Drilling Instead of Spending; Churches Don't Follow Civil Rights Laws; Bush Showed "Far Right" He's One of Them
1) Bush not using enough
federal power to satisfy CBS News. Dan Rather opened Monday's CBS
Evening News by complaining that "no new specific help is being offer
to California" by Bush as he advocates drilling in
"environmentally sensitive areas."
2) ABC, CBS and NBC delivered remarkably balanced stories
on President Bush's "charitable choice" initiative. Only
ABC's, however, raised a concern from the right about how receiving
federal money could dilute the religious message of the groups and thus
undermine their effectiveness. CBS, instead, highlighted how
"churches are exempt from civil rights laws."
3) Most on target observation of the night: FNC's David
Lee Miller after a soundbite of Hillary Clinton complaining about how
Ashcroft's "record demonstrates a long personal struggle to bend
the rule of law to fit his views."
4) Corruption for the sake of fighting corruption? CNN's
Judy Woodruff insisted that former Teamsters chief Ron "Carey came
under suspicion of using union funds illegally for his anti-corruption
5) NBC's Matt Lauer characterized President Bush's
executive order on abortion as a way to say to "the far right"
that he's with them.
6) On Fox News Sunday Brit Hume pointed out the contrast
in how the networks characterized Bush's abortion order last week with
how they described Clinton's opposite order eight years earlier.
7) Balance in Washington, DC: A panel with Robert Reich,
Doris Kearns Goodwin and Bill Cohen. And moderated by Tom Brokaw.
comes to California's electricity shortage, President Bush isn't using
enough federal power, or following the proper long term path, to satisfy
CBS News. Dan Rather opened Monday's CBS Evening News by complaining
that "no new specific help is being offer to California" by Bush
as he advocates drilling in "environmentally sensitive areas."
Rather later rued: "The moves by the Bush White House today are small
comfort, if any, to Californians who are reeling from the sticker shock of
their latest electricity bills."
Rather opened the January 29 broadcast: "Good
evening. President Bush made a big new push today for his energy agenda,
with Vice President Cheney as his point man. This includes proposals
dialing back federal clean air laws in order to step up power plant
construction, and domestic drilling in some environmentally sensitive
areas. But, no new specific help is being offered to California where
severe electricity shortages and spiking prices may generate wider trouble
for the U.S. economy."
John Roberts allowed Bush to explain how using less
foreign energy would bring price stability, but he stressed how Bush
offered no short term solution, just long term proposals like
"drilling in Alaska's pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Environmental groups vowed to fight him every step of the way."
Rather next set up a second story: "The moves
by the Bush White House today are small comfort, if any, to Californians
who are reeling from the sticker shock of their latest electricity
From California, John Blackstone relayed the usual
CBS canard about deregulation: "Consumer advocate Harvey Rosenfield
says Californians are being held hostage by a failed experiment in
deregulation of electric utilities."
"President Bush and his peers, who are free market ideologues, have
to decide whether they're willing to let California go dark in order to
preserve the principles of free markets."
If only California had deregulated end-user prices
they wouldn't be in the present mess.
broadcast networks delivered a remarkably balanced set of stories Monday
night on President Bush's "charitable choice" initiative with
at least as much time and emphasis on how such programs work as on critics
who claim the programs will violate the separation of church and state.
Only ABC's Peggy Wehmeyer, however, raised a
concern from the right which CNN and FNC also examined: How receiving
federal money could dilute the religious message of the groups and thus
undermine their effectiveness. Looking at the record of faith-based
programs in Texas, Wehmeyer interviewed Yale law professor Steven Carter,
noting: "The real threat, says Carter, is not to the state, but to
CBS, instead, highlighted another liberal attack on
how "churches are exempt from civil rights laws."
Bush's announcement also kept Barry Lynn of
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State busy. While the
networks found a variety of people (in addition to Bush himself) to praise
Bush's plan, they all turned to Lynn and his group for a critical
soundbite. Lynn appeared on ABC's World News Tonight and the CBS Evening
News while colleague Rob Boston showed up on the NBC Nightly News.
For a flavor of how ABC, CBS and NBC approached the
story, here's how each anchor introduced their January 29 stories:
-- ABC's World News Tonight made it the lead story
as Peter Jennings announced: "We're going to begin this evening
with the argument about church and state. President Bush has begun his
second week in office stepping right into the middle of it. Today Mr.
Bush, as he said he would, has established a White House Office of
Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. His goal is to increase the role of
religious organizations in solving some of America's pressing social
problems, including crime and drugs and poverty -- and give them
government money to work with. This is among the touchiest subjects in the
never ending American conversation."
Reporter Terry Moran outlined Bush's plan and
allowed Congressman Robert Wexler to denounce it before noting how Bush
credited Christianity with getting him to stop drinking. Moran then
concluded by warning: "But that very devoutness, which is at the core
of Mr. Bush's world view, is precisely what alarms his critics. They
fear, Peter, that under a Bush administration non-believers and members of
minority religions could be rendered second class citizens."
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather, in his as usual
overly dramatic style, declared: "Also today, a Bush initiative to
open a White House office, the first in the history of the country, where
church-run charities could get billions of federal tax dollars to provide
social services. The President says this doesn't violate the
Constitution or the American tradition of separation of church and state.
Instead of being worried about how getting on the
federal dole may lead religious groups to dilute their message in order to
qualify for more grants, Bill Plante followed up a soundbite from Barry
Lynn by relaying a liberal critique: "Others fear that religious
charities may not be staffed by trained professionals, and they point out
that churches are exempt from civil rights laws."
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom
Brokaw delivered a low key introduction to a piece by David Gregory:
"At the White House tonight, taking the wraps off what President Bush
is calling one of the most important moves he's expected to make. This
is an initiative to steer government money to religious charities, an idea
that has sparked a good deal of controversy."
target observation of the night: FNC's David Lee Miller after a
soundbite from Hillary Clinton.
In a story on Special Report with Brit Hume, viewers heard a clip of
Senator Clinton denouncing John Ashcroft as she announced her plan to vote
against his confirmation for Attorney General: "Moreover, his record
demonstrates a long personal struggle to bend the rule of law to fit his
views." FNC's Miller then quipped: "That may be an ironic
charge in light of accusations against the Clintons when they occupied the
for the sake of fighting corruption? Check out the phraseology employed by
CNN's Judy Woodruff in a January 25 Inside Politics item which
CyberAlert reader Steve Allen noticed.
Woodruff's item in
full: "The former head of the Teamsters Union now faces federal
perjury charges. Ron Carey is charged with making false statements about
fundraising in his 1996 reelection bid. Carey came under suspicion of
using union funds illegally for his anti-corruption campaign. His attorney
says his client is not guilty."
Matt Lauer characterized President Bush's executive order on abortion as
a way to say to "the far right" that he's with them.
MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens caught the extremist
labeling in a Monday Today discussion with Tim Russert who observed:
"The charm offensive in full gear. George W. Bush has met with 80
members of Congress. Matt he's even going to go to a retreat sponsored by
Democrats, Senators and Congressman, over the next couple of weeks. First
time a Republican president has ever walked in that territory."
Lauer commented: "It's
pretty surprising because if you remember how he began last week he signed
that executive order forbidding federal money for going to groups that
sponsor abortions or abortion information overseas. So on the one hand he
was looking at the far right saying, 'Hey I'm with you.' And then he
reached right across the aisle on education."
"It's very much the way Governor Bush governed in Texas as governor,
now as President. Like paddling a canoe. You tack a little bit to the
right on social and cultural issues to protect your base and then go right
back to the center on an issue like education which you saw all last
of describing Bush's abortion order as a sop to the right wing, on Fox
News Sunday Brit Hume pointed out how very differently the broadcast
networks treated Bush's 2001 order compared to how they characterized
Clinton's order back in 1993. The January 29 CyberAlert noted how on
CNN's Capital Gang Kate O'Beirne picked up on a CyberAlert item from
last week to make the same point.
Hume, who on FNC's
Special Report with Brit Hume last week relayed the basic facts from the
CyberAlert article, did the same on Sunday's broadcast show. Talking
about the abortion order during a roundtable segment on the January 28 Fox
News Sunday, NPR talk show host Juan Williams complained: "Lots of
people were disappointed with regard to his actions on abortion this week.
They thought this was divisive." NPR reporter Mara Liasson asserted:
"He made sure that his right wing base was basically taken care
Liasson's interpretation prompted Hume to point
out: "Your observation reflects perfectly the play given to what Bush
did. What Bush did was to restore an order which had been present for the
previous 12 years before Bill Clinton came along. That was the policy. He
has now restored it. When Bill Clinton undid it eight years to the day
beforehand it was played as, 'Clinton keeps campaign promise.' All
three major network news programs started it that way. Now comes George W.
Bush, who goes back to the old policy, and it's 'keeps promise to
right wing.' Well look, there's a right and a left on this issue.
Clearly Bush is on the right. He did exactly the same thing, the mirror
image of what Clinton had done eight years ago, but two very different
For a detailed report on the contrasting
reporting, check out the January 23 CyberAlert which outlined:
"Monday night ABC, CBS and NBC characterized Bush's abortion order
as a 'controversial' decision in which he 'did something to quickly
please the right flank.' But eight years ago to the day Clinton's
executive orders on abortion reflected how he had 'delivered on his
campaign promise' by taking non-ideological action which demonstrated
how he 'keeps his word.'"
panel for a "Town Hall Meeting on America's Future," sponsored
by the Greater Washington Society of Association Executives, broadcast
live at 8pm ET Monday night on C-SPAN from the Kennedy Center:
-- William Cohen, Clinton's Secretary of Defense
-- Robert Reich, Clinton's Secretary of Labor|
-- Doris Kearns Goodwin, liberal historian
The moderator: NBC's Tom Brokaw.
Attention the Bush team: Welcome to Washington,
where that is considered a balanced panel. -- Brent Baker
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