CyberAlert -- 07/23/2001 -- Global Warming Over Missile Deal

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Global Warming Over Missile Deal; "Conservative" Catholics and "Conservative" Arlen Specter; Schieffer's McCain Campaign Part 2

1) Burying Bush's missile defense understanding with Russian President Putin, ABC anchor Carole Simpson on Sunday put a higher priority on the failure of G-8 summiteers "to resolve sharp differences over global warming." She declared "the summit may be remembered more for the violence in the city's streets" than for the missile defense breakthrough.

2) CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson referred to how "the conservative leadership of the Catholic Church" opposes embryonic stem cell research, but she failed to apply a tag to a spokeswoman for Catholics for a Free Choice. And over video of Arlen Specter she asserted that "even conservative Senators" are pushing Bush to approve the research.

3) Inside Washington illustrated the Washington press corps' unanimity in favor of embryonic stem cell research as all four panelists favored it. "I cheered when I saw" Senator Frist's compromise plan, exclaimed Newsweek's Evan Thomas. NPR's Nina Totenberg hoped "that we not sort of let know-nothingism dominate our federally-funded science."

4) A week after he made the suggestion, Bob Schieffer cited how "some people" back a McCain presidential bid. Just after the House failed to vote on a "campaign finance reform" bill, Schieffer had asked: "Doesn't this give him the perfect excuse?" Yesterday on Face the Nation he told Trent Lott that "some people" are pushing the idea that the House defeat justifies a McCain run.

5) Before anyone received their tax rebate NBC's Brian Williams complained about how "some taxpayers are already feeling disappointed." On Friday's Nightly News Lisa Myers highlighted "a single mom with two children who is working and going to college," who "was shocked to learn she gets nothing."

6) Last week CBS and NBC pushed Bush to increase the CAFĂ© standards for cars and SUVs, but as Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby noticed, buried in the New York Times story on which the network reports were based, was the admission "that rapid increases in fuel economy standards for cars in the early 1980s may have contributed to thousands of additional deaths."

7) The dark tan Thalia Assuras got during a vacation prompted Bryant Gumbel to raise the specter of "driving while black" police harassment as he quipped of it: "If you get pulled over on the highway you know it's great." Russ Mitchell soon joked: "Trying to get a cab with her is impossible."

8) It's a small world: The ABC News off-air reporter who had lunch with Gary Condit on May 2 is a former aide to U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson. She was in the room when he interviewed Monica Lewinsky for a job. And my personal connection to Chandra Levy.


1
Burying the lead. Sunday night CBS and NBC led with President Bush's breakthrough with Russian President Putin on missile defense, but ABC anchor Carole Simpson found more important the failure of G-8 summiteers "to resolve sharp differences over global warming" as she skated over the Bush-Putin deal in order to assert that "the summit may be remembered more for the violence in the city's streets."

Simpson opened the July 23 World News Tonight/Sunday:
"Good evening everyone, I'm Carole Simpson. The G-8 summit has ended in Genoa, Italy. While world leaders failed to resolve sharp differences over global warming, there was a major breakthrough today on the subject of missile defense. But the summit may be remembered more for the violence in the city's streets."

In contrast, CBS Evening News anchor Randall Pinkston considered the arms control understanding more relevant than global warming, as he opened the broadcast: "A surprise announcement from Genoa Italy today. President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged to link talks aimed at cutting stockpiles of offensive nuclear weapons, Mr. Putin's goal, to negotiations on Mr. Bush's proposed space-based missile defense system."

Over at 30 Rock, John Seigenthaler began the NBC Nightly News: "Good evening everyone, an unexpected ending to the G-8 summit in Italy today. During a one-on-one meeting between President Bush and Russian President Putin, the two men struck a deal on nuclear arms, an agreement that could give a boost to President Bush's plans for a missile defense shield and could mean a reduction of the nuclear arsenals in both countries."

2

To CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson those opposed to embryonic stem cell research are "conservatives," whom she labeled three times, but those in favor of it weren't deserving of a label.

In a Sunday CBS Evening News piece, Attkisson noted that "the conservative leadership of the Catholic Church" opposes it and Bush's effort to appeal "to the Catholic leadership also shores up support among non-Catholic conservatives." As viewers saw video of liberal Republican Senator Arlen Specter, she asserted that "even conservative Senators" are pushing Bush to approve the research. Yes, Arlen Specter is apparently considered a "conservative" by CBS News. But she failed to apply any tag to a spokeswoman for Catholics for a Free Choice, a very liberal group.

Attkisson began her July 22 report by noting how Bush maintains that his decision will be a "moral not a political one." She intoned: "He's getting advice from across the political spectrum -- from scientists who support the research because it could unlock cures for many diseases, to the conservative leadership of the Catholic Church which opposes it because it requires the destruction of embryos."
Richard Doerflinger, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: "We don't think that human life at any stage of development, even at the embryo stage, should be destroyed to be harvested for cells for research."
Turning to the other side, Attkisson saw no need to apply an ideological tag: "But Catholic leaders don't necessarily reflect the opinion of Catholic voters. Research shows they pretty much mirror the rest of the population -- about 60 percent support abortion rights. That helped President Clinton win the Catholic vote in both his campaigns."
Frances Kissling, Catholics for a Free Choice: "Unfortunately, President Bush has slipped into the wrong pew in terms of the Catholic Church. Catholics are in favor of medical measures and medical research that will help save the lives of millions of people."
Attkisson wondered: "So why is President Bush working so hard to court Catholic leaders? Analysts say he's trying to build on the inroads he made in the Catholic vote in last the last election."
Linda DiVall, GOP pollster: "I think that a Republican needs to look at can I split the Catholic vote and in the case George W. Bush can I continue to improve my performance from what I did in 2000."
Over video of Senator Arlen Specter at the Senate press room podium, alone, with the camera zooming in on him, Attkisson asserted: "Appealing to the Catholic leadership also shores up support among non-Catholic conservatives. But now adding yet another twist to the President's dilemma, even conservative Senators from his own party are urging him to support stem cell research."
Mark Mellman, Democratic pollster: "So now the President is forced to say to himself I've got to revisit this issue, I've got to decide whether to flip-flop on this issue."
Attkisson concluded: "For now there are countless research projects awaiting federal funding that are on hold until the President makes his decision on stem cell research. The White House says to expect an announcement next month."

3

A significant enough portion of the public is opposed to embryonic stem cell research to cause it to have become a much debated issue in Washington, DC with President Bush wrestling with which way to go. But on one of the weekend pundit shows featuring a panel of journalists there was unanimity: approve the funding for the new research.

On Inside Washington, produced by Washington, DC's Gannett-owned CBS affiliate and carried by many PBS stations, the reporters and columnists all agreed. In a discussion of Republican Senator Bill Frist's proposal to fund the research, but with many restrictions, Newsweek's Evan Thomas exulted: "I cheered when I saw that....I sort of secretly hoped that the White House put him out there to have him run up a trial balloon." NPR's Nina Totenberg hoped "that we not sort of let know-nothingism dominate our federally-funded science."

Here's the exchange, on the show from this past weekend, prompted by Frist's recommendations, starting with columnist Charles Krauthammer who in the past has urged respect for those who are opposed because they consider human embryos to be life: "He made a great speech in which is basically came out in favor of stem cell research, but with a lot of restrictions. And I think it's because he's a physician that he how easy it is for other people, politicians and others, to over-awed by scientists who come clamoring and say I've got to have x, y and z because I'll cure everything. He knows there's a lot of hype and yet he made a speech in support of it. I think it will be a decisive event."
Moderator Gordon Peterson: "Do you think it will push the President in that direction?"
Krauthammer: "I hope it does. I think it will give him some cover."
Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas: "Yeah, I cheered when I saw that. I mean it took some guts because he'll take some political heat for it, but he knows that he's the pivot guy. I sort of secretly hoped that the White House put him out there to have him run up a trial balloon. I don't know that, but anything is possible."
NPR reporter Nina Totenberg: "I also think it's probably a very important event and it's important that we not do the opposite, that we not sort of let know-nothingism dominate our federally-funded science...."
Columnist Jack Garment soon chimed in: "Bush has hemmed and hawed about this thing for so long and the line has been drawn so clearly, particularly with those yahoos in the House who were talking about the 'industry of death,' that this Frist thing is a way out. If the White House were smart they'd seize it this week."

So much for having panelists who represent both sides of contested issues. In Washington's press corps there only is one credible position on this subject.

4

In a question to Senator Trent Lott on Sunday's Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer cited the idea that John McCain should run for President as a suggestion being forwarded by "some people." But it appears the "some people" are really just himself.

A week earlier, just after the House failed to vote on the House version of McCain's "campaign finance reform" bill, Schieffer wrapped up his July 15 show by ruminating: "McCain has been saying all along he has no plans to run for President as a third-party independent candidate. But doesn't this give him the perfect excuse? The script writes itself. Both parties are so beholden to the big-money interests, it will take someone else to clean up the mess." For a more extensive quote, go to: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20010716.asp#4

Now fast forward to the July 22 Face the Nation. Schieffer's lengthy polemic in the form of a question to Lott:
"I want to talk a little politics with you. When the campaign finance reform legislation, which passed the Senate, did not come to a vote in the House, some people said what's happening here is that the Republicans are setting the stage for John McCain to run as a third party candidate, because when you deny passing this you are giving him an issue that he can run on. And these same people say, 'Look, I know campaign finance reform is not a number one issue with a lot of people, but corruption is and can be an issue for a third party candidate.' And when you, some would make the case that when the two parties can't clean up their own mess, that opens a way for John McCain. Do you think John McCain is getting ready to run as an independent and do you think not voting on this really kind of plays into his hand?"

"Some people," that would be me, think that passing McCain's bill which would increase the influence and power of the media, because it would remain unregulated while all other speech would be controlled, is Schieffer's number one goal.

Lott seemed to see through Schieffer's "some people" attribution: "I think that a lot of this is excitement by the press because Senator McCain is involved in the campaign finance reform issue."

5

Before anyone received their tax rebate check NBC had stressed the downside, as anchor Brian Williams complained about how "some taxpayers are already feeling disappointed." On Friday's NBC Nightly News, without citing how little if any they had paid in income taxes, Lisa Myers highlighted "a single mom with two children who is working and going to college," who "was shocked to learn she gets nothing," as well as another single mom who "calls her tiny rebate a spit in the face."

Her total income tax payment last year was probably a spit in the face.

Williams set up the July 20 story: "President Bush took time from the summit today for a video hook-up home, saying help for the flagging economy is on the way. That would be in the form of the first batch of tax rebate checks in the mail now. But NBC's Lisa Myers tells us tonight some taxpayers are already feeling disappointed."

Myers began by showing video of Vice President Cheney "leading the cheers" at an IRS facility printing check before she showed a soundbite of Bush from Italy: "For all those who feel their taxes and bills are too high and they could use a little help, help is on the way."

Myers cautioned: "Words that may not sit well with 32 million Americans notified by the IRS this week they do not qualify for any rebate at all because they didn't pay enough income taxes. Lauri Sceena, a single mom with two children who is working and going to college, was shocked to learn she gets nothing."
Lauri Sceena: "I was very disappointed. I was really looking forward to getting that $500. It would mean an awful lot to somebody in my situation."
Myers continued: "Jeannette Mellim, also a single mom, calls her tiny rebate a spit in the face."
Mellim: "They could have kept it. Sixteen dollars, they could have kept $16."
Myers proceeded to another area of attack: "The government spent $34 million to send out those notices this week, which some members of Congress now call a waste of money. Why? Because a half million taxpayers got the wrong information and others were confused and complained that when they called the IRS for help they got a busy signal."

Finally, she found someone who appreciated getting their money back: "Still, for many of the 77 million Americans getting the full rebate, the money is most welcome."
Unidentified man: "I'm going to put it in my savings account and then use it for vacation at some point."
Myers: "Retailers hope most Americans will spend the money and salvage a tough year."
Tracy Mullin, National Retail Federation: "Well, I don't think it's going to save stores that are right on the precipice, but I think it will certainly improve sales."

Myers concluded: "The White House still thinks the rebates will be an economic and political plus, despite bruised feelings along the way."

(My $300 rebate check arrived in the mail on Saturday. Though I'm in the zone of the IRS's Philadelphia office, in what may soon fuel left-wing complaints about Bush getting too much credit, under "United States Treasury," the check lists its origin: "Austin, Texas." And in what is sure to rile liberals, across the bottom are these words: "Tax Relief for America's Workers.")

6

Last week CyberAlert highlighted how CBS and NBC, to push Bush to adopt a policy favored by environmental liberals, picked up on an upcoming National Academy of Sciences report expected to urge an increase in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for cars and light trucks/SUVs.

But as Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby noticed, buried in the New York Times story on which the network reports were based, was the admission "that rapid increases in fuel economy standards for cars in the early 1980s may have contributed to thousands of additional deaths, as automakers sharply reduced the size and weight of vehicles." Jacoby suggested the lead of the story should have been that "making cars more fuel-efficient also made them more deadly."

As recounted in the July 18 CyberAlert, on July 17 CBS and NBC pushed President Bush to hike fuel standards for "gas-guzzling SUVs." Dan Rather rued how "it's been years since the U.S. government last set fuel efficiency standards" but, he hoped, "that could soon change." NBC's Brian Williams steered Bush: "With increasing numbers of Americans telling opinion pollsters the President needs to get tougher on environmental protection, tonight the White House may have its chance." For more on these stories, nether of which credited the New York Times, go to:
http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20010718.asp#1

"Smaller cars are killer cars" declared the headline over

Jacoby's July 19 column. An excerpt:

A panel appointed by the National Academy of Sciences, The New York Times reported in a Page 1 story on Tuesday, is going to recommend an increase in the mandatory fuel efficiency of new vehicles, especially pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles.

The story appeared just as the House Energy and Commerce Committee took up a bill to promote conservation by, among other things, making fuel standards more stringent. Playing up the report on Page 1 gave a boost to Democrats who insist that the bill doesn't go far enough in regulating pickups and SUVs.

Sounds like Washington journalism and energy politics as usual. But buried inside the story -- in the 16th paragraph, on Page C2 -- was a startling admission: "The report mentions that rapid increases in fuel economy standards for cars in the early 1980s may have contributed to thousands of additional deaths, as automakers sharply reduced the size and weight of vehicles...." In other words, making cars more fuel-efficient also made them more deadly. Stop the presses!....

Currently, automakers must hold each year's fleet to an average efficiency of 27.5 miles per gallon for passengers cars and 20.7 miles per gallon for light trucks. The only realistic way to meet that standard -- and avoid a steep penalty -- has been to downsize much of the fleet: A small, lightweight car requires less fuel than a big, heavy one....

The result, observes Sam Kazman of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Washington think-tank that has long decried CAFE's dangers, is that the average passenger car has shrunk by more than 1,000 pounds since 1978. Fuel-efficiency standards are the reason big station wagons all but disappeared from American roads. "Too many people were buying them," Kazman says. "It was throwing off the fleet's CAFE average and triggering big fines. So manufacturers basically stopped making a car that motorists wanted to drive."

But as cars have shrunk, the death toll has grown. In 1999, USA Today analyzed government crash data and found that in the 25 years since fuel-efficiency standards were first imposed, 46,000 people had died in crashes they would have survived if they had been driving bigger cars. Small cars - those no larger than a Chevy Cavalier or Dodge Neon - accounted for 18 percent of all vehicles on the road, the paper found, but they were responsible for 37 percent of automobile fatalities....

END Excerpt

For Jacoby's column in full, go to:
http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/200/oped/Smaller_cars_are_killer_cars+.shtml

The July 17 New York Times paragraph he quoted went on, not surprisingly, to counter with a point advocated by liberal environmentalists: "The report mentions that rapid increases in fuel economy standards for cars in the early 1980's may have contributed to thousands of additional deaths, as automakers sharply reduced the size and weight of vehicles instead of improving their engines. But making large sport utilities lighter may make roads safer by reducing the death rate of other motorists, federal research has found."

Naturally, neither the CBS or NBC story directly touched on how size reductions have contributed to more deaths. CBS's John Roberts only allowed as to how "the auto industry has long argued it could make more fuel-efficient vehicles, but would sacrifice size and performance."

NBC's Campbell Brown hinted at the issue: "But the automobile industry argues tougher standards will increase cost and lower the performance of SUVs by forcing the automakers to build smaller, lighter trucks. One consumer group funded in part by the industry says that makes safety a factor."
Diane Steed, Coalition for Vehicle Choice: "Smaller, lighter vehicles just don't protect their occupants like larger heavier ones do."

7

Race consciousness in the morning. The dark tan Thalia Assuras got during a vacation prompted Bryant Gumbel on Friday morning to raise the specter of "driving while black" police harassment as he quipped of her tan: "If you get pulled over on the highway you know it's great." Her Saturday Early Show co-host Russ Mitchell soon joked: "Trying to get a cab with her is impossible."

MRC analyst Brian Boyd caught the exchange which occurred at the end of the July 20 Early Show just after Assuras, who is white, and Mitchell, who is black, plugged their Saturday morning program. In fact, Assuras's skin tone was about the same complexion as Mitchell's:

Russ Mitchell, outside and standing next to Assuras: "Join sister Thalia and I tomorrow on the Saturday Early Show. You guys have a great weekend."
Bryant Gumbel, inside: "Hey, check out Thalia's tan."
Mitchell: "Look at this, look at this."
Gumbel: "If you get pulled over on the highway you know it's great."
Thalia Assuras: "Oh."
Gumbel: "It looks terrific though."
Assuras: "Thank you."
Mitchell: "Trying to get a cab with her is impossible."
Gumbel: "That does it for us. What, what?"
Mark McEwen, next to Gumbel: "I didn't say a word."
Gumbel: "No, no. That does it for us on this work week."

8

It's a small world: The ABC News off-air reporter, whom Gary Condit used as an alibi, is a former aide to UN Ambassador Bill Richardson who was in the room when he interviewed Monica Lewinsky for a job in New York City to get her away from the White House. And I've decided to reveal my personal connection to Chandra Levy.

In his "In the Loop" column in Friday's Washington Post, Al Kamen disclosed how Rebecca Cooper, the off-air ABC News reporter who "had lunch with Condit a day after Levy's disappearance," was "formerly a top aide to Energy Secretary Bill Richardson." Kamen revealed she "was one of the staff in the room at the Watergate when Richardson, then-ambassador to the United Nations, interviewed" Monica Lewinsky "to offer her a job in New York."

Salon.com reported the week before last that Cooper maintains this lunch took place on Wednesday May 2, but that the time line initially released by Condit's office placed him with her during the early evening hours on Wednesday May 1 -- the time when Chandra Levy probably disappeared.

Finally, my connection to the Chandra Levy case. Out of the hundreds of apartment and condo buildings in Northwest DC, she rented a condo at "The Newport" at 1260 21st St. NW -- the very same building where from 1983 to 1985 I shared with two roommates a unit on the third floor. For those somewhat familiar with the District, "The Newport," with its green awning now frequently shown on TV, is on the west side 21st St. just north of New Hampshire Avenue and M St. and just south of N St.

The nearest network television neighbor to Chandra's home? Ironically, given the CBS Evening News avoidance of her disappearance, the CBS News Washington bureau is just around the corner at 2020 M St. NW. -- Brent Baker


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