1. ABC: Bloomberg “Forced” to Raise Taxes, Most Oppose Bush Tax Cut
to raise taxes? And “most voters” don't think the Bush tax cut is a good idea? On Sunday's This Week, George Stephanopoulos told New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg that he's “being forced to raise taxes now” and wondered how much the Bush tax cut will hurt New York City. Hours later on World News Tonight/Sunday, though a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll found 52 percent believe the Bush tax cuts are a “good idea,” ABC reporter John Cochran insisted: “Most voters, or many voters, do not think the President's tax cuts are such a good idea.”
2. Pundits Evoke & Reject Blaming Affirmative Action in Rainesgate
The Wall Street Journal's Paul Gigot commended the effort of the New York Times to document Jayson Blair's fake reporting, but
Washington Post reporter Ceci Connolly regretted that “what you don't see...is any discussion about what is the systematic problem in that institution.” National Review's Jonah Goldberg quipped on CNN: “This apology is so self-serving, it is like a serial killer getting caught stealing a loaf of bread and saying it's the worst thing they've ever done.” Newsweek's Evan Thomas pointed to affirmative action as the culprit, but on Fox News Sunday Juan Williams rejected the idea: “I don't think it has anything to do with race, but I fear as a black person that it's going to be turned in just that...”
3. Washington Post Picks Up on Couric Treating Parody as Real
You read it here first. The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz on Monday noted how NBC's Katie Couric fell for a Washington Post parody and treated it as accurate, a misunderstanding which CyberAlert highlighted last week.
4. Michael Moore: Bush Knows Osama's Location, Won't Go After Him
To the astonishment of Bob Costas, Friday night on HBO, far-left crank/movie producer Michael Moore claimed that the Bush administration “absolutely” knows where Osama bin Laden is located and doesn't go after him “because he's funded by their friends in Saudi Arabia!” Moore speculated: “Do you think that Osama bin Laden planned 9-11 from a cave in Afghanistan? I can't get a cell signal from here to Queens.”
5. “Top Ten...Questions Asked of the White House Switchboard”
Letterman's “Top Ten Most Common Questions Asked of the White House Switchboard Operator.”
ABC: Bloomberg “Forced” to Raise Taxes,
Most Oppose Bush Tax Cut
“Forced” to raise taxes? And “most voters” don't think the Bush tax cut is a good idea? On Sunday's This Week, George Stephanopoulos told New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg that he's “being forced to raise taxes now” and wondered how much the Bush tax cut will hurt New York City. Hours later on World News Tonight/Sunday, though a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll found 52 percent believe the Bush tax cuts are a “good idea,” ABC reporter John Cochran insisted: “Most voters, or many voters, do not think the President's tax cuts are such a good idea.”
The tax-raising Bloomberg appeared on a panel on This Week with the tax raising Governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell, Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, who opposes the Bush tax cut, and former GE Chairman Jack Welch. The panel followed Stephanopoulos' interview with Secretary of Treasury John Snow.
After having pressed Snow to justify a tax cut in the face of mounting deficits, Stephanopoulos suggested to Bloomberg that he had no choice but to raise taxes: “Mayor Bloomberg, you're being forced to raise taxes now. What kind of help are you looking for from the federal government if any?”
Bloomberg maintained he had cut $3.3 billion in spending, but that tax revenue fell by $6 billion.
Stephanopoulos pressed again about the impact on New York City of supposed lost revenue from a tax cut: “But if the federal government cuts taxes, isn't that going to make New York City revenues fall further, aren't they tied to the federal government revenues?”
In a May 12 op-ed for the Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal.com, Robert Bartley pointed out that Bloomberg really hasn't cut spending, just held it to the inflation rate, though the city carries an excessive employee payroll. An excerpt from Bartley's piece, “Bloomberg to New York: Drop Dead; The mayor tries to destroy the city in order to save it.” An excerpt:
....The mayor and city council have already increased property taxes by 18.5%. He also instigated a cigarette tax increase of $1.50. Water fees and transit fares are going up, and parking meters now apply on Sundays. In his deal with the legislature, the combined state and local sales tax will go to 8.625%. An income-tax surcharge will be applied on taxable incomes of more than $100,000. With the state taking a similar approach to its own budget problems, the top marginal rate for state and local income taxes will reach 12.5%.
Even without the pending increases, the Tax Foundation calculated that on average New York State residents spent 12.0% of their incomes on state and local taxes, second only to Olympia Snowe's Maine at 12.2%. The figure was 9.7% nationally, 10.9% in Connecticut, 9.8% in New Jersey and 9.1% in Pennsylvania.
Mayor Bloomberg says the taxes are necessary because budget cuts would ravage essential services. His 2004 budget plan projects spending of $44.5 billion, an "austere" increase of 2.0%. This depends on union concessions not yet reached, and on laying off some 4,500 employees. The mayor's "doomsday" contingency budget would lay off an additional 10,000.
New York City counts 296,598 public employees; doomsday would be a 5% reduction. The city's work force is more than 25% of the 1.2 million employees it takes to run the U.S. federal government, exclusive of the defense department and postal service. Over the last two years, private-sector employment in the city has already absorbed a 4.7% loss; the public sector dipped 0.25%.
The state comptroller reported in April that the city accounted for half of the 293,000 jobs the state lost in that time period. Heaping on new taxes can only accelerate the loss. Businesses and residents have been fleeing New York for years. A decline in manufacturing has been offset by growth in financial services, but with modern communications these firms are not tied to any one location. And of course, the upper-income individuals targeted by the income tax surcharge are the most mobile taxpayers....
END of Excerpt
For the piece in full: www.opinionjournal.com
Later, on ABC's World News Tonight/Sunday, John Cochran, with President Bush in Sante Fe, concluded a story: “Most voters, or many voters, do not think the President's tax cuts are such a good idea, but White House believes, the White House believes, a lot of those people will change their minds if, as Mr. Bush hopes, the Treasury starts mailing out tax refund checks around the 4th of July.”
“Many” may oppose the Bush tax cut, but many more and, therefore, most are in favor of it. A CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll released last week found 52 percent think the Bush tax cuts are a “good idea” while 41 percent consider them a “bad idea.”
Put Stephanopoulos and Cochran in the 41 percent camp.
Pundits Evoke & Reject Blaming Affirmative
Action in Rainesgate
Prompted by the lengthy, over 7,000 word, correction run by the New York Times on Sunday recounting errors and fabrications by reporter Jayson Blair, who was forced to resign after his concocted stories were exposed by those outside of West 43rd Street, pundits weighed in over the weekend. But not all came down where you might think as Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot commended the newspaper's efforts to track down the bad reporting while Washington Post reporter Ceci Connolly regretted that “what you don't see from the New York Times is any discussion about what is the systematic problem in that institution.”
National Review's Jonah Goldberg, on CNN, recalled that “this is the newspaper that put the Holocaust on the jump pages. This is the newspaper that won a Pulitzer Prize for a guy who said that Stalin didn't do anything wrong in the 1930s and '40s.” Goldberg quipped: “This apology is so self-serving, it is like a serial killer getting caught stealing a loaf of bread and saying it's the worst thing they've ever done.”
Fox Newswatch, Inside Washington and Fox News Sunday all raised the affirmative action angle since Blair is black, and at only age 27, had already made it to the national desk despite a high known error rate.
On Fox Newswatch, former Los Angeles Times reporter Jane Hall, now a journalism professor at American University, conceded: “You can't help but wonder about that.”
On Inside Washington, Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas brought up the subject explicitly: “Here's the question everyone's dancing around: This is a young black reporter. And the question is, do they give them too much rope. Sometimes this happens. You so much want a young black reporter like that, who's got gifts and he had gifts, to succeed, you give him too much rope and he hangs himself.”
But on Fox News Sunday, former Washington Post report Juan Williams, who is now with NPR, rejected the notion of seeing the situation as an indictment of affirmative action: “I don't think it has anything to do with race, but I fear as a black person that it's going to be turned in just that fashion by people who don't have anything but politics on their mind.”
As Clay Water, however, reported on the MRC's TimesWatch.org Web site on Friday, last week an NPR interviewer challenged Times Executive Editor Howell Raines with a rather incriminating blast from Raines’ past in which he proclaimed he fealty to “diversity.” Melissa Block posed this question on All Things Considered:
“Mr. Raines, you spoke to a convention of the National Association of Black Journalists in 2001, and you specifically mentioned Jayson Blair as an example of the Times spotting and hiring the best and brightest reporters on their way up. You said, 'This campaign has made our staff better and, more importantly, more diverse.' And I wonder now, looking back, if you see this as something of a cautionary tale, that maybe Jayson Blair was given less scrutiny or more of a pass on the corrections to his stories that you had to print because the paper had an interest in cultivating a young, black reporter.”
Raines rejected the notion: “No, I do not see it as illustrating that point. I see it as illustrating a tragedy for Jayson Blair, that here was a person who under the conditions in which other journalists perform adequately decided to fabricate information and mislead colleagues. And it is -- you know, I don't want to demonize Jayson, but this is a tragedy of failure on his part.”
Sunday's Times featured a 7,200 word correction, “Times Reporter Who Resigned Leaves Long Trail of Deception.” It began:
A staff reporter for The New York Times committed frequent acts of journalistic fraud while covering significant news events in recent months, an investigation by Times journalists has found. The widespread fabrication and plagiarism represent a profound betrayal of trust and a low point in the 152-year history of the newspaper.
The reporter, Jayson Blair, 27, misled readers and Times colleagues with dispatches that purported to be from Maryland, Texas and other states, when often he was far away, in New York. He fabricated comments. He concocted scenes. He lifted material from other newspapers and wire services. He selected details from photographs to create the impression he had been somewhere or seen someone, when he had not.
And he used these techniques to write falsely about emotionally charged moments in recent history, from the deadly sniper attacks in suburban Washington to the anguish of families grieving for loved ones killed in Iraq....
END of Excerpt
For the next 7,000 words: www.nytimes.com
The Wall Street Journal's Paul Gigot admired the effort, assessing on Fox News Sunday: “I think that one thing, if this thing happens to you and you're a big institution, the one thing you don't want to happen to you again is to be scooped on your own scandal. So they threw a lot of resources at it. I give them a lot of credit for putting everything out, warts and all. And that's the way to re-gain credibility. So I think this a big step forward for them, to try to recover from this mistake.”
On the same Fox News Sunday panel, Washington Post reporter Ceci Connolly disagreed and saw a larger problem at her competitor:
“I do think that the New York Times is to be commended. What they did today was not only an enormous undertaking but I'm sure extremely painful to have to go through that. The one thing, two things that are still troubling as we look at this article: Number one is that there were many indications, as the Times lays out in great detail, beginning in 1998, '99, 2000 about the fact that his work was sloppy, he was erratic, his correction or his error rate was enormously high, something like 50 over the course of three-and-a-half years working there. And in April of 2002, a high-ranking editor wrote: 'We have to stop Jayson from writing for the Times right now.' There were plenty of alarm bells going off. I agree, if someone is going to be so skillful at fraud and deception, it's hard to smoke that out. I mean the behavior's almost sort of criminal in the later stages.
“But in the early going, there were all of those flags. And what you don't see from the New York Times is any discussion about what is the systematic problem in that institution. And the comment from publisher Sulzberger toward the end of this opus story is, 'let's not begin to demonize our executives, either the desk editors or the Executive Editor or dare say I the publisher.' I don't think we should demonize them either. But there's an institutional problem, there's a management problem when you let this go on for so many years.”
Over on the “Final Round” segment of CNN's Late Edition, National Review Online Editor Jonah Goldberg took a historical swipe at the Times: “First of all, this 7,000-word phone book of an apology is a pinata. You can bash it from any angle and bear some reward. But I'll pick one. They say that this is the low point in their 154 year history. Some guy making up quotes, you know, is a bad story, but this is the newspaper that put the Holocaust on the jump pages. This is the newspaper that won a Pulitzer Prize for a guy who said that Stalin didn't do anything wrong in the 1930s and '40s.
“This is a newspaper that, this apology is so self-serving, it is like a serial killer getting caught stealing a loaf of bread and saying it's the worst thing they've ever done. And they're trying to put all the blame on this one guy and exempt all the executives for the culture that they've bred over there. It is an outrage.”
Fox Newswatch host Eric Burns raised the affirmative action topic on his Saturday show: “Are we ducking the issue of his race? Because it's been suggested, this is a black man, that the Times, been suggested that the Times gave him more breaks because of race.”
Jane Hall observed: “You know, he did come in through an internship program and the newspaper industry, like the television industry, has a terrible representation of minority people and it's hard not to wonder about the fact that there where there were a lot of things where a lot of stories of his were questioned, he was reprimanded and it seems to have taken the San Antonio newspaper editor calling their attention to this. Now, they're going all over his stories. But you can't help but wonder about that.”
On PBS's Inside Washington, produced at and shown by the CBS affiliate in Washington, DC, Newsweek's Evan Thomas more clearly suggested affirmative action had some culpability: “Here's the question everyone's dancing around: This is a young black reporter. And the question is, do they give them too much rope. Sometimes this happens. You so much want a young black reporter like that, who's got gifts and he had gifts, to succeed, you give him too much rope and he hangs himself. And I don't know enough to know what the Times did internally, but you have to wonder that this guy was out there making that many mistakes and they let it go on.”
But Juan Williams rejected blaming affirmative action. On Fox News Sunday, he cited the “tremendous pressure on young reporters to feel that they have to make a scoop, make a name for themselves.”
Williams got to race: “Jayson Blair is black and it has real consequence. I think there are a lot of people who want now to make the argument in the era of the Michigan case, the affirmative action now before the Supreme Court, 'oh, this is about diversity. This guy was being pushed along too quickly because he was a young black reporter.' This is about a guy who was clearly innovative to the point of fabrication, creating situations that I think are way out, almost to the point of being psychotic, you know, saying he had a relative who died in the 9/11 disaster. I don't think it has anything to do with race, but I fear as a black person that it's going to be turned in just that fashion by people who don't have anything but politics on their mind.”
For more on the New York Times/Jason Blair scandal, let's dub it “Rainesgate,” check the MRC's TimesWatch.org page: www.timeswatch.org
Washington Post Picks Up on Couric Treating
Parody as Real
You read it here first.
The May 8 CyberAlert reported: Clueless in the morning. Interviewing Democratic presidential candidate Bob Graham on Wednesday's Today, Katie Couric mistook an obvious Washington Post parody of Graham daily diary entries for the real thing and read several of the mock items to him as if they were what he really put down. See: www.mediaresearch.org
Fast forward to today, and here's one of the items in Howard Kurtz's “Media Notes” column in the May 12 Washington Post:
Fire That Researcher
Last Wednesday, Washington Post Style writer Mark Leibovich wrote a takeoff of Sen. Bob Graham's eccentric habit of recording mundane details of his life in color-coded notebooks. It was -- let's say this in capital letters -- A PARODY.
But the joke apparently was lost on NBC's Katie Couric, who read the notations that morning to the newly declared presidential candidate on "Today":
"'12:17,' this is when you made the announcement, 'ascend stage, stumble, regain balance. 12:18: Applause, "Where the Streets Have No Name" plays (U2). 12:19: Clap, wave. 12:20: Adjust tie (red, white stripes). 12:21: Double thumbs up. 12:22: Sing along with National Anthem. Right hand on heart.' What -- what do you do this for?"
Graham said it was "absurd" and that he hadn't yet made the previous day's entries. An NBC statement said only that "Katie followed up on a story in The Washington Post regarding the senator's daily log." Yes, that's true.
END of Excerpt
For Kurtz's “Media Notes” column in full, which mainly profiles the Washington Monthly reporter with the Bill Bennett story, go to: www.washingtonpost.com
Michael Moore: Bush Knows Osama's Location,
Won't Go After Him
To the astonishment of Bob Costas, Friday night on HBO far-left crank/movie producer Michael Moore claimed, during an interview on Costas' show, that the Bush administration “absolutely” knows where Osama bin Laden is located and doesn't go after him “because he's funded by their friends in Saudi Arabia!” Moore speculated: “Do you think that Osama bin Laden planned 9-11 from a cave in Afghanistan? I can't get a cell signal from here to Queens.”
Setting up the May 9 interview on HBO's On the Record with Bob Costas, which airs at 11:30pm EDT/PDT, Costas played a clip of Moore at the Academy Awards after winning for his “documentary,” Bowling for Columbine: “We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons [edit jump] We are against this war Mr. Bush. Same on you Mr. Bush! Shame on you!”
During the pre-taped interview, Moore asked Costas: “What happened to the search for Osama bin Laden?”
Costas naively suggested: “Obviously they're pursuing Osama bin Laden as we speak.”
Moore challenged the premise: “Really, you believe that?”
Moore: “You do believe that?”
Costas: “Sure. And if they could find him, and perhaps they eventually will, they'd be gratified by that.”
Moore: “You don't think they know where he is?”
Costas, clearly astonished as Moore's paranoid thinking: “You think they know where Osama bin Laden is and it's hands off?”
Moore: “Absolutely, absolutely.”
Moore: “Because he's funded by their friends in Saudi Arabia! He's back living with his sponsors, his benefactors. Do you think that Osama bin Laden planned 9-11 from a cave in Afghanistan? I can't get a cell signal from here to Queens, alright, I mean, come on. Let's get real about this. The guy has been on dialysis for two years. He's got failing kidneys. He wasn't in a cave in Afghanistan playing-”
Costas jumped in: “You think he's in Saudi Arabia, not Afghanistan, not Pakistan.”
Moore: “Well, could be Pakistan, but he's under watch of those who have said put a stop to this because-”
Costas tried to nail him down on culpability: “Including, at least by extension, the United States, he's under the protective watch of the United States?”
Moore confirmed: “I think the United States, I think our government knows where he is and I don't think we're going to be capturing him or killing him any time soon.”
At that point, HBO jumped to another segment of the taped interview.
For HBO's Web page for Costas' show which has replaced, for three months, Bill Maher's program: www.hbo.com
For a picture of Moore and a rundown of his film and TV work, check the Internet Movie Database page for him: us.imdb.com
As noted in the March 23 CyberAlert, John Fund documented how Moore's Bowling for Columbine, “a merry dissection of America's 'culture of fear' and love of guns, is filled with so many inaccuracies and distortions that it ought to be classed as a work of fiction.” Plus, Oprah played an excerpt from the portion of Moore's film which listed the awful things the U.S. has supposedly inflicted on the world, such as: “1981: Reagan administration trains and funds 'contras.’ 30,000 Nicaraguans die.” Oprah declared that the presentation “resonated with a lot of people, me included.” See: www.mediaresearch.org
“Top Ten...Questions Asked of the White
From the May 9 Late Show with David Letterman, the “Top Ten Most Common Questions Asked of the White House Switchboard Operator.” Late Show Web site: www.cbs.com
10. "You guys find Saddam yet?"
9. "Can I get some of them little square hamburgers delivered?"
8. "Hey, it's the President. I lost my wallet again. Can you tell the guy to let me in?"
7. "You guys find Saddam yet?"
6. "How 'bout Osama -- found him yet?"
5. "I work next door. Can you guys turn down the Lynyrd Skynyrd?"
4. "It's Al Gore -- has anyone called for me?"
3. "Do you accept unsolicited 'West Wing' scripts?"
2. "Aren't you too busy to answer your own phone, Mr. President?"
1. "This is the President -- any idea how I'd get a hold of Cheney?"
FNC's Shepard Smith is scheduled to appear Tuesday night on NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno
-- Brent Baker
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