"Lock Box" & "Trust Fund" Mantra; Helms "Wonderfully Odious"; Jack White Admitted Listening to Limbaugh; Condit Defended by Maher
1) In three questions ABC's George Stephanopoulos on
This Week referred to the non-existent "Social Security lock
box." He demanded: "Are you prepared...to come forward and say
we have to repeal or delay parts of the tax cut to make sure we don't
tap the Social Security lock box?" NBC's Campbell Brown and Tim
Russert cited the "Social Security Trust Fund," but on Fox News
Sunday Brit Hume pointed out there is no "lock box."
2) Newsweek's Evan Thomas called Jesse Helms
"wonderfully odious" as he conceded that it "was very
comforting to the east coast media establishment to know that there was an
evil guy out there." Time's Jack White proclaimed: "Good
riddance." ABC's Derek McGinty blamed Helms for appealing "to
the worst in North Carolinians: Fear, mistrust, misunderstanding and
3) Time's Jack White: "I hate to admit it, but I
actually did listen to Rush Limbaugh earlier this week. And Rush Limbaugh
4) Some media figures were still willing to defend Gary
Condit: ABC's Bill Maher insisted Condit only looks bad to those
"who hate him anyway and basically hate sex." Maher sympathized:
"I don't blame him for feeling like the guy in all the Hitchcock
movies, the wrong guy, you know." Newsweek's Eleanor Clift claimed
he had been forthcoming and portrayed him as the victim.
5) "Gary Condit is a Republican, isn't he?" A
caller to C-SPAN on Friday morning tripped up the host by asking to which
party Condit belongs. The host's confusion probably can be attributed to
how infrequently the news media identify Condit as a Democrat.
6) The CBS Evening News on Friday aired its second full
story ever on a weekday about Gary Condit -- and even identified him as a
7) Letterman's "Top Ten Ways Gary Condit Can
Improve His Image."
>>> "Conservatives Use Floggings
As Way to Beat Back Reforms." Now posted on the MRC Web site, a shot
of that Washington Post headline as displayed by Brit Hume on his Fox News
Channel show. For more about the subject of the story and to see the
headline for yourself, refer back to the August 17 CyberAlert: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20010817.asp#6
incredible, imaginary Social Security "lock box" and "trust
fund." All weekend-long ABC and NBC reporters insisted upon using
those terms to describe sacrosanct funds even though there really is no
"lock box" or "trust fund."
Liberals are now advancing the spin the media
are eagerly eating up because they want to discredit the tax cut and
prevent any more tax cutting. And Bush operatives won't explain reality
since during the campaign Bush bought into the concept of not
"spending" the Social Security surplus. Until a few years ago,
NBC reporter Lisa Myers pointed out after Tim Russert used the "trust
fund" language, the entire "trust fund" was spent on other
things and, as Brit Hume noted on Fox News Sunday, it will be again this
year even if it is "saved" for Social Security.
-- ABC's August 26 This Week displayed a
"lock box" mantra as co-host George Stephanopoulos turned Al
Gore's campaign spin into reality:
Stephanopoulos to White House economic adviser
Larry Lindsey, who never corrected the questioner: "After this
mid-session review budget report came this week, both you and President
Bush mentioned what seemed to be a new exception to taking money from the
Social Security lock box. You said that when there's a recession you can
dip into the lock box. What's the economic rational for that?"
Of course, Bush never employed the term
Stephanopoulos followed up: "The
President has also said that he thinks the Congress has to restrain
spending. Are you committed now to saying the President will veto any
congressional spending bills that dip into the lock box absent a
Up next, Democratic Senator John Edwards, whom
Stephanopoulos pushed to dump on the tax cut: "You talk about talking
straight and tough choices. Are the Democrats prepared to make those same
tough choices. You say there's a big problem with the budget this year.
Are you prepared, as Senator Byrd has suggested, to come forward and say
we have to repeal or delay parts of the tax cut to make sure we don't
tap the Social Security lock box?"
-- The night before, on Saturday's NBC
Nightly News, reporter Campbell Brown recalled from Crawford, Texas how
earlier in the week "the White House released revised budget numbers
that showed the surplus, projected in April to be $281 billion, is now
down to $158 billion. And only one billion is available for new spending.
The rest dedicated to the Social Security Trust Fund."
-- Meet the Press. A week after Robert Novak
explained to Tim Russert how "there is no trust fund" (see
August 20 CyberAlert: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20010820.asp#1),
Russert at least added a "so-called" to his use of the term:
"Last Sunday on this program, Lawrence Lindsey, the chief economic
adviser to the President, said the President of the United States, George
W. Bush, will never submit a budget that in any way taps into the
so-called Social Security Trust Fund."
Russert's NBC News colleague, Lisa Myers,
soon pointed out to her boss during the roundtable segment: "One
thing we should add about the Social Security surplus: Until two years ago
Congress and the President spent every dime of that money."
Russert: "Including the Democrats."
Myers: "Including the Democrats. And now
it's being treated as though it's politically sacred. But economically
it makes almost no difference."
Politically sacred and sacred to the
Washington press corps.
-- Fox News Sunday. Instead of just repeating
the "lock box" mantra to Lindsey, Fox's Brit Hume explained
its phoniness to him: "We keep hearing that the Social Security
surplus may be invaded, which is to say that these payroll tax revenues
that come in, which are estimated to be in excess of what's necessary to
pay benefits by somewhere between $155 and $160 billion this year, will
not be touched, that they're in a quote, 'lock box,' unquote. In
fact though, sir, isn't it the case that the money will be very much
touched and it will be loaned back to the government. Social Security will
get IOUs or government securities and what will happen is the money will
be used to pay down other government debt, correct?"
Lindsey: "That's correct..."
harangues about Helms over the weekend. Newsweek's Evan Thomas called
retiring Senator Jesse Helms "wonderfully odious" and "an
evil guy" as he conceded that it "was very comforting to the
east coast media establishment to know that there was an evil guy out
there that you could really fear." Time's Jack White proclaimed
"glad he's gone" and "good riddance" to him. ABC's
Derek McGinty blamed a 1990 Helms TV ad for appealing "to the worst
in North Carolinians: Fear, mistrust, misunderstanding and
-- Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan
Thomas on Inside Washington fondly recalled a certain Time cover: "I
think liberals are going to miss him. He was so wonderfully odious.
Remember that old Time magazine, Jack [White], that had him on the cover
with the dark shadows under the eyes and he's this dark and menacing
figure? And he was very comforting to the east coast media establishment
to know that there was an evil guy out there that you could really
-- Time national correspondent Jack White on
Inside Washington: "As a native North Carolinian, the only question I
have is what took him so doggone long? Glad he's gone. He was an old
segregationist. He never changed. Him and his counterpart in the state
next door, Strom Thurmond, good riddance to both of them."
Can we assume White will display equal
hostility toward and equal pleasure at the retirements of Democratic
Senators Robert Byrd, who belonged to the Ku Klux Klan, and Ernest
Hollings who, as Governor of South Carolina, prevented any blacks from
attending the University of South Carolina?
-- ABC's This Week. During the roundtable,
Derek McGinty, a former NPR talk show host who now co-anchor's ABC's
overnight World News Now, showed a clip of the 1990 Helms TV ad with the
white hands crumpling a piece of paper as the announcer intoned: "You
needed that job. And you were the best qualified. But they had to give it
to a minority."
McGinty denounced it as the start of negative
ads: "That ad appealed to the worst in North Carolinians: Fear,
mistrust, misunderstanding and prejudice. That ad, unfortunately, burst a
whole generation of negative attack ads, something most people wouldn't
Cokie Roberts corrected his obvious over-hype:
"I think they were around-"
George Will jumped in: "I don't think
there was anything wrong with that ad. It seems to me people who favor
racial preferences open themselves to exactly that kind of argument. You
can't advocate racial preferences and then say we can't talk about it
as a political issue."
White of Time mocked Rush Limbaugh's analysis that Gary Condit is just
following Bill Clinton's behavior pattern.
On Inside Washington over the weekend, the
weekly roundtable program shown on many PBS stations which is taped and
run on Washington, DC's Gannett-owned CBS affiliate, the Time national
correspondent reluctantly admitted listening to Limbaugh:
"I hate to admit it, but I actually did
listen to Rush Limbaugh earlier this week. And Rush Limbaugh thinks that
Condit's behavior in all this is the ultimate result of Clintonism. So
everything goes back to Bill Clinton. He's to blame for everything
including Gary Condit's behavior in this."
near-unanimous condemnation for Congressman Gary Condit (D-CA), some media
figures were still willing to defend him after it became clear he would
obfuscate and refuse to apologize: ABC's Bill Maher, joined to some
extent by Alexandra Wentworth, the future Mrs. George Stephanopoulos and
USA Today editor Jack Curry and, in another forum, Newsweek's Eleanor
Maher insisted Condit only looks bad to those
"who hate him anyway and basically hate sex." Maher sympathized:
"I don't blame him for feeling like the guy in all the Hitchcock
movies, the wrong guy, you know."
MRC analyst Jessica Anderson caught these
exchanges on the Thursday, August 23, Politically Incorrect taped before
Primetime Thursday aired, but after the panel heard the audio of the
interview as provided by ABC News. The panel put Charmaine Yoest of the
conservative Independent Women's Forum on the defensive, questioning her
every assertion of what is common knowledge about the case:
Yoest: "You know what, that's another
thing, is this guy is devoid of normal human emotion."
Bill Maher: "Devoid of normal human
Yoest: "Yeah, yeah."
Maher: "This is the first time the guy ever
spoke. How do you know this?"
Yoest: "Well, because the guy, he admits now
he was having an affair with her for five months, and if you listen to all
this smarmy stuff-"
Alexandra Wentworth, actress: "No, he
actually admits that he was close to her for five months on the ABC Connie
Yoest: "Well, see, that's my point exactly,
is you're close to a girl for five months and, you know-"
Wentworth: "I'm close to people. I'm close
Maher, laughing: "Yeah."
Jack Curry, Editor of USA Weekend: "Would
you have preferred it if he'd cried? Would you have preferred it if he
used this forum to turn himself into this, you know, you know, bawling
Congressman from Modesto...?"
Later, Yoest asserted: "I thought it was
really striking that both of these girls [Lewinsky and Levy] had this
delusional fantasy that these guys were gonna leave their wives, they were
gonna end up having babies together-"
Curry: "How do you know that much about
Maher: "Yeah, how do you know this?"
Curry: "I mean, that hasn't come out
Yoest: "Well, that's what her aunt has
Maher: "Her aunt! Of course, the aunt is
the, of course, Oracle of Delphi, but he is devoid of human emotion."
Yoest: "The point-"
Maher: "How do you know these things? What
Wentworth: "The point is, we need a scandal.
It's the summer. We haven't had a scandal in a while. The media feeds on
that kind of stuff."
At another point, Yoest contended: "The
way he has responded time after time after time has made him look horribly
Maher: "To you. To people who hate him
anyway and basically hate sex, he looks awful....So we're talking about
the difference, really, between murder and adultery, and I think, you
know, this guy may not be, as I say, a role model. But to make that
immediate leap I think is what the press has been trying to do all summer.
They've been trying to blow on this little spark and make it into an
inferno to roast him over so they have something."
Bill: "Desperately, and you know, I don't
blame him for feeling like the guy in all the Hitchcock movies, the wrong
guy, you know."
Curry soon sympathized with Condit's plight:
"You know, I think the other thing that, you know, he's an easy guy
to kick around, you know. It's one thing when you're dealing with the
President and his infidelities -- well, we've already been there, so this
is easy. This is an easy one, to pick at him."
Wentworth added: "But let's even put the
stakes higher, let's put a murder in it. I mean, Monica and Bill was
infidelity. Now let's take it a step further."
Over on FNC the same night, the 9pm EDT
Hannity & Colmes crew did not have the benefit of seeing or hearing
the yet to be broadcast 10pm EDT Primetime Thursday interview, but knew
the basic parameters of Condit's approach based on his letter to
constituents and Connie Chung's summarization on World News Tonight of
how the interview went.
During one segment, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift
repeatedly came to Condit's defense, claiming he had been forthcoming,
an approach that even astounded the liberal Alan Colmes. MRC analyst Brad
Wilmouth caught these exchanges:
Sean Hannity: "But on the political
question, Dick Gephardt calls him a 'man of honor.' You know, I got to
believe, well, first of all, he is a humiliating disgrace. I've got to
believe America can to better than a man like this that has now just
orchestrated what we have witnessed before, which is a massive propaganda
and spin campaign."
Eleanor Clift: "Everybody in public life who
has run into difficulties tries to rehabilitate themselves, and, frankly,
with the exception of O.J. Simpson, I think they all helped themselves.
You have made this man an absolute caricature-."
Hannity: "He has made himself,
Clift: "-turned him into a monster."
Hannity: "He has brought the
Clift: "He is now going to be able to
present himself in three dimensions and be able to communicate with the
American people on his terms, and he should be granted that
An appalled Alan Colmes argued: "Eleanor,
this is a sham. You seem to me to be defending Gary Condit."
Clift: "I'm not-"
Colmes: "I'm surprised. I think it's bad
for us Democrats to do that. I think it's bad."
Clift, without denying that she is among "us
Democrats," countered: "Excuse me, I am eager to see this man. I
haven't heard him speak. I want to hear what he has to say. I also know
that he's going to have an interview with Michael Isikoff of Newsweek
magazine, the questions are not going to stop with Connie Chung. We will
have a much greater sense of who he is and what he's about after this,
and let the people of his district make up their minds whether they want
to send him back to Congress. He's been a good congressman. He is
guilty, we know, of adultery. He is guilty, perhaps, of dissembling and
not confessing adultery when initially asked about it, but that's all he
is guilty of."
Colmes responded: "But Eleanor, it's,
it's not just, Eleanor, it's not just about adultery. It's not, you
keep bringing up adultery. I have said many times during the Clinton saga,
it's not just about, you know, adultery shouldn't be a reason to
impeach somebody. This is about a missing woman. This is about a woman
about whom he would not come forth with information, that even now, and I
have sources who've seen the people magazine piece, he doesn't come
forth there. The interview tonight, sources say he doesn't come forth
there. In the letter, he wasn't forthcoming. He's had three
opportunities I know of, and he has not been forthcoming in any of
Clift: "Alan, forthcoming about what?"
Colmes: "About what?!"
Clift: "He has one central message to get
across tonight, and that is that he is not guilty of any wrongdoing in Ms.
Levy's disappearance, and that is all he wants viewers to take away from
Colmes next read a part of Condit letter, and
asked: "'Dedicated to his family?' This is a guy who's had how
many alleged affairs? We believe they may be more than alleged, and he's
talking about being dedicated to his family. I mean, that's a sham,
that's a lie."
Clift: "So he's a hypocrite. You know,
lot's of people are hypocrites. Look, he is trying to finally
communicate with his constituents, to turn around his reputation. He is
probably the most detested man in America today. So let's give him a
chance to try to explain himself. He's going to have to answer some very
tough questions. His career may have ended simply because he chose to have
an affair with somebody who may have encountered some wrongdoing."
Colmes: "No, but, Eleanor, that's not it.
It's not, it's not simply that he chose to have an affair. That's
not it. It's that he maybe had an affair and was not forthcoming. He
didn't talk to the police as forthcoming as he should have. It took the
third interview to acknowledge all he knew to the police. It's not just
about having an affair."
Clift argued: "You know, yeah, pundits like
yourself are real exorcized about it, but I don't see anybody from the
police department or from the FBI worrying about an obstruction of justice
suit or talking about him lying. He may not have been fully forthcoming,
so, you know, this does not go anywhere. The sad part here is that there
is no evidence, there is no evidence at all connecting him or anybody else
to her disappearance."
There's little evidence connecting Clift to
Condit is a Republican, isn't he?" A caller to C-SPAN on Friday
morning tripped up the Washington Journal host by asking to which party
Gary Condit belongs. Given how closely C-SPAN staffers must follow the
news, the host's confusion probably can be attributed to how
infrequently the news media identify Condit as a Democrat and how
frequently they refer to his district as "conservative."
As a July MRC study determined, in 179 stories
on ABC, CBS and NBC during the first two month of the scandal, a piddling
14, or 8 percent, listed Condit as a Democrat, meaning he was not properly
identified in more than nine out of ten stories.
For details, go to:
That policy continued on Friday morning at the
same time the C-SPAN host misstated Condit's party. MRC analysts Jessica
Anderson, Brian Boyd and Geoffrey Dickens informed me that although the
Condit story consumed most of the August 24 morning shows, Condit was
never identified as a Democrat on Friday's Good Morning America, Early
Show or Today -- though there were hints in questions about whether
Democrats will rally around Condit.
MRC Web page visitor Robert Peets alerted the
MRC's Bonnie Langborgh to the incident on C-SPAN highlighted on the Free
Republic Web site, and she passed on e-mail on to me.
Just past 7:30am EDT on Friday, C-SPAN host
Connie Brod, at least I believe her last name is Brod, went to a caller,
identifying which line he was calling in on, Republican, Democratic or
independent: "Big Sandy Texas, Republican, good morning to you. Got
to turn your television set down, please."
Male caller: "Got it down, Connie. I'm
confused. What party does Gary Condit belong to?"
Brod: "Gary Condit is, is what?"
Caller: "Is he, what party does he belong
Brod: "Gary Condit is a Republican, isn't
Caller: "Gary Condit, see, that's what I
thought. No, Mam, he is not. He is a Democrat."
Brod: "I'm sorry, my mistake. [several
second pause as background talk heard on phone] You have something else to
Caller at low volume as he seems to be boasting
to someone else in the room at his home: "Nailed her ass."
Brod guffawed: "Oh, oh, oh!"
Without further comment, Brod moved on to
++ See and hear the above exchange. By late
Monday morning ET, the MRC's Mez Djouadi will post, on the MRC's home
page, a RealPlayer clip of this. Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org
through. The August 24 CyberAlert wondered if the CBS Evening News, after
running a 35-second item on Thursday night about Condit's letter to
constituents, would return with a full story on Friday night after his ABC
interview. CBS did, airing its third story ever weekday CBS Evening News
story and its second full report after its first one on July 18.
Anchor Russ Mitchell miraculously even
identified Condit as a Democrat: "After months of silence, Democratic
Congressman Gary Condit of California is talking publicly about the
Chandra Levy case..."
But that story came too late for C-SPAN's
August 24 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Ways Gary
Condit Can Improve His Image." Copyright 2001 by Worldwide Pants.
Inc. (Since the Friday Late Show is taped on Thursday night at either 8 or
8:30pm, this list was created before Letterman's writers saw the ABC
interview. But it captures just the right tone anyway.)
10. New campaign slogan: "Oh, like you've never killed
9. Blame everything on his idiot brother Jeb Condit
8. Stop screaming at reporters, "Holy crap! I'm actually getting away
7. Get himself really cool nickname, like "G. Conditty"
6. Release lengthy list of former interns he did not kill
5. Announce he hasn't been the same since the break-up with Nicole Kidman
4. Grow a full, reassuring, Kenny Rogers-style white beard
3. Confess, resign, serve 50-to-life
2. Focus on the 25% of voters who don't think he's a loathsome prick
1. Have sex with Monica Lewinsky
And, from the Late Show Web page, some of the
"extras," the also-rans which did not make the final cut:
-- Blame it all on the poorly-designed ballots
-- Remind voters that there have been many days when he wasn't questioned
-- Give Connie Chung an "exclusive," if you know what I mean
Speaking of Connie Chung, she's scheduled to
appear tonight, Monday August 27, on the Late Show with David Letterman on
-- Brent Baker
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