FNC Realized Vandalism Reality; Post v. Post on Trashing; Russert Shocker: No Tax Cut If You Don't Pay Taxes; Scalia Ridiculed
1) NBC's Tom Brokaw on Friday night reported how former
Clinton staffers "have asked President Bush for an apology for leaked
stories about vandalism" since "a government investigation
turned up no evidence of damage" to White House property. But FNC's
Carl Cameron realized "there was no investigation" and vandalism
has not been "disproven."
2) On Sunday, the very day that Washington Post Ombudsman
Michael Getler used his column to scold the paper for burying inside a
short wire dispatch on how stories about White House vandalism were wrong,
a front page story provided a list of vandalism, including obscene
graffiti on walls, obscene phone messages, a presidential seal ripped off
a wall and broken keyboards.
3) Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert gave credibility
to a Washington Post story which used numbers from a left-wing group to
show how the poor will not get tax rebates. But that's because they
don't pay income taxes. The Post described Citizens for Tax Justice as
"a nonprofit research organization with the only nongovernmental
computer model able to calculate the distribution of taxes."
4) Al Hunt and Bob Schieffer ridiculed Supreme Court
Justice Antonin Scalia for daring to predict that the court's ruling,
which forced the PGA to change its golf rules, could lead to a kid
claiming attention deficit disorder demanding four strikes in Little
League. Hunt dismissed Scalia as "positively silly." Schieffer
castigated Scalia for his "callousness."
5) Al Hunt claimed that you can make "a short
run" case for the utility of price caps on energy while Doyle McManus
of the Los Angeles Times condemned the Chairman of FERC for being a
"hard-liner" on price caps.
Clintonistas fooled mainstream media, part one: NBC Nightly News anchor
Tom Brokaw on Friday night reported how former Clinton staffers "have
asked President Bush for an apology for leaked stories about
vandalism" since "a government investigation turned up no
evidence of damage" to White House complex property by those
But the same night FNC's Carl Cameron
realized "there was no investigation" and "as for whether
or not there was vandalism, it has not been proven or, for that matter,
disproven." Cameron suggested "that Republicans were eager to
get the Bush presidency off on the right foot" and wanted to move on
from Clinton and so Bush sources stopped talking to reporters about it and
never released any evidence to government agencies.
Tony Snow made the same point two days later
in his "Below the Fold" segment on Fox News Sunday as he added
that on Saturday White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer supplied a list
of damage, a list summarized in Sunday's Washington Post. (See item #2
below for more on the Post story.)
For the past few weeks the far-left group
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting and some former Clinton staffers have
been citing the widespread reporting of the trashing of White House
complex offices (mainly in the Old Executive/Eisenhower building) as an
error which many media outlets should correct and apologize for. Despite
the claim of massive coverage, in fact, as documented in CyberAlerts in
late January, of the broadcast networks, only NBC ran a full story. On
World News Tonight ABC's Terry Moran gave a couple of sentences to
"the pranks and minor vandalism that were left behind in some offices
by departing Clinton staffers." The next morning, Diane Sawyer asked
George Stephanopoulos about it on Good Morning America.
In her piece which ran on both NBC Nightly
News and Today, Andrea 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 was decided."
Neither the CBS Evening News or The Early Show
touched the subject.
For details, see these two CyberAlert items:
Friday night, June 1, Tom Brokaw announced:
"Former Clinton administration staffers have asked President Bush for
an apology for leaked stories about vandalism as the Clinton-Gore team
left the White House. A government investigation turned up no evidence of
damage. The White House said today that there was nothing to apologize
Fox News Channel viewers learned something
very different in a piece from Carl Cameron run on both Special Report
with Brit Hume and an hour later on the Fox Report. Cameron reported:
"Indignant former Clinton administration
staffers, along with the help of a Democratic Congressman, demanded an
apology from the Bush White House, accusing Republicans of falsely
smearing them for vandalizing the White House before they left."
Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY): "The only
thing that was trashed was the reputation of hundreds of people, whose
only crime was working for a Democratic President."
Cameron: "During transition, when the Bushes
were moving in and the Clintons were leaving, and under fire for both
'pardongate' and taking furniture that was not theirs, stories
surfaced citing anonymous Bush sources that inside the White House, the
Clinton-Gore folks left vandalism, vulgar graffiti and petty pranks. But
publicly, the Bush administration downplayed the story."
Ari Fleischer, January 25: "There's no
investigation. What we are doing is cataloging that which took
Cameron: "The President himself was
Bush, January 26: "There might have been a
prank or two. Maybe somebody put a cartoon on the wall, but that's OK.
It's time now to move forward."
Cameron: "But the Bush White House never
said the vandalism did not occur and, perhaps tellingly, never apologized.
Then a story emerged that the General Services Administration had
investigated and reported that the vandalism was a hoax. It appeared in
the Kansas City Star newspaper, saying, quote, 'The agency concluded
that departing members of the Clinton administration had not trashed the
place during the presidential transition.' But the GSA never
investigated and said no such thing. It is responsible for White House
real property and structure, and after a cursory inspection found that the
building was indeed intact. Damage to office equipment and other things
was not assessed.
"On March 2nd, GSA wrote a four-paragraph
letter to Congress saying, quote, 'The circumstances did not warrant and
investigation, and we have not conducted an investigation.' The General
Accounting Office a month later told Congress that since GSA did not
investigate and since the White House had inadequate documentation, it
would not investigate or draw conclusions, either. They wrote, quote,
'We plan no further work in this area, given the facility examination
results reported by GSA and the lack of records of damage.'
"That three-paragraph GAO letter is all
there is. Yet the Clinton folks wrote the President, quote, 'A General
Accounting Office report has once and for all determined that no such
vandalism occurred. The GAO investigation was comprehensive.' But in
fact, there was no investigation, comprehensive or otherwise. And as for
whether or not there was vandalism, it has not been proven or, for that
matter, disproven. What is certain is that Republicans were eager to get
the Bush presidency off on the right foot, Tony [Snow], and in order to do
that, they felt it was important to get Bill Clinton out of the headlines.
When that conclusion was made on a political level, suddenly the Bush
sources who were anonymously talking about the vandalism went completely
fooled mainstream media, part two. Or, in this case, the perils of early
deadlines. On Sunday, the very day that Washington Post Ombudsman Michael
Getler used his column to scold the paper for burying inside a short wire
story on how the paper's earlier front page stories about White House
vandalism were wrong, a front page story gave backing to the accuracy of
the paper's initial reporting by relaying a list of vandalism provided
by White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer. Getler complained about the
downplaying of the report which supposedly disproved vandalism: "The
use of a brief news service account rather than a well-displayed,
staff-written story about the GSA findings tells me that the readers who
complained have better news judgment than the editors."
Getler's column appears in the
"Outlook" section which goes to press on Friday. In his piece
which ran in the June 3 paper, Getler reasonably contended that newspapers
sometimes bury updates within other stories and so don't provide an
adequate separate story to alert readers to new facts. An excerpt of his
That is the situation The Post found itself in with many readers on May
18 after it published nine sentences from a Knight Ridder news service
story on Page A13. That story reported that an investigation by the
General Services Administration (GSA) "has concluded that departing
members of the Clinton administration did not trash the White House during
the presidential transition, as unnamed aides to President Bush and other
critics had insisted." The GSA probe was ordered by Rep. Robert L.
Barr Jr. (R-Ga.).
This story, and Post readers, deserved better treatment. Neither The
Post nor the Bush White House distinguished itself throughout this story,
which began in January during Bush's first week in office. White House
spokesman Ari Fleischer and other GOP aides helped ignite and fan an
inflammatory story about vandalism to White House equipment and Air Force
One that quickly made The Post's front page. Fleischer said the White
House was "cataloguing" the apparent damage.
Very quickly, the White House started backing away from the charges and
suggested it was taking the high road, saying it was "time to move
on." But damage had been done, first to the departing administration,
beyond that which was self-inflicted in other ways, and also, perhaps more
important, to confidence in the new White House podium.
Although The Post treated the end of this story in humdrum fashion with
its wire report of the GSA finding four months later, many readers, to
their credit, never let go of this story and the way it was handled or
Looking back at this episode, several points come to mind:
-- The Post's initial front-page reporting on Jan. 26 and 27 was
straightforward. The White House was saying these things, and Clinton
aides were responding. Where The Post fell short, in my view, was in not
challenging Fleischer on the record more quickly and forcefully on the
initial allegations and on using the White House platform to air such
-- The Post did not remain alert to the overall power of this story
with readers, considering that this had the appearance of White House
manipulation of the press moments after taking office. When President
Bush, on Feb. 13, volunteered that "all the allegations that they
took stuff off Air Force One is simply not true," The Post did not
even report it. The only reference appeared in Al Kamen's In the Loop
column two days later. "In case you missed it," is the way Kamen
began the item.
-- The Post did come back to the issue on Feb. 18, reporting that
"the administration has offered no concrete evidence" of the
vandalism, but this was in the middle of a broader story and was on Page
-- The use of a brief news service account rather than a
well-displayed, staff-written story about the GSA findings tells me that
the readers who complained have better news judgment than the editors.
Here was a rather rare event: a government investigation, ordered by
Republicans, returns a not guilty verdict about an outgoing Democratic
administration with respect to allegations of vandalism launched by the
spokesman and other aides for the Bush White House, and widely played up
by the media.
Sunday Washington Post readers only got to
Getler's piece after seeing this front page headline: "Bush Aide
Details Alleged Clinton Staff Vandalism." The subhead: "List Is
Response to Credibility Questions."
An excerpt from reporter Mike Allen's June 3
front page piece:
White House officials yesterday released a list of damage they say was
done by outgoing staffers of President Bill Clinton, including obscene
graffiti in six offices, a 20-inch-wide presidential seal ripped off a
wall, 10 sliced telephone lines and 100 inoperable computer keyboards.
For months, Democrats had questioned the administration's credibility
because officials refused to document allegations of vandalism they made
in the week after President Bush's inauguration. In April, the General
Accounting Office said it was unable to confirm damage, in part because of
what it called a "lack of records" from the White House.
Most of the incidents described yesterday by White House press
secretary Ari Fleischer were said to have occurred in the Eisenhower
Executive Office Building, adjacent to the White House. Pornographic or
obscene greetings were left on 15 telephone lines in the offices of the
Vice President and White House counsel and in the scheduling and advance
offices, Fleischer said. As a precaution, all phones were disabled and
reprogrammed, he said.
The details were provided to The Washington Post after several days of
inquiries about the degree of White House cooperation with the GAO, the
investigative arm of Congress. The GAO said in April that it "found
no damage" to White House real estate. The GAO did not prepare a
report but said in a three-paragraph letter that it could reach no further
conclusions because the White House said it had no written record of
damage. The letter did not mention the Eisenhower building, where most of
the damage had been reported.
White House officials had said they did not release the information
sooner because of Bush's desire to "move forward and not live in the
For the complete story, go to:
Press moderator Tim Russert disappointingly gave credibility Sunday to a
Washington Post story from last week which used numbers from a left-wing
group, naturally unlabeled, to show how the poor will not get the rebates
scheduled this year. But that's because they don't pay income taxes,
which made the premise of the story ridiculous.
On the June 3 broadcast, Russert read a part
of the May 31 Post story to Republican Senator Don Nickles: "Let me
turn to the tax cut that you mentioned, Senator, and put something on the
board which is rather interesting to a lot of people: 'Poorest Americans
to Get No Tax Rebate, Study Shows. For millions of Americans, the check is
not in the mail. Since Congress passed President Bush's tax plan, news
reports have focused on one of the most striking features -- a late-summer
mailing of rebate checks to 95 million Americans. But the Citizens for Tax
Justice,' who have a computer who can generate this kind of information,
'says that half of those Americans in the bottom 60 percent of income
earners -- more than 32 millions individuals and families -- will receive
no rebates.' I did a little research here. In the state of Oklahoma, do
you know what percent of your people will not receive a rebate?"
Nickles pointed out the obvious flaw: "Well,
taxpayers who paid taxes, who paid income taxes, are going to get a
rebate. And the Citizens for Tax Justice is not, in my opinion, a very
Russert stood up for the credibility of the
left-wing group's spin: "But no one has questioned this
Nickles: "Well, I haven't seen it,
Russert: "-one out of every three people in
Oklahoma -- one-third will not receive a rebate."
Nickles: "Well, then they didn't pay taxes.
We're giving a tax cut for taxpayers. And if a taxpayer paid $300 in
federal income tax, they're going get a check. And if a couple paid $600
of federal income taxes last year, they're going to get a check. And we
loaded this bill, frankly, Tim, from the, if you look at it
proportionately, we loaded it towards the low income. Low-income taxpayers
have a rate reduction from 15 percent to 10 percent, and it's retroactive
back to January 1 of this year."
Russert: "But if half the people in the
bottom 60 percent aren't getting a rebate, aren't they the people who need
it the most?"
Why do people who don't pay income taxes
"most" need a tax cut?
Here's how Washington Post reporter Glenn
Kessler labeled the group behind the "study" in his May 31
story: "Citizens for Tax Justice, a nonprofit research organization
with the only nongovernmental computer model able to calculate the
distribution of taxes, reported that almost half of those Americans in the
bottom 60 percent of income earners -- more than 32 million individuals
and families -- will receive no rebates. Nearly 35 million Americans who
earn income and file a tax return will receive nothing, the group
An excerpt of the rest of the piece:
How is this possible? About one-third of income earners pay little or
no income taxes -- after exemptions, deduction and credits -- though they
may pay substantial payroll taxes or sales taxes.
A single person will receive $300 if he or she has at least $6,000 in
annual taxable income, while a couple will get $600 if they have at least
$12,000 in taxable income. But taxable income is very different from
income. For instance, a family of four would be able to deduct at least
$18,500 in standard deductions and personal exemptions from their income
before they pay income taxes, so they would need to earn at least $30,000
to get close to a $600 rebate.
In other words, this sample family already is
getting a huge tax cut every year.
Asked about the Citizens for Tax Justice
study, Michele Davis, a Treasury Department spokeswoman, said: "We
have a single statistic: One hundred percent of the people with income tax
liability will receive a rebate."
McIntyre said "that is a fair statement," but it simply
confirms that people at the bottom of the income ladder will not receive
This story just shows that if you are making a
liberal point the media will overlook a fundamental flaw in your
To read Kessler's report in full, go to:
weekend Al Hunt and Bob Schieffer ridiculed Supreme Court Justice Antonin
Scalia for daring to predict that the court majority's ruling, from
which he dissented, that the Americans with Disabilities Act gives the
federal government the power to change the rules of a sport, could lead to
a kid claiming attention deficit disorder demanding four strikes in Little
Hunt dismissed Scalia as "positively
silly," making the assessment that four strikes would change the
"fundamental nature" baseball while allowing Casey Martin to
walk the course does not alter the fundamentals of golf. But making
golfers walk between holes and having three strikes mean a batter strikes
out are both arbitrary rules of sports, so why couldn't the court's
logic in the Casey Marin case lead to Scalia's fear?
Schieffer castigated Scalia: "He let go a
sarcastic dissent that deserves attention not so much for its logic as for
its callousness." Missing Scalia's point, either deliberately or
because he was too stupid to understand it, Schieffer chastised the
justice: "What I can envision is how the parents of children with
learning disabilities must feel when they are held up to ridicule by a
justice of the Supreme Court."
-- CNN's Capital Gang, June 2. Time's
Margaret Carlson cheered the decision: "It is a wonderful thing to
see a civil right affirmed."
Next, Wall Street Journal Executive Washington
Editor Al Hunt took on Scalia: "I thought that Justice Scalia was
positively silly in saying someday an attention deficit disorder kid will
come in and demand four strikes. I've been to thousands of baseball
games from little league through major leagues, I've never seen four
strikes. That changes the fundamental nature of a game and would be
unacceptable. This does not. That is a very important distinction. And as
for the court jumping in and telling the PGA, if the PGA said a black
can't play you would of course expect the court to jump in, wouldn't
you, Bob? This is a civil-"
Bob Novak: "That's not comparable."
Hunt: "No, I'm sorry, the ADA is a civil
-- CBS's Face the Nation, June 3. In his end
of the show commentary, Bob Schieffer summarized the court ruling in the
Martin case which said the PGA must allow him to walk between holes
because he has a degenerative circulatory problem.
Schieffer then got on his high horse,
"Still, it is a complicated issue over which
reasonable people can disagree. The court ruled 7-to-2 in Casey Martin's
favor. What bothered me was the way Justice Scalia disagreed. He let go a
sarcastic dissent that deserves attention not so much for its logic as for
its callousness. Now that Martin can use a cart, he wrote, 'One can
envision the parents of a Little League player with attention deficit
disorder trying to convince a judge that their son's disability makes it
at least 25 percent more difficult to hit a pitched ball.' No, I cannot
not envision that, because I fail to see the parallel. This ruling was
about getting to the tee, not playing the game. But then I'm not a lawyer.
But I am a father. What I can envision is how the parents of children with
learning disabilities must feel when they are held up to ridicule by a
justice of the Supreme Court."
Talk about clueless.
caps promoted. Al Hunt claimed that you can make "a short run"
case for the utility of price caps on energy while Los Angeles Times
Washington Bureau Chief Doyle McManus condemned the Chairman of FERC for
being a "hard-liner" on price caps, but held out hope for the
future as the incoming Chairman "once in a while in Texas would play
around with price caps when needed."
-- Wall Street Journal Executive Washington
Editor Al Hunt on CNN's Capital Gang on Saturday night, referring back
to the Nixon years: "I covered wage and price controls a long, long
time ago, when a lot of people here weren't born, and they don't work
over the long run, but this is a short run problem and I think over the
short run you can make a case, a short run case.'
-- Doyle McManus of the Los Angles Times on
PBS's Washington Week in Review on June 2, referring to the Federal
Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC): "The Chairman right now is a guy
named Curt Hebert. He is a big, close ally of Trent Lott the Senate, I
guess it's Minority Leader. President Bush just put on that commission a
new member named Pat Wood who had been the energy commissioner of the
great state of Texas. Curt Hebert, the current Chairman, is a real
hard-liner on price caps. Never saw a price cap he liked. Pat Wood, once
in a while in Texas would play around with price caps when needed."
Why when you oppose something that has never
done anything but make a situation worse would you be labeled "a
hard-liner"? Would McManus denounce himself as "a hard-liner on
freedom of the press" and praise someone who would "play around
with pre-publication approval of newspaper stories by government censors
-- Out of room today, but a brief update on
Jenna/Barbara Bush underage drinking coverage: After ignoring the story
Wednesday and Thursday night, on Saturday the CBS Evening News ran a full
report. On Sunday, ABC's This Week devoted a segment to it with
historian Michael Beschloss and clinical psychologist Robert Butterworth. -- Brent Baker
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