Dan Rather's "Objectivity"; Why Not Apologize?; Can't "Eat, Drink or Breathe" Thanks to Bush; Bush Too "Hard-Edged" on China
1) Howler of the Weekend. Bernard Kalb on Dan Rather's
Democratic fundraising: "I don't believe for an instant it will
affect Dan's constant pursuit of objectivity."
2) Best Question of the Weekend. Brit Hume to Senator Tom
Daschle on the $1.2 trillion tax cut plan: "If it's such a great
victory for your side, why did you vote against it?"
3) CBS's Bob Schieffer to Colin Powell: "What would
be wrong with apologizing?" ABC's Sam Donaldson proposed the same
idea to two Democratic Senators, but Fox's Brit Hume wondered why we
don't demand an apology from China.
4) "Imagine, Mad Cow Disease among children, K
through 12," warned Time's Margaret Carlson. If "the Bush
administration keeps trying to kill health and safety regulations at this
pace, soon we won't be able to eat, drink or breathe."
5) When George Will asserted that "what Democrats
really want is a targeted tax cut to boss us around, saying you can get a
tax cut if you do what the government wants," Donaldson took offense
at the negative characterization of the Democratic position: "Wait a
minute George, what they say is a tax cut if you are among people who need
it more than the very wealthy."
6) ABC and CBS on Friday night portrayed the Senate
passage of a $1.2 trillion tax cut as a loss for Bush while NBC delivered
a more even-handed presentation of spin from both sides. "This is
not, in many ways, a great political victory for Mr. Bush, is it?"
Peter Jennings asked. CBS anchor John Roberts wondered: "So is this a
stinging setback for the Bush plan?"
7) While conservatives worry that President Bush may be
going too soft on the Chinese, ABC's George Stephanopoulos warned that
Bush was too "hard-edged" and CBS News reporter Barry Petersen
claimed China planned to end the incident "quickly," but then
"strong words from the U.S. President stunned China's President Jiang
Zemin, forcing him to up the ante."
8) Instead of seeing communists as on the left, ABC's
Mark Litke worried reformers in China are "under a great deal of
pressure from hardliners and conservatives."
9) Also-ran suggestions for Letterman's "Top Ten
Signs Dan Rather Doesn't Give a Damn Anymore."
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of the Weekend. Bernard Kalb, co-host of CNN's Reliable Sources and a
long-time CBS News reporter, on Dan Rather's appearance at a fundraiser
for the local Democratic Party committee in Travis County, Texas:
"Dan himself has said that it's a serious
mistake, that he regrets it. But I don't believe for an instant it will
affect Dan's constant pursuit of objectivity."
I guess the fundraiser was just a little
Friday's late afternoon CyberAlert
"Reading & Viewing Alert" noted that "in the early
1980s, before she became a White House speechwriter, [Peggy] Noonan wrote
Rather's radio commentaries, making her, I think it's a fair bet to
say, the only person to have toiled for both Dan Rather and Ronald
Well, Bernard Kalb would be another, though he
wasn't as close to Rather or Reagan. Kalb went from the CBS News
Washington bureau to spokesman at the State Department under Reagan.
Question of the Weekend. Fox News Sunday played a soundbite of Senate
Majority Leader Tom Daschle proclaiming on Friday of the Senate passage of
a $1.2 trillion tax cut plan: "I understand some of our Republican
friends have called this a victory. If this is a victory there ought to be
more like them."
Fox's Brit Hume then asked Daschle:
"The question is Senator, if it's such a great victory for your
side, why did you vote against it?"
Daschle replied that the bill did not have
enough spending, what he termed "investments."
Best Remote Location for a Sunday interview
show guest: Daschle in Murdo, South Dakota.
just apologize to China, suggested CBS's Bob Schieffer and ABC's Sam
Donaldson, but Fox's Brit Hume wondered why we don't demand an apology
-- Bob Schieffer to Secretary of State Colin Powell
on Sunday's Face the Nation: "You have said that the Chinese know
that they should not expect an apology. Let me just ask you an obvious
question: What would be wrong with apologizing?"
Powell answered that apologizing means you did
something wrong and the U.S. did not in this case.
-- Sam Donaldson to Democratic Senators Joe Biden
and John Breaux on Sunday's This Week: "Forty percent of the
American public, according to our most recent poll, says it would be
alright to apologize. That's a minority, but still a sizable minority.
What would the United States actually lose if it resolves this whole
matter by offering an apology?"
"Nothing," replied Biden, but Breaux shot
down the idea.
-- Brit Hume on Fox News Sunday took the opposite
approach with Colin Powell: "It appears then that this Chinese
fighter, ace fighter pilot flew too close, took chances with the lives of
24 Americans. An accident occurred, or maybe not an accident, that
resulted in severe damage to the aircraft, could have killed our crew
members. They had to make an emergency landing. Why are we not asking for
seeming parody of her over-hyped anti-Bush declarations, on CNN's
Capital Gang on Saturday Time columnist and reporter Margaret Carlson
exclaimed that thanks to the Bush administration, "soon we won't be
able to eat, drink or breathe."
Her ridiculously exaggerated outburst came in
her "Outrage of the Week." She charged: "Remember when
Ronald Reagan tried to save a few pennies on the school lunch program by
classifying ketchup as a vegetable? Last week the Bush administration went
further, axing a regulation that forced the meat industry to test
hamburgers served in school for salmonella. Imagine, Mad Cow Disease among
children, K through 12. The day it hit the papers the proposal was quickly
withdrawn. The Bush administration keeps trying to kill health and safety
regulations at this pace, soon we won't be able to eat, drink or
Maybe we could get that to occur only with
reporters like Carlson who make up and distort facts. First, Ronald Reagan
never proposed counting ketchup as a vegetable in school lunches. It's
just a liberal myth perpetuated by lazy reporters who agree with the
premise of an uncaring Reagan.
Second, the meat inspection rule officials at
the Agriculture Department considered withdrawing was put into effect last
July so, by Carlson's reasoning, for the first seven-and-a-half years of
the Clinton administration kids were vulnerable to Mad Cow Disease. Third,
the rule change would not have made meat more dangerous. As the Washington
Post reported on April 5: "The alternatives would focus on improving
control of all types of contamination during slaughtering and in
processing plants rather than testing at the end of the process, said
Kenneth Clayton, acting administrator of the USDA's Agricultural
Donaldson, Democratic policy defender. When George Will asserted that
"what Democrats really want is a targeted tax cut to boss us around,
saying you can get a tax cut if you do what the government wants,"
Donaldson took offense at the characterization: "Wait a minute
George, what they say is a tax cut if you are among people who need it
more than the very wealthy."
The exchange took place during the roundtable
segment on Sunday's This Week:
George Will: "It may be good for the
Democrats's self-esteem and psychotherapy and other things they believe
in to pretend that they won this, but look what happened. The Democrats
real choice for a tax cut was zero because it cuts back government and
they exist to inflate the government."
George Stephanopoulos: "They were for tax
cuts all last year."
Will: "Yeah, sure, they were tortured into
supporting $250 billion, then they said okay, $500 billion, then they said
if you must, $750 billion. They settled for $1.2 trillion, first across
the board tax cut in twenty years and what Democrats really want is a
targeted tax cut to boss us around, saying you can get a tax cut if you do
what the government wants. So you get 30 percent of the Democrats vote
with the Republicans to give George Bush most of what he wants-"
Sam Donaldson, cutting him off: "Wait a
minute George, what they say is a tax cut if you are among people who need
it more than the very wealthy."
Will: "No, no, if you buy a car that burns
the right kind of stuff and that sort of thing.
Donaldson: "In general this is about rates
and targeting tax cuts to the middle class has nothing to do with the
Dan Rather attracted donors to a Democratic
fundraiser. Consider this Donaldson's even more valuable
"in-kind" contribution to the Democratic cause.
CBS on Friday night portrayed the Senate passage of a $1.2 trillion tax
cut as a loss for Bush while NBC delivered a more even-handed presentation
of spin from both sides.
"This is not, in many ways, a great
political victory for Mr. Bush, is it?" Peter Jennings asked ABC's
Linda Douglass, who confirmed his downbeat assessment for Bush. CBS anchor
John Roberts wondered: "So is this a stinging setback for the Bush
plan?" Bob Schieffer added some nuance: "All sides claim that
they won today. The President saw it as the first step in his plan that he
promised in the campaign: to cut taxes." NBC's Lisa Myers avoided
taking sides: "Today's vote was a mixed bag. The President had to
settle for 75 percent of his tax cut, which is much less than he wanted.
But it's much more than anyone would have predicted he'd get three months
ago. In the end, everyone declared victory."
-- ABC's World News Tonight on April 6.
Peter Jennings announced: "Now back to Washington again because it
was a very big day in the Senate. The Senate has approved nearly $1.3
trillion in tax cuts today over a period of 11 years. The package of cuts
is about 25 percent less than what President Bush had wanted. However,
after the vote today, Mr. Bush followed the time-honored political
tradition of getting what you can and then declaring victory. However, not
quite. ABC's Linda Douglass is on Capitol Hill tonight. This is not, in
many ways, a great political victory for Mr. Bush, is it?"
Douglass confirmed Jennings' premise:
"Not a great political victory at all, Peter. This is actually a
victory to a certain extent for Democrats and some moderate Republicans
who sent a very strong signal to the President that they think his tax cut
is too big, it's going to have to be smaller, they want to give more back
to people right away this year and they're telling him he's got to
negotiate with them now, which he hasn't done before. So for President
Bush, today was really a turning point."
-- CBS Evening News. Fill-in anchor John
Roberts (could Rather have been off to another fundraiser?) asserted:
"Concerning the centerpiece of the Bush domestic agenda, the Senate
voted today on the President's tax cut plan and gave him three-quarters of
what he proposed. So is this a stinging setback for the Bush plan? Chief
Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer is at spin-central on Capitol
Bob Schieffer replied: "Well, John, all
sides claim that they won today. The President saw it as the first step in
his plan that he promised in the campaign: to cut taxes.
Bush: "I applaud today's action, and
congratulate the Republicans and Democrats who helped make it
Schieffer: "As the President was saying
thanks, the Senate's top Democrat was saying, 'Excuse me?'"
Tom Daschle: "If this is a victory for them,
we want more victories just like it."
Without pointing out how Daschle had voted no
on the bill he now called a victory for Democrats, Schieffer explained:
"Daschle claimed victory because the President wanted a $1.6 trillion
tax cut over 10 years. The Senate slashed that to $1.2 trillion, with $400
billion promised for education programs and debt reduction. Of course, the
tax cut was still a lot bigger than the $900 billion cut that Democrats
wanted, which may be why the vice president was smiling, too."
Dick Cheney: "We think it constitutes major
-- NBC Nightly News. Substitute anchor Brian
Williams introduced NBC's story without offering an assessment of who
won: "The Senate approved a new federal budget today, and in the
process lopped off about one-quarter of the President's proposed tax cut.
For what this all means tonight, here is NBC's Lisa Myers."
Myers contended: "Today's vote was a
mixed bag. The President had to settle for 75 percent of his tax cut,
which is much less than he wanted. But it's much more than anyone would
have predicted he'd get three months ago. In the end, everyone declared
Bush: "The United States Senate, just
moments ago, passed a budget that funds our nation's priorities and allows
for over $1.2 trillion of meaningful real tax relief."
Myers: "Bush and his point man, the Vice
President, tried and failed to ram his entire $1.6 trillion tax cut
through the Senate. But he was forced to compromise by Democrat John
Breaux, who ultimately persuaded 14 other Democrats and two renegade
Republicans to vote for his compromised tax cut. This budget deal sets
aside $1.2 trillion over 10 years for tax cuts. Likely to include
across-the-board rate cuts, reduction of the marriage penalty and reform
of the estate tax. Also included, $85 billion for tax cuts or rebates this
year to help the economy. Republicans call it a victory for
Senator Pete Domenici: "This vote
today means that help is on the way."
Myers concluded: "The $400 billion
slashed from Bush's tax cut instead would go for education, prescription
drugs and other domestic needs, a victory for Democrats. What all this
means is that there will be a significant tax cut this year, though
somewhat less than Bush wants. But don't expect to see any of it before
late summer at best."
conservatives worry that President Bush may be going too soft on the
Chinese, ABC and CBS have blamed Bush's words for prolonging the
situation. ABC's George Stephanopoulos warned that Bush was too
"hard-edged" at first and on the CBS Evening News, reporter
Barry Petersen claimed China planned to end the incident
"quickly," but then "strong words from the U.S. President
stunned China's President Jiang Zemin, forcing him to up the ante. His
demand: a full apology."
-- George Stephanopoulos on Sunday's This
Week: "First of all, China has to bear the first responsibility for
holding the hostages. This is something that is unacceptable, but I think
it did take a few days for Bush and the administration to find their
voice. When Bush went out there he was very firm but very hard-edged. And
you'll notice that Premiere Jiang did not demand an apology himself
until after Bush came out, and then you saw the White House scrambling and
finally coming up with all these words of regret. I think it took them a
little bit too long to get to that place."
Nice of Stephanopoulos to concede that
"China has to bear the first responsibility for holding the
-- CBS Evening News on Thursday, April 5,
blamed America first. Dan Rather declared: "Decisions made by China's
leaders in the first minutes and hours after the two planes collided set
the stage for the current standoff. And CBS News tonight has exclusive
word that it could have been avoided."
From Beijing, reporter Barry Petersen
asserted, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brian Boyd: "Dan, CBS News
has learned that when this incident began China's top political leaders
really intended to end it quickly, in fact, some argued for returning the
plane and the crew immediately. But then things started spinning out of
control. Under the scenario described to CBS News the Chinese military
stepped in with its own agenda insisting on a 48 hour delay, time to
search the plane and extract any high-tech secrets still left intact. By
Tuesday night the military would be willing to give up the people and the
plane. But on Monday President Bush spoke out demanding the Americans be
President Bush on Monday, April 2: "Our
priorities are the prompt and safe return of the crew and the return of
the aircraft without further damaging or tampering."
Petersen: "Sources say strong words from the
U.S. President stunned China's President Jiang Zemin, forcing him to up
the ante. His demand a full apology."
Sun Yu Xi, Foreign Ministry: "The U.S. side
should admit its mistakes and apologize to the Chinese people."
Petersen: "In a further escalation today the
Chinese now say they may interrogate the crew."
Xi: "It is justifiable for competent
personal to question the crew."
Petersen: "This public hard-line say sources
here makes it more difficult to find a way out and if the crisis drags on,
if for instance, it results in the United States selling the advanced
Aegis radar system to Taiwan, the province China claims, then the
situation will go beyond what diplomacy can fix. Kenneth Lieberthal is the
former National Security Council expert on Asia."
Lieberthal: "On the Chinese side they may
say if you sell the Aegis radar system to Taiwan these pilots, these crew
members that we have are going to have grandchildren before we hand them
Petersen concluded: "The sense here is that
China's leaders feel trapped. They've demanded an apology that Washington
will not give over an incident they never thought would go this far out of
hand. And now nobody on this side seems to know the way out."
Yes, it's our fault.
again last week labeled hard-core communists as "conservatives,"
instead of viewing the political spectrum as a continuum with hard-core
communists on the "hard left." As noted in the April 5
CyberAlert, on the April 3 Nightline Ted Koppel tagged the bad guys in
Beijing and in the U.S. as conservatives: "Over there they also have
their conservatives and maybe not their liberals, but they're less
conservative, and I'm sure that they now are arguing in similar fashion,
'Hey, we don't need this relationship with the United States.' Is
there anything of value that we want to preserve here, even after this
incident is over, no matter how it turns out?"
The next night, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson
noticed, reporter Mark Litke in Beijing told April 4 Nightline viewers:
"There's a reform-minded leadership here that I believe wants to
solve this issue, but they're under a great deal of pressure from
hardliners and conservatives. There's a power struggle going on behind the
scenes for a change in leadership next year. The reform-minded people
cannot give the conservatives the ammunition that might scuttle their
ability to continue controlling this country next year."
April 6 CyberAlert featured the Late Show with David Letterman's
"Top Ten Signs Dan Rather Doesn't Give a Damn Anymore." I've
since had a chance to access the Late Show Web site and so here are the
"also rans," the suggested entries from the writers which did
not make the final cut for the April 5 list:
-- Simply says, "Stuff happened today; more stuff's gonna happen
tomorrow; who cares, we're all gonna die"
-- In effort to be more time-efficient, now delivers news while flossing
-- In clumsy product-placement attempt, mentioned coffee in his cup is so
rich and full-bodied, it must be Maxwell House
-- All March delivered news wearing sundress as "Danielle
-- Ends a lot of reports with "Blah blah blah"
-- Claims the long stretches of silence are "reports that only
doggies can hear"
-- Last Thursday said, "Lets cut out the middleman," turned
teleprompter to face camera, and took a nap
Maybe that last one would cut out some of the
bias too. --Brent Baker
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