Russert Again Presses Senate Candidates to “Postpone” Tax Cuts; Networks Celebrate Nobel Peace Prize for Jimmy Carter; Hume: Peace Comes from Armed Force; “Top Ten Signs Barbara Walters is in Love with Fidel Castro”
1) If it’s Sunday with a Senate candidates on Meet the Press, it’s time for Tim Russert to press them to “postpone” the tax cuts. To South Carolina Democrat Alex Sanders: “Would you consider freezing or postponing the Bush tax cut in order to have the revenues so we don't tap into Social Security and have the revenues to pay for the potential war in Iraq?” Russert treated Republican Lindsey Graham as an oracle of wisdom, reminding him how he had warned Bush’s tax cut would “eat up all the surpluses” and was “not fiscally responsible.” Russert praised his foresight: “You were prescient, prophetic about the Bush tax cut.”
2) Anchors and reporters hailed former President Jimmy Carter for winning the Nobel Peace Prize, without a negative syllable about his activities. Katie Couric heralded Carter as a “man of peace” before she giggled about how “it's so wonderful” that he won. Peter Jennings trumpeted Carter’s award “for two decades of service to the world” and passed along the view that Carter is “the only man who has ever used the presidency as a stepping stone to greatness.” CNBC’s Brian Williams wondered: “Is it fair to call him the best former President in, at minimum, modern American history, and perhaps, well, I guess, the last 200 years?"
3) When Washington Post reporter Ceci Connolly proclaimed it quite logical that a committee interested in peace would be opposed to Bush’s talk of war with Iraq, Brit Hume set her straight, pointing out how “the only peace that we’ve ever had in the world...was brought about by the presence and/or use of armed force.”
4) Letterman's “Top Ten Signs Barbara Walters is in Love with Fidel Castro.” Plus, Walters on Cuba: “If literacy alone were the yardstick, Cuba would rank as one of the freest nations on Earth.”
Just as he did three weeks earlier in his first session with two Senate candidates, on Sunday’s Meet the Press Tim Russert pressed South Carolina candidates Lindsey Graham and Alex Sanders to “postpone” the Bush tax cut.
Despite the fact that House Republicans plan to push this week for tax cuts to stimulate the economy, Russert, as usual, refused to press his guests from the right on the subject.
Instead, he applied pressure from the left. To Democrat Sanders: “Would you consider freezing or postponing the Bush tax cut in order to have the revenues so we don't tap into Social Security and have the revenues to pay for the potential war in Iraq?”
Russert reminded Republican Graham how he had opposed the Bush tax cut back in early 2000 when he warned it would “eat up all the surpluses” and was “not fiscally responsible.” Russert then noted how in “the first 21 months of the Bush-Cheney administration” the “Dow Jones is down 26 percent, the unemployment rate is up 33 percent,” the budget has gone from a surplus to a deficit and two million have lost their jobs. Russert hailed his foresight: “You were prescient, prophetic about the Bush tax cut. Why did you change your view and vote for it, and now in light of those economic numbers would you be willing to postpone it in order to have the money to pay for the war in Iraq?”
Graham retorted with bad economic numbers measured from a different date, when Democrats took control of the Senate.
On the October 13 Meet the Press, Russert first raised taxes with Democrat Sanders who, like Graham, is hoping to replace Strom Thurmond: “Mr. Sanders, you said you do not want to spend any money from the Social Security surplus and you laid out a couple of reductions of $20 billion or $30 billion. It's $160 billion at least a year. Would you consider freezing or postponing the Bush tax cut in order to have the revenues so we don't tap into Social
Security and have the revenues to pay for the potential war in Iraq?”
Sanders: “No, I wouldn't freeze the Bush tax cut. I supported the Bush tax cut. As a matter of fact, I supported it before Lindsey did at the time that it was enacted.”
Russert soon treated Graham as an oracle of wisdom: “Congressman Graham, you were on this program in January of 2000,
very outspoken against the Bush tax cut. Let's watch.”
Russert played an exchange from the January 9, 2000 Meet the Press:
Russert: “Is George Bush's tax plan fiscally irresponsible?”
Graham: “It is a large tax cut that's going to eat up all the surpluses if they come about. It does nothing, in my opinion, fiscally responsible to reduce the national debt. It doesn't address the Social Security issue.”
Back on live, over an on-screen graphic labeled “Bush-Cheney:
First 21 Months,” Russert recounted the economic record: “'Eat up all the surpluses; not fiscally responsible.’ Let me show you a graphic of the first 21 months of the Bush-Cheney administration. Since Inauguration Day, the Dow Jones is down 26 percent. The unemployment rate is up 33 percent. The budget had a $281 billion surplus. We now have a $157 billion deficit and there's been a net loss of two million jobs. You were prescient, prophetic about the Bush tax cut. Why did you change your view and vote for it, and now in light of those economic numbers would you be willing to postpone it in order to have the money to pay for the war in Iraq?”
Graham responded that he supported McCain’s smaller tax cut but he lost and he thought that by 2001 the economy needed a boost. Graham then suggested a different event from which to anchor bad economic numbers: “Here's some numbers I'd like to give you, Tim. When the Democrats took over control of the Senate in May of 2001, the stock market was at 11,000. As of Friday, it was at 7,500. When the Democrats took control of the Senate in May of 2001, the budget surplus was $236 billion. It's now $157 billion in the red. The unemployment rate when the Democrats took over the Senate in May of 2001 was 4.4. Now, it's 5.6.”
Back on September 23, in his first Senate debate segment, Russert pressed the Colorado candidates to agree with him that Bush’s tax cuts should be rescinded. To Democratic candidate Ted Strickland: “Would you be supportive of freezing or postponing the Bush tax cut in order to raise revenues to help fight the war in Iraq?” To Republican incumbent Wayne Allard: “How are you going to pay for the war in Iraq without, would you suggest, holding off on the tax cut?” For details:
A week ago, CyberAlert noted that if it’s Sunday, it’s time for Tim Russert to press his guest, whether a liberal or a conservative, a Democrat or a Republican, to agree with him that the tax cuts should be rescinded. Russert’s October 6 target: Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. Russert hoped: “Would you be in favor of postponing the Bush tax cut, the implementation, in order to have money to pay for the war and also reduce the deficit?” For details:
Russert has been obsession with the tax cut all year:
-- In a span of just over five minutes, eight times on the
Labor Day weekend edition of Meet the Press Russert urged that the Bush tax cuts be rescinded: "Would it be better to freeze, postpone, the Bush tax cut?....Why not freeze the tax cut rather than spend the Social Security surplus?....How did they squander it? With the tax cut?....As part of a budget summit, would you be in favor of freezing the Bush tax cut?....You did come to office with a $5.6 trillion surplus, and it's gone, and a third of that can be directly attributed to the tax cut." For details:
-- The MRC's Rich Noyes documented Russert's tilt over the first seven months of 2002. See his July 30 Media Reality Check: "A Bias Blind Spot for Meet the Press Host; One-Sided Questioning: Russert Pushed Both Friends and Foes of Bush Tax Cut to Suspend Its Benefits." To read it:
On subjects other than taxes, Russert still poses questions most others in the national media never even think of. For example, on Sunday’s program, after Democratic Senate candidate Alex Sanders proclaimed that he’s opposed to the death penalty because it is “contrary to the will of God,” Russert asked Sanders, who is pro-abortion, “Do you believe that abortion is contrary to the will of God?”
If only Russert could manage such a contrarian approach on tax cuts instead of just echoing the standard liberal mantra.
Friday morning and evening television network anchors and reporters hailed former President Jimmy Carter for winning the Nobel Peace Prize, without a negative syllable about his activities over the past decades despite his frequent interference with policies which would have brought about peace, anti-U.S. comments and efforts to saddle up to dictatorial thugs and communist leaders.
“He has become, in the opinion of many, the greatest ex-President of modern times,” gushed ABC’s Charles Gibson on Friday’s Good Morning America before declaring the award “is well deserved.”
Over on NBC, Today opened with Katie Couric heralding: “Man of peace. Twenty-one years after leaving office, former President Jimmy Carter has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.”
“It's so wonderful,” Couric giggled as co-host Matt Lauer agreed, “It's a great honor.”
On Friday night CBS anchor Dan Rather celebrated: “Honoring a lifetime of peacemaking: Jimmy Carter wins the Nobel Peace Prize.”
ABC anchor Peter Jennings rejoiced: “Jimmy Carter gets the Nobel Prize for Peace for two decades of service to the world.” Jennings added more praise: “In the mid-1990s...he was occasionally introduced as the only man who has ever used the presidency as a stepping stone to greatness.”
ABC reporter Jim Wooten trumpeted how Carter had gone “to Haiti trying helping avert a U.S. invasion, even to North Korea and most recently to Cuba where he publicly criticized Fidel Castro’s record on human rights.”
I think most remember that as a very friendly visit from Carter, but it also impressed NBC’s Tom Brokaw who also highlighted what Carter did in Haiti: “He helped derail fixed election results in Panama. In 1994, he helped avert a U.S. invasion in Haiti. He would speak out against Cuban communism as a guest of Fidel Castro.”
On the cable side, CNBC’s Brian Williams elevated Carter to Mount Rushmore-like status, suggesting to a guest: “Is it fair to call him the best former President in, at minimum, modern American history, and perhaps, well, I guess, the last 200 years?"
Over on CNN’s NewsNight, Aaron Brown trumpeted how “there is hardly a troubled place in the world he hasn't visited, worked in,
in a quest to bring peace and spread democratic values.”
But as Bill Kristol pointed out during the panel segment on Fox News Sunday after Brit Hume noted that Yasser Arafat has also won the award: “There is an ex-President who not only sought peace but who achieved peace, who reduced the threat of nuclear annihilation dramatically and liberated tens of millions of people from dictatorship. His name is Ronald Reagan.”
Now, a rundown of glowing network coverage for Carter’s award which was announced just hours before the morning shows went on the air on Friday, October 11.
> First, the morning shows:
-- ABC’s Good Morning America. Charles Gibson announced, as taken down by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson:
"And now we turn to this morning's awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Jimmy Carter. To his supporters who nominated him seven times over the last 25 years, it was an honor long overdue....He was the unlikely President, who came out of nowhere. He has become, in the opinion of many, the greatest ex-President of modern times...”
After recalling Carter’s Middle East peace accord success, Gibson rued: "After that his presidency suffered. Sixty-six Americans were taken hostage in Iran on his watch and in 1980, he was defeated for reelection by Ronald Reagan. It was then his successful ex-presidency began. He is known for work with Habitat For Humanity, an organization that has built thousands of homes in dozens of countries. He is known for his work overseeing elections in many countries where fair elections are not a foregone conclusion. And he has tirelessly worked through the Carter Center in Atlanta on conflict resolution and on curing diseases unknown in the modern world, but diseases which so hinder development in Third World countries.
"Given his focus on resolving conflicts without hostilities, a natural question: Is the Nobel Committee sending a message about a possible U.S. war with Iraq? Carter this morning would say only this."
Carter: "Before we go into a war of any kind, we should exhaust all other alternatives."
Gibson: "One other note, the former President has been a good friend of Good Morning America, appearing often to comment on issues of the day. Now his words will carry even greater weight. Jimmy Carter, the winner this morning of the Nobel Peace Prize."
Diane Sawyer marveled: "What a career, huh? You know, Begin and Sadat got the Nobel Prize for the Camp David Accords, and he said this morning when he was talking that he was a little disappointed that he was excluded and discovered everybody had forgot [sic] to nominate him, so it didn't happen again -- they saw to that."
Gibson: "Well, it is well deserved and congratulations to President, former President Jimmy Carter."
-- NBC’s Today. Katie Couric over video showing Carter standing next to Fidel Castro: “Good morning. Man of peace. Twenty-one years after leaving office, former President Jimmy Carter has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize today, Friday October 11th, 2002.”
Recalling how Carter had been in-studio just day before, Couric regretted not having “the forethought to think about asking him about this exciting award. I mean, it's so wonderful-”
Lauer: “It's a great honor.”
Couric repeated herself: “And so well-deserved.”
Couric applauded: “President Carter was also honored for his humanitarian work. The Nobel committed cited his, quote, 'decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts to advance democracy and human rights and to promote economic and social development,' end quote. So, congratulations, President Carter.”
> Second, the broadcast network evening shows on October 11:
-- ABC’s World News Tonight. “Jimmy Carter gets the Nobel Prize for Peace for two decades of service to the world,” Peter Jennings teased at the top of the show.
Jennings set up the subsequent story: “It was a great day for Jimmy Carter. The former President heard early this morning that he had won the Nobel Peace Prize. Mr. Carter was President from 1977 to 1981. He is the least popular President in the period
after World War II. In the mid-1990s, on the other hand, he was occasionally introduced as the only man who has ever used the presidency as a stepping stone to greatness.”
After a clip from Nobel Committee Chairman Gunnar Berge, reporter Jim Wooten noted that Berge praised Carter for his “long efforts to resolve conflicts peacefully and, he added, choosing him was also a condemnation of the Bush administration’s plans for war Iraq which Mr. Carter himself has openly criticized.”
Wooten provided a glowing review of Carter’s work: “Mr. Carter said he would accept the prize in behalf of people in need all over the world, the people on whom he has focused much of his energy since his presidency ended. He is almost always on the road. From Central America to Southeast Asia, monitoring elections in Panama and East Timor, from Sarejevo trying to end the Bosnian war, to Haiti trying helping avert a U.S. invasion, even to North Korea and most recently to Cuba where he publicly criticized Fidel Castro’s record on human rights.”
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather teased: “Honoring a lifetime of peacemaking: Jimmy Carter wins the Nobel Peace Prize.”
Before an ad break, Rather promised: “Next on the CBS Evening News, President and peacemaker: The Nobel Prize goes to Jimmy Carter.”
Rather narrated the CBS story himself: “Former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, was named winner today of this year's Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel committee cited his dedication to finding peaceful solutions to international conflicts. And the committee's chairman called the choice of Carter, and I quote, 'a kick in the leg to those who support President Bush's constant threat of war with Iraq.’ Jimmy Carter, though, said he sees the whole thing differently.”
Carter: “Well, I don't see it as a kick in the leg. I think it's significant, I don't think there's any doubt that Saddam Hussein does create a threat.”
Rather recited the highlights of Carter’s presidential years before observing: “Jimmy Carter lost his re-election bid but soon set a new standard of activism for a former President: Building homes for the poor, mediating peace talks worldwide and working for human rights through his Carter Center, which is expected to receive a large share of the $1 million peace prize. Now 78 years old, Jimmy Carter says he's pleased with the honor and proud that 25 years after becoming President, he's still the favorite son of his Georgia hometown, still the man from Plains.”
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw also handled the story himself: “NBC News In Depth tonight, Jimmy Carter, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his tireless missions around the world from AIDS in Africa to conflicts in the Middle East, elections in South America. In selecting the former President, who opposes President Bush's plans for Iraq, the Norwegian Nobel committee made it clear the award is also a statement against U.S. Iraq policy. Whatever the political overtones, for Jimmy Carter, it is a historic tribute to a life after the White House.”
After noting how Carter “admitted that his years as an American President were not his most rewarding,” Brokaw effused:
“Citizen Carter has made up for lost time. Among his peacemaking efforts, he and Habitat for Humanity have built homes for the impoverished everywhere. He helped derail fixed election results in Panama. In 1994, he helped avert a U.S. invasion in Haiti. He would speak out against Cuban Communism as a guest of Fidel Castro.”
In contrast with Rather’s spin, Brokaw asserted: “And most recently, Carter has been vocal about what he called a belligerent and divisive Bush administration that is too eager to go to war with Iraq. Today, he didn't disagree with the idea that his prize sent a message.”
Carter: “The message that I derive from this is a commitment to peace, to the honoring of international law.”
Brokaw: “And the choice of Carter was popular even among those who were in the running. Finalist and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai.”
President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan: “He had many, many years of work for peace in a very concerted way, in a very human way.”
Brokaw: “President Carter, admired internationally, but anchored by family.”
Carter: “I'm especially grateful to, to Rosalynn.”
Brokaw: “And now, as always, still embracing small town Georgia.”
Carter: “My roots are too deep here to be changed, really. And I'm too old.”
Brokaw: “A man of peace, at last at peace with himself.”
Third, the cable networks:
-- CNBC’s The News with Brian Williams. Before an ad break, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth noticed, Williams oozed: "And the man who has been called the best ex-President in American history is awarded the big prize in the peace business, when we continue."
CNBC brought aboard the Carter-friendly author Marshall Frady. Williams proposed to him: “Is it fair to call him the best former President in, at minimum, modern American history, and perhaps, well, I guess, the last 200 years?"
Frady agreed: "Which embraces the, all presidencies. I think absolutely.”
-- CNN’s NewsNight. Anchor Aaron Brown paid tribute to Carter’s work: “If his presidency is viewed as mixed at best, Jimmy Carter has spent the years since redefining the role of former President. There is hardly a troubled place in the world he hasn't visited, worked in, in a quest to bring peace and spread democratic values.
“In Haiti, to monitor free elections. To North Korea to try to open a closed country to the ideals of basic human rights. To Africa, hoping to raise awareness and action in the fight against AIDS and poverty. To Cuba, and dozens more. The Nobel Committee noted this as especially important and many believed long overdue....”
Brown added: “Jimmy Carter told Larry King today he is slowing down some, cutting back. Age makes globe-trotting especially hard. But in many places, dusty and difficult places, James Earl Carter has brought hope and dispelled, as well as anyone alive these days, the vision of the ugly American.”
> Left out of all this celebratory coverage were any hints about Carter’s misguidedness. As James Taranto noted in his Friday “Best of the Web” column (http://www.opinionjournal.com/best ):
“His record as President illustrates the folly of seeking peace through niceness. He lectured Americans on the foolishness of their 'inordinate fear of communism,’ and the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. He tried to appease the mullahs in Iran, and they answered him by holding dozens of Americans hostage, releasing them the moment Ronald Reagan was inaugurated. Reagan, in fact, would have been a worthier nominee for a peace prize; the world was far more peaceful after his eight years in office than after Carter's four.”
Back in May National Review Online Editor Jonah Goldberg recounted Carter’s record as an American basher. An excerpt:
Jimmy Carter...is in Cuba this week visiting Fidel Castro, the world's most notorious cigar wholesaler and a bona fide monster, in order to improve relations between our two countries....
So, what happened Tuesday? Oh, well, Carter called the United States a liar.
Last week, Undersecretary of State John Bolton announced that the U.S. government has reason to believe Castro's Cuba is developing and exporting "dual use" technology -- i.e. technology that can be used both for peaceful purposes as well as to develop weapons of mass-destruction.
So what did Carter do when he got to Cuba? He basically said that the United States was full of it. He explained that the U.S. government didn't tell him about these concerns before he left. Moreover, Carter asked Cuban scientists -- in the presence of Castro -- and Fidel himself whether they had anything to do with biological weapons or terrorism and they all said no. Heck, if Castro's word isn't good enough, whose is?
It's an unusual thing for a former president to more or less choose sides against the United States and with a hostile nation ruled by a ruthless dictator. Unusual, that is, in the sense that most U.S. presidents -- current or former -- don't do this sort of thing.
Unfortunately, Carter is the exception that proves the rule. Like a (very) white, un-rhyming Jesse Jackson, Carter has developed an uncanny gift for sucking up to the most appalling dictators on the planet and undermining U.S. policy.
As Joshua Muravchik wrote in the New Republic in 1994 -- when Carter was bollixing up then-President Clinton's efforts to stop nuclear proliferation in North Korea -- "Jimmy Carter, for all his heroic advocacy of human rights, has a long history of melting in the presence of tyrants."
At the time, Carter said of Kim Il Sung, a brutal Stalinist dictator, "I found him to be vigorous, intelligent, surprisingly well-informed about the technical issues and in charge of the decisions about this country." As for the North Koreans, Muravchik wrote, Carter said the "people were very friendly and open." The capital, Pyongyang, is a "bustling city," where customers "pack the department stores," which looked like "Wal-Mart in Americus, Georgia." North Korea, it should be noted, has suffered from such government-imposed mass-starvation that millions have been forced to live off grass.
While the first President Bush was trying to orchestrate an international coalition to remove Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, Carter wrote a letter to the U.N. Security Council asking its members to stymie Bush's efforts.
As the "human rights president," Carter noted that Yugoslavia's Marshall Tito was also "a man who believes in human rights."...He publicly told Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, "Our goals are the same.... We believe in enhancing human rights. We believe that we should enhance, as independent nations, the freedom of our own people."...
Since Carter has left office, he's been even more of a voluptuary of despots and dictators. He told Haitian dictator Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras he was "ashamed of what my country has done to your country." He's praised the mass-murdering leaders of Syria and Ethiopia. He endorsed Yasser Arafat's sham election and grumbled about the legitimate vote that ousted Sandinista Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua....
END of Excerpt
For the column in full:
When Washington Post reporter Ceci Connolly proclaimed it quite logical that a committee interested in peace would be opposed to Bush’s talk of war with Iraq, Brit Hume set her straight, explaining how “the only peace that we’ve ever had in the world, in contemporary history, was brought about by the presence and/or use of armed force.”
The exchange took place on Fox News Sunday during a discussion about Carter being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize:
Connolly: “I don’t think we should be all that surprised that the committee that is giving out an award for peace-making would say that they’re not in favor of war plans. That seems fairly logical to me.”
Hume countered: “Wait a minute. The only peace that we’ve ever had in the world, in contemporary history, was brought about by the presence and/or use of armed force. This is true of the Cold War, it was true of World War II. It’s been true of every major conflict in the world. It’s been when the good guys win you get some peace. And when the good guys either don’t fight or lose then you have a continuing crisis.”
From the October 11 Late Show, the “Top Ten Signs Barbara Walters is in Love with Fidel Castro.” Late Show home page:
10. Her first question: "How'd you get so dreamy?"
9. Squeals like a schoolgirl every time he tortures a dissident
8. She's wearing his varsity dictator jacket
7. Re-named her newsmagazine "Veinte/Veinte"
6. Told him, "You have led a violent overthrow of my heart"
5. Has same look Diane Sawyer had when she and Khomeini were dating
4. Breakfast, lunch and dinner: pulled pork
3. New sign-off line on "The View": "Socialism or death"
2. When asking him about Camp X-Ray, she accidentally called it
1. The long, mangy beard hairs on her blouse
No room today for a review of Walters’ Castro interview which was shown on Friday’s 20/20, but here’s one sentence I took down to illustrate the flavor of her approach:
“For Castro, freedom starts with education. And if literacy alone were the yardstick, Cuba would rank as one of the freest nations on Earth. The literacy rate is 96 percent.”
Sounds like she was briefed by Jimmy Carter.
-- Brent Baker
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