CBS's Anti-Tax Cut Crusade; Conservative = "Controversial"; CBS Rationalized Clinton's Pardon: Other Presidents Have Done the Same
1) Thursday night CBS's John
Roberts furthered the anti-tax cut spin by using raw cash amounts to show
how Bush's cut benefits the rich, but ABC's Terry Moran offered a
balanced recitation of both dollar figures and percentage cuts to
illustrate how the middle class will get a far bigger cut than the
2) Dan Rather castigated Bush for how he "again
talked down the U.S. economy" in order to justify his tax cut, but
minutes later Rather reported how declining retail sales demonstrate the
economy is "unquestionably slowing at least some."
3) CBSNews.com: "The last time a Republican Governor
rode into Washington from the West promising to cut taxes before sun up,
it caused a bloodbath of red ink that lasted for nearly 20 years."
4) NBC's Today found a man who doesn't want a tax cut
and instead wants more money spent on new transfer programs, such as for
5) If liberals oppose it then it must be
"controversial," even if the public backs it. Network reporters
keep referring to tax cuts, school vouchers and federal funding of
faith-based charities as "controversial" proposals.
6) CBS's Eric Engberg came to Bill Clinton's defense
on Marc Rich without differentiating between pardons for political allies
and for a fugitive: "Bill Clinton is far from being the first
President to clean off the slate of someone in a legal jam who's got
powerful political connections."
7) Nancy Reagan pointed out to CNN's Larry King how she
and her husband were very different than the Clinton in receiving gifts,
though the media don't note the differences when Clinton defenders claim
the Reagans did the same thing years earlier.
Correction: "Carpet," not "cabinet." Letterman's
"Top Ten Things Overheard During the Gore/Clinton Fight," as run
in the February 8 CyberAlert, listed this for #6: "If there were an
unstained place on the cabinet, I'd wrestle you there." As the
MRC's Rich Noyes noticed, while that is how it appeared on the Late Show
Web page from which I cut and pasted the list, on the air Letterman read
it more logically as: "If there were an unstained place on the
carpet, I'd wrestle you there."
John Roberts on Thursday night furthered the liberal anti-tax cut
propaganda by using raw cash amounts to show how Bush's tax cut benefits
the rich, but ABC's Terry Moran provided a balanced recitation of both
dollar figures and percentage cuts to illustrate how the middle class will
receive a far bigger cut than the wealthy.
Roberts opened his story, which led the February 8
CBS Evening News, by showing how "President Bush sent his tax cut
plan to Capitol Hill today, accompanied by a final urgent pitch."
After a soundbite from Bush, Roberts followed the liberal playbook in
describing its impact:
phased plan submitted today a single earner making $32,000 would get back
just $60 in the first year but $500 in the fifth. A married couple with
just under $57,000 income: $120 in the first year, moving up to $600. A
two-earner household with two children making about $60,000, $391 in the
first year, almost $2,000 when phased in. And a married couple with no
children making $950,000 would get back almost $9,000 in the first year,
more than $43,000 in the fifth."
Roberts did not cite a source for his numbers and no
source appeared in the on-screen graphic.
Roberts moved on to the Democratic attack, the main
argument of which he had just relayed in the guise of a straight forward
summation of the tax cut's affect: "Smiling Republicans this
afternoon proclaimed tax relief is on the way. Democrats rolled out a new
car and a car part to illustrate the difference between what wealthy and
working folk could buy with their tax cut and declared war."
Tom Daschle, Senate
Minority Leader: "We've already tried what President Bush is
proposing. We did that in 1981. The rich got richer, the poor got poorer,
and working families got stuck with the entire bill."
"Lawmakers are closely watching public opinion for signals on how far
to go. Margaret Carelmo (sp?) likes the Bush plan. Chuck Wolfe is looking
for more than the President is willing to give."
"If the tax cut meant that I was going to be able to help finance a
house or buy a new car or something, then it would be significant, but
this way it's just, well, dinner and a movie, I suppose."
"The President wants to make the tax cut retroactive to January 1 to
give the economy an even bigger boost, but Democrats say that would only
inflate a plan that's already too expensive."
ABC's World News Tonight also led with Bush
sending his tax cut bill to Capitol Hill. Terry Moran began by reporting
how President Bush quoted JFK on the virtues of cutting taxes and how Bush
"sounded his direst warning to date on the rickety state of the U.S.
After noting how Bush framed his plan as primarily
benefiting middle and lower class earners, Moran observed: "Within
minutes of the Rose Garden event, Democratic congressional leaders were
staging a stunt aimed at dramatizing their central argument against the
Bush tax plan: It unfairly favors the rich."
"If you're a millionaire, under the Bush tax cut you get a $46,000
tax cut, more than enough to pay for this Lexus. But if you're a typical
working person, you get $227 -- and that's enough to buy this
Moran then outlined who benefits, but unlike CBS's
Roberts, he employed both raw numbers and percentages: "Who's
right? It depends on how you look at the numbers. Under Bush a single
person making $20,000 a year would get a $300 tax cut, that's 16 percent
less than the person pays in taxes now. A married working couple, with two
children, who make $60,000 a year would get a $1,600 cut which represents
a 40 percent reduction from current law. And a married couple with two
children making $1 million a year would get a $46,000 tax break, a 15
Viewers then heard
from Clint Stretch, yes, that's his name, Director of Tax Policy at
Deloitte & Touche, the source of Moran's examples: "Poor people
do not get the same big tax cuts that high income people get under this
plan. That's because they don't pay large amounts of tax."
"The White House argues that it's the percentage cuts that matter,
that a 40 percent tax cut can make a dramatic difference to people. The
Democrats are focusing on the dollar amount, Peter, and they're
emphasizing the fact that under the Bush tax plan more than half of the
$1.6 trillion would go to the top ten percent of taxpayers."
But as network reporters studiously avoid informing
viewers, the top ten percent of taxpayers -- those earning more than
$83,000 annually -- pay 65 percent of all income taxes collected by the
federal government according to IRS and Tax Foundation figures listed in
the February 8 Investor's Business Daily. So if only half goes to them
they will get less than their fair share.
Rather bemoaned how "President Bush today again talked down the U.S.
economy...as he sent Congress the big tax cut plan he says will stoke the
economy up," but a couple of minutes later Rather himself reported
how declining retail sales numbers demonstrate the economy is
"unquestionably slowing at least some."
Rather announced at the top of Thursday's CBS
Evening News: "Good evening. President Bush today again talked down
the U.S. economy, and this time he did it in some of the strongest terms
yet, as he sent Congress the big tax cut plan he says will stoke the
economy up. Some economists worry that it's a long-term risk. Mr. Bush
said his more than one-and-a-half trillion dollars in tax cuts are just
right. Democrats said again the Bush cuts are mostly a boon to the rich,
and they say the cuts risk squandering the nation's budget surplus. Now
comes the hard part -- understanding what, if anything, all this may mean
to you. CBS's John Roberts has the facts, financial and political."
Immediately following the Roberts report detailed in
item #1 above, Rather stated: "With the economy unquestionably
slowing at least some, it apparently took deep discounts to get shoppers
into many stores last month. Even so, figures out today indicate sales at
some of the biggest retailers were way down."
bias against tax cuts extends to its Web site. In a story posted earlier
this week, Dick Meyer of CBSNews.com
delivered the usual liberal distortion about how Reagan's tax cuts
caused the deficits as he warned the same thing could occur again with
Bush's if corporate lobbyists manage to get breaks for their industries.
"A Cautionary Tax Tale: There's Danger Lurking
At Gucci Gulch Lessons From The Reagan
Years," read the headline over the February 6 posting. An excerpt:
The last time a Republican governor rode into Washington from the West
promising to cut taxes before sun up, it caused a bloodbath of red ink
that lasted for nearly 20 years. The story of the Reagan tax cuts of 1981
is a cautionary tale that Beltway business lobbyists
hope is long forgotten, because they're getting ready to play old tricks
on a new sheriff.
Ronald Reagan was the last president to be elected with a popular
ideology so simple it fit on a button: cut taxes, shrink government, crush
commies. Tax reductions for individuals were always the heart of Reaganism
and a whole economic theory was created to dress up this simple, popular
position. It was called supply-side economics. Some called it Reaganomics;
and Mr. Reagan's running mate, George H.W. Bush, referred to it as voodoo economics.
The theory basically held that cutting taxes would stimulate the
economy so powerfully that government tax revenues would increase despite
the rate cuts for individuals, thereby eliminating budget deficits.
It didn't quite work out that way.
But Mr. Reagan's message was so popular in 1980 that he not only won
the White House in a landslide, he also gave the Republicans control of
the Senate for the first time since the 1950s. The golden rule of American
politics instantly became tax cuts win elections.
That was a dangerous thing. When the politicians got to work in 1981,
they tried to outdo each other on tax cuts and eventually got into a now
famous bidding war to see who could sell off bigger cuts to the business
The Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 spawned other staples in the
lexicon of lobbying, like Gucci Gulch and Christmas Tree Legislation.
The economy did get pumped up, albeit briefly; then the deficits went
nuclear. Corporate and personal tax shelters proliferated. Draconian cuts
in domestic spending were imposed, but still couldn't control the
deficits. Taxes were hiked in 1986 and again in the 1990s. Deficits
continued until the 1990s economic expansion had lasted six or seven
Now it's 2001 and the same lobbyists are hatching the same schemes. The
big-ticket item this year is again a way to write off business purchases
faster, but this time focused on high-tech. The sharks smell the blood in
To read the entire liberal diatribe, go to:
In fact, tax revenue grew in the 1980s faster than
inflation and there were never any "draconian cuts." As Ed
Rubenstein outlined in National Review's 1994 book, The Right Data:
"Since 1980, aggregate federal tax revenues have grown 111 percent.
Had revenues grown at the rate of inflation, the government would have
collected $225 billion fewer dollars in 1992. Congress spent the
additional money, and the some."
Today found a man who doesn't want a tax cut as he declared: "I do
not feel that the President's program is good for the country." He
wants more money spent on new transfer programs, such as for prescription
drugs. Not surprisingly, he and his wife are retired federal workers.
The couple were the third set of taxpayers whose
situation was analyzed by Joanne Johnson of JP Morgan. On Thursday's
Today, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed, she and Matt Lauer first
talked with a skeptical woman. Lauer asked her: "Have you taken the
time to look at this tax cut plan?" She replied: "Not
necessarily. Uhh, simply because I don't think it's going to affect me
that much." But Johnson informed
her that with her $57,000 annual income, "we project that your first
year annual savings will be about $516. And over five years that savings
goes to about $1,000 a year. And as we spoke remember what I said? You can
take that $1000, put it into an IRA for your benefit. By the time your 65
years old you'll have about $480,000 in that IRA."
Lauer: "Not too
bad, huh? You could get behind a program like that?"
The woman was
converted: "I think I could deal with that."
Next, Lauer and Johnson
spoke in studio with parents with two kids who were pleased about the
proposed hike in the child credit.
Finally, Lauer arrived at the complainers: "Manford
and Constance Segal nice to see you both. Tell me a little bit about
"We're retired for 10 years."
did you do for a living?"
"I worked for, as a manager for the Social Security
and Constance did you work?"
"Yes I was working full time and I was administrative assistant to
the chief of staff of a VA hospital."
are taxes a big concern for both of you?"
are a concern. Any outgo of money is a concern. However I do not feel that
the President's program is good for the country."
Lauer: "Tell me
"Because first of all we still have a $3.6 trillion, not deficit but
"A debt. And this program of the tax cut will not allow that to be
paid back. The President's father while he was in office for the four
years added one trillion dollars to our debt and I think George W. should
be paying his father's debt down."
Lauer caught him:
"Manfred are you Democrat or Republican?"
I'm an independent."
yeah. And a man who speaks his mind. We crunched the numbers. Now you are
living on a fixed income, that's safe to say? Social Security and some
benefits from IRAs?"
"Practically nothing because we weren't really allowed to put that
much money into our IRA's. It was controlled."
"And, and the Social Security is, is next to nothing because of the
federal laws that were passed that took away half of our Social
gonna have some convincing to do here Joanne, right? Let's see. Let's hear
think that's right. You know on a fixed income, living on a fixed income
is always very difficult and when we spoke yesterday Manny you said you
had about a $56,000 income per year to live on. With these new tax cuts
you will see in year one a saving of about $600. And over five years it's
gonna be about $850. What's interesting, that you told me yesterday, that
you give money to charity. You give about $600 a year to charity. You're
probably doing that with money you are already paying taxes on. The new
tax proposal allows you to take tax free withdrawals from your IRA and
make that gift to charity."
"I would rather not forgo that deterring from the federal government
because we have more important things to do with that money. And that is
to have prescription drug coverage-"
"Alright, just ten seconds left."
"Prescription drug coverage, Social Security to guarantee and
Medicare to preserve it."
Lauer wrapped up:
"Alright Manny thank you very much. We're gonna get Manny down to
Washington to meet with the President. There's some, no question about
that. Thank you all very much for being here we appreciate it."
Obviously Segal's candidate for President lost so
he may not get all the laws passed he wants to get more money taken from
current workers to subsidize him, but there's nothing stopping him from
sending his tax cut to the U.S. Treasury. The MRC's Rich Noyes found
citizens can send a check, payable to the Bureau of the Public Debt. The
Bureau of the Public Debt
Washington, D.C. 20239-0601.
"controversial" a synonym for conservative? Have you noticed how
network reporters often attach the term "controversial" to
anything President Bush proposes with which liberals disagree? His school
spending program was fine, but not his "controversial" plan for
vouchers, for instance.
Recent CyberAlerts have quoted some of these
descriptions, but MRC Communications Director Liz Swasey put together a
collection of examples on the tax cut, vouchers and federal funding of
faith-based charities -- all issues with more public support than
opposition, yet all termed "controversial."
-- Tax Cut: 74 percent support, 23 percent oppose in
a Gallup poll. Check: http://www.gallup.com/poll/indicators/indtaxes.asp
ABC: "big and controversial tax cut" --
Terry Moran, World News Tonight, 2/3/01
CBS: "big, controversial $1.6 trillion tax cut
plan" -- Mark Knoller, Saturday Early Show, 2/3/01
NBC: "launches his controversial $1.6 trillion
tax-cut plan" -- Ann Curry, Today,
CNN: "his controversial tax cut proposal" --
Stephen Frazier, CNN Tonight, 2/4/01
-- School Vouchers: 56 percent support, 39 percent
oppose. Check: http://www.gallup.com/poll/indicators/indeducation.asp
ABC: "the controversial issue of school
vouchers" -- Monica Shuman, World News This Morning, 1/11/01
a controversial element of choice, or vouchers" -- Bill Plante, Early
controversial issue of school vouchers" -- Tom Brokaw, NBC Nightly
CNN: "school vouchers, such a controversial
program" -- Bob Franken, Early Edition, 1/10/01
-- Faith-Based Charity: 42 percent support, 26
percent oppose. Check:
ABC: "controversial plan to link government
services with religious groups" -- Don Dahler, World News Now,
for subsidizing faith-based organizations to help provide social programs
and social policy. It's a very controversial subject" -- Mark Knoller,
Saturday Early Show, 1/27/01
"controversial plan today. He is proposing that religious charities
be given federal money" -- Ann Curry, Today, 1/30/01
"controversial plan and that is allowing religious organizations to
play a larger role in dealing with some of society's biggest
problems" -- Kelly Wallace, CNN Saturday, 1/27/01
NBC presented tough stories Thursday night on how both Republicans and
Democrats on the House Government Reform Committee, which held a hearing
Thursday on the matter, were outraged by how President Clinton pardoned
fugitive Marc Rich. But CBS came to Clinton's defense without
differentiating between pardons for political allies and for a fugitive.
Eric Engberg argued: "Bill Clinton is far from being the first
President to clean off the slate of someone in a legal jam who's got
powerful political connections."
ABC's Jackie Judd opened her World News Tonight
piece: "Not a single committee member, including Democrats, defended
the former President's decision to pardon Marc Rich."
NBC Nightly News made the hearing its top story as
anchor Brian Williams intoned: "There is no disputing a man named
Marc Rich was an international fugitive financier wanted by the law here
in the U.S. for years. There's also no disputing that his ex-wife has
given generously to Bill Clinton over the years. So when Rich hired
Clinton's ex-White House lawyer and when Clinton then pardoned Rich it
was the pardon heard 'round the world. Well today the case was heard on
the Hill. Congress has a lot of questions about a pardon that a lot of
people say smells bad."
But on the CBS Evening News, following a story on
the hearing from Bob Schieffer, Dan Rather turned to Eric Engberg for a
"Reality Check." Engberg began, as transcribed by MRC analyst
Brad Wilmouth, by equating Clinton's pardon of Rich with Gerald Ford's
of Richard Nixon and President George H. W. Bush's of Caspar Weinberger:
Clinton's on the way out the door pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich
infuriated his foes and disturbed even his friends. How could he? Time
out. Bill Clinton is far from being the first President to clean off the
slate of someone in a legal jam who's got powerful political
connections. Exhibit A: President Ford and Richard Nixon. Once Nixon
resigned in the midst of impeachment, the prosecutors were still chasing
him for Watergate crimes. His successor, Gerald Ford, ended all that
Gerald Ford, 1974:
"A full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon."
claimed he only wanted to close the book on Watergate, but the uproar
helped cost him the next election. The first President, George Washington,
gave pardons to the leaders of the Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania,
after they tarred and feathered U.S. liquor tax collectors. The first
President Bush pardoned former Defense Secretary Weinberger just days
before Bush was scheduled to testify at Weinberger's trial on charges
related to the Iran-Contra caper. The Democratic finger-wagging was led by
"I am concerned by any action which sends a signal that if you work
for the government, you're above the law."
later pardoned former Congressman Dan Rostenkowski. Harry Truman handed
out wholesale pardons to crooked political cronies back home in Missouri.
Money seems to count, too. New York Yankee owner George Steinbrenner,
convicted of illegal campaign contributions, was pardoned by President
Reagan. Wealthy industrialist Armand Hammer, nailed for his campaign
gifts, was pardoned by Bush."
Engberg concluded: "The history of out the door
pardons shows the best way to get one is to hire a politically connected
lawyer, be rich, do political favors for big shots. Better yet, all of the
Yes, but until Bill Clinton you had to not be a
fugitive and had to not have renounced your U.S. citizenship.
And on the NBC Nightly News Pete Williams spelled
out a difference between Clinton's pardons which did not go through
normal Justice Department channels and those of previous Presidents which
did and of Ford's which did not but was still specific: "Gerald
Ford, for example, did not consult the Justice Department when he pardoned
Richard Nixon, but he was explicit about the dates and crimes the pardon
covered...By contrast, legal experts say, President Clinton offered very
little guidance on exactly which crimes he was pardoning for the cases
that bypassed the normal review..."
to CNN's Larry King, Nancy Reagan pointed out how she and her husband were
very different than the Clintons in receiving gifts, though the media
don't note the differences when Clinton defenders claim the Reagans did
the same thing years earlier. The Reagans, for example, paid back a loan
for their house, she confirmed to King in an interview aired on her
husband's birthday, February 6.
The MRC's Rich Noyes caught this exchange:
Larry King: "I want you to comment on
something. This broke last week. The former President Ronald Reagan, whose
friends bought him the $2.5 million home in Bel Air in 1989, paid those
friends back with interest after he left the White House, his chief of
staff said, last week, with all the stories about gifts and the like. We
had never known that."
Nancy Reagan: "Well, at the time, it was public
that, I mean, our money-"
King: "Well, the gift was public, but I never knew
Reagan: "That we repaid."
Reagan: "Well, you know, some things are just left
out of stories."
King: "So it was always a loan, then?"
Reagan: "Always. Always. Our money was in a blind
trust, and we had to buy a house, and we didn't know how much money we
had. So the friends bought it, and then we repaid them with
King: "Without wanting to put any discomfort on
anyone else, do you think you got a bad rap on gifts?"
Reagan: "A little bit."
King: "Well, you wrote about it in your own book.
I mean, you took a lot of hits for things that are now everyday. You ever
feel funny when you see things like that?"
Reagan: "A little."
King: "So it was always the intent to pay back the
house, and the house-"
King: "-is paid back with interest."
Reagan: "With interest."
King: "I'll bet you most people thought that that
was a lifetime gift."
Reagan: "They probably did. Just as most people
think I bought the china."
King: "They still think that?"
Reagan: "I still read it. I still hear it. And I
keep saying, 'It was donated, it was donated.'"
King: "All you did was borrow some dresses for
designers, right? That which is done-"
Reagan: "All the time."
Can't think of a cute closing line. -- Brent Baker
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