ABC Leapt on Anti-Tax Cut Poll; Justices on the "Dark Side"; "Champion" Ginsburg vs. "Extreme" Thomas; NBC's Anti-Gun Fashions
1) Peter Jennings highlighted how an ABC News poll found
57 percent want the tax cut reduced. But back in March, when ABC's
survey discovered 58 percent thought Bush's tax cut plan was "about
right" or "too small," World News Tonight ignored the
finding. MSNBC's Brian Williams jumped on the new number as proof the
public never liked "Bush's much ballyhooed tax cuts."
2) Newsweek on Bush's State Dinner: "POTUS served
buffalo meat, wore cowboy boots and welcomed Clint Eastwood. Meanwhile,
the rest of America priced horse meat."
3) Supreme Court justices who ruled to end the Florida
recount were on "the Dark Side," Newsweek's David Kaplan
asserted in an excerpt from his new book, The Accidental President. On
NBC's Today Katie Couric quoted Kaplan's citation of how a Russian
judge scowled: "In our country we wouldn't let judges pick the
President." Kaplan: "Exactly."
4) Newsweek bios for Supreme Court justices admired
liberals and showed disdain for conservatives. Ginsburg earned praise
"as a champion of women's and minority rights" while Stevens is
"known for his independence and idiosyncratic reasoning."
Newsweek, however, put Thomas at the "conservative extreme,"
complaining that he's "consistently taking a page from the far
right's play-book on abortion, school prayer, gay rights." Scalia
"is a notorious right-wing rebel."
5) Not even a fashion segment on Today is safe from
liberal advocacy. Today's Katie Couric prompted designer Kenneth Cole go
on at length about gun control. Today even played a clip from a spoof of
the Sopranos called, "A Life Without Guns," in which a character
proclaims: "A life without violence, a life without guns. That sounds
more like a dream to me."
6) When CNN panelist Jake Tapper recalled how President
Bush's father appeared out of touch when "did not know...what a
supermarket scanner was," CNN's Wolf Blitzer and USA Today's
Susan Page pounced to set him straight on the often-cited inaccurate
anecdote. But earlier in the week CNN reporter Major Garrett relayed the
same accuracy-challenged memory.
Jennings on Monday night highlighted how a new ABC News/Washington Post
poll found 57 percent want the tax cut reduced and 52 percent hold
President Bush more responsible than Democrats in Congress for the
shrinking surplus. But back in March, when the same polling operation
discovered 58 percent thought Bush's tax cut plan was "about
right" or "too small," World News Tonight ignored the
The new ABC News poll so excited Brian
Williams that he showcased it on his program on a competing network.
Williams proposed on MSNBC: "Doesn't this play into the
Democrats' argument that there was no groundswell in the first place for
Bush's much ballyhooed tax cuts?"
The Washington Post story on the fresh poll
reported that "an overwhelming 92 percent of those surveyed said they
opposed using Social Security funds for other purposes." The actual
poll question posed, however, referred to "taking surplus money from
the Social Security program and spending it on other programs." But
that wording could easily mislead those surveyed into fearing money may be
taken away from the "Social Security program," an idea no one is
proposing. Not one dime of FICA tax revenue above outflows to cover
current retirees will go to Social Security.
On the September 10 World News Tonight, ABC
anchor Peter Jennings announced: "An ABC News/Washington Post poll
finds that most Americans favor reducing the size of President Bush's
tax cut as a way to deal with the shrinking federal surplus. 57 percent of
Americans favor cutting the tax cut and 52 percent of Americans hold Mr.
Bush more responsible than Democrats in the Congress for the smaller
As documented in the March 28 CyberAlert,
earlier this year an ABC News/Washington Post poll discovered 58 percent
think Bush's tax cut plan is "about right" or "too
small" while just 36 percent consider it "too big," but
instead of reporting that, ABC's Terry Moran stressed how the public is
"becoming a little skeptical about some aspects of his
leadership" as he has "an anemic rating" for handling the
economy and "by a margin of two to one, 61 to 31 percent, Americans
polled in our polls say that the President favors large business
corporations over the interests of ordinary working people."
For more details, refer back to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20010328.asp#3
Monday night of this week, on MSNBC's The
News with Brian Williams, the anchor of the same name raised the numbers
from the competing network. Williams reviewed the survey with Washington
Post reporter Dan Balz, suggesting to him:
"The next one is a question asked of the
respondents: 'Who is responsible for this talk we're hearing that the
surplus has gone away.' They are saying Bush over the Democrats 52-38,
and finally, to keep the budget balanced, how about some remedies? Well,
look at the bottom line: 'Reduce tax cuts.' And, Dan, doesn't this
play into the Democrats' argument that there was no groundswell in the
first place for Bush's much ballyhooed tax cuts?"
On screen as Williams spoke viewers saw, under
an ABC logo, this heading: "To Keep the Budget Balanced." The
"Cut spending on social spending: 25 percent"
"Cut military spending: 31 percent"
"Reduce tax cuts: 43 percent."
Balz agreed with Williams: "Brian,
you're right. This poll confirms what we've known about this tax cut
all along, and even from the day George Bush proposed it in 1999, which is
that there is not overwhelming and never has been overwhelming public
support for a tax cut of this size. People like some size tax cut, but
they have never thought that one like this was needed, and what they're
saying is that the first thing that they would be prepared to see
jettisoned is some of that tax cut."
The Washington Post on Monday night posted an
early version of Balz's story for Tuesday's paper about the survey,
headlined, "Poll: Tax Cut Size Questioned." Balz and Richard
Morin cautioned: "The poll also offered a clear warning to Bush and
Congress as they move toward dipping into the Social Security surplus to
fund other programs this year and next, despite earlier promises not to do
so. An overwhelming 92 percent of those surveyed said they opposed using
Social Security funds for other purposes -- with 81 percent saying they
are strongly opposed."
But of course "other purposes" is
the ONLY option. Excess Social Security revenue above pay outs to current
recipients will either be used to pay down the federal debt or for
spending on other programs -- or a combination of both.
The survey asked: "There are a few ways
the government could handle the shrinking surplus. For each, please tell
me if you support or oppose it."
The options, starting with the very misleading
wording of the first one:
"a. Taking surplus money from the Social Security program and
spending it on other programs."
"b. Reducing the size of the tax cut."
"c. Dropping plans to increase spending on education."
"d. Dropping plans to improve prescription drug benefits for senior
"e. Dropping plans to increase military spending."
That was question #12. For the results for it
and all the other questions, go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/polls/vault/stories/data091001.htm
fries with your dog food and horse meat? Newsweek's "Conventional
Wisdom" box struck again in the September 17 issue with another
liberal exaggeration, MRC analyst Ken Shepherd observed. Under the heading
of "Remember the Alamo Edition," Newsweek set up its specific up
and down arrow targets by explaining:
"The Bushes held their first state dinner.
POTUS served buffalo meat, wore cowboy boots and welcomed Clint Eastwood.
Meanwhile, the rest of America priced horse meat."
Two weeks ago, in the September 3 Newsweek,
the "Conventional Wisdom" provided a down arrow for Bush:
"Adios, surplus. When retired boomers dine on dog food, will they say
thanks for that $600?"
are on "the Dark Side" in the world of Newsweek reporter David
Kaplan who was presumably applying an analogy from the Star Wars movies in
which the evil characters, such as "Darth Vader," represented
"the Dark Side."
In a portion of his new book, The Accidental
President, excerpted in this week's Newsweek, Kaplan recounted how
Justice David Souter felt that "if he'd had 'one more
day'" to make his case for not stopping the Florida recount,
"he believed he would have prevailed. Chief Justice William Rehnquist,
along with Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, had long ago
become part of the Dark Side. O'Connor appeared beyond compromise. But
Kennedy seemed within reach."
Monday morning on NBC's Today Katie Couric
quoted Kaplan's citation of how a Russian judge scowled: "In our
country we wouldn't let judges pick the President." Kaplan marveled
at how if you are Russian "you've been hearing all these years
about the American system. You kind of scratch your head and say 'run
this by us again.'"
Kaplan's book has a 26 word title, which
might explain why the Newsweek articles never actually list it in full.
But here it is: 'The Accidental President: How 413 Lawyers, 9 Supreme
Court Justices and 5,160,110 Floridians, Give or Take a Few, Landed George
W. Bush in the White House.' In what helps explain the skew of the book,
the justices who talked to Kaplan were all on the losing side of the case.
"The Secret Vote that Made Bush
President: The Untold Story of the Supreme Court's 5-4 Ruling,"
screamed the large type on the cover of the September 17 Newsweek.
"Secret vote"? Didn't we all learn last December which way
each justice voted?
An excerpt from Newsweek's book excerpt
which includes the "Dark Side" reference:
A month after the decision, Souter met at the Court with a group of
prep-school students from Choate. Souter was put on the Court in 1990 by
Bush's father, advertised as a "home run" for such
constitutional crusades as overturning Roe v. Wade. Instead, Souter turned
out to be a non-doctrinaire New Englander who typically sided with the
liberal justices. It didn't make him a liberal -- this was a
passionately modest man in matters of law as well as life -- as much as it
reflected how far the rest of the Court had yawed starboard. Souter told
the Choate students how frustrated he was that he couldn't broker a deal
to bring in one more justice -- Kennedy being the obvious candidate....
If he'd had "one more day -- one more day," Souter now told
the Choate students, he believed he would have prevailed. Chief Justice
William Rehnquist, along with Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas,
had long ago become part of the Dark Side. O'Connor appeared beyond
compromise. But Kennedy seemed within reach. Just give me 24 more hours on
the clock, Souter thought. While a political resolution to the election --
in the Florida Legislature or in the Congress -- might not be quick and
might be a brawl, Souter argued that the nation would still accept it.
"It should be a political branch that issues political
decisions," he said to the students. Kennedy, though, wouldn't
flip. He thought the trauma of more recounts, more fighting -- more
politics -- was too much for the country to endure.
END of Excerpt
To read the book excerpt in full, go to: http://www.msnbc.com/news/626045.asp
On Monday's Today, NBC brought Kaplan aboard
to discuss his new book. Katie Couric picked up on how "Justice
Breyer was very outspoken. He said this was 'the most outrageous,
indefensible thing the Court had ever done.'" Kaplan confirmed that
he said that to a Russian judge visiting the Supreme Court.
Couric then relayed the Russian's lecture on
democracy: "Well, one of the Russian judges says, said, to,
apparently, to members of the Supreme Court or to someone in particular:
'In our country we wouldn't let judges pick the President.'"
Kaplan elaborated: "Exactly. You're a Russian judge in a new
democracy. You've been hearing all these years about the American
system. You kind of scratch your head and say 'run this by us
The Russians should now be scratching their
heads over how Newsweek's slanted story upholds the idea of a balanced
and fair press.
[Web Update: Newsweek's David Kaplan took
issue with CyberAlert's assessment of his story. He sent a response to
Washington Times "Inside Politics" columnist Greg Pierce who had
picked up and quoted from this CyberAlert article. In his Thursday,
September 13 column, Pierce reported:
Newsweek reporter David A. Kaplan, author of "The Accidental
President," takes issue with the Media Research Center's Brent
Baker, who, in an analysis picked up by this column Tuesday, criticized
the book for referring to conservative Supreme Court justices as being on
"the Dark Side" in the Bush vs. Gore ruling.
Mr. Kaplan, in an e-mail to this columnist yesterday, denied that his
book is skewed in any way. Here is Mr. Kaplan's response in full (he
refers to Mr. Baker as "your letter-writer"):
"Read your item today concerning my book and, hey, I'm flattered
by any mention of the book. But three small points:
"(1) My mention of 'the Dark Side,' if you read it in context,
is from Justice David Souter's perspective. The sentence right before
explains that all that follows in the graf is from Souter's point of
view. I didn't call the conservative bloc 'the Dark Side' as such
and, more important, the book makes that clear my criticism of both wings
of the court in recent decades.
"(2) Your letter-writer claims my book has a 'skew.' I'd ask
him to read it first before casting judgment. The book certainly has a
point of view, but 'skew' connotes an agenda.
"(3) Your letter-writer also refers to 'justices who talked to
Kaplan.' Both the excerpt in Newsweek, and the book itself, say no such
END Reprint of Washington Times article.]
saved some liberal bias just for its Web site. In the middle of the
excerpt from David Kaplan's book, The Accidental President, as well as
in an accompanying piece by Howard Fineman on the impact of the Supreme
Court's ruling, Newsweek's online site featured a "Newsweek
Interactive" page with the "voting record" for each
While the unsigned text in the pop-up boxes
acknowledged how several justices are liberal, it offered admiration for
those liberal views as the magazine showed disdain for justices with
conservative perspectives. Newsweek, for instance, admired Justice Ruth
Bader Ginsburg for having "established herself as a champion of
women's and minority rights." The magazine insisted that Justice John
Paul Stevens, "a leading voice for liberals on the Court," is
"known for his independence and idiosyncratic reasoning."
Newsweek charged, however, that along with
Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas "is at the Rehnquist
Court's conservative extreme." The magazine described Thomas as a
pawn, complaining that he's "consistently taking a page from the
far right's play-book on abortion, school prayer, gay rights and other
issues." Scalia was referred to as "an unabashed and unrelenting
conservative" who "is a notorious right-wing rebel."
For each of the nine justices the
"Newsweek Interactive" feature listed a date of birth, a brief
list of pre-High Court career highlights, identified which President
nominated them, noted the date they joined the court and offered a
synopsis of the "voting record." Below is the text for that
"voting record" paragraph for each justice, in the alphabetical
order presented by Newsweek when you click on "printable
-- Stephen G. Breyer: "The Court's newest
Justice is comfortably part of the Court's liberal wing but is better
described as a pragmatist than an activist."
-- Ruth Bader Ginsburg: "A former General
Counsel of the ACLU, Ginsburg is one of the Court's most consistent
liberals and has established herself as a champion of women's and minority
-- Anthony M. Kennedy: "An unpredictable
centrist who has shown discomfort in both directions on divisive issues
like abortion, Kennedy is often the decisive vote in contentious
-- Sandra Day O'Connor: "As Ronald
Reagan's first appointee, O'Connor was supposed to be a reliable member of
a conservative voting block. But she has grounded herself firmly in the
Rehnquist Court's center, helping to affirm abortion rights while
defending states' rights."
-- William H. Rehnquist: "Although a
staunch conservative who has racked up an impressive record of decisions
against federalism, Rehnquist has been less activist than some imagined
and promoted Court authority as strongly as conservative causes."
-- Antonin Scalia: "An unabashed and
unrelenting conservative. On a Court that hardly leans left, Scalia is a
notorious right-wing rebel, leading the conservative charge on issues like
school prayer, abortion and gay rights."
-- David Hackett Souter: "Conservatives
hoped that Souter would be an advocate of conservative judicial restraint.
Instead, he has acted as a moderate and when he has leaned at all in one
direction it has been to the left."
-- John Paul Stevens: "Unafraid to be the
lone dissenter in 8-1 decisions, Stevens is known for his independence and
idiosyncratic reasoning. He is a leading voice for liberals on the
-- Clarence Thomas: "Along with Scalia,
Thomas is at the Rehnquist Court's conservative extreme, consistently
taking a page from the far right's play-book on abortion, school prayer,
gay rights and other issues."
Instead of applying derogatory
"extreme" tags, how about describing Thomas as a "champion
for individual property rights and the rights of the unborn"?
To read the bios in full, go to the Newsweek
home page and click on the cover story: http://www.newsweek.msnbc.com
Or, go to the book excerpt and scroll down the
a fashion segment on Today is safe from liberal advocacy prompted and
encouraged by Katie Couric, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed. Setting
up an 8:30am half hour look at Kenneth Cole's new clothing line, Couric
on Monday noted how "this year Kenneth Cole's seasonal charity will
focus on gun control and safety." Before playing a lengthy clip of
it, Couric added: "Today's 'Fashion Week' show will even kick off
with an animated spoof of the Sopranos called, 'A Life Without
Couric soon cued Cole to sound off: "Why
is it so important for you to take up social causes?" Noting how
he's married to Mario Cuomo's daughter, Couric wondered: "Have
you ever thought about running for office yourself?"
Couric introduced the September 10 Today
segment: "In just a few minutes designer Kenneth Cole will reveal his
Spring 2002 lines. Not too shabby for a guy who started out in a much more
humble setting. It was 1982 when Kenneth Cole sold his first pair of shoes
out of the back of a friend's truck in New York City. Since then his brand
has grown into one of the most recognizable and most popular around. Along
the way he's also become well known for his social advocacy and witty
marketing. With campaigns from fighting homelessness to getting out the
On screen: A Cole ad displayed with picture of
Dan Quayle with a quote from Cole saying, "Don't forget to vot."
Couric continued: "This year Kenneth
Cole's seasonal charity will focus on gun control and safety. Today's
Fashion Week show will even kick off with an animated spoof of the
Sopranos called, 'A Life Without Guns.'"
Today viewers were then treated to Cole's
propaganda with a clip from the animated spoof. Up first, a Tony Soprano
character talking to his psychiatrist: "And then I was at this
fashion show or maybe it was a funeral, I don't know. Everyone was wearing
black. And they were all kissing each other. But, but not really kissing,
like air-kissing. And after that I woke up. So whaddaya think Doc? Some
messed up nightmare huh?"
Female psychiatrist character: "I don't know
Tony solving your problems with brains rather than with brawn, talking out
your differences, a life without violence, a life without guns. That
sounds more like a dream to me."
Couric prompted Cole to spout off:
"Kenneth Cole, good morning nice to see you. So you're taking on gun
control? Why that?"
Cole took advantage of the platform provided
by NBC and responded at length: "It's just such a compelling moment
right now. Last week two people were killed from sharks, it was on the
cover of every newspaper in the country. 250 people were killed by guns
and no one talked about it. And it's become such an unfortunate reality
about our culture today. So it's, and what we do is we advocate. And you
know we're not vigilantes, we don't go knocking on doors, we don't tell
people what they should do but this is a great opportunity for us to talk
about it. And, you know, people, gun, it's just about control. There's
more controls on, federal regulations on teddy bears than there are on
handguns. So people say, 'well the Second Amendment says I can do this.'
We say the First Amendment tells you that we can tell you how we feel
about it. So that's what's so great. And in the past this is a forum to
talk about, what we wear on the outside. But we say fashion is about the
whole person. It's who you are on the inside as well as what you wear on
Couric continued to focus on the liberal cause:
"Why is it so important for you to take up social causes? I mean,
obviously the fashion industry, I think in general has gotten much more
socially active. Committing themselves to the fight against breast cancer
and all sorts of causes. But you've been doing this a long time. And your
causes, frankly, are much more controversial. Do you worry about
alienating customers or, or stockholders or anybody else as you make your
After Cole assured her he thinks his customers
respect his convictions, Couric urged him on: "You're married to
Maria Cuomo who is Mario Cuomo's, very Democratic, Mario Cuomo's daughter.
So obviously your, your causes tend to be more Democratic ones. Have you
ever thought about running for office yourself?"
Cole demurred and Today viewers finally got to
see his new clothing line.
Late Edition guest panelist Jake Tapper recalled how President Bush's
father appeared out of touch when "did not know...what a supermarket
scanner was," CNN's Wolf Blitzer and USA Today's Susan Page
pounced to set him straight on the often-cited inaccurate anecdote. But no
fact checkers were around on CNN earlier in the week when reporter Major
Garrett relayed the same historically-inaccurate recollection.
During the roundtable segment on the September
9 Late Edition, Jake Tapper of Salon.com commented on President Bush's
effort to show he is concerned about the economic downturn:
"He's also inoculating himself against his
father's problems. Back in '91 and '92, when his father, you might
remember, took a long time to even acknowledge that there was a recession,
did not know, you know, what a supermarket scanner was. Here is Bush
saying that there is a problem, he's very aware of it and he's very aware
of it because he's out there with the real people. But I do think that I'm
not really a fan of the way the Democrats are putting the White House on
the spot and not offering their own solutions to this problem. But I'm not
a fan the White House's refusal to acknowledge that they are dipping into
the Social Security surplus, perhaps even more so than projected."
Blitzer pointed out: "On the supermarket
scanner, there's still a huge debate whether or not President Bush at that
Page: "I was actually there-"
Blitzer: "You were-"
Page: "-and I think that's a
misrepresentation of what happened."
Tapper: "Is that right? Okay."
Page: "Yes, I think he was amazed at this
new generation of supermarket scanner. This is something you engage
officials from the first Bush administration on at some length, but
Blitzer: "And I've been engaged on
Tapper: "I shouldn't -- I'm sorry, I trusted
the media and I should know better."
Blitzer: "Actually, I believe it was a New
York Times story that supposedly got it all wrong. You probably made the
mistake of reading the New York Times."
Tapper: "I'm sorry, I apologize."
But CNN is no more reliable than the New York
Times since six days earlier a CNN reporter cited the same anecdote as if
it were accurate. On the September 3 Inside Politics, MRC analyst Ken
Shepherd recalled, Major Garrett reported: "Most Presidents play down
economic woes, but not this one. He tells just about everyone how bad
Bush: "As a matter of fact, our economy has
grown at a paltry one percent for the last 12 months, and that worries me.
Our economy began slowing down last year, and that's bad news, and I'm
deeply worried about the working families all across the country."
Garrett: "Presidents usually fear
highlighting economic gloom, but White House aides say Mr. Bush fears what
happened to his father even more. President Bush's bewilderment at the
sight of a grocery store scanner became a symbol of his apparent distance
from everyday American life."
The frequency at which journalists repeat this
anecdote, despite the fact that years ago Brit Hume, then still with ABC
News, demolished it in an American Spectator article, is a symbol of the
media's "distance" from accuracy when the liberal prism
conflicts with reality.
-- Brent Baker
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