Bush's Green: Big Business Money; NY Times Editor Admitted Stories Tell "You What to Think"; Gumbel: Race Over Meritocracy in U.S.
1) "Fairly or unfairly," Dan Rather intoned in
summing up an image he fueled, "critics of President Bush's
environmental policy believe the only green policy he's displayed is the
color of big business money." Reporting on Bush's decision to
enforce a Clinton rule on lead, CBS on Tuesday night stressed how
environmentalists "question the depth of Mr. Bush's
2) ABC's Good Morning America mocked how after every
meeting with a foreign leader President Bush calls the leader "a
friend" and insists they had "a good" and "frank
discussion." But afterward, ABC's Terry Moran conceded the
unfairness of ABC's clips and admitted Bush may have just been
displaying "discretion" and "good manners."
3) New York Times Managing Editor Bill Keller let slip
that Times stories normally deliver "a little editorial elbow in the
ribs," as stories in his paper have usually followed a formula in
which they "build up to a fourth or fifth paragraph where the writer
stood back, cleared his throat and told you what to think."
4) Accepting an award for "distinguished
journalism," Dan Rather was confronted by a question about his bias
in the wake of his headlining a Democratic fundraiser. The normal First
Amendment advocate refused to offer any comment on the anti-free speech
activities against David Horowitz at the Providence campus.
5) Newsweek's Jonathan Alter asserted in the magazine:
"We're beginning to get a sense of what the phrase 'compassionate
conservative' really means. It's when you talk like Jimmy Carter and
govern like Ronald Reagan."
6) To the assertion that in sports "race really
isn't that important if you're good," Bryant Gumbel retorted on
HBO: "If that's the case, it may be the only place in America that
Bush can't win with CBS and NBC on the environment. When he decided on
March 21 to not enact a new arsenic standard for water ordered at the last
minute by Bill Clinton, both networks pounced on him from the left as the
CBS Evening News didn't even give a second to any defense of Bush's
action and NBC's Campbell Brown focused on how "critics of this
administration say the President has declared war on the
Nearly a month later, however, when the Bush
administration decided to uphold a Clinton order making more companies
report on the use of lead in their products, NBC Nightly News on Tuesday
night ignored the development and on the CBS Evening News John Roberts
looked at how environmentalists "question the depth of Mr. Bush's
Dan Rather set up the April 17 Roberts story
by asserting that "fairly or unfairly, critics of President Bush's
environmental policy believe the only green policy he's displayed is the
color of big business money." That's an image Rather encouraged.
Recall how he introduced a March 14 story: "President Bush insisted
today that he was not caving in to big money contributors, big-time
lobbyists, and overall industry pressure when he broke a campaign promise
to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. But the air was
thick today with accusations from people who believe that's exactly what
On the April 17 World News Tonight, ABC anchor
Peter Jennings read this short item: "The administrator of the
Environmental Protection Agency, Christie Whitman, said that she will put
in place more stringent reporting requirements for companies that use lead
in their products. The Bush administration describes this as an
environmental initiative, though it is only keeping in place a requirement
President Clinton ordered in his final days in the White House."
CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather summarized
the image his show has helped to create: "Fairly or unfairly, critics
of President Bush's environmental policy believe the only green policy
he's displayed is the color of big business money. Today the President
made moves to change that image, upholding a new rule on industries
pumping lead into the environment. So is the Bush push really getting the
lead out or just blowing smoke? CBS's John Roberts clears the air on
Roberts began his piece, as transcribed by MRC
analyst Brad Wilmouth: "At the Children's National Medical Center
this morning, six-year-old Dinelle Olstin (sp?) was in for his bimonthly
checkup. Doctors watching closely for any symptoms of his chronic lead
After a soundbite of a doctor saying how lead
poisoning causes serious problems with kids, Roberts continued:
"It's children like Dinelle that prompted the Clinton
administration to issue last-minute regulations widening the reporting of
lead emissions by industry. Today, with great fanfare and with Earth Day
looming, the Bush administration announced it would let the rule
EPA Administrator Christie Whitman: "We
have every expectation that this new reporting requirement will result in
real decreases in the amount of lead released into the air, water or
Roberts: "The move was clearly meant to
rehabilitate the President's environmental image. Activists had pummeled
him for diluting rules on arsenic levels in drinking water and abandoning
curbs on carbon dioxide emissions."
Clip of anti-Bush ad: "Send President Bush a
message. Let's move forward, not backward, and save our
Roberts highlighted how liberal groups, which he
naturally did not label, are still dissatisfied: "Environmentalists
had no choice but to applaud today's move on lead and another
announcement to let stand new regulations to protect wetlands. But they
question the depth of Mr. Bush's commitment."
Ed Hopkins, Sierra Club: "He's taking
credit for a rule that was put in place by the previous administration,
and it suggests that he's trying to buff up his environmental image just
in time for Earth Day."
Roberts: "The EPA administrator bristled at
the charge." Whitman: "We have been undertaking an appropriate
review of a number of things the previous administration couldn't get
done in eight years and now we are taking steps to get them done."
Roberts concluded: "The new lead rule
doesn't actually do anything to reduce lead levels in the environment,
but with more companies now having to report their lead emissions, the
Bush administration hopes just the embarrassment factor may lead them to
A month earlier, as recounted in the March 22
CyberAlert, on March 21 CBS Evening News anchor John Roberts warned:
"The new Bush administration is moving quickly to undo environmental
regulations of the Clinton administration. The latest action is withdrawal
of a rule calling for sharp reductions in arsenic levels in drinking
water. CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer has the real
deal on the Bush roll backs."
To Schieffer, presenting the "real
deal" meant only presenting the spin of the top Democrat: "Well,
John, the President's decision to cancel those new restrictions on how
much arsenic there can be in drinking water drew a stinging rebuke from
the Senate's Democratic leader. He called it 'baffling.'"
Senator Tom Daschle: "The level of arsenic
that the administration now will tolerate in water is ten thousand times
the amount that is tolerated in food. And the National Academy of Sciences
has said that the likelihood of cancer at that level is around one in one
Without pointing out how the level that will
"now" be tolerated is the current level, so by Daschle's
reasoning for eight years the Clinton administration allowed a dangerous
level, Schieffer gave a passing clause to Bush reasoning before returning
to repeating Democratic spin:
"The new administration wants more study of
drinking water protections before taking action, but the decision
represents the third victory in less than two weeks for the mining and
chemical industries. Last week the President reversed a campaign promise
to require power plants to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and delay the
ban on logging and road building on a third of federal lands. Daschle says
the canceling of the protections for drinking water is the worst of all.
Nobody's counting votes yet, but some Democrats now believe they can get
enough northeastern Republicans to join them and reverse the President on
That was it, the entire CBS story.
The NBC Nightly News also approached the
decision from the assumption it was misguided, emphasizing liberal angst,
but at least NBC gave a few seconds to those who considered it a
With an on-screen graphic asking "Under
Siege?", Campbell Brown told anchor Brian Williams: "Brian,
tonight critics of this administration say the President has declared war
on the environment, working at lightning speed to undo what President
Clinton did. Eleven million Americans, mostly in small towns and rural
communities, their drinking water contains what the government deems
acceptable levels of cancer-causing arsenic. Today environmental and
consumer advocates stunned by a Bush administration decision to revoke
stricter safety standards reducing arsenic levels in water. The EPA
calling the new standards too costly and in need of further study."
EPA Administrator Christine Whitman noted not
cost/benefit analysis had been completed and that the "science is
Brown portrayed the ruling as a gift to
industry: "The decision, popular with chemical and mining companies,
dismisses a 1999 report from the National Academy of Sciences that found
current arsenic standards, in place since 1942, could result in a one in
one hundred risk of certain kinds of cancer. The report recommending the
standard be revised quote, 'as promptly as possible.' Bush in Florida
today ignored shouted questions from reporters but tells seniors:"
President Bush: "We need a little common
sense environmental policy."
Brown countered: "Environmentalists contend
that's the last thing Americans are getting."
Philip Clapp, National Environmental Trust:
"Every single one of the decisions this administration has been made
on the environment has been made to benefit the chemical industry, the oil
industry, the timber industry."
Brown elaborated on the liberal complaints:
"A laundry list of decisions charge environmentalists, the latest
today for the mining industry. The Interior Department announces it plans
to suspend new environmental restrictions for mining on public lands. Last
week, the oil and coal industry celebrate as Bush reverses his campaign
promise to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide, widely viewed as a key
contributor to global warming. And timber companies embrace a Bush
decision that could lift a ban on road building in national forests."
On Tuesday night, April 17, instead of
informing NBC's viewers of the lead decision, NBC Nightly News ran a
full story on the supposed controversy over elephants bred in captivity by
the Ringling Brothers circus.
President Bush, but then feeling sorry about it. Tuesday's Good Morning
America, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, played a series of video
clips to show how after every meeting with a foreign leader he calls the
leader "a friend" and insists thy had "a good" and
"frank discussion." But afterward, ABC's Terry Moran suggested
Bush thinks the content of the meetings should remain private and conceded
Bush may have just been displaying "discretion" and "good
Diane Sawyer introduced the April 17 segment:
"Well, earlier, Terry and I were talking about this. We're going to
turn now to something pesky reporters, including Time magazine and others,
have been noticing about President Bush and what happened in photo
opportunities with world leaders -- a certain echo, a similarity. Let's
take a look."
ABC then played a series of clips from various
dates this year:
President Bush: "First, it is my honor to
welcome the president of Egypt. We're friends, we will remain
President Bush: "It's my honor to welcome
our friend from Brazil."
President Bush, with Ariel Sharon: "...honor
of welcoming the prime minister of our close friend and ally to the Oval
President Bush: "It's been my honor to
welcome President Kim here to the Oval Office."
President Bush: "It's my honor to welcome a
friend of our country to the Oval Office."
President Bush: "My opinion hasn't changed
after our good, frank discussion today."
President Bush: "We've had a good, frank
President Bush: "Frank and good
President Bush: "We had a very good
President Bush: "We've had a very good
discussion about Colombia."
Sawyer turned to White House reporter Moran:
"So, you cover the White House. Is this really mean of everybody to
point this out?"
Moran admitted ABC's unfairness: "It
is, to be fair, not entirely fair, but I think there are a couple of
things about that little tape you see. One is, perhaps, that he has a lot
of good and frank discussions with world leaders -- that's a real
possibility. Another is, perhaps more substantively, and I've noticed, I
was in the Oval Office on several of those occasions. He is not as
comfortable talking about foreign policy as he is about education or taxes
-- his staff would admit that. But finally, I think like his father, he
doesn't think his discussions with foreign leaders should be public. He
likes to keep them private."
Sawyer: "So it's a form of discretion."
Moran: "Exactly. I think for this President,
discretion is the better part of diplomacy."
Sawyer: "I know, I've always wondered what
do they expect him to say? 'We had a wild, hilarious and confessional
meeting at which we told all of our secrets and had a really good
Moran: "And the other thing that you see
there is he's very well brought up. There's no question that we have a
President who knows his manners and is conscious of the fact that he lives
in the people's house and wants to welcome people there, so we're seeing a
lot of things going on in that little clip."
Sawyer: "It's better than a State Department
official, who shall go unnamed, when I was covering the State Department,
who had a meeting in the morning with a foreign leader and in the
afternoon when asked about it, had forgotten he'd had the meeting at all.
So it can be worse, let me tell you."
Timesman admitted stories normally come with an agenda. New York Times
Managing Editor Bill Keller let slip to the Washington Post's Howard
Kurtz that New York Times stories normally deliver "a little
editorial elbow in the ribs," so the lack of a pointed theme was
"kind of liberating" in a Times series which won a Pulitzer
Prize. The top level Times editor conceded to Kurtz that stories in the
New York paper usually have followed a formula in which they "build
up to a fourth or fifth paragraph where the writer stood back, cleared his
throat and told you what to think."
The quotes from Keller came buried in the
middle of Kurtz's April 17 Washington Post story on who won the Pulitzer
Prizes this year. The "Grapevine" segment of Tuesday night's
Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC picked up on Keller's concession
that his reporters have an agenda.
An excerpt from the relevant portion of
The New York Times award for national reporting was based on a 15-part
series on racial tensions in America, ranging from a slaughterhouse, a
church and a tank battalion to the set of an HBO film.
Managing Editor Bill Keller called the project, which "took 15
reporters out of commission for well over a year," an attempt
"to get as deep into the lives of people in interracial relationships
as we could. It was extremely hard."
Keller said the Times decided not to have each piece "build up to
a fourth or fifth paragraph where the writer stood back, cleared his
throat and told you what to think. We trusted readers would draw their own
conclusions and maybe disagree." For a newspaper that specializes in
"giving you a little editorial elbow in the ribs," he said, the
lack of a pointed theme was "kind of liberating."
The Pulitzer for beat reporting went to David Cay Johnston of the New
York Times for exposing the proliferation of corporate tax shelters and
If it's so "liberating," maybe
they could try it more often.
To read the entire Kurtz story, go to:
an award at Brown University on Monday for "distinguished
journalism," Dan Rather was confronted by a question about his bias
in the wake of his headlining a Democratic fundraiser in Texas and, the
normal First Amendment advocate, refused to offer any comment on the
anti-free speech activities against David Horowitz at the Providence
Romenesko's MediaNews highlighted two newspaper reports about how
Rather decried the decline of international news in U.S. media outlets
when he accepted the 2001 "Welles Hangen Award for Distinguished
Journalism," named after a Brown alumnus killed in Vietnam while a
reporter for NBC News.
On the issue of his bias, Andy Smith reported
in the April 17 Providence Journal:
"One audience member cast aspersions on
Rather's political objectivity, saying he had 'taunted' Republican
presidents Richard Nixon and George Bush (the senior Bush, not the current
President) and went too easy on the Democrats.
"The questioner also noted Rather's
participation in a Democratic fundraiser in Texas last month.
"Rather acknowledged the fundraiser was a
mistake, and said he has already apologized.
"But he defended his efforts to grill Nixon
concerning Watergate and Bush concerning the Iran/Contra controversy.
Those were not 'taunts,' he said, but tough questions that deserved
Rather refused to decry the anti-free speech
activities across the country which have greeted David Horowitz's
attempt to place ads in college papers which present the case against
reparations for slavery. I've only casually followed the story and I
know that at Brown a bunch of students seized and destroyed nearly every
copy of the Brown Daily Herald which featured the ad. But instead of
denouncing the behavior, Rather played dumb.
Smith recounted in the Providence Journal:
"Rather himself ducked a question when an audience member asked about
the controversial ad by David Horowitz concerning slavery reparations that
ran in the Brown Daily Herald.
"The ad created a heated debate over free
speech and racism on the Brown campus.
"Rather said he hadn't had a chance to study
the issue, and declined comment."
In the Brown Daily Herald itself, student
reporter Kerry Miller relayed in an April 17 story: "Although he
joked that Brown 'is a campus where hardly anything controversial or
newsworthy ever happens,' Rather had no comment to an audience
member's question about his take on the David Horowitz controversy,
saying he did not know enough about the situation."
To read the two stories in full, go to:
On the up side, it's refreshing to know
there are a few students at even a left-wing campus like Brown's who are
aware of Rather's political activities and willing to raise them.
more example of how liberal journalists measure caring and compassion by
how much of other people's money you want to spend. Newsweek's
Jonathan Alter opened his piece in the April 23 edition: "We're
beginning to get a sense of what the phrase 'compassionate
conservative' really means. It's when you talk like Jimmy Carter and
govern like Ronald Reagan."
In the article headlined, "More Wallet
Than Will: The Bush budget reflects a president searching for the courage
of his compassion," Alter offered up his proof. An excerpt:
Consider a relatively small but telling example: President Bush and
Boys and Girls Clubs of America, which in recent years has expanded
rapidly to more than 2,500 after-school centers in poor areas. The clubs
serve -- and often save -- 3.3 million at-risk kids a year, a big dent in
our biggest social problem.
Bush is a believer. He toured clubs during the campaign. He repeatedly
urges businesses to support their efforts. He even donated the $75,000
advance from his autobiography, "A Charge to Keep," to the BGCA
and a couple of other worthy youth-service groups "because I believe
so strongly in helping children understand that somebody loves them."
Recently he love-bombed Boys and Girls Clubs again with what may be his
highest compliment. Although the clubs are strictly nonsectarian, Bush
said: "I view the Boys and Girls Clubs as faith-based programs --
based upon the universal concept of loving a neighbor just like you'd
like to be loved yourself."
But there are apparently limits to his love. Last week, five days after
using a Boys and Girls Club in inner-city Wilmington, Delaware, as a
backdrop for a speech and a photo op, Bush released details of his $1.9
trillion fiscal 2002 federal budget. On page 673, last year's
appropriation for Boys and Girls Clubs of America -- $60 million --
appears in brackets. The cold budget language explains: "Brackets
enclose material that is proposed for deletion."
Alter later conceded that Bush has proposed
some spending hikes in other areas, but they are not enough for Alter.
....[T]he budget is a numerical version of Bush's visits to Boys and
Girls Clubs: gestures, not answers. On education, the total increase he
proposes -- $2.1 billion -- adds up to one tenth of 1 percent of the
federal budget and is a lesser hike than in recent years. His
much-heralded tripling of money for early reading comes to $75 million
(that's with an "m") -- better than nothing but hardly worth
bragging much about.
The rest of the budget is an elaborately constructed straitjacket on
future social spending. Bush's proposed prescription-drug benefit is
paltry next to what Democrats prefer. Anti-poverty funding (including for
"faith-based" efforts) is essentially flat....
Alter concluded by bemoaning: "In 1989
his father, afflicted by the deficit, lamented in his Inaugural address
that 'we have more will than wallet.' Today we have more wallet than
To read all of Alter's diatribe, go to:
rules no where in American society outside of sports, Bryant Gumbel
snidely chortled on HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on Monday
night. The CBS Early Show co-host anchors the once-a-month HBO news
magazine show about sports.
Following a piece by Bernard Goldberg on the
perspective of white players who are rare in the black-dominated NBA,
Gumbel asked Goldberg if white American players are "viewed
differently" than are white European players in the NBA.
Goldberg replied that the European players who
excel have earned respect since "once you prove yourself in the NBA,
it doesn't matter if you're from Kansas or from Yugoslavia, you're
accepted because I think in basketball, and in sports in general, it is a
meritocracy. And once you prove yourself, that's good enough for
everybody. Race really isn't that important if you're good."
Gumbel retorted, as he chortled after his
quip: "If that's the case, it may be the only place in America that
Maybe Gumbel is on to something. Is he an
example of how meritocracy rules in network television news? --Brent Baker
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