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The 1,322nd CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
Monday August 5, 2002 (Vol. Seven; No. 121)

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Russert: Afford Iraq and Tax Cut?; Clift: "Awful" Tax Cut; Chen: "Huge Tax Cut"; Clinton "Inhaling Again"?; CNN Dropped in Israel; Moyers Arrested

1) Tim Russert's obsession with the tax cut continued on Sunday's Meet the Press. Without posing any question about the impediments of soaring domestic spending, he asked Senator Joe Biden: "Can we afford an invasion of Iraq and also maintain the Bush tax cut?"

2) Newsweek's Eleanor Clift gave Congress a grade of "D" for "that awful tax bill they passed last year," a "tax cut that we can't afford."

3) CBS's Joie Chen on Saturday delivered the latest instance of a network reporter asserting that Congress passed "a huge tax cut."

4) Former President Clinton's claim that to defend Israel he "would personally grab a rifle, get in a ditch and fight and die," prompted some mocking from television network reporters. CBS's Tracy Smith noted how Clinton "avoided service in the Vietnam War," Fox's Tony Snow passed along a rebuke from an American Legion leader and an incredulous John King wondered on CNN: "Is he not inhaling again?"

5) CNN International dumped in Israel. Cable companies in Israel don't plan to re-new their contracts when they expire in November. The AP reported on Friday that the companies think CNN is charging too high a fee and are reacting to the beliefs of Israelis that CNN has a pro-Palestinian tilt, a feeling fueled by Ted Turner accusing Israel of terrorism.

6) Bill Moyers is not only liberal in his views, the Vermont State Police have charged him with being liberal with his drinking before driving, a Vermont newspaper revealed on Friday.

7) Letterman's "Top Ten Worst Names for a Seafood Restaurant."


Tim Russert's obsession with the tax cut, continued. On Sunday's Meet the Press, without posing any question about the obstructions posed by soaring domestic spending, he asked Senator Joe Biden: "Can we afford an invasion of Iraq and also maintain the Bush tax cut?"

     As a Media Reality Check last week demonstrated, Russert has been obsessed this year with the irresponsibility of the tax cut while not devoting similar energy to pressing Democrats to cut spending or re-think spending plans. The MRC's Rich Noyes observed: "While making tax cutters defend their views, Russert doesn't hit tax cut opponents with conservative arguments. Instead, he invites them to criticize the tax cut as he lobbies for its early demise."

     To read, "A Bias Blind Spot for Meet the Press Host; One-Sided Questioning: Russert Pushed Both Friends and Foes of Bush Tax Cut to Suspend Its Benefits," go to: http://archive.mrc.org/realitycheck/2002/fax20020730.asp

     On Sunday, August 4, after 22 minutes on Iraq, Russert posed a single question to Biden about tradeoffs that may be needed to pay for a conflict:
     "We currently have a deficit of $165 billion. Senator Fritz Hollings, the Democrat from South Carolina, said that if you take away the Social Security surplus that's being used the real deficit's over $400 billion. With that in mind, and the costs that you laid out, can we afford an invasion of Iraq and also maintain the Bush tax cut?"
     Biden began his reply: "I think it would be very, very difficult to do that...."

     Russert moved on without mentioning soaring spending or asking if we can afford to add a new entitlement program like prescription drug coverage.

     By coincidence, a Sunday Washington Times editorial outlined how much entitlement spending has surged since 1986:
     "Non-discretionary budget outlays have increased from 55.7 percent of total federal budget outlays in 1986 to 64.7 percent in 2001. Recall that the vast majority of non-discretionary spending, exclusive of interest payments, includes such mandatory entitlement programs as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid....
     "Consider how massively they grew between 1986 and 2001. Outlays for Social Security increased from $199 billion to $433 billion, Medicare increased from $70 billion to $218 billion, and federal outlays for Medicaid increased from $25 billion to $129 billion. Cumulatively, those three programs alone increased from $430 billion in 1986 to $986 billion in 2001, or by 130 percent."

     Now that's what we can't afford.


Newsweek's Eleanor Clift castigated Congress for "that awful tax bill they passed last year," a "tax cut that we can't afford."

     On the McLaughlin Group over the weekend the panel was asked to assess the congressional session as the members went home for the August break. Clift answered:
     "I think the Congress gets an A for the shear number of bills that were passed. In terms of the impact on the economy, where they get a D is that awful tax bill they passed last year where the Congress was complicit with the White House in pumping up budget surpluses to provide cover for a tax cut that we can't afford and that we're going to be digging out from under for the next ten years. They get a D for that."


Why is the tax cut so often described as "huge" by network reporters? The latest example: CBS's Joie Chen on Saturday recalled how the current Congress passed "a huge tax cut."

     In fact, according to the National Taxpayers Union, in an analysis cited in CyberAlert last year, Bush's total tax cut amounts to only 0.9 percent of total GDP. In contrast, Ronald Reagan's 1981 tax cut represented 3.3 percent of GDP, and even Democratic President John F. Kennedy's tax cut was 2.0 percent of GDP.

     With Congress going on summer break, Chen reviewed their activities during the session. In her August 3 CBS Evening News piece, Chen relayed: "What Congress passed: A huge tax cut, tightening aviation security, streamlining the military, reforming corporate accountability and approving large subsidies for America's farmers."


Former President Clinton's claim before a Jewish group in Toronto that "if the Iraqi or the Iranian army came across the Jordan River, I would personally grab a rifle, get in a ditch and fight and die" to defend Israel, prompted some mocking from television network reporters who pointed out how it contradicted what he actually did to avoid service in the U.S. Army.

     Clinton's claim, first reported in Friday's New York Post, came during remarks to the Canadian Hadassah-WIZO organization last Monday, July 29.

     On Friday's The Early Show on CBS, MRC analyst Brian Boyd noticed, news reader Tracy Smith stated: "From former President Clinton a call to arms. Mr. Clinton reportedly told a Toronto audience if Israel were invaded he'd, 'grab a rifle, and get in a trench and fight and die.' He avoided service in the Vietnam War."

     Two days later on Fox News Sunday, Tony Snow read what Clinton said and then added: "Veterans groups, recalling Clinton's avoidance of duty in Vietnam and Canada's role as a haven for draft-dodgers, aren't so happy. Earl Murray, a Vice Commander of a Harlem American Legion post says, quote: 'He had his chance to serve his country, and he avoided it.'"

     CNN's John King was simply incredulous. On Friday's Inside Politics, during a segment with the DNC's Jennifer Palmieri and the RNC's Mindy Tucker, the fill-in host played a video clip of Clinton making the claim and then turned to Palmieri: "'Grab a rifle, jump in a ditch, fight and die.' Is he not inhaling again?"


Has Ted Turner's mouth cost CNN International its Israeli audience of just over one million potential viewers? Cable companies in Israel don't plan to re-new their contracts when they expire in November, AP reported on Friday.

     While the action is fueled by a dispute over the fee CNN is charging, the AP acknowledged: "In June, CNN founder Ted Turner added to the dispute by equating Palestinian bombing and Israeli military retaliation. 'I would make the case that both sides are engaged in terrorism,' Turner said in an interview with British newspaper The Guardian."

     That remark prompted CNN to try to distance itself from Turner. On CNN, the June 19 CyberAlert pointed out, it became "Ted Who?" After the network rushed to relay his statement clarifying his comments, it filled the screen with the text of CNN's statement separating itself from him: "Ted Turner's views are his own and they do not in any way reflect the views of CNN." Details: http://archive.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020619.asp#2

     An excerpt from the August 2 AP story, "Israeli Cable Companies Drop CNN," by Tallie Lieberman in Jerusalem:

Israel's cable TV companies announced Thursday that they would quit carrying CNN news broadcasts in November, saying they could not longer afford it.

The decision, which comes amid criticism by some in Israel of CNN coverage of the Mideast conflict, means Israelis won't receive CNN news broadcasts via the cable companies starting in November.

The companies applied to the Council for Cable TV and Satellite Broadcasting, a government body, for permission to let their contracts with CNN lapse....

Ron Ciccone, CNN's managing director for the Middle East, said the company would study the council's decision, but said it appeared to be continued "scapegoating of CNN." In a statement, Ciccone said, "We have every concern that the Israeli public be properly served with responsible and objective reporting. If in fact they lose CNN, it will be a sad loss for their freedom of choice."

Israeli officials and pro-Israeli groups have said CNN's coverage of the violence in the region sometimes favors the Palestinians, a charge the cable network has always denied....

In June, CNN founder Ted Turner added to the dispute by equating Palestinian bombing and Israeli military retaliation. "I would make the case that both sides are engaged in terrorism," Turner said in an interview with British newspaper The Guardian.

The network was deluged with complaints and dispatched chief news executive Eason Jordan to Israel to smooth things over.

"Certainly, his comments aggravated matters," Jordan said, but added that "any suggestion that CNN is anti-Israel is absolutely ridiculous and baseless." Jordan said CNN receives criticism from both sides....

     END of Excerpt

     To read the entire story: http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&


Bill Moyers is not only liberal in his views, the Vermont State Police have charged him with being liberal with his drinking before driving, a Vermont newspaper revealed on Friday.

     What I found most interesting in the Bennington Banner account: The Vermont State Police officer who arrested Moyers "was not aware of Moyers' fame in broadcasting." It's refreshing to learn that some have managed to escape Moyers' liberal preaching and condemnation of conservatives.

     Jim Romenesko's MediaNews (http://www.poynter.org/medianews/) highlighted the August 2 story in the Bennington Banner by reporter John LeMay about the arrest of Moyers on Saturday night, July 27, in Arlington, a town in the southwestern portion of the state just over the border from New York. An excerpt:

Bill Moyers, a public television personality and a former deputy director of the Peace Corps, was arrested Saturday night on Route 7A and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.

"I intend to contest the charge," Moyers told the Banner in a faxed statement Thursday....

Moyers told the Banner he had left a friend's birthday party around 10 p.m., just before his arrest Saturday. He admitted to the arresting officer he had drunk a glass of champagne and "a small amount of wine" at the party, Moyers wrote.

Moyers swerved repeatedly across the centerline of the road and had trouble negotiating a curve, according to Trooper Travis Kline of the Vermont State Police....

"Not only was I observing the speed limit," Moyers wrote, "but my companions -- my wife and two friends -- testified they had detected no signs of any problem with my driving, and that I appeared to be in full control of my faculties, as indeed I was. I intend to contest the charges."

Kline talked with Moyers during the ride to the Shaftsbury barracks, and learned that Moyers worked in television, but he was not aware of Moyers' fame in broadcasting, and Moyers didn't announce it, Kline said....

A roadside breath test showed Moyers' blood-alcohol content to be .10. The legal limit is .08. A follow-up test at the barracks about 1 hours later showed Moyers' blood-alcohol content had dropped to .079 -- within the legal limit. But police calculate how much alcohol would have left the driver's system in the time after the arrest and take that into account, Kline said....

A resident of Bernardsville, N.J., Moyers, 68, told Kline he was staying at a small hotel in Manchester, Kline said. Following the arrest, Kline cited Moyers to appear at Vermont District Court in Bennington on Aug. 12, and released him from the barracks....

     END of Excerpt

     For the story in its entirety: http://www.benningtonbanner.com/Stories/

     Think we'll soon see a story on PBS's Now with Bill Moyers about overly aggressive local police harassing out-of-staters?


From the August 2 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Worst Names for a Seafood Restaurant." Late Show Web page: http://www.cbs.com/latenight/lateshow/

10. The Ol' Chum Bucket

9. Parasite Island

8. It Might Be Flounder

7. The Festering Cod

6. Botulism Bay

5. TGI Scurvy's

4. 3-Mile Island Trout 'N' Things

3. Yesterday's Sushi

2. The Gagging Deck Hand

1. Green Lobster

     Okay, not a list tied to any news event, but a good one during summer vacation travels and Letterman's last for a while as the show is now on a two-week summer hiatus.

     Congress, President Bush and the Late Show staff may all take much or all of August off, but CyberAlert will remain vigilant for liberal bias, though I hope with the amount of political news winding down to be able to slow down a bit myself and produce fewer issues. -- Brent Baker


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