1) With gas prices rising as a holiday weekend approaches,
ABC anchor Charles Gibson demanded: "Is it price gouging?" He
speculated in setting up ABC’s lead story: "You have to wonder
about the timing." Reporter Dean Reynolds acknowledged other factors,
but stressed nefarious business practices: "While the oil companies
deny any suggestion that they are manipulating the price to boost profits,
2) CBS corrected itself. On Monday night anchor John
Roberts hyped how "the fat federal surplus vanishes into thin
air...the President will have to use Social Security money to keep the
government running." But on Tuesday night he acknowledged that spin
"may be more symbolism than substance" as Bill Plante explained
how "Congress has been spending the Social Security surplus since it
3) After pushing Bush to abandon his promise on embryonic
stem cells, on Tuesday morning ABC and NBC repeatedly pressed the OMB’s
Mitch Daniels on Bush’s pledge to not use the Social Security surplus.
ABC’s Terry Moran lectured: "It sounds like you're saying something
contrary to what the Republican Party platform promised last year."
NBC’s Matt Lauer relayed the Democratic spin: "People are running
around spending those checks to spur on the economy and it’s money the
government can't afford."
4) ABC’s Good Morning America refuses to identify Gary
Condit as a Democrat, but on Tuesday morning co-host Diane Sawyer made
sure viewers realized the Republican agenda of a group aiding in Anne
Marie Smith’s case. Noting how he is working with Judicial Watch, Sawyer
demanded of Smith’s lawyer: "Is this a Republican vendetta of some
kind? A right-wing vendetta?"
5) Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift lamented the "sex
police" hounding of Gary Condit, bemoaned how "he has brought
back all the Clinton haters and all the bit players in the Clinton drama,
and we’re reliving the Clinton impeachment. I don’t think we need
that," and denounced Anne Marie Smith for coming forward.
6) Self-contradictory sentence of the week, about the
Executive Producer of 60 Minutes: "[Don] Hewitt made a plea for gun
control and voiced his support for stem-cell research, while ridiculing
the charge that the media are too liberal."
7) People "really like" Bill Clinton because he
does things like buy bikinis in Brazil. ABC News White House reporter
Terry Moran insisted of the bikini buying: "That's one of the reasons
that they, some people have cottoned to him, I think."
great Labor Day weekend gas price conspiracy. Tuesday night ABC led with
how just in time for the holiday weekend, gas prices are rising. World
News Tonight anchor Charles Gibson demanded: "Is it price
gouging?" He speculated: "You have to wonder about the timing.
Millions of people are about to hit the road for the Labor Day weekend,
and in many places, there has been a sudden and dramatic increase in the
price of gasoline."
Reporter Dean Reynolds acknowledged that
"part of the problem has to do with tough air quality regulations
that require hard to replace blends of gasoline for specific
markets," but he stressed "suspicion" about nefarious
business practices: "While the oil companies deny any suggestion that
they are manipulating the price to boost profits, critics disagree."
ABC assumed any demand-induced price increases
would be improper, as if the oil companies, refiners and gas stations
should suspend the laws of supply and demand to ensure motorists don’t
pay a cent more when demand surges over a holiday weekend.
Gibson’s teaser at the top of the August 28
show: "On World News Tonight, gas prices rocket up across the country
just in time for Labor Day. Is it price gouging?"
He then opened the broadcast by suggesting the
oil companies are up to no good: "Good evening. You have to wonder
about the timing. Millions of people are about to hit the road for the
Labor Day weekend, and in many places, there has been a sudden and
dramatic increase in the price of gasoline -- in some places, over 50
cents a gallon. That’s a definite change in the trend. For most of the
summer, prices had been going down. ABC’s Dean Reynolds tonight is in
Reynolds explained, as taken down by MRC
analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Charlie, there are a couple of good reasons
for the higher prices, but still, an awful lot of suspicion. Since a fire
two weeks ago put this refinery near Chicago temporarily out of business,
the region’s gasoline supply has dropped 55,000 gallons every day. That
helps to explain why motorists from California to Minnesota, from Oklahoma
to Michigan, are now seeing pump prices shooting up again because the
Midwest is scrounging for fuel from other areas."
Woman: "I’m almost at $2 a gallon, and I
think it’s outrageous."
Reynolds: "Usually, low-priced Oklahoma has
registered a 30 cent spike in the last week. Prices in Minnesota are up 27
cents. In Michigan, up 14 cents. In Iowa, the price per gallon has reach a
$1.83 while California prices are up 10 to 20 cents. Part of the problem
has to do with tough air quality regulations that require hard to replace
blends of gasoline for specific markets. And the oil industry says there
just aren’t enough refineries to take up the slack when one goes
Ed Murphy, American Petroleum Institute:
"Essentially, we’ve got an overall problem of operating refineries
at well in excess of 90 percent. That leaves no margin of error."
Reynolds raised suspicions: "Still, there is
the question of timing. Back on Memorial Day, gasoline prices were also
spiking as holiday motorists hit the road. They dropped and stabilized for
months but now are heading back up just as Labor Day and its travel boom
Woman: "I have my suspicions, particularly
with the holiday coming up."
Tyson Slocum of Public Citizen: "These oil
companies act like the calendar sneaks up on them."
Reynolds: "While the oil companies deny any
suggestion that they are manipulating the price to boost profits, critics
Slocum: "They take advantage of these
bookend dates of Memorial Day and Labor Day when demand is really high by
consumers and really jack up prices."
Reynolds concluded: "But whatever the cost
of gasoline, Charlie, it’s estimated that 33 million Americans will be
taking road trips this weekend, and that’s 600,000 more than last
never mind. On Monday night CBS Evening News anchor John Roberts
breathlessly claimed: "The fat federal surplus vanishes into thin
air. Congressional accountants say the President will have to use Social
Security money to keep the government running." But the next night,
Roberts acknowledged the baselessness of the fear he hyped as he noted the
Democratic spin he repeated "may be more symbolism than
Reporter Bill Plante informed viewers of how
"Congress has been spending the Social Security surplus since it
first appeared after Social Security taxes were increased in the
mid-‘80s" and that "today’s debate over the meaning of the
surplus is still all about political symbols and not economic
Roberts employed the usual language blaming
the "Bush tax cut" for eliminating the surplus as he set up the
August 28 CBS Evening News report, but he immediately conceded the
vacuousness of the fear-mongering: "The economic slowdown along with
the Bush tax cut has eaten away the federal budget surplus for this year,
according to a congressional analysis. That’s setting the stage for a
battle between Congress and the White House over what Bill Plante reports
may be more symbolism than substance."
Plante began his report by outlining how
Democrats claim Bush will "raid the Social Security and Medicare
trust funds for years to come," but that Republicans counter that
Democrats just want to spend more money.
Plante tried to correct the misinformation
spread by his own network about using Social Security money which had
suggested it was some kind of new danger: "Congress has been spending
the Social Security surplus since it first appeared after Social Security
taxes were increased in the mid-‘80s. It was President Clinton who made
dedicating all surpluses to Social Security a political issue to one-up
the Republican Congress."
Clinton, January 27, 1998 State of the Union:
"What should we do with this projected surplus? I have a simple four
word answer: Save Social Security first."
Plante: "Today’s debate over the meaning
of the surplus is still all about political symbols and not economic
policy, says former Congressional Budget Office Director Robert Reischauer"
Reischauer: "The $9 billion dipping into
Social Security this year is insignificant, trivial, from the standpoint
of economics. From the standpoint of symbols and political promises it’s
Plante concluded by blaming both parties:
"The White House argues that the Social Security trust fund is
totally secure. It says this is all about the Democrats wanting more money
to spend. As one Republican Congressman put it, ‘don’t tell me this
isn’t politics.’ He could have been speaking for either side."
If CBS knew Social Security money had always
been counted as part of government revenue and spent that way, why a week
ago did anchor John Roberts warn of "the incredible shrinking federal
budget surplus" before Bill Plante asserted, "It’s official:
the government surplus has been virtually erased by the President’s tax
cut and the economic slowdown"?
networks spent all spring pushing President Bush to abandon his campaign
promise to not have the federal government fund research on embryonic stem
cells, but they liked his promise to not "dip" into the Social
Security surplus -- especially now that the CBO reported the government
will do so this year.
In Tuesday morning interviews with OMB
Director Mitch Daniels, ABC’s Terry Moran and NBC’s Matt Lauer zeroed
in on Bush’s Social Security funds promise, repeatedly pressing Daniels
to reassure viewers this will remain an unbroken pledge.
ABC set up its late in the show interview
segment, during the 8am half hour, with a taped piece from John Yang who
warned of using Social Security surplus revenue: "That would break a
promise the President has made again and again."
President Bush, August 24: "I have said that
the only reason we should use Social Security funds is in the case of an
economic recession or war."
Yang explained: "Congressional analysts say
in order for the government to fund itself, it will have to use $9 billion
of the Social Security surplus this year. In 2003, it will potentially
need as much as $18 billion.
MRC analyst Jessica Anderson took down how
fill-in co-host Moran pressed Daniels on the August 28 show:
-- "The Congressional Budget Office is
clearly saying that this year Social Security revenues will have to be
used to pay for other items, right?"
-- "Well, it sounds like you're saying
something contrary to what the Republican Party platform promised last
year. Let's take a look at a graphic of what the platform said -- this is
the platform that the President ran on. It said, 'That's what we mean by
our lock-box,' the Social Security lock-box. 'The Social Security surplus
is off-limits, off budget, and will not be touched.' CBO says you're going
to be touching the Social Security surplus."
-- "These analyses, both yours and the
Congressional Budget Office's, do not take into account missile defense,
prescription drugs, Social Security reform. Something's gotta give here.
Can you assure the American people that that promise, not to touch the
Social Security surplus, will be kept?"
Over on NBC’s Today, MRC analyst Geoffrey
Dickens noticed, Matt Lauer took a similar approach as he oddly also
asserted: "Democrats are now saying, 'You know what? People are
running around spending those checks to spur on the economy and it’s
money the government can't afford.’"
Lauer introduced the August 28 Today segment:
"Now to some bad news on the economy. The non-partisan Congressional
Budget Office has revised its numbers for this year's budget surplus and
those numbers have been moving downward. According to its new report, $9
billion will have to be taken out of Social Security this year to keep the
government running. Mitch Daniels is the Director of the Bush
Administration's Office of Management and Budget. Mr. Daniels good morning
-- "Do you agree with the numbers from
-- "So you're saying now, will you
guarantee that none of that money will go to anything but paying down the
-- "The numbers, I mean we went from a
projection of $275 billion, the new estimate about $153 billion. What
happened to the $120 billion?"
-- "Well, let me go back and play devil's
advocate for a second. You talk about the rebate checks that were sent to
the, to the taxpayers. It was their money and sent back to them. The
President wanted $1.6 trillion in tax cuts. He got about $1.35 trillion.
Democrats are now saying, 'You know what? People are running around
spending those checks to spur on the economy and it’s money the
government can't afford.'"
-- "Let, let me go back to something you
were quoted as saying recently. You said that when it comes to the promise
of not touching Social Security, and I assume you were referring to not
touching it for anything other than paying down the debt. You said that is
'symbolic,' quote. You went on to say quote, 'It's a big mistake to make
Social Security so sacrosanct that other priorities are discarded.' So, so
if money is taken from Social Security, Mr. Daniels, to pay for something
other than paying down the debt would that be a broken promise?"
-- "But in terms of going in and taking a
little to pay down the debt, here are the numbers that the CBO comes up
with for the next three years. See if you agree with these. 2001: $9
billion; 2003: $18 billion; 2004: $3 billion. Is that right with your
Good Morning America refuses to identify Gary Condit as a Democrat, but on
Tuesday morning co-host Diane Sawyer made sure viewers realized the
Republican agenda of a group aiding in Anne Marie Smith’s case against
Condit. Noting how he is working with Judicial Watch, Sawyer demanded of
Smith’s lawyer: "Is this a Republican vendetta of some kind? A
Sawyer never labeled Condit before, during or
after her August 28 interview with Smith and her lawyer, Jim Robinson.
And, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson recalled, GMA didn’t utter his party
identification on Monday, or on Friday when nearly the entire show was
consumed by discussions about the Condit interview from the night before.
Sawyer’s sudden concern for the partisanship
and a political agenda came in her final question, one posed to Robinson
who the day before filed a request for a grand jury to indict Condit for
asking his client to sign a false affidavit:
"In the New York Times this morning, the
fact that you are joined in this request for a grand jury by Judicial
Watch, according to the New York Times says, 'adds a decidedly political
edge to the case.' Is this a Republican vendetta of some kind? A
Robinson: "Absolutely not. Murder is
A shocked and appalled Sawyer exclaimed:
Robinson: "We're talking about a murder
investigation, yes. We're talking about a missing person who hasn't shown
up in over a hundred days. That's, as far as I'm concerned, that's a
The word "Democrat" was soon uttered
by Sawyer, but only after she was prompted by Smith and it was not a
reference to Condit. Following the above exchange in which Robinson went
on to insist "I don’t care anything about Judicial Watch, I could
care less about their political past," Smith assured Sawyer:
"I’m not a Republican." Sawyer observed: "In fact, I
heard you were a Democrat."
Eleanor Clift rationalized Gary Condit’s refusal to answer all questions
because "I don’t think we need to be the sex police here,"
argued that "Democrats want him off the scene ‘cause now he has
brought back all the Clinton haters and all the bit players in the Clinton
drama, and we’re reliving the Clinton impeachment. I don’t think we
need that as a country," and denounced Anne Marie Smith for coming
MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth caught Clift’s
comments on Tuesday’s The Edge on FNC hosted by Linda Vester. After
Kathleen Willey Schwicker talked about Condit copying the Clinton
strategy, Clift retorted:
"I don’t think he had to take lessons from
President Clinton. There must be a master play book out there. If you’re
a married man and you get caught, you’re evasive. And while I certainly
don’t condone any of this, we should remember that Chandra Levy was a
24-year-old woman, she was not his intern, she was working in Washington,
and it’s very sad the way this has turned out. And if Mr. Condit has
withheld information that could be helpful in the investigation, he should
be rightfully condemned, but I don’t think we need to be the sex police
here as actually Police Chief Ramsey said at one point in this
Vester soon wondered: "Eleanor, do you
think there are going to be any more of these interviews? I mean, so far,
he’s batting zero."
Clift hoped not: "I think every family has
their secrets and every family has their loyalties, and clearly the Condit
family, they’re sticking with him right now. He seems constitutionally
incapable of coming out and admitting any wrongdoing on his part and being
contrite and at least appearing to be candid. And if he doesn’t do those
things, I don’t see any point in his coming forward. He’s just going
to increase the animosity against him, which is why Democrats want him off
the scene ‘cause now he has brought back all the Clinton haters and all
the bit players in the Clinton drama, and we’re reliving the Clinton
impeachment. I don’t think we need that as a country."
Vester later noted that FNC would interview
Anne Marie Smith the next day and so wanted to know: "As a
journalist, what would you want to ask her first off?"
Clift replied: "Why she wants to stand up
and be so, have the country know that she had an affair with this man. I
don’t see that that’s much of a badge of honor, frankly. And I don’t
think her lawsuits are gonna go anywhere."
So much for a journalists wanting to dig out
self-contradicting sentence: "Hewitt made a plea for gun control and
voiced his support for stem-cell research, while ridiculing the charge
that the media are too liberal."
That sentence appeared near the end of an
August 28 New York Post item by gossip columnist Neal Travis about how Don
Hewitt, Executive Producer of CBS’s 60 Minutes, criticized the
arrangement to which ABC agreed for its Condit interview as he also
"suggested TV would be better off banning political advertisements
and replacing them with spots for hard liquor."
Jim Romenesko’s MediaNews (http://www.poynter.org/medianews/)
alerted me to this item. An excerpt:
....Don was guest speaker at the Bridgehampton library the other
evening and pulled no punches. He described the relationship between
politicians and the networks as an unsavory "marriage for
money." He suggested TV would be better off banning political
advertisements and replacing them with spots for hard liquor. "After
all, Jim Beam and Jack Daniel's do less harm to America than Dick
Morris," he claimed, referring to the political consultant and Post
Hewitt also lashed out at ABC News for the way it went about obtaining
that exclusive with Rep. Gary Condit. If Don had been running the show,
the Connie Chung interview wouldn't have aired, given the strictures the
Condit camp was allowed to place on it.
Hewitt made a plea for gun control and voiced his support for stem_cell
research, while ridiculing the charge that the media are too liberal. All
that matters, he said, is whether the issues are dealt with sensibly or
END of Excerpt
One assumes that since no one opposes
"stem cell research," Hewitt was mis-summarized and meant or
really said "embryonic stem cell research."
Hewitt’s formulation, in which he
characterizes his liberal views as "common sense," should be a
familiar one to CyberAlert readers. Recall the following from past issues:
-- Don Hewitt of 60 Minutes refused to defend
Dan Rather for attending a Democratic fundraiser, denied 60 Minutes is
liberal and said he believes in "sense" and
"nonsense." But he revealed that his view of "sense"
follows the liberal line: "I have always believed that if you get the
NRA out of the way..." Go to: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20010416.asp#7
-- Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes voted for Green
Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader, TV Guide revealed. Wallace’s
admission came just four days after Don Hewitt, the Executive Producer of
the show, charged that George W. Bush "may have stolen the
election," but he didn’t mind until Bush governed as a
conservative. Go to: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20010613.asp#4
things like buying bikinis is what makes people "really like"
Bill Clinton, ABC News White House reporter Terry Moran admiringly
contended on Tuesday morning. After recounting on Good Morning America how
Clinton, while in Brazil, bought bikinis, Moran insisted: "That's one
of the reasons that they, some people have cottoned to him, I think."
MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noted this
time-filler exchange toward the end of the 7:30am half hour on Tuesday’s
GMA which Moran co-hosted:
Over a still shot of Clinton walking next to
actor Anthony Hopkins, Moran saluted Clinton’s life: "You know,
some ex-Presidents, they go make corporate speeches, some build houses.
Bill Clinton is living the life of Riley, as everybody knows. He was in
Brazil, strolling the beach -- that's Anthony Hopkins he's with -- he
played some volleyball on the beach and bought two bikinis and
Sawyer: "And sarongs?"
Sawyer: "Are we going to see him in, like,
those spandex things?"
Moran: "One hopes not, but one does wonder
for whom did he purchase these bikinis?"
Sawyer noted he’s also making speeches, adding:
"Oh well, you know, at least he's having fun."
Moran: "He is indeed having fun. That's
never been a problem for Bill Clinton."
Sawyer: "Right, and that's true to form,
that's true to form."
Moran: "And I think people really like him
for that. That's one of the reasons that they, some people have cottoned
to him, I think."
Sawyer: "Some people -- yeah, right."
"Some people" who "have
cottoned to him" seems to include the White House reporter for ABC