“In the Pocket of the Drug Industry”; CBS: Regulate Amusement Parks; Asner Lashed Out at the “Immoral” War on Terrorism; Dennis Miller Mocked Liberal Whining
1) ABC, CBS and NBC jumped on Democratic complaints about how a big Republican Party fundraiser showed how the pharmaceutical industry was shaping the GOP version of a patents’ bill of rights. Dan Rather declared as fact that “big bucks from pharmaceutical companies” is influencing “legislation and White House policy on drug coverage for seniors." ABC’s Linda Douglass relayed how “the Democrats are going to try to score points by saying that they are in the pocket of the drug industry.”
2) Another summer, another opportunity for a network to push for federal regulation of amusement park rides. Last summer, ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas demanded: “Why won’t Congress let the government regulate these parks?” On Wednesday night, CBS’s Sandra Hughes promoted the cause of a personal injury lawyer as she focused on how “critics want federal regulation, saying the number of brain injuries over the past decade has increased.”
3) A bunch of far-leftists, including actors Ossie Davis and Ed
Asner, have signed a “letter of conscience” for a group called “Not in Our Name” which calls upon “all Americans to resist the war and repression that has been loosed on the world by the Bush administration. It is unjust, immoral and illegitimate.”
4) On the Tonight Show comedian/actor Dennis Miller mocked liberal orthodoxy: “If you put the Guantanamo Bay terrorist prison outside of Kabul it would be their Epcot.” And: “I say we create a new airline, called the
ACLA, the American Civil Liberties Airline where you don’t check anybody, you don’t ask any questions, and let those morons fly on that one.”
ABC, CBS and NBC on Wednesday night jumped on Democratic complaints about how a big Republican Party fundraiser starring President Bush showed how the party was still raising soon-to-be outlawed soft money and how the pharmaceutical industry was influencing the GOP version of a patents’ bill of rights, but earlier in the week only NBC focused on how the Democratic National Committee is working to subvert the media-loved McCain-Feingold provisions.
On ABC’s World News Tonight, anchor Charles Gibson announced: “Among the biggest contributors at tonight's event will be the pharmaceutical companies who have a big interest in legislation that is right now under review in the Congress. The Democrats are crying foul.” Linda Douglass explained: “The Republicans are going to try to take credit for passing a prescription drug plan,” but
“the Democrats are going to try to score points by saying that they are in the pocket of the drug industry.”
Points scored thanks to shots by the media.
Dan Rather characterized McCain-Feingold as “modest” and referred to how it “finally passed Congress” as he set up the CBS Evening News story: "The Federal Election Commission voted today on how to interpret the modest campaign finance reform law that finally passed Congress, but there's nothing modest about the heavy dollars lobbyists are still doling out. As CBS's Bob Schieffer reports, that includes big bucks from pharmaceutical companies to influence legislation and White House policy on drug coverage for seniors."
Note how he didn’t even attribute the influence charge to Democrats. He made it himself. Schieffer soon confirmed that the pharmaceutical industry already has “a lot to celebrate because back at the Capitol, House Republicans have thrown their support behind an industry-backed prescription drug plan for seniors, which could mean billions for drug companies. Democrats cried sellout."
The NBC Nightly News took on the Republican prescription plan from the left: “Some of the biggest donors at a $30 million GOP dinner, starring President Bush, are the drug companies and industries’ lobbying groups pushing the bill. They’re also planning a big television ad campaign to help Republican candidates who support it. But Democrats have their own plan, and some consumer activists say the GOP plan is actually a bad deal for seniors.”
After having impugned the motives of the drug industry, Lisa Myers treated a paid hack for another industry as an impartial observer. Myers insisted: “The reality of the Republican plan may not match the rhetoric.” Craig Fuller of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores then charged: “I don’t think Aunt Mabel is going to be very happy. It may be no benefit at all. And to the extent it is, it’s small.”
None of the coverage included a word from anyone opposed to creating the new entitlement program. By looking at the issue from the point of view of leftists who don’t think the plan goes far enough the networks missed how the pharmaceutical industry is trying to get taxpayer money funneled to them.
As Judy Sarasohn noted in her May 30 “Special Interests” column in the Washington Post, in a TV ad PhRMA President Alan Holmer advocated the creation of a new entitlement program paid for by taxpayers to benefit his member companies. In the ad, he pushed: “Now, we’re working on another challenge: Getting these lifesaving medicines into the hands of seniors that need them. I hope you’ll join me in calling on Congress to pass meaningful prescription drug coverage under Medicare.”
More details about coverage on Wednesday night, June 19:
-- ABC’s World News Tonight. Anchor Charles Gibson asserted, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "In the city of Washington tonight, President Bush is going to attend a very large fundraiser for his Republican Party. Among the biggest contributors at tonight's event will be the pharmaceutical companies who have a big interest in legislation that is right now under review in the Congress. The Democrats are crying foul. ABC's Linda Douglass is in Washington tonight. Linda, how much is this fundraiser going to raise? How big is it?"
Linda Douglass began: "This is very big. An estimated $30 million, 6000 people, Charlie. They had to use the Convention Center, it was so big."
Gibson: "And the pharmaceutical companies, are they among the major contributors?"
Douglass: “They are major players. The chief fundraiser for this is the CEO of a pharmaceutical company. Now, there are big donors, 21 big donors from various corporations giving $250,000 each. Among those, Glaxo SmithKline and PhRMA, that’s the trade industry for the pharmaceutical industry. Pfizer is reportedly giving $100,000. The Democrats have been going around today saying that the pharmaceutical industry has plenty to be grateful for because House Republicans are working with the industry to craft a prescription drug plan for the seniors. And just hours before this fundraiser, Charlie, the committee was putting the final touches on that prescription drug plan, but they didn't finish their work, and the Democrats say that's because the Republicans had to leave to get to the fundraiser. The Republicans are going to try to take credit for passing a prescription drug plan when they do this next week, though it's not likely to become law. And the Democrats are going to try to score points by saying that they are in the pocket of the drug industry, Charlie."
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather complained: "The Federal Election Commission voted today on how to interpret the modest campaign finance reform law that finally passed Congress, but there's nothing modest about the heavy dollars lobbyists are still doling out. As CBS's Bob Schieffer reports, that includes big bucks from pharmaceutical companies to influence legislation and White House policy on drug coverage for seniors."
Schieffer explained: "The names of the most important people in today's politics -- big contributors. So don't blame the announcer for practicing all afternoon. This is a big one. With President Bush as the star, Republicans expect to raise $30 million tonight at this Washington dinner. Businesses ranging from Pepsi to Microsoft and Merrill Lynch are spending up to a quarter of a million dollars each to be here. Drug and pharmaceutical lobbies are picking up a big part of the tab at this all-day gathering. Already they have a lot to celebrate because back at the Capitol, House Republicans have thrown their support behind an industry-backed prescription drug plan for seniors, which could mean billions for drug companies. Democrats cried sellout."
Richard Gephardt, House Minority Leader: "They're having a fundraiser with the largest pharmaceutical companies who have literally written the Republican prescription drug bill."
Schieffer: "Republicans say it's the pot calling the kettle black."
Tom Davis, Republican Campaign Committee Chairman: "And it's just the height of hypocrisy for them to come up and point the finger when they've been probably doing a better job of raising special interest money this cycle than we have."
Schieffer: "In fact, the two parties together have raised nearly a quarter billion dollars in these soon-to-be-outlawed corporate contributions. But of the $12 million given by drug companies recently, 73 percent went to Republicans. Money has become such a monster force, it is causing politicians in both parties to wonder if it's really worth the effort."
Tom Daschle, Senate Majority Leader: "How much time do you want to spend? I spend just part of almost every day fund-raising over at one of my political offices."
Schieffer concluded: "But old habits die hard. And already both sides are trying to find ways around the new spending limits that don't even take effect until after this year's elections."
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw combined the fundraiser with a liberal assessment of the prescription coverage bill: “NBC News In Depth tonight, prescription drug coverage for seniors. A Republican-backed plan passed its first hurdle in Congress today with some major support from the drug industry. And that drug industry is playing a big role in another record-setting party fundraiser in Washington tonight. Some of the biggest donors at a $30 million GOP dinner, starring President Bush, are the drug companies and industries’ lobbying groups pushing the bill. They’re also planning a big television ad campaign to help Republican candidates who support it. But Democrats have their own plan, and some consumer activists say the GOP plan is actually a bad deal for seniors. We get a reality check in depth tonight from NBC’s Lisa Myers.”
Myers assumed another entitlement program is a good thing: “Seniors at a center in Los Angeles aren’t yet dancing for joy but say today’s step by Congress to help with soaring drug costs is long overdue.”
Kathleen Murphy, prescription drug consumer: “I’ve been widowed 35 years, and now it’s just coming up with it.”
Israel Rubin, prescription drug consumer: “This would make things a lot easier for us.”
Myers: “Republicans hail their plan, approved by a House committee on a mostly party line vote, as a big helping hand.”
Rep. Jennifer Dunn (R-WA): “I think we’ve done some really marvelous things.”
Rep. William Thomas (R-CA): “The most significant addition to Medicare since its inception.”
Myers: “The voluntary plan works this way: Seniors would pay the first $250 of drug costs a year plus a $34 monthly premium. After that they pay a portion of drug costs until out-of-pocket expenses exceed $3800. What will this mean for you? Well, low-income seniors will have most drug costs paid by the government. But for others, the reality of the Republican plan may not match the rhetoric.”
Craig Fuller, the former 41 Bushie who is now shilling for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores: “I don’t think Aunt Mabel is going to be very happy. It may be no benefit at all. And to the extent it is, it’s small.”
Myers supported his point that the plan doesn’t transfer enough money from taxpayers to pharmacies: “If you spend only about $500 a year on drugs -- and one-third of seniors do -- by the time you pay premiums, drugs that now cost you $500 would cost you $708. That’s right. You’d pay more than you do now. If you spend $1000 a year on drugs, you’d save about $192 a year. The big winner, though, people like Kathleen Murphy who spends $6000 a year on medicine and would save thousands of dollars.”
Murphy: “Well, that would help a great deal. It’d help a great deal.”
Myers concluded: “The House plans to vote on this next week. Still, the odds of this or any plan actually becoming law this year are slim because Republicans and Democrats are so polarized. And even if something does pass, benefits won’t kick in for almost three years, until 2005.”
Before tying Republicans to nefarious fundraising, NBC at least, unlike the hypocritical ABC and CBS, picked up on complaints that the DNC is being hypocritical in supporting McCain-Feingold while really working to undermine it.
On Monday night, June 17, Brokaw noted: “The Republicans are having a banner year for fund-raising with President Bush hosting another dinner that could bring in $25 million or more for his party Wednesday night. But tonight, critics are focusing on what some are calling double-talk from the head of the Democratic Party on the issue of campaign finance reform.”
Lisa Myers explained: “He may be the most prodigious fundraiser in political history, Bill Clinton's money man. But as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Terry McAuliffe claimed to be all for cleaning up the system and for the new campaign finance law, known as McCain-Feingold.”
Meet the Press clip of Tim Russert: “McCain-Feingold, is that a top priority for the Democratic Party, Mr. McAuliffe?”
Terry McAuliffe on Meet the Press: “All for it. I have supported it from day one. Let's get it on. The Democrats are for it. I am for it. Let's get it, let's get it passed.”
Myers observed: “Now reformers charge those words ring hollow.”
Fred Wertheimer, Democracy 21: “That's complete double-talk by Terry McAuliffe.”
Myers: “Fred Wertheimer, who fought for years to pass this law, accuses the DNC chairman of political fraud.”
Wertheimer: “His lawyer is out there doing everything he can to destroy the law that Mr. McAuliffe proclaims to strongly support. It's ridiculous.”
Myers: “At issue, the DNC's support for controversial rules proposed by the Federal Election Commission, which many say would weaken, even gut the new ban on huge unlimited contributions known as soft money. Example, the law says federal candidates and party officials may not 'solicit’ or 'direct’ soft money for state parties. But the DNC urges they be allowed to 'suggest’ states where money is needed -- a huge loophole, reformers say.”
Scott Harshbarger, Common Cause: “On every key point before the agency, the DNC, Terry McAuliffe's lawyers, are on the other side from McCain and Feingold. They're standing with, for all intents and purposes, the Republican National Committee.”
Myers: “Most Republicans strongly opposed the new law. Now, the Republican Party is even challenging it in court, arguing it's unconstitutional. Who has joined them? The lawyer for the DNC, representing the California Democratic Party.”
Senator Russell Feingold, (D-WS): “It's hypocritical for anyone in Washington, Republican or Democrat or independent, to say they're for campaign finance reform and then to try to figure out ways to ruin it so that they think the American people won't figure it out.”
Myers concluded: “Congress' top two Democrats, Tom Daschle and Richard Gephardt, say they still support the law, even though their lawyers also proposed weakening it. McAuliffe's spokesperson insists he's not out to gut the law, merely trying to clarify how it will work.”
Another summer, another opportunity for a network to push for federal regulation of amusement park rides. Last summer, ABC waited until there was an accident on a ride before World News Tonight anchor Elizabeth Vargas demanded: “Why won’t Congress let the government regulate these parks?”
On Wednesday night, CBS got into the action early, before summer has even begun. Like ABC, CBS’s Sandra Hughes promoted the cause of left-wing Congressman Ed Markey as she also did the bidding of a personal injury lawyer: “Critics want federal regulation, saying the number of brain injuries over the past decade has increased.” She allowed an industry spokesman to point out how foot scooters cause a lot more injuries, but she discredited the point by giving the last word to the lawyer to describe amusement parks as deadly killers: “You at least have to tell the public that, you know, there is an inherent risk that you could suffer a serious injury, even death, by going on the attraction.”
Dan Rather set up the June 19 CBS Evening News story: “Summer officially arrived Friday. If your summer plans include a theme park, you’re likely to find new, more powerful, roller coasters with break-neck speeds, higher highs and deeper dips. They’re meant for thrills. But CBS’s Sandra Hughes reports, some warn there’s a real risk.”
From California, Hughes let a roller coaster enthusiast enthuse about the thrill of rides before warning how a new ride which goes from zero to 80mph in two seconds has generated “new fears about health risks.” After letting a park engineer say the ride is safe, Hughes countered by highlighting the case of a 28-year-old woman who died from a brain aneurism following a ride on Magic Mountain’s Goliath Coaster.
Hughes ran a soundbite from the lawyer suing in the case, Barry Novack, who claimed G-forces and lateral moves leads to the tearing of veins, like shaken baby syndrome.
Hughes added: “The amusement park industry points out there’s no medical proof of a connection, but critics want federal regulation, saying the number of brain injuries over the past decade has increased.”
Rep. Edward Markey, D-Massachusetts: “I have now compiled more than fifty examples of brain injuries and I am asking for the federal government to do a comprehensive study.”
Bill Powers, amusement park industry spokesman: “26,700 children were injured and went to emergency rooms last year due to foot-powered scooters and two died. Why he isn’t he trying to regulate those?”
Hughes fretted: “For now, only New Jersey is proposing G-force standards. California started requiring parks to report all injuries this year, but some want more.”
Novack claimed: “You at least have to tell the public that, you know, there is an inherent risk that you could suffer a serious injury, even death, by going on the attraction.”
Hughes concluded: “But how much risk and who’s likely to be injured are still up in the air.”
Last year, on July 31, ABC used a Michigan amusement park accident, in which no one was seriously injured, as a justification to argue for federal regulation of amusement parks.
World News Tonight anchor Elizabeth Vargas demanded in teasing upcoming stories at the top of the ABC newscast: “More trouble at the nation’s amusement parks. Two dozen people injured. Why won’t Congress let the government regulate these parks?” Later, just before an ad break, Vargas plugged the story again: “When we come back, yet another accident at an amusement park. Should the government step in?”
In the eventual piece, Lisa Stark lamented: “There is no federal oversight of the industry; it’s left to the states. But six states with amusement parks [on screen map highlighted Utah, Arizona, South Dakota, Kansas, Mississippi and Alabama] have no regulation or inspections. The industry argues the rides are safe and that parks would be out of business if they weren’t.”
Bret Lovejoy, International Association of Amusement Parks: “With 320 million visitors to parks a year and three billion rides given you can expect to have a few accidents.”
Stark countered: “But critics say with rides becoming faster and more death-defying, it’s past time for federal regulation.”
U.S. Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA): “It’s really the only significant consumer product that is allowed to escape that kind of oversight and protection of the public.”
Stark concluded by stressing the perspective of those who want more regulation: “Representative Markey has a bill that would give the Consumer Product Safety Commission oversight over amusement parks, authority the commission had until the industry successfully lobbied against it twenty years ago. But that bill is stalled. For now it remains up to the states and the industry to ensure that rides are safe.”
A bunch of far-leftists, including actors Ossie Davis and Ed Asner, playwrights Eve Ensler and Tony Kushner, as well as MIT professor Noam Chomsky and feminist Gloria Steinem, have signed a wacky “letter of conscience” for a group called “Not in Our Name.” The letter asserted:
“We believe that people of conscience must take responsibility for what their own governments do -- we must first of all oppose the injustice that is done in our own name. Thus we call on all Americans to resist the war and repression that has been loosed on the world by the Bush administration. It is unjust, immoral and illegitimate.”
Let it not be said that people in the United States did nothing when their government declared a war without limit and instituted stark new measures of repression. The signers of this statement call on the people of the US to resist the policies and overall political direction that have emerged since September 11 and which pose grave dangers to the people of the world....
We choose to make common cause with the people of the world.
We too watched with shock the horrific events of September 11. We too mourned the thousands of innocent dead and shook our heads at the terrible scenes of carnage -- even as we recalled similar scenes in Baghdad, Panama City and, a generation ago, Vietnam. We too joined the anguished questioning of millions of Americans who asked why such a thing could happen.
But the mourning had barely begun, when the highest leaders of the land unleashed a spirit of revenge. They put out a simplistic script of "good v evil" that was taken up by a pliant and intimidated media. They told us that asking why these terrible events had happened verged on treason....
In our name, the Bush administration, with near unanimity from Congress, not only attacked Afghanistan but arrogated to itself and its allies the right to rain down military force anywhere and anytime. The brutal repercussions have been felt from the Philippines to Palestine....
In our name, the government has brought down a pall of repression over society. The president's spokesperson warns people to "watch what they say". Dissident artists, intellectuals, and professors find their views distorted, attacked, and suppressed....
There is a deadly trajectory to the events of the past months that must be seen for what it is and resisted. Too many times in history people have waited until it was too late to resist. President Bush has declared: "You're either with us or against us." Here is our answer: We refuse to allow you to speak for all the American people. We will not give up our right to question. We will not hand over our consciences in return for a hollow promise of safety. We say not in our name. We refuse to be party to these wars and we repudiate any inference that they are being waged in our name or for our welfare....
We draw on the many examples of resistance and conscience from the past of the US: from those who fought slavery with rebellions and the underground railroad, to those who defied the Vietnam war by refusing orders, resisting the draft, and standing in solidarity with resisters. Let us not allow the watching world to despair of our silence and our failure to act. Instead, let the world hear our pledge: we will resist the machinery of war and repression and rally others to do everything possible to stop it....
END of Excerpt
For the statement in full and the list of who has signed it:
The Web site for “Not in Our Name”:
Actor/comedian Dennis Miller expressed on Tuesday’s Tonight Show the exact opposite views as those espoused by Ed Asner (see item #3 above).
Reciting some of the commentary/jokes he’s told on his HBO show, Dennis Miller Live, the comedian who has been doing color commentary on ABC’s Monday Night Football, put the security and safety of Americans ahead of the civil rights concerns of liberals. Some of the politically-charged humorous observations he recounted on the June 18 Tonight Show with Jay Leno:
-- “Of course we have to profile people. We live in some weird time now where we’re all trying to convince each other that we shouldn’t profile people. When 19 out of 20 people are from a certain country, and they blow up the two biggest buildings in your country, if you don’t start looking at people who are visiting here from that country, you’re not being open-minded. You’re being dead. Okay?”
-- “We have got to get it together and understand that this country, people say it’s not the American way to infringe on civil liberties. Well it’s not the American way to rollover for punks either. We’re got to start kicking ass on these people because they don’t care about us. They live for one reason and one reason alone and that is to kill you and I. There’s no half way in the al Qaeda. There’s no al-Kindas, okay. These people just care about our demise.”
-- “And you know something, the American Civil Liberties Union, when they come out and say you never profile anybody who gets on an airplane. I say we create a new airline, called the ACLA, the American Civil Liberties Airline where you don’t check anybody, you don’t ask any questions, and let those morons fly on that one, okay? The rest of us want to be protected.”
-- “Guantanamo Bay, are these people being treated fairly? Let’s be serious folks. Guantanamo Bay is about as far as our Western sensibilities will allow us to descend as far as putting a prison together. No, you know, it’s no joy ride, but, you know, that being said, if you put the Guantanamo Bay terrorist prison outside of Kabul it would be their Epcot.”
-- “I don’t even understand why we’ve taken nuclear weapons off the table. I mean we treat them like our mother’s good china. We never use them. I think you’ve got to pick a day where there’s no wind, in a desolate part of the Earth, just blow off a bomb just to let them know we’re sitting on a nice hold card, okay?”
It’s not everyday you hear anyone with the guts to dare suggest using a nuclear weapon.
Last November on the Tonight Show, noting how reporters say “it's the public's need to know about our ground forces being in there,” Miller led the audience in a reprimanding journalists: “We don’t want to know!” For a RealPlayer clip of that:
HBO’s Web page for Dennis Miller Live, with a photo of him:
> Connie Chung, whose 8pm EDT CNN show, Connie Chung Tonight, will debut on Monday night, is scheduled to appear Friday night on CBS’s Late Show with David Letterman.
-- Brent Baker
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