Conservatives Block Equality, Limbaugh in "Extreme" --6/27/2003
2. ABC, NBC,
NY Times & Wash Post All Find Unsatisfied Seniors
3. NBC's Drug Price Victim Really a Lobbying Group's
4. MRC's "DisHonors Awards" on C-SPAN Saturday Night, June 28
5. "Top Ten Perks of Being a Member of the Blue Angels"
Correction: A June 26 CyberAlert item about a CBS Evening News story on Alabama Governor Bob Riley stated: "CBS has found a Republican it can admire: One who wants to raise taxes and spend more." Reporter Mark Strassmann summarized Riley's plan: "His plan is heresy to many conservatives. He wants the poor to pay less and the rich to pay more as a matter of Christian conscience." While Riley's plan does raise the income tax "from 5 percent to 6 percent for individual incomes over $75,000 and family incomes over $150,000" (see: www.governorpress.state.al.us ), he is not increasing spending and has cut it by about $200 million according to Mobile Register columnist Quin Hillyer. See Hillyer's May 29 column: www.al.com A press release on the Riley's Web site also boasts of the cuts: www.governorpress.state.al.us
Where have all the liberals gone? In relaying reaction to the Supreme Court's 6-3 decision announced on Thursday which, based on privacy rights, invalidated state laws barring consensual homosexual sexual relations, the broadcast network evening news shows contrasted those "in favor of gay rights" with "conservatives." Surely some conservatives agreed with the decision, since keeping government out of the bedroom is a leading strain of libertarian thought, and all of the "gay rights" spokesmen are themselves liberals.
ABC's Cynthia McFadden didn't hide her personal angst over impediments ahead for the gay rights cause. She concluded her World News Tonight story: "Gays and lesbians are clearly encouraged, but given some of the ferocious language on the other side, full equality may be a good ways off."
NBC's Roger O'Neill tagged Rush Limbaugh as an "extremist" for daring to cite Justice Scalia's dissent about how a federal court has no business telling a state which types of sex it must approve. O'Neill charged: "On the extremes, talk show host Rush Limbaugh lambasting the court, agreeing with Justice Anthony Scalia's dissenting opinion that the court has taken sides with gays in America's cultural wars."
A quick rundown on those themes on the June 26 ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts:
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Cynthia McFadden's labeling. Leading into a clip from Matt Coles of the ACLU, she asserted: "Initial reactions to the opinion were swift and predictable. Those in favor of gay rights considered the opinion a triumph."
On the other side, she saw conservatives: "While on talk radio conservatives called the decision a travesty."
McFadden concluded, however, by expressing fears about the attitudes of conservatives: "Listening to reactions today, there is one other thing, Peter: Gays and lesbians are clearly encouraged, but given some of the ferocious language on the other side, full equality may be a good ways off."
"Ferocious"? The only critical comments she aired were the ones from the talk show caller and Rios. In a previous story, Jackie Judd had cited how Scalia complained that the court had "signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda," "taken sides in the culture war" and predicted the ruling would mean "the end of all moral legislation."
-- CBS Evening News. Richard Schlesinger, referring to the two gay men in Texas whose arrest led to the Supreme Court case, said "they became reluctant symbols in this case for gay rights activists who are ecstatic with the decision."
Following a clip of Patricia Logue with th Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Schlesinger labeled the other side as he led into a soundbite from Richard Lessner of the Family Research Council: "Conservative groups quickly condemned the decision."
In a second story, CBS's Bob McNamara cited radio talk show host Marlin Maddoux who "has championed conservative causes for years." McNamara concluded his reaction story by warning: "Already conservatives are promising state capitals, including Texas, a flurry of bills in coming sessions to try to undo the controversial ruling."
-- NBC Nightly News. "Gay rights groups were jubilant over today's sweeping decision," Pete Williams announced before a clip from Ruth Harlow, identified on screen as a "gay rights advocate." Williams then introduced a soundbite from the Family Research Council's Peter Sprigg: "Conservative groups today roundly criticized the ruling as overreaching."
Next, Roger O'Neill took the pulse of America, but found only one extremist, Rush Limbaugh:
If Limbaugh quoting Scalia makes puts him on the "extreme," doesn't that mean O'Neill is denigrating three current Supreme Courts justices as extremists as well as the majority of the 1986 court which upheld state sodomy laws?
ABC, NBC, the New York Times and Washington Post on Thursday delivered another round of advocacy stories or interviews complaining that the proposed new prescription benefit in Medicare, the biggest ever expansion of an entitlement program, doesn't go far enough.
All the stories focused almost exclusively on how the program will not begin until 2006 or doesn't cover enough of the prescription costs, only as an afterthought getting to how a federal entitlement may lead employers and private insurance companies to drop the prescription coverage plans they now offer.
ABC's Linda Douglass decided that "many will be disappointed" since, she warned on World News Tonight, "the plan does not take effect for two-and-a-half years" and "many seniors will be surprised to learn how much they will still have to pay out of pocket for their medicines, roughly $700 before the insurance kicks in, another $1,000 to $3,000 for those who fall through the gap in coverage that effects seniors with higher drug bills."
Thursday morning on Today, Matt Lauer grilled Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist from the left, pressing him about "this donut hole in coverage." Lauer pleaded: "But if I'm a senior and I'm paying my, my monthly, you know, premium why should I have to then fork over all the money during that, that gap period?"
How about some concern for taxpayers having to be burdened by another giveaway program?
New York Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg began a one-sided front page story with whining from one senior citizen: "After 85 years on this earth, 36 of them as a schoolteacher, and more than 60 as a taxpayer, Vela Fox figures the government ought not forget her in her old age. Asked about efforts by Congress to give older Americans some relief from the high cost of prescription drugs, the normally mild-mannered Mrs. Fox lets loose with a tirade that could shake the magnolia blooms off the trees."
Fox demanded: "I would fix it to where senior citizens had their prescription drugs paid for. Not partial, but all of it."
Similarly, in a front page Washington Post story on Thursday Ceci Connolly focused on some selfish and ungrateful seniors: "They were disappointed that in most cases, benefits would not begin until a person spent nearly $1,000 a year on prescription drugs. And they were annoyed -- but not totally surprised -- that the program would not begin until 2006."
Now, more details about those three stories and one interview session, all from June 26:
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Linda Douglass began, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "House Republicans were already celebrating their prescription drug legislation today even though it had not passed yet."
-- NBC's Today. MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens caught Lauer's liberal agenda push in Lauer's interview with Senator Bill Frist:
Lauer assumed passing a bill is desirable: "I guess it's safe to say that the House and Senate are both going to pass their versions of this Medicare legislation. The real problem is gonna occur when you try to bridge the gap or the differences in those plans. How hard is it gonna be?"
Next, Lauer painted conservatives as an annoying impediment: "But conservatives in the House want to get more seniors into privately run, managed care programs. They want more free market competition in this plan. They hate the sound of an entitlement program. The Senate version seems to be more of an entitlement program. How many concessions are you gonna need from conservatives?"
Lauer then got to the big government plan's shortcoming, not spending enough: "Let me ask you about this donut hole in coverage. And it, it's complicated and let me try to explain it. People who need prescription drugs perhaps the most are gonna reach a point in their coverage at about $4,500 over the course of a year where they're going to have to take on all the expense of those drugs until they reach perhaps $5,800 in expenses where the catastrophic side of this plan kicks over, kicks in. Why is the need there for that donut hole?"
Lauer warned that not all are aboard the great new idea: "Let me, let me read you something from the Wall Street Journal today. They cite a recent poll taken by Zogby International. After hearing details of the Senate plan now in the works 74 percent of seniors with drug coverage said that it wouldn't be better than what they have. 16 percent said it would be better and of those seniors without the coverage only 16 percent said they'd be very likely to buy the new policy. Do you have some selling to do here?"
-- Front page New York Times story, "New Drug Plan Far From Cure-All, Retirees Find," by Sheryl Gay Stolberg. An excerpt:
NASHVILLE, June 24 -- After 85 years on this earth, 36 of them as a schoolteacher, and more than 60 as a taxpayer, Vela Fox figures the government ought not forget her in her old age. Asked about efforts by Congress to give older Americans some relief from the high cost of prescription drugs, the normally mild-mannered Mrs. Fox lets loose with a tirade that could shake the magnolia blooms off the trees.
"If you want to know my opinion," she said on Monday, taking a break from her work teaching ceramics at a center for retirees here, "up in Washington, D.C., I don't think they care a rip about the senior citizens. If I went up there and had that bill written tomorrow, I would fix it to where senior citizens had their prescription drugs paid for. Not partial, but all of it. Now that's Vela's opinion."
Mrs. Fox's opinion, passionate though it may be, will not become reality for her and countless other elderly people who have spent years waiting for a Medicare prescription drug benefit.
In Washington, President Bush and Congressional leaders praise the Medicare legislation as historic. But here, as elsewhere in the country, retirees are experiencing what Robert J. Blendon, a health policy expert at the Harvard School of Public Health, calls "sticker shock" -- the realization that, after so many promises, the proposed drug benefit will look nothing like what they expected.
They are confused by the complex structure of the plans, and upset that the coverage will not begin until 2006; Mrs. Fox said she did not expect to live that long. They do not understand why the proposals have a "doughnut hole," a gap in coverage.
Mrs. Fox, for example, spends roughly $2,400 a year -- nearly one fourth her Social Security check -- on medication, and under the bills widely expected to pass the House and Senate this week, she would still spend $1,400 to $1,750, including a $420 premium.
Those who already have benefits fear they will be forced into a less generous government plan. And there is a strong sense that Congress is all talk and no action, and that nothing will be passed in the end.
Here in Nashville, some are directing their ire at a man they know well: the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican and doctor-turned-lawmaker who has made prescription drug legislation his signature issue.
"Do you think anybody in Washington has any idea what people on a limited income have to do to live?" asked Ed Human, 68, a diabetic who said he voted Republican. Of Dr. Frist, who is independently wealthy through his stake in a hospital corporation his family founded, Mr. Human said: "He's a nice guy, that's fine. But he doesn't have a clue."...
END of Excerpt
For the skewed story in full: www.nytimes.com
-- "For Struggling Seniors, Medicare Drug Plan's Proof Is in the Purse," announced the headline over a front page Washington Post story by Ceci Connolly, who traveled to Cleveland to find dissatisfied, low income seniors. An excerpt:
CLEVELAND -- As the Medicare drug package moving through Congress takes on an air of inevitability, Washington politicians are already jostling for credit. But in this working-class city 370 miles from Capitol Hill, prospects for the plan's eventual success may lie deep inside the handbags of women such as Marie A. Urban.
Stashed in there are her monthly Social Security statement, a half-dozen prescription discount cards and insurance letters rejecting several recent medical claims. The scraps of paper -- creased and scribbled on -- document a life near the financial edge.
After working 24 years as the secretary at St. Paul's Shrine, Urban, 72, collects $843.70 a month in Social Security. After housing and Medicare payments, she has $459 for utilities, food, car insurance, taxes and medication. "Some months I have 87 cents to live on," she said. With her drug bills this year already exceeding $1,500, she said she probably will try to cobble together the money to buy the prescription coverage that lawmakers plan to offer Medicare recipients.
"I don't know," she said. "My finances right now are very tight. I guess I'd have to go with it."
In interviews at two senior centers here, Urban and other retirees expressed deeply mixed feelings about the voluntary prescription drug benefit scheduled for votes in Congress as early as today. They exhibited a visceral distrust of Washington, voicing skepticism that elected officials would deliver a package that fits their health needs and budgetary constraints -- in time for them to use it. They were disappointed that in most cases, benefits would not begin until a person spent nearly $1,000 a year on prescription drugs. And they were annoyed -- but not totally surprised -- that the program would not begin until 2006....
Both the House and Senate plans would require seniors to pay about $35 in monthly premiums and an annual deductible of $250 to $275 before receiving any subsidy. The Senate plan would cover half of a person's annual drug expenditures between $276 and $4,500. The recipient would pay the next $1,300 in prescription costs. If the person's total drug costs rose above $5,800 in a year, subsidies would resume.
The House bill would offer retirees an 80 percent subsidy on drug bills between $251 and $2,000 and no coverage for the next $1,500 worth of medications. The "catastrophic coverage" would begin when costs reached $3,501.
Asked whether either plan was attractive, Emily Eckert pulled a tiny notebook from her purse. It listed her daily medications: two pills to control sugar, one for high blood pressure, another to regulate potassium. Using her People's Drug Mart discount card -- also tucked in her pocketbook -- Eckert spends about $100 a month on prescriptions, plus $22 for diabetes test strips....
At 79, she has outlived two husbands, but at a high cost. Caring for her first husband, who had cancer, and the second, who had diabetes, wiped out $7,000 in savings and two life insurance policies valued at $3,000. Eckert has been in bankruptcy and worries about helping her three children, 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
"If it wasn't for this center, I'd be starving," she said, referring to the Senior Citizens Resources facility in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood. She wants to buy the drug coverage proposed for Medicare but isn't certain she will be able to pay the premiums.
The situations of Marie Urban and Emily Eckert may sound dire, but in many respects they are typical for the millions of senior citizens and disabled people who rely on Medicare for their health care. Not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, yet not fortunate enough to have substantial savings or a lucrative retirement package, such people have clamored for years for help with the rising cost of medication....
END of Excerpt
For the story in full: www.washingtonpost.com
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas, California Republican, never afraid to pick a fight, accused The Washington Post yesterday of misleading readers about his prescription-drug bill.
A story in yesterday's Post featured low-income seniors struggling to pay their prescription-drugs bills. Mr. Thomas said he read the entire Post article and that "nowhere in that story" did it say that his bill would actually cover such impoverished seniors.
The people in question would pay no premiums, no deductibles and would not be subject to a gap in coverage, he said. All they would have to pay is a $2 co-pay for generic drugs and a $5 co-pay for prescription drugs.
So bad was the front-page story -- datelined from Cleveland -- that Mr. Thomas lumped the paper in with the New York Times, recently exposed for printing outright fabrications. The "virus," he said during a press conference, that "attacked The New York Times has apparently migrated down the coast."
END of Excerpt
For Pierce's daily compilation of political/media news: www.washingtontimes.com
More evidence that the supposedly typical victims of high prescription costs featured by the networks are hardly average seniors. They are often really political activists who are part of a political lobbying campaign by a liberal group, the AARP, which consistently pushes for ever bigger government and more spending.
NBC's Norah O'Donnell highlighted this victim: "77-year-old Pat Roussos of Connecticut, who suffers from arthritis, diabetes and high blood pressure. Her out-of-pocket drug costs now, as much as $6,500 a year." But, the MRC's Tim Graham discovered, Roussos is really a top dog in an AARP state chapter.
This isn't the first time the networks have been sneaky in how they use supposed victims. As reported in the June 19 CyberAlert: What a coincidence. Two years apart CBS News and ABC News featured the same elderly woman, in news stories about the need for a new prescription drug coverage program in Medicare and the shortcomings of Republican-pushed alternatives, as the poster victim of high prescription prices.
For side-by-side pictures of the woman: www.mediaresearch.org
For more on the June 23 NBC story: www.mediaresearch.org
Tomorrow night, Saturday, C-SPAN will air the MRC's "DisHonors Awards: Roasting the Most Outrageously Biased Liberal Reporters of 2002."
The C-SPAN schedule lists the awards (which they designate as lasting an hour and 15 minutes) as running twice on Saturday night, June 28.
By time zone:
Those times could change and C-SPAN times are approximate, so tune in early. To check C-SPAN's Saturday schedule: inside.c-spanarchives.org:8080
A summary of the MRC event:
On Thursday night, March 27, before an audience of more than 800 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C., the Media Research Center presented the "DisHonors Awards: Roasting the Most Outrageously Biased Liberal Reporters of 2002."
It was a humorous evening as the audience relished mocking the media's anti-conservative agenda and promotion of ludicrous liberal reasoning.
Winners were selected by a distinguished panel of 15 leading media observers who served as judges -- including Rush Limbaugh, Lawrence Kudlow, Steve Forbes, Cal Thomas, William F. Buckley Jr., along with Lucianne Goldberg, Michael Reagan, Kate O'Beirne, John Fund, Robert Novak, Walter Williams, L. Brent Bozell III, William Rusher, R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. and Stephen Moore. List of judges: www.mediaresearch.org
Cal Thomas, a syndicated columnist and host of FNC's After Hours with Cal Thomas, served as Master of Ceremonies. Sean Hannity, national radio talk show host and co-host of FNC's Hannity & Colmes, was the first presenter, followed by national radio talk show host Laura Ingraham and columnist/author Ann Coulter. In place of the journalist who won each award, a conservative accepted it in jest.
Those standing in for the winners: National Review Editor Rich Lowry, Club for Growth President Steve Moore, Judge Robert Bork, columnist/author Mona Charen and, filling in at last minute for Rush Limbaugh, whose plane was grounded by weather and so was unable make what was planned to be a surprise appearance, Washington Times editorial page editor Tony Blankley.
The five award categories:
-- Ozzy Osbourne Award (for the Wackiest Comment of the Year)
-- The I'm Not a Geopolitical Genius But I Play One on TV Award
-- And They Called It Puppy Love Award
-- Ashamed of the Red, White, and Blue Award
-- I Hate You Conservatives Award
For more about the awards event, the list of judges and RealPlayer clips of the event, see: www.mediaresearch.org
From the June 19 Late Show with David Letterman, as read by ten Blue Angel pilots at the Stewart International Airport and Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, New York, as they stood in front of one of their planes, the "Top Ten Perks of Being a Member of the Blue Angels." Late Show Web site: www.cbs.com
10. While those Army guys are marching through the mud, I'm flying around eating peanuts (Major Ken Asbridge)
9. I get a 10% discount off any Blockbuster movie that has an airplane in it (Major Dave Morris)
8. Get to make extra money using my airplane to deliver drycleaning on the weekends (Major Chandler Seagraves)
7. Make a perfect landing, Uncle Sam buys you a Slurpee (Lieutenant Craig Olson)
6. I get to say things like, "Bravo foxtrot alpha measured ceiling is 4,000 broken," even if I have no idea what that means (Major Len Anderson)
5. Ejection seat makes hilarious "boing" sound effect (Lieutenant Commander Jerry Deren)
4. Once, I saw a cloud formation that looked like Richard Dreyfuss (Lieutenant Commander Dan Martin)
3. You get really familiar with this sound (jet sound) (Lieutenant Commander David Varner)
2. After three years, I have an option to buy my plane (Lieutenant Commander Todd Abrahamson)
1. To hell with the Mile High Club, I'm a member of the Mach Two Club" (Commander Russ Bartlett)
* Don't forget: MRC's "DisHonors Awards" on C-SPAN on Saturday night.
-- Brent Baker