"Big Boost" for McCain's Reform; Liberal = "Reformer"; Newsweek's Thomas: Bush Painted "in Pocket of Oil"; Schundler "Hard Right"
1) "A big boost for campaign finance reform," an
excited Dan Rather announced Monday night as he insisted a Supreme Court
ruling "puts pressure on Congress to act on" McCain's bill
"to stop or at least stem the flood of unregulated special interest
money into political campaigns." Bob Schieffer called it "just
terrific news for campaign reformers." ABC and NBC also delivered
matching, but shorter, items.
2) In addition to calling liberal campaign finance
advocates "reformers," CBS's Bob Schieffer last week referred
to supporters of the more liberal patients' bill of rights which would
expand lawsuits as "reformers" battling "Republicans."
3) ABC pitched in last Wednesday night to advance the
liberal spin about the evils of HMOs. Anchor Elizabeth Vargas led by
claiming health insurance executives receive exorbitant compensation while
"patients in many of those health plans are being denied
coverage." Reporter Linda Douglass soon identified the liberal source
of the numbers as "a consumer group."
4) MSNBC's Brian Williams began an interview with
Senator McCain about his patients' bill of rights: "Is this
fight...big guy versus little guy?" He followed up by wondering if
HMOs have "lost sight of the fact that they're in the health care
business," not accounting. But the next night he pitched no softballs
to Senator Nickles: "You've spoken often in leading the fight here
about American business. What about the American patient?"
5) Newsweek's Evan Thomas conceded perception of Bush is
being skewed by how the media are portraying Bush through the prism of
"Bush in the pocket of the oil companies harming the
environment." Reflecting that slant, ABC News anchor Derek McGinty
charged: "What we're seeing is sort of the unraveling of the public's
belief in this whole idea of being a 'compassionate conservative.' What
they're seeing now is the 'corporate conservative.'"
6) Being pro-life, opposing gun control and favoring
school vouchers makes you a pretty standard conservative Republican, but
to the Washington Post it means you are "hard right."
7) Letterman's "Top Ten Things New Yorkers Call
"When It Comes to California's Power Problem, NBC Host Is Really In
the Dark." Now online, a fresh edition of MediaNomics by Rich Noyes,
Director of the MRC's Free Market Project. Rich observed: "Many of
California's consumers, who have faced rolling blackouts and sharply
higher energy prices, are presumably furious with environmentalists and
state officials like Governor Gray Davis who have exacerbated the
situation. But on June 21, NBC's The Tonight Show, based in
Burbank, California, staged a gimmicky no-lights-on episode that heaped
scorn on both President Bush and the power companies and even featured a
guest appearance by Governor Davis, who joined host Jay Leno on
big boost for campaign finance reform. A U.S. Supreme Court decision puts
pressure on Congress to act on John McCain's call for change opposed by
President Bush," a giddy Dan Rather gushed in teasing Monday's lead
story on the CBS Evening News. How exactly a court ruling would create
"pressure" for passage he did not say. ABC and NBC also touted
the Supreme Court ruling as a boost for McCain's cause, but contained
their enthusiasm to short items inside their newscasts.
"This is just terrific news for campaign
reformers," proclaimed CBS's Bob Schieffer in a one-sided story
that didn't bother with any other point of view. Introducing
Schieffer's piece, Rather adopted the spin of advocates of increased
regulation as he trumpeted how "prospects for legislation in Congress
to stop or at least stem the flood of unregulated special interest money
into political campaigns got a boost today from the U.S. Supreme
Court." But last December, Rather wasn't quite so thrilled with the
court's 5-4 decision in Bush v. Gore.
More on CBS below, but first what ABC and NBC
delivered Monday night, June 25:
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings
announced: "The Supreme Court has ruled that individual states may
impose limits on the money political parties use to help specific
candidates. The ruling is considered a victory by supporters of national
campaign finance reform."
-- NBC Nightly News. Brian Williams relayed:
"In Washington, a note from the Supreme Court tonight which is making
supporters of campaign finance reform happy. The justices upheld
Watergate-era campaign spending limits by political parties on behalf of
candidates. The 5-4 ruling doesn't directly affect that McCain-Feingold
campaign reform bill now in Congress, but supporters say it demonstrates
the restrictions on contributions the bill seeks are indeed
Now back to the CBS Evening News. After the
tease quoted above, Rather opened the broadcast: "Good evening.
Prospects for legislation in Congress to stop or at least stem the flood
of unregulated special interest money into political campaigns got a boost
today from the U.S. Supreme Court. Opponents of the campaign finance bill,
including President Bush, have suggested such limits might be
unconstitutional. But in a five to four ruling in another, but related
case, the justices upheld campaign finance restrictions. CBS's Bob
Schieffer is on Capitol Hill where the ruling sends a strong signal. Bob,
what's the real deal on this?"
Schieffer began, as transcribed by MRC analyst
Brad Wilmouth: "Well, Dan, this is just terrific news for campaign
reformers who, as you say, are trying to ban soft money. That's those
backdoor unlimited contributions that both parties now collect. Opponents
of this legislation have always said it would be unconstitutional to ban
them because it would be a violation of free speech. Today's case was
not about soft money, but here is what is important. A majority of the
court has now said it is constitutional to regulate coordinated campaign
contribution collections as a way to fight corruption. Massachusetts
Congressman Martin Meehan, who is leading the fight in the House, says the
ruling will really help the reformers' cause."
Martin Meehan, D-Mass: "I'm happy that the
Supreme Court has taken away one of the phony, bogus arguments that
they're using to try to defeat a soft money ban and try to defeat a real
campaign finance reform bill."
Schieffer: "Senators McCain and Feingold,
who pioneered the reform movement, were delighted. 'A big boost,' said
Feingold. Said McCain, 'Our opponents will have to find some other
excuse not to enact laws to restore Americans' confidence in our
political system.' And for the reformers, this timing could not have
been sweeter. The House is scheduled to take up this legislation early
next month, and opponents had mounted a new drive to try to block it. This
is going to make the opponents' arguments much more difficult, said
Rewind a few months and you'll find quite a
contrast in how Rather treated a different 5-4 Supreme Court decision.
Here's how he opened the December 13, 2000 CBS Evening News: "Good
evening. Texas Governor George Bush tonight will assume the mantle and the
honor of President-elect. This comes 24 hours after a sharply split and,
some say, politically and ideologically motivated U.S. Supreme Court ended
Vice President Gore's contest of the Florida election and, in effect,
handed the presidency to Bush."
The fresh court ruling, which had Justices
Souter, Breyer, Ginsburg, Stevens and O'Connor in the majority, involved
hard money. As explained by Reuters reporter James Vincini:
"Under federal election law, a state party
or a party's national campaign committee is limited in how much it can
spend on races for the Senate or the House of Representatives.
"Individuals may contribute no more than
$1,000 to any one candidate and multi-candidate political committees may
give no more than $5,000 in any one election.
"The law allows national and state
committees to make additional coordinated expenditures for the general
election campaign of candidates for federal office, but restricts how much
can be spent.
"In Senate elections, for example, the limit
is either $20,000 or two cents times the voting age population of the
state, whichever is greater. The limit is periodically adjusted for
"The case arose in 1986 when the Colorado
Republican Federal Campaign Committee paid for a radio commercial that
criticized the voting record of then-Rep. Tim Wirth, a Democrat who was
running for the Senate.
"The Federal Election Commission agreed with
the Colorado Democratic Party that the payment for the commercial had to
be counted toward the limit set in the law. The Republican Party
challenged the limit as unconstitutional."
finance isn't the only issue on which CBS reporter Bob Schieffer refers
to liberal advocates a "reformers."
Last week in a piece on the competing patients'
bills of rights he repeatedly labeled supporters of the more liberal
McCain-Kennedy Democratic bill as "reformers" battling
"Republicans" though, as he didn't bother to mention, the
Republican bill is supported by Democratic Senator John Breaux.
To make Schieffer's use of the term REFORMERS
stand out, I've put them in all caps. He reported in his June 21 CBS
Evening News piece, as taken down by MRC analyst Brian Boyd:
"The President's veto threat came just an
hour after the Senate Democratic leader, Tom Daschle, said he was seeing
signs that a compromise might be possible. Ironically, as supporters
pointed out during yet another Capitol rally there is bi-partisan
agreement on most of it, such things as giving patients the right to visit
emergency rooms, pediatricians, and gynecologists without the permission
of their HMOs. But REFORMERS want to give patients who are denied coverage
the right to sue their HMOs in state courts and that's the hang up. Most
Republicans believe that would just drive up costs. They want to cap
damages and try the cases in federal court. REFORMERS say that would take
too long since federal dockets are already so crowded. So today when House
Republican leaders said they could envision circumstances where a patient
should be allowed to go into state courts and sue, Daschle called that
encouraging news. Democrats now believe they have the votes to pass this
in both the House and the Senate, but the lobby is really turning on the
pressure. So whether it becomes law now appears to hinge on what the
Apparently, you are only a reformer if you
believe in expanding the opportunities for lawsuits.
And once again, Schieffer managed to stumble
into the obvious in his last sentence. Quite an insight into the power of
pitched in last Wednesday night to advance the Democratic Party's
liberal spin about the evils of HMOs. Anchor Elizabeth Vargas led World
News Tonight by claiming many health insurance executives receive
exorbitant compensation while "patients in many of those health plans
are being denied coverage," causing "the frustration level for
millions of people is rising." Reporter Linda Douglass soon named the
source of the numbers, but she refused to accurately identify the group as
Vargas opened the June 20 World News
Tonight: "We start tonight with an exclusive report about health care
and it's bound to make a lot of people angry. ABC News has obtained a
study which finds that many people in charge of major health providers are
bing paid huge sums of money. At the same time patients in many of those
health plans are being denied coverage, and the frustration level for
millions of people is rising."
ABC "obtained" it by accepting a
report handed to it by a left wing group and then deciding it was the most
newsworthy thing of the day.
Douglass proceeded to recount compensation
packages of up to $54 million and, after letting Senator Ted Kennedy
assert the numbers prove HMOs can afford to offer more coverage, she
described the source of ABC's story: "The report was compiled by a
consumer group, Families USA, a critic of HMO cost cutting."
The "consumer group" was a leading
proponent of HillaryCare.
Brian Williams displayed contrasting levels of challenges last week, MRC
analyst Ken Shepherd observed, in interviews on two different nights with
a supporter and an opponent of the more liberal so-called patients' bill
While Senator John McCain got to a couple of
tougher questions, Williams began by asking: "Is this fight...big guy
versus little guy?" Williams followed up by wondering if HMOs have
"lost sight of the fact that they're in the health care business in
favor of accounting and business practices?"
The next night, he posed only devil's
advocate questions to Senator Don Nickles, no softballs, as he first
demanded: "You've spoken often in leading the fight here about
American business. What about the American patient?"
Here are all of the questions posed by
Williams on his The News with Brian Williams on MSNBC. First, on June 19
-- "It is an interesting name for the
plan: the Kennedy-McCain bill. Strange bedfellows in a way but Senator, is
this fight, at least the way you're framing it, big guy versus little
-- "Do you think the HMO mission has
fundamentally changed? Do you think they've lost sight of the fact that
they're in the health care business in favor of accounting and business
-- "And yet, Senator, you pre-empted it,
you know what the other side is going to say. Watch out for costs. There
are already, Mr. Nickles is already warning, look out employers, that
means look out employees, so could this end up hurting the little guy
you're trying to help?"
-- "We should point out to our viewers we
have invited a leader of the other side to join us for the other side of
this debate tomorrow evening. Senator, as you know, they are saying that
your plan allows patients 200 more ways to sue. Do you worry, is it
possible that there could be too much patient choice, patient leeway
against the HMOs?"
-- "Senator, finally, what would an
interview with John McCain be without a question on politics, specifically
yours? Is it still your position, for the record, that you've conducted no
talks, no conversation even toward leaving the GOP in an eventual run for
President in another party perhaps as an independent in 2004?"
Second, the next night, June 20, Williams
plugged his interview with Don Nickles: "Coming up next: the debate
over patient's rights. Are Republicans on a suicide course by taking the
side of the HMOs and not the patients? We'll ask the leader of the
The questions from Williams:
-- "For more on all of this tonight, we
are joined from Capitol Hill by Assistant Senate Minority Leader Don
Nickles, Oklahoma Republican has been a sharp critic of the Democrats'
health care legislation. Calling those lawsuit provisions by the way that
the president spoke of quote 'a knife to the throat of American business.'
Senator, good evening to you, thank you for coming on. You've spoken often
in leading the fight here about American business. What about the American
-- "Do you believe in your heart that
that's what would happen that a bill that allows people to sue for some
big money, $5 million, would really as a net effect lead to them being
dropped from the insurance rolls?"
-- "Devil's advocate, Senator, and God
forbid a thousand times if a member of the Nickles family let's say passed
away while in an emergency room waiting for approval for health care from
an HMO, as a visceral matter, as a husband and father wouldn't you want
to, like other people, sue the pants off that HMO? Wouldn't you reserve
the right to do so?"
ago on CNN's Reliable Sources, Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan
Thomas conceded how he and his journalist colleagues "launder our
views through quote 'objective critics.'" He elaborated: "I
don't think there's any question that they, as a body, feel that Bush
is wrong on the environment...the rank and file press is pretty green and
they're going to use the Europeans to take the Bushies to task."
Over the past weekend Thomas reaffirmed his
take, applying it to explain why a New York Times poll found most
dissatisfied with Bush's environmental positions. The poll determined
that 71 percent believe producing energy is more important to Bush than
On Inside Washington, Thomas suggested media
bias had influenced public perception, a bias he conceded that he shares:
"They're definitely seeing this through the prism that the press
has provided here, which is that coverage has been overwhelmingly 'Bush
in the pocket of the oil companies harming the environment.' Personally,
I don't totally disagree with that, but I think there's no question
that the press has framed it that way."
Sunday morning on ABC's This Week, Derek
McGinty, who co-anchors the overnight ABC News show World News Now,
reflected the slant perceived by Evans. On the June 24 program he opined
about Bush's public standing, as transcribed by MRC analyst Jessica
"He's got a much bigger problem than that,
Cokie. I think it's, what we're seeing is sort of the unraveling of the
public's belief in this whole idea of being a 'compassionate
conservative.' What they're seeing now is the 'corporate conservative'
that George W. Bush actually is. He's in favor of big business, and they
see, and you see it over and over again in all but the most egregious
Sam Donaldson: "But do you think people
didn't know that?"
McGinty: "Oh, certainly, they picked it
Donaldson: "I mean, is that a
McGinty: "Well, you know what? He definitely
came across, during the campaign -- they thought compassionate
conservative meant 'I'm a pragmatist. There's not going to be any
fighting.' Al Gore said 'I'll fight for you.' George W. Bush said, 'There
won't be any fighting because I'm bringing a bipartisan spirit. I'm going
to work with you. I'm on your side.' They thought this meant that he was a
pragmatist, sort of along the lines of a Bob Dole. No, he's not. He is a
right-wing conservative, for the most part on many issues, and that's
coming out now, especially on the issues of the environment and issues of
this patients' bill of rights."
As George Will pointed out, Bush has hardly
been a conservative on the education spending bill.
To read Thomas's June 16 Reliable Sources
comment in full, or to view it via RealPlayer, go to:
pro-life, opposing gun control and favoring school vouchers makes you a
pretty standard conservative Republican, but to the Washington Post it
means you are "hard right." In a June 25 story previewing
today's GOP gubernatorial primary in New Jersey, reporter Thomas Edsall
applied to loaded tag to candidate Bret Schundler.
Here's how Edsall opened his piece:
"Bret Schundler, the renegade Republican who
three times won the mayoralty in overwhelmingly Democratic Jersey City,
appears to be on the verge of defying the state's GOP establishment and
winning Tuesday's gubernatorial primary.
"The 42-year-old Harvard graduate, who
combines hard-right conservative stands on abortion, school vouchers and
gun control with a record of striking policy and political achievements in
gritty, majority-minority Jersey City, is running ahead of former U.S.
representative Bob Franks, 49, who was handpicked by New Jersey Republican
leaders to take over the post vacated by Christine Todd Whitman, according
to public and private polling.
"Schundler's unexpected success has provoked
deep anxiety among the state's generally moderate Republican leaders, who
fear both a conservative insurgency within their party and trouble winning
in November in a contest against the expected Democratic nominee, Jim
McGreevey. He is the Woodbridge mayor who nearly won the governorship four
June 21 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Things New
Yorkers Call Tourists." Copyright 2001 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. Visitors from a strange land where coffee doesn't cost five dollars
8. Gator bait
7. Walking ATM machines
6. The people who brought you George W. Bush
5. Taxi roadkill
3. Senator Clinton
2. Annoying weirdos who don't speak any English (sorry, that's what
tourists call New Yorkers)
1. Mr. I'm-too-good-to-take-a-leak-on-the-subway
All too accurate. -- Brent Baker
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