Stephanopoulos Rued "Cost" of Tax Cuts; NBC Followed
NY Times' Anti-Iraq War Spin; Global Warming Doubter Ridiculed; More $ for Amtrak; Koppel's CNN Baby: "Thud"; Williams' Offspring Goes Right?
1) On Sunday's This Week, ABC's George Stephanopoulos contrasted the "cost" of suggested tax cuts with that of the "emergency spending proposal" that President Bush vetoed. But Stephanopoulos listed only the most beneficial-sounding spending items ("firefighting grants, nuclear plant security, cargo inspection and the emergency funds for New York City") and didn't show how they only constituted one-tenth of the bill.
2) "Top Republicans Break With Bush on Iraq Strategy," declared a the front page headline in Friday's New York Times, a theme which NBC Nightly News chose to lead with that night with a story which, just like the Times, falsely portrayed Henry Kissinger as opposed to attacking Iraq. Though seven of ten Americans surveyed say they support an attack on Iraq, NBC anchor Brian Williams touted how "a whole lot of Americans...disagree" with Bush's Iraq policy.
3) On CNN's Capital Gang, Hunt dismissed the contention of Patrick Michaels that global warming has been minimal and will be in the future. Hunt applied anecdotal logic, pointing out it was "96, 97 degrees every day" during the past week in Washington, DC. But a quick check of temperature records for the same dates shows it was hotter in DC decades ago -- even 121 years ago.
4) Taxpayers haven't ponied up enough to subsidize Amtrak to satisfy Rick
Berke, Washington editor of the New York Times. Citing the government railroad's recent problems, on Friday's Washington Week on PBS Berke lamented: "This raises big questions about train service and about what has been our tradition in this country of not subsidizing our railroads very heavily. Every other railroad system in the world heavily subsidizes its trains."
5) "The baby hit the floor with a sickening thud." Ted Koppel disclosed during Thursday's Nightline with Julia Child that he dropped daughter Andrea, now CNN's State Department correspondent, on the floor because he got distracted reaching for a diaper while his wife was following a Child recipe for "Duck a
6) Has Juan Williams spawned a conservative daughter? During a Fox News Sunday segment on the threatened baseball strike, Williams rued how his daughter "said 'let them go on strike.' She doesn't care and she took the side of the owners totally. Well, I said 'what about unions, what about the rights of workers here?' She said, 'they make enough money.'"
On Sunday's This Week, ABC's George Stephanopoulos contrasted the "cost" of suggested tax cuts with that of the "emergency spending proposal" that President Bush vetoed, a decision Stephanopoulos portrayed as atrocious by listing only its most beneficial-sounding recipients: "firefighting grants, nuclear plant security, cargo inspection and the emergency funds for New York City."
Stephanopoulos's liberal analysis occurred during an interview with Dan Bartlett, the man who now holds under President Bush the same position Stephanopoulos held under President Clinton -- senior adviser for communications.
With matching figures on screen for some suggested tax cuts the Washington Post on Saturday reported the Bush team is considering, Stephanopoulos asserted:
"Let's take a look at the cost of some of those proposals. I have a package here. Doubling the loss deduction cots about a billion dollars a year. Increasing IRA limits, about a billion, five, $1.5 billion a year. And ending the double taxation of dividends, according to a 1992 Treasury study, at least $13 billion a year, some people think it would be far more."
Viewers saw all those numbers which ABC conveniently added up and displayed their total: $15 billion per year.
Over an on-screen graphic titled, "5.1 Billion Emergency Spending," Stephanopoulos continued: "Now compare that to the cost of the emergency spending proposal, which the President rejected this week. It was $5 billion. It included firefighting grants [$150 million], nuclear plant security [$235 million], cargo inspection [$39 million] and the emergency funds for New York City [$99 million]. Is the President saying, if he proposes a new tax plan, that these tax proposals are more important, are a higher priority for the United States than those spending proposals?"
That screen did not provide a total -- maybe because it would have undermined Stephanopoulos's point and provided proof of Bush's reason for vetoing it because of how Congress added a lot of pork-barrel spending. The spending highlighted added up to just $523 million, or about one-tenth of the total bill.
In three weeks Stephanopoulos takes over as the solo host of This Week.
"Top Republicans Break With Bush on Iraq Strategy," declared the top of the front page headline in Friday's New York Times, a theme which NBC Nightly News chose to lead with that night with a story by Andrea Mitchell which, just like the Times, falsely asserted that Henry Kissinger is opposed to attacking Iraq preemptively. As columnist Charles Krauthammer outlined, the very op-ed by Kissinger cited by the Times makes clear his support for a preemptive move.
In contrast, the MRC's Tim Jones noted, Friday's Washington Post story focused on the administration's arguments. "Rice Lays Out Case for War in Iraq" announced the front page headline. The subhead over the story about what National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said in a BBC interview: "Bush Adviser Cites 'Moral' Reasons."
Though seven of ten Americans surveyed in recent polls say they support an attack on Iraq, NBC anchor Brian Williams insisted "a whole lot of Americans...disagree" with Bush's policy. Williams opened the August 16 NBC Nightly News: "President Bush has made it clear that he firmly believes Saddam Hussein of Iraq is a danger who needs to be removed by U.S. military action. A whole lot of Americans, however, disagree."
An excerpt from the August 16 New York Times editorial, in the guise of a front page news story by Todd S. Purdum, aka Mr. Dee Dee Myers, and Patrick E. Tyler:
Leading Republicans from Congress, the State Department and past administrations have begun to break ranks with President Bush over his administration's high-profile planning for war with Iraq, saying the administration has neither adequately prepared for military action nor made the case that it is needed.
These senior Republicans include former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft, the first President Bush's national security adviser. All say they favor the eventual removal of Saddam Hussein, but some say they are concerned that Mr. Bush is proceeding in a way that risks alienating allies, creating greater instability in the Middle East, and harming long-term American interests. They add that the administration has not shown that Iraq poses an urgent threat to the United States....
"For those of us who don't see an invasion as an article of faith but as simply a policy option, there is a feeling that you need to give great consideration to what comes after, and that unless you're prepared to follow it through, then you shouldn't begin it," one senior administration official involved in foreign policy said today....
Also today, Lawrence S. Eagleburger, who was briefly secretary of state for Mr. Bush's father, told ABC News that unless Mr. Hussein "has his hand on a trigger that is for a weapon of mass destruction, and our intelligence is clear, I don't know why we have to do it now, when all our allies are opposed to it."
Last week, Representative Dick Armey, the House majority leader, raised similar concerns....
In an opinion article published on Monday in The Washington Post, Mr. Kissinger made a long and complex argument about the international complications of any military campaign, writing that American policy "will be judged by how the aftermath of the military operation is handled politically," a statement that seems to play well with the State Department's strategy.
"Military intervention should be attempted only if we are willing to sustain such an effort for however long it is needed," he added. Far from ruling out military intervention, Mr. Kissinger said the challenge was to build a careful case that the threat of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction calls for creation of a new international security framework in which pre-emptive action may sometimes be justified.
END of Excerpt
For the story in its entirety:
In a column published in Sunday's Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer argued: "Not since William Randolph Hearst famously cabled his correspondent in Cuba, 'You furnish the pictures and
I'll furnish the war,' has a newspaper so blatantly devoted its front pages to editorializing about a coming American war as has
Howell Raines's New York Times."
Raines in the Executive Editor of the New York Times.
(As reported in the August 8 CyberAlert, asked to predict history's judgment of Bill Clinton, Raines didn't mention any of his scandalous behavior. Instead, Raines extolled Clinton's "huge political vision," and his "holding onto the principles of social justice." Raines also effused about Clinton "presiding over the greatest prosperity in human history." For details and a contrast with how he insulted and denigrated Ronald Reagan:
An excerpt from the column in which Krauthammer addressed the August 16 story excerpted above:
....The amusing part was including among these Republican foreign policy luminaries Dick Armey, a man not often cited by the Times for his sagacity, a man who just a few weeks ago made a spectacle of himself by publicly advocating the removal of the Palestinians from the West Bank. Yesterday, he was a buffoon. Today, he is a statesman.
That was the comic relief. The egregious part of the story was the touting of Henry Kissinger as one of the top Republican leaders breaking with Bush over Iraq. This revelation was based on a Washington Post op-ed that Kissinger had published four days earlier.
How can one possibly include Kissinger in this opposition group? He writes in the very article the Times cites: "The imminence of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the huge dangers it involves, the rejection of a viable inspection system and the demonstrated hostility of Hussein combine to produce an imperative for preemptive action." There is hardly a more succinct statement
of the administration's case for war.
The remarkable thing about Kissinger's article is not that he breaks with Bush but that in supporting the Bush policy of preemptive war he breaks with one of the central tenets of his own "realist" school of foreign policy.
Realism is the billiard ball school of foreign policy. It cares what states do to each other on the outside, not how they govern themselves on the inside. Realism is not into regime change. Indeed, as Kissinger himself explains, preemptive attack goes against the principle enshrined at the Treaty of Westphalia: the inviolability of states. Nonetheless, in the case of Iraq, Kissinger endorses the Bush doctrine altering this 350-year-old convention because changes in technology, namely the advent of weapons of mass destruction, no longer permit us to wait for the other guy to strike first. (In our public diplomacy, Kissinger would emphasize the weapons of mass destruction more than regime change in presenting our case.)
None of this deters the Times from making Kissinger one of its two major Republican poster boys breaking with the president (the other being former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft). Indeed, the very next day's paper, again the lead front-page story, reiterated the fiction, citing Kissinger (with Scowcroft) as part of "a group of leading Republicans who were warning [Bush] against going to war with Iraq."
Against going to war? Kissinger makes the case not just for going to war but for going to war soon. "Waiting will only magnify possibilities for blackmail," he warns....
It is one thing to give your front page to a crusade against war with Iraq. That's partisan journalism, and that's what Raines's Times does for a living. It's another thing to include Henry Kissinger in your crusade. That's just stupid. After all, it's checkable.
END of Excerpt
To read the Krauthammer column in full:
(The Washington Post Web site did not post Kissinger's August 12 op-ed.)
Update: The Houston Chronicle posted the Kissinger piece: http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/editorial/outlook/1529045)
Nonetheless, NBC put the New York Times story to videotape, complete with the distortion of Kissinger's views, and trumpeted the Republican dissent as its lead story. Anchor Brian Williams teased at the top of the August 16 NBC Nightly News: "Target: Saddam. The fierce debate inside the White House erupts in public. The President insists Saddam must go, some top Republicans are now saying 'not so fast.'"
Williams opened the show: "Good evening. President Bush has made it clear that he firmly believes Saddam Hussein of Iraq is a danger who needs to be removed by U.S. military action. A whole lot of Americans, however, disagree, including many who say no one has really made the case for why the U.S. should enter into another war over Iraq right now. But tonight there is something new: the number of prominent Republicans who are now publicly coming out against their own President's plan of attack. We begin here tonight with NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell."
"A whole lot of Americans...disagree"? Yes, 22 percent is a "lot of Americans," but that's not normally how the position of a decided minority is touted.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted August 7-11, asked: "Would you favor or oppose having U.S. forces take military action against Iraq to force Saddam Hussein from power?" Favor: 69 percent; oppose 22 percent.
A Fox News/Opinion Dynamics Poll taken August 6-7 came up with identical numbers. The question: "Do you support or oppose U.S. military action to remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein?" Support: 69 percent; oppose: 22 percent. "Do you think Iraq does or does not pose a threat to the United States?" Does: 79 percent; does not: 16 percent.
For those numbers and more about public opinion on Iraq, check the Polling Report's Iraq page:
Back to the NBC story, Mitchell began by giving time to Bush to make his case: "Amidst a fierce debate within his own party over whether to attack Iraq, the President said he'll decide based on the facts."
President George W. Bush: "People should be allowed to express their opinion, but America needs to know I'll be making up my mind based on the latest intelligence."
Mitchell: "He is clearly convinced Saddam Hussein is a threat."
Bush: "There should be no doubt in anybody's mind this man is thumbing his nose at the world."
Mitchell then moved on to highlighting critics: "But when should the President attack Saddam Hussein? Many Republicans say Bush is moving too fast."
Senator Chuck Hagel: "We know he is a threat. But that in itself is not good enough to launch a military strike against him."
Mitchell: "With the President listening to administration hawks, like the Vice President and Secretary of Defense, other Republicans are trying to influence him through the editorial pages and on television. His father's national security adviser Brent Scowcroft:"
Brent Scowcroft: "To take any strong action against Iraq before the situation in the Middle East, the Israeli/Palestinian dispute, has been put back on a positive course would be very harmful to U.S. interests.
Mitchell: "Henry Kissinger:"
NBC played this clip of Henry Kissinger, from CNBC's Capital Focus, even though it didn't make any sense and hardly reflects any opposition to the Bush policy: "The most important thing that the President has to achieve, which also involves his greatest risk, is a divided administration."
Mitchell continued with her list: "The General who led the Gulf War for the President's father:"
General Norman Schwarzkopf: "Until we have better intelligence and better locations, base rights, etc., I don't think we're ready to go."
Mitchell returned to those in favor of action: "The President has sounded noticeably more cautious since visiting his father recently. But Republican hardliners say Cabinet hawks have already won the debate."
William Kristol, The Weekly Standard: "This President Bush has made up his mind, and he does not want to re-enact his father's presidency. He does not want to leave Saddam Hussein in power."
Mitchell: "Why is the Iraq debate so important?"
Robert Teeter, Republican pollster: "We're now talking about something that we have not done, very rarely or if ever. It's preemptive military action."
Mitchell concluded: "The risk of such a public debate? It may help educate Americans, but it also sends mixed signals to US allies and Saddam Hussein."
Anecdotal discomfort over science for Al Hunt. On CNN's Capital Gang, Hunt dismissed the contention of Patrick Michaels that global warming has been minimal and will be in the future. Hunt pointed out it was "96, 97 degrees every day" during the past week in Washington, DC. But a quick check of temperature records for the same dates shows it was hotter in DC decades ago -- even 121 years ago.
Hunt's amateur climatology occurred after the August 17 programs played a tape of Kate O'Beirne interviewing Michaels for the "Newsmaker of the Week" segment. Michaels, a research professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute and the state climatologist for Virginia, contended: "It's going to warm up at about, for about 1.5 degrees Celsius in the next 100 years, which isn't very much. We're going to prosper, we're going to adapt, we're going to live with it."
Hunt, Executive Washington Editor of the Wall Street Journal, derided Michaels: "You know, I've never seen a state climatologist before, and I guess I should be impressed. But boy, the good professor's timing's not very opportune. Washington, D.C., this week, 96, 97 degrees every day. Arizona, record heat waves. One expert told me in Tokyo in recent decades, the average temperature has increased 7 degrees. Something's going on."
What's going on is lazy journalism which assumes whatever is occurring now is the worst ever.
I don't know about Arizona or Tokyo, but checking last week's National Weather Service data for Washington, DC, as listed in the Washington Post, I discovered:
-- Sunday, August 11. High temperature: 94. Record: 101 in 1900.
-- Monday, August 12. High temperature: 97. Record: 99 in 1926.
-- Tuesday, August 13. High temperature: 100. Record: 101 in 1881 (As Rush Limbaugh would say, for those Rio Linda, that's before the gas-guzzling SUV)
-- Wednesday, August 14. High temperature: 99, finally a record high
-- Thursday, August 15. High temperature: 96. Record: 103 in 1988.
-- Friday, August 16. High temperature: 95. Record: 102 in 1997.
-- Saturday, August 17. High temperature: 96. Record: 105 in 1997.
(All temperatures, of course in Fahrenheit, and as measured at Reagan National Airport in Arlington County, Virginia, the closest monitoring station to the District of Columbia.)
Applying Hunt's logic, I'd say we've been experiencing a global cool-down since 1997.
Taxpayers haven't ponied up enough to subsidize Amtrak to satisfy Rick Berke, Washington editor of the New York Times. Citing the government railroad's recent problems with its Acela trains, on Friday's Washington Week on PBS Berke lamented:
"This raises big questions about train service and about what has been our tradition in this country of not subsidizing our railroads very heavily. Every other railroad system in the world heavily subsidizes its trains..."
Congress gave Amtrak another $20 million in July and has forked over $25 billion in subsidies in the last 30 years, the Cato Institute noted.
On the August 16 Washington Week, Berke complained, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
"What we have, the biggest problem right now, today, is we have 10,000 Amtrak passengers up and down the Northeast corridor who are struggling and scrambling to get into fewer trains, slower trains. And many of them were trying to take the airlines, which, as you mentioned, have their own problems. So we have a real sort of crisis on the Northeast corridor on Amtrak. And what's happened is the Acela train, which was the sleek new fancy Amtrak that was supposed to be the savior for Amtrak and all its problems has been shut down this week. And other regular locomotives have as well because there's been cracks in the under carriages. So there's a real problem with Amtrak, and it particularly is a real dramatic problem for Amtrak because, you remember, after 9/11, people couldn't fly, stopped flying, especially from when National Airport in Washington was shut down, so everyone thought, oh, everyone will ride Amtrak to New York, Boston. Now -- and it was supposed to be a big boon for Amtrak - now Acela is just gone. And this raises big questions about train service and about what has been our tradition in this country of not subsidizing our railroads very heavily. Every other railroad system in the world heavily subsidizes its trains, but there's a sense on the East Coast that Amtrak could be self-sufficient, and it just hasn't been. And I think this dramatically illustrates it."
Jeff Birnbaum of Fortune pointed out: "Amtrak gets an almost annual subsidy, I think. Right?"
Berke wasn't satisfied: "It does but not-"
Host Gwen Ifill cut him off, noting: "It got a $200 million bailout just a few months ago."
In a 1997 report for the Cato Institute, "Amtrak Subsidies: This is no Way to Run a Railroad," Stephen Moore countered:
....A recent Cato Institute study which I coauthored with Wendell Cox and Jean Love shows that virtually every stated justification for continued Amtrak subsidies is based on myth, not reality. Examples: Amtrak makes a negligible contribution to the nation's transportation system. Amtrak represents just .007 percent of all daily commuter trips and just 0.4 percent of all intercity trips....
It's a myth that Amtrak simply could not survive under private ownership and operation. There is no law of nature or economics that says that trains must lose money. Because of government control, however, Amtrak costs are far higher than necessary. Amtrak provides especially unprofitable services for political reasons, and it is hamstrung by archaic work rule provisions that make it more expensive than other travel options. For example, federal law requires Amtrak to pay up to six years of severance pay to workers who are laid off....
Amtrak has virtually no impact on reducing traffic congestion, pollution or energy use. Even a doubling of train ridership would reduce energy consumption and traffic congestion by less than 0.1 percent. Amtrak is by far the most highly subsidized form of intercity transportation. The average taxpayer subsidy per Amtrak rider is $100, or 40 percent of the total per-passenger cost. Even this figure doesn't adequately express how hugely inefficient some long-distance routes are today. For example, the average subsidy to a New York-Los Angeles rider exceeds $1,000. The estimated round trip subsidy per passenger for a Denver-Chicago trip is $650. It would be cheaper for taxpayers to shut down routes like these and purchase discount round-trip airfare for all Amtrak riders....
For the entire report:
Amcrash. Couldn't end this item before using my favorite name for the railroad.
Ted Koppel revealed during Thursday's Nightline with Julia Child that he dropped daughter Andrea, now CNN's State Department correspondent, on the floor because he got distracted while reaching for a diaper as his wife was trying to follow a Child recipe for "Duck a L'orange." You can't make this stuff up.
MRC analyst Jessica Anderson caught this on Thursday's Nightline marking Child's 90th birthday. Koppel recalled on the August 15 show:
"Two events, vividly etched on my memory from a Mother's Day many years ago. My wife, our new daughter and I were living in a tiny one bedroom apartment in Queens, New York. It was one of the rare occasions on which I was changing the baby because my wife was in the kitchenette cooking. My parents were on their way over, as were hers. My wife had just warned me not to leave the baby alone on the changing table because she could now turn over, which she did, just as I was reaching for a diaper. The baby hit the floor with a sickening thud. The pediatrician tried to be reassuring, but warned us that if the baby slept too much or started vomiting, we should bring her to the hospital right away.
"We didn't mention the incident to our parents. The baby, it turned out, was alright, but it was a long, frightening afternoon. That's one memory. The other was Duck a L'orange, my wife's first foray into French cooking. She had taken down the recipe from a strange if wonderful woman who had this bizarre new television program on channel 13, New York's educational TV station. My wife and I couldn't even taste the food that afternoon, we were so worried about the baby, but our parents seemed very appreciative. That was our first experience with Julia Child: Duck a L'orange and a bruised baby. The baby is now a successful television correspondent, Ms. Child turned 90 today."
I'm assuming the "successful television correspondent" is Andrea Koppel. CNN's bio page for her, but which is sans a photo:
Has a liberal journalist spawned a rationale daughter? During an August 18 Fox News Sunday panel segment on the threatened strike by Major League Baseball players, NPR's Juan Williams bemoaned:
"I was at the ball game Friday night with my daughter and my daughter said 'let them go on strike.' She doesn't care and she took the side of the owners totally. Well, I said 'what about unions, what about the rights of workers here?' She said, 'they make enough money.'"
Let's hope she goes into journalism. --
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