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The 2,477th CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
10:05am EDT, Wednesday August 29, 2007 (Vol. Twelve; No. 150)

 
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1. NBC: Craig a 'Conservative Crisis,' Another 'Right Wing' Scandal
The NBC and ABC morning shows on Tuesday opened by using the Senator Larry Craig matter to tar conservatives and Republicans as NBC's Today show put "Conservative Crisis" on screen as Matt Lauer opened by asking, "Can the right wing withstand yet another scandal involving one of its own?" and Ann Curry demanded: "How does this specter of hypocrisy affect the party?" With "Party Problems" on screen under video of Craig, Bill Weir, fill-in co-host of ABC's Good Morning America, asked: "Is the GOP losing its grip?" Interviewing Joe Scarborough, NBC's Curry also listed scandals involving those linked to conservatives as if to blame the movement itself for the GOP's troubles: "First it's been a rough year for the right. Let's list them. Congressman Mark Foley, conservative pastor Ted Haggard, Senator David Vitter. All involved in scandals, accusing them of inappropriate conduct. So the question's gotta be asked, why do these kinds of scandals seem to be following Republicans, lately?" AUDIO&VIDEO See & Hear the Bias - Audio & Video Clip Archive

2. CBS: 'Craig Scandal' Exhibits How 'GOP Is Already Under a Cloud'
Unlike the morning shows which exploited the arrest of Republican Senator Larry Craig as a chance to tar the "right wing," "conservatives" and the "GOP," with the notable exception of CBS, the broadcast network evening shows -- which all led Tuesday night with Craig -- refrained from using the matter to malign Republicans or conservatives. ABC and NBC kept the story to Craig himself as ABC's World News framed the story around the on-screen heading: "Defiant Senator." NBC keyed its coverage to how "Senator Craig Speaks." In contrast, CBS saw a "scandal," with "Craig Scandal" as the on-screen title. Katie Couric teased: "Tonight, Senator Larry Craig caught in a sex sting says the only thing he did wrong was plead guilty." She led by declaring "the story exploded on front pages all over America today: Another member of Congress caught up in a scandal, a sex scandal. Republican Senator Larry Craig..." Reporter Sharyl Attkisson highlighted how "the GOP is already under a cloud with FBI investigations of Congressmen Rick Renzi, John Doolittle, Don Young, and Senator Ted Stevens." Political analyst Stuart Rothenberg then helpfully explained: "The Republican brand at the moment is very weak. And what this does, this adds to the buzz about Republicans and what do Republicans believe, and are Republicans hypocrites."

3. Poverty Falls, CBS Stresses Rise in Number Sans Health Insurance
The Census Bureau announced a drop in the poverty rate, but NBC and, especially CBS, on Tuesday night managed to turn the good news into bad by emphasizing an increase in the number of Americans without health insurance while ABC, in contrast, portrayed the decrease in poverty as good news. Though the AP headlined its story, "U.S. poverty rate declines significantly," NBC anchor Brian Williams reported it dropped "a bit" and CBS anchor Katie Couric relayed how "the poverty rate is down slightly." And while most of those in poverty manage to have many comforts of life, from good-sized homes to cars, Couric insisted poverty level income is "hardly enough for food and housing, much less other items like health insurance." Wyatt Andrews devoted a full story to "the highest number of uninsured Americans in 20 years: 47 million without health insurance." Andrews failed to note that 16 million of the uninsured are illegals or on Medicaid while most people are uninsured for only short periods.

4. Newsweek: Best to Bill Clinton, Reno; Worst to Lynne Cheney
In their September 3 editions, both Time and Newsweek magazines offered a Fall Preview to the new season in books, TV, music, and movies, but only Newsweek turned its art criticism into a crudely partisan exercise. In a "First to Worst" preview, Newsweek gave its "Last & Least" stink-bomb to the new memoir by Lynne Cheney, "conservative icon (and VP spouse)," for being "Laura Ingalls Wilder meets Dr. Laura," while the magazine lauded Bill Clinton's new book: "This book-length sermon is all heart." To add insult to injury, Newsweek even gave one of its best-of-autumn honors to a new CD organized by Clinton's Attorney General Janet Reno. This is not a 'Saturday Night Live' joke.


 

NBC: Craig a 'Conservative Crisis,' Another
'Right Wing' Scandal

     The NBC and ABC morning shows on Tuesday opened by using the Senator Larry Craig matter to tar conservatives and Republicans as NBC's Today show put "Conservative Crisis" on screen as Matt Lauer opened by asking, "Can the right wing withstand yet another scandal involving one of its own?" and Ann Curry demanded: "How does this specter of hypocrisy affect the party?" With "Party Problems" on screen under video of Craig, Bill Weir, fill-in co-host of ABC's Good Morning America, asked: "Is the GOP losing its grip?"


| |
More See & Hear the Bias

     Interviewing Joe Scarborough, NBC's Curry also listed scandals involving those linked to conservatives as if to blame the movement itself for the GOP's troubles: "First it's been a rough year for the right. Let's list them. Congressman Mark Foley, conservative pastor Ted Haggard, Senator David Vitter. All involved in scandals, accusing them of inappropriate conduct. So the question's gotta be asked, why do these kinds of scandals seem to be following Republicans, lately?"

     In fact, the Today team couldn't contain their glee in casting this story as a problem for the conservative movement as it applied the terms "conservative" or "right wing" to it's coverage of Craig, a whopping seven times, within the first nine minutes of the show.

     After Scarborough delivered tough comments on the GOP, Curry felt compelled to "remind people you are a Republican. You are a former Republican Congressman, so those are very strong words and opinion from you." Scarborough conceded: "Always good to remind my Republican friends, that yes I am a Republican. Doesn't sound like it."
     [This item is based on Tuesday NewsBusters posting by Geoffrey Dickens: newsbusters.org
     And by Scott Whitlock: newsbusters.org ]

     The Dickens post includes audio/video highlights, rendered by Ken Shepherd, of Today's generalizations about conservatives and the right wing. The audio/video will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert.

     A complete transcript of Lauer and Curry's teasers, followed by Bob Faw's report, along with Curry's interview of MSNBC's Joe Scarborough as they occurred on the August 28 edition of Today:

     Matt Lauer: "Good morning, politician in peril. Idaho Senator Larry Craig, an opponent of gay rights, admits pleading guilty to disorderly conduct after a police officer accused him of soliciting sex in an airport men's room. Can the right-wing withstand yet another scandal involving one of its own?"

     ...

     Ann Curry: "What a shocker! Idaho Senator Larry Craig's political future is in some serious doubt this morning."
     Lauer: "It's a confusing story. On Monday, word leaked out that the conservative Republican was arrested and pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct charge stemming from a sex sting at the men's room at the Minneapolis airport. A police officer, who was sitting in a stall there, says that Craig tried to solicit him for sex. Now Craig denies it and now says that he regrets pleading guilty. Is this another major setback for the Republican Party? We'll have more on that in just a moment."

     ...

     Lauer: "But first the arrest of Idaho Republican Senator Larry Craig. Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, says that Craig was arrested in June at the Minneapolis airport after a plain-clothed officer noticed him peering into his stall, then putting his foot and hand underneath the divider, supposedly a sign that he wanted to engage in lewd conduct. Now last year a gay activist Web site publicly claimed Craig is a homosexual. His office denied it. So is the gay-rights opponent living a double-life or is he just the victim of a big misunderstanding. Here's NBC's Bob Faw."
     Sen. Larry Craig: "That is not the role of the United States Senate to draw that kind of line-"

     [On screen headline: "Conservative Crisis, 'Lewd Behavior' Plea for Senator."]

     Bob Faw: "Craig, a conservative Republican said in a statement issued late Monday, that he did nothing inappropriate and that quote, 'in hindsight, I should not have pled guilty,' to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct for alleged lewd behavior, observed by an undercover policeman in a public restroom at a Minneapolis airport in June. While Craig, who last year denied he was homosexual, says airport police quote, 'were misconstruing my actions,' his defense might prove somewhat, unpersuasive, back in conservative Idaho."
     Jennifer Duffy, The Cook Political Report: "I think it is going to be increasingly difficult for him to run for reelection and I think the question needs to be posed about whether he can actually finish out this term. At some point conservatives are going to say, 'enough is enough.'"
     Craig: "A 1,038 square miles of fire-"
     Faw: "In other words, the political fallout could be more painful than the penalties, a fine of $575 and a year's probation imposed on Craig in his guilty pleas earlier this month. For Today, Bob Faw, NBC News, Washington."

     Ann Curry: "Former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough is the host of Morning Joe on MSNBC. Joe, good morning."
     Joe Scarborough: "Good morning."
     Curry: "Well let's talk about the political fallout. First it's been a rough year for the right. Let's list them. Congressman Mark Foley, conservative pastor Ted Haggard, Senator David Vitter. All involved in scandals, accusing them of inappropriate conduct. So the question's gotta be asked, why do these kinds of scandals seem to be following Republicans, lately?"
     Scarborough: "What's with the Republican Party? And before that you can talk about Duke Cunningham apparently having poker parties where reports were that they were trading votes for sex. I don't know. You can talk about the closeted Republican that votes like Larry Craig, that votes for a Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage or votes against protections for discriminating against gays in the workplace. Perhaps they are more closeted, perhaps the Republican Party does not allow gay members to win their primaries. So maybe these guys have to live these secret lives where on the Democratic side, you've got Democrats, I think it, it comes down to hypocrisy. Mainly where you have Democrats that will support same-sex marriage or civil unions and will fight to stop discrimination in the workplace against gays and lesbians. Because of that there are the issues of hypocrisy that follow Republicans around, whether you're talking about David Vitter or whether you're talking about Larry Craig or whether you're talking about Mark Foley."
     Curry: "Well the question, I think is, you know, how does this specter of hypocrisy affect the party, especially as we're now moving into a very critical time for the Republican Party facing this presidential election year?"
     Scarborough: "Well it's, it's very simple. You know, last year people were talking about the war, they were talking about runaway deficit spending but the bottom-line is, with the Republicans that I spoke to, after the Mark Foley scandal broke, they looked at each other and said, 'Well, that's it. We're gonna have a Democratic Senate and we're gonna have a Democratic House and because of Mark Foley, Nancy Pelosi is gonna be Speaker of the House.' So, of course, you can't blame Mark Foley for everything but there were these scandals following Jack Abramoff, following Duke Cunningham. Following-"
     Curry: "Point taken Joe, but what's the impact going to be if that's what happened after Mark Foley came, faced the scandal? What's going to happen now, regarding, after this Senator's, what he's facing."
     Scarborough: "Well it's not, it's not a good impact. It's not gonna have a great impact on Idaho. I think, you know, I just don't think a Democrat can be elected for the U.S. Senate in Idaho but Larry Craig's career is probably over. The former 'Singing Senator,' is gonna be singing alone in Idaho, probably next year. But the bigger impact with the Republican Party in America will be like the Tory Party in Great Britain when they had one sex scandal after another. There is a sleaze, an element of sleaze that will hang over this party. Because, again, we had the David Vitter scandal a couple of months ago. The two sex scandals, this year, have involved Republicans, conservative, pro-family, pro-life Republicans."
     Curry: "It's also interesting to note, Joe, that Senator Craig has been a co-liaison to the, in the Senate, to the Mitt Romney campaign."
     Scarborough: "Yeah."
     Curry: "So the question is, also, is this gonna spill over?"
     Scarborough: "Well you know, I don't think anybody would blame Mitt Romney for what Larry Craig did in a bathroom in Minneapolis because of Larry Craig's, as he says, 'unusually wide-stance.' That he wasn't sending signals. But what this does bring up for Mitt Romney is a problem about his flip-flops. His flip-flops on abortion, his flip-flops on gun control and his flip-flop on gay rights. So, you have a guy like Larry Craig, who's on your campaign, at least for 24 hours in this news cycle, will raise questions. Well Mitt Romney do you support same-sex marriage this week or do you oppose same-sex marriage this week? And I suspect after that it'll all blow over. The biggest problem, though, again, has to do with hypocrisy and the Republican Party. And right now you've got Larry Craig linked with Mark Foley, linked with David Vitter, linked with Duke Cunningham going, my gosh, I think every sex scandal in Washington D.C., since Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky has involved a Republican. And that has to have an impact and may break the Republican Party, again, just a little bit more away from its evangelical base."
     Curry: "And, and Joe, I was gonna remind people, you are a Republican. You are a former Republican Congressman, so those are very strong words and opinion from you. Joe Scarborough, thank you so much this morning."
     Scarborough: "Always good to remind my Republican friends, that yes I am a Republican. Doesn't sound like it. Thanks a lot."
     Curry laughing: "It is now 7:08am. Now once again, here's Matt."

     Tuesday's Good Morning America used the arrest of Senator Larry Craig in a men's bathroom as an excuse to again herald the end of the Republican Party. Guest co-host Bill Weir teased a story on the Idaho legislator by wondering, "Is the GOP losing its grip?" Reporter David Kerley saw this as a case of Republican hypocrisy. He pointedly observed that "Craig is a conservative who lists among his goals to defend and strengthen the traditional values of the American family."

     In early summer, the ABC morning show found another reason to predict doom for the GOP. Co-host Chris Cuomo, introduced a June 25 story on new polling data by claiming that the Republican candidates were "hitting some serious bumps in the road." He then ominously added, "So now the question is, can any of them beat the eventual Democratic nominee?"

     Following David Kerley's August 28 piece on Senator Craig, This Week host George Stephanopoulos briefly discussed the issue with guest GMA co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas. At one point, Stephanopoulos appeared to find the whole situation amusing. Vargas asked the former Clinton aide why Craig pled guilty. Stephanopoulos responded with a laugh: "Uh, that was a big mistake, I guess. [Laughs] I think, the evidence, if you read the police report, and we're not going to go into the details of a police report, it does seem like he was engaging in some kind of solicitation."

     7am tease from Bill Weir: "This morning, back-to-back bombshells. First the attorney general's surprise resignation and now a Senator's stunning guilty plea after being accused of lewd behavior. Is the GOP losing its grip?"

     7:02am, Bill Weir: "But first, let's get right to our top stories this Tuesday. Another high-profile resignation and another congressman stung by a sex scandal. Our correspondents are live in Washington covering all the angles on these two political bombshells, but we begin with ABC's David Kerley on Capitol Hill. David, good morning."

     David Kerley: "Good morning, Bill. Idaho senior senator says police got it wrong and he made a mistake pleading guilty. But the allegations by a police officer are disturbing. And if this case grows, it could impact the balance of power in the U.S. Senate. He's a three-term senator, a member of the singing senators. But just three weeks ago, Larry Craig pleaded guilty to charges of disorderly conduct, charges that came out of an investigation into lewd behavior in a Minneapolis airport men's bathroom. According to the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, an undercover police officer, investigating complaints of sexual activity, says the senator, in a stall next to him, tapped his foot, a signal, the policeman says, used by those, quote, 'wishing to engage in lewd contact.' And then the senator reportedly further signaled by swiping his hand under the divider. Senator Craig was arrested. He told police that, quote, 'They were misconstruing my actions. I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct.' But his court documents show a guilty plea was entered at the county courthouse August 8. Craig was told to may more than $1,500 in fines and fees and placed on one-year unsupervised probation. This morning, in a statement on his website, Craig says he shouldn't have pled guilty and should have hired an attorney. Trouble for a senator facing re-election next year."
     Senator Larry Craig (R-ID): "Persons who are unmarried, as I am, by choice-"
     Kerley: "25 years ago, before he was married, Craig attacked questions about his personal life."
     Craig: "-have always been the subject of innuendos, gossip and false accusations. I think this is despicable."
     Kerley: "Craig is a conservative who lists among his goals to defend and strengthen the traditional values of the American family. But his seat, once considered a lock, may now be in jeopardy."
     Tim Groseclose, Prof, political science, UCLA: "Larry Craig does has a serious problem. The first thing that he's going to face may be calls from his own party to resign."
     Kerley: "And the fallout has already started. Larry Craig was the chairman of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign in Idaho. The Romney campaign is saying this morning that ‚€˜Senator Craig has stepped down from his role. He did not want to be a distraction and we accept his decision.' Senator Craig has not said whether he will seek re-election. Bill?"

     7:10am, Elizabeth Vargas: "In the meantime, we heard from David Kerley's reporting that Senator Craig of Iadaho said he made a mistake charges in which police suggest lewd behavior in an airport bathroom. Why then did he plead guilty?"
     George Stephanopoulos: "Uh, that was a big mistake, I guess. [Laughs] I think, the evidence, if you read the police report, and we're not going to go into the details of a police report, it does seem like he was engaging in some kind of solicitation."
     Vargas: "But did he feel he couldn't withstand, sort of, scrutiny and public fight?"
     Stephanopoulos: "He was trying to keep it all quiet, wanted to handle it himself. You know, he's been fighting these kinds of allegations all the way back since 1982, successful beat them back. But I think now that this has come out, he is going to be under tremendous pressures, already is under tremendous pressure not to run again. Republicans are worried that they're facing charge of hypocrisy and double standards. You saw it with another senator, David Vitter of Louisiana, also caught up in something like this earlier in the summer."

 

CBS: 'Craig Scandal' Exhibits How 'GOP
Is Already Under a Cloud'

     Unlike the morning shows which exploited the arrest of Republican Senator Larry Craig, on charges stemming from alleged lewd conduct in an airport men's room, as a chance to tar the "right wing," "conservatives" and the "GOP," with the notable exception of CBS, the broadcast network evening shows -- which all led Tuesday night with Craig -- refrained from using the matter to malign Republicans or conservatives. ABC and NBC kept the story to Craig himself as ABC's World News framed the story around the on-screen heading: "Defiant Senator." The NBC Nightly News keyed its coverage to how "Senator Craig Speaks."

     In contrast, the CBS Evening News saw a "scandal," with "Craig Scandal" as the on-screen title. Katie Couric teased: "Tonight, Senator Larry Craig caught in a sex sting says the only thing he did wrong was plead guilty." She led by declaring "the story exploded on front pages all over America today: Another member of Congress caught up in a scandal, a sex scandal. Republican Senator Larry Craig caught in a police sting at the Minneapolis airport." In the subsequent story, reporter Sharyl Attkisson highlighted how "the GOP is already under a cloud with FBI investigations of Congressmen Rick Renzi, John Doolittle, Don Young, and Senator Ted Stevens." Stuart Rothenberg, of the Rothenberg Political Report, then helpfully explained: "The Republican brand at the moment is very weak. And what this does, this adds to the buzz about Republicans and what do Republicans believe, and are Republicans hypocrites."

     [This item was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

     (As recounted in #1 above, Tuesday morning NBC's Today show put "Conservative Crisis, 'Lewd Behavior' Plea for Senator," on screen and Matt Lauer opened by asking his viewers: "Can the right wing withstand yet another scandal involving one of its own?" Ann Curry listed scandals involving those linked to conservatives: "First it's been a rough year for the right. Let's list them. Congressman Mark Foley, conservative pastor Ted Haggard, Senator David Vitter. All involved in scandals, accusing them of inappropriate conduct. So the question's gotta be asked, why do these kinds of scandals seem to be following Republicans, lately?" ABC's Bill Weir teased at the top of Good Morning America: "Is the GOP losing its grip?")

     A rundown of how the Tuesday, August 28 ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts teased and introduced their lead stories:

     # CBS Evening News:

     KATIE COURIC's TEASE, WITH "CRAIG SCANDAL" ON SCREEN: I'm Katie Couric. Tonight, Senator Larry Craig caught in a sex sting says the only thing he did wrong was plead guilty.
     CRAIG: I chose to plead guilty to a lesser charge in hopes of making it go away.
     COURIC: Fellow Republicans call for an ethics committee review....

     COURIC, WITH "CRAIG SCANDAL" ON SCREEN: Hello, everyone. The story exploded on front pages all over America today: Another member of Congress caught up in a scandal, a sex scandal. Republican Senator Larry Craig caught in a police sting at the Minneapolis airport. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct but now, on second thought, he says his conduct was just fine. In any case, fellow Republicans are calling for an investigation. We caution you, there are graphic details in this report from Sharyl Attkisson....

     ATTKISSON: The GOP is already under a cloud with FBI investigations of Congressmen Rick Renzi, John Doolittle, Don Young, and Senator Ted Stevens.
     STUART ROTHENBERG, THE ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT: The Republican brand at the moment is very weak. And what this does, this adds to the buzz about Republicans and what do Republicans believe, and are Republicans hypocrites.

    
    
# ABC's World News:

     FILL-IN ANCHOR KATE SNOW's TEASE: Welcome to World News. Tonight, a defiant denial. The Senator arrested in an airport restroom says he is not gay and his only mistake was pleading guilty.

     SNOW, WITH "DEFIANT SENATOR" ON SCREEN: Good evening. A Republican Senator is fighting to save his political career and personal reputation, tonight. Police records have surfaced revealing Senator Larry Craig of Idaho was arrested by an undercover officer for soliciting sex. A short while ago, Craig was adamant about a news conference denying the accusations. He says the only thing he did wrong was to plead guilty in the hopes the incident would go away. It has not. ABC's David Kerley joins us from Washington....


     # NBC Nightly News:

     BRIAN WILLIAMS' TEASE: Speaking out. Tonight Senator Larry Craig is defiant.
     LARRY CRAIG: I am not gay. I never have been gay.
     WILLIAMS: He makes his first public statement since being arrested in a men's room, but now can he save his career?

     WILLIAMS, WITH "SENATOR CRAIG SPEAKS" ON SCREEN: We begin this evening with a drama that is the talk of the nation's capital and the talk of the state of Idaho tonight. It is the story of a Republican United States Senator, arrested for an alleged sexual advance to an undercover police officer in an airport men's room in Minneapolis. But despite pleading guilty to disorderly conduct, a plea Senator Larry Craig says he should now not have made, the Senator loudly and publicly claimed today he is not gay. Our NBC News senior investigative correspondent, Lisa Myers, has been following this story for us...

 

Poverty Falls, CBS Stresses Rise in Number
Sans Health Insurance

     The Census Bureau announced a drop in the poverty rate, but NBC and, especially CBS, on Tuesday night managed to turn the good news into bad by emphasizing an increase in the number of Americans without health insurance while ABC, in contrast, portrayed the decrease in poverty as good news. "A bright spot of economic news today," fill-in ABC anchor Kate Snow announced, "the percentage of Americans living in poverty dropped last year" by "three-tenths of a percent from the year before." Reporter Barbara Pinto actually acknowledged some positive trends during the Bush years, pointing to how "in the past four years, the country has added nearly 7 million jobs. And in those four years, the average household income has risen about $700." Pinto didn't ignore liberal class-warfare arguments, but after a left-winger asserted "there's very little that trickles down to those at the bottom," Pinto countered: "Obviously, some of that growth is trickling down."

     Though the AP headlined its story, "U.S. poverty rate declines significantly," NBC anchor Brian Williams reported it dropped "a bit" and CBS anchor Katie Couric relayed how "the poverty rate is down slightly." And while most of those in poverty manage to have many comforts of life, from good-sized homes to cars, Couric insisted poverty level income is "hardly enough for food and housing, much less other items like health insurance." Wyatt Andrews devoted a full story to "the highest number of uninsured Americans in 20 years: 47 million without health insurance." Andrews failed to note that 16 million of the uninsured are illegals or on Medicaid while most people are uninsured for only short periods.

     The AP dispatch as posted by Yahoo: news.yahoo.com

     Brian Williams read this short item on the August 28 NBC Nightly News: "There's news on the economy tonight. The percentage of Americans living in poverty dropped a bit last year to 12.3 percent from 12.6 percent of the population the year before. But there was bad news on this front as well. The number of Americans without health insurance has gone up from nearly 45 million in 2005 to 47 million Americans last year."

     [This item was posted Wednesday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

     Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation, in an August 27 report, "How Poor Are America's Poor? Examining the 'Plague' of Poverty in America," put the poverty numbers in perspective:

Most of America's "poor" live in material conditions that would be judged as comfortable or well-off just a few generations ago. Today, the expenditures per person of the lowest-income one-fifth (or quintile) of house-holds equal those of the median American household in the early 1970s, after adjusting for inflation.

The following are facts about persons defined as "poor" by the Census Bureau, taken from various government reports:

- Forty-three percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.

- Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.

     - Only 6 percent of poor households are over-crowded. More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.

- The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)

- Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 31 percent own two or more cars.

- Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.

- Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.

- Eighty-nine percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and more than a third have an automatic dishwasher.

     For the report in full: www.heritage.org

     An August 28 Heritage press release outlined how the 47 million uninsured statistic exaggerates the problem:

# Analysis of data from earlier Census Bureau and other government reports shows that roughly 7 million are illegal immigrants; roughly 9 million are persons on Medicaid; 3.5 million are persons already eligible for government health programs; and approximately 20 million have, or live, in families with incomes greater than twice the federal poverty level, or $41,300 for a family of four.

# Most of the uninsured are in and out of health coverage. The professional literature also shows that, overwhelmingly, the vast majority of the uninsured are persons who are in and out of coverage, largely as a result of job changes. Only a small number of the uninsured are chronically uninsured. For most of the uninsured, the problem is fixable if policymakers simply take steps to make health insurance portable, so the insurance policy sticks to the person, not the job.

# Current Federal Tax Policy Fuels Uninsurance. A substantial portion of uninsured Americans are not poor but rather middle-class working Americans who are forced to face a major tax penalty, resulting in premium increases of 40 to 50 percent, if they do not obtain health insurance through the place of work. For millions of Americans without job based health insurance, both the tax policy, and the excessive regulatory burden on health insurance in the states, prices families out of coverage. Current federal tax policy then unnecessarily drives millions into the ranks of the uninsured.

     For the entire press release: www.heritage.org

     A transcript of the August 28 CBS Evening News story:

     KATIE COURIC: Here at home, mixed economic news tonight. For the first time in six years, the poverty rate is down slightly. In 2006, 12.3 percent of Americans lived in poverty, down from 12.6 percent in 2005. Poverty level income for a family of four is $20,400 a year, hardly enough for food and housing, much less other items like health insurance. And as Wyatt Andrews reports, more people are going without.

     WYATT ANDREWS: It's the highest number of uninsured Americans in 20 years: 47 million without health insurance and dozens of them come in every day to the free clinic in Arlington, Virginia. For house cleaner Mariah Carvealio, who makes $8,000 a year, the clinic is her only option. What if this clinic did not exist?
     CARVEALIO: I'm dying.
     ANDREWS: You would die?
     CARVEALIO: Yes, because I was so sick.
     ANDREWS: Of the 47 million uninsured, 8.7 million are children, a jump of more than 7 percent in one year. The numbers are rising mostly because employers are dialing back. In 2000, more than 64 percent of Americans got insurance through their employer. Last year, that percentage fell below 60. This decline in employer-based coverage is happening because of costs. More and more employers these days struggling to stay afloat or profitable cannot afford the rising expense of health insurance. At the clinic, director Nancy Palleson says most of the uninsured and most people in poverty are working.
     NANCY PALLESON, ARLINGTON FREE CLINIC: Maybe both parents are working, two or three kids, and they can't -- they can't get health insurance. They can't -- even if it's offered, they couldn't possibly afford it.
     ANDREWS: The census brought mixed reviews on poverty itself. While the percentage of Americans in poverty fell, the number of people held steady at 36.5 million. This free clinic is a snapshot of the income gap in America. Everyone here is a resident of Arlington, which is listed in the census report as one of the richest counties in the country. Wyatt Andrews, CBS News, Arlington, Virginia.

     The more upbeat take on ABC's World News:

     ANCHOR KATE SNOW: A bright spot of economic news today that's been years in the making. The percentage of Americans living in poverty, dropped last year of 12.3 percent, a drop of three-tenths of a percent from the year before. A total of 36.5 million Americans were living below the poverty line in 2006. It's the first significant decline this decade. Here's ABC's Barbara Pinto.

     BARBARA PINTO: The reason for today's good news is, in a word, jobs.
     DOUGLAS BESHAROV, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: It's true that a strong economy is the best anti-poverty program that exists.
     PINTO: Unemployment is falling. In the past four years, the country has added nearly 7 million jobs. And in those four years, the average household income has risen about $700. Another bright spot? More single mothers, once the bulk of the nation's poor, are finding workm largely due to welfare reform. East coast states, such as Maryland, New Hampshire and Connecticut, have the lowest poverty rates and are making strides. Among the highest in the nation, Mississippi, New Mexico and the District of Columbia. At the Chicago community assistance program, Sheryl Holman is on the front lines. She says even families who have pulled themselves out of poverty, are still struggling.
     SHERYL HOLMAN, CHICAGO COMMUNITY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM: I'm afraid that they're saying that the working poor is not poor, when they are poor.
     PINTO: The government defines poverty as a family of four making about $20,000 a year.
     HOLMAN: $20,000 a year is about $10 an hour or more, a little more between $10 and $11. If you measure that, who is living off of $10 an hour.
     PINTO: Analysts also say the dip in the poverty rate pales in comparison to the booming economic growth this country has enjoyed for years.
     SHELDON DANZIGER, NATIONAL POVERTY CENTER: Now, we have an economy, where most of the economic growth is concentrated among people who have high incomes. And there's very little that trickles down to those at the bottom.
     PINTO: Obviously, some of that growth is trickling down. In addition, the recent hike in the minimum wage, was not factored in the numbers that were released today and economists say that could make those poverty numbers look even better in the future.

 

Newsweek: Best to Bill Clinton, Reno;
Worst to Lynne Cheney

     In their September 3 editions, both Time and Newsweek magazines offered a Fall Preview to the new season in books, TV, music, and movies, but only Newsweek turned its art criticism into a crudely partisan exercise. In a "First to Worst" preview, Newsweek gave its "Last & Least" stink-bomb to the new memoir by Lynne Cheney, "conservative icon (and VP spouse)," for being "Laura Ingalls Wilder meets Dr. Laura," while the magazine lauded Bill Clinton's new book: "This book-length sermon is all heart." To add insult to injury, Newsweek even gave one of its best-of-autumn honors to a new CD organized by Clinton's Attorney General Janet Reno. This is not a 'Saturday Night Live' joke.

     [This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

     On the books page, graced by a photo of Bill Clinton reflecting deeply on a sunny African vista with his hands in his pockets, Mrs. Cheney took a beating:
     "Last & Least: 'Blue Skies, No Fences,' Lynne Cheney, October: In this upbeat "Memoir of Childhood and Family," conservative icon (and VP spouse) Cheney tells about coming of age during the 1950s, and pays tribute to her pioneer ancestors, who 'pinned their hopes on America and kept heading west.' Laura Ingalls Wilder meets Dr. Laura." See: www.msnbc.msn.com

     That seems like quite an indictment from snooty New York-based book critics. It's one thing to be a liberal and dislike Dr. Laura's tough-love radio show, but to go so far as to diss Little House on the Prairie? That's telling most of the country they're yokels for ever reading about the Ingalls clan. But to Newsweek, the height of nonfiction achievement comes from their favorite humble idealist, our last President:
     "'Giving,' Bill Clinton, September: His ace in the hole as a politician was his ability to sound idealistic without seeming superior. This book is a plea to change the world through giving. His examples range from Bill and Melinda Gates to Dr. Paul Farmer‚€"who started clinics to help the poor in Haiti and lately Rwanda‚€"to a 6-year-old girl in California who organized her community to clean up the local beaches. This time Clinton left the policy-wonk part of his personality at home. This book-length sermon is all heart."

     The only other nonfiction honor is the last book by the late liberal author David Halberstam indicting Washington war-makers for how they handled the Korean War.

     From the music page, here's the Newsweek paragraph touting Janet Reno's "edifying Dance Party," as USA Today put it when the project was first announced in 2005:
     "'Song Of America', Janet Reno and various artists, 9/18: No need to panic‚€"the former attorney general does not sing or even rap here. But she is the mastermind behind this collection of classics that tells the story of America through song. The three-CD set is full of ditties we've all been forced to sing at summer camp (Yankee Doodle, Home on the Range) revamped by artists such as John Mellencamp and the Black Crowes." See: www.msnbc.msn.com

     This CD might be an interesting compilation, but pitching Reno as a musical mastermind is definitely a liberal stretch.

-- Brent Baker

 


 


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