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CyberAlert -- 01/08/2001 -- Chavez as "Extreme" as Ashcroft

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Chavez as "Extreme" as Ashcroft; Bush Didn't Win; Stop the "Huge" Tax Cut; Time for Campaign Finance Reform; Gumbel Admitted Cursing

1) CBS jumped Sunday night on ABC's story about an illegal alien and Linda Chavez. Phil Jones dubbed Chavez and Ashcroft as "darlings of the Republican right wing." ABC presented the legal case against Chavez.

2) Time's trio trounced Linda Chavez. Michael Duffy: "Her positions are just as extreme in some cases as Ashcroft's." Margaret Carlson: "She's totally against...working people." Jack White: She's "taken shrill right wing positions on everything."

3) Time's Jack White shouted "No they didn't" to the idea that the Republican Party won as NPR's Nina Totenberg declared Bush "didn't win. Nobody won." Newsweek's Evan Thomas insisted conservatives have no mandate since if the GOP had "run as a conservative party they would have lost."

4) Stop Bush's "huge" tax cut. Gloria Borger suggested the Fed rate cut has made it unnecessary, George Stephanopoulos worried about its "cost," while Margaret Carlson argued a minimum wage hike is the "one way to counteract the effect of this huge tax cut he's pushing which goes to the wealthy."

5) NBC anchor John Siegenthaler hoped: "The huge sums spent on the campaign trail and the rising calls for campaign finance reform. Has its time finally come?"

6) The wrong guy took office. NBC News promoted the view of one professor who declared: "The electoral college is an antique that distorts our democracy."

7) Last summer Bryant Gumbel insulted a conservative guest: "What a f--king idiot." Last week Gumbel admitted "I've got a bad mouth" and promised that his New Year's resolution is "to watch my language."


1
Two "darlings of the Republican right wing, today became targets of the most senior and influential Democrats in the Senate," warned CBS's Phil Jones Sunday night in a bit of incongruent labeling as CBS picked up on an ABC News story about an illegal alien who once did work for Labor Secretary nominee Linda Chavez, as well as more attacks on John Ashcroft.

Sunday's NBC Nightly News only gave the development, first reported on ABC's This Week, a few seconds. But CBS made it the top story of the day as John Roberts opened the January 7 CBS Evening News: "In less than two weeks George W. Bush takes the oath of office to become President of these United States. But there are new questions tonight about who may be joining Bush's inner circle. Democrats are beginning to line up against the President-elect's choice for Attorney General. And, in a scene reminiscent of Bill Clinton's first choice for Attorney General, echoes of Nanny-gate rumbled through the Bush transition today over another nominee."

Reporter Phil Jones began the subsequent piece: "Two of President-elect Bush's cabinet nominees, John Ashcroft for Attorney General and Linda Chavez to be Labor Secretary, both darlings of the Republican right wing, today became targets of the most senior and influential Democrats in the Senate."

Viewers soon heard from Democratic Senators Joe Biden and Tom Daschle. Neither, apparently, are liberals.

Naturally, ABC led World News Tonight with the story the network first reported. Anchor Carole Simpson intoned: "Tonight we begin with a growing controversy over Secretary of Labor nominee Linda Chavez. ABC News has learned that the FBI is questioning Ms. Chavez about an illegal immigrant who lived and may have worked in her home. Chavez was already facing a tough road in the confirmation process, but this latest development is likely to make it even tougher."

John Yang ominously noted how FBI agents were questioning Chavez and the woman, Marta Mercado. Yang recounted how Chavez maintains Mercado only did odd jobs and so was not an employee who required Social Security payments. Yang countered:
"Sources familiar with the matter tell ABC News Justice Department correspondent Pierre Thomas, that the FBI is aware of accounts that contradict Chavez's versions of events, that Mercado was in fact an employee of Chavez. Mercado's work schedule could be crucial. Federal immigration regulations exempt housekeepers who provide 'sporadic, irregular and intermittent service.' An immigration lawyer says that could be hard to argue in this case."
Michael Maggio: "I believe that the immigration service clearly would say that someone living in one's household, working from time to time, would be their employee."

2

Well before the new anti-Chavez story broke Sunday morning, Washington reporters were already discrediting and denouncing her as too conservative, just as they had done with Ashcroft.

At least three Time magazine stars were trouncing her. Appearing on CBS's Face the Nation, Time Washington Bureau Chief Michael Duffy tainted Chavez with Ashcroft's supposed extremism:
"Meanwhile Chavez looks like she has no great support, no base. Her positions are just as extreme in some cases as Ashcroft's and unlike some of these other groups that oppose Ashcroft, labor unions are powerful on Capitol Hill."

The night before on CNN's Capital Gang, Time colleague Margaret Carlson spewed from the left: "She in fact is so against the minimum wage increase that she calls it a Marxist plot redistribution of income. She falls back on the fact that her father was a house painter and her mother was a waitress, but she's totally against, you know, working people. She's on the record for it again and again and I think labor will fight her tooth and nail. And should."

Also over the weekend, Time national correspondent Jack White took on Chavez on Inside Washington: "What Bush has done here is he's appointed a cabinet that looks like America but sounds like a board meeting of the Heritage Foundation. She's right there at the top of the list of people whom the labor unions feel betrayed by. She's a former union activist whose since taken shrill right wing positions on everything, including affirmative action which she's supposed to enforce as Labor Secretary."

Last week on the January 3 MSNBC/CNBC Hardball, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, Chris Matthews raised with Bill Bennett the issue of the media's bias against any conservative nominee:
"Have you noticed when the media, the media who we're all familiar with -- you get up and read the New York Times every morning, read the Washington Post -- we're all very aware of that sensitivity of who these people are that [sic] write these editorials. That there's almost like a skunk at the picnic now to see if there is any real conservative. It's like, if a real liberal joins an administration, hey, Robert Reich, he's welcome, he's a real liberal. But what about a real conservative like Ashcroft he gets treated as almost a different species than us?"

3

Some reporters are still having trouble accepting the reality that Bush won the election. On Inside Washington over the weekend, Time's Jack White shouted "no they didn't" to the idea that the Republican Party won as NPR's Nina Totenberg declared Bush "didn't win. Nobody won." Newsweek's Evan Thomas insisted that conservatives have no mandate since if the GOP had "run as a conservative party they would have lost."

Picking up on a point made by Thomas, Totenberg treated conservatives as some kind of alien force: "The interesting thing I think that Evan raised is the question here really is: Did Bush balance this cabinet between pragmatists and sops to the right wing, as Evan suggests because he doesn't care about those positions and the domestic policies they represent? Or, is he going to run those policies essentially out of the White House and reign in those departments?"

That prompted columnist Charles Krauthammer to point out: "We had an election between the conservative party and the liberal party and the conservatives won."
White shouted: "No they didn't!"
Totenberg: "They didn't win. Nobody won!"
Thomas: "Charles, if they'd run as a conservative party they would have lost."

Totenberg soon bemoaned: "He has picked a cabinet as if he had run as a conservative and won a broad mandate."
Krauthammer: "He ran as a conservative."
Totenberg: "Excuse me, he ran fudging any sort of differences and he did not win a broad mandate."

4

A reason must be found to dump Bush's "huge" tax cut. Gloria Borger suggested the Fed rate cut has made it unnecessary, George Stephanopoulos worried about its "cost," while Margaret Carlson argued a minimum wage hike is the "one way to counteract the effect of this huge tax cut he's pushing which goes to the wealthy." As with the last CyberAlert, the word HUGE is in uppercase below so it stands out.

-- Gloria Borger to Tom Daschle on the January 7 Face the Nation: "Last week the Federal Reserve cut interest rates by a half a point. Does that trump the need for a HUGE tax cut?"

-- George Stephanopoulos on ABC's This Week: "But this argument somehow that because we're going into some kind of a dip, even if it's not a recession, that you need to have a HUGE tax cut now is completely specious, especially because, as you pointed out in your questioning, the tax cut is not going to take effect right away and the real effect, when it really costs a lot of money, is many years down the road, five or ten years down the road. It was interesting when Mr. [Lawrence] Lindsay said we might then speed up the tax cuts. That means it's going to cost even more, far more than the $1.3 trillion they're talking about."

-- Time's Margaret Carlson, on CNN's Capital Gang, announcing her recommendation for Bush's first action as President: "He should signal that he wants to raise the minimum wage. It's one way to counteract the effect of this HUGE tax cut he's pushing which goes to the wealthy, should do something for the working class."

5

The media trinity: Prevent any conservatives from getting confirmed, stop the "huge" tax cut and promote "campaign finance reform."

Here's how anchor John Siegenthaler teased what NBC considered the biggest news of the day at the top of Sunday's NBC Nightly News: "The huge sums spent on the campaign trail and the rising calls for campaign finance reform. Has its time finally come?"

The news hook? Just that John McCain appeared on some Sunday talk shows and claimed to have 60 votes for cloture to move ahead with his bill.

6

The wrong guy won, so let's dump the constitutional system. Wrapping up a Saturday story on the electoral college vote tallying presided over by Al Gore during a joint session of Congress, NBC News reporter Joe Johns concluded by promoting the views of one professor who declared: "The electoral college is an antique that distorts our democracy."

Following a soundbite of Al Gore urging "God bless our new President and God bless the United States," Johns concluded his January 6 NBC Nightly News story: "However, for the American electoral college one constitutional scholar today had few kind words."
Professor Jamin Raskin, American University Law School: "We're living in the 21st century but we are living with 18th century political institutions. The electoral college is an antique that distorts our democracy."
Johns: "And many suggest the controversy over the election will extend long past today. The city of Washington now bracing for protests to coincide with the inauguration of George W. Bush."

Yes, the Constitution is an antique.

7

Bryant Gumbel, whom the camera last summer caught mouthing the insult "what a fucking idiot" about a conservative guest, revealed last week that his New Year's resolution is "to watch my language" since, he conceded, "I've got a bad mouth."

The admission came in a portion of CBS's The Early Show usually seen only by a few people in very small markets: One of the :25 and :55 past the hour filler-segments which virtually every affiliate but the smallest bumps to use the time for a local news/weather update. However, on the January 1 holiday, the news department at Washington DC's Gannett-owned CBS affiliate took the morning off, allowing MRC analyst Brian Boyd to catch this exchange at 8:25am between Gumbel and news reader/fill-in co-host Julie Chen:

Gumbel: "We've made it eight hours and twenty five minutes into the new year without mentioning the word but we can't escape any longer."
Chen: "Resolutions?"
Gumbel: "Yeah. Do you believe in them first of all?"
Chen: "When it's convenient and when I succeed I guess I do. I remember last year your New Year's resolution."
Gumbel: "Which was to watch my language."
Chen: "And how did you do?"
Gumbel: "Not very well."
Chen: "Did it last a few days?"
Gumbel: "Yeah, I guess, but, I mean, I've got a potty mouth. Yeah, I mean, I've got a bad mouth."
Chen: "At what point do you give up?"
Gumbel: "You never give up, don't ever give up. You never give up, no. I mean I would like to clean up my language. I think it's appropriate, I think it's better, I think it's more intelligent, I think it's more mature, I need to watch my language period."
Chen: "But when you stub you toe in the middle of the night going to the bathroom."
Gumbel: "That's not the problem. That's not the problem, that's an exclamation, people don't have a problem with those. What we have a problem with is what we call the New York English which is where every word is preceded by the magic word."
Chen: "And sometimes not even used in a negative fashion."
Gumbel: "No, it's just talking."
Chen: "It's like, how the oomph are you."
Gumbel: "That's exactly right. Pass me the um um glass, so I can put some um um champagne in it, because I don't give a um."
Chen: "Or, you um I really love ya."
Gumbel: "Yeah, I mean it's just common parlance and it's something probably we ought to all clean up. And I would like to, that's all, why?"
Chen: "Just asking."

Gumbel laughed, but he wasn't laughing last June when he denied he had used a vulgarity in insulting Robert Knight from the Family Research Council. For that outburst, he won the "Damn Those Conservatives Award" in the MRC's Best Notable Quotables of 2000: The Thirteenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting.

The quote and the attribution:

"What a f--king idiot." -- Bryant Gumbel caught on camera after he threw the show to a weather segment seconds after wrapping up a hostile interview with Robert Knight of the Family Research Council, June 29 The Early Show.

To view a lengthier RealPlayer clip of the comment and what preceded it, go to the Best of NQ awards presentation page and click on or scroll down to the Damn Those Conservatives Award:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/bestofnq2000.html

I bet a camera rolling during all the ad breaks would pick up a quite a bit of cursing from Gumbel aimed a conservative guests.

-- Brent Baker


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