CBS Illustrated Liberal Point; CBS Didn’t Correct Enron Tax Story; Van Susteren’s Liberal Debut on
FNC; Novak’s Quiz for Donaldson
1) CBS provided a misleading graphic to illustrate a
liberal budget point. A Monday CBS Evening News story featured a gold
kettle, labeled "Social Security & Medicare Surpluses," with
stacks of dollar bills flowing out of a hole, as John Roberts explained
how Bush had proposed "the first deficit budget in five years, one
that drains the entire Social Security and Medicare surpluses and still
ends up $80 billion in the red."
2) Using a term usually reserved by the networks just for
conservatives, ABC’s Terry Moran tagged Democrats as "nasty."
Ending a Monday night story Moran noted how Democrats are "saying the
administration is doing to the federal budget what Enron did to its
books." Moran suggested that "shows just how nasty this election
year budget battle is going to get."
3) Two weeks ago, picking up the claim of a left-wing
group about how Enron had not paid any corporate taxes, CBS used the news
as an excuse for a story on how corporations use "legal
loopholes," which "critics call outrageous," to avoid
taxes. But, as FNC’s Brit Hume noted Monday night, the Washington Post
determined Enron did pay taxes. Still awaiting a correction from CBS.
4) Greta Van Susteren isn’t restraining her liberalness
for FNC. On the O’Reilly Factor she defended Bill Clinton, vociferously
maintaining he had never committed perjury. Earlier, she relayed her
reaction to Enron: "Hopefully one of the things they’ll talk about
is campaign finance reform because, you know, there is such a
5) U.S. News & World Report owner Mort Zuckerman,
joined by Senator Hillary Clinton and NBC Chairman Bob Wright,
"hosted a hush-hush, $1,000-a-ticket fundraiser" for Democratic
Senator Max Baucus of Montana, New York magazine disclosed.
6) At CPAC, ABC’s Sam Donaldson weaved and dodged to
avoid giving no answers to Bob Novak’s questions designed to prove
Donaldson’s liberal beliefs. "Should taxes be cut across the board
for the rich as well as the not-so-rich?"; "Do you favor
prohibiting partial birth abortion?"; "Do you favor the
nomination of Antonin Scalia as Chief Justice of the United States?"
News assigned its graphics department on Monday to assist in illustrating
a liberal budget point. A CBS Evening News story featured a cartoon-like
graphic of a gold kettle, labeled "Social Security & Medicare
Surpluses," with a hole in the side from which stacks of dollar bills
rapidly flowed out, as John Roberts helpfully explained that President
Bush had proposed "the first deficit budget in five years, one that
drains the entire Social Security and Medicare surpluses and still ends up
$80 billion in the red."
Of course, that happened nearly every year for
at least 30 years. And if the government were to spend $80 billion less
and have a balanced budget, not one dollar of the Social Security and
Medicare "surpluses" would be spent on anything other than
current programs, so what’s the point? Not one penny of those surpluses
in recent overall budget surplus years went toward future Social Security
or Medicare needs, so highlighting the liberal polemical case only serves
to scare the uninformed, which may have been the very purpose.
Roberts added: "Democrats couldn’t
resist an attack today proclaiming the President would have stayed in the
black if not for the cost of his tax cut next year."
On Sunday night, David Gregory targeted the
tax cut in his NBC Nightly News story on the proposed budget as he
stressed its "cost." MRC analyst Ken Shepherd noticed that
Gregory asserted: "Democrats blame the Bush tax cut for the
disappearing surplus, which the administration wants to now make permanent
at the cost of hundreds of billions of dollars." Gregory portrayed
the tax cut as the enemy of fiscal responsibility: "Amid signs of
economic recovery, the biggest debate may be over the President's economic
stimulus plan which calls for new tax cuts at a time when the government's
finances are in the red."
Back to the February 4 CBS Evening News, Dan
Rather introduced the Roberts story: "President Bush today sent
Congress his new budget proposal with big increases for the war plus tax
cuts he says will grow the economy. Democrats say other priorities are
being hurt, including Medicare and Social Security. CBS’s John Roberts
reports on the budget and blueprint for an election year battle."
Roberts began, as taken down by MRC analyst
Brad Wilmouth: "From the red, white, and blue cover of his $2.1
trillion budget proposal to his patriotic appeal at Eglin Air Force Base
in Florida today, President Bush cast his request for record spending in
the urgent terms of national security." George W. Bush
at Eglin Air Force Base: "The budget I submit recognizes the vital
role the military will play and recognizes we have only one alternative.
And that is victory."
"The President is proposing the biggest hike in Pentagon spending
since the Reagan era military buildup, $48 billion, and he would double
funding for homeland security to $38 billion. Taking the hit this year,
domestic spending such as highway projects, job training programs, and
some environmental enforcement."
Daniels, White House Budget Director: "War time is different. No two
ways about it. And the President is asking Congress for the money it takes
to win the war abroad and defend Americans at home. It won’t be
"The President hopes the campaign to
finance the war will give him political cover against the first deficit
budget in five years," Roberts explained just before CBS put up its
graphic of the gold kettle, labeled "Social Security & Medicare
Surpluses," with a hole in the side from which stacks of dollar bills
rapidly flowed out, "one that drains the entire Social Security and
Medicare surpluses and still ends up $80 billion in the red." When
the graphic faded, Roberts continued: "But Democrats couldn’t
resist an attack today, proclaiming the President would have stayed in the
black if not for the cost of his tax cut next year." Senator Kent
Conrad (D-ND): "This is not a matter of a one or two year deficit.
This is a matter of taking trillions of dollars out of the trust funds of
Social Security and Medicare."
concluded: "President Bush insists that everything will turn out just
fine if Congress can resist the urge to spend, but as the President
proposes to cut dozens of politically important home district projects, by
the time Congress gets through rewriting this election year budget, those
$80 billion deficit projections could look stunningly optimistic."
Which means Congress will be just as guilty of
draining the Social Security and Medicare surpluses.
actually tagged as "nasty" by ABC’s Terry Moran. Usually
network reporters reserve that term just for conservatives, but concluding
a Monday night story Moran noted how Democrats are "saying the
administration is doing to the federal budget what Enron did to its
books." Moran suggested that spin "shows just how nasty this
election year budget battle is going to get."
After outlining the basics of Bush’s
proposed budget and running a soundbite from Bush defending it, Moran
observed on the February 4 World News Tonight: "The most important
choice in the Bush budget is a long-term one. The President has
permanently abandoned the lock box idea, which set aside $1.5 trillion in
Social Security and Medicare surpluses over the next decade. The money
will now be spent on other programs." Robert
Reischauer, former CBO Director, now with the Urban Institute: "What
this means is, is that the nation won’t be saving as much, won’t be
paying down, won’t be preparing for the retirement of the baby boom
generation as it should be in the next decade."
concluded: "To pay for all the new spending on the war and homeland
security and other priorities there once again will be a deficit. The
President’s budget predicts it will be $80 billion. Democrats pounced on
that number, saying the administration is doing to the federal budget what
Enron did to its books and that, Peter, shows just how nasty this election
year budget battle is going to get."
weeks ago, picking up on a New York Times story, the CBS Evening News gave
publicity to the claim of a left-wing group, naturally unlabeled, that
Enron had not paid any corporate taxes in recent years. CBS used the claim
as an excuse to air a story on how corporations use "legal
loopholes," which "critics call outrageous," to avoid
The Washington Post on Sunday, however,
undermined the underlying story as it discovered that Enron really had
paid corporate income taxes. Not surprisingly, the CBS Evening News on
Monday night didn’t bother run any kind of a correction. (There was no
CBS Evening News on Sunday night for most of the country and the original
story aired on a weekday.)
FNC’s Brit Hume did pick up on the
development, reporting Monday night on his Special Report with Brit Hume:
"Remember all those reports that Enron paid no federal income taxes?
They all started with Citizens for Tax Justice, a left-leaning research
group which reported that Enron had paid no taxes in the year 2000 and
actually got a $278 million tax rebate. Now though the Washington Post
reports that what the paper is calling ‘a close review of Enron’s
statements combined with interviews with tax specialists indicates’ that
Enron did indeed pay income taxes and the story quotes an Enron
spokeswoman as saying the company paid $112 million in federal taxes in
the year 2000."
Rather had intoned on the January 18 CBS
Evening News: "The Enron scandal is encouraging new looks at a
growing trend in corporate America: Using legal loopholes, including
offshore hideouts, to avoid federal income taxes altogether. But legal or
not, critics say it is outrageous, as CBS's Mark Strassmann reports for
tonight's Eye on America."
Strassmann had begun: "Enron was
America's seventh-largest corporation, but four of the last five years the
company paid not one dime in federal income taxes. To many Americans, that
in itself is a scandal." Bob McIntyre,
Director, Citizens for Tax Justice: "Whether it's a big corporation
or a rich person, if they avoid paying their fair share of taxes, the rest
of us get stuck with the bill."
"Yet many of America's marquis corporate names pay no federal taxes.
Some even get millions in tax rebates. According to a study by the
Citizens for Tax Justice, in 1998 from the Fortune 500, 24 corporations
reported a total of $12 billion in pre-tax profits. With tax breaks, not
only did they avoid the usual 35 percent tax rate and paid nothing,
together they earned another $1.2 billion in tax rebates...."
For more: http://archive.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020121.asp#2
"Enron Appears to Have Paid Taxes"
read the headline over the February 3 Washington Post story by Glenn
Kessler, who did not call CTJ liberal, preferring to describe it as
"a research group that advocates a more progressive tax system."
One of the big unanswered questions about Enron Corp., the energy
company that collapsed into financial scandal, is whether it paid
federal income taxes in recent years, when it was reporting growing
revenue and profits.
Citizens for Tax Justice, a research group that advocates a more
progressive tax system, said in a report last month that Enron paid
no taxes in 2000 and received a $278 million rebate because of a big tax
break for stock options cashed in by employees. But
several accounting experts questioned the methodology used in the report,
as did Enron officials.
Karen Denne, an Enron spokeswoman, said Enron paid $112 million in
federal income taxes in 2000, even after factoring in the tax break for
the stock options.
A close review of Enron's financial statements and interviews with tax
specialists and accountants indicate that Enron also paid federal taxes
because of what is called the alternative minimum tax. That is a separate
tax system designed to ensure that most companies pay some tax when they
earn a profit, no matter how many tax reduction techniques they use....
Part of the problem in interpreting Enron's tax payments is that a
crucial detail appears only in a footnote to a footnote in the company's
annual report -- and the language is vague. The footnoted item deals with
the impact of the tax break for stock options. Accounting experts who
examined the footnote disagreed on whether Enron's reported figure of $112
million in 2000 taxes paid included the huge tax break for stock options
exercised by employees. Citizens for Tax Justice believes it does not,
which is why it calculates that Enron paid no taxes, an estimate that was
first reported by the New York Times and widely publicized across the
But Denne, after examining the issue at The Washington Post's request,
said the $112 million reported figure of federal taxes paid, on U.S.
profits of $640 million, includes the deduction taken for stock options.
The annual report says the company paid $29 million in federal taxes in
1999 after earning $357 million, and $30 million in 1998 on $197 million
Several experts said the dispute may be moot because it appears clear
that, no matter how much Enron reduced its regular tax liability through
stock options or other techniques, the company still paid taxes under the
alternative minimum tax, according to Enron financial data filed with the
Securities and Exchange Commission.
In 2000, the data show, Enron's credits from paying the minimum tax
rose by $34 million, to $254 million. Accounting experts said that is a
sign the company made minimum tax payments in that year, since companies
earn credits when they pay the minimum tax. The credits are carried on the
books as an asset that can be used in future years to offset taxes owed.
"You only get an AMT credit when you pay the alternative minimum
tax," said Robert Willens, a tax analyst at Lehman Brothers. "It
seems like they paid taxes."...
END of Excerpt
For the entire story, go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A14983-2002Feb2.html
face of the Fox News Channel: The team of Greta Van Susteren and Geraldo
Rivera? Barely ten minutes into the debut of her new FNC show Monday night
at 10pm EST, On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, Geraldo was on the air
with her, talking with her from Africa.
A couple of hours earlier, appearing on the
O’Reilly Factor, she defended her defense of Bill Clinton, vociferously
maintaining to O’Reilly that Bill Clinton had never committed perjury.
Van Susteren hadn’t been on FNC’s air for
more than two minutes during a 1pm half hour appearance before she
proclaimed her liberal political views. "A lot of money pours
into" Washington, DC, she asserted in advocating campaign finance
reform, "Senator McCain has been screaming about this for
years." She wished:
"Hopefully one of the things they’ll talk about is campaign finance
reform because, you know, there is such a problem."
During the 1:25pm EST appearance with FNC’s
David Asman, Van Susteren asserted: "Fritz Hollings may be one of the
few Democrats who didn’t get any money from Enron. You know Enron was
equal opportunity. You know there’s a big problem in Washington with
everyone being, you know, a lot of money pours into that city. Senator
McCain has been screaming about this for years, you know there’s a lot
of money pouring in. It’s not just the Republicans, it’s also the
received $3,500 from Enron.
Van Susteren elaborated on her liberal hope
for more regulation as a result of the Enron situation: "Hopefully
one of the other issues they’ll raise, and this is my opinion, is
hopefully one of the things they’ll talk about is campaign finance
reform because, you know, there is such a problem. You have soft money and
hard money. Hard money is not such a problem because people say I’m
giving, this is how much I’m giving, this is who got it. It’s that
soft money, when we don’t know who got it and how much and that’s what
sort of engenders a sense of like ‘what’s going on in Washington?’
You know, Washington is much better if it gets out on the table this is
how much money we got and this is who we got it from. And I think that’s
where you may see finally some people getting off the dime and talking
more about campaign finance reform."
If hard money is okay because it’s
identified, why not just eliminate the hard money contribution limits? To
whatever extent campaign financing is troublesome it’s because of all
the complicated regulations enacted after the Watergate political scandal.
The lesson should be that more regulation will only create more loopholes.
On Tuesday morning, ABC and NBC gave FNC some
free publicity with both Good Morning America and Today running segments
on Van Susteren’s refurbished face.
Zuckerman, owner of U.S. News & World Report and the New York Daily
News, "hosted a hush-hush, $1,000-a-ticket fundraiser" for
Democratic Senator Max Baucus of Montana, New York magazine reported in
this week’s issue. Also at the cocktail party attended by both of New
York’s liberal Senators: NBC Chairman Bob Wright.
Jim Romenesko's MediaNews (http://www.poynter.org/medianews/)
highlighted the item by Marc Malkin on the "Intelligencer" page
of the February 11 New York magazine:
hosted a hush-hush, $1,000-a-ticket fundraiser for Montana senator Max
Baucus, head of the Senate Finance Committee, last week at his Fifth
Avenue apartment. Over $200,000 was raised at the cocktail party, where
politicos Charles Schumer, Hillary Clinton, Charles Rangel, and Jon
Corzine joined NBC chairman Bob Wright, Loral chief executive Bernard
Schwartz, Liz Claiborne ceo Paul Charron, Goldman Sachs vice-chairman Bob
Hormatz, Quadrangle Group partners Steven Rattner and Joshua Steiner, and
real-estate mogul Bill Rudin."
For the entire item, scroll down to the third
entry at: http://www.nymag.com/page.cfm?page_id=5664
Conservative Political Action Conference’s annual Bob Novak-Sam
Donaldson debate about media bias on Saturday morning, Novak proposed that
many in the media try to pretend they really aren’t liberal. To unmask
Donaldson’s true views, Novak posed a set of five policy questions.
While Donaldson tried to evade each, his answers and non-answers showed
his beliefs match a liberal "no" reply to all of these questions
formulated by Novak:
-- "Should taxes be cut across the board
for the rich as well as the not-so-rich?"
you favor prohibiting partial birth abortion?"
you want to privatize Social Security?"
you favor the nomination of Antonin Scalia as Chief Justice of the United
you oppose embryonic cell research?"
The February 2 morning debate at one of the
Marriott hotels in Crystal City, Virginia, was hosted by MRC President L.
Brent Bozell. I would have plugged its two airings on C-SPAN on Saturday
night, but they did not schedule it until the last-minute, though it also
ran Monday morning on C-SPAN2.
MRC analyst Brad Wilmouh took down
Donaldson’s meanderings as he tried to re-write each question, often to
groans from the audience, in order to avoid a "no" answer:
your questions, because I think it is proper that I should answers these
questions, but not precisely the way they’re written because if I do, if
I do, I fall into the trap of a question which is framed in a way that
does not embrace the whole argument. And you of all people, you of all
people, you know, he would have a couple and a quarter centuries ago or
more have proffered the question: ‘Is it proper to dump tea in the
harbor or not? Answer the question yes or no!’ Yes, given the framework
of the times we were in and the battle we thought we needed to fight. But,
as written, if I were to say to you today, go down to the grocery store,
buy some tea, is it proper to drop it? It’s a silly question.
I’ll answer the question that I think you should have asked. ‘Should
taxes be cut across the board for the rich as well as the not-so-rich?’
Again, since we have to pay for what we spend and yet, at the same time,
we have to somehow make our progressive tax system equitable, I think
taxes should be cut when we can afford them, but when we need to give
stimulus to the economy, it’s best as we did last year, as the President
did in cooperation with the Democrats, mainly to people who need it, like
right, second question: ‘Do you favor prohibiting partial birth
abortion?’ Well, using what devices, and in what sense? I know this has
become a catch phrase on the right, but I think in some instances I would
answer yes. In some instances, I would answer no. And I stand on my
go on to the third one. ‘Do you want to privatize Social Security?’ I
can answer that as written. No. No, I mean, the poor fellow that might
have to retire at the moment would have taken it in the neck since the
President rightfully says we should not guarantee these accounts, the
general public should not guarantee us against loss in the stock market
just as we should not remunerate the poor people who lost all of their
life savings in the Enron 401(k) accounts. And therefore, at certain
points in our history, oh, I love it. Two years ago, Bob, if I’d had the
good sense to retire -- many people might have wished it -- my 401K plan
would have helped me out quite a bit. Today it’s about half its value,
so I can’t retire. That’s the bad news, ladies and gentlemen, I must
four: ‘Do you favor the nomination of Antonin Scalia as Chief Justice of
the United States?’ Against who? Against the field? Against
distinguished people in this audience? Or perhaps against Mr. Bernard
Goldberg? Well, everybody. Then, no, I favor the nomination of Sandra Day
O’Connor, my schoolmate once at a school in El Paso named then
‘Radford School for Girls,’ which I attended and developed a lifelong
affinity for you ladies. I favor her nomination. But, you see, that does
not say that against Mr. Goldberg I would not favor Antonin Scalia’s
nomination. So, as written, the question is not answerable."
Donaldson attended the "Radford School
Back to Donaldson on Saturday: "Fifth
question: ‘Do you oppose embryonic cell research?’ I do not oppose it.
I believe it’s important. I believe that scientists have conclusively
demonstrated that a path to being able to cure dreaded diseases such as
Parkinson’s, muscular dystrophy, cancer, and many more, lies in this
area. And I believe that those of us, and we conservatives are very, very
dedicated to human life, we wish to save it in that way. Now, the
conjuring up of the images of embryonic cell research of fetuses, we’re
not talking about that. We’re talking about something far, far
different. And you understand that. There are misguided people who
I’ve answered some of you questions, I haven’t answered some others of
your questions, but in the fine time-honored tradition of conservatives as
well as liberals, dodging is something we do in Washington all the time.
At least he admitted he was
I’d put him down as 5 for 5 in the liberal
Showing up each year in front of a hostile
crowd, and jocularly bantering with Novak and audience questions,
illustrates that no matter how much conservatives grew to despise him
during the Reagan years, Donaldson has a lot more respect for
conservatives than do most of his network colleagues.