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CyberAlert -- 04/30/2002 -- Political Agenda of Report on "Big Oil" Disguised

Political Agenda of Report on "Big Oil" Disguised; ABC Concerned About "Root Causes" of LA Riot; Daschle Pressed to Repeal Tax Cut; Bush "Competency" at Issue; Liberal to Run Slate; Media Money Goes Left; Military Trial for Al Qaeda on JAG

1) The broadcast networks all jumped on a report issued by a liberal Senator on how oil companies pump up prices. But they disguised the political agenda behind it by referring to a "government report," a "congressional report," a "Senate investigation," "government investigators," and "congressional investigators." Dan Rather offered a 1970s flashback as he raised "questions concerning Big Oil and the manipulation of prices."

2) For ABC, the perpetrators of the LA riots are its victims. Judy Muller relayed the views of a dentist: "The root causes of the riot, he says, are still there." She maintained that's because "Los Angeles remains deeply divided along racial lines with an enormous wealth gap between the rich and the poor" and "there has been little or no investment by the government in the public schools of the inner city."

3) "Why not repeal the tax cut?" Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle isn't gutsy enough for ABC's Cokie Roberts who twice pressed him to repeal Bush's tax cut, not reduce the rate of spiraling federal spending, if he's concerned about budget deficits.

4) The media have come full circle. Roger Simon of U.S. News asserted: "If the administration felt that September 11 and Bush's job performance afterward had put to rest the competency question...it's not put to rest. The Mideast has raised competency once again." He promised: "I guarantee you it [re-election] will be a referendum on George Bush's competency."

5) Once again, Microsoft has gone left in picking an Editor for Slate. Replacing the liberal Michael Kinsley will be the liberal Jacob Weisberg, an alternate delegate to the 1984 Democratic National Convention who, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz noted, is now "helping" Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin "write his memoirs."

6) Byron York revealed on National Review Online on Friday: "People for the American Way, the liberal interest group that has spearheaded some of the most intensely partisan attacks on President Bush's judicial nominees, has received financial support from several of the nation's top-tier media organizations, including the New York Times Company, Time, Inc., and CBS."

7) "It's The Early Show with Bill Clinton and Jane Clayson." The syndicated TV show Extra claimed that "inside sources at CBS tell Extra that Clinton is being seriously considered to replace the retiring Bryant Gumbel."

8) A September 11th terrorist brought before a military tribunal Tuesday night on CBS's JAG: "Harm and Mac prosecute a suspected Al Qaeda terrorist accused of being the chief architect of the attack on New York City."

9) Letterman's "Top Ten Ways the Taliban is Celebrating Their 10th Anniversary."


1

When a liberal Democrat puts out a press release on a report, the networks not only jump, they disguise the political agenda behind it by pumping up its credibility by referring to a "government report," a "congressional report," a "Senate investigation," "government investigators," and "congressional investigators."

On Monday night ABC and CBS ran full stories, and NBC a brief item read by the anchor, on a report put out by Democratic Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Permanent Investigations Subcommittee, about how oil companies, surprise, surprise, wish to maximize the price of their products. But none of the stories bothered to mention the name of the committee or how the report was released by its majority side.

On ABC's World News Tonight, Peter Jennings cited how "Government investigators reported today that the oil industry caused some of the recent increases." Linda Douglass subsequently explained: "Congressional investigators say they have found evidence oil companies have been intentionally holding down oil and gas supplies to drive gasoline prices up."

Over on the CBS Evening News, Dan Rather flashed back to the 1970s with a retro introduction about "Big Oil." He intoned:
"Developments in the Middle East can have an impact on the price of gasoline. A U.S. congressional report out today says that there was something else behind some of the recent increases for consumers at the pump. Bob Orr has more about questions concerning Big Oil and the manipulation of prices."

Orr cited only "a Senate investigation."

Anchor Tom Brokaw handled the April 29 NBC Nightly News item: "America's major oil companies are accused tonight of taking deliberate steps to keep supplies tight and raise prices. A congressional report released today also blamed recent industry mergers for the high cost of gasoline, especially in the Midwest. Not surprisingly, an industry spokesman dispute that, saying market shortages are the real culprit. All of this will take center stage tomorrow at congressional hearings."

2

On the 10th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots, NBC tracked down victim Reginald Denny and CBS's story included the perspective of Korean store-owner victims, but to ABC the criminal perpetrators were the victims since the lack of government spending drove them into it as ABC worried about how the riot's "root causes" remain unaddressed.

For World News Tonight, ABC's Judy Muller filed a story relaying the views of a dentist in the community: "The root causes of the riot, he says, are still there." She maintained that's because "Los Angeles remains deeply divided along racial lines with an enormous wealth gap between the rich and the poor" and "there has been little or no investment by the government in the public schools of the inner city."
ABC's Judy Muller pondered "the root causes" of the LA riots, a "wealth gap between the rich and poor"

Anchor Peter Jennings set up the April 29 World News Tonight story, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "We're going to take a closer look at Los Angeles tonight. This is the tenth anniversary of the riots that exposed the depth of the city's racial divide and did so much to undermine the city's confidence in itself. It began, as we remember, after white policemen were seen on videotape beating a black man named Rodney King and then were acquitted in court. Parts of Los Angeles, largely poor and minority, exploded. Today, as the Los Angeles Times put it, the passage of time has smoothed some of the edges that the riots carved into people's psyches, but the scars are still there. ABC's Judy Muller is based there."

Muller, who has praised the far-left Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting for how it "stands alone in countering the myriad media critics on the far right," began: "When South Central L.A. erupted in rioting, some 600 properties were looted and burned. One of them was a dental office located in a shopping center in one of the worst hit areas. The dentist, Bill Faulkner, remembers it vividly."

After some recollections from Faulkner, Muller continued: "When President Bush came to tour the devastation, Dr. Faulkner was in the group that heard him promise federal help to rebuild. Today Faulkner's office is back in that shopping center."

Faulkner noted how the structures were re-built before Muller cautioned: "But the root causes of the riot, he says, are still there."
Dr. Bill Faulkner: "The buildings didn't burn themselves down. People did. And we repaired the buildings, but we didn't repair the people."
Muller elaborated: "And when it comes to the people, little has changed here in ten years. South Central still has a high unemployment rate and a high crime rate. Los Angeles remains deeply divided along racial lines with an enormous wealth gap between the rich and the poor. On the plus side, community relations with police have improved. And more retailers have set up shop here. And community groups lobby relentlessly for new investment, even providing bus tours for bankers."

Muller then complained: "But there has been little or no investment by the government in the public schools of the inner city. And to Bill Faulkner, who sends his own children to a private school, that has been the greatest failure, leaving another generation unfit for employment and ripe for unrest."
Faulkner: "How many of the 18-year-olds today have juvenile records? How many have turned to drugs? How many have children? How many are dead?"
Muller: "Without an educational system that gives kids some hope for the future, says Faulkner, the potential for more trouble is enormous."
Faulkner: "Oh, it's still here. It's still here. In time it will happen again."
Muller concluded: "He's not alone in that opinion. A recent survey of L.A. residents shows that 50 percent believe a riot similar to that of 1992 is likely to occur within the next five years. Judy Muller, ABC News, Los Angeles."

I'm sure all that is keeping gang members out of high school is the lack of quality algebra teachers.

But if the schools are so bad because of a lack of spending on them, a claim I find highly suspect, it is that very government Muller likes so much which condemns the urban poor to them by not allowing any kind of school choice through vouchers.

3

"Why not repeal the tax cut?" Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle isn't gutsy enough for ABC's Cokie Roberts who twice pressed him to repeal Bush's tax cut, not reduce the rate of spiraling federal spending or cease advocating hugely expensive new prescription entitlement programs, if he's concerned about budget deficits.

Picking up mid-interview on Sunday's This Week, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson took down this exchange which started with Roberts treating as real the non-existent and imaginary "Social Security Trust Fund."

Roberts: "Is the real question that the Democrats don't want to vote on a budget where they're going to have to take some money out of the Social Security Trust Fund in order to try to bring down the deficit?"
Daschle: "Well, obviously, there are very serious questions about drawing down the Social Security trust fund, and we've said from the very beginning that there ought to be a way to protect it. This President said we were going to have all this new surplus, that we could use the tax cut."
Roberts pressed: "Then why not repeal the tax cut?"
Sen. Daschle: "Well, because the votes today aren't there. What we won't do is add additional problem to the problems we've already created by passing even additional tax cuts."
Roberts urged again: "Why not even call for repealing the tax cut?"

4

President Bush hasn't proven himself competent to U.S. News & World Report correspondent Roger Simon. On CNN's Reliable Sources over the weekend, Simon asserted that the administration's handling of the Middle East "has raised competency once again, and that's what you're seeing in the press. Does this man have the stuff to do the job?" Simon promised of the re-election campaign: "I guarantee you it will be a referendum on George Bush's competency."

Bush is back where he began with journalists.

MRC analyst Patrick Gregory caught this exchange on the April 27 Reliable Sources:

Howard Kurtz: "Roger Simon, the administration's stumbling on the Middle East, winking at the coup in Venezuela, losing the Senate vote on Alaskan oil drilling, watching the budget deficit double -- all the sudden the press seems to be pummeling the president now. Have journalists just been itching for a chance to do this since September 11?"
Roger Simon: "Well, it's not a matter of whether they've been itching to do it. It's a matter of whether the president has given them all the ammunition they need."
Kurtz: "You're saying this is all reality based?"
Simon: "I'm saying it is reality based. We don't, the media didn't create a bumbling policy in the Middle East, they didn't create a lost vote by the administration, and they didn't create a revolving door coup in Venezuela. It's unfortunate for the president that it all happens to be coming one on the heels of another, but that is really reality....We don't elect Presidents to not solve things. We elect Presidents to solve problems, and one of them happens to be the Mideast. And George Bush knew that going into the election, and every now and then both candidates were forced to talk about foreign policy. They didn't want to, but they did. And I think the American people, just because it seems to be an intractable problem, aren't going to give him a pass on continued bloodshed every day out of Israel and the West Bank....
"If the administration felt that September 11 and Bush's job performance afterward had put to rest the competency question, which was the question on the campaign, it's not put to rest. The Mideast has raised competency once again, and that's what you're seeing in the press. Does this man have the stuff to do the job? ... I guarantee you it [re-election] will be a referendum on George Bush's competency. Re-elections always are."

Bush has now been warned about the media's prejudice.

5

Microsoft has again gone left in picking an Editor for its online magazine, Slate. Replacing the liberal Michael Kinsley will be the liberal Jacob Weisberg, an alternate delegate to the 1984 Democratic National Convention who, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz noted, is now "helping" Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin "write his memoirs."

Weisberg, a New Republic veteran who put in a stint as a Newsweek reporter in 1987-88, will run the online site from New York City and not out of Redmond, Washington.

Kurtz reported in the April 29 Washington Post: "Scott Moore, general manager of Microsoft Network news, says he picked Weisberg 'because he has a clear vision of what he wants to do with Slate,' and is happy that [Deputy Editor Jack] Shafer is staying on.
"An Oxford graduate who started out working for Kinsley at the New Republic, Weisberg (who compiles 'Bushisms' for Slate) has also written for New York magazine and is helping former Treasury secretary Robert Rubin write his memoirs. He says Slate is now 'mature' enough to have an East Coast editor."

For a photo of Weisberg: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/134445018_slate29.html

6

Corporate media assistance to a hard-left lobbying group. Byron York revealed on National Review Online on Friday: "People for the American Way, the liberal interest group that has spearheaded some of the most intensely partisan attacks on President Bush's judicial nominees, has received financial support from several of the nation's top-tier media organizations, including the New York Times Company, Time, Inc., and CBS."

On Monday, Greg Pierce in his Washington Times "Inside Politics" column and Brit Hume on his FNC show, picked up on York's discovery.

An excerpt from York's April 26 piece:

....Annual reports from People for the American Way have listed those companies -- along with other media organizations like NBC, Disney (parent company of ABC), and America Online -- among its financial supporters. It appears that the media corporations, some of which operate their own charitable foundations, did not make direct contributions to People for the American Way, but instead purchased tables -- for $500 to $600 per seat -- at the group's annual fundraising dinners in New York City.

A spokeswoman for the New York Times says the New York Times Company Foundation bought tables at People for the American Way fundraisers in 1998, 2000, and 2001. The 1998 dinner, which honored Times chairman emeritus Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Sr., was also something of a celebration of First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose husband was at the time trying unsuccessfully to fend off impeachment in the Monica Lewinsky matter....

A spokesman for Time, Inc. says the company last contributed to a People for the American Way dinner in late 2000 but has since changed its policy about participating. "We determined that for news organizations such as ours, it would not be appropriate for us to do that, so we stopped doing it," spokesman Peter
Costiglio says....

A CBS spokesman says the network also purchased seats for the 2000 dinner. Officials point out that CBS has had a long and close relationship with Norman Lear, the legendary television producer who founded People for the American Way in 1981. "We love Norman dearly," says network executive vice president Marty Franks. "After all, he did produce one of the most popular shows [All in the Family] in the history of CBS." But Franks, who earlier in his career served in top positions with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the staff of Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, says CBS at times finds itself at odds with Lear and People for the American Way over issues affecting the entertainment industry, and in fact bought tickets to the dinner because it was honoring Motion Picture Association of America head Jack Valenti....

The statement of purpose for People for the American Way says the group "organizes and mobilizes Americans to fight for fairness, justice, civil rights and the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution." In Washington in recent months, People for the American Way has worked closely with Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee to oppose Bush White House judicial nominations. The group scored a high-profile success with the defeat of the nomination of Charles Pickering to a place on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and it is likely to launch similar campaigns against other Bush judicial choices in coming months. For example, People for the American Way chief Ralph Neas recently referred to appeals-court nominee Miguel Estrada as a "Latino Clarence Thomas," suggesting the group will wage a fierce battle to stop that nomination.

Although Neas engages in sharply partisan political activity, he presides over an organization that is both a lobbying group and a "nonpartisan" tax-exempt charity. The lobbying side, People for the American Way, is a so-called 501(c)(4) organization - named for the section of the Internal Revenue Service code that provides for such groups -- and is legally allowed to engage in partisan political activity. But the other half of People for the American Way, the People for the American Way Foundation, is a 501(c)(3) organization, meaning it is allowed to receive tax-deductible charitable donations but is prohibited by law from engaging in partisan political work....

It appears there is significant overlap between People for the American Way's partisan and nonpartisan sides. Neas's salary, for example, is paid by both the main group and the foundation. In 2000, he received $79,556 in salary from People for the American Way, the political arm, and $119,335 from the People for the American Way Foundation, the nonpartisan arm....

While it is true that People for the American Way does engage in some nonpartisan projects -- like the purchase and exhibition of a 1776 copy of the Declaration of Independence -- the group's aggressive attacks on the Bush administration suggests that the line between partisan and nonpartisan can sometimes be quite blurry. It is perhaps that mixing of the partisan and nonpartisan that led Time, Inc. to stop purchasing tables at People for the American Way fundraisers. But it appears that Time's decision is the exception, rather than the rule, concerning media support of People for the American Way.

END of Excerpt

To read York's article in full: http://www.nationalreview.com/york/york042602.asp

The People for the American Way Web site lists the Media Research Center on it page titled: "Religious Right/Radical Right and Libertarian Organizations." Check it out at: http://www.pfaw.org/issues/right/weblist.html

Media admiration for the anti-conservative group is nothing new. The December 5, 1988 Newsweek quoted former CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite as proclaiming at a People for the American Way banquet:
"I know liberalism isn't dead in this country. It simply has, temporarily we hope, lost its voice....We know that unilateral action in Grenada and Tripoli was wrong. We know that 'Star Wars' means uncontrollable escalation of the arms race. We know that the real threat to democracy is the half of the nation in poverty. We know that no one should tell a woman she has to bear an unwanted child....Gawd Almighty, we've got to shout these truths in which we believe from the housetops. Like that scene in the movie 'Network,' we've got to throw open our windows and shout these truths to the streets and the heavens. And I bet we'll find more windows are thrown open to join the chorus than we'd ever dreamed possible."

7

"It's The Early Show with Bill Clinton and Jane Clayson. Now, from Trump Plaza in the heart of New York City, Bill Clinton." Could we soon be hearing that every weekday? On Friday, the Time-Warner syndicated TV show Extra claimed that "inside sources at CBS tell Extra that Clinton is being seriously considered to replace the retiring Bryant Gumbel."

The MRC's Rich Noyes saw the story plugged by Hotline and alerted me to it.

Barry Nolan narrated the April 26 story which is also posted on the Extra Web site. (In the Washington, DC market, Extra airs after Nightline at 12:07am on WJLA-TV.)


Extra reported CBS is pursuing Bill Clinton to replace Bryant Gumbel on The Early Show

Nolan announced: "America's love affair with Bill Clinton started in the summer of 1992, when candidate Clinton whipped out his sax on Arsenio Hall's late night talk show. Now, nearly ten years later, Clinton is said to be a candidate to host his own show. Specifically, inside sources at CBS tell Extra that Clinton is being seriously considered to replace the retiring Bryant Gumbel.
"No doubt, CBS' ratings-starved morning show needs a big name replacement. But is it really possible America could soon wake up to The Early Show with Bill Clinton and Jane Clayson?
"Officially, CBS will neither confirm nor deny our inside information. And while the former President's people are shooting down the story, there's no denying Clinton meets many of the qualifications for the job. He lives in New York, loves to wake up early, and has countless hours of TV experience."

"Loves to wake up early"? More like loves to never go to sleep.

For the complete text of the weakly-sourced Extra story: http://extratv.warnerbros.com/dailynews/extra/04_02/04_26b.html

If Bill Clinton were tapped by CBS to replace Bryant Gumbel as co-host The Early Show, it would probably move the show a bit to the right.

8

Television ahead of reality. Tonight's JAG: Judge Advocate General on CBS features a plot about a military tribunal for an Al Qaeda terrorist. The summary of the plot for the April 30 episode as outlined on the CBS Web site:
"In the first military tribunal concerning the events of September 11th, Harm and Mac prosecute a suspected Al Qaeda terrorist accused of being the chief architect of the attack on New York City."

CBS's Web page for JAG: http://www.cbs.com/primetime/jag/

JAG airs at 8pm EDT/PDT, 7pm CDT/MDT.

9

From the April 26 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Ways the Taliban is Celebrating Their 10th Anniversary." Late Show Web site: http://www.cbs.com/latenight/lateshow/

10. Wet-burqa contest
9. Goat jumping out of a cake
8. Ticking "Congratulations!" bouquet from Donald Rumsfeld
7. Raffling off a busted TV
6. Dinner at their favorite restaurant "Thank-Allah-It's-Friday"
5. With the traditional tenth anniversary gift, sand
4. Flying in Don Rickles to roast Osama
3. Lively game of "Pin the Beard on the Deranged, Cave-Dwelling Madman"
2. Serving a special dessert called "Death To America By Chocolate"
1. Running for their lives

-- Brent Baker


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