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CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
| Thursday May 31, 2001 (Vol. Six; No. 87) |
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Bush Parks "Stunt" Denounced; Humans Over Park "Residents"; Mea Culpa on Price Caps; "Mockery of Pledge to Leave No Child Behind"

1) Liberal environmentalists and the networks pounced on Bush’s parks policy. ABC, CBS and NBC highlighted how one group gave him a "D." ABC’s John Cochran relayed how "groups call Mr. Bush’s attempt to look green a ‘stunt’" while Judy Muller complained parks spending is aimed at "visitors...rather than the residents," meaning animals. NBC’s Tom Brokaw claimed Bush’s environmental record "was one of the issues that cost him control of the Senate last week."

2) ABC and NBC, but not CBS, picked up on an investigation of First Daughter Jenna for using an improper ID to obtain alcohol.

3) A mea culpa from Fortune’s Jeff Birnbaum: "I consulted my Economics 101 and I made a mistake last night when I spoke...Price caps are definitely the wrong economic answer."

4) Emotion over reason. ABC’s morning team was thrilled with the Supreme Court ruling on golfer Casey Martin. Charles Gibson proclaimed he "should ride and be able to -- it's the right decision." Elizabeth Vargas agreed: "It's good for Martin. A long victory, a long fight."

5) The same day the New York Times front page reported that the House passed Bush’s education bill with a 29 percent spending hike, the editorial page under the paper’s soon-to-be top editor blasted: "Mr. Bush's rejection of increased education spending in the budget has made a mockery of his pledge to 'leave no child behind.'"


1
President Bush’s announcement at a national park in California on Wednesday, that he would enforce a Clinton mandate on reducing haze and would release $5 billion to fix up national parks, didn’t go nearly far enough to satisfy liberal environmentalists or the three broadcast networks. Wednesday night each barely touched on what Bush said as both ABC and CBS devoted more time to critics from the left, though unlabeled as such.

     All three pointed out how one group gave Bush a "D" grade for his oversight of parks and ABC and CBS listed all of Bush’s policies which offend "conservationists."

     ABC’s John Cochran noted how environmental "groups call Mr. Bush’s attempt to look green a ‘stunt.’" In a soundbite an activist complained about how Bush is "emasculating our environmental laws." After listing Bush’s awful policies, Cochran then measured Bush’s commitment on a liberal scale: "On the other hand, while the President has not launched any major environmental initiatives, he is strictly enforcing many measures from the Clinton administration."

     Of course, none of the networks gave a second of consideration to any conservative who might be upset that Bush is going too far in accepting Clinton’s decisions.

     ABC wasn’t even satisfied with the $5 billion for parks. In a one-sided piece reporter Judy Muller focused on complaints that the money will go to infrastructure instead of to preserving "natural resources" and protecting species. "At the same time," she snidely added, "the administration is thinking of overturning controls on snowmobiles, which increase noise and air pollution in Yellowstone." She concluded from the point of view of bears: "Even the President’s most vocal critics admit that some money is better than none, even if it is aimed at visitors to the park rather than the residents."

     Over on CBS, John Roberts relayed how "environmental groups are giving the President a ‘D’ for his treatment of national parks. For every proposal he has made to preserve the great forests and wilderness areas, they say, he has made another that could threaten them."

     NBC anchor Tom Brokaw tied Bush’s record to the Jeffords defection, as if he were more liberal on the environment Jeffords would not have bolted: "President Bush has a political problem... when it comes to the environment. It was one of the issues that cost him control of the Senate last week."

     Reporter Campbell Brown stressed how "the real outrage is over the President’s energy plan and its emphasis on increasing supplies through more drilling and opening up protected areas for exploration." She concluded by endorsing the perspective that it is irrational to see Bush as an environmentalist: "Advisers insist the President is here today because he’s truly committed to the environment. A tough sell, many say, but one Bush will keep trying to make."

     Now, more detail on these May 30 stories which led the ABC and NBC evening shows:

     -- ABC World News Tonight. Anchor Peter Jennings opened his broadcast, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
     "Good evening, everyone. We’re going to begin this evening in one of those truly magnificent parts of the country with one of the hottest debates that George W. Bush has found himself in since becoming President. Mr. Bush went to Sequoia National Forest in California today to say that he is and he will be a good steward of the environment. Mr. Bush has been a target of environmental activists from the beginning. There, under those trees which have been standing as long, even before Jesus lived, here’s ABC’s John Cochran. John?"

     John Cochran: "Peter, the President was tired of taking it on the chin from environmentalists, so he came to this ancient forest to keep a campaign promise. Mr. Bush announced he is releasing a backlog of $5 billion in maintenance funds for national parks, including this one. And he will expand air quality rules to protect these giant trees."
     President Bush: "Our duty is to use the land well and sometimes not to use it at all."
     Cochran: "But environmentalists are skeptical of Mr. Bush, even when he is trying to please them. The National Parks Association today gave him a barely passing grade, D, even though it admits his administration has barely begun. Other groups call Mr. Bush’s attempt to look green a ‘stunt.’"
     Charles Clusen, Natural Resources Defense Council: "Unfortunately, they seem to be looking at this solely as a political problem when they’re trying public relations ploys like this speech today where he’s announcing that he’s going to do something that he’s already announced."
     Cochran: "Here is a look at his record as President: He reneged on a promise to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, refused to take part in a global warming treaty which the Clinton administration wanted but did not fight for, called for oil and natural gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, suspended a Clinton era rule cutting the amount of arsenic in water, urged repeal of a law forcing miners to pay for environmental damage they cause, and called for changes in the Endangered Species Act, opposed by environmentalists."
     Rodger Schlickeisen, Defenders of Wildlife: "You do have to admit that this is an administration that gets right to the heart of things when it comes to emasculating our environmental laws."
     Cochran: "On the other hand, while the President has not launched any major environmental initiatives, he is strictly enforcing many measures from the Clinton administration: Restricting diesel fuel emissions, protecting wetlands, and reducing toxic pollutants. Mr. Bush is also keeping 19 national monuments covering 3 million acres that Bill Clinton set aside for protection, but he has no plans to put more land under federal protection. Still, Bush aides say that because he is concerned about economic development, he can never please all environmentalists."
     Karl Rove, presidential adviser: "There are some groups that we will never placate. That’s true, but the American people will come to understand that this is a man who focused on making the air, the water and the land cleaner."
     Cochran concluded: "But privately, Peter, Bush aides admit he can never win the environmental issue. What he can do, they say, is neutralize it and prevent it from causing him major political damage."

     Next, Judy Muller looked at the dire state of national parks caused by increased congestion and no increased funding over the years. She explained how Bush will have $5 billion spent over the next five years to improve "roads, buildings and sewers" which "are in disrepair." She cautioned, "the Bush administration pledge is aimed at repairing that damage, but conservation groups are critical."
     Don Barry, Wilderness Society: "None of it’s for park operations, none of it’s really for natural resource protection."
     Muller elaborated: "Natural resources, they argue, are what the national parks were established to protect and yet the Bush plan provides very little funding for protection of species whose numbers have been dwindling. At the same time, the administration is thinking of overturning controls on snowmobiles, which increase noise and air pollution in Yellowstone. Some parks, like the Great Smokies, are already in peril with air pollution reducing visibility by 80 percent. The National Park Service reacted diplomatically, along the lines of ‘don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.’ In a statement released today the Park Service said if the President wasn’t making parks a priority, the parks would indeed be in dire straights. Even the President’s most vocal critics admit that some money is better than none, even if it is aimed at visitors to the park rather than the residents."

     -- CBS Evening News. John Roberts began his report: "All the way down to the color of his jacket, President Bush was thinking green today. Walking amongst the giant trees in Sequoia National Park, he pledged to fund badly-needed upgrades for the national park system."
     Bush: "Will spend $5 billion over five years to clean up the backlog in maintenance and make our parks more inviting and accessible to all citizens."
     Roberts: "Mr. Bush also vowed to clear the air over America’s parks by approving Clinton era rules to crack down on emissions from older power plants. Spectacular park vistas are often lost in the smog and haze, says ranger William Tweed."

     After the park ranger complained about how the air looks like "an aerial sewer," Roberts proceeded to outline the liberal attack: "Even with his promise to protect the world’s largest tree and other national treasures, environmental groups are giving the President a ‘D’ for his treatment of national parks. For every proposal he has made to preserve the great forests and wilderness areas, they say, he has made another that could threaten them."
     Phil Clapp, National Environmental Trust: "This is another presidential PR stunt, and it’s designed simply to put band aids on a very, very wounded environmental record."
     Roberts: "Environmentalists point to the President’s plan to drill for oil and gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and open more federal lands to logging and mining. And they say his pledge to clear up the haze stands in stark contradiction to proposals in his energy plan to ease restrictions on coal-fired power plants."
     Clapp: "The President likes to talk a lot about national parks, but so far he hasn’t even put his money where his mouth is."
     Roberts concluded: "President Bush is determined to press on, planning next week to announce new protections for Florida’s Everglades, hoping to shed the image that his administration favors big business over the big outdoors."

     Substitute anchor Ed Bradley continued the "Big Business" theme as he introduced the next story: "And there were more complaints today that the President favors big business over consumers in energy-short California."

     -- NBC Nightly News. Anchor Tom Brokaw opened the show: "Good evening. President Bush has a political problem. Perhaps a significant political problem when it comes to the environment. It was one of the issues that cost him control of the Senate last week and so now he’s trying to stop the erosion. A recent national poll asked the question: ‘Is the President committed to protecting the environment?’ It was yes 39 percent, no 47 percent. Tonight, NBC’s Campbell Brown with the President in California where he’s trying to undo the damage."

     Brown asserted: "Under the soaring trees of California’s Sequoia National Park, President Bush tries to re-cast himself as a protector of the environment, sending a message to his harshest critics, the environmental community, to give his administration a chance."

     Brown actually managed to run two Bush clips, one about success through all seeking solutions and the other about how it is the federal government’s responsibility to be good stewards of the land, as she outlined his two proposals. Then she caught up with opponents: "But these steps are hardly enough to appease environmentalists, who say events like today’s and Bush’s sunny rhetoric are only meant to distract attention from other environmentally damaging policies."
     Ron Tipton, National Parks Conservation Association: "The kind of people that have been appointed in this administration to take on their environmental agenda give us great concern."
     Brown: "Today the National Parks Conservation Association gives the President’s parks policy a D grade, charging his initiatives don’t go nearly far enough. But the real outrage is over the President’s energy plan and its emphasis on increasing supplies through more drilling and opening up protected areas for exploration. The image of the President at war with environmentalists, analysts say, is already hurting him in recent polls and could be his Achilles heal with key suburban swing voters."
     Stuart Rothenberg, Rothenberg Report: "These photo-ops are not aimed at the hard-core environmental activist. They’re aimed at suburban women, they’re aimed at moderate voters."
     Brown concluded: "Advisers insist the President is here today because he’s truly committed to the environment. A tough sell, many say, but one Bush will keep trying to make."

     Introducing NBC’s next story, Brokaw conceded other factors beside laws can impact the environment: "One of the charges from environmentalists, that the Bush administration is simply too protective of Big Oil and not tough enough on Detroit to produce more energy-efficient vehicles. In fact, the market may be doing just that."

     Indeed, the subsequent story reported how SUV sales are down 10 percent this year because of fears of high gas prices, so consumers are switching to more fuel-efficient "cross-over vehicles" like the Lexis RX 300 and Ford Escape.

     But the concept of free-market incentives to protect the environment was not touched in any of the stories on Bush’s proposals as none of the networks could see beyond the usual government regulatory schemes favored by left-wing professional environmental groups.

2

For the record, since I don’t see a left-right split on the topic, ABC and NBC on Wednesday night, but not CBS, picked up on a criminal investigation of First Daughter Jenna Bush who is, unlike Chelsea Clinton in her father’s first term, a legal adult.

     On the May 30 World News Tonight, Peter Jennings briefly announced: "The President’s daughter has had another brush with the law, about drinking underage. Police are investigating if Jenna Bush ordered a drink with someone else’s ID."

     NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw reported: "And tonight the perils and the promise of being a presidential offspring. President and Mrs. Bush, understandably, want their twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, to have as much privacy as possible during their college years and for the most part their wishes have been honored, but sometimes reality gets in the way of best intentions. Tonight, in Austin, Texas police say they’re investigating a complaint that Jenna tried to buy a drink with an illegal ID and her sister Barbara was with her. Last month Jenna, who’s 19-years-old, was ticketed for underaged beer drinking. The White House says this is a private family matter."

     On the promise side Brokaw proceeded to note how Chelsea Clinton may be headed to Oxford, just like her father.

3

An overnight transformation as Fortune’s Jeff Birnbaum realized that "price caps are definitely the wrong answer" for electricity shortages in California. As quoted in the May 30 CyberAlert, on the May 29 Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC, the Washington Bureau Chief of Fortune magazine argued that price caps "might help the blackouts through this summer," contending that with them "you may also have a chance of having more" electricity available.

     Wednesday night, May 30, in the roundtable portion of the same show Birnbaum expressed a mea culpa: "I consulted my Economics 101 and I made a mistake last night when I spoke."
     Brit Hume: "No apology required."
     Birnbaum: "Price caps are definitely the wrong economic answer. It could lead to a spreading energy gap and problem beyond California’s borders and a long term energy problem that would clearly be a serious political and substantive problem for the Bush administration."

     If only liberal reporters could so quickly go through such a realization on the many other liberal positions they believe.

4

Emotion over reason. On Wednesday morning, after golfer Casey Martin was interviewed on Good Morning America and ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas raised the concern that his case might open a Pandora’s box of lawsuits to allow those who claim a disability to change the rules of a sport, Charles Gibson made clear he was pleased with the decision in which the Supreme Court ruled that the Americans with Disabilities Act required the PGA to change its rules to let Martin, who suffers from a degenerative circulatory condition, to walk between holes.

     MRC analyst Jessica Anderson caught this exchange after the May 30 interview:

     Vargas: "Of course critics now fear that this will open a Pandora's box of litigation. Justice Scalia in the dissent said that he envisioned parents of Little Leaguers with Attention Deficit Disorder suing to get four strikes instead of three because their child might be at a disadvantage."
     Gibson: "Well, he might envision that, but Casey Martin should ride and be able to -- it's the right decision, I think."
     Vargas: "Well, it's good for Martin. A long victory, a long fight."
     Gibson: "Absolutely."

5

A fresh shot from the left, which contradicted his own newspaper’s reporting, from soon-to-be New York Times Executive Editor Howell Raines?

     As highlighted by the "Scrapbook" page in the June 5 Weekly Standard, last week Mickey Kaus of http://www.kausfiles.com/ caught this contrast in the New York Times over Bush’s education bill:

"The House voted to approve...the legislation, which calls for a 29 percent increase in spending to $24 billion for next year. The measure was written by Republicans and Democrats using President Bush's plan as a blueprint...." -- New York Times, page A1, May 24.

versus:

"Mr. Bush's rejection of increased education spending in the budget has made a mockery of his pledge to 'leave no child behind'...." -- Howell Raines' New York Times editorial page, same day.

     Raines is presently the editor of the editorial page.

     Kaus quipped: "It's lucky the guy who produces that sort of unthinking hackneyed propaganda isn't taking over the whole paper!"

     But, of course, he is set to do just that this September.

     For more about Raines and his Reagan-hating record, refer back to the May 22 CyberAlert, which detailed how he once 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..." Go to:
http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20010522.asp#3

     Refreshing to see that Raines’ left-wing rhetoric is seen as "unthinking hackneyed propaganda" even by a former Newsweek reporter like Kaus. -- Brent Baker


 

 


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