No Fine Print
As Washington debates the fate
of the surplus, President Clinton declares save Social Security first,
and now Medicare as well. How will he save Medicare, scheduled to go
broke in 2009? By expanding the program to cover prescription drug
On the February 25 CBS
Evening News, Dan Rather promised a look "beyond the photo-op to the
fine print." Instead, Scott Pelley supported Clintonís plan with
emotional pleas from an elderly lady.
He began: "In Tucson the
President called for a revolution in Medicare, not only to save the
insurance program, but also to expand it....Medicareís lack of
prescription benefits is a quiet crisis." Pelley found a woman dressed
in a pink bathrobe with an oxygen tube in her nose. "Peggy Halpert
cannot afford all of the medicine she needs to breathe." Halpert
explained she would rather receive tax money than support from her
children: "I refuse to take my grandchildrenís college money...I refuse
to take their money to support me."
While Pelley noted Medicare
could claim a quarter of the budget in 20 years, and more if they add
prescriptions, he let Halpert envision more government: "I think if
Medicare paid for my drugs, it would leave funds for me at the time when
Iím going to need more help to come in and do things for me." Pelley
strangely suggested: "Youíre fighting for your independence." Halpert
affirmed, "And Iíll fight to the day I die for that."
NBCís Tom Brokaw also framed the budget in Clintonian terms on the
February 17 Nightly News: "Bill Clinton has about a year and a
half left before a new President is elected, and he has a lot of ground
to make up after last year. Heís hoping youíll help by turning your back
on a big tax cut. Does that sound like the world has been turned upside
down? It is the new battleground after impeachment: Social Security and
Medicare for the future or fewer taxes right now?"
Dan Rather issued a similarly
disingenuous report on that nightís Evening News: "Thereís no
cooling off period, either, about the Presidentís plan to save Social
Security by bankrolling it with money from the U.S. budget surplus.
President Clinton was out today trying to sell it to what could be a
tough-sell audience on the nationís campuses. Republicans in Congress
favor using the surplus for across-the-board tax cuts."
Republican National Committee
spokesman Cliff May took exception to the network misrepresentations:
"Every Republican in Congress has said that 2/3 of the surplus should be
reserved for Social Security and that the fight was over whether the
remainder should be spent by government or given back to the taxpayers."
Putting scandal aside, ABCís World News Tonight got back to
promoting liberal causes on February 17 with two consecutive stories.
The tide began with a report on
several campus protests by students who want their colleges to toughen
up regulations of sweatshops that produce clothing sold on campus. Peter
Jennings noted in his introduction that a "college administrator said
that after so many years of apathy, it was nice to know that college
students care about something other than basketball and bonfires." Then
Bill Blakemoreís opening line set the tone of reminiscence: "It feels
like the Ď60s: students occupying administration buildings, campus
protests on a matter of principle."
Jennings continued: "There is
another issue that is causing some controversy at colleges and at high
schools. The Justice Department has launched its first investigation
into whether mascots with Indian themes violate the civil rights of
Native Americans." Bob Woodruff began with Erwin High School in
Asheville, North Carolina, with the team names "Warriors" and "Squaws."
Woodruff concluded: "The
Justice Department is not telling them to change, it is gathering facts,
trying to find a solution that both sides can live with." U.S. News
columnist John Leo noted in the March 8 issue that Erwin officials say
"gathering facts" will "take staff 12 full working days to provide it.
One of the requests is for the names and racial identifications of all
students who have performed as student mascots."
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