Bush’s Unwise "Saber Rattling"; Racial Counting Mandated by ABC; Time: "Noble" Campaign Finance Reform; Expose of Bill Moyers
1) ABC and CBS depicted President Bush’s "axis of
evil" term as dangerous, describing it as "saber rattling"
and "harsh," as CBS even tossed in a mention of how protesters
denounced Bush as a "death merchant." But the networks
conflicted on Bush’s tone in Tokyo. ABC’s Charles Gibson insisted Bush
"sounded very different" while on CBS Dan Rather held that
"Bush has no intention of changing his language or his
2) Diversity of skin color, but not ideology, mandated by
ABC. USA Today reported: "ABC News has compiled a database of 480
people -- all minorities -- to turn to for on-air or taped comments"
and "employees have been told evaluations will be based in part on
how many of these sources they call."
3) "Like the hero of a paperback thriller, campaign
finance reform keeps dodging bullets," wrote an exhilarated Douglass
Waller of Time. Waller hoped Shays-Meehan becomes law because "it
should help clean up the money game....that’s a noble fate for a bill
that has been so often given up for dead."
4) George Will cited a Katie Couric quote, first
highlighted by the MRC, to illustrate media support for legislation he
dubbed the "Shays-Meehan-Times-Post-Couric bill."
5) Bill Moyers "has directed funding to numerous
media outlets on the left," the Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes
documented. While Moyers condemns how, in Hayes’ words, "big
companies -- with help from Washington conservatives... -- are using
public vehicles to enhance their private interests," Moyers’
foundation doles out grants to PBS shows for them to highlight liberal
issues favored by Moyers. Plus, he gave $2 million to the Columbia
Journalism Review, which lauded him as the "leading television
and CBS heard President Bush say the same things in Tokyo, but Monday
night the two networks delivered conflicting spins on whether he’s
changing his tone to appease South Koreans upset by his
"saber-rattling" and "harsh rhetoric."
ABC anchor Charles Gibson asserted that Bush
has been "saber rattling" with his "axis of evil"
characterization of Iraq, Iran and North Korea, "hinting at military
action, but today," Gibson insisted, "the President sounded very
different." Over on CBS, however, Dan Rather referred to Bush’s
"strong, some say provocative, language about the war on terror"
as he maintained that "Bush has no intention of changing his language
or his policies."
Gibson opened the February 18 World News
evening. We start tonight with the Bush administration and a change of
focus. Last month, the President first used the phrase ‘axis of evil’
to describe Iran, Iraq and North Korea. He has been sounding awfully tough
ever since, saber rattling, talking about those countries in an expanded
war on terror, hinting at military action. But today, as he began a
week’s tour of East Asia, the President sounded very different. ABC’s
Terry Moran is joining us from Tokyo. Terry?"
Moran cautioned, as taken down by MRC analyst
Brad Wilmouth: "Charlie, the President and other top officials are
trying to calm jittery nerves in Asia and dispel images of Mr. Bush as a
dangerous warmonger. The President was all smiles meeting with Japanese
Prime Minister Koizumi. And at a nationally televised news conference
after their talks, he sounded a rare non-confrontational note about his
‘axis of evil’ countries."
Bush: "We want to resolve all issues peacefully, whether it be Iraq,
Iran or North Korea, for that matter."
"What a contrast to the language the President used in Alaska just
two days ago to rally the troops and the U.S. public."
"The best way to secure the homeland is to unleash the United States
"But today Koizumi embraced the President’s soft sell in terms
clearly meant to soothe the Japanese public."
explained: "Diplomacy was the order of the day here. In a striking
development, Mr. Bush asked Koizumi to deliver a message to Iran, the same
country the administration has described as a leading state sponsor of
world terrorism. The message, aides say, is aimed at bolstering moderates
in Tehran and marks the first clear sign that the Bush administration is
reaching out to the reformers there."
Moran concluded: "Mr. Bush has been
warmly received here. There’s been just a small scattering of protests,
but his next stop promises to be far more tense: South Korea, where,
Charlie, the President’s placement of North Korea squarely in the
cross-hairs of the war on terrorism has stirred deep anxiety and
Dan Rather set up the CBS Evening News piece
by stressing how Bush isn’t altering his rhetoric: "President Bush
is on a whirlwind tour of Asia, preparing now to move on from Japan to
South Korea. The President got a warm welcome in Tokyo, but officials
there avoided commenting on his strong, some say provocative, language
about the war on terror. But CBS’s John Roberts reports Mr. Bush has no
intention of changing his language or his policies."
From Tokyo, John Roberts noted how U.S.
special forces are now in the Philippines tracking down terrorists.
Roberts then asserted: "Meeting with Japan’s Prime Minister in
Tokyo, President Bush again put terrorists and states that support them on
notice: He will do what is necessary to protect America and its
Bush: "I also explained to him that all options are on the table and
that I will keep all options on the table."
warned: "Fears that military action could expand to the Korean
peninsula erupted in a wave of anti-American protest in Seoul. On the eve
of his visit to South Korea, radical students denounced President Bush as
a death merchant and barricaded themselves inside the offices of the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce. Police were forced to repel down the building and go
in a window to get them out. Both protesters and politicians alike in
South Korea worry that by labeling North Korea part of an ‘axis of
evil,’ President Bush has set back by years efforts at reconciliation
with the North. Veteran negotiator Bob Gallucci, who in 1994 convinced
North Korea to put its nuclear program on hold, says the harsh rhetoric is
a prescription for deadlock."
Robert Gallucci, Former State Department negotiator: "I don’t sense that
this administration is very interested really in making concessions of any
kind to the North to get the concessions that they want from the
"President Bush said today he would prefer to eliminate the threats
posed by so-called ‘rogue states’ peacefully, if possible. And he
brushed away criticisms from nervous allies who complain he is pursuing a
simplistic go-it-alone policy."
"History has given us a unique opportunity to defend freedom, and
we’re going to seize the moment and do it."
concluded by reassuring viewers that though Bush has supposedly caused
damage, he’s not a war-monger: "President Bush, despite all the
tough talk, sent a very strong signal to his coalition partners that the
United States is not about to go in with guns blazing, but it did little
to ease concerns in South Korea where they fear the political damage has
already been done."
of skin color and ethnicity mandated by the President of ABC News, but
what about some diversity of ideological opinion? ABC producers have a
good incentive to air soundbites based upon racial identity politics, USA
Today’s Peter Johnson revealed on Monday, because "ABC News has
compiled a database of 480 people -- all minorities -- to turn to for
on-air or taped comments" and "employees have been told
evaluations will be based in part on how many of these sources they
In his February 18 "The Media Mix"
column, Johnson quoted from a January 19 e-mail sent by ABC News President
here is to make sure that when we are seeking experts outside the news
division to help explain stories we're working on, we include in the group
we're considering a wide variety of possibilities, rather than simply
going back to the same, limited group."
Somewhat reassuringly, Johnson noted that
"word around ABC News is that the memo was largely ignored, which
prompted Westin to revisit the issue last week with top producers."
Making sure the threat was clear, these
producers, Johnson learned, "reminded staffers that evaluations would
include a diversity component."
But ABC may just be catching up with the other
networks. Johnson reported: "Both CBS and NBC say that they have
rules similar to ABC's and grade producers on the issue accordingly. CNN
has diversity plans but doesn't grade producers on it." Fox News spokeswoman Irena Steffan conveyed a novel
approach: "We pick knowledgeable people who know what they're talking
ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider
proclaimed to Johnson: "We're proud of our efforts to try to reflect
the great diversity in our country."
Except any ideological diversity.
For the entire USA Today article:
liberal reporters are usually restrained enough to refrain from describing
a proposed government regulation as "heroic" or
"noble." But Time congressional correspondent Douglass Waller
was so overjoyed that the Shays-Meehan campaign finance bill passed the
House last Thursday morning that he trumpeted the success: "Like the
hero of a paperback thriller, campaign finance reform keeps dodging
Waller added his personal endorsement:
"If Shays-Meehan becomes law, it should help clean up the money
game....that’s a noble fate for a bill that has been so often given up
Of course, as the MRC’s Rich Noyes noted in
preparing this item for CyberAlert, it’s glowing media coverage like
that which has given the so-called "reform" bill its protective
Under a sidebar titled, "Rx for a Broken
System," the February 25 Time assumed money in politics is bad. It
listed a "downside" for four of the new provisions. In every
case, Time was concerned not about how the rules limited free speech, but
by how politicians will find a way around them. The first three:
MONEY: The two national parties would no longer be able to collect
hundreds of millions of dollars in unregulated donations.
State and local parties could still rake it in -- subject to a $10,000
limit per donor, a loophole that would let millions flow in."
-- "HARD MONEY: Limits on individual
contributions would be raised from
$1,000 to $2,000 for candidates, $25,000 for parties
Money still shouts. Over two years a fat cat could hand
out up to $95,000 in hard money to different pols and parties."
-- "BROADCAST ADS: Interest groups could
no longer use soft money for radio or
TV ‘issue ads’ that attack candidates just before a primary."
But groups could still make the attacks through a variety of other means,
such as direct mail, phone banks and e-mail."
Although his was
ostensibly a news article, Waller painted the campaign bill as an amazing
survivor story, with "reform" under furious fire from deviously
clever conservatives and special interests:
hero of a paperback thriller, campaign finance reform keeps dodging
bullets. Legislation meant to clean up the political-money game was almost
left for dead last summer, but the Enron scandal revived it again. And
last Wednesday evening the bill survived yet another near-death
experience, when its backers in the House went head-to-head with one of
their most powerful opponents, the National Rifle Association.
Republicans, led by Tom DeLay, the majority whip from Sugar Land, Texas,
offered a clever ‘poison pill’ amendment that would have exempted
gun-rights groups from the bill’s limits on paid issues
reformers rallied again," Waller reassured readers. "Senator
John McCain, his nose bandaged because of a recent skin-cancer surgery,
camped out in an office on the House side of the Capitol -- across the
hall from DeLay’s suite -- and pleaded with Republican supporters not to
In case you doubted where Waller’s
sympathies lay, he closed: "If Shays-Meehan becomes law, it should
help clean up the money game, at least until its reforms are slowly
strangled by loopholes. That’s a noble fate for a bill that has been so
often given up for dead."
To read the entirety of Waller’s article:
In the early 1980s Waller served as
Legislative Director for liberal Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts.
Nearly twenty years have passed, but he still sounds like a liberal
Will cited a quote first highlighted by the MRC as he illustrated media
support for legislation he dubbed the "Shays-Meehan-Times-Post-Couric
MRC analyst Patrick Gregory noticed that in
his column on the back page of the February 25 Newsweek, Will cited
"media cheerleading." Will contended:
cheerleading for the bill has been relentless. For example, NBC’s Katie
Couric, advocating passage of what should be called the
Shays-Meehan-Times-Post-Couric bill, wondered whether Enron’s collapse
would make "people say, ‘Enough is enough! This has got to
happen!’" The media know that their power increases as more and
more restrictions are imposed on everyone else’s ability to participate
in political advocacy."
For Will’s column: http://www.msnbc.com/news/709428.asp?cp1=1
The February 4 Notable Quotables included
Couric’s polemic point in the form of a question. For more about it,
refer to the the January 28 CyberAlert:
Moyers "has directed funding to numerous media outlets on the left:
the Washington Monthly, the Nation, Mother Jones, In These Times" and
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, the Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes
documented in a lengthy expose in this week’s magazine.
In addition, while Moyers condemns how, in
Hayes’ words, "big companies -- with help from Washington
conservatives, including President Bush -- are using public vehicles to
enhance their private interests," Moyers is doing the same by having
his foundation give grants for PBS programs to promote his liberal issue
Hayes also discovered how Columbia Journalism
Review, which effusively praised Moyers a few months ago as the
"leading television intellectual," recently pocketed a $2
million grant from the foundation controlled by Moyers.
An excerpt from "PBS's Televangelist:
Bill Moyers preaches on...and on" in the February 25 Weekly Standard.
When PBS executives asked themselves the question so many Americans
asked after the September 11 attacks -- what can we do? -- their answer
was obvious: Bill Moyers. We can give America Bill Moyers. Lots of Bill
Moyers agreed to create what became "Now with Bill Moyers,"
an open-ended series of weekly, hour-long, primetime shows that debuted on
[T]he choice of Moyers to lead a national reflection in the wake of
September 11 was strange. Moyers hardly qualifies as politically
nonaligned, a neutral moderator respectful of all sides....
Moyers's difficulty conversing with people on the right seems to have
impaired his ability to report their opinions fairly, particularly on
issues of race. "The right gets away with blaming liberals for their
efforts to help the poor, but what the right is really objecting to is the
fact that the poor are primarily black," he told [Eric] Alterman....
An address he delivered to a gathering at the LBJ library in Austin,
Texas, on January 4 offers an instructive sample of his thinking. It
elaborates what has become a favorite theme: Democracy is threatened not
only by terrorism but also by the sinister forces of money and the
Big companies -- with help from Washington conservatives, including
President Bush -- are using public vehicles to enhance their private
interests, Moyers argued. Worse, he said, they're doing it in the name of
those who died on September 11. A "mercenary crowd in
Washington" is exploiting the terrorist attacks to enrich themselves.
Moyers singled out Rep. Dick Armey, who opposed government-paid health
insurance for laid off airline workers, as serving the interests of
corporate types who contribute mainly to Republicans. Said Moyers,
"Mr. Armey and his band of true believers went along."
Moyers eventually connected "right-wingers" with bin Laden by
suggesting that the Bush administration is more interested in protecting
its wealthy contributors than in fighting "terrorists' dirty
money." The passage deserves to be quoted in full:
"Last year, a year ago this month, the right-wingers at the
Heritage Foundation in Washington teamed up with deep pocket bankers, some
of whom support the Heritage Foundation, to stop the
United States from cracking down on terrorist money havens. I'm not making
this up, it's all on the record....The president of the powerful Heritage
Foundation spent an hour with Treasury Secretary O'Neill, Texas bankers
pulled their strings at the White House, and, Presto!, the Bush
administration pulled out of the global campaign to crack down on dirty
money. How about that for patriotism? Better terrorists get their dirty
money than tax cheaters be prevented from evading national law. And this
from people who wrap themselves in the flag and sing 'America the
Beautiful' with tears in their eyes. Bitter? Yes."
....[U]pon closer examination, some of Moyers's "facts"
aren't what they seem. According to a report by the Treasury Department,
none of the money that financed the terrorists has been traced to the
so-called tax havens; much of al Qaeda's banking was done in countries
like Germany, Great Britain, and even the United States....
The first several episodes of "Now with Bill Moyers" develop
the theme of the dual threat to American democracy, from terrorism and
The second show took up where the first one left off, with a lengthy
Enron segment recycled from another PBS show, "Frontline." In a
tip of the hat to ideological balance, Moyers interviewed Wall Street
Journal editor Robert Bartley, badgering him about why the paper doesn't
consider Enron another Whitewater. And Moyers returned to the subject of
tax havens that he says benefited "the terrorists."...
One need not be a campaign finance reform zealot to find unpalatable
some of the subsidy-seeking by industries and money-grubbing by
individuals after September11....
Still, it seemed odd that these accusations should come from Moyers,
who has himself made so many programs since September 11. When I
approached Moyers to discuss the series and elucidate their funding, I was
told he couldn't talk....
So I sent him a fax. I didn't come up with this idea on my own. Last
February, the American Chemical Council had resorted to faxing back and
forth with Moyers when he was working on an expose of the industry....
I tried one more time to reach him. "One piece of information I am
hoping you can provide me," I wrote in my faxed letter, "is how
much money your company Public Affairs Television has made in
post-September 11 public television." Surely he wouldn't be lobbing
those rocks at the "mercenary crowd in Washington" from the
front porch of a glass house.
Moyers called two hours later. He apologized for not calling sooner,
and we had a brief chat. I asked him about the money.
"I've never discussed my earnings in public," he said,
clearly agitated that anyone would ask about them. "I'm not a
publicly held company, I'm a small independent producer who makes a
If he's criticizing others for exploiting September 11 for a buck, I
ask, isn't it fair to inquire how much he'll earn for his work on these
public television broadcasts?
"I didn't say the questions were unfair," he said. Still, he
wouldn't answer them. Finally, he said he simply doesn't know how much
he's made. "I actually don't know." Much of the work, he suspects,
may have even been done pro bono....
When I asked Moyers if he sees any irony in the fact that he's a
wealthy man owing in no small part to his long association with public
television, the MVP of PBS told me that he's no different from
any other public servant -- fireman, policeman, or teacher. But when I
reminded him that their salaries are matters of public record, he once
again reverted to the status of private contractor....
Though he’d be loath to admit it, given his frequent complaints about
media consolidation, Moyers has become something of a clandestine media
magnate. He quietly earns $200,000 a year as president of the Florence and
John Schumann Foundation, which has assets of $90 million-plus. From that
nice perch, which he has held since 1990, he has sought to influence
public debate in three main areas: the environment, "effective
government" (i.e. campaign finance reform), and "independent
media." Moyers has directed funding to numerous media outlets on the
left: the Washington Monthly, the Nation, Mother Jones, In These Times,
TomPaine.com (run by Moyers's son John), and, most generously, the
American Prospect. In some cases, this support runs well into the
What his work with the foundation makes clear is this: Moyers isn't
opposed in principle to buying influence. He just insists it be done in
what he sees as the public interest. And he's very specific about that.
For example, a 1994 grant for $52,000 supported "a detailed report
in The Washington Monthly on the influence of selected lobbyists in
Washington." A 1997 grant for $100,000 went to Mother Jones for
"promoting important money-in-politics investigations" by the
These gifts to private magazines or foundations associated with them
aren't a big deal. True, they make Moyers look a little silly in his
oft-repeated public proclamations that he has "no agenda." But, as he reminded me several times in our
short chat, he can do whatever he wants as a citizen -- he has First
Things get a little sticky, though, when we consider Moyers's grants to
public television and radio. His $42,000 to WETA "to support a series
of special features on money in politics to run four consecutive weeks in
the Fall of 1997 on the PBS program 'Washington Week in Review.'" Or,
that same year, $296,500 "to fund production of three 15-minute
segments for the 'PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer' on campaign finance
reform." Still in 1997, $127,000 to NPR "to support the special
'Money, Power and Influence' reporting position" and another $100,000
to "support an additional reporter to cover the 'Money, Power and
Influence' beat outside the Beltway."...
The list, as they say, goes on. A "Frontline" documentary on
campaign financing for the small fee of $200,000 in 1995....
And when nasty conservatives suggest that all of this reinforces a
left-leaning public affairs bias at PBS? Or that public broadcasting in
America is for sale? Just give $15,000 to help Fairness and Accuracy in
Reporting run an op-ed ad "in support of the independence of public
television." As Moyers might say, I'm not making this up.
On his own shows, Moyers frequently draws on the "expertise"
of the interest groups he funds through his foundation. In 1999, all of
this back-scratching caught up with him when an enterprising reporter from
Knight Ridder named Frank Greve pointed out Moyers's duplicity.
"No TV journalist has reported more aggressively on the influence
of money in American politics than Bill Moyers," wrote Greve.
"His triple roles as journalist, advocate and financier have made
Moyers one of the nation's most influential champions of tighter
restrictions on campaign contributions. In fact, with the Senate set to
begin debate on campaign finance this week, Moyers is using his control
over money and media to influence public policy in ways that would be the
envy of the special interests he deplores."...
These apparent conflicts have nicked Moyers's reputation, perhaps, but
they haven't kept him from winning effusive praise from the nation's
television writers and earning dozens of broadcast journalism
awards over the course of his career. He won the prestigious Alfred I.
DuPont/Columbia University Gold Baton award for 1998-99, honoring a
documentary on South Africa. And the Columbia Journalism Review, in a
Moyers tribute for its fortieth anniversary issue this winter, gushed,
"Moyers's conversational ease, his earnest delivery, his fierce
intelligence -- all of it has transformed him into our leading television
intellectual, and a worthy successor to Edward R. Murrow." Moyers has
been "an invaluable presence on television" and remains
"one of our most astute press critics." In sum, "serious
journalism is Moyers's legacy to us."
Moyers left another legacy to the Columbia Journalism Review, this one
undisclosed. It's the serious funding his foundation has provided for
years, including a recent $2 million grant to help "save"
-- his word -- the publication that praises him so effusively.
END of Excerpt
That’s barely a third of the article.
There’s plenty more good stuff I left out. To read the Hayes piece in
Weekly Standard subscribers can access the PDF
> Another reminder: Dick Cheney is the
scheduled guest tonight on NBC’s Olympic Tonight Show.