Bush Learned from Enron? "Confrontation" on Civil Rights Panel Caused by Bush; CNN's Familiar Slogan: "We Report, You Decide"
1) Newsweek's Eleanor Clift predicted a future
presidential pardon for Taliban soldier John Walker. Hillary Rodham for
President in 2004?
2) Al Hunt sarcastically suggested Enron CEO Kenneth Lay
"may have shared" with President Bush his strategy to stiff
"the lowest and average-paid workers" while taking care "of
its fat cats."
3) Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Johnson, who quoted the
NPR foreign editor as saying he would report the presence of a U.S.
commando unit in Pakistan, defended himself against the NPR ombudsman's
charge that he had "sucker punched" the radio editor. But
Johnson also expressed regret for having provided ammunition to the
4) The Chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
refuses to seat a new member, claiming the term of a sitting commissioner
has not expired when under any normal reading of the law it has. Yet both
the New York Times and Washington Post put the burden for escalating the
problem onto the Bush team. "The White House set up a
confrontation..." And: "White House officials provoked a
5) Two CNN anchors late last week decided to
"borrow" FNC's "We report, you decide" slogan.
Wrapping up CNN's NewsNight on Thursday night, anchor Aaron Brown
asserted: "We report, you decide." The next morning, anchor
Paula Zahn prompted two guests: "So the bottom line is we
report-" She then paused and her two guests announced in unison:
in 2004? Is Newsweek's Eleanor Clift anticipating another run for the
presidency Bill Clinton? Or a successful first attempt by Hillary Clinton?
Clift's response on McLaughlin Group over
the weekend to where John Walker, the U.S. citizen who joined and fought
for the Taliban, will be in ten years: "Not in prison, and I hope he
is reformed and returned to society, maybe pardoned by a future
sarcastically suggested Enron CEO Kenneth Lay "may have shared"
with President Bush his strategy to stiff "the lowest and
average-paid workers" while taking care "of its fat cats."
For his "Outrage of the Week" on
CNN's Capital Gang on Saturday night Hunt, the Executive Washington
Editor of the Wall Street Journal, declared:
"The aforementioned Enron, with all its
secret scams unraveling, filed for bankruptcy last week -- but not before
this company, most of whose workers lost much of their retirement savings,
doled out $55 million in bonuses to 500 top executives. The bottom line:
In the face of fiscal calamity, the company stiffed the lowest and
average-paid workers but took care of its fat cats. Sounds like Enron CEO
Kenneth Lay may have shared this strategy with his good friend, President
Tribune columnist Steve Johnson, who in October quoted National Public
Radio's foreign editor, Loren Jenkins, as saying he would report the
presence of a U.S. commando unit in Pakistan, defended himself in a column
last week against the NPR ombudsman's charge that he had "sucker
But Johnson also expressed regret for having
provided ammunition to the "far right," lamenting: "I'm not
thrilled at having inadvertently supplied ammunition for what I continue
to believe is a canard of the right: that 'NPR' is simply East Coast
elitist code for 'SDS.'"
An excerpt from Johnson's December 7 column
which was highlighted by Jim Romenesko's MediaNews (http://www.poynter.org/medianews/),
titled: "A Confession of a skeptic: In context, I was just doing my
job Steve Johnson."
Short of Michael Jackson's confidences, I can't imagine a stranger
place in which to be. I've become a sort of favorite of the far right and
the scourge of National Public Radio.
An article I wrote, including quotes from an NPR editor about trying to
"smoke out" American troops near Afghanistan, has become part of
the conservative repertoire. It's been cited by Rush Limbaugh and others
in attempting to prove that the press, and those hippie holdovers at NPR,
are unrepentant flag burners.
NPR, meanwhile, has indeed been liberal, at least in terms of impugning
me. The organization's representatives have said that I took out of
context or, "sucker punched" the veteran NPR senior foreign
editor Loren Jenkins....
I got into this situation -- instructive in a time of heightened
sensitivity to the media's balance of patriotism and professionalism --
simply by doing my job. My article on war reporting in the Tribune's Oct.
12 Tempo section included these lines about Jenkins:
"...He says his marching orders to the troops are to try to find
where the Americans are.
"'The game of reporting is to smoke 'em out,' he says. Asked
whether his team would report the presence of an American commando unit it
found in, say, a northern Pakistan village, he doesn't exhibit any of the
hesitation of some of his news-business colleagues, who stress that they
try to factor security issues into their coverage decisions.
"'You report it,' Jenkins says. 'I don't represent the
government. I represent history, information, what happened.'"
Obviously, it was a potentially incendiary quote. But I was not,
contrary to insinuations later made by NPR ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin, out
to get Jenkins.
Dvorkin's November piece on the matter (at www.npr.org/),
which just came to my attention, says my article "sucker
punched" the editor while it "purported to be" about war
coverage -- as if all that other info were merely covering fire for an
attempt to assassinate NPR....
I'm not thrilled at having inadvertently supplied ammunition for what I
continue to believe is a canard of the right: that "NPR" is
simply East Coast elitist code for "SDS." To my mind, for all
its great work the public radio service is most clearly -- and, too often,
blandly -- MOR, middle of the road.
Jenkins may have been blustering to me. He may have believed what he
was saying in the abstract. Being the hardline independent, no matter the
cost in popularity, is certainly a standard journalistic posture.
But tested in the field, the larger truth echoes NPR news vice
president Bruce Drake's early November public statement on the matter:
that nothing in NPR's distinguished war reporting suggests that Jenkins'
opinions represent the official policy. NPR cannot state publicly what I
believe is also truth: that a news organization needs a variety of
opinions, even some radical ones.
END of Excerpt
To read the entirety of Johnson's column, go
For Johnson's original column of October 12,
For NPR Ombudsman Dvorkin's criticism of
Johnson's October 12 column, go to:
Chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights refuses to seat a new
member appointed by President Bush, bizarrely claiming the term of a
sitting commissioner has not expired when under any normal reading of the
law it has. Yet both the New York Times and Washington Post last week put
the burden for escalating the problem onto the Bush administration.
New York Times reporter Katharine Q. Seelye
began a December 6 story: "The White House set up a confrontation
with the United States Civil Rights Commission today, declaring a vacancy
on the commission and appointing its own candidate even though the
commission chairwoman said a vacancy did not exist."
For the entire article, go to:
In the Washington Post the next day, Hanna
Rosin led her December 7 story: "White House officials provoked a
confrontation with the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights by suddenly
swearing in President Bush's new appointee late last night over adamant
objections from the commission's chairwoman."
For the Post story in full, go to:
The Washington Times on Thursday offered a
more accurate description of the dispute. An excerpt from the December 6
front page story by Bill Sammon and Steve Miller:
The chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has refused to
accept President Bush's nominee to the commission and has warned the White
House that it will need federal marshals to seat the new member.
Chairman Mary Frances Berry told White House Counsel Al Gonzales that
she would defy the president by refusing to swear in his nominee, Peter
Kirsanow, a Cleveland lawyer and former chairman of the Center for New
Black Leadership, Mr. Gonzales said.
Mr. Bush nominated Mr. Kirsanow to replace Victoria Wilson, who was
appointed by President Clinton on Jan. 13, 2000, to fill an unexpired,
six-year term that ended Nov. 29. Miss Wilson has hired an attorney to
defend her seat on the panel and plans to attend today's meeting as a
The seat is key because if it goes to Mr. Kirsanow, the eight
commissioners will be split 4-4 along party lines. The deadlock would end
the outright authority Miss Berry enjoyed since 1992, when Democrats
became the majority on a board created in 1957 with a bipartisan charter.
Miss Berry threw down the gauntlet during a heated phone conversation
on Tuesday with Mr. Gonzales, the president's government attorney.
"You informed me that you do not consider yourself to be bound by
opinions of the Department of Justice," Mr. Gonzales said yesterday
in a letter to Miss Berry. "Nor do you intend to abide by them or to
follow the directives of the president in this matter."
Miss Berry vowed she "will refuse to administer the oath of office
to the president's appointee," Mr. Gonzales said. He advised Miss
Berry that any federal official authorized to administer oaths could swear
in Mr. Kirsanow. "Finally, you stated that, even if Ms. Wilson's
successor has been lawfully appointed and has taken the oath of office,
you will refuse to allow him to be seated at the commission's next
meeting," Mr. Gonzales wrote. "You went so far as to state that
it would require the presence of federal marshals to seat him.
"I respectfully urge you to abandon this confrontational and
legally untenable position," he said. Mr. Gonzales warned Miss Berry
that "any actions blocking" Mr. Kirsanow from taking his seat
"would, in my opinion, violate the law."
END of Excerpt
For the rest of the story, go to:
National Review's John J. Miller &
Ramesh Ponnuru first reported Berry's move in the December 4 Washington
"Victoria Wilson of the U.S. Commission on
Civil Rights apparently wants to be a commissioner for life. She recently
announced her intention not to resign, even though her six-year term
formally expired last week. She was appointed in 2000 to complete the term
of the late Leon Higginbotham, but now she argues that she's entitled to a
full six-year term rather than the remainder of Higginbotham's. This would
keep her in office until 2006. The White House says her time is up;
commission chair Mary Frances Berry accepts Wilson's self-serving
interpretation of the law.
"Berry and Wilson made clear their disdain
for the rule of law this summer, when they (and four other liberal
commissioners) released a controversial report on the 2000 presidential
election in Florida. They suggested that George W. Bush carried the state
because of a racist conspiracy to suppress black votes. The only
suppression anyone could point to, however, was their own: They defied
established practice by refusing to publish a dissent authored by the
commission's two GOP-appointed members.
"Wilson's argument makes no sense. It means
that presidential appointees in time-limited positions could be
"re-appointed" en masse right before the White House changes
hands -- and therefore prevent the next president from shaping the
government the way he deserves...."
For more from the NR story, go to:
anchors late last week decided to "borrow" FNC's "We
report, you decide" slogan, MRC analyst Ken Shepherd observed.
Wrapping up CNN's NewsNight on Thursday night, anchor Aaron Brown
asserted: "We report, you decide. You guys are wonderful, and it was
fun here today. We'll see you tomorrow at 10:00." The next morning,
anchor Paula Zahn prompted two guests: "So the bottom line is we
report-" She then paused and her two guests said in unison:
One of the guests, New York Daily News
columnist Michael Kramer, joked about Zahn who left FNC a few months ago:
"You can take the woman out of Fox, but you can't take Fox out of
Brown ended the December 6 NewsNight by
discussing a poll being conducted on the Atlanta Constitution Web site
about CNN's sexiest anchor: "Finally tonight, further proof if any
were needed that this program will beat any good idea to death --
actually, any bad idea, for that matter. Last night, you may recall, I
mentioned the online poll being done by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
web site which asked readers to vote for the sexiest CNN anchor.
"I was a little miffed, OK? Because my name
was not included even as a possible choice. Larry [King] was. I wasn't.
Now in mentioning this, some of you thought that perhaps I was suggesting
that you take it upon yourselves to right this wrong and e-mail these
guys. Now, you know me. Would I do that? OK, I would. So today when we
looked at the web site we found a couple of things of interest. First, on
the home page, over on the right, there I am. You can see me there. And
then you jump to a page where you can cast your vote. This is yes or no
vote on me. Essentially, it's me against the entire field. Not really
fair, but the results are encouraging.
"There's also a link to your comments. And I
tell you now, they did not do that with Bill Hemmer, OK? So we were pretty
-- feeling pretty swell until we found the big poll page. The official
page. And I'm still not there.
"Hemmer is killing everybody in this. John
King is losing to Larry, however. Now there is some evidence -- I've got
to be honest here -- that Hemmer is voting for himself. A lot. I can
assure you that no one on the NewsNight staff would do such a thing. Well,
no one except for Molly Levinson, my assistant. She's voted 47 times. But
that's part of her job.
"Now, here's the problem. The reporter on
this, Richard Eldridge, called us today begging you to stop flooding his
e-mail. I don't know. We report, you decide. You guys are wonderful, and
it was fun here today. We'll see you tomorrow at 10:00."
Friday, on Mornings with Paula Zahn, she
brought aboard Michael Kramer of the New York Daily News, formerly with
Time magazine, and Rich Lowry, Editor of National Review, to review the
news of the day. She raised Bernard Goldberg's new book, Bias, and after
Lowry observed that the problem is that inside the mainstream media
liberal views are not seen as liberal but as just normal, Kramer
"You know, I think it's all well and good
to go on like this like we always do at times like these and at other
times too. The fact of the matter is that the public has a very good
antennae for what we're all about. They don't believe us most of the
time, that's why we're ranked so low. We do our job, they weigh it,
they filter it and they come to their own judgments, which is why, for
example, those of us like myself who are so exorcized about some of the
things Ashcroft is doing is clearly in a minority in the country."
Paula Zahn: "So the bottom line is we
report- [she paused]"
Lowry, joined by Kramer and Cafferty in unison:
Amongst laughing, business reporter Jack Cafferty
who was co-hosting with Zahn, asked: "Gee, where have I heard that
Zahn: "Alright gentlemen. Good to see you
Michael Kramer, Rich Lowry, Jack Cafferty."
Cafferty referred to the FNC chief executive:
"You been listening, Roger [Ailes]?"
More laughing ensued as Kramer joked: "You
can take the woman out of Fox, but you can't take Fox out of the
Zahn went to a break as she rued: "Oh boy,
oh boy, oh boy."
FNC should consider suing for breach of
intellectual property rights. Or maybe they could just get CNN to pay them
a fee each time CNN uses their phrase. -- Brent Baker
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