CNN’s First Concern: Dirty Bomber’s Civil Rights; Rather Imputed Illogical Political Motives to Bush; John “Joe McCarthy” Ashcroft; Russert’s Anti-Tax Cut Mantra
1) Terrorists had a plan to detonate a dirty nuclear bomb, but CNN’s Aaron Brown was much more interested in the rights of the captured suspect. Brown’s lead: “An American citizen, Abdullah al Muhajir, is being held in a military brig with no access to a lawyer, none of the other rights afforded to a citizen...” CBS’s Dan Rather fretted about John Ashcroft’s motives: “The arrest was made May 8th. It’s not clear why Ashcroft chose to reveal this a month later with great fanfare while traveling in Russia.”
2) Inexplicable logic about Bush’s political motives. Dan Rather highlighted how Democrats “are accusing the Bush administration of playing politics with the proposed Department of Homeland Security.” Rather noted it won’t be funded until 2004, adding: “Keep in mind that is an election year, and many Republicans have warned President Bush against expanding the federal government." So he’s playing politics by going against his base?
3) John “Joe McCarthy” Ashcroft. Over video of Joe McCarthy and the Rosenberg’s, CNN’s Bruce Morton claimed that Ashcroft’s plan to have foreigners from certain countries photographed and fingerprinted is “a little like the search for communists in the government after World War II. There were some, of course. But a lot of innocent people had their names blackened and their careers damaged during the hunt.”
4) A Freudian slip from Tim Russert? “We’re going to take a quick break and come back and talk about the tax cut, if anything can be done about it,” Russert stated before an ad break on Sunday’s Meet the Press. Realizing his slip, he quickly added: “If anything should be done about it.” But he assumed the former as he only pressed his two guests about how to rescind all or part of it.
5) NBC’s fictional “President Bartlet,” Martin Sheen, spent the weekend stumping in Florida for one of his “heroes,” Janet Reno. On Monday, Sheen was scheduled to headline a fundraiser for Maryland gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Sheen also referred to Reno as “gifted” and “a nation’s pride.”
6) As read by U.S. Marines, Letterman’s “Top Ten Answers to the Question, 'How Tough Are the Marines?’"
The U.S. government on Monday morning revealed an active plan by terrorists to detonate a dirty nuclear bomb, but CNN’s Aaron Brown was much more interested in the rights of the captured suspected terrorist than in what he planned to do. CBS’s Dan Rather fretted about John Ashcroft’s motives: “The arrest was made May 8th. It’s not clear why Ashcroft chose to reveal this a month later with great fanfare while traveling in Russia.” Rather stressed doubts about a plot: “There are many questions now about exactly what the suspect was really up to.”
Before telling viewers anything about what the government says the man planned, Brown opened Monday’s NewsNight by lamenting the guy’s plight: “An American citizen, Abdullah al Muhajir, is being held in a military brig with no access to a lawyer, none of the other rights afforded to a citizen, because the government says he is part of a terrorist plot to detonate a dirty bomb.” After insisting he’s not “interested in seeing a bunch of terrorists running around the country blowing up buildings and killing lots of people while they are out on bail,” Brown put his personal views ahead of the story as he explained how he’s “not especially interested in seeing the government deny citizens their most basic protection against governmental abuse.”
Brown went to Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon, who gave equal weight to complaints of “defense lawyers” as to the mass murder plot: “Well, here the Bush administration is touting the detention of this American al-Qaeda as having thwarted a potentially deadly terrorist attack, but many defense attorneys are asking the same question that you’re asking. Were basic American rights trampled in the process?”
Brown opened the June 10 NewsNight, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth, with a rant:
“Good evening again. I’m Aaron Brown. So here’s a nice day at the office. The administration says the half-century-old doctrine of containment in matters military is outdated and the United States in the future will exercise, if it so chooses, a first strike option against terrorists in those countries that harbor them. We’ve always said we are not a country that starts wars -- and mostly that’s been true, though perhaps the thugs who ran the island of Grenada might argue the point. It is another sign the world is changing, that the whole notion of war as we used to know it is changing as well. And it’s not the only thing that’s changing.
“An American citizen, Abdullah al Muhajir is being held in a military brig with no access to a lawyer, none of the other rights afforded to a citizen, because the government says he is part of a terrorist plot to detonate a dirty bomb. He has been held uncharged for a month and now has been declared an enemy combatant, which, according to the Attorney General, is the legal justification for this extraordinary action. I’m not a lawyer, and I have no idea whether this guy was planning something terrible or not, nor am I especially interested in seeing a bunch of terrorists running around the country blowing up buildings and killing lots of people while they are out on bail. But I’m also not especially interested in seeing the government deny citizens their most basic protection against governmental abuse. But that apparently is the tradeoff -- at least the administration believes it to be -- and it is an onerous tradeoff, one more reason to hate what happened on September 11th.”
Going to his “whip,” having CNN reporters summarize the headline for their upcoming story, for the second story of the night he went to the Pentagon: “Jamie McIntyre, more on the civil liberties questions this raises. From the Pentagon tonight, Jamie, headline?”
McIntyre’s headline summary: “Well, here the Bush administration is touting the detention of this American al-Qaeda as having thwarted a potentially deadly terrorist attack, but many defense attorneys are asking the same question that you’re asking. Were basic American rights trampled in the process?”
Earlier, Dan Rather led the CBS Evening News with a hostile attitude toward the story not displayed by ABC or NBC:
“Good evening. The U.S. government announced today it has broken up another plot to attack this country and kill Americans. Attorney General John Ashcroft said a U.S. citizen, a former convict, arrested in Chicago on return from Pakistan, is suspected of plotting with the al-Qaeda terror network to set off a radioactive bomb, a so-called dirty bomb, possibly in Washington. Later, questions arose about that. The arrest was made May 8th. It’s not clear why Ashcroft chose to reveal this a month later with great fanfare while traveling in Russia. And tonight, as CBS’s Jim Stewart reports, there are many questions now about exactly what the suspect was really up to.”
Stewart began his piece: “U.S. officials now admit they’re not sure what American born Abdullah al Muhajir had plans for when he tried to get back into the U.S. through Chicago last month, but given what he trained for in Afghanistan they expected the worse.”
The Washington Post’s Dan Eggen and Susan Schmidt suggested a reason for the timing Rather made sound so suspicious. In a June 11 story, they reported: “After concluding that building a case would be difficult, prosecutors believed they were running out of time. They faced a secret hearing Tuesday before a judge, officials said, and turned in recent days to another option: transferring him to military custody.
“On Sunday, prosecutors dropped the material witness warrant and withdrew a subpoena ordering al Muhajir to testify before the grand jury. After Bush signed a directive naming him as an enemy combatant, U.S. marshals escorted al Muhajir out of jail and turned him over to the military.”
Dan Rather’s inexplicable logic about President Bush’s political motives. Rather announced on the June 10 CBS Evening News:
"Some Democrats are accusing the Bush administration of playing politics with the proposed Department of Homeland Security. CBS's John Roberts reports the White House told Congress today it hopes to send to the Hill within two weeks legislation to create the whole new department, but there are no plans to actually fund it until at least 2004. Keep in mind that is an election year, and many Republicans have warned President Bush against expanding the federal government."
Huh? I don’t follow the logic here. So he’s playing politics by delaying funding until 2004 because that’s an election year and his biggest supporters oppose the expansion of government he will propose funding that very year.
[Web Update: A CBS News staffer e-mailed to explain the point that Rather intended to convey: That since Republicans opposed expanding government, Bush is delaying making a funding request until after the current election year but will propose one before the next election season in 2004. Indeed, 2004 funding is allocated in 2003.]
John “Joe McCarthy” Ashcroft. Over black and white video of Joe McCarthy and the Rosenberg’s, CNN’s Bruce Morton claimed that Attorney General Ashcroft’s plan to have foreigners from certain countries photographed and fingerprinted is “a little like the search for communists in the government after World War II. There were some, of course. But a lot of innocent people had their names blackened and their careers damaged during the hunt.”
The MRC’s Rich Noyes caught Morton’s overwrought analogy in Morton’s “Last Word” commentary on Sunday’s Late Edition.
During the 1950s people were specifically accused of something and they were U.S. citizens. In the present case, all people from certain countries are treated the same and none are U.S. citizens. Why can’t a distinction be made between U.S. constitutional rights for citizens and for the entry process to the U.S. by foreign nationals?
Morton began his June 9 polemic, as checked against the tape by MRC analyst Ken Shepherd, over video of the Statue of Liberty:
"'Send me,’ it says on the Statue of Liberty, ‘your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.’ Well, some of them maybe. If they have visas and are from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan or Syria, they now pose national security concerns and must be fingerprinted and photographed. This registration system, Attorney General Ashcroft said, would eventually be expanded to other visitors who posed a security concern. What would the standards for that be? Well, they'd be secret, that's what.”
Then, over black and white video of Joe McCarthy followed by communist spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, whose video appeared as Morton was talking about how “a lot of innocent people had their names blackened,” Morton contended:
“It's a little like the search for communists in the government after World War II. There were some, of course. But a lot of innocent people had their names blackened and their careers damaged during the hunt. The German author Thomas Mann, who had come to America to escape the Nazis, went back to Europe, remarking that freedom in America is being temporarily restricted in order to preserve it.”
At least Morton conceded there really were “some” communists aiding the cause of a mass-murdering enemy.
Morton segued into arguing against taking on Iraq: “And we still have detainees -- not citizens, so unprotected by the Constitution -- who were locked up shortly after September 11 and, without being charged with anything, are still being held. That's all part of defending against terror. The President made it clear in his speech at West Point last weekend that the rules for offensive action against suspected terrorists have changed to. The U.S. will strike first.”
George W. Bush at West Point on June 1: “We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans and confront the worst threats before they emerge. [edit jump] The only path to safety is the path of action and this nation will act.”
Morton mocked Bush’s moral clarity and made the case that if the U.S. attacks Iraq it will lose the moral high ground:
“The President also noted that countries which tolerate the hatred that leads to terror must change. The world, in short, must do as he says. The wars Americans have supported have by and large been the wars in which they saw themselves as the good guys and wars in which the other side started it, World War II being the best example. If the U.S. strikes first, it will undoubtedly lose a lot of its allies around the world. The strike, whoever it's aimed at, will be seen as aggression. And the war against terror, now widely supported, may become less popular at home as well. The notion of whacking this country or that because they're not obeying us is one Americans aren't used to.”
Morton concluded: “So an aggressive stance abroad, some loss of freedom at home. So far the war remains popular here. And polls show Americans would rather be less free if it means being more safe. Will that change? I'm Bruce Morton.”
Morton sure seems to hope so.
A Freudian slip from Tim Russert? “We’re going to take a quick break and come back and talk about the tax cut, if anything can be done about it,” Russert stated before an ad break on Sunday’s Meet the Press. Realizing his slip, he quickly added: “If anything should be done about it.”
But Russert’s agenda assumed the former. Blaming the tax cut for the growing deficit, while breezing over soaring spending unrelated to the war on terrorism, in the subsequent segment he pressed both Democratic Senator Kent Conrad and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mitch Daniels to rescind part or all of it.
To Conrad: "But if the President's tax cut in your estimation is driving these deficits, why not step forward and say, 'We should stop the tax cut, roll it back?'"
To Daniels: “The President can come forward and say, 'We have a deficit. I'm going to take away the tax cut from the top income tax, anybody who makes over $180,000, and get that hundred billion, couple hundred billion dollars and help pay down that debt and pay down the deficit.' Why not?"
Earlier, Russert proposed to Daniels: “For the next 10 years, won't the tax cut be the primary loss in revenue?" He also challenged Conrad about the profligate farm welfare bill and how the Democratic budget uses Social Security revenue for other spending, noting: “No one has expressed an indication on the Democratic side to curtail spending in order to avoid using the Social Security surplus."
Russert then plugged the upcoming segment: “We’re going to take a quick break and come back and talk about the tax cut, if anything can be done about it -- if anything should be done about it. Our debate continues, right after this.”
But the debate was settled for Russert as he dedicated the entirety of the segment to trying to get Conrad and Daniels to advocate rescinding the tax cut. Russert began with the usual liberal reasoning about the rich unfairly benefiting:
"And we are back. Mr. Daniels, Senator Conrad. Joe Lieberman, the Democratic Senator from Connecticut, has come forward and said this: 'Let's eliminate future reductions in the President's tax cut to drop the top income tax rate from the current 38.6 [percent] down to 33 [percent]. Abandon the repeal of the estate tax approved in the legislation, and instead provide a more-limited tax relief.' And one last thing he wants to do, 'Repeal provisions meant to make the personal exemptions and itemized deductions more valuable for upper-income taxpayers.' What Lieberman says is that 98 percent of the American people will get their entire tax cut, but those that make over $180,000 will not get the full tax cut. And this would save hundreds of billions of dollars which would be used either for deficit reduction or other spending. Senator Conrad, will you buy into that?"
When Conrad demurred, Russert pushed: "But if the President's tax cut in your estimation is driving these deficits, why not step forward and say, 'We should stop the tax cut, roll it back?'"
Turning to Daniels, Russert proposed: "Mr. Daniels, the President can come forward and say, 'We have a deficit. I'm going to take away the tax cut from the top income tax, anybody who makes over $180,000 and get that hundred billion, couple hundred billion dollars and help pay down that debt and pay down the deficit.' Why not?"
Daniels confidently shot back: “Don’t hold your breath.”
End of the show, but while Russert had noted the out of control farm spending bill, he failed to point out how domestic spending under Bush is soaring at a 15 percent pace.
In a May 17 piece for National Review Online, “Worse Than Drunken Sailors: Today’s government-spending pace would make Tip O’Neill blush,” Stephen Moore of the Cato Institute outlined how non-terrorism related spending is spiraling. An excerpt:
Despite the fact that the Republicans control the White House, the House of Representatives, and 30 governorships, the nation is now in the midst of the biggest government spending spree since LBJ. Incredibly, the domestic social welfare budget has expanded more in just two years ($96 billion) under George W. Bush than in Bill Clinton's first six years in office ($51 billion)....
In 2001 the recession-racked private-sector economy grew by a microscopic 0.5%. But there was no recession in government: its spending was up 6% for the year. For the first quarter of this year, data indicates that private-sector activity rose by 5% as the economic recovery has taken hold. But government's spending soared twice as fast. This pace would make Tip O'Neill blush.
Even more discouraging is the spending trend line. Every year since the Republicans first took control of the House in 1995, spending roadblocks have been further removed. Domestic spending actually fell by an impressive 3% in real terms in the 104th Congress (1995-96) when Republicans seized control of the House and Senate for the first time in 40 years. The next Congress raised spending by 4%, the next by 11%, and this one is on pace to raise the budget by 15%. All of this is reminiscent of the old Reagan quip that to say that Congress spends like drunken sailors is an insult to drunken sailors....
The emergency military supplemental spending bill has become a Christmas tree for special interests and is $3 billion over budget. The energy bill, with its emphasis on tax credits for windmills and boondoggle oil-conservation projects, is a bill that only Al Gore could love. Congress will also soon send Mr. Bush a $100 billion bill to provide free prescription-drug benefits for seniors, and a $6 billion bill for baby-sitting subsidies. And the president says he wants $5 billion more for failed foreign-aid programs. All this comes after last year's education bill that will nearly double the Department of Education budget over the next six years and institutionalize a federal presence in our
End of Excerpt
To read Moore’s analysis in full:
Campaign 2002 is in full roar for Hollywood stars supporting liberal Democrats. NBC’s fictional “President Bartlet” of The West Wing, Martin Sheen, spent the weekend stumping in Florida for one of his “heroes,” gubernatorial candidate Janet Reno. On Monday, Sheen, whose real name is Ramon Estevez, was scheduled to headline a $1,000 per person fundraiser for Maryland gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.
Last week, Alan Horn, President of the Warner Brothers motion picture studio hosted a fundraiser for Jeanne Shaheen, the Democratic Senate candidate in New Hampshire. That event featured the first Hollywood appearance by Al Gore since the election.
In Monday’s Tampa Tribune William March reported that Sheen
“appeared at several rallies in South Florida and Orlando and helped her raise nearly $200,000 in badly needed campaign cash.”
In the Orlando Sentinel on Sunday, Mark Silva relayed how “Sheen provided at least one tangible boost for Reno's campaign, more than $150,000 raised Friday night in Coral Gables at the biggest fundraiser to date for Reno, a $250-per-person concert with blues-rocker Bo Diddley. The duo raised $200,000 more for the Florida Democratic Party at the Miami-area home of Hugh Westbrook, a health-care executive hosting donors at $10,000 a head.”
“Sheen called himself a 'huge fan' of Reno,” the Miami Herald’s Beth Reinhard noted on Sunday before relaying this effusive praise of Reno from Sheen: “One of the great things about being the acting President is that I got to meet one of my heroes.”
The Tampa Tribune’s March also caught Sheen’s hero worshiping of Clinton’s former Attorney General, as Sheen gushed: “She's one of my heroes, one of the most impressive public servants I've known in my lifetime.” March added: “Asked why a southern California resident is interested in the Florida election, Sheen said, 'I'm a member of the human race; I do it so I can live with myself.’”
The Orlando Sentinel’s Silva quoted Sheen as enthusing: “I've always been inspired by her public service, her wit, humor and humility.”
A story on Monday’s Inside Politics on CNN showed Sheen introducing Reno: “Ladies and gentlemen, a nation's pride and
Florida's next Governor: Florida's own Janet Reno.” In another CNN soundbite, Sheen proclaimed: “She's a public servant. There isn't anybody more qualified. There isn't anybody more gifted.”
For the Tampa Tribune story:
For the Miami Herald story:
For the Orlando Sentinel story:
The June 7 Union Leader of Manchester, New Hampshire ran a story on a Hollywood fundraiser for Governor Jeanne Shaheen, who will challenge whoever wins the Republican Senate primary between incumbent Bob Smith and challenger John Sununu, now a Congressman.
An excerpt from the story based largely on what a Los Angeles Times reporter recounted on CNN’s Inside Politics:
Gov. Jeanne Shaheen was feted by former Vice President Al Gore at a Hollywood fundraiser on Wednesday night.
Shaheen spokesman Colin Van Ostern said 50 to 60 people attended the event, at the home of Alan Horn, president of the Warner Brothers motion picture studio.
Van Ostern said tickets “started at $250 each,” but he said
patrons were allowed to contribute up to the maximum allowed by federal election law, $1,000....
The Gore appearance at the Shaheen Hollywood fundraiser was featured on CNN’s “Inside Politics” program on Wednesday.
Los Angeles Times columnist Ron Brownstein reported on the program that Shaheen “so far has raised only about $5,000 from the entertainment industry for her U.S. Senate bid. That meager showing isn’t surprising. Movie and music moguls don’t have much reason to court tiny New Hampshire.
“But,” Brownstein added, “the men and women who want to be President have every reason to woo New Hampshire, site of the kickoff presidential primary, which largely explains why Governor Shaheen tonight will be collecting checks in Hollywood after all.”
Brownstein said Shaheen “asked her old friend Al Gore if he could help her raise money for her Senate race. And Gore asked his old friend Alan Horn to host an event for the Governor.”...
Brownstein says Gore in 2000 raised more than $1 million “from the movie, music and television industries.”...
End of Excerpt
For the story in full:
From the June 7 Late Show with David Letterman, as read by ten Marines from the 6th Communications Battalion in Brooklyn, New York, the “Top Ten Answers to the Question, 'How Tough Are the Marines?’"
10. "So tough, we jump from air transport planes without parachutes"
(Sergeant Enrique Larrea)
9. "So tough, none of us have slept or eaten in over two years"
(Sergeant Edwin Toribio)
8. "So tough, I hate not going to the dentist"
(Sergeant Herbert Johnson)
7. "So tough, I wear my 'Boston Sucks' hat at Fenway"
(Sergeant Adam Deluca)
6. "You know how the Army does more before 9am than most people do all day? We get all that done by 7"
(Staff Sergeant John Werner)
5. "So tough, we haven't taken a sick day since 1978"
(Staff Sergeant James Taylor)
4. "So tough, if our tank breaks down, we'll carry it to Jiffy Lube"
(Gunnery Sergeant Albert Fowler)
3. "We're really tough. Sorry, I'm not that creative"
(Gunnery Sergeant James Meek)
2. "So tough, we didn't even cry while watching 'Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood'"
(Gunnery Sergeant Darin Harris)
1. "So tough, if you want we can take care of your little Lakers problem"
(Gunnery Sergeant Mark Butler)
It’s too late now for #1.
-- Brent Baker
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