Dems Not Chided for Breaking NAFTA; No Watermelon in Watermelon Roll-Ups!; CBS Hit Laura Bush from Left on Spending
1) The networks which chastised President Bush for not
ensuring U.S. compliance with international treaties on Thursday night
failed to rebuke Senate Democrats for fighting Bush's effort to adhere
to NAFTA by fighting Democratic-led efforts to impose special rules on
Mexican trucks. And while CBS and NBC last week were upset by the
House's procedural maneuver which denied a vote on McCain's campaign
finance, on Thursday night neither was disturbed by the vote cutting off
2) Another bombshell from NBC's Brian Williams:
"The folks from Science in the Public Interest, who blew the lid off
things like high-calorie movie theater popcorn, have a new target in their
sights tonight: misleading food labels that aren't really what they
advertise." No watermelon in "Watermelon Roll-Ups"!
3) CBS's Diana Olick pressed First Lady Laura Bush and
HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson from the left on Thursday's The Early Show.
Olick lectured Thompson on Head Start: "In an editorial in the New
York Times just this week...it says that 'President Bush wants to cut
funding for 2002 by two percent.'" She demanded of Mrs. Bush:
"Do you feel that this administration is really putting its money
where its mouth is?"
4) When former NBC News President Andy Lack, now COO of
all of NBC, left behind in his DC hotel room his BlackBerry palm-sized
device, NBC dispatched an intern to buy a full-fare plane ticket to fly it
to him in Los Angeles.
5) Letterman's "Top Ten George W. Bush Observations
double standard on President Bush's adherence to international treaties
and as to when the networks portray Senator John McCain as a martyr for a
The broadcast networks, after having
castigated Bush repeatedly for not upholding international treaties,
failed to point out how he's battling against every Senate Democrat in
trying to enforce the U.S. obligation under NAFTA to treat trucks entering
the U.S. from Mexico the same as those entering from Canada. Last week CBS
and NBC showed their displeasure with how House Republicans used a
procedural maneuver to deny a vote to McCain on campaign finance reform,
but neither network cared Thursday night after the Senate voted to shut
down a McCain-led filibuster to not abrogate NAFTA.
On Monday night CBS's Dan Rather highlighted
how Bush earned "an international tongue lashing over global
warming." Two nights later, on Wednesday night, ABC's Peter
Jennings introduced a story: "The Bush administration has today
refused to support yet another international agreement. And that is five
times since Mr. Bush took office. Today it was an agreement on germ
warfare that was being negotiated in Switzerland, and a lot of people are
asking what's going on here?"
The common network theme: Bush is out of step
because he's not following or pursuing U.S. compliance with
international treaties. But when every Senate Democrat on Thursday (and 19
Republicans) voted to block a filibuster to defend Bush's plan to adhere
to NAFTA by not imposing tougher rules on trucks entering the U.S. from
Mexico than those entering from Canada, CBS did not castigate the
Democratic position and ABC ran a story which presented the arguments of
both sides without mentioning how tougher rules on Mexican trucks would
As Washington Post reporter Helen Dewar noted in a
July 25 story: "NAFTA allows U.S. and Mexican trucks to operate
across the border so long as they comply with each country's safety
standards. The Clinton administration limited Mexican trucks to a 20-mile
border zone. But a NAFTA arbitration panel held that this violated the
trade pact, and Bush wants to open the border to long-haul trucks in
Thursday night FNC's Brian Wilson picked up on
that perspective on Special Report with Brit Hume: "The President has
repeatedly argued that he's against tough new safety standards for
Mexican trucks because the measure would impose regulations more stringent
than the U.S. requires of truckers from Canada."
The Senate effort to block the tougher rules was led
by Republican Senators Phil Gramm and John McCain, but neither ABC or CBS
even uttered his name on Thursday night even though he was on the losing
side of a procedural vote -- quite a contrast to how just last week CBS
and NBC portrayed him as a victim of an unfair procedural vote when the
House decided to not allow a vote on the House version of his bill,
Rather set up a July 12 CBS Evening News
piece: "On Capitol Hill tonight the push for serious campaign finance
reform got to the brink, but not the goal. Opponents were able to block it
with a fight over procedures. Supporters of an outright ban on unlimited
campaign contributions -- so-called soft money -- said the procedures were
meant to kill the bill. Still unclear is whether campaign finance reform
is dead. But as CBS's Bob Schieffer reports tonight, the blame game is
already in full swing."
Thursday night this week NBC Nightly News
anchor Brian Williams ignored the defeat for McCain along procedural
lines, but last Thursday night, July 12, he highlighted McCain's
complaint bout how "scoundrels" were responsible: "There is
a dead end to report tonight for campaign finance reform, one of the
highest profile issues on the agenda in Congress and in the last election.
The issue has been derailed tonight by a procedural vote on ground rules
that the Republican leadership in the House had for debating the measure.
The bill won't have a chance to come up again until fall now, if even
then. John McCain, one of the bill's sponsors, called the procedural
block quote, 'the last refuge of scoundrels.' GOP Whip Tom DeLay said
the measure's supporters simply don't have the votes to pass it."
Now, fast forward to last night, Thursday,
July 26. Rather simply announced: "A political defeat appears to be
looming for the Bush White House on the hotly-debated issue of regulating
Mexican trucks entering this country. With 19 Republicans joining in, the
Senate ignored a presidential veto threat and voted to stop a Republican
filibuster and back tougher safety regulations for the Mexican trucks than
President Bush wants."
On ABC's World News Tonight, Peter Jennings
suddenly didn't care about adherence to an international treaty as ABC
looked at what concerns those who don't want to follow the agreement:
"The Senate is embroiled today in a traditional battle over free
trade with all of the rhetoric associated with such a battle. At issue is
the right of Mexican trucks to move freely throughout the country. Today
the Senate ignored a veto threat from the Bush administration and moved
closer to approving rules for tighter inspection of Mexican trucks and
Linda Douglass began by noting how Democrats
are slowing implementation, but she didn't rebuke them: "It is
ground zero in the battle over free trade. Under the North American Free
Trade Agreement, NAFTA, the United States promised to open its border to
Mexican trucks by the end of this year, but Democrats are demanding
elaborate safety inspections that could slow that process for years."
Senator Patty Murray, D-WA: "Under our bill,
when you're driving on the highway behind a Mexican truck, you can feel
Douglass: "Five years ago, after inspecting
many Mexican trucks, the Clinton administration decided not to allow them
to travel beyond the narrow border area to which they are now
Mickey Kantor, Former U.S. Trade Representative:
"One, Mexican trucks had significant and serious safety problems at a
great rate, and number two, we could not certify the qualification of
Mexican drivers in a way that would make us all comfortable."
Douglass: "This year, a Department of
Transportation inspection found 37 percent of Mexican trucks had serious
safety violations, but that's an improvement over four years ago.
Business groups say Democrats are promoting negative stereotypes about
Edward Emmett, National Industrial Transportation
League: "That is what racial profiling is all about. I'm sorry,
there's no way around that."
Douglass: "Republican Senate Leader Trent
Lott has piled on, calling Democrats' concerns 'anti-Mexican,
Senator Tom Daschle, Majority Leader:
"Frankly, I'm baffled and very deeply troubled by accusations of
Douglass: "Democrats say Republicans are
trying to help their business friends at the expense of American safety.
Republicans counter that Democrats are fronting for their friends, the
Teamsters, who are worried about losing jobs."
James Hoffa, Teamsters Union President:
"They're gonna hire Mexican truckers that work at one-fifth of what
American truckers work at, and they're gonna lay off the Americans and
hire the Mexicans. That's the name of the game."
Douglass concluded: "With powerful interests
on both sides, no one is giving ground."
If only ABC delivered such a balanced
presentation of the arguments on both sides of the treaties Bush wants to
abrogate or not sign. Compare Douglass's story above to the polemic
against Bush's decisions on treaties delivered by Martha Radditz the
night before, which she began: "From germ warfare to global warming,
the Bush administration finds itself virtually alone against the
world." Go to the July 26 CyberAlert:
speak, networks jump. A liberal group which wants more regulation of food
container labeling earned full stories Thursday night on ABC and NBC just
for holding a press conference to complain about how the pictures on food
packages sometimes don't match the actual ingredients.
Naturally, the group was never accurately
tagged as liberal, or even as an "anti-business" or
"pro-regulation" group. Instead, it was described as "an
independent, non-profit research organization" and "a group
which advocates for food safety." Yes, the "safety" of not
eating pear juice when the box has a picture of a watermelon.
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams
promoted the credibility of the group by citing a previous PR gimmick
which impressed him: "The folks from Science in the Public Interest,
who blew the lid off things like high-calorie movie theater popcorn, have
a new target in their sights tonight: misleading food labels that aren't
really what they advertise."
Wow, they "blew the lid off"
Moviepopcorngate! How soon we forget how that was bigger than Watergate or
any scandal involving Clinton.
NBC's Jim Avila began his quite serious July
26 dispatch: "When are blueberries and strawberries not berries at
all? When they're in oatmeal made with figs dyed blue and apples dyed
red. Label watchdogs claim Americans are being tricked by process food
maker selling cheaper flavors....The Center for Science in the Public
Interest, self-described food police, an independent, non-profit research
organization, today petitioned the federal government to crack down on
what it calls deceptive advertising -- bold front panel sales pitches
about flavor with actual ingredients listed only in the fine print, like
watermelon 'Fruit Roll-Ups' made with pears but no watermelon."
At least Avila gave a few seconds to a
spokeswoman from the National Food Processors Association to point out
that product names and pictures on containers are just sales tools to tell
consumers the flavor since taste is what leads to purchases.
But not ABC. Jackie Judd delivered a one-sided
story with no contrary views. Peter Jennings set up her World News Tonight
piece: "A group which advocates for food safety said today that
American consumers are still being deceived by the labels. Six years ago
the Center for Science in the Public Interest urged the government to
regulate the labeling on food products more strictly. Nothing happened.
Now the consumer advocates have gone back to the grocery stores and
nothing has happened."
Imagine, America has been forced to survive
for six years with consumers having to read the ingredients label to learn
that watermelon-flavored Fruit Roll-Ups don't actually contain any real
watermelon. How much longer can we endure?
Diana Olick quizzed First Lady Laura Bush from the left in a taped
interview aired on Thursday's The Early Show, pressing her about how her
husband's administration isn't spending enough on Head Start, MRC
analyst Brian Boyd observed.
Mrs. Bush appeared with HHS Secretary Tommy
Thompson and Secretary of Education Rod Paige to promote a First Lady-led
conference later that day on early childhood development. Olick lectured
Thompson on Head Start: "In an editorial in the New York Times just
this week, and I'm quoting here, it says that 'President Bush wants to cut
funding for 2002 by two percent.'" Assuming more spending equals
better results, she demanded of Mrs. Bush: "Do you feel that this
administration is really putting its money where its mouth is?"
Here are all of Olick's questions posed on
the July 26 Early Show:
-- To Laura Bush: "What do you expect to
learn from this summit that you don't already know?"
-- To Tommy Thompson: "This summit
centers directly on early childhood development and nothing represents
that better of course than the Head Start program. But in an editorial in
the New York Times just this week, and I'm quoting here, it says that
'President Bush wants to cut funding for 2002 by two percent' and 'any
enhancement of education will have to be done at the expense of valuable
health and social assistance.' How do you respond to that?"
-- When Thompson countered that more money is
being put into early childhood programs as President Bush proposed a $125
spending hike for Head Start, Olick countered: "Well, the argument
goes that it's $125 million, which is a two percent increase, but in fact
that doesn't account for inflation and so it is in essence a cut per
-- Thompson cited a ten 10 percent increase in
early childhood block grants, leading Olick to inquire of Mrs. Bush:
"Do you feel that this administration is really putting its money
where its mouth is?"
Mrs. Bush answered yes but actually dared to
hint there is life and power beyond government as she suggested people
outside of government programs can help children.
-- Olick moved on to Paige: "If we could
talk for just a moment about testing. The controversy of course over this
is that perhaps you're pigeon-holing certain students or schools by these
tests that aren't necessarily conclusive, do you agree with that?"
-- When he answered no, she followed-up:
"And you don't believe that any under privileged children might get
lost within such a testing system?"
-- Olick switched subjects again: "Given
the rare opportunity of having the three of you together for this, and you
all of course have the President's ear on this issue as do you do on
many other issues and that's why I'd like to bring up one of those
important issues, stem cell research. What kind of counsel, Secretary
Thompson, have you given the President on your views on stem cell
-- Olick wrapped up by pressing Mrs. Bush
repeatedly as she demurred: "Well, you're obviously very close to
him, closer than anyone else around here. I imagine that he's agonizing
over this....And what is your view on it?....But you haven't come to any
decision of your own?"
expense spared to please Andy Lack, the COO of NBC who until earlier this
year was President of NBC News. But on the up side, a DC intern got a free
cross-country plane trip.
In a Wednesday item in his "The Reliable
Source" column in the Washington Post, Lloyd Grove recounted how when
Lack left his Blackberry behind at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown,
instead of FedExing it to him in LA for under $30, a minion dispatched an
intern to buy a last-minute plane ticket to fly it out to him.
An excerpt of Grove's July 25 item:
Our friend Andy Lack, the recently named president and chief operating
officer of NBC, is very attached to his BlackBerry....as he was being
driven to Dulles Airport to catch a flight to Los Angeles...he discovered
that his beloved BlackBerry was missing.
Reaching an assistant in New York by phone, the distressed Lack asked
the underling to put out an APB. Then he boarded his flight. As the jet
winged westward (where last Friday in Pasadena, Lack presided over the
unveiling of the network's fall schedule), the BlackBerry was located in
his former room at the Four Seasons Hotel.
Lack must have been pretty upset, because instead of overnighting the
5.3-ounce mini-computer to Pasadena, we hear that his assistant ordered
that a summer intern from the Washington bureau board the next flight to
LAX, BlackBerry in hand, and bring it to Lack directly. An emotional
reunion took place in due course.
Let's review: An undiscounted round-trip coach fare between Washington
and Los Angeles comes in at nearly $2,500 -- five times the cost of your
average BlackBerry palm-sized model (not counting the $40 monthly Internet
fee). A priority overnight FedEx costs around $30. NBC, like the other
networks, has been forced to tighten its belt in the softening economy,
including laying off nearly 600 employees when NBC absorbed its Internet
Yesterday NBC spokesman Corey Shields told us: "An assistant made
the decision to send the intern without Andy's knowledge. At the time,
Andy was on a plane....Obviously this is not the standard practice. And
the assistant feels that it was an error in judgment."
For a photo of Lack and the rest of this item,
For the daily content of Grove's The
Reliable Source column:
As recent experience show, worse things can
happen to a DC intern than making a plane trip. But if you're paying
Katie Couric $7 million a year what's another $2,500.
July 25 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten George W. Bush
Observations About Europe." Copyright 2001 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. Europeans speak worse English than I do
9. That Eiffel Tower would make one mother of an oil well
8. Austria looks nothing like it looked on "Survivor"
7. The time difference screws up your nap schedule
6. British beef not only tasty, it gave me a buzz I haven't felt since
5. The Polish people tell some great "Bush is dumb" jokes
4. In France, you don't have to say, "French fries," you can
just say "fries"
3. Due to the metric system, my ten-gallon hat is a whopping 37.84 liters
2. The Irish drive on the left side of the road, like I used to
1. One of these countries is where my dad urped on the king
I guess "urped" is some sort of New
York slang for vomit. -- Brent Baker
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