Powell to Block "Extreme Things"; An Aghast Russert: "Another Tax Cut?"; CBS Relayed Castro on "Moral Duty"; Liberal Bias Confirmed
1) On the Labor Day Today Matt Lauer proposed that any
ergonomics rules "should be mandatory, not voluntary." Later,
Time's Johanna McGeary bemoaned how Colin Powell has failed to prevent
the Bush foreign policy team from "doing really extreme things"
as Lauer helpfully explained how "a lot of people had hoped that
would talk the Bush administration out of missile defense."
2) Tim Russert was aghast on Sunday's Meet the Press at
Senator John Kerry's suggestion that a capital gains tax cut might be
wise to stimulate investment. Russert, who pressed for invoking a
"trigger" to suspend the tax cut and who called a liberal
group's anti-tax cut claims "quite striking," exclaimed in
disbelief to Kerry's idea: "Another tax cut?"
3) Given how during the last government shutdown the media
blamed the GOP-controlled Congress and not Clinton, Fox's Brit Hume
wondered if this fall "the media will decide that it is...the
responsibility of the President and not the Congress." Flashback to
ABC in 1995: "The shutdown now has a human face. Joe Skattleberry and
his wife Lisa both work for the government. Both have been furloughed.
They can't afford a Christmas tree."
4) CBS took the UN racism conference quite seriously as
Elizabeth Palmer relayed how Fidel Castro proclaimed that reparations for
slavery are a "moral duty" for the U.S., a view supported by
Jesse Jackson. But ABC's Richard Gizbert realized the conference was
"consumed by the very hatreds it sought to eradicate."
5) NBC's Bob Faw dared to get close to home in listing
examples of people not being banished for lying: "Mike Barnicle,
dumped for lying in his newspaper columns, has found new life as a talk
show host." On NBC's own MSNBC.
6) Newsweek's Evan Thomas revealed that "there is a
perception, even among journalists, that the [New York] Times is going a
little a bit left." Time's Jack White countered: "That's a
lot of hokum....There is no liberal bias in the press in the whole. In
fact, if there is a bias, it's on the other side."
7) After ten weeks and a day of vacation, more than twice
as much time off as his network criticized President Bush for taking,
guess who returns to work today?
Day isn't a day off from liberal bias at NBC's Today. On Monday's
show co-host Matt Lauer proposed to the Secretary of Labor that any
ergonomics rules "should be mandatory, not voluntary." In the
next half hour Time magazine reporter Johanna McGeary bemoaned how Colin
Powell had failed to prevent the Bush administration from "doing
really extreme things" as Lauer helpfully explained how "a lot
of people had hoped that would talk the Bush administration out of missile
Interviewing Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao,
Lauer pressed her about the status of ergonomics regulations put in place
by Bill Clinton, but which were rescinded by Congress after Bush became
President. When Chao explained the subject was under review, Lauer
demanded: "If you conclude that there is a serious problem out there
and people are being injured, would you agree that a solution should be
mandatory, not voluntary?"
In the 7:30am half hour on the September 3
show Today brought aboard Johanna McGeary, a Time senior correspondent, to
discuss her new cover story, "Where Have You Gone, Colin
Powell?" She outlined Time's case that Powell has little influence
within the Bush foreign policy team, complaining: "The biggest symbol
to most people at this point is that they thought Colin Powell was the
force of moderation in this administration, the guy who would keep the
Bush administration from doing really extreme things. And so far, where
he's done that he's had to pull them back from things they've
already done and on the biggest issue of all, national missile defense, he
seems to be going along with the rest of them."
Lauer helpfully elaborated: "He does agree
in principle, it seems, with the Bush administration on missile defense
and a lot of people had hoped that would talk the Bush administration out
of missile defense because of the ABM treaty?"
"Yes," McGeary affirmed, adding how
unlike the rest of Bush and his team, he "doesn't want to ride
roughshod over the world."
"Most people" and "a lot of
people" are, no doubt, their colleagues at Time and NBC News.
tax cut?" Tim Russert was aghast on Sunday's Meet the Press at
Senator John Kerry's suggestion that a capital gains tax cut might be
wise to stimulate investment. Russert was taken aback after he had relayed
what he termed a "quite striking" static-analysis claim by an
unlabeled liberal group about how the tax cut will eliminate 75 percent of
the expected surplus, leading Russert to press two guests about invoking a
"trigger" to suspend the tax cuts.
Russert first interviewed on the September 2
show OMB Director Mitch Daniels, whom he hit with arguments from New York
Times columnist Paul Krugman and another liberal group, both unlabeled. On
the latter, Russert relayed: "The Center on Budget and Policy
Priorities has analyzed what has been going on. And they said something
which is quite striking. I'd like to read it to you: 'The Congressional
Budget Office's new report on the federal budget confirms that the surplus
is considerably smaller than previously assumed and that, in some years,
the budget outside Social Security will be in deficit. CBO now shows a
surplus between 2002 and 2011 that is $2.2 trillion less than it estimated
in May; about three-quarters of this decline was caused by the impact of
the recently enacted tax-cut package.'
"So let's think out for the next 10 years.
Based on that vanishing, or shrinking, surplus, would the President
consider now to put in place a trigger, which was advocated by Federal
Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, a trigger whereby a tax cut would not
kick in unless a certain number of deficit reduction was present, or to
avoid the federal budget from going into deficit?"
Next, with Democratic Senator John Kerry,
Russert pointed out how Democrats don't want to cut taxes or spending
but are instead setting a trap for Bush to do either so they can pounce
rhetorically on him. But Russert soon pushed Kerry to adopt the
"trigger" idea: "Would you be willing to put a trigger in
place so that future tax cuts, in years two, three, four, five, six,
seven, eight, nine, 10 not kick in, not take place, unless the resources
were there, unless it would guarantee we would not go into deficit?"
Kerry agreed: "I think it's absolutely
common sense that a trigger be one of those items that is put on the table
for a discussion because you can't start throwing away money or giving
back money that you don't have..."
Kerry soon, however earned Russert's wrath
when he broached a capital gains tax cut: "The problem is that the
President is unwilling to step back from the rigidity of a position taken
in the snows of New Hampshire on the tax cut. And now we are, the American
people -- I mean, here we are right before Labor Day, you've got an awful
lot of folks who'd love an increase in the minimum wage. You've got a lot
of people who had a very hard time thrown out of work who are going to
need transitional assistance. We need, you might even consider a capital
gains tax reduction at this point in time to help spur the kind of capital
investment that is not taking place as a consequence of the lowering of
the interest rates."
Russert, clearly aghast, blurted in disbelief:
"Another tax cut?"
Kerry: "Possibly, in the context of all of
what we're talking about, Tim, because the key is: How do you move the
economy forward now?..."
Kerry didn't point out how a capitals gains
cut, as other have in the past, would actually increase government revenue
from the tax, a concept which eludes liberals and, in this case it seems,
Tim Russert as well.
warning from Fox's Brit Hume speculating on who the media will blame for
any possible government shutdown caused by the budget battle, a prescient
concern given how 1995 and 1996 MRC studies showed one party received the
preponderance of blame. CBS's Bob Schieffer, for instance, complained
while anchoring the CBS Evening News one night in 1995: "Nine days
from Christmas, Republicans have forced another partial shutdown of the
At the top of the roundtable segment on the
September 2 Fox News Sunday, Hume issued a lookout:
"Here's something to watch for. Let's assume
that the bills come up not in the order the President wants. In other
words, the Democrats' spending priorities are what's acted on first, and
they send him bills that are larger than he wants. In the course of the
process, there will be either vetoes or threats of vetoes. And of course,
with an October deadline, there will be the looming prospect, as there
always is, of a government shutdown. If we get to that, or get close to
that, it will be very interesting to see what happens in the media and in
the Washington atmosphere. The last time we had a situation where the
government actually did shut down, you'll recall who was blamed: Congress.
It'll be interesting to see if that happens this time or whether the media
will decide that it is, after all, the responsibility of the President,
and not the Congress, when the government shuts down."
If that occurred, it would be pretty hard for
reporters to argue they were maintaining consistency -- although they
would be consistently blaming the Republican side.
Indeed, two studies published in the MRC's
old MediaWatch newsletter documented how the networks adopted Clinton's
spin as reality back in late 1995.
An excerpt from the study recounted in the
January 1996 MediaWatch:
As a second partial government shutdown descended on Washington,
network coverage once again favored President Clinton's arguments over
those of House Republicans. Last month, MediaWatch examined coverage
during the November 13-20 shutdown and found not a single story noted how
much more than the GOP Clinton wanted to spend. No story questioned his
rhetoric about "destroying" Medicare even though the GOP plan
called for hikes. Reporters conveyed the Democratic spin about the
disastrous impact upon federal workers and the public.
As a new budget impasse began in mid-December, MediaWatch analysts
reviewed all 131 budget-related stories on evening newscasts (ABC's World
News Tonight, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, and CNN's World News)
from the evening before the shutdown (December 14) through the day it
ended (January 5).
After President Clinton vetoed several spending bills, not one story
blamed Clinton for the shutdown, but nearly two dozen declared the GOP
culpable. Furloughed workers and other "victims" were featured
in half the stories while no story explored the "Washington
Monument" strategy or the financial boost offered by a balanced
Blame. To fund the government, Congress passes appropriation bills
which the President must then sign. Clinton vetoed spending bills on
December 18 and 19 that would have kept open six cabinet departments. But
on the question of who caused the shutdown, reporters exclusively pointed
a finger at the Republicans. In the 48 stories in which reporters
allocated blame, 23 assigned blame to the Republicans, but not one held
Clinton culpable (25 blamed both).
On December 16, when the government's temporary spending authority ran
out, Bob Schieffer led off the CBS Evening News like a disappointed
father: "Well, they've done it again. Nine days from Christmas,
Republicans have forced another partial shutdown of the government because
they cannot come to an agreement with the White House on how to balance
the budget." The next night, ABC's Jerry King also blamed the GOP.
"There's no indication from House Republicans, whose budget-cutting
zeal started all of this, that they are ready, Christmas season or not, to
ABC reporter Jack Smith got even more
ridiculous in a story on the December 22, 1995 World News Tonight, just
the fifth day of the shutdown: "Monuments and national parks are
shut. So are museums. A long-awaited rare exhibit of the Dutch painter
Vermeer at the National Gallery, eight years in the making, is closed. And
the shutdown now has a human face. Joe Skattleberry and his wife Lisa both
work for the government. Both have been furloughed. They can't afford a
Now that is pathetic. Nothing brings back
memories of bias like a purportedly serious story about how federal
workers yet to have missed a paycheck, and who would get all their back
pay as soon as a budget passed for their departments, couldn't afford to
spend $20 bucks.
the UN's racism conference quite seriously. While a CBS Evening News
story noted how slavery is ongoing in Africa, the report was mostly
devoted to relaying the arguments from three people about how the U.S.
should pay reparations for slavery. The three statesmen quoted by CBS's
Elizabeth Palmer: Fidel Castro, Jesse Jackson and Charles Ogletree.
CBS Evening News anchor Thalia Assuras set up
the September 1 story: "At a UN conference on racism being held in
South Africa, Arafat today condemned what he called Israel's racist
practices, but stopped short of calling Israel a racist state. The
conference today also heard a lively debate over slavery and heard calls
for the United States to pay reparations. Elizabeth Palmer reports."
Narrating from London, Palmer began her
Saturday piece: "Until just a few months ago, 17-year-old Mariama
Oumarou was a slave, bought for $300 by a Nigerian man who abused her. 'I
was beaten because I was just a slave,' she tells delegates to the UN
Conference Against Racism. Oumarou managed to escape, but she left behind
friends who remain slaves. These are modern victims of slavery, which
still goes on in parts of Asia and Africa, but it's the issue of American
slavery, which ended more than a century ago, that's taken center stage
here. Leaders like Fidel Castro are calling on the United States to make
reparations, to pay for its past. 'Cuba supports the idea of reparations
as an unavoidable moral duty,' he said. The United States fought hard to
keep reparations for slavery off the conference agenda, but
African-Americans here have made sure the controversial idea is getting
lots of attention."
Reverend Jesse Jackson: "The idea of
reparations time has come. It will not go back. The question left is how
and in what form it will take place."
Palmer: "Charles Ogletree Jr., professor of
law at Harvard, says that America has to recognize its responsibility,
even if it costs billions of dollars."
Professor Charles Ogletree Jr.: "We will
make sure that people understand that a debt is owed to the Africans who
died in America."
Palmer concluded: "But there's no consensus
on reparations, not in the United States and not at this conference. Few
white Americans support the idea of payment and neither do some African
leaders. Meanwhile, the rhetorical battle over historic slavery threatens
to overshadow the plight of Mariama and the thousands of modern slaves who
are not lucky enough to escape. Elizabeth Palmer, CBS News, London."
Overshadowed because reporters like Palmer
give credibility to the rantings of Fidel Castro about a "moral
ABC's Richard Gizbert reflected a more
reasoned take on he conference the next night on World News
Tonight/Sunday. After recounting how the conference turned into a fight
over Israel, with a conference resolution calling Israel a "racist,
apartheid state" guilty of "war crimes and acts of
genocide," while calls were made for reparations by the U.S., Gizbert
concluded: "In the end, the UN's anti-racism effort was hijacked by
those with historical scores to settle -- consumed by the very hatreds it
sought to eradicate."
NBC's Bob Faw for pointing the finger close to home in a story on why so
many people lie. Prompted by the fraud committed by the Bronx Little
League team in using a player too old to play, Friday's NBC Nightly News
explored, as anchor Stone Phillips put it, "the enduring power of the
Bob Faw started his August 31 piece with Bill
Clinton's infamous "I did not have sexual relations with that
woman," followed by examples from, among others, historian Joseph
Ellis, actor Brian Dennehy and Congressman Wes Cooley, as Faw suggested
people lie because it helps them get ahead and gain power. After a
soundbite from a human resources specialist on how many resumes are
riddled with false credentials, Faw dared to get close to home:
"Personnel directors say the problem isn't
just that so many people fake credentials, it's that for the few who do
get caught often there is very little consequence. For every Janet Cooke,
disgraced and stripped of her 1981 Pulitzer after caught lying, there's
a Vanessa Williams. Lies cost her the Miss America crown, but not a big
show business career. And Mike Barnicle, dumped for lying in his newspaper
columns, has found new life as a talk show host."
On screen over his Barnicle comments viewers
saw a scroll of the Boston Globe banner followed by Barnicle on his MSNBC
show with the MSNBC logo in the corner.
Faw can hardly be faulted for not being able
to keep up since MSNBC changes its 6pm line-up quarterly, but actually
MSNBC has dumped Barnicle's old 6pm ET show, though he is a regular
guest analyst on other MSNBC shows.
Evan Thomas revealed that "there is a perception, even among
journalists, that the [New York] Times is going a little a bit left."
Time's Jack White countered: "That's a lot of hokum....There is
no liberal bias in the press in the whole. In fact, if there is a bias,
it's on the other side."
Those reactions were generated by a discussion
on Inside Washington over the weekend about Robert Samuelson's column
last week in the Washington Post prompted by the elevation of Howell
Raines, the liberal editorial page editor, to the Executive Editor slot.
Samuelson argued: "Among editors and reporters of the national media
-- papers, magazines, TV -- a 'liberal bias' is not so much denied as
ignored, despite overwhelming evidence that it exists."
Thomas, Assistant Managing Editor of Newsweek,
conceded that he knows the public sees a liberal tilt: "There's a
tremendous feeling in the country that there is a liberal bias and it
makes me exceedingly nervous that the New York Times -- which I lump with
the Washington Post as kind of public trusts, the best and the most fair
and just the best in the business -- if there is a perception that one of
them is truly leaning to the left and there is fodder for that perception,
that is worrisome."
Thomas disclosed: "There is a perception,
even among journalists, that the Times is going a little a bit left, is
getting more liberal. And that's disquieting."
But, Time magazine national correspondent Jack
White seethed: "That's a lot of hokum, with all due respect to
Evan. There is no liberal bias in the press in the whole. In fact, if
there is a bias, it's on the other side. It's hard to find a person
really, truly, of the liberal persuasion who are making any important
decisions in any important media institutions in this country now. I've
looked for them, I consider myself one, I have very few birds of a like
Just imagine how much more liberal time would
be under White's direction.
For an excerpt of Samuelson's August 29
column and a link to it in its entirety, go to: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20010830.asp#2
Brokaw, last seen anchoring the NBC Nightly News way back on Friday, June
22, five weeks before President Bush began his vacation, is scheduled to
return from his vacation tonight, Tuesday, September 4.
I didn't really miss him.
-- Brent Baker
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