top


CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
| Monday August 20, 2001 (Vol. Six; No. 131) |
Back to Today's CyberAlert | Free Subscription

 

Corrected on SS "Trust Fund"; French Admired for Rejecting Bush; Reagan-Like Bush "Cheap"; Jesse Jackson: "Symbol of Human Rights"

1) Robert Novak corrected Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert for repeatedly referring to the "Social Security Trust Fund," pointing out "there is no trust fund." But Russert insisted on furthering the bi-partisan illusion as did ABCís John Cochran.

2) "Fifty million Frenchmen canít be wrong," Time magazineís Jack White blurted out in response to a poll which found that 59 percent of French citizens disapprove approve of Bushís international policy while 85 percent disagree with his decision to not support the Kyoto Protocol.

3) Steve Roberts denigrated George Bush for trying to "duplicate the Reagan strategy" of separating himself from Washington, DC. Roberts scolded Bush for making "political profit at bashing the government," calling it "cheap" and "cynical."

4) Setting up her interview with Jesse Jacksonís mistress, Connie Chung described him as "the charismatic national symbol of human rights." Earlier on GMA, Chung praised Jackson for supporting the child financially and taking responsibility for her: "He acknowledged it, he didn't deny it."

5) Fridayís CBS Evening News delivered a one-sided polemic about how lives will be devastated if any money is cut from a certain program. Bobbi Harley warned: "Lakisha fears she may lose her government-subsidized day care, the foundation on which sheís built her fragile success because of cutbacks proposed in the federal budget." Harley proceeded to let a tax money recipient, without rebuttal, demand spending be doubled.


Clarification: The August 17 CyberAlert stated that "on Thursday night CBS also jumped on fears about dipping into the imaginary Social Security Ďtrust fund.í" As the subsequent quotes showed, while ABCís John Cochran indeed used the term, CBSís John Roberts actually did not as he employed the phrase "Social Security surplus," though he was relaying the same political point when he warned about "plunging into the Social Security surplus for the first time in three years."

1

A guest shoots back. On Sundayís Meet the Press Robert Novak scolded moderator Tim Russert for repeatedly referring to the "Social Security Trust Fund," pointing out "there is no trust fund." But Russert insisted on furthering the bi-partisan illusion and hours later, on ABCís World News Tonight/Sunday, another network reporter cited concern about the "Social Security Trust Fund."

     All this is relevant since this week liberal Democrats plan to launch an attack on the Bush administration meant to scare the naive by blaming the tax cut for supposedly dipping into the "Social Security Trust Fund," as if ongoing payments to recipients are somehow endangered. Social Security payroll tax revenue greater than annual pay-outs have always been allocated to general government spending. With an overall surplus this year, just a few billion of the expected $160 billion Social Security revenue surplus will be spent on other programs.

     Following Russertís separate interviews with Bush economic adviser Larry Lindsey and House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, Novak appeared on a panel on the August 19 show with Democratic spinner Paul Begala and incoming Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot.

     Novak informed Russert: "The problem with Larry Lindsey is he canít tell the truth because it would be adverse to the Republicans on the Hill who are almost as silly as the Democrats. Tim, there is no ĎSocial Security Trust Fund.í You see, you talked, you said about six times in questioning these people, Ďyou going to dip into the Social Security Trust Fund?í There is no trust fund. All itís got in it are a bunch of IOUs which are worth nothing. There is no trust fund under any sense of the word. All youíre saying is that the $160 million, billion dollar surplus estimated comes almost entirely from the payroll tax. That isnít a trust fund. Thatís just the current accounts thatís coming in, but the Republicans-"
     Russert jumped in, again employing the "trust fund" language: "Whoa, whoa, whoa. But Bob Novak, there are 40 million people on Social Security right now, thereís soon to be 80 million. We used to have 35 workers for every retiree, itíll be two workers for every retire. Thereís going to come a time when people are going to want their Social Security. There wonít be any surplus set aside for whatever trust fund set aside for them-"
     Novak exclaimed: "There is no trust fund now!"
     Russert held his polemic ground: "But even today they could use that money to pay off the debt rather than spend it on other programs."

     On ABCís World News Tonight/Sunday a bit later in the day John Cochran previewed the misleading reporting viewers can expect this week as Democrats go on the attack. He asserted: "The Democrats smelled blood when in the middle of Mr. Bushís vacation his economic advisers decided the Social Security Trust Fund had mistakenly been credited with $4.3 billion that should be used for other programs."

     The "Social Security Trust Fund" is a bi-partisan illusion, but a truly adversarial press corps wouldnít buy into it. Maybe thatís because it gives reporters such a convenient way to discredit any reduction in tax income to the government.

2

"Fifty million Frenchmen canít be wrong." Make Time magazine national correspondent Jack White an honorary citizen of France since that was his reaction to the poll last week which found overwhelming opposition in France to President Bushís policies.

     The poll, by the International Herald Tribune and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, determined that 59 percent of French citizens surveyed disapprove and 16 percent approve of Bushís international policy while 85 percent disagree with his decision to not support the Kyoto Protocol.

     During a brief discussion of the poll on Inside Washington over the weekend, White blurted out: "Fifty million Frenchmen canít be wrong."

3

Steve Roberts castigated President George W. Bush for trying to "duplicate the Reagan strategy" of separating himself from Washington, DC. Roberts, now with U.S. News and formerly a New York Times reporter, announced his personal opinion on CNNís Late Edition: "I find it inappropriate for people who are running the government to make political profit at bashing the government and I think that Bush is doing that and I think itís cheap and I think itís cynical."

     The outburst from Roberts occurred during the roundtable segment on the August 19 CNN show after viewers saw a video clip of Bush trying to convince kids at a New Mexico elementary school that heís from Texas and not Washington, DC. Roberts chastised Bush and similar earlier conservative efforts which portrayed the politician as battling entrenched interests in the District:
     "He is trying to duplicate a Reagan strategy. Ronald Reagan managed to run for re-election for President as an outsider to Washington. Now that is an incredible political feat to be able to do it. But I think in the end Reaganís relentless campaign against Washington, Newt Gingrichís campaign against Washington when Republicans took over the Congress -- and then they wonder why thereís no faith in government, why thereís no confidence in public policy and theyíre the ones who are running the government. And I find it inappropriate for people who are running the government to make political profit at bashing the government and I think that Bush is doing that and I think itís cheap and I think itís cynical."

     Sounds like Roberts is still a little bitter over Reaganís "incredible political feat."

     By Robertsí reasoning only those who love the DC political culture, and therefore would never criticize it, have the right to do so.

4

When you hear the name Jesse Jackson, what pops into your mind? If itís "liberal political activist" or "race-baiting demagogue," forget a job with ABC News. But if "charismatic national symbol of human rights" came to mind, then youíre perfectly qualified to write copy for ABCís 20/20, at least when Connie Chung fills in as host, since thatís how she described Jackson in setting up her interview with Jacksonís mistress who bore him a daughter, Karin Stanford.

     On Fridayís Good Morning America, after the then-upcoming Friday night 20/20 interview was previewed, Chung praised Jackson for taking responsibility for the child. Chung eagerly relayed how "he acknowledged it, he didn't deny it" and Stanford "says 'good for him,' because he was born out of wedlock and understood, you know, the pain that it causes."

     Chung introduced the lead story on the August 17 edition of 20/20: "When you first heard that Jesse Jackson admitted heíd fathered an out of wedlock child, what did you think? Jackson, the charismatic national symbol of human rights, the married father of five grown children. Who was that so-called Ďother womaní? What were your preconceptions about her? Tonight, we bring you an exclusive interview with Karin Stanford, the mother of Jesse Jacksonís baby. A private affair goes public."

     Earlier in the day, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson observed, on Good Morning America Chung was eager to credit Jackson for his responsible actions, even after it was pointed out to her that he only admitted a connection to the child when the National Enquirer was about to reveal the news.

     After an excerpt of Chung's interview with Stanford, GMAís Antonio Mora wondered: "Now Connie, you spoke to Jesse Jackson yesterday. What did he say?"
     Chung replied: "Yeah, we talked for almost an hour and most of it was off the record, but he did allow us to use one statement. He said, 'I offer no response because any response further exposes the child in ways I feel to be harmful. She deserves support, a guaranteed college education, dignity and privacy.' Now, he also added that he and his wife have offered a life insurance policy on himself, on Jesse Jackson, with the beneficiary, Ashley, the little 12-year-old, uh, two-year-old girl."
     Mora: "So he has taking some responsibility for his child."
     Chung enthusiastically endorsed his actions: "Oh, absolutely."
     Mora: "But for all practical purposes he's really not visiting her."
     Chung conceded: "Well, not right now, but he had visited her the first year and a half, frequently."
     Mora challenged Chungís rosy picture: "But he hasn't for months, and isn't this kind of hypocritical for a man who has preached responsibility for African-American fathers for such a long time?"
     Chung came to Jacksonís defense: "Well, actually, Karin Stanford herself says that she admires him for not denying the child right from the beginning. When it first became public, he was actually the one who released the information to upstage a tabloid paper that was going to put it out."
     Mora reminded viewers: "Right, that was going to come out with the story."
     Chung maintained her pro-Jackson spin: "But he acknowledged it, he didn't deny it and she says 'good for him,' because he was born out of wedlock and understood, you know, the pain that it causes."

     But Jackson may never know the pain of a hostile press corps.

5

CBSís one-sided promotion of more federal spending. On Thursday night CBS reporter John Roberts recalled that "not six months ago Congress was rolling in record revenues wondering what to do with all that money," but the question now is: "Where did it all go?" He noted that the surplus had fallen from $125 billion with $74 billion going to the tax cut and the economic slowdown taking out another $40 billion. "Whatís left," he rued, "is precious little to meet spending priorities without busting the budget and plunging into the Social Security surplus for the first time in three years."

     Maybe politicians wouldnít feel such pressure to spend if the networks refrained from highlighting victims of any real or imagined budget cuts. Indeed, the very next night the same CBS Evening News contributed to the spending problem by delivering a one-sided polemic, in the guise of a news story, about how lives will be devastated if any money is cut from a program which provides day care to mothers leaving welfare.

     Profiling one potential victim, CBSís Bobbi Harley warned: "Lakisha fears she may lose her government-subsidized day care, the foundation on which sheís built her fragile success because of cutbacks proposed in the federal budget." Harley went on to allow a recipient at the federal trough to demand spending be doubled for the program from which she benefits.

     Though viewers heard five times about "cuts" or "cutbacks" to the program, CBS offered no hard information, such as the name of the program, how much is being spent on it, who is proposing the "cuts" and why, and if the "cuts" really are cuts or just a slight decrease in the rate of increase.

     CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer set up the August 17 campaign for more spending: "Tonightís ĎEye on Americaí looks at a government program that pays for child care so parents can get off welfare and go to work. There is a long waiting list for this daycare, and Bobbi Harley reports it could get longer because of budget cuts."

     Harley began her diatribe, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "From the day she got off welfare, Lakisha Powell has worked hard and played by the rules. Exactly what the federal government asks of mothers leaving welfare for work. After three years of working 90 hours a week, she and her two boys moved out of the projects into this comfortable apartment and off almost all public assistance."
     Harley to Powell: "Youíre not on welfare?"
     Powell: "No, Iím not."
     Harley: "You donít have food stamps?"
     Powell: "No, I donít."
     Harley: "But child care, you canít get by without."
     Powell: "I canít."
     Harley bemoaned: "But Lakisha fears she may lose her government-subsidized day care, the foundation on which sheís built her fragile success because of cutbacks proposed in the federal budget."
     Jo Sheppard, Child Care Resource Network: "If you want a single mom to go to work, then she has to have child care. You canít leave your children in the closet all day."
     Harley didnít bother with anyone who sees a non-federal tax money answer: "And child care providers say that these programs canít meet the need as it is. In Florida alone, more than 50,000 people remain on a waiting list for subsidized child care. Nationwide, only one family in ten that qualifies for such aid actually receives it."
     Sheppard: "We probably need to double the amount of money that we currently use, you know, to provide child care for low-income families."
     Harley, being overly dramatic, as if thereís no difference between, say, a four percent cut and a 100 percent reduction to zero: "And yet youíre facing possibly of that money disappearing."
     Sheppard: "Cuts. Yes."
     Harley lamented: "All Lakishaís hopes for the future of her family now hinge on her education. Sheís taken a big financial hit by giving up one of her jobs to attend school full time. She will receive her associateís degree with honors this spring and then plans to go on to earn her bachelorís degree in accounting. But, in the meantime, she has to work to support her family, which means picking up the kids at daycare and dropping them off at night care, which is also subsidized by a federal program facing cuts. Her job as a reservations agent at a local resort ends at 11 p.m. Itís nearly midnight by the time she and her boys finally get back home."
     Powell: "It doesnít leave me with the best feeling inside that I go to work at 7 in the morning and I donít see my kids until 11 at night, but I know Iím doing what I have to do now so that I can be there for them in the future."
     Harley: "If your child care subsidy disappeared tomorrow, what happens to you?"
     Powell: "I donít know. I wouldnít be able to go to school, thatís obvious. I wouldnít be able to go to work, so where would we end up?"
     Harley concluded: "Itís long after midnight when she finally sits down to study. But Lakisha Powell still hopes that with a little help, working hard and playing by the rules will pay off in her long journey from welfare to work. In Daytona Beach, Florida, Iím Bobbi Harley for ĎEye on America.í"

     Just once it would be refreshing to see a network news piece which portrayed an individual taxpayer as the victim of high taxes. -- Brent Baker


 

 


Home | News Division | Bozell Columns | CyberAlerts 
Media Reality Check | Notable Quotables | Contact the MRC | Subscribe

Founded in 1987, the MRC is a 501(c) (3) non-profit research and education foundation
 that does not support or oppose any political party or candidate for office.

Privacy Statement

Media Research Center
325 S. Patrick Street
Alexandria, VA 22314