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CyberAlert -- 02/11/2002 -- Budget = "Enron Accounting"

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Budget = "Enron Accounting"; Worried About Too Much Nationalism; Bus Money to Canada for Jennings; Van Susteren's Clinton Defense

1) When liberal Senator Kent Conrad denounced President Bush's budget for cutting taxes and not raising spending enough, Al Hunt resounded: "Amen, brother Conrad." Hunt sarcastically declared that "this budget is about as credible as an Enron accounting statement."

2) "A pompous idiot." That's what Newsweek's Evan Thomas thinks of Democratic Senator Robert Byrd who last week lectured Treasury Secretary O'Neill about how he was never poor enough to understand the downtrodden whom Byrd claims to represent.

3) Today's Katie Couric kvetched Friday morning from the Olympics in the Salt Lake City area about how "the games themselves will be very patriotic in feel and yet sometimes the international community can interpret that as arrogant nationalism." She ruminated: "It will be interesting to see how these games balance sort of the nationalistic, patriotic fervor with the sentiments of the entire international community."

4) ABC anchor Peter Jennings disclosed last week that people occasionally "send me bus money to go home to Canada." In an interview with the Atlanta Constitution, he condescendingly boasted that he's tougher on the U.S. than either Tom Brokaw or Dan Rather because "I'm not one of those members of Congress or the leadership of the country who is proud not to have a passport, which I believe is utterly foolish."

5) FNC's Greta Van Susteren pummeled Dick Morris over his view that Bill Clinton wasn't interested in combating terrorism, but she prompted Madeleine Albright to criticize George W. Bush's policies. Morris fired back: "You're still a CNN person." When Morris said she was delivering spin, Van Susteren provided a classic retort: "No, I got this out of the New York Times."

6) Former Washington Post reporter and editor Haynes Johnson denounced President Bush's reference to an "axis of evil" as "a very reckless statement."

7) Quip of the week, from ABC's John Stossel: "Asking someone in the media about liberal bias is like asking a fish about water. 'Huh, what are you talking about? Where is it?'"

8) Letterman's "Top Ten Cool Things About Being in the Air Force."


1

"Amen, brother Conrad," Al Hunt enthused over liberal Senator Kent Conrad's denunciation of President Bush's budget proposal. On CNN's Capital Gang on Saturday night, Hunt sarcastically declared that "this budget is about as credible as an Enron accounting statement," as he castigated the "guns and caviar budget."

Hunt's remarks followed Conrad's standard criticism of the budget plan from the left, simultaneously castigating the deficit and tax cuts while ruing the lack of enough spending in many areas. The North Dakota Democrat complained, in part:
"We're not paying the bills. Instead, we're putting it on the credit card and the baby boomers are going to start to retire. Then the country is going to be faced with agonizing choices of big cuts in benefits, massive tax increases or huge increases in debt."

Hunt, the Executive Washington Editor of the Wall Street Journal, applauded the liberal spin: "Amen, brother Conrad. I want to tell you, Mark [Shields], this budget is about as credible as an Enron accounting statement. Kate [O'Beirne], unlike previous wartime budgets this one proposes tax cuts for the wealthy, takes care of every corporate interest. It is, as I said last week, a guns and caviar budget. It talks about Social Security reform, provides no money at all. You can't reform Social Security when you're raiding Social Security. It cuts funds for low income energy assistance and it cuts funds for the CDC...."

The National Review's Kate O'Beirne had earlier pointed out that unlike wartime budgets of years past the Bush budget does not cut domestic spending. It hikes it substantially. Just not enough to satisfy liberals like Hunt.

2

A Democrat whom Newsweek's Evan Thomas does not respect. On Inside Washington over the weekend, Thomas rebuked West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, as a "pompous idiot."

Thomas's characterization came during a discussion of the Senate Budget Committee hearing last week in which Byrd lectured Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill as out of touch for daring to suggest that high taxes and regulation impede people. In the much re-played exchange, Byrd tried to out-poverty O'Neill by recounting how he grew up without indoor plumbing or electricity.

Admiring how O'Neill fired back by reciting how he rose from poverty Thomas, Newsweek's Assistant Managing Editor, announced: "It is a kamikaze attack, I admit it. But it's so great to see somebody call Byrd's bluff. He sits up there, that pompous idiot, sits up there and where he's been, you know, handing out the pork. I'm really totally anti-Byrd and have been for years and he gets away with it because people are sacred of him because, as you say, he controls the money."

3

More kvetching on NBC's Today about whether U.S. fans at the Olympics may display too much patriotism or nationalism. Katie Couric worried on Friday morning about how "the games themselves will be very patriotic in feel and yet sometimes the international community can interpret that as arrogant nationalism." She also speculated: "It will be interesting to see how these games balance sort of the nationalistic, patriotic fervor with the sentiments of the entire international community."

In addition, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, Couric wished "that people here in the United States will appreciate the athletes from all over the world." She maintained that "this is a competition where not really country but character matters."

On Thursday morning, as cited in the February 8 CyberAlert, Matt Lauer pressed the President of the U.S. Olympic Committee to agree: "We have to also be careful and draw a line not to let our patriotism get in the way of the games in general." For details:
http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020208.asp#1

On the February 8 Today, just hours before the opening ceremony, Couric asked Salt Lake Olympic Committee Creative Director Scott Givens: "Obviously the opening ceremony, the games themselves will be very patriotic in feel. And yet sometimes the international community can interpret that as arrogant nationalism. Obviously you've gotta balance those two things. Are you all, clearly you're mindful of that. How are you, how are you going to do that?"
Givens explained: "You know we really try to balance three, three different levels. We want the world to understand and appreciate our games. We hope that Americans will be, in general, proud of our games. And of course the local population whose put so much energy and effort, the people of Utah, we hope that they'll be indeed proud of our games. We try to balance all three in everything creative we do."

At another point in the show, when talking with prime Bob Costas, host of NBC's prime time coverage, Couric wondered: "Obviously these Olympic games, here in the United States, it will be interesting to see how these games balance sort of the nationalistic, patriotic fervor with the sentiments of the entire international community."
Costas suggested the U.S. is held to a different standard: "And that's always a question. It seems because the United States is the biggest and the richest and the most powerful and most influential country, because our culture is exported so much, people resent nationalism, patriotism when they see it coming from America in a way that they wouldn't seeing it somewhere else. 'Aussie, Aussie, oy, oy, oy!' all the time in Australia is charming. 'USA, USA!' may give us goose-bumps but someone outside the United States may resent it. My hope is the spontaneous displays which we're almost certain to see here in the aftermath of September 11th will be understood, and accepted and respected by the international community."
Couric wished: "And that, that people here in the United States will appreciate the athletes from all over the world."
Costas: "Yes."
Couric oozed: "As one person wrote in Time magazine this is a competition where not really country but character matters."
Costas: "Mm-hmm. I think that the displays of national pride are to be expected but we have to be good hosts. And we have to be ready to, to not just to acknowledge but even revel in the performances of the athletes from around the world."

4

ABC anchor Peter Jennings disclosed last week in Atlanta that people occasionally "send me bus money to go home to Canada." In an interview with the Atlanta Constitution, he condescendingly boasted that he's tougher on the U.S. than either Tom Brokaw or Dan Rather because "I'm not one of those members of Congress or the leadership of the country who is proud not to have a passport, which I believe is utterly foolish."

Last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday Jennings anchored a portion of World News Tonight from Detroit, then Atlanta and, finally, Miami. He participated in a town meeting, which bumped an hour of ABC's prime time schedule, on each city's ABC affiliate.

This latest elitist shot at Americans by Jennings reminded me of how he exhibited hints of leftist concerns on the Late Show with David Letterman in December as he twice fretted about the difference between "nationalism" and "patriotism," asserted that "campaigning against terrorism" means recognizing the "root causes for dissatisfaction around the world," maintained that global leadership is not just "selling American culture," and bemoaned how "Americans are pretty insular people for the most part." For details:
http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20011226.asp#1

For a February 8 Atlanta Constitution story highlighted by Jim Romenesko's MediaNews, reporter Steve Murray interviewed Jennings. An excerpt:

....In November, Jennings toured Dallas, San Diego and San Francisco to see how occupied each city was with television's coverage of the war on terrorism.

"Immediately after 9/11, passions were very high in the country,'' he said. "Many of us in the media were criticized, myself included, if there was the slightest suggestion in people's minds that we'd criticized the president or the administration. I think that's waned somewhat."

On Sept. 11, Jennings stayed on the air for 19 hours. "But you know, you didn't want to go anywhere," he says. "But finally you have to go home. I was on for 17 hours the next day." On Sept. 13, at 4 a.m., he visited "the hole" to see if television had captured the texture and scale of ground zero. Up close, he thinks TV did a good job but not so great from a distance.

"The immediate intensity of the coverage was stunning for all of us who were doing it," Jennings said. "But television, as we realized subsequently, it's more than just news coverage. It's where we gather as a nation in moments of crisis or great import. Television at its best is awesome. Television at its worst is just rancid."

A Canadian, Jennings has earned a reputation in some quarters for being tougher on the United States than rivals Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather. If so, he attributes it to a global perspective he gained from many years of reporting in Europe and the Middle East.

"I tend to see the United States through a variety of prisms," he admitted. "I'm not one of those members of Congress or the leadership of the country who is proud not to have a passport, which I believe is utterly foolish.

"When people really decide they're going to get pissed off at me, they still, on rare occasions, send me bus money to go home to Canada." He chuckled. "I always try to give it to a charity of their choice."

END of Excerpt

How about the MRC?

For the article in full, go to:
http://www.accessatlanta.com/ajc/epaper/editions/Friday/features_
c336e62d756f80111030.html

The Web site of WXYZ-TV in Detroit has nothing up about the town meeting with Jennings, but Atlanta's WSB-TV has posted text of a few comments made by panelists on its Thursday night show, though very little from Jennings:
http://www.accessatlanta.com/partners/wsbtv/news/townmtg_qna.html

Miami's WPLJ-TV posted a preview story which, as of Sunday night, hadn't been touched since before the Friday night town meeting aired, but could be updated at some point:
http://www.click10.com/mia/news/stories/news-122714120020208-110213.html

5

On Friday morning's Fox & Friends, FNC host Greta Van Susteren insisted that her confrontational interview with Dick Morris the night before, over Bill Clinton's commitment to combat terrorism, only proved how she's "fair and balanced." But a comparison with how she treated Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright earlier in the week proved the opposite.

Morris, a Fox News contributor himself, came aboard Thursday night to discuss his February 5 Wall Street Journal op-ed about how President Clinton did not show much interest in fighting terrorism. Van Susteren spent the entire eight-minute segment arguing with his first-hand account as a Clinton adviser. She cited New York Times stories about Clinton policy initiatives as proof of Clinton's efforts. Morris fired back at one point: "No you're still a CNN person. You're sitting here, and you're telling me, never having participated in any of these meetings, never having read the agendas of these meetings, that I'm incorrect when I'm telling you that there was no response and no interest."

Van Susteren countered: "Dick, let me stop you for a second. What I'm confronting you with are facts that at least the New York Times lays out-"
Morris: "Facts that your spin doctors are giving you to spout on this show."
Van Susteren then delivered a classic comeback: "No, I got this out of the New York Times."

I'd bet Van Susteren doesn't comprehend the irony in that defense.

Three nights earlier, however, Van Susteren only offered a perfunctory challenge to Albright about Clinton policies on terrorism and prompted Albright to explain why she thinks Bush's terrorism policy is off base. Van Susteren seemed befuddled by how anyone could criticize Clinton's efforts: "What do you think would provoke Condoleezza Rice to suggest that the Clinton administration pulled its punches?" She soon set up Albright: "As you look back at what the Bush administration is doing, are they doing something that's a fatal flaw, in terms of their strategy, in dealing with these countries?"

Van Susteren displayed her hostility toward Morris's thesis as opened the February 7 segment of her 10pm EST show, On the Record, by trying to show how Morris has no inside knowledge:
"I want to talk to you about your op-ed pieced in the Wall Street Journal. You say the Clinton administration essentially turned its back on terrorism. Is that right?"
Morris: "Yeah I think it's true. In his first term. I think in his second term he couldn't do anything. In his first term, he didn't want to do anything."
Van Susteren: "All right, first of all let's figure out, you were working, doing polling for President Clinton right? Not in the administration, right?"
Morris: "Right."
Van Susteren: "So you weren't involved in the foreign policy decisions, right?"
Morris corrected her, but also showed he's thinks quite a lot of himself, breaking into a smile during his Stephanopoulos line: "Wrong. I didn't have security clearance, but the President and I, I was probably the President's closest advisor for two years. Stephanopoulos says I was President. And we talked about everything, and we talked at length about terrorism...."

Van Susteren contended, in a transcript checked against the tape by the MRC's Patrick Gregory: "Okay, I did a little research for tonight because I obviously read your op-ed piece, and this is what the New York Times reported about six weeks ago, or less than six weeks ago: 'President Clinton on Terrorism. 1996, Clinton Administration and the CIA created a virtual station code named 'Alex' to track Bin Laden's activities around the world.' Obviously, anti-terrorism. 'July 25, 1996. Clinton put Vice President Al Gore on head of commission on aviation security and safety.'"
Morris: "Let me stop you- "
Van Susteren: "No, wait."
Morris: "Let me stop you right there."
Van Susteren: "I let you talk. No let me go through the list and I'd let you [inaudible]-"
Morris: "You invited me on your show- "
Van Susteren: "I did but you say he didn't do anything do anything. I'm telling you what I read. 'August '98, Clinton ordered cruise missile strikes on an Al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan-'"

Van Susteren and Morris continued their verbal back-and-forth until Van Susteren lectured: "What I can tell you is that he tripled the budget in terms of counter-terrorism between '95 and 2000, both the FBI and the CIA. Obviously interested. He signed orders to go out and get Bin Laden, to kill Bin Laden, and I can't, you know and the fact that he didn't kill Bin Laden, and we've had the entire United States military since September 11th, until we started the bombing in October, we haven't been able to find-"

Morris interjected with the reality of what he observed, but Van Susteren kept reading from her collection of New York Times quotes: "Year 2000, '225 million of Taliban controlled assets blocked in U.S. accounts.' He also froze, I think, Hamas money. I mean the fact is, Dick, is to say, to make the indictment in the Wall Street Journal that he sort of didn't care about terrorism may be sort of flashy, but when you look at the facts."
Morris, getting testy: "Greta, Greta, you don't know a damn thing about these facts because you weren't there, I was. And let me give you some information."
Van Susteren, assuming if it's in he New York Times it must be true: "I'm just telling you what's being reported."
Morris: "In 1995, in 1995, a bill was pending in the United States Senate to require that sanctions be imposed on oil companies or other companies that enhance the Iranian oil industry. Sandy Berger advised a veto. Clinton signed it as well as there was a national security waiver."
Van Susteren: "And that was, and that had to do with the issue of the discretion."
Morris: "Clinton then continued, Clinton then continued to waive the imposition of sanctions the three times that something like that happened. In 1996, when we had the Air 800, when we had the Olympics, and when we had Saudi Arabia, and there was decisive evidence that these were caused by terrorists. Clinton absolutely refused to look at this issue."
Van Susteren: "Dick you can't say-"
Morris: "Greta how many times have you sat in the White House with Bill Clinton?"
Van Susteren: "Dick, you can't-"
Morris: "How many times have you participated in domestic meetings with him?"
Van Susteren: "Dick, if you're going to start talking about terrorism and flight, TWA flight 800, I think most people agree, listen to me, most people agree-"
Morris: "In '96, we all thought that was terrorism."
Van Susteren: "But it wasn't. When you talk about the bombing at the Olympics, that was a single bomber, Eric Rudolph who they think was a suspect."
Morris fired back with a great line: "No you're still a CNN person. You're sitting here, and you're telling me, never having participated in any of these meetings, never having read the agendas of these meetings, that I'm incorrect when I'm telling you that there was no response and no interest."
Van Susteren: "Dick, no wait a second, I'm telling you. Dick, wait a second."
Morris: "We proposed a driver's license screening system to see if people had their visas expired were wanted by the FBI. That was shot down by Stephanopoulos as being politically incorrect."
Van Susteren: "Alright Dick, let me talk for a second. Dick, stop for a second."
Morris: "We proposed a ban on fundraising by charitable organizations, he wouldn't do it."
Van Susteren: "Dick, let me stop you for a second. What I'm confronting you with are facts that at least the New York Times lays out-"
Morris: "Facts that your spin doctors are giving you to spout on this show."
Van Susteren: "No, I got this out of the New York Times."

The argument continued for a few more minutes, but I'll end on the humorous note of Van Susteren's 'it can't be spin because the New York Times reported it' line.

Now compare Van Susteren's attitude with her solicitous approach to Madeleine Albright on February 4, the night On the Record debuted. Van Susteren's inquiries to Albright:

-- "Madame Secretary, Condoleezza Rice seems to suggest that the Clinton administration pulled its punches with terrorism and terrorists. Is that true?"

-- "Besides the issue of lumping those three countries together as the axis of evil, what do you think would provoke Condoleezza Rice to suggest that the Clinton administration pulled its punches?"

-- Picking up on Albright's criticism of Bush's "axis of evil" concept, Van Susteren pushed Albright to elaborate: "Now, there's no doubt in my mind that we all have the same goal here, to fight terrorism. But as you look back at what the Bush administration is doing, are they doing something that's a fatal flaw, in terms of their strategy, in dealing with these countries?"

-- "Let me switch gears a little bit. At least one news organization is reporting that al Qaeda terrorists may have targeted your former boss, President Bill Clinton, to kill him, that they found some documents. What do you make of that?"

Van Susteren finished up the interview by asking about the hunt to find reporter Daniel Pearl.

6

Former Washington Post reporter and editor Haynes Johnson, a familiar face during the 1980s and early 1990s on PBS's Washington Week in Review, scolded President Bush for his reference, in his State of the Union address, to an "axis of evil." Johnson called that a "a very reckless statement."

MRC analyst Ken Shepherd, an alumnus of the University of Maryland, caught Johnson's remarks in the Diamondback, the student newspaper of the university where Johnson holds the Knight chair for political journalism.

An excerpt from the February 7 Diamondback story by Logan Cooper:

"Our war on terror is well begun, but it is only begun," Bush said. "Countries like [Iran, Iraq and North Korea], and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world."

The term "axis of evil" originally referred to Italy, Germany and Japan in World War II.

"This was a very reckless statement from the president," said Haynes Johnson, Knight chair for the journalism department and political journalist. "In no way could this be related to World War II, and to link them together just doesn't work historically."

Iran, Iraq and North Korea have no documented allegiance linking them together and the President's statement may have done more harm than good, Johnson said.

"Although the President did not give a plan of action towards the three countries, he indirectly declared war on all three of them, each in possession of full scale armies," Johnson said.

END of Excerpt

For the entire article:
http://www.inform.umd.edu/News/Diamondback/archives/2002/02/07/news2.html

7

Quip of the week. The MRC's Liz Swasey alerted me to this item, in the Page Six column in Friday's New York Post by Richard Johnson, Paula Froelich and Chris Wilson, from ABC's John Stossel "addressing the Fabiani Society, the young conservatives who meet each month at the Princeton Club."

Stossel cracked: "Asking someone in the media about liberal bias is like asking a fish about water. 'Huh, what are you talking about? Where is it?'"

8

From the February 8 Late Show with David Letterman, as presented by ten Airmen from the 86th Airlift Wing at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, the "Top Ten Cool Things About Being in the Air Force." Copyright 2002 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. If I want Chinese food, I fly to China
(Senior Airman Steven Scott)

9. When the G-forces pull back your face, you look and feel years younger!
(Staff Sergeant Ricky Johnson)

8. One weekend a year, you get to take your jet home with you
(First Lieutenant Jannell MacAuley)

7. You're looking at a guy with one million frequent flier miles
(Airman First Class Dennis Ray)

6. At 20,000 feet you see lots of clouds that look more like bunnies and stuff
(Staff Sergeant Jonathan Hodges)

5. Always fun watching the new guy try to parallel park a C-130 Hercules
(Staff Sergeant Tony Willis)

4. Seasickness is for losers -- airsickness is the way to go
(Captain Michelin Conerly)

3. Free headsets on transcontinental flights
(Airman First Class Melvin Harper)

2. Whenever people ask where I've been, I can tell them "the wild blue yonder"
(Senior Airman Naeem Stanley)

1. Chicks dig planes
(First Lieutenant Nathan Miller)
--Brent Baker


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