Amendment.
6) NBC focused on the trashing of the Old Executive Office
Building next to the White House, though Andrea Mitchell skated over the
stripping of an Air Force 747 during Clinton's last trip, a subject
highlighted by FNC's Brit Hume. Mitchell rationalized the vandalism as
an "aftershock of the battle for Florida."
7) Actor Martin Sheen promised that Bill Clinton would not
sanction "any taking of any government property particularly from
that sacred place, the White House."
8) To illustrate the impending confirmation of HHS
Secretary Tommy Thompson, CBS's The Early Show put up a photo of Senator
and NBC led Thursday night with Alan Greenspan's favorable comments
about a tax cut, but while ABC and NBC were not reticent in relaying his
view, CBS's Dan Rather added caveats as CBS followed up with a story by
John Roberts on how Bush's "tax cut was roundly criticized during
the election campaign for catering to the rich."
-- Peter Jennings teased
at the top of ABC's World News Tonight: "On World News Tonight the
Chairman of the Federal Reserve says the economy has stopped growing and
tax cuts are a good idea." He then opened the show: "Good
evening, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Alan Greenspan, said
today that the economy is not growing and because the government has a
surplus cutting taxes is a good idea."
In the subsequent piece by Terry Moran viewers heard
Greenspan tell a Senate committee: "Should current economic weakness
spread beyond what now appears likely, having a tax cut in place may in
fact do noticeable good."
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw's tease:
"It's the economy. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan gives
the green light to the President's plan to cut your taxes." Brokaw
began the broadcast by stressing how Bush's tax cuts "have the
backing of Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, Washington's most
highly regarded money guru."
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather's tease added a
"Greenspan says the economy's all but stalled and he now gives a
qualified thumbs up to a tax cut." Rather started the program by
emphasizing how Greenspan "did not endorse the big Bush tax cut
plan." Rather announced:
A concerned but no panic assessment of the U.S. economy today from the
Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Alan Greenspan said the once booming
economy now has slowed to the point that it may have stopped growing. And
for the first time, Greenspan gave his blessing to the idea of cutting
taxes at least some to try to stimulate the economy. Greenspan did not
endorse the big Bush tax cut plan, wouldn't even comment on it. But the
White House is delighted Greenspan is giving even a qualified green light
to any tax cut at all."
Anthony Mason's story included a soundbite from
Greenspan asserting: "It is far better in my judgment that the
surpluses be lowered by tax reductions than by spending increases."
Before any viewers got too excited about the
prospect of a tax cut, CBS made sure they realized the supposed skew to
the rich of Bush's proposal. John Roberts began his follow up story by
highlighting how Greenspan didn't sign on to size of Bush's plan,
though Bush took it as a positive signal. Roberts then ran through some
numbers, reporting that under Bush's plan a family of four making
$30,000 would save $718, a family earning $50,000 would save $1,900 and
one making $140,000 would get a "tax break" of $5,059.
Viewers then heard this campaign soundbite from Al
Gore: "And almost half of it would go to the wealthiest one
percent." Roberts endorsed the claim: "The tax cut was roundly
criticized during the election campaign for catering to the rich. One
analysis calculated the average give back for the top one percent of
earners at $46,000 while another found a single mother of two with an
income of $22,000 would get nothing back." Roberts failed to identify
his source, but the on-screen graphic gave credit to Citizens for Tax
Justice, a left-wing group.
Roberts then led into a clip from Senator Charles
Schumer: "Democrats who advocate smaller targeted tax cuts today
whipped out charts and graphs drawing battle lines over Bush's tax plan,
fearing Greenspan's years of fiscal discipline may have just come to an
night the CBS Evening News publicized the liberal effort to block John
Ashcroft by running a one-sided story relaying the claims of two critics
brought forward by his enemies. Bob
Schieffer described one, Paul Offner, as simply a "policy
expert." On CNN's Inside Politics Jonathan Karl at least called him
a Democrat, but only FNC's Brian Wilson, on Special Report with Brit
Hume, alerted viewers to his real background: "Offner is a long-time
Democratic activist who served on the Hillary Clinton health care task
force and has written articles opposing welfare reform."
Dan Rather introduced the January 25 story, as
transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "There are developments
tonight on another controversy facing the new President and Congress.
Opponents of John Ashcroft are raising more questions about whether he can
be trusted as Attorney General to fully enforce laws protecting civil
rights. CBS's Bob Schieffer is tracking what, if any, impact this may
have on Ashcroft's confirmation by the Senate."
"James Hormel, who became America's first openly gay ambassador
over the objection of then Senator Ashcroft, today joined a group of civil
rights activists who oppose Ashcroft's nomination to be Attorney
General. During confirmation hearings, Ashcroft had said he wasn't
against Hormel because he was gay, but because." CBS then showed
Ashcroft saying it was because of the totality of his record and recalling
that he'd known Hormel since he had recruited him for law school.
Schieffer added: "During the confirmation
hearings, Ashcroft assured Democrats he had never discriminated against
gays when hiring staffers nor would he." Following a matching
Ashcroft clip, Schieffer countered: "That, too, was questioned today,
as first reported by the Washington Post, a policy expert named Paul
Offner said when he applied for a job with then Missouri Governor John
Ashcroft in 1985:"
"He said to me, 'My first question, Mr. Offner, do you have the
same sexual preference as most men?' And I said that I thought I
denies the allegation, but Offner, now married, didn't get the job. That
alone is hardly enough to keep Ashcroft from being confirmed, but it does
show the intensity of the opposition and demonstrates again how these
opponents are gonna fight this nomination till the very end."
Aided all along the way
by CBS News.
Clinton does wrong and on whom does CBS News put the burden? His critics!
Four days after ABC's World News Tonight and three days later than NBC
Nightly News, on Thursday night the CBS Evening News finally ran its first
story about the pardon for Marc Rich. But check out how Dan Rather
introduced it by portraying those concerned about it as the ones who are
doing something unseemly:
"Critics of former
President Clinton are going beyond the very end. They're raising new
questions about one of the end of term pardons President Clinton granted.
CBS's Jim Axelrod is looking into the case of fugitive financier Marc
Rich and the circumstances that led to his pardon."
Axelrod began by stressing how Clinton's critics
won't let him go: "Exiting the White House Bill Clinton left the
door wide open for critics not ready to let go. Among his last acts, he
pardoned billionaire fugitive Marc Rich, a man who never stood trial is
now cleared for crimes that could have meant 300 years in prison."
Axelrod did proceed to outline the case and how
Rich's ex-wife had donated more than $1 million to Democrats. And while
he let Rich's lawyer, ex-Clintonista Jack Quinn, defend the pardon, he
also played a soundbite of Tom Daschle calling it
"inappropriate." Political scientist James Thurber observed:
"For a man who wants to change his legacy, this didn't help very
Thursday night ABC aired its second story of the
week on the pardon as Jackie Judd also picked up on what NBC's Andrea
Mitchell reported the night before, that Rich's ex-wife Denise had given
Hillary furniture just before the Senate rules on gifts kicked in. Judd
stressed public outrage over the pardon:
"Gone, but not
nearly forgotten. Five days out of office and the former President, as
well as his wife, still have the capacity to irritate."
Male caller to radio
talk show: "The Clintons have no capacity for either shame or
Second male caller:
"I tell you what, this is an outrage Howie. I've never seen
something like this."
Howie Carr, WRKO
Radio in Boston host: "Does Clinton have any friends who aren't
Judd outlined the case and noted how "even some
members of the Clinton's own party object." Viewers then heard
Senator Charles Schumer charge: "Pardoning a fugitive from justice is
Rivera boasted Wednesday night that "Denise Rich happens to be a real
good friend of mine, for nearly a decade."
He maintained on CNBC's Rivera Live that criticism
of Clinton's pardon is "hypocritical when you consider that the
Reagan administration was dealing with the same Ayatollah government at
exactly the same time that Mr. Rich was. Now can you spell Iran-Contra?
And do you remember the pardons issued for the people involved in that
MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens took down Rivera's
January 24 diatribe: "I'm gonna give you my commentary right now
ladies and gentleman. First about Denise. Denise is one of the most
sincere, innocent, she's an innocent person. She's not a cynical
politician. She's very open. She's almost naive. She's very, very
generous. Without revealing the substantive details of the, of the several
private conversations that I had with Denise today about this I can tell
you she's...obviously she wanted, she would want the father, the
grandfather of her children her grandchildren allowed back in the country.
The fact that Marc Rich was unable to be with their daughter Gabrielle, as
she was dying from cancer back in 1996 was a painful wound for the family.
I knew her then, I saw them go through it.
of Denise and of the President's pardon of her ex-husband also point out
as Mark Geragos just did that these were basically income tax violations
that would not even be treated as crimes under today's laws and that the
moral outrage that many feel, even many Democrats over his dealing with
the Iranians, because that's what it was an oil deal with the Iranians,
has to be I think considered hypocritical when you consider that the
Reagan administration was dealing with the same Ayatollah government at
exactly the same time that Mr. Rich was. Now can you spell Iran-Contra?
And do you remember the pardons issued for the people involved in that
illegal action? Including the pardon that George H. Bush gave to former
Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger?"
What an asinine analogy. Weinberger and others were
conducting government business and were not making a personal profit while
the hostages were being held captive.
that President Bush doesn't favor socialistic price controls
demonstrates how he's been influenced by campaign donations from an
energy company. So went the simplistic reasoning of Dan Rather and Charles
Gibson as both picked up on a press release from a group backing
McCain's free speech regulation bill, aka "campaign finance
Rather announced on Thursday's CBS Evening News:
"Two political watchdog groups say a long time corporate contributor
to President Bush is reaping huge profits off the current energy
shortages, especially with the new President's outright rejection of any
price controls. Houston-based Enron corporation is North America's
largest electricity wholesaler and owner of natural gas pipelines. It gave
almost $114,000 at least to the Bush presidential campaign and $550,000
total, at least, to help bankroll the GOP national convention and the
inauguration. Enron's chief executive is on the Bush Energy transition
team. The company says President Bush is quote 'for states' rights and
deregulation. He doesn't need anyone to suggest that to him,'
Rather's source, as listed on screen: Center for
Thursday morning ABC's Charles Gibson highlighted
the same example in an interview with John McCain to promote his new
regulatory scheme, but the claim was even too much for McCain, MRC analyst
Jessica Anderson noticed.
Gibson never challenged McCain on the merits. He
began by inquiring about how his meeting on Wednesday with Bush went and
then set up McCain: "But these are all carefully constructed and
inter-related parts, and the parts of your bill that he opposes, you have
said in the past, are giant loopholes. Any different now?"
Gibson painted Bush's position as an impediment
that must be overcome: "But, I guess, really what I'm asking is do
you work, does the President work with you, or do you, in effect, have to
work around the President to get this done?"
Getting to the issue raised later in the day by
Rather, Gibson used Enron as an example of corruption: "People say,
'You know, this is all so abstract. Show me specific cases where money
badly influences politics.' Let me just give you an example: the Enron
Corporation in Houston, one of the largest contributors to the Bush
campaign and inauguration. That company has made an enormous amount of
money from the California power crisis, and President Bush opposes price
controls on energy in California, as does the Enron Corporation. Is that
an example of the kind of influence that money buys?"
Not even McCain could buy such a simplistic analysis
which assumed Bush is only against price controls because a supporter is:
"No, I don't think so because I think that President Bush has said
clearly for many years his views about regulation as a deregulator. I
think a far more graphic example is that the wife of a fugitive from
justice can give a million dollars, and by the way, $7,000 in furniture to
the Clintons -- by the way, avoiding, technically, the gift ban for United
States senators because Mrs. Clinton hasn't, wasn't sworn in yet -- and
all of a sudden the guy gets a pardon. No one, no one can understand why
Mr. Rich would get a -- a fugitive from justice -- would get a pardon.
That's the kind of example, I think, that's probably more
don't buy the former President's argument that he granted that pardon on
the merits. You think Mr. Rich bought it?"
NBC's Katie Couric, unlike Gibson, actually
challenged some of McCain's premises, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens
observed. Couric did favor him with this question: "You do sense that
the President is truly committed to campaign finance reform in some form
and is not simply trying to placate a fly in the ointment, i.e.,
But Couric soon raised some criticisms of his bill:
"Senator McCain lets address two areas where the two of you beg to
differ. One is something called paycheck protection. And that would
require unions to obtain permission from members before making political
contributions. I know that's seen as a deal break for Democrats but to the
lay person it seems perfectly reasonable. What's wrong with that?"
Couric's next inquiry: "You also know as the
President supports the concepts of, the concept rather, of individuals
being permitted to give as much as they want to political parties as long
as it's reported. And furthermore he claims that, that is protected under,
under the First Amendment. What's wrong with that argument?"
For more on the media's usual pattern of fawning
over McCain and his bill, check out a new piece on National Review Online
by the MRC's Tim Graham, "McCain, Glorious Pain: The media's
holed up in the 'Straight Talk Express.'" Go to:
broadcast networks, on Thursday night only NBC focused on the trashing of
the Old Executive Office Building (OEOB) next to the White House where
presidential staffers toil, though Andrea Mitchell skated over the
stripping of an Air Force 747 during Clinton's trip to New York on
Saturday, a subject highlighted by FNC's Brit Hume. Mitchell
rationalized the vandalism as being caused by the "aftershock of the
battle for Florida, low level staff still angry over the way the election
Mitchell began her January 25 NBC Nightly News
story, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "A moment in
history, heavy with constitutional significance, hardly a time for college
pranks or outright vandalism, but that's exactly what Bush White House
officials say happened when the Clinton team left 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
on January 20."
"Publicly, Bush officials are downplaying the damage at the Old
Executive Office Building on the White House grounds, calling some of it
silly, like a message on an answering machine that says 'This is Al
Gore's office. Due to a constitutional crisis, I'll be out for the
next four years.' But sources tell NBC News some of it is serious: phone
lines cut, drawers filled with glue, door locks jimmied so that arriving
Bush staff got locked inside their new offices, obscene messages left
behind on copying machine paper."
Robert Reich, former
Secretary of Labor: "I think that if there was anything bordering on
vandalism here we all ought to very, very concerned, and we should not
rationalized the vandalism: "How could this happen? Some former
Clinton officials explain it's the aftershock of the battle for Florida,
low level staff still angry over the way the election was decided."
"Someone's idea of fun is obscuring what was a very good
transition, a very cooperative transition."
destroying government property is illegal."
C. Boyden Gray,
former White House Counsel: "If it does slow down the incoming
administration from actually getting work done and being able to
communicate, then it probably ought to be seriously investigated."
of the easier fixes, an Ohio office supply company [Office Max] is
donating 500 'W's to replace the 'W's taken off White House
keyboards by departing Clinton aides. And the Air Force will replace Air
Force One glasses and four hand towels, apparently pilfered by passengers
traveling with the Clintons on their last ride home. Clinton officials
recall that when they took over the White House from George Bush's
father, computers hard drives were missing, but nothing on the scale of
what the Bush White House calls an unfair parting shot from the Clinton
I believe removing hard drives is a standard
procedure followed by civil services staffer to preserve records, as they
are all turned over to the National Archives, and so is not vandalism.
Picking up on an item by John McCaslin in his
"Inside Politics" column for the Washington Times, FNC's Brit
Hume recounted how the thefts from what had been called Air Force One were
more extensive than Mitchell portrayed. Hume informed Special Report with
Brit Hume viewers how the Air Force 747 Clinton took to JFK on Saturday
"was stripped bare, the plane's porcelain china and silverware and
salt and pepper shakers, blankets and pillow cases, nearly all items
bearing the presidential seal, were taken by Clinton staffers who went
along for the ride. The Washington Times quoted a military steward as
saying that even a supply of toothpaste was stolen from a compartment
under a sink."
And that box of Colgate didn't have a presidential
seal, McCaslin noted.
staffer trashed presidential staff offices and stole from Air Force One,
but actor Martin Sheen, who plays the President on NBC's The West Wing,
promised that Clinton would not sanction "any taking of any
government property particularly from that sacred place, the White
The assurance came in response to a question from
MSNBC's Brian Williams on Wednesday
night, not about theft but about illicit gifts. MRC analyst Paul Smith
caught the exchange on the January 24 News with Brian Williams:
Williams: "Let me ask you since you were close
to this outgoing Clinton White House about the way the Clintons left town.
There is a development we've reported on this evening that they accepted
gifts and a lot of them in a system not unlike a marital registry for
gifts, for household items, china, flatware, silverware, dining room
tables, televisions and dvd players. And the pardons of course, 140 of
them on his last day in office including to one who has been a fugitive
from the law for a matter of decades."
"Well, look, you know, I, this is news to me. I haven't had a chance
to hear about this from any other source except you and I'm not going to
comment on that. You know, this guy, he earned far more than we gave him.
You know, I don't know how much the president of the United States is paid
but he earned far more than his salary. I doubt that he, you know, he
sanctioned any taking of any government property particularly from that
sacred place, the White House. He revered the place from my point of view
and you know, I don't know what else to say about this."
Following a Clintonian parsing of words, he's not
wrong since neither Air Force One or the OEOB are "the White
House," though the OEOB is part of the "White House
one Thompson in the CBS photo library? On Wednesday's The Early Show,
MRC analyst Brian Boyd noticed, CBS confused Senator Fred Thompson with
HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, the former Governor of Wisconsin.
During the 7:18am news update, Julie Chen reported:
"The full Senate is expected to approve another four members of Mr.
Bush's cabinet today: Eileen Chao as Labor Secretary, Norm Mineta at
Commerce, Christie Todd Whitman for the EPA and Tommy Thompson for Health
and Human Services."
As she was talking, viewers saw four photos
simultaneously with their last names beneath each: "Chao,"
"Mineta," "Whitman," and "Thompson."
Only the Thompson photo was of Senator Fred
Thompson. -- Brent Baker
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