Greenspan's Resistance to Regulation Skipped; Bush Like Those Fleeing Titanic Dressed as Women; CNN's Jackson Dissected "Thin Reporting"; Spann "Let Down" by Bush?; Adult Having Sex with Kid "Sweet" to All But Ashcroft?
1) While FNC's Brit Hume highlighted how Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan told a Senate Committee on Tuesday that there is no need to rush to pass new corporate regulatory schemes to prevent more corporate abuses since "corporate governance will be just fine for the next two years because everyone has been chastened," the other networks ignored that part of Greenspan's testimony.
2) Just like ABC, CBS and NBC, on Monday night CNN also referred to how the Senate-passed bills on corporate corruption would have to be reconciled in conference committee with the "weaker" provisions passed by the House. CNN's Aaron Brown cited "the far weaker bill that passed the Republican-controlled House."
3) When Bush speaks the markets go down, so "should he be quiet for a while?" That's how Early Show co-host Mark McEwen opened Tuesday's CBS program. Two days earlier on NBC's Today, Chris Matthews analogized Bush to the men who snuck off the Titanic as it sank: "I think the President looks like he's in a lifeboat with the bad guys dressed up like women so they can sneak away."
4) On Tuesday's Inside Politics CNN's Brooks Jackson discredited the latest media report, this time one from AP, about President Bush and Harken Energy, noting it's typical of the "thin reporting" on the topic. He then launched into an exhaustive rundown of how the SEC long ago found there was no basis for the oft-repeated charges of wrongdoing by Bush in his 1990 stock sale.
5) Nice way to put it. CBS News reporter Mark Strassmann to Mike Spann's father in the wake of the plea deal for John
Lindh: "Has your son been let down by his Commander-in-Chief?"
6) A movie about a 15-year-old boy having sex with a 40-year-old woman is "sweet" to all but John
Ashcroft? On Tuesday's Today, Matt Lauer questioned how Sigourney Weaver could call her movie "sweet" when "some might say this is rather strange content." Weaver retorted: "Yes probably John Ashcroft would say that."
>>> CyberAlert rejected or as "bulk mail." As spam e-mail keeps growing ISPs are getting stricter about identifying, separating and sometimes blocking any mass distributions, including of newsletter mailing lists for things such as CyberAlert. I've noticed that Yahoo Mail, for instance, now usually puts CyberAlert into the "bulk mail" folder. If you have Yahoo, or if your ISP has similar options, in references you can have all your mail go into your "in box" or you can set up a "filter" to have all e-mail from a certain sender, such as "Media Research Center," delivered to your in box. If you don't see CyberAlert for a few days, be sure to check your "bulk mail" folder or whatever your ISP calls its similar category. You can always check the MRC Web site to see if you've missed any issues:
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told a Senate Committee on Tuesday that there is no need to rush to pass new corporate regulatory schemes to prevent more corporate abuses since "corporate governance will be just fine for the next two years because everyone has been chastened."
FNC's Brit Hume highlighted the observation which the broadcast networks ignored.
Hume played this soundbite from Greenspan: "I'm merely saying to go slow in this area. There is not a need at this particular point to rush, because I will tell you, corporate governance will be just fine for the next two years because everyone has been chastened."
During the panel segment on the July 16 Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC Hume suggested: "That's quite remarkable isn't it that he's saying that in near term, next couple of years, in fact until we have another big bull market with a lot of equity prices at such levels that they can be played around with in mergers and all that, we're not going to have this problem."
Hume wondered: "He basically said that the corporate governance problem for now is solved. What do you think the chances are that any newspaper that you read, or that anyone else in Washington reads in great numbers, will have that as the headline tomorrow?"
Not Wednesday's Washington Post, which didn't mention the point anywhere in its story.
Hume had, however, at the top of his show: "Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told Congress today that despite shaken investor trust and a wave of accounting scandals a economic turnaround is continuing. And while the Fed Chairman warned of a skittish market, he also warned Congress against rushing into passing new regulations."
But that theme was absent from ABC, CBS and NBC as well as CNBC's The News with Brian Williams. And I didn't hear it on CNN Tuesday night, but I didn't see all of
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings announced, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "In the other news today, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board talked to the Congress, and everyone on Wall Street was listening. Alan Greenspan told the Senate Banking Committee today the economy was on its way to a full recovery. And his remarks had a positive effect on the markets for a while. Here's ABC's Betsy Stark."
Stark dealt with some of Greenspan's corporate governance thoughts, including how he favors tougher criminal penalties, but avoided his dislike for the rush to pass new regulations:
"Peter, investors were hoping the Alan Greenspan of mythic powers would have something magical to say to turn the market around. Well, one of the things they learned today is that Alan Greenspan is worried about the stock market, worried that it has the potential to derail the economic recovery. The Fed chairman's official business today was to report on the state of the economy, which he gave a qualified stamp of approval."
Greenspan: "While the economy has held up remarkably well, not surprisingly the depressing effects of recent events linger."
Stark: "Chief among those recent events, the sinking stock market brought low by mounting revelations of scandal and fraud. In unusually blunt language, Mr. Greenspan blamed the market's woes on self-dealing corporate executives."
Greenspan: "An infectious greed seemed to grip much of our business community."
Stark: "And, like the President, he advocated tougher criminal penalties for CEOs who steal from their shareholders."
Greenspan: "Although we may not be able to change the character of corporate officers, we can change behavior through incentives and penalties."
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather opened the broadcast: "Good evening. President Bush couldn't do it. Today the chairman of the Federal Reserve tried, tried to calm nervous investors and stop the slide on Wall Street. Alan Greenspan, who once warned against 'irrational exuberance,' today was cheerleading -- cautious optimism. For a while, it appeared to work. After Greenspan spoke, the market stabilized. But then, investors pushed down the button again. The sell-off resumed and the Dow finished another triple digit loss day. CBS's Anthony Mason reports on Dr. Greenspan's house call to the Senate."
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw led the show: "Good evening. When Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan appeared before Congress today, it was a classic case of good news, bad news. Good news: The American economy is poised for a healthy rebound. The bad news, he said corporate scandals and world events, including terrorism, could weaken the recovery. Wall Street investors were betting on the bad news again today, driving the Dow down 166 points, the seventh consecutive losing day. Nasdaq lost more than seven points on the day. Besides the scandals, some big names in American business checked in today with discouraging news about earnings. We'll begin tonight once again with NBC's Anne Thompson at
Thompson ignored Greenspan's belief that new regulations are not needed and stressed how he favors tough criminal penalties: "Greenspan praised the Senate for voting last night to toughen penalties on unscrupulous corporate leaders. The House did the same today. Greenspan saying a company's behavior often is a reflection of its CEO's character."
Greenspan: "I don't see how one can effectively legislate morality or character, but what you can do is to try to create an environment and a legal structure which very significantly penalizes malfeasance."
Thompson: "Some Fed watchers heartened by what they say is the tough stance of the Fed chairman."
Paul McNulty, PIMCO Funds Portfolio Manager: "I think that will go a long way in restoring investor confidence in the notion that crooks do not run America's businesses."
Thompson: "But others disappointed, believing Greenspan squandered an opportunity to show needed leadership."
Stephen Roach, Morgan Stanley Chief Economist: "The problem is we've nothing new on proposed remedies to those problems from the President to the Fed chairman."
Make it four for four. The July 16 CyberAlert highlighted how on Monday night ABC's Linda Douglass, CBS's Bob Orr and NBC's Tom Brokaw all worried about how the Senate-passed bills on corporate corruption would have to be reconciled in conference committee with the "weaker" provisions passed by the House.
CNN's Aaron Brown did the same thing on Monday night, referring to the House's "weaker version," MRC analyst Ken Shepherd noticed. He also cited "the far weaker bill that passed the Republican-controlled House."
On the July 15 NewsNight, Brown announced:
"The Senate has now provided its version of the legislation, it passed 97 to nothing. The Public Company Accounting and Investor Protection Act. I know you're writing that down, right? The measure would create a new private sector oversight board with the power to discipline wayward accountants. It bans personal loans from companies to top officers and directors and would require company insiders to tell the SEC more promptly when they buy or sell company stock. The next step: reconciling the bill with the weaker version already passed by the House. As Kelly mentioned, that conference committee set to go to work tomorrow. These things go on pretty much in secret, we will see what comes out of it, but the betting is it will look more like the Senate bill more than the far weaker bill that passed the Republican-controlled House."
For the ABC, CBS and NBC quotes from Monday night:
When President Bush speaks the markets go down, so
"should he be quiet for a while?" That's how Early Show co-host Mark McEwen opened Tuesday's CBS program. Two days earlier on NBC's Today, former liberal political operative turned cable shoutmaster Chris Matthews analogized Bush to the men who snuck off the Titanic as it sank: "I think the President looks like he's in a lifeboat with the bad guys dressed up like women so they can sneak away."
-- CBS can't find anyone to permanently replace Bryant Gumbel as co-host of its Early Show, so this week Mark McEwen, who usually handles the weather, is co-hosting with Jane
MRC analyst Brian Boyd noticed that this is how he opened the July 16 broadcast: "Last week the President spoke, the market went down. Yesterday, the President spoke, the market went down. Should he be quiet for a while?"
Clayson demurred: "Well, there was certainly no immediate impact on the Street yesterday during his speech. We'll have more on the markets in just a few minutes."
-- On Sunday's Today, Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's Hardball which is part of that network's new all-liberal prime time line-up, equated President Bush with those who left others behind to die on the Titanic. On the July 14 Today, MRC analyst Ken Shepherd noticed, Matthews offered this take on how voters are perceiving Bush in the wake of the accounting scandals:
"Now they're connecting the bad economy, the shrinking Dow, the shrinking 401(k)s with the behavior of the people who seem to be around the President. The people like Enron, Kenny Boy, that kind of person. And they see it as the big shots. You know what it's like? It's like you're on a big ship like the Titanic and you look out and there's the captain sitting in one of the lifeboats. What are you guys up to? The ship's going down? Stay on the boat! And I think the President looks like he's in a lifeboat with the bad guys dressed up like women so they can sneak away. This is both immorality, and corruption, and bad economy."
On Tuesday's Inside Politics CNN's Brooks Jackson discredited the latest media report, this time one from AP, about President Bush and Harken Energy, noting it's typical of the "thin reporting" on the topic. He then launched into an exhaustive rundown of how the SEC long ago found there was no basis for the oft-repeated charges of wrongdoing by Bush over his 1990 stock sale.
| "Bush signed letter promising not to unload Harken stock before he sold shares," declared the headline over Yahoo's posting of an AP dispatch Monday night. An excerpt from the July 15 story by Associated Press Washington reporter Pete Yost:
Two and a half months before President George W. Bush sold his stock in a struggling Texas energy company where he was a director, he signed a letter promising to hold onto the shares for at least six months, internal company documents show.
Jackson discredited the latest media report about Bush and
Harken, noting it's typical of the "thin reporting"
on this topic
The "lockup" letter Bush signed April 3, 1990, for his shares in Harken Energy Corp. is now being compared with the account his lawyers gave federal securities regulators who examined the stock sale as a possible insider trade....
The letter Bush signed promising to hold onto the stock was released by the Securities and Exchange Commission under the Freedom of Information Act. At the time he signed it, Harken was considering a public stock offering to raise money to solve a cash flow problem.
"Dear George," said the April 2, 1990, letter from Harken secretary Larry Cummings. "As you are aware, Harken is contemplating a public common stock offering. "In connection with such offering, the underwriters have requested that Harken obtain consents for all directors, officers and other affiliates to agree to not sell... for a period of 180 days from the date our proposed public offering goes effective."
Bush signed and returned the letter the next day.
Bush's sale of his Harken stock for $848,560 has come in for renewed public scrutiny in recent weeks as he tries to restore investor confidence in the financial markets and calls for a crackdown on corporate wrongdoing.
White House spokesman Dan Bartlett said Monday the lockout letter was "made irrelevant and obsolete" by the time Bush sold his stock in summer 1990 because the public stock offering it affected never went through.
But a securities expert said the document calls into question his lawyers' account to the SEC.
"Bush's signing of the April 2, 1990, lockup agreement undercuts his lawyers' explanation for the early sale of his Harken stock," said Houston attorney Thomas R. Ajamie, an expert in securities law whose firm is advising companies that did business with the failed energy giant Enron Corp.
"If his accountant told him that he needed to sell stock to pay a debt obligation for his interest in the Texas Rangers, it does not make sense that he would subsequently sign an agreement promising not to sell his shares of Harkenstock for six months," Ajamie said. Harken scrapped the public stock offering a few weeks after Bush signed the letter because the company was plunged into a financial crisis when one of its bank lenders withdrew its support....
END of Excerpt
To read the story in its entirety:
On Monday night MSNBC jumped on the supposed revelation, MRC analyst Broad Wilmouth observed. During the 10pm EDT news update,
Bob Kur announced: "New details out tonight about President Bush selling stock in an energy company back in 1990 when he was a director at the company. Documents from Harken Energy Corporation show Bush signed a letter that year promising not to sell his shares for six months but wound up selling them just two months later. Regulators looking into possible insider trading, now comparing that letter with the President's lawyer's account of the sale."
To set up a July 16 Inside Politics segment, anchor Judy Woodruff picked up on the AP's take, asking reporter Brooks Jackson: "What about this Associated Press story today, that the
President signed a paper while he was on the board of directors at Harken Energy -- this is a little over a decade ago -- that he would not sell his stock. What's the significance of this?"
Jackson dismissed the relevance of what the AP trumpeted as meaningful: "Well what the AP story says is this raises new questions because Bush turned around and sold it two-and-a-half months later, not six months later. But if you read that story carefully, it's kind of typical of some of the thin reporting that we've had on this. Bush signed that letter as part of a deal in which Harken Energy Corporation was going to sell stock to the public. Investors want assurances that people who own big blocks of stock aren't going to just turn around, dump them on the market and drive the price down. But Harken canceled that deal, and so the letter became irrelevant. End of story."
But not, as you noticed above, for AP.
Woodruff moved on: "All right. Let me ask you also, Brooks, about these allegations that the Securities and Exchange Commission back at that time gave Bush, at some point along the way, a clean bill of health -- said that they didn't see any conflict here."
Jackson proceeded to run through how the SEC long ago found no basis for the charges now being made against Bush: "You know, we've been dealing with this for a long time now. Let's check the basic facts first. These have not been in question for a decade:
"Bush sold 212,000 shares of Harken in 1990 for $4 a share. That was the market at the time. Harken then announced unexpected an $23 million loss. The SEC, which was responding to press accounts, investigated and they took no action.
"Now, reading over a memos -- internal memos which had been out for a couple years -- the Center for Responsive Politics got these on -- excuse me, the Center for Public Integrity got these on the Freedom of Information Act. These internal SEC memos show that the career staff at the SEC concluded they couldn't come close to making a case against Bush."
Jackson outlined why:
"First off, they concluded Bush didn't know the big loss was coming at the time he made the sale. Nobody in management did. He sold the stock eight days before the quarter in question ended, and almost two months before the quarterly loss was announced.
"The investigators wrote, quote: 'The evidence indicates that Bush did not have advanced notice of most of the information contained in the earnings announcement.'
"And if he didn't have advanced knowledge, no case on that basis alone."
Jackson soon elaborated on other SEC findings: "You have you to prove more than just one thing. And one of the things that has been reported in a funny way here is that the stock price went down. Well, the SEC looked at a minute-by-minute analysis of the stock price on the day that the earnings announcement came out. And contrary to the way it's often reported, the news really didn't affect the stock price. It opened it $3 a share that day. And normally this kind of news, if it's important, makes the stock tank within minutes.
"But Harken stock stayed at $3 for hour after hour until afternoon. Kind of drifted down to $2.38 at the end of the day, and then the next day climbed right back up, closed right at $3 a share, right where it had opened before the earnings announcement.
"The SEC staff concluded this showed the market, the investors really didn't consider this news announcement all that material. And if it wasn't material on that basis, no case against Bush. "
Woodruff prompted Jackson once more: "And Brooks, this is all there is to know from the SEC back then, right?"
Jackson snuck in one more item: "Well, there's one more thing. They had to prove that he had criminal intent. And since he -- to make a case -- and since he consulted Harken's lawyers, they concluded they couldn't prove that either."
Jackson's reporting of the basic facts doesn't look that hard to do, but it has escaped his colleagues who seem to be more interested in creating a scandal out of nothing than in stressing anything that would undermine their nefarious premises, so Jackson and CNN deserve kudos for going against the media mind set.
Nice way to put it. CBS News reporter Mark Strassmann to Mike Spann's father in the wake of the plea deal for John Walker Lindh: "Has your son been let down by his Commander-in-Chief?"
In the midst of a July 15 CBS Evening News story from Alabama on how Spann's parents are not pleased by the deal with Lindh in which the Taliban volunteer will get 20 years, Strassmann tied in President Bush: "President Bush approved Lindh's plea bargain. He was in Birmingham today, just 70 miles from Winfield, Alabama, Mike Spann's home town, where today Spann's father wishes he could speak with the President. Has your son been let down by his Commander-in-Chief?"
Johnny Spann, father of CIA agent Mike Spann who was murdered by Taliban operatives shortly after speaking with Lindh: "I feel like it. I just don't feel like that they did justice, to not only to Mike but to all of the people that have died in the fight against terrorism or all of the people that's died on 9/11."
A movie about a 15-year-old boy having sex with a 40-year-old woman is "sweet" to all but John Ashcroft? Check out this exchange on Tuesday's Today about the new movie, Tadpole, between Matt Lauer and actress Sigourney Weaver which MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens brought to my attention:
Lauer: "Well let me go back because you say it's just so sweet. Let's, let's break this down. We have a 50-year-old women sleeping with a 15-year-old-"
Lauer: "Okay. A-40-year-old woman sleeping with a 15-year-old boy."
Lauer: "And yet you say it's a sweet movie. Some might say this is rather strange content."
Weaver: "Yes probably John Ashcroft would say that."
That prompted Lauer to laugh.
The Hollywood.com synopsis for Tadpole (This is online at:
"Beautiful, sophisticated women are all over Oscar Grubman, and why not? He's sensitive and compassionate, speaks French fluently, reads Voltaire, and thinks a woman's most telling feature is her hands. Unfortunately, he's also a teenager. On the train home from Chauncey Academy for the Thanksgiving weekend, Oscar confides in his best friend that he has plans for this vacation; he will win the heart of his true love -- his stepmother, Eve. Oscar is certain that he could be a better mate to Eve than his work-obsessed father, but he fails to win Eve's heart. Oscar's path to his true love is further crossed by Diane, Eve's best friend who, one night while wearing a perfumed scarf borrowed from Eve, offers him temporary comfort in an unconventional tryst. For Diane, Oscar fills a void. For Oscar, Diane is a distraction as his continued pursuit of Eve leads to an unexpected resolution."
In addition to Weaver, the film stars Aaron Stanford as
the 15-year-old (though he is older in real life), John Ritter and Bebe Neuwirth, who is probably best known as "Lilith," "Frasier Crane's" wife/ex-wife on Cheers and Frasier. I believe she plays the friend who has sex with the kid.
For a look at the movie's poster, which shows Neuwirth with her lips to the boy's ear, check out Miramax's Web page for its film:
I'm quite confident many more than just Ashcroft will not consider the movie "sweet."
> Scheduled to appear on tonight's Tonight Show with Jay Leno on NBC, that's Wednesday, July 17: George Stephanopoulos, ABC News analyst, reporter and soon-to-be solo host of This Week. --
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