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CyberAlert -- 04/13/2001 -- Bush "Exacerbated" China Showdown

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Bush "Exacerbated" China Showdown; ABC's Tribute to Hillary on Her 100th Day; Columnist Believed MRC's April Fools Rather Quotes

1) The Bush campaign's "tough" line on China caused "some people" to think that "exacerbated this particular incident, from the Chinese point of view," ABC's Peter Jennings scolded just after Bush's Rose Garden remarks.

2) On Thursday's Today Katie Couric pressed Condoleezza Rice about moving the surveillance flights over China "further away" from their coast and Matt Lauer asked the parent of one of the detained airmen: "As a father, did you ever just wish we would say, 'We are sorry. We apologize.' So your son could come home?"

3) Geraldo Rivera thinks President Bush "did a magnificent job" with the China showdown. But he couldn't resist taking a shot at conservatives: "I wonder what Tom DeLay and Dick Armey and the others on the far right in the Republican Party would have done if Bill Clinton was still in the White House..."

4) ABC's Linda Douglass paid tribute to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton on her 100th day: "Her critics never give up and she never gives in." Douglass insisted on GMA: "All agree, Clinton has thrown herself into work, often putting in 16- to 18-hour days." Douglass treated her as a victim: "Then she learned her own brother Hugh was paid $400,000 to win pardons....Her friends tell ABC News Mrs. Clinton was devastated."

5) Did a poll find that Bush's faith-based initiative plan faces "hurdles" as support for it "is hedged"? Or, does the plan have the "public's blessing" as 75 percent "favor [the] concept"? It depends on which headline you believe.

6) Media Reality Check. "Dan Rather's Donation to Liberal Tax Lovers: During Bush's First 10 Weeks, the CBS Evening News Was Most Hostile to Tax Cuts."

7) Letterman's "Top Ten Things the Chinese Have Learned by Examining Our Spy Plane."

8) Oops. From Jim Romenesko's MediaNews: "Scripps Howard columnist Dan K. Thomasson picked up the Media Research Center's April 1 Dan Rather quotes....Thomasson notes that the Rather quote is from April 1 -- but he doesn't figure out it's an MRC joke."


1

It's America's fault. Bush's tough line on China "exacerbated" the China plane incident. Just after President Bush concluded his remarks in the Rose Garden on Thursday afternoon about China, ABC News anchor Peter Jennings reminded viewers that the "administration had been very tough during the political campaign about China. Some people think that, in fact, exacerbated this particular incident, from the Chinese point of view."

Last week, as reported in the April 3 CyberAlert, Jennings had warned about a "backlash" from China since "before this incident the Bush administration had been very militant rhetorically with the Chinese government."

The latest comments from Jennings came during an ABC News special covering Bush's remarks at about 3:45pm EDT. Following Bush, reporter Terry Moran noted how he took a strong stance against China, concluding: "Remember, this is an administration that came into office with a more skeptical line on China, and just as the officials in Beijing are saying, 'This is not over,' that's what you're hearing from the President."

Jennings then asserted: "Thanks, Terry. Terry Moran, from whom we will have more during World News Tonight. Indeed, the Clinton administration had been very tough during the political campaign about China. Some people think that, in fact, exacerbated this particular incident, from the Chinese point of view."

Yes, Jennings said "Clinton administration" when he obviously meant "Bush." Letting go is so hard for some.

2

On Thursday's Today Katie Couric pressed Condoleezza Rice about moving the surveillance flights over China "further away" from their coast and Matt Lauer asked the parent of one of the detained airmen: "As a father did you ever just wish we would say, 'We are sorry. We apologize.' So your son could come home?"

-- Katie Couric's last question on the April 12 Today to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, pushed her to accede to a Chinese demand:
"And about that meeting, in closing, Ms. Rice, or Dr. Rice actually, do you think that the, the Chinese are truly interested in finding out what actually happened during that incident and secondly do you think that the United States would be willing to, if not, stop US surveillance missions over China at least, at least move them further away from the coast of China?"

-- A bit later on the program Matt Lauer interviewed Robert Blocher, father of then about to be released hostage Matt Blocher. Lauer labeled the debate about an apology "semantics" as he inquired:
"As you know Mr. Blocher a lot of this boiled down to semantics. For 11 days your son was held and, and we were unwilling to issue a formal apology to the Chinese. As a father, did you ever just wish we would say, 'We are sorry. We apologize.' So your son could come home?"
Robert Blocher shot down Lauer's suggestion: "Actually Matt I was afraid that we would apologize because I didn't know how the Chinese would use that apology. They could have easily then declared them criminals and said that they were going to put them on trial. I was very happy that we did not apologize."
Lauer: "So you're happy with the way the Bush administration handled this."
Blocher: "Absolutely, and delighted with the Navy."

Lauer's assumptions show how out of touch he is with the patriotic commitment of those with relatives in the military.

3

Geraldo Rivera announced Wednesday night that he thinks President Bush "did a magnificent job" with the China showdown. But Geraldo couldn't resist taking a shot at conservatives as he castigated two on "the far right" by name: "I wonder what Tom DeLay and Dick Armey and the others on the far right in the Republican Party would have done if Bill Clinton was still in the White House and the thing went down exactly as it went down in this case."

MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens took down Geraldo's words on the April 11 Rivera Live on CNBC:
"I think George Bush, the President of the United States did a magnificent job. He really, he was patient. He held off the, the hardliners in his own party. He seemed balanced, he seemed temperate. He seemed smart enough to know exactly what the score was. Smart enough to understand that diplomacy requires linguistics and patience. The only caveat I, I, inject here is, I wonder what Tom DeLay and Dick Armey and the others on the far right in the Republican party would have done if Bill Clinton was still in the White House and the thing went down exactly as it went down in this case, 11 days. What would, would we have had Tom DeLay and these others keeping as silent, you haven't heard a peep from these guys, if there were a Democrat in the White House? I fear not. And I think that to pretend that there is some kind of bilateral foreign policy in this country is, is to be naive."

Later, he asked Jesse Jackson: "Do you think that President Clinton would have been cut the same slack from the right wing that President Bush was in this negotiation these last 11 days?"

No more slack than the left wing has cut Jesse Jackson.

4

"Her critics never give up and she never gives in," gushed ABC's Linda Douglass in a tribute to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton on her 100th day in office. "All agree," declared Douglass in her piece aired on Thursday's Good Morning America, that "Clinton has thrown herself into work, often putting in 16- to 18-hour days." Douglass insisted that "in the Capitol, she is mobbed like a rock star" and that she is trying hard to earn friends: "She has joined a mostly Republican private prayer group in the Capitol. She is trying to blend in."

MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed that Douglass treated Senator Clinton as a victim of the pardon scandal: "Then she learned her own brother Hugh was paid $400,000 to win pardons." Douglass sympathized: "Her friends tell ABC News Mrs. Clinton was devastated, angry at Hugh, yet frustrated that she could not protect him. They say she felt cut off from her family."

Diane Sawyer set up the April 12 tribute: "Well, it's the first hundred days, and not of a President. We're going to talk about a Senator, of course, Senator Hillary Clinton. It's time for an early report card. How's she doing?"

Douglass began: "There has never been a story like it, the first 100 days of a former First Lady turned freshman Senator. Elected by a landslide, she learned new Senators are low on the totem pole. Though you can't see it from the official Senate camera, her maiden speech -- on health care -- was delivered to a mostly empty Senate chamber."

After a clip of that speech, Douglass continued: "But as she tried to assume a new identity, she was dragged down by an old one, the First Lady always on the brink of scandal. There was outrage over the Clintons' attempt to take $190,000 worth of gifts as they left the White House. It became her first press conference....Clinton was the new kid on the block while her colleagues were howling about her husband's last-minute pardons of questionable criminals. Then she learned her own brother Hugh was paid $400,000 to win pardons for a drug dealer and a swindler."

Douglass played a third Hillary soundbite before continuing the Harry as ill-informed victim portrayal: "Her friends tell ABC News Mrs. Clinton was devastated, angry at Hugh, yet frustrated that she could not protect him. They say she felt cut off from her family. She is rarely seen with Mr. Clinton, though sources say he often sneaks into Washington to stay with her. Back home in New York, the tabloids have raked her over the coals. Her husband dealt with the flap over his expensive office space, now it was her turn. Her critics never give up and she never gives in."

The support for that inspirational message? A soundbite from James Carville. Douglass resumed: "She has been needled in public about her hair. Was the new Senator dressing down, de-glamorizing the First Lady for Capitol Hill?"

Following another Hillary soundbite, Douglass praised her work ethic: "All agree, Clinton has thrown herself into work, often putting in 16- to 18-hour days, immersing herself in details of legislation, almost never missing a committee hearing. She has been a sponsor on 20 pieces of legislation, twice that of other freshmen Senators -- on education, job programs, consumer protection, health care, and ironically, tighter scrutiny of presidential pardons."

Finally getting to a downside, Douglass led into a clip from Michael Tomasky of New York magazine: "On the weekends, Clinton races back to New York where her popularity has plunged. Forty-eight percent of the voters now rate her unfavorably. She is still a polarizing figure."

But, Douglass reassured viewers, over video of gawkers, "in the Capitol, she is mobbed like a rock star. She remains the only Senator with Secret Service protection. Sources say there have been threats, but some of the other Senators resent her special treatment. She's working hard to win over her colleagues, even cozying up to conservatives who tried to remove her husband from office. She has joined a mostly Republican private prayer group in the Capitol. She is trying to blend in."

After a praising soundbite from Time's Margaret Carlson, Douglass concluded: "One hundred days, 2,090 to go."

Another 2,090 days to go of Hillary having the media playing into her scam of pretending to be a victim.

5

Did a poll find that Bush's faith-based initiative plan faces "hurdles" as support for it "is hedged"? Or, does the plan have the "public's blessing" as 75 percent "favor" the concept? It depends on which headline you believe.

These April 11 headlines were over stories on the same survey conducted by the Pew Research Center:

-- Washington Post:
"Survey Exposes 'Faith-Based' Plan Hurdles" subhead: "Respondents Back Bush Proposal in Theory but Balk When Asked About Specifics"

-- New York Times:
"Support for Religion-Based Plan Is Hedged"

-- Washington Times:
"Bush's faith-based initiative has public's blessing"
subhead: "75 percent in new poll favor concept"

-- USA Today:
"Poll mixed on faith groups"

To borrow from President Bush's analogy for his tax cut, the Washington Post and New York Times were a bit too cold, the Washington Times was a bit too warm and USA Today got it just right.

The Pew Web site's description of what the poll found:
"As religion plays a more prominent role in public life, sharp divisions of opinion about the mixing of church and state are apparent. Most notably, while the public expresses strong support for the idea of faith-based groups receiving government funding to provide social services, in practice, it has many reservations. Most Americans would not extend that right to non-Judeo-Christian religious groups including: Muslim Americans, Buddhist Americans, Nation of Islam and the Church of Scientology. Many also have reservations about allowing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- the Mormons -- to apply for federal funding to offer social services."

For all the details on the poll findings, go to:
http://www.people-press.org/rel01rpt.htm

6

The text of a Media Reality Check distributed by fax on Thursday culled from the new MRC Special Report which documented the hostility toward Bush's tax cut plan from the ABC, CBS and NBC evening shows. For the April 12 Media Reality Check, the MRC's Rich Noyes focused on CBS's especially antagonistic approach in a report titled, "Dan Rather's Donation to Liberal Tax Lovers: New FMP Study: During Bush's First 10 Weeks, the CBS Evening News Was Most Hostile to Tax Cuts."

To view this Media Reality Check online as posted by MRC Webmaster Andy Szul, go to:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/reality/2001/Fax20010412.html

To view it as fax recipients saw it, access the Adobe Acrobat PDF: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/reality/2001/pdf/fax0412.pdf

The pull-out box in the middle of the faxed page:
Dan Rather referred to Bush's program as "a tax cut gamble" in his introduction to the February 27 Evening News. Later in the same show, he dismissively referred to it as Bush's "cut-federal-programs-to-get-a-tax-cut plan." The next night, he told viewers "some independent economists believe the Bush push is risky business" -- but he didn't offer a clue as to the identity of these "independent" experts, nor did they show up in the story that followed.

Now the text of the Media Reality Check:

The next time Democrats invite CBS's Dan Rather to star at a partisan fundraiser, as he obligingly did in Texas on March 21, he could remind them just how generously he gives at the office. A new study by MRC's Free Market Project (FMP) documents that, while all three evening newscasts aided liberals' fight against President Bush's tax program, Rather's CBS Evening News was by far the most hostile to the concept of tax cuts.

The FMP study looked at 93 tax stories from the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts, January 20 to March 31. For complete results, including details on the other networks, visit www.mrc.org. [Specifically, go to: http://www.mrc.org/specialreports/fmp/2001/bushtaxexec.html]

-- Big is Bad: CBS skewed this debate by showing liberals like Tom Daschle saying the Bush tax cut was dangerously big 29 times, compared with only 4 instances when any source was quoted saying the tax cut was right-sized or even small. A National Taxpayers Union report found Bush's full cut is only about half the size of JFK's 1963 tax cut, and one-third of Ronald Reagan's 1981 cut -- but CBS never mentioned that study or its findings.

The bigness battle was plenty partisan, but CBS's on-air correspondents took sides, personally asserting that Bush's proposed cut was "big" or "massive" 14 times. Anchorman Rather accounted for 11 of these instances when CBS's own reporters echoed this argument against the tax cut.

-- Skewing the Fairness Debate: The second key liberal argument was that the benefits of Bush's cut were unfairly skewed to the rich. CBS displayed liberal partisans making this point 10 times, but showed only one source, Bush's Chief of Staff Andy Card on January 21, making the point that "this is a tax plan for America. It's going to be across-the-board so that every American can benefit."

Only CBS completely excluded data that both ABC and NBC gave viewers, indicating that lower- and middle-income households would get a larger percentage tax cut from the Bush plan than wealthier households. Liberals like Daschle preferred emphasizing the big raw dollar totals that the rich would receive, so that's exactly what CBS did, too.

"One analysis calculated the average giveback for the top one percent of earners at $46,000," CBS reporter John Roberts lectured viewers on January 25, never even hinting that the source of the "analysis," Citizens for Tax Justice, is a liberal anti-tax cut group.

-- Dreading Tax Cuts: Bush argued that the tax cuts would help the economy, and both ABC and NBC fairly provided this point of view as well as liberal critics. But not CBS, which by a two-to-one margin, showed sources claiming the tax cut would do no good, or could cause economic harm. For instance, on February 27 Rather called the tax cut "a gamble" (see box), while on February 5, reporter Roberts gave airtime to an unlabeled liberal activist who cited Reagan's cuts as proof that too much tax cutting was a terrible thing: "Bob McIntyre of Citizens for Tax Justice can't forget the last time Congress went on a tax cut spree in 1981; America is still paying the bill." Once again, Roberts failed to mention the liberal credentials of McIntyre and his group.

While the FMP study found all three networks tilted their coverage in favor of liberal tax cut opponents, the CBS Evening News displayed a unique antagonism toward the tax cuts. Small wonder, then, that Texas Democrats roll out the red carpet when Dan Rather comes to town.

END Reprint of April 12 Media Reality Check

7

From the April 11 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Things the Chinese Have Learned by Examining Our Spy Plane." Copyright 2001 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. American codes can be broken by anyone with a basic understanding of Pig Latin
9. On-board computers were mainly used for Internet casino video poker
8. According to plaque, "When Bush gives order, nod politely, wait to hear what Cheney says"
7. Cockpit full of Colt 45 bottles
6. Mission was to determine if Chinese people can fly like in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"
5. "Cloaking device" button only there because pilot's a "Star Trek" fan
4. Maybe not the best idea to write "Spy plane" on wings
3. The plane's sole security feature: an angry kitty
2. Plane is so high-tech lavatories feature futuristic blue water!
1. Americans smell like Doritos and Aqua Velva

8

Oops! A nationally syndicated columnist believed some of the Dan Rather quotes in the MRC's April Fools edition of Notable Quotables, Jim Romenesko's MediaNews disclosed on Wednesday.

Here's Romenesko's April 11 item, in full:

Columnist falls for bogus April Fool's Dan Rather quotes Scripps Howard columnist Dan K. Thomasson picked up the Media Research Center's April 1 Dan Rather quotes, including this one: "An editor's note: You may have noticed correspondents on this broadcast refer to 'President Bush.' That should not be interpreted in any way as an endorsement of the Supreme Court decision last December that effectively selected George W. Bush as the winner of last year's election." An outraged Thomasson wrote: "No self-respecting anchor or news editor would permit this kind of unabashed bias..." Thomasson notes that the Rather quote is from April 1 -- but he doesn't figure out it's an MRC joke.

END Reprint of Romenesko item

To read it online and to access his link to the column, go to: http://www.poynter.org/medianews/ and then scroll down to the items posted under Wednesday, April 11.

Actually, that made up Rather quote cited by Romenesko was created by the MRC's Rich Noyes.

If you check the Web version of the April 1 Notable Quotables as well as what hard copy snail mail recipients saw, which you can view via an Adobe Acrobat PDF version, I think you'll agree that we couldn't have made it much more obvious that the quotes were made up -- from having "April Fools" clearly marked on the front and back page, to having every single quote in the issue dated April 1, to the made up titles and media names in the staff box. And that's not to mention how the issue was postmarked and mailed on March 31 -- and e-mailed at 3am EDT on April 1.

To view the HTML version:
http://www.mrc.org/news/nq/2001/nq20010401.html

For the life-like PDF:
http://www.mrc.org/news/nq/2001/pdf/fools2001nq.pdf

That a veteran Washington reporter like Thomasson would believe our made up Rather quotes shows just how biased even fellow journalists view Rather. --Brent Baker


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