EPA Bush-Basher Extolled; Cronkite Helps Liberal Group; New Book Details How Media Distort Polls; Burleigh Now Worried for "Unborn"
1) An EPA official who resigned by denouncing Bush
environmental policy was rewarded with a boomlet of laudatory media
coverage with stories in major newspapers and on ABC, CBS and NBC, as well
as an interview on This Week. MSNBC’s News with Brian Williams featured
the NBC Nightly News story, but three nights earlier, when Nightly News
aired a piece about how "Enron did surprisingly well during the
Clinton years," MSNBC’s prime time newscast not re-air that story.
2) Walter Cronkite has lent his name to a coalition
organized by liberal environmental groups to fight oil drilling in the
Alaska tundra and to push for legislation to force automakers to increase
3) At a congressional hearing on Thursday, Corporation for
Public Broadcasting President Robert Coonrod was questioned about NPR
reporting practices, including why the radio network suggested the
Traditional Values Coalition was being investigated for Anthrax attacks
against Democratic Senators.
4) In a new book, Mobocracy: How The Media's Obsession
With Polling Twists the News, Alters Elections, and Undermines Democracy,
Matt Robinson details how the media use polls to push liberal political
5) Nina Burleigh referred to slain journalist Daniel
Pearl’s "unborn child," but four years ago she argued that to
thank Bill Clinton for fighting pro-lifers, "women should be lining
up with their presidential kneepads on to show their gratitude for keeping
the theocracy off our backs."
6) Letterman’s "Top Ten Reasons I'm Proud to Be in
the United States Navy." Plus, tonight on CBS’s Family Law...
Bush administration environmental policy as he resigned in a way
orchestrated to generate publicity by, for instance, releasing a letter to
EPA administrator Christie Todd Whitman, EPA official Eric Schaeffer
earned a boomlet of approving media coverage on Thursday and Friday last
week with stories on ABC, CBS and NBC as well as in the New York Times and
Washington Post. Both NBC and ABC implied that since Schaefer began
working at the EPA during the first Bush administration he couldn’t have
been motivated by any ideology.
The event showcased an especially obvious case
of bias by story selection on NBC’s MSNBC cable network. On Thursday
night MSNBC’s The News with Brian Williams, but anchored by Bob Kur,
re-ran the same Bob Hager story about the EPA official lashing out at Bush
policy as aired on the NBC Nightly News. Three nights earlier, however,
when the Monday, February 25 NBC Nightly News featured a story from Lisa
Myers about how "Enron did surprisingly well during the Clinton
years" as Ken "Lay played golf with the President, and Enron
received $1.2 billion in government-backed loans for projects around the
world," MSNBC’s prime time newscast didn’t air the story or any
mention of it. For more on the February 25 story: http://archive.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020226.asp#1
NBC’s Bob Hager highlighted on the February
28 NBC Nightly News how "Schaeffer accuses the Bush administration of
letting electric power plants that burn coal ignore the law, ignore rules
that say if they expand, they have to clean up. He says as a result the
plants are pouring out nearly five million extra tons a year of choking
sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, causing acid rain, bad for soil and
plants, and worse, unhealthy and unsightly smog leading to asthma and
bronchitis and thousands of deaths every year."
Dismissing any political motivation, Hager
stressed how "Eric Schaeffer insists his charges are accurate and
non-political, points out he began work under a Republican administration
12 years ago, actually the first Bush administration." Since
Schaeffer was not a political appointee, by that reasoning Linda Tripp was
pro-Clinton because she worked for the Clinton administration.
That same night, ABC’s Peter Jennings
relayed Schaeffer’s claims without any contrary perspective, announcing
on World News Tonight: "In Washington today an important officer at
the Environmental Protection Agency resigned in protest. Eric Schaeffer
was the EPA's chief regulatory official for 12 years. And he says, 'the
Bush administration is destroying the agency's power to enforce the rules
that keep corporations from polluting the environment.’"
CBS caught up with the story on Friday night
and ABC’s George Stephanopoulos interviewed Schaeffer on Sunday’s This
Week where Stephanopoulos referred to Schaeffer’s "principled
Tom Brokaw introduced the February 28 NBC
Nightly News story caught by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
also word tonight that a senior official at the Environmental Protection
Agency, the EPA, has quit in strong protest of the Bush administration’s
policies on air pollution. This is a story that was first reported today
by msnbc.com, and NBC’s Robert Hager has more tonight."
Hager began: "The Environmental
Protection Agency’s chief cop, the enforcement officer charged with
going after companies that pollute, quits his job after 12 years today,
charging that instead of cracking down on polluters, the White House is
working to weaken rules against dirty air. This from Eric Schaeffer, until
now EPA’s director of regulatory enforcement."
Schaeffer: "I think the current administration is saying if you
don’t want to comply with a law the way it’s written, you can just get
elaborated: "Specifically, Schaeffer accuses the Bush administration
of letting electric power plants that burn coal ignore the law, ignore
rules that say if they expand, they have to clean up. He says as a result
the plants are pouring out nearly five million extra tons a year of
choking sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, causing acid rain, bad for soil
and plants, and worse, unhealthy and unsightly smog leading to asthma and
bronchitis and thousands of deaths every year. The EPA has sued the power
plants but so far has succeeded in forcing only two small companies to
agree to clean up. Schaeffer says other companies are resisting
settlements because they believe the White House is no longer serious
about pursuing the cases."
"The most frustrating thing for me at EPA was to have two big
companies that agreed to cut these pollutants by 750,000 tons basically
get up and walk away from the table."
concluded: "Tonight the White House insists it is pursuing court
cases vigorously and says legislation it’s proposed would actually make
the skies the cleanest they’ve ever been. But Eric Schaeffer insists his
charges are accurate and non-political, points out he began work under a
Republican administration 12 years ago, actually the first Bush
Friday night, the CBS Evening News looked at
Bush energy policy as Dan Rather proclaimed: "True or untrue, fair or
unfair, the debate includes criticism that President Bush is trying to
conceal the actual extent of the energy industry's influence on his
policies. CBS' Bill Plante reports on new revelations about big oil and
other political campaign money, influence and access."
Plante soon arrived at Schaeffer’s claims:
"Eric Schaeffer, who resigned this week from the Environmental
Protection Agency, charges this administration doesn't want to enforce
Schaeffer, former Environmental Protection Agency Director of Civil
Enforcement: "I think the administration is in lockstep with the
energy industry on almost every issue."
"The charges of access for money take on new urgency as the White
House turns up the pressure for its energy bill, which calls for a revival
of nuclear power and exploring for new gas and oil fields in places like
the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve, known as ANWR, a bitterly disputed
Sunday on This Week ABC had George
Stephanopoulos conduct the interview with Schaeffer. Stephanopoulos began:
"You worked for a Republican member of Congress, you joined the EPA
under President George Bush, do why leave with this swipe at his son’s
Indeed, as the March 1 New York Times story
reported, "he worked for several years on Capitol Hill for
Representative Claudine Schneider, Republican of Rhode Island." But
that hardly proves he’s not a liberal. In her last year in office, 1990,
Schneider earned a mere 25 percent vote rating from the American
Stephanopoulos did ask Schaeffer to respond to
Bush administration claims that it has won a big lawsuit over emissions in
New Jersey and its "Clear Skies" initiative is tougher than
existing law, but he wrapped up by characterizing Schaeffer’s
resignation as "principled." Stephanopoulos inquired:
"Principled resignations are pretty rare in American politics. Do you
think you’re going to make any difference?"
Thanks to the media, he already has.
Cronkite has lent his name to a coalition organized by liberal
environmental groups to fight oil drilling in the Alaska tundra and to
push for legislation to force automakers to increase fuel efficiency.
The ad-hoc group of liberal Democrats and
Republicans, joined by Cronkite and actor Harrison Ford, called Americans
for Energy Security, ran a full-page ad in the February 28 Roll Call, a
newspaper covering Capitol Hill. That day the Washington Post’s Judy
Sarasohn described it in her "Special Interests" column on
interest groups. An excerpt:
What does actor Harrison Ford have in common with former Reagan
national security adviser Robert C. McFarlane or former CIA
director R. James Woolsey? Or with former GOP governors Tom Kean (N.J.),
William Milliken (Mich.) and Russell W. Peterson
Indeed, why is news icon Walter Cronkite hanging out with this crowd?
They and others, including a bunch of former Republican senators, are
members of the national organizing committee of Americans for Energy
Security, a new group that is pushing for raising fuel-economy (CAFÉ)
standards and opposing the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
(ANWR) to drilling for oil.
With the Senate possibly taking up energy legislation today, the group
is running an ad in Roll Call with Uncle Sam rolling up his sleeves
in front of a car and the headline: "We Want You...to Boost America's
Americans for Energy Security apparently came together somewhat
"It was a collective effort," said Larry Rockefeller, a
lawyer, member of the board of the Natural Resources Defense Council and
member of the organizing committee....
END of Excerpt
For the entire column:
Amongst the other signers: former liberal
Republican Senators Mark Hatfield (Oregon), Charles Mathias (Maryland) and
Robert Stafford (Vermont) and Clinton’s Energy Secretary, Bill
update. At a congressional hearing on Thursday, Corporation for Public
Broadcasting President Robert Coonrod was questioned about NPR reporting
practices, including why the radio network suggested the Traditional
Values Coalition was being investigated for Anthrax attacks against
Democratic Senators, CNSNews.com
As the January 31 CyberAlert noted, NPR
conceded that it was "inappropriate" for reporter David
Kestenbaum to have suggested that the Traditional Values Coalition was a
suspect in the anthrax letters sent to Senators Daschle and Leahy. For
Jeff Johnson, Congressional Bureau Chief of
the MRC’s CNSNews.com, filed a report on February 28. An excerpt:
Members of Congress Thursday demanded that the president of the
Corporation for Public Broadcasting explain questionable reporting
practices by National Public Radio.
Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) President and CEO Robert
Coonrod appeared before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor,
Health and Human Services, and Education to argue in favor of the
corporation's fiscal year 2003 funding request.
After his testimony, however, members questioned Coonrod about a Jan.
22, 2002, report by National Public Radio (NPR) correspondent David
Kestenbaum concerning the FBI investigation into the mailing of letters
containing anthrax powder to members of Congress.
"Two of the anthrax letters were sent to Senators Tom Daschle and
Patrick Leahy, both Democrats," Kestenbaum reported, according to an
NPR transcript. "One group who had a gripe with Daschle and Leahy is
the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC), which, before the attacks, had
issued a press release criticizing the senators for trying to remove the
phrase 'so help me God' from the oath."
Kestenbaum added, "The Traditional Values Coalition, however, told
me the FBI had not contacted them and then issued a press release saying
NPR was in the pocket of the Democrats and trying to frame them. But
investigators are thinking along these lines. FBI agents won't discuss the
case, but the people they have spoken with will."
Subcommittee Chairman Ralph Regula (R-Ohio) said the incident was an
example of the type of "irresponsible journalism," that would
"erode the credibility of public broadcasting." He further
described the accusation as "libel."
Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif) was especially
critical of NPR for suggesting a possible link between the TVC's criticism
of Daschle and Leahy and the mailing of anthrax....
Coonrod's response was that CPB does not monitor the editorial content
of NPR news broadcasts. He added that many of the reports carried by NPR
are produced by grant-funded entities not under the direct control of NPR
Following a furor over the NPR report, the organization did admit it
was "inappropriate" to single out TVC in the story.
"Reporter David Kestenbaum contacted that group to ask if it had
been contacted by the FBI. The TVC said it had not, since there
is no evidence that it was or should be investigated. The TVC said it was
inappropriate for it to be named on the air," the correction
stated. "The NPR editors agree."
That statement was read during the Jan. 29, 2002, airing of NPR's
Cunningham said the NPR announcement was not an apology. He added that
both the language and nature of the statement were
NPR receives approximately $3 million annually from Congress, according
to Cunningham's office, approximately one percent of
the organization's budget. A spokeswoman for Cunningham said the
congressman believes NPR should be held accountable for
its actions if it is going to accept money from U.S. taxpayers....
END of Excerpt
For the entire CNSNews.com story:
Goldberg isn’t the only one out with a book documenting the media’s
bias. Matt Robinson, a former editorial writer for Investor’s Business
Daily who is now the Managing Editor of Human Events, has recently penned
Mobocracy: How The Media's Obsession With Polling Twists the News, Alters
Elections, and Undermines Democracy.
The February 25 Human Events, "the
national conservative weekly," carried a review of the book by Robert
D. Novak. Though the review is not posted on the Human Events Web page (http://www.humaneventsonline.com),
I was able to obtain the text of Novak’s review. An excerpt:
Early in 2001, a Newsweek national poll asked: "Do you think
Congress should approve Bush's choice of John Ashcroft for attorney
general, or reject Ashcroft as too far to the right on issues like
abortion, drugs and gun control to be an effective attorney general?"
Only 37% of the sample said yes, while 41% were against confirmation.
"With that kind of wording," writes Matthew Robinson,
"it's a wonder only 41% opposed Ashcroft." Those distorted poll
results were enough for other media outlets, picking up the Newsweek
survey, to pronounce President Bush's nominee for attorney general an
unpopular choice and give Ashcroft's Senate opponents political cover to
vote against his confirmation.
That technique is part of the process described by Robinson in
Mobocracy. Biased wording of questions combines with a distorted polling
sample to undermine the entire democratic process. "At the same time
that polling has metastasized," he writes, "voter disconnect has
surged" -- as evidenced by low voter turnout and distrust of
government. "The likely effect of sample after sample will be to
drain the health and vitality of the nation as Americans tune out."
Mobocracy is a serious, meticulously researched account of the causal
relationship between polls and the decline of what used to be known as
republican virtue. Robinson cites The Federalist Papers, especially James
Madison, to demonstrate what the Founding Fathers conceived as the new
nation's politics, compared to how the "proliferation of polls"
has produced an "age of spin."...
The big liberal news media poll incessantly, not just during elections.
"In the wake of an airline crash, school shooting or similar
tragedy," Robinson writes, "polling is now one of the hallmarks
of the media feeding frenzy. In this context, polls make public opinion as
much as they observe it." The supposedly "detached and
objective" pollster "becomes part of the political
The wording of the poll controls the outcome. A CBS News-New York Times
poll used negative wording in asking whether parents should "get
tax-funded vouchers they can use to help pay for tuition for their
children to attend private or religious schools instead of public
schools." Nevertheless, 49% of voters said yes --
"amazingly," comments Robinson. When the poll changed the
wording to whether parents should "get tax-funded vouchers even if
that means public schools would receive less money," support falls to
If changing what is asked can transform the outcome, changing who is
asked even more definitively distorts the result. Thus, using the answers
to poll takers by all "registered" voters rather than employing
the more expensive technique of limiting results to "likely"
voters tilts the results to the left. With legitimate voters increasingly
reluctant to respond to poll questions, the people sampled are
"grossly ignorant and even apathetic." People who don't bother
to vote are enfranchised in the pollster's "mob."
Robinson sees the polls yielding "half-baked opinions based on
little more than momentary impressions." The propensity for
manipulation was never greater than in the flawed debate over the
impeachment of President Bill Clinton when he survived "almost solely
due to his support in public opinion polls."
What is to be done? Robinson offers a laundry list of changes: End
overnight polls, which are notoriously unreliable. Question only
"likely" voters in polls. Use samples with a minimum of 1,000
voters. Release all information about surveys, including the exact wording
of questions. Draft questions that precisely define terms (such as
"voucher" in a school choice survey).
Don't count on any of the Robinson reforms being implemented. Even if
they were, a poll would still be a poll. "Polls are not and can never
be a surrogate for debate," Robinson writes.
Indeed, Matthew Robinson sees the republican ideal as envisioned by
James Madison undermined by the sophisticated appeal to the
"mob" through the symbiotic relationship between politicians,
the media and pollsters: "The noblest expression of liberty and
self-rule isn't found in the questions written by a pollster working in
New York for a newspaper story about a Washington controversy and then
tested on a busy and uninformed citizen. Liberty values action and rewards
individual decisions in every life where the margin of error is contained
by personal responsibility and government is limited to allow the full
expression of every belief and private opinion."
END of Excerpt
For a bio of Robinson:
Robinson’s book is published by Prima, which
summarizes it on their Web site:
You can buy Robinson’s book online via
Amazon.com, which pairs it with Goldberg’s book at a discounted price: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0761535829/
appreciation for the unborn from a woman who just a few years ago urged
all women to thank Bill Clinton for keeping abortion legal by doing on
their knees for Bill Clinton what Monica Lewinsky became famous for doing?
[Be advised, this item contains slang terminology for an oral sex act.]
Former MRCer Clay Waters alerted me to how, in
a February 25 column posted on the left-wing TomPaine.com Web site, in
which former Time magazine reporter Nina Burleigh paid tribute to slain
journalist Daniel Pearl, she wondered: "None of the column inches can
tell us whether Pearl believed that glowing eulogies and presidential
mention, at the age of 38, were worth the price of never seeing his unborn
child, or for that matter, not living the rest of his life."
His "unborn child"? Back in 1998
Burleigh displayed no such reverence for unborn life as she argued that
"American women should be lining up with their presidential kneepads
on to show their gratitude" to President Clinton "for keeping
the theocracy off our backs" -- the theocracy which wants to make
aborting a fetus illegal.
In the July 20, 1998 New York Observer,
Burleigh recounted her rise to fame after she wrote in Mirabella that
she’d like to be "ravished" by Bill Clinton and then told the
Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz how she’d be willing to perform oral
sex on Bill Clinton to thank him for keeping abortion legal:
[The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz] called back, I decided my
only defense would be to give him a quote that would knock his socks off.
I also wanted to test the Post’s new ‘sizzle’ -- the paper’s
post-We Broke the Lewinsky Story advertising hook. So when Howard asked
whether I could still objectively cover the President, having found him so
attractive, I replied, ‘I would be happy to give him a blow job just to
thank him for keeping abortion legal. I think American women should be
lining up with their presidential kneepads on to show their gratitude for
keeping the theocracy off our backs.’ I recognized Howard’s visceral
response to my words by his sudden intake of breath and the spurt of
pounding fingers of keyboard. I’d never been on that side of a good
quote before. It was better than sex!"
To read the entirety of her TomPaine.com
column, "Dying For A Scoop: Reflections On The Murder Of Daniel
Pearl," go to: http://www.tompaine.com/feature.cfm/ID/5179
February 28 Late Show with David Letterman (http://www.cbs.com/latenight/lateshow/),
as read by ten submariners from the U.S.S. Seawolf at the Naval Submarine
Base in Groton, Connecticut, the "Top Ten Reasons I'm Proud to Be in
the United States Navy."
10. The Navy is my favorite branch of the armed forces and my favorite
(Machinist's Mate Chief Andy Kuvent)
9. The way people stare when you pull up to the marina in a fast-attack
(Machinist's Mate First Class Dave Padgett)
8. It's fun to be seasick
(Sonar Technician Third Class Mike Doehring)
7. Best chance I'll ever have to meet Popeye
(Sonar Technician First Class John Hawkins)
6. You didn't hear it from me but we've got flying submarines
(Mess Management Specialist Second Class Jeffery Lay)
5. Remember that game Battleship? We get to play it with real ships
(Machinist's Mate Second Class Jesse Yoast)
4. Best chance I'll ever have to meet Olive Oyl
(Machinist's Mate Second Class Christopher Reed)
3. You can fish off the stern of the ship -- try doing that in an F-16
(Lieutenant Jason Biegelson)
2. I look sweet in uniform
(Machinist's Mate Firemen Apprentice Chris Yacur)
1. I'd like to see some skinny late night talk show host drive a
(Chief of the Boat Dean Irwin)
> Tonight on CBS’s Family Law at 10pm
EST/PST, 9pm CST/MST, as recounted in the Washington Post’s TV Week:
"After a black teacher with 12 years of service is fired for failing
a standardized test, Joe sues the State Board of Education arguing its
exam is racially biased."