Alter Busts Bush; Another Gore Staff Gaffe; "Ugly" Tax Cut
1. Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter continued as an unpaid publicist for the John McCain campaign, adding more emphasis to last week’s media-quiz meltdown.
2. Another Gore staff gaffe: Time politics-and-money specialist Viveca Novak revealed one of Al Gore’s top advisers is part of an effort the magazine teased as "How one company fights to keep [drug] prices high."
3. Time and U.S. News reporters failed to disclose their health experts were veterans of selling that mammoth $784 billion Clinton health plan.
4. U.S. News & World Report columnist Gloria Borger delighted in another opportunity to paint conservatism as an electoral disaster waiting to happen, especially that "ugly" tax cut.
For their covers, Time explored the Japanese import kiddie fad Pokemon. Newsweek featured "Dyslexia," U.S. News & World Report exposed "Cheating, Writing and Arithmetic" in schools. Two cheers for Newsweek, which actually uncoverd the Justice Department’s "closing in" on Clinton pal James Riady in the campaign fundraising probe, and covered Hillary’s flailing political fortunes, including her hug and kiss with Mrs. Yasser Arafat and the latest bad polling news. Their "Conventional Wisdom Watch" also gave Hillary a rare down arrow: "First Lady kisses up to Mrs. Arafat -- and kisses off a lot of New York voters." To balance that out, they also panned George W. Bush "Spilling in polls, gets slapped for going soft on polluters. Good news for Ozone Man." And
"Dems" got an up arrow: "Poll shows that America prefers ‘em. So much for Tom DeLay as America’s sweetheart."
Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter continued as an unpaid publicist for the John McCain campaign, adding more emphasis to last week’s media-quiz meltdown: "If you’re inexperienced and you want a big job, you’d better be smart as hell. Older and wiser managers with a wealth of life experience can afford to space out occasionally, Reagan style. The young and ambitious can’t."
Bill Clinton may have been young, but his brilliance may have raised expectations, Alter argued. "Bush is no boob. But there's a potential problem with this scenario that should be worrisome for the Austin crowd. What if the expectations game itself has changed, thanks to the candlepower of folks like Bill Gates and Bill Clinton? What if, even amid TV pabulum, standards of performance are ratcheting higher? Without even knowing it, the public may expect more, just as colleges now demand a higher-quality student than they did when Bush got into Yale. Acting relaxed and cool might not be enough any longer, especially with that smirk. Americans might figure that if they're fated to swim in the deep waters of the global economy, their president should be, too. And swimming there is not something you can fake with the help of lifeguard advisers. Imagine the CEO of your company not knowing who runs the second largest company in his industry. That's what it looked like when Bush didn't know who runs the second largest country in the world, India (which will pass China soon and become the world's most populous nation). Luckily for Bush, the voters haven't tuned in yet. Unluckily for him, when they do, a gentleman's C might not cut it."
Another Gore staff gaffe: Time politics-and-money specialist Viveca Novak revealed one of Al Gore’s top advisers is part of an effort the magazine teased as "How one company fights to keep [drug] prices high." Novak began: "Al Gore doesn't mince words when it comes to pushing for cheaper prescription drugs. So it makes sense that he opposes efforts by pharmaceuticals companies to extend their patent rights in order to block cheaper generic drugs from reaching the market.What doesn't make sense is that one of Gore's senior advisers, top-tier lobbyist Peter Knight, is a hired gun for pharmaceuticals giant Schering-Plough, which is in a red-hot battle to stretch out its patent for the best-selling allergy medication Claritin beyond 2002. The New Jersey-based company paid Knight's firm $100,000 in the first half of this year alone."
Reporters failed to disclose their health experts were veterans of selling that mammoth $784 billion Clinton health plan. U.S. News writer Joseph Shapiro claimed: "Polls show that 79 percent of Americans now believe the government should do something about the uninsured, according to an article by Harvard University’s Robert Blendon in the current issue of the journal Health Affairs." But Shapiro didn’t note Blendon’s polls for the liberal Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a major player on the secret health care task force, routinely became the talking points for Hillary’s health-care effort.
For their part, a Time report by Dick Thompson on the HMO United Healthcare included this quote: "‘It can't be assumed these guys are behaving in the interest [of patients],’ says Judith
Feder, a health-policy expert at Georgetown University." But Feder was a member of Clinton’s transition team on health, and then sold the Clinton plan as the, take a breath, "principal deputy assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at the Department of Health and Human Services."
U.S. News & World Report columnist Gloria Borger delighted in another opportunity to paint conservatism as an electoral disaster waiting to happen. After hearing GOP strategists try out positive spin that the last Congress did no harm, Borger declared: "Something remarkable -- and potentially calamitous -- did happen this congressional session: The $792 billion Republican tax cut
(presidentially vetoed into oblivion) boomeranged -- with Republicans, of all people. ‘It wasn’t the crown jewel we thought it was,’ moans one GOP strategist. ‘It was more like cubic
zirconia.’" Added Borger: "Only uglier."
Borger concluded by noting "Then, there’s George W. Bush, who hasn’t yet said much about seniors. ‘He’s not going to make the same mistakes our Republicans made with older voters,’ promises one close Bush ally. ‘In fact, we’re going to look back on this and see that George Bush was elected the day he distanced himself from Congress.’" A "top House leader" replied: "If he dumps on us one more time, we’ll inflict enormous amounts of pain on h is campaign." Wondered Borger: "Haven’t they already done that?"
-- Tim Graham
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