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CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
| Tuesday May 22, 2001 (Vol. Six; No. 81) |
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"Big" Tax Cut Yields Little Cut; Reagan-Hater to Take NY Times Top Spot; Rather: I’m a Martyr for Truth; Lamb’s Contrarian Question

1) After months of describing Bush’s tax cut as "big," "enormous" or "massive," on Monday night both CBS and NBC informed viewers they shouldn’t expect to get much relief anytime soon. CBS’s Dan Rather, however, still cited Bush’s "big tax cut." But NBC’s Lisa Myers pointed how "that really big tax cut you’ve been promised may be a long time coming."

2) ABC’s Good Morning America brought Janet Reno aboard to discuss her possible gubernatorial run in Florida. Charles Gibson failed to take advantage of the opportunity to quiz her about any one of her questionable decisions about Clinton fundraising scandals or the pardons as he looked forward to the "intriguing political possibility" offered by her candidacy.

3) The New York Times has named a Reagan-hater as its top editor. Howell Raines once charged that "Reagan couldn't tie his shoelaces if his life depended on it" and complained that "reporting on President Reagan's success in making life harder for citizens who were not born rich, white, and healthy -- saddened me." During a TV interview he whined: "The Reagan years oppressed me..." [See item below for a clarification about the "shoelaces" comment]

4) Dan Rather sees himself as a martyr for telling the truth about Watergate and Vietnam. Rejecting any responsibility for being seen as liberal, Rather told Geraldo Rivera the liberal bias charge is made by those who "subscribe to the idea either you report the news the way we want you to report it, or we’re gonna tag some...negative sign on you."

5) Cubans drive 1959 cars through a capital city in shambles, but it has nothing to do with its communist command economy. It’s all the fault of the United States. ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas insisted: "U.S. sanctions have devastated Cuba’s economy."

6) Interviewing Boston Globe reporter John Farrell about his new biography of Tip O’Neill, C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb posed a question never dared broached on network news: "Why is it you’re labeled as good when you take other people’s tax money and then pass it on to somebody who doesn’t have it?"


     Correction: In the table of contents for the May 21 CyberAlert the last name of actor Kelsey Grammer was misspelled, though it was correctly spelled, as it is here, in the subsequent article.

1

Now they tell us. After months of worrying about the awful impact of Bush’s "big," "enormous" or "massive" tax cut, on Monday night both CBS and NBC informed viewers they shouldn’t expect to get much relief anytime soon since the tax cut is phased in over 11 years. Nonetheless, CBS’s Dan Rather cited Bush’s "big tax cut" and Bob Schieffer described it as "one of the biggest tax cuts ever." (ABC’s World News Tonight on Monday didn’t mention the impending tax cut.)

     Referring to how the Senate was expected to pass a tax cut bill later Monday night, on the NBC Nightly News Lisa Myers informed viewers: "This means that most workers will see less money taken out of their paychecks starting in late July, but that really big tax cut you’ve been promised may be a long time coming."

     Promised by the networks which adopted the liberal spin about a "big" tax cut.

     Myers proceeded to explain how this year only the lowest income tax rate will be fully cut, leading to a $300 reduction for singles and $600 for couples, the marriage penalty relief won’t begin to be phased in until 2004 and the estate tax will not be eliminated for over ten years.

     Over on the May 21 CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather intoned: "President Bush has argued that one reason Congress should give quick approval to his big tax cut plan is to help Americans pay for higher priced gasoline. The Senate is expected to approve the tax cut tonight. Final congressional passage could come this week. So, does this mean more money soon in your wallet? CBS’s Bob Schieffer on Capitol Hill has ‘The Real Deal.’"

     Schieffer began: "At $1.3 trillion Republicans are right to call this one of the biggest tax cuts ever, but even they admit it may be a while before we feel the full effect. Just listen to the Senate’s Republican leader."
     Trent Lott: "One of things I think’s wrong with its current structure is that te rate cuts, for instance, are pushed too far down the line."

     Schieffer made the same points as Myers as he noted that while everyone will benefit from the cut this year in the lowest rate, income tax rates will only be reduced by one percentage point next year and will not be fully implemented until 2007.

2

Rooting for Reno. Spurred by her comment over the weekend that she might run for Governor of Florida, ABC’s Good Morning America brought former Attorney General Janet Reno aboard Monday morning to quiz her on her intentions. Though she avoided such interviews during her tenure in office, ABC’s Charles Gibson failed to take advantage of the opportunity presented to quiz her about any one of her questionable decisions about Clinton fundraising scandals or his pardons.

     The closest he came was a question about how she would "carry a lot of baggage" over Elian Gonzalez, Waco and Tim McVeigh, but Gibson soon displayed his fascination: "You certainly do raise an intriguing political possibility of a Reno-Bush race if you decide to go."

     MRC analyst Jessica Anderson took down Gibson’s questions to Reno on the May 21 broadcast:

     -- Gibson: "You've certainly raised something of a hornet's nest with this political talk,...Are you running or not?"
     Reno: "As I said, I'm going to explore it."
     Gibson: "So this is a trial balloon?"

     -- Gibson: "Well, but I'm curious why you would raise the issue of possibly running when you're not yet ready to announce that you are or that you're not. That certainly sounds like a trial balloon, you want to see how people are going to react to the possibility."
     Reno: "You know what happened, Charlie? A newspaper reporter asked me was I considering running, and I was considering running, and I, not known for being-"
     Gibson: "Reticent?"
     Reno: "No, I'm not known for stating something that's not true and I said yes, and from all that has come this."
     Gibson: "When you left Washington to head down there, had you any thought of doing this?"

     -- Gibson: "So what changed your mind? What made you think, 'Well, maybe I ought to run'?"

     -- Gibson: "If you ran and were the Democratic nominee and if Jeb Bush runs for re-election, why would you be a better governor than he would?"
     Reno: "Well, I have some ideas on that, but one of the things I want to do is move very carefully and review everything that is at issue and see just what has been done and what needs to be done to restore what I think are important steps that this state has taken."
     Gibson: "Would you carry a lot of baggage, General Reno, if you ran for governor? The Elian case, of course, comes to mind, and that had such an effect on the state of Florida. Waco happened under your watch -- indeed the McVeigh case happened on your watch. Would those all be issues that might be used and might Janet Reno become the issue and her stewardship of the Justice Department rather than Jeb Bush's leadership of the state?"

      -- Gibson: "Well, you certainly do raise an intriguing political possibility of a Reno-Bush race if you decide to go. We look forward to talking to you."

3

Reagan-hater to take over the New York Times. Howell Raines, the man named Monday afternoon to become Executive Editor in September, charged in a 1993 book that former President "Reagan couldn't tie his shoelaces if his life depended on it." Raines, who is now the paper’s Editorial Page Editor and who was the White House reporter during most of the Reagan years, complained in Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis that "reporting on President Reagan's success in making life harder for citizens who were not born rich, white, and healthy -- saddened me." During a November 17, 1993 interview about his book on Charlie Rose’s PBS show, he whined: "The Reagan years oppressed me because of the callousness and the greed and the hard-hearted attitude toward people who have very little in this society." [See item below for a clarification about the "shoelaces" comment]

     The announcement of his promotion to succeed Joseph Lelyveld in the newspaper’s top editorial slot was made Monday afternoon by Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr.

     The June 1994 MediaWatch caught up with the 1993 book by Raines. Here’s a reprint of that article:

Howell Raines, Editorial Page Editor for The New York Times, has generated a bit of publicity for editorials critical of the Clinton administration's ethics and decision-making process. But a new book by Raines reveals where his sympathies lie. In Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis, the former national political correspondent, who headed the Washington bureau from 1988 through 1992, fails to criticize the policies of any liberal, but he has plenty to say about Republicans:

-- "Then one day in the summer of 1981 I found myself at the L.L. Bean store in Freeport, Maine. I was a correspondent in the White House in those days, and my work -- which consisted of reporting on President Reagan's success in making life harder for citizens who were not born rich, white, and healthy -- saddened me."

-- "In 1981, shortly before the inauguration of Ronald Reagan, my family and I arrived in Washington. I was thirty-eight. I attributed any twinges of unhappiness I felt in those days to bad timing and the cycles of politics. My parents raised me to admire generosity and to feel pity. I had arrived in our nation's capital during a historic ascendancy of greed and hard-heartedness."

-- "I was taken aback by the news that Alan Simpson, the Republican Senator from Wyoming, was a fly fisherman. So much for the ennobling influence of the sport. During Bush's term, Simpson established himself as the meanest man in the Senate. True, his hatefulness had a kind of Dickensian grandeur. But there was no way you could follow his rantings about women, the environment and civil rights and still believe that fly fishing in the mighty temple of the Rockies is guaranteed to purify the soul."

     END Reprint of MediaWatch article

     To get more context for his blast at Reagan for not being able to tie his own shoelaces, I went back to the book. The line came at the end of a paragraph on page 84 in which Raines recounted a fishing trip he took in the 1980s with some buddies to Big Hunting Creek near Thurmont, Maryland, which reminded them of Jimmy Carter’s years fishing in the area:
     "We’re only about a mile from Camp David. The Fish and Wildlife Boys kept the stream lousy with big brood fish from the hatcheries when he was up here. I knew a guy who used to slip in and give every big trout in the stream a sore lip whenever he heard Carter was coming. Of course, I liked Carter. Charlie Fox and Ben Schley taught him a lot about fishing, and he ties a good fly. Reagan couldn't tie his shoelaces if his life depended on it."

     [Clarification, November 2003: It has come to our attention that while the sentence, "Reagan couldn’t tie his shoelaces if his life depended on it,” appeared on page 84 of the book by Raines, it came in the midst of a multi-paragraph quote in a chapter in which he favorably recited the comments on things great and small (during a fishing venture to Hunting Creek near Thurmont, Maryland), from his companion on the trip, Dick Blalock. The other quotes attributed in the book to Raines are accurate and reflect his personal views. 
     The paragraph in full from which the quote came: "'See that pool?' said Dick. 'That was Jimmy Carter's favorite pool when he was President We’re only about a mile from Camp David. The Fish and Wildlife Boys kept the stream lousy with big brood fish from the hatcheries when he was up here. I knew a guy who used to slip in and give every big trout in the stream a sore lip whenever he heard Carter was coming. Of course, I liked Carter. Charlie Fox and Ben Schley taught him a lot about fishing, and he ties a good fly. Reagan couldn't tie his shoelaces if his life depended on it.'"
     We regret the confusion.]

     Digging back into the Notable Quotables archive, I came across two other noteworthy comments which reflect his liberal persuasion:

     -- Dissing the Washington Times: "I don’t take The Washington Times seriously as a journalistic entity, so I view with suspicion almost anything that they do." -- Then-New York Times Washington Bureau Chief Raines, quoted in the August 1, 1989 Washington Post.

     -- Pushing Hillary Care by discrediting one of its opponents: "The American Medical Association used the specter of ‘socialized medicine’ to defeat Harry S. Truman’s plan for national health insurance in 1945. The same demagoguery still works, but that does not change the agreed facts...while Americans who can afford it get the best care in the world, the current system makes little sense in terms of economic competitiveness or social equity." -- June 12, 1994 column by Raines.

     Jim Romenesko's MediaNews has posted the text of the Sulzberger memo to the staff announcing the promotion of Raines. An excerpt of Sulzberger’s praise for Raines:

....What to say about Howell? Well, most of you know him as our esteemed fire-breathing, take-no-prisoners editorial page editor. But his years in the newsroom -- both here and abroad -- and his years as a reporter and editor for such other newspapers as the St. Pete Times and the Atlanta Constitution, have resulted in a man with great journalistic heft and breadth.

Howell will also be the first executive editor of The New York Times whose roots include working at one of our Company's regional newspapers -- in his case the Tuscaloosa News in Alabama. They report he was a damn fine City Hall reporter and showed promise.

Howell has the journalistic skills and integrity as well as the leadership and managerial ability to build on the remarkable accomplishments of Joe Lelyveld. But this is not a time to wax eloquently on Joe. That time will come, but not until September, when this transition will actually take place....

     END Excerpt

     To read the entire Sulzberger memo, go to: http://www.poynter.org/medianews/memos.htm

     For the New York Times story on the succession, go to:
http://www.nytimes.com/2001/05/21/business/21CND-TIMES.html

     For the official New York Times bio of Raines, go to: http://www.nytco.com/company/ex.rain.html

4

Dan Rather accepts none of the responsibility for why he’s seen as a liberal advocate. In interview Monday night with CNBC’s Geraldo Rivera he claimed that charge is made by those who "subscribe to the idea either you report the news the way we want you to report it, or we’re gonna tag some, what we think negative sign on you."

     Six days after he insisted to FNC’s Bill O’Reilly that Bill Clinton is "an honest man....I think at core he’s an honest person....I think you can be an honest person and lie about any number of things," Rather turned up on Rivera’s CNBC show in another stop to plug his new book, The American Dream: Stories from the Heart of Our Nation.

     For more about Rather’s comments to FNC’s O’Reilly, refer back to the May 15 CyberAlert Extra and May 17 CyberAlert:
http://www.mrc.org/news/cyberalert/2001/cyb20010515_extra.asp
http://www.mrc.org/news/cyberalert/2001/cyb20010517.asp#5

     MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth took down this exchange from the May 21 Rivera Live in which Rather portrayed himself as a martyr for telling the truth about Watergate and Vietnam:

     Rivera: "What I can’t figure out is why you rub the right so wrong. What is it about you that generates such ferocious criticism from one side of the American political spectrum?"
     Rather: "Well, I’m not sure I know the answer to that, Geraldo, and I ask myself from time to time, but I think part of it is, you know, let’s face it, I’ve been really lucky, and God has smiled on me, that I’ve been at or near the center of some great stories and controversial stories. You can’t cover the civil rights movement in the early sixties, the assassination of President Kennedy, the Vietnam War, the resignation of the only President we’ve ever had to resign, one who resigned as an unindicted co-conspirator in a widespread criminal conspiracy. You just can’t handle that kind of hot lead and not have some people get mad at you. The old saying ‘It goes with the territory.’ There have been times in my career when what other people perceive to be the Left has been angry. I didn’t get along with Lyndon Johnson all the time during his presidency, but you know, I wouldn’t trade it for anything, and whenever somebody takes off on me, I usually try to stop and say, ‘Well, is the criticism valid or not?’ A lot of times it isn’t. I think the tag, you know, somehow or another, ‘he’s a bomb-throwing Bolshevik from the left side’ that’s attached to me, is put there by people who, they subscribe to the idea either you report the news the way we want you to report it, or we’re gonna tag some, what we think negative sign on you. There are people in the world that way, that, you know, part of growing up is to recognize not everybody is going to love you, and believe me, I recognize that."

     He’s got that last part correct.

5

Cubans drive 1959 cars through a capital city in shambles, but it has nothing to do with its communist command economy. It’s all the fault of the United States, as if no other nation trades with Cuba. At least that was the spin passed on by ABC News on Saturday night in a story about how the Cuban regime has decided to restore historic buildings in Havana in order to attract foreign tourists.

    World News Tonight/Saturday anchor Elizabeth Vargas set up the May 19 report: "President Bush has said he will not lift sanctions against Cuba and will continue to isolate the Castro government. U.S. sanctions have devastated Cuba’s economy, but on assignment there ABC’s Jeffrey Kofman also found some recent signs of revival and renovation."

    Recounting the restoration efforts, Kofman re-enforced the U.S. is at fault theme: "That this legacy has survived at all is one of the great ironies of the 40-year-old U.S. embargo on trade with Cuba. There simpy hasn’t been enough money to repair or replace these magnificent buildings."

    The U.S. did not have a trade embargo against other communist nations yet their economies hardly thrived.

6

An outside the network TV prism box question from C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb. Interviewing Boston Globe reporter John Farrell about his new biography of former House Speaker Tip O’Neill, Lamb posed a question never dared broached on network news: "Why is it you’re labeled as good when you take other people’s tax money and then pass it on to somebody who doesn’t have it?"

     New MRC intern Lindsay Welter transcribed this exchange on the May 20 Booknotes between C-SPAN founder Lamb and Farrell about Farrell’s book, Tip O’Neill and the Democratic Century:

     Lamb: "Let me stumble through a scenario here. Tip O’Neill was known in your book as a great humanitarian and interested in little people. What is it about a politician, how do you, how do you define a politician as being good if they take other peoples’ money and pass it onto somebody else and why doesn’t everyone do that? I mean, it’s the old dichotomy here. If you’re a conservative and you don’t believe in making it easier for people to get, you know transfer payments, why is it you’re labeled as good when you take other people’s tax money and then pass it on to somebody who doesn’t have it and why doesn’t everybody do that?"

     Farrell replied: "I think that, I guess I reveal a little ideological bias. I really believe that what Roosevelt did was revolutionary and necessary. That he probably did save capitalism and that the United States in the 19, in the gilded era and in the 1920s would not have been the nation is it today if we just let the markets operate. I think that there are two great organizing principles, there’s economics but then there’s also politics. It’s the way we solve problems. It’s not just, you know, let’s get a covered wagon and go out across the plains, let’s get together in a wagon train and go out across the plains. Let’s not just build a barn, let’s get together and raise a barn. So the common purpose I think that he, that Roosevelt represented with the New Deal was essential I think that you know, obviously he was the domineering figure in American politics in the 20th century because of that. And I think that Tip was, form what we just heard, citing those social statistics, was very proud of what he had done to create a middle class.
     "That being said, in the 1970s, the Democrats had run out of stream and their answer to everything was, tax and spend, tax, tax, spend, spend. There’s unemployment, let’s create CETA, you know, a make work jobs program and I think that Reaganism was absolutely a necessary correction. I think that part of the great fascination I had in writing those chapters was the fact that you had a revival of the individualism and the entrepreneurial spirit that the country desperately needed in the 1980s. And the question, everything was up for grabs, I mean the question was that the whole country had to come together again and say ok, ‘who are we?,’ ‘what do we believe in?,’ ‘how much of Roosevelt do we keep, how much do we throw away?,’ and that’s what I think is such a great story between Tip and Reagan."

     While it’s surprising to hear a Boston Globe reporter say "Reaganism was absolutely a necessary correction," most of Farrell’s colleagues in the journalism profession are as blindly stuck to liberalism as O’Neill ever was, which explains why they continue to equate federal spending with caring. -- Brent Baker


 

 


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