CBS Reporter Declares Opposition to War on Iraq; ABC Looks at How Saddam Hiding His Palaces; ABC Sees Scandal in Non-Taxpayers Not Being Told of “Refund”; NJ’s “Clear” Election Law Not Clear to CNN’s Toobin; “Top Ten Saddam Hussein Campaign Promises”
1) CBS News veteran foreign correspondent Bob Simon declared his opposition to war with Iraq: “I don't think that going to war with him is the right thing to do right now.” Simon contended to USA Today’s Peter Johnson that most Arabs see an invasion as “arrogant American imperialism which will just sow the seeds for more terrorism.”
2) Hours after the MRC published a study showing how ABC’s World News Tonight spent September downplaying Iraq’s obfuscation, the show aired a piece devoted to a subject explored earlier by other networks, how Saddam Hussein won’t let inspectors check his palaces where it is believed he is conducting weapons development.
3) ABC discovered the supposed scandal of how low-income taxpayers were not informed by the IRS that because of the new $600-per-child tax credit they are “owed” a “tax refund.” But ABC failed to point out that for most low-income people the tax credit exceeds what they pay in income tax and so really is not a “refund.” Naturally, ABC focused on a victim, “a single parent working hard to improve her job skills” who made “only $16,000" last year but “was stunned to learn...she is entitled to a tax refund. The government never notified her.”
4) Presented with the suggestion by Aaron Brown that New Jersey’s election law “does seem pretty clear,” CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin was befuddled into momentary silence with a shocked expression on his face, before wondering: "Pretty clear which way?" On Wednesday’s NewsNight Brown responded with the obvious which had
eluded Toobin: "Fifty-one to me means 51 days." Toobin
maintained “there is an argument for what the court did" and claimed that if the court did not let a new candidate onto the ballot, there would be a “sham election.”
5) Letterman's “Top Ten Saddam Hussein Campaign Promises.”
>>> Now online, the latest edition of Notable Quotables, the MRC’s bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media. Amongst the topic headings:
“Washington Beating War Drums...to the 'Detriment of Democracy’”; “Our 'World View’ Led to 9/11"; “Dissenters 'Scared’ to Disagree”; “No Labels for German Leftists”; “Cheering New Burden on Business”; “Inviting Liberals to Bash Tax Cut”; “Bias? How Silly!”; “Real Bias Lies With Viewers” and “Barbara's Plea: Stop Mocking Bill!” To read all the quotes in the September 30 edition:
For the Adobe Acrobat PDF version:
Correction: The October 3 CyberAlert item about Everybody Loves Raymond co-star Patricia Heaton stated that she made the quoted comments on Tuesday night's O'Reilly Factor, but later identified that as October 2. Tuesday was October 1 and that is the night she appeared on FNC.
Though he was held captive by Saddam Hussein’s thugs in 1991, CBS News correspondent Bob Simon doesn’t think the U.S. should go to war with Iraq, contending to USA Today’s Peter Johnson that most Arabs see an invasion as “arrogant American imperialism which will just sow the seeds for more terrorism.”
Instead, he argued, the U.S. should target Saudi Arabia.
Simon is a regular on 60 Minutes II and who will appear more frequently than in the past on 60 Minutes this season as he steps in to fill the gap caused by Mike Wallace cutting back his commitment to the show.
In a piece this Sunday, Simon will argue that right-wing evangelicals influenced President Bush to cease demanding that Israel withdraw its tanks from the West Bank. Such a lack of pressure on Israel, Johnson summarized Simon as saying, “could delay any peace.”
An excerpt from Peter Johnson’s “Media Mix” column in the October 3 USA Today:
“He beat the hell out of me. He tortured me. I don't like the guy at all. But I don't think that going to war with him is the right thing to do right now.”
So says CBS News correspondent Bob Simon, who was captured by Iraqis along with his three-man camera crew and interrogated for six weeks in 1991, the last time the United States went to war with Iraq....
One sentiment he has heard over and over again in the past year, he says, is that the Arab world will not support a U.S. invasion this time around, as it did in 1991.
Most Arabs see an invasion as “arrogant American imperialism which will just sow the seeds for more terrorism,” Simon says. “We should be fighting it on so many other fronts that are more fertile ground for the people who hate America.”
“Saudi Arabia should be at the top of the list, not Iraq,” Simon says. “Nobody likes Saddam Hussein, but the Bush administration has not been able to link him to Sept. 11. And let's face it, we have not been hit in a year. That's a long time. If we tap into Arab rage, we will be targeted everywhere.”...
Sunday, Simon reports that the strongest allies that Israel has in the USA are not American Jews, but right-wing, evangelical Christians such as Jerry
The basis for the support is a strict reading of the Bible, which says that Jews must be able to return to the land of their ancestors before Jesus Christ can return.
Simon reports that evangelists are opposed to any biblical land being turned over to the Palestinians and are not afraid of telling Bush, a born-again Christian, their position. After Israel sent tanks to the West Bank recently, Bush said it should “withdraw immediately,” but after Falwell persuaded about 100,000 supporters to write e-mails, “it was the last time Bush said a word.”
That could delay any peace, Simon says, even though most Israelis would agree to a Palestinian state if it would mean an end to the conflict.
END of Excerpt
For the story in full:
Twice earlier this year CyberAlert has documented Simon’s liberal reasoning on the air:
-- From the September 10 CyberAlert: CBS's Bob Simon suggested our enemies would go away if we would just pursue a liberal environmental agenda. Simon argued on Sunday Morning: "If we were to really live well, and by that I mean: being less greedy, taking better care of our poor and our needy, and stop making impossible demands on our planet's resources, I think we would plunge our enemies into shame. In fact, we'd end up with fewer enemies." Simon yearned for cars that get 40 miles to the gallon, so we wouldn't need any more Saudi oil. Details:
-- From the April 15 CyberAlert: Despite how the Clinton administration promoted Enron’s since-shut down electric power plant project in India, a plant which went online in 1999, in a 13-minute story on Sunday night’s 60 Minutes, CBS’s Bob Simon didn’t mention the name "Clinton" or the term "Clinton administration." But, Simon linked the Bush administration to nefarious efforts in 2001 to get India to pay Enron what it owed the company. Details:
For a photo and bio of Simon:
ABC finally displays some skepticism toward Iraq. Hours after the MRC published a study showing how ABC’s World News Tonight spent September downplaying Iraq’s obfuscation, the program aired a piece devoted to a subject explored earlier by other networks, how Hussein won’t let inspectors check his palaces where it is suspected he is carrying on weapons development.
As Martha Raddatz noted, “only a few of the palace structures are residential. In the eight complexes, there are more than 1000 buildings, including warehouses and offices.”
The MRC’s Media Reality Check by Rich Noyes, “ABC’s War Against Bush’s Anti-Iraq Policy; MRC Study: World News Tonight Painted U.S. as Aggressor and Gave More Airtime to Anti-War Views,” determined that during September:
“ABC reporters were nearly four times more likely to voice doubt about the truthfulness of statements by U.S. officials than Iraqi claims. At the same time, correspondents frequently used language painting America, not Iraq, as the aggressor. Anti-war critics were granted more of ABC’s airtime than were advocates of a tough line against Iraq. While ABC did allow sound bites from U.S. officials making the case against Saddam Hussein, only twice did correspondents themselves bother to recount Iraq’s duplicitous and dangerous conduct.”
On Thursday night, Peter Jennings acknowledged: “At the United Nations today, the chief weapons inspector Hans Blix briefed the Security Council on his meeting with the Iraqis. He said the inspectors would not return to Iraq if the U.S. objected and said as far as the weapons inspectors were concerned, there were still some loose ends to clear up. These include the so-called presidential sites that remain out of bounds to the weapons inspectors because the Iraqis won’t let them in. ABC’s Martha Raddatz is at the State Department where they have been tracking this for some time.”
Raddatz began, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: “The eight presidential sites scattered throughout Iraq are enormous. One site where Saddam Hussein was once known to reside is lavish with swimming pools, fountains, and manicured lawns. As the Bush administration likes to point out, the 18-acre White House would be dwarfed by many of these sites. But the Bush administration was not the first to be suspicious of these massive complexes.”
Bill Clinton: “One of these presidential sites is about the size of Washington, D.C. That’s about -- how many acres did you tell me it was? -- 40,000 acres. We’re not talking about a few rooms here with delicate personal matters involved.”
Raddatz: “In fact, only a few of the palace structures are residential. In the eight complexes, there are more than 1000 buildings, including warehouses and offices.”
Charles Duelfer, UNSCOM Former Deputy Chairman: “They’re large areas, and they could contain any number of things, not just records but actually weapons themselves.”
Raddatz: “In 1998, Charles Duelfer headed the only inspection team ever allowed into these sites. After months of negotiating with the Iraqis, the UN team found exactly what they expected. All sites had undergone extensive evacuation.”
Duelfer: “You couldn’t find a piece of paper anywhere in these places. They had done an excellent job of sanitizing these locations before we arrived.”
Raddatz concluded: “In the four years since those inspections, satellite surveillance has shown the complexes are expanding. What’s inside or underneath is unknown.”
Prompted by a story in the Washington Post, ABC ended Thursday’s World News Tonight with the supposed scandal of how low-income taxpayers were not informed by the IRS that under last year’s tax cut law, which instituted a $600-per-child tax credit, they are “owed” a “tax refund.” But don’t you have to pay taxes before you get a “refund”?
ABC failed to point out, as the Washington Post vaguely alluded to deep in its story, that for most low-income people the tax credit exceeds what they pay in income tax and so really is not a “refund.”
Putting the story into TV’s usual victimology framework, ABC’s Linda Douglass reported the supposed IRS failure through the eyes of Annie Murphy, “a single parent working hard to improve her job skills” who made “only $16,000" last year but “was stunned to learn that under a new law passed by Congress last year, she is entitled to a tax refund. The government never notified her.”
Naturally, in her one-sided story Douglass never suggested that taxpayers such as Murphy have a responsibility to submit the proper forms to request a refund.
World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings set up the October 3 piece: “Finally, this evening, your money. The average taxpayer who gets a refund got back about $2,000 from the federal government this year. Taxpayers have to request a refund in order to get one, as you probably know. So what would happen if the IRS knew that it owed thousands of Americans money but didn’t tell them. Here’s ABC’s Linda Douglass.”
Douglass began with a model victim: “Annie Murphy is a single parent working hard to improve her job skills. Last year, she made only $16,000. She was stunned to learn that under a new law passed by Congress last year, she is entitled to a tax refund. The government never notified her.”
Annie Murphy: “I think that I should have been notified by the government since they, you know, were aware that people, you know, are eligible to get this money.”
Douglass explained how Murphy got screwed: “Murphy qualifies for the new $600-per-child tax credit that is part of President Bush’s tax cut. According to a Treasury Department investigation, more than half a million low-income families were entitled to $200 million in refunds last year, but they never knew it. The IRS said it was just too complicated and too expensive to notify them.”
Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa): “What’s the responsibility of the IRS? Service. Had an opportunity to be of service. They were not of service. So any excuse does not wash.”
Douglass: “What makes some Democrats on Capitol Hill angry is that after passage of the President’s tax cut, the administration spent $40 million sending letters to middle and upper income taxpayers informing them that their rebates were in the mail. Some Democrats say failing to inform low-income workers about their refund raises questions.”
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY): “For them to ignore and not to send out notices to low-income people is inexcusable and, in my opinion, and I select my words very carefully, it’s very political.”
Douglass: “After receiving an angry letter from some Senators, the IRS announced today it will contact taxpayers who may be entitled to the refund. The check won’t be in the mail. There will just be information on how to apply for it.”
Pam Olson, Treasury Department: “Beginning next month, the IRS will be sending out packets of information to taxpayers who didn’t claim the credit.”
Douglass concluded: “Annie Murphy is still waiting. Linda Douglass, ABC News, Capitol Hill.”
When the Douglass story ended, Jennings asserted: “Does make you think.”
But ABC didn’t think about telling its viewers the whole story.
The October 3 Washington Post story, which did not carry a byline because of a byline strike, reported: “Under the tax cut, the existing per-child tax credit will increase from $500 to $1,000 by 2010. So far, the credit has risen only to $600. But another provision made the existing tax credit 'refundable,’ meaning that low-income households could get back in cash any amount left over after their tax went to zero.”
In other words, the “refund” can exceed the amount paid in taxes in the first place, making it less a “refund” than a welfare payment.
For the Washington Post story:
Presented with the suggestion by Aaron Brown that New Jersey’s election law “does seem pretty clear,” CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin was befuddled into momentary silence with a shocked expression on his face, before wondering: "Pretty clear which way?" On Wednesday’s NewsNight Brown responded with the obvious that had
eluded Toobin: "Fifty-one to me means 51 days." Toobin, of course, maintained “there is an argument for what the court did."
Toobin also claimed that if the court had agreed with the Republican position of following the law, though Toobin didn’t say that of course, there would be a “sham election.”
MRC analyst Ken Shepherd noticed Toobin’s “deer in the headlights” moment in which he exposed how he didn’t find the New Jersey law so clear or the New Jersey Supreme Court’s decision to ignore it so unreasonable.
Brown set up the October 2 NewsNight interview with Toobin, who like Brown is a veteran of ABC News: "Two years ago Jeffrey Toobin and I would share meals in Tallahassee reading briefs and tea leaves, waiting for the Florida Supreme Court to decide the presidential race. He got a book out of the deal: Too Close to Call. Who would have imagined his expertise would be put to such good use again so soon? Hello, my friend."
Toobin: "Here we are!"
Brown: "First of all, you know, honestly, as I looked at the law, it does seem pretty clear -- the, the New Jersey law."
Toobin, with a shocked expression on his face: "Pretty clear which way?"
Brown: "Fifty-one to me means 51 days."
Toobin rationalized: "Well, you know, that's why lawyers get the big bucks to say, you know, when the law says 51, they don't really mean 51 days, they mean something else. But, I mean, there is an argument for what the court did."
Brown: "Well obviously there's an argument, because they persuaded seven justices of mixed political affiliation."
Toobin claimed the Republican position would have led to a “sham” election: "And remember, think about if the Republicans had won this lawsuit, you would you have had a situation, for 35 days the court today learned that the name could be replaced. But instead there'd be kind of this sham election where -- with a candidate who has withdrawn. The court said that New Jersey law stands for the proposition that when there are competitive candidates, there should be a competitive election."
But one “competitive candidate” resigned by his own choice thereby meaning as a matter of fact that there were no longer two “competitive candidates.” Apparently to Toobin it’s just fine for any candidate doing badly in the polls to be replaced by one party no matter what the election law filing deadlines are.
Toobin has a long history of using his TV news “legal analysis” positions to advance liberal reasoning and to discredit conservatives.
When he jumped from ABC to CNN earlier this year, CyberAlert recalled how in 2001 Toobin had penned Too Close to Call: The Thirty-Six-Day Battle to Decide the 2000 Election, a book in which he argued Bush stole the presidency. He charged in it: “The wrong man was inaugurated on January 20th 2001 and this is no small thing in our nation's history. The bell of this election can never be un-rung and the sound will haunt us for some time.”
Back in early 2000, he wrote A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of a Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President. On ABC at the time, he maintained he considered Hillary Clinton’s claim about a “vast right-wing conspiracy” to be “more right than wrong” since “this scandal existed solely because the conservative wing of the Republican Party...decided that they were gonna try to bring down Bill Clinton from practically the first day of his administration.” Toobin charged: “Clinton was, by comparison, the good guy in this struggle. The President’s adversaries appeared literally consumed with hatred for him.”
Toobin’s liberal history includes how he relished trying to bring down the Reagan White House as part of Lawrence Walsh’s independent counsel team.
For a full rundown of Toobin’s political advocacy, see the April 23 CyberAlert which includes a couple of pictures of him:
From the October 2 Late Show with David Letterman, the “Top Ten Saddam Hussein Campaign Promises.” Late Show Web site:
10. Will guide Iraq forward into the eleventh century
9. More money spent on the arts, specifically flattering portraits of Saddam Hussein
8. Will hold regular "town hall" meetings, followed by "town hall" tortures and executions
7. Less talk, more rock
6. An anthrax-infected chicken in every pot!
5. Switch from intimidating beret to humorous "Lordy Lordy I'm Over Forty" baseball cap
4. I'll paint any camel for $99.99
3. Ah, what the hell -- mustaches for everybody!
2. Sunday night "Sex and the City" marathon at the palace
1. To restore decency and integrity to the office of tyrannical, murderous dictator