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CyberAlert -- 07/29/2002 -- Schieffer's Skewed Homeland Questioning

Schieffer's Skewed Homeland Questioning; Liaison Bollixed by Bogle; Clift Wished for Bush's "Political Suicide"; Condit a Republican; Harry Smith's Liberal Pontificating

1) CBS's Bob Schieffer asked Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman why President Bush would veto the bill creating a Department of Homeland Security. An incredulous Schieffer raised a more nefarious motive: "Do you think there's something else that he's got a problem with here?" After having not challenged Lieberman to defend his position, Schieffer demanded that Republican Fred Thompson respond to Lieberman's claims.

2) On Fox News Sunday, Vanguard Group founder John Bogle rejected the suggestion from NPR reporter Mara Liaison that it was the passage of the anti-corporate corruption bill which prompted the market rebound: "I don't think the passage of that legislation was a big factor in changing investors' opinions about the future."

3) Newsweek's Eleanor Clift on the McLaughlin Group: "For the President to continue to push the partial privatization of Social Security I hope is political suicide."

4) The Los Angeles Times realizes now ex-Congressman James Traficant of Ohio is a Democrat, but a Friday editorial misidentified Congressman Gary Condit at a Republican: "The House vote to expel was 420 to 1, with the only 'no' vote coming from another beleaguered member, Rep. Gary A. Condit (R-Ceres)."

5) Instead of just ignoring a publicity-stunt motivated lawsuit against fast food restaurant by an overweight man claiming to be "addicted" to fast food, ABC's Good Morning America on Friday devoted an entire segment to the man and his lawyer. But at least Claire Shipman disputed their efforts to avoid responsibility.

6) This week Harry Smith is returning to CBS in the morning to co-host The Early Show. Will he deliver the same type of liberal pontificating as he did as co-host from 1989 to 1996 of CBS's former morning effort, CBS This Morning? Back then he bashed Reagan and Gingrich, argued the "Bush/Quayle team spent too much time paying attention to the Right," whined about how "we continue to dirty our planet like there was no tomorrow" and the "countless homeless people." He slobbered all over Mario Cuomo and gushed about France's "completely free" pre-school system.


1

Bob Schieffer's idea of balance: Ask both a Democratic and a Republican Senator on Sunday's Face the Nation why President Bush would be so nutty as to veto the bill creating a Department of Homeland Security.

After Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman dismissed Bush's concerns about limitations imposed by the forced adherence to union rules, instead of challenging Lieberman or suggesting that maybe Democrats are putting the political cause of backing public employee unions ahead of all else, an incredulous Schieffer wondered: "So it brings me to this question: Do you think there's something else that he's got a problem with here?"

In the next segment, with Republican Senator Fred Thompson, Schieffer repeated Lieberman's criticism of the "phony issue" as he relayed how Lieberman "said this business about whether or not these people get civil service protection is a phony issue. What's your take?"

Schieffer's first question on the July 28 Face the Nation to Lieberman: "Now we have the President saying he's going to veto this homeland security bill because he says it restricts his flexibility to move people around in the department. Now I know you met with him on Friday. Did you get the idea he's serious about that?"

Lieberman called Bush's concerns about getting around union rules a "totally unnecessary obstacle" since no one says civil service rules contributed to 9/11 and so it is an "insult to public employees." Lieberman insisted that if a job involves national security the employee can be removed from union protection.

Instead of making the obvious point that federal employee unions are dedicated to protecting the incompetent and making it difficult, if not impossible, for managers to fire them or to even shift their job duties or location, like moving an INS agent from the Mexican to Canadian border, Schieffer agreed with Lieberman and then suggested a more nefarious motive:
"Well that's my understanding. It's already in the law. So it brings me to this question: Do you think there's something else that he's got a problem with here?"

Lieberman replied that he's asked that himself. Making an irrelevant comparison to local public employees, Lieberman suggested that Bush is getting bad advice "from some folks in the White House who are following a more extreme agenda or a political agenda or are reflexively anti-public employee. I mean public employees are the ones again -- firefighters, police officers, emergency medical folks -- whose heroism we celebrated as they risked their lives." (More on point: Just try to change the work shift for a New York City police officer and see what comes first, public safety or the union contract.) Lieberman also called it a "phony issue."

But Schieffer didn't follow up of Lieberman's charge about an "extreme agenda" and instead moved on to who might be found to lead the new department.

For the next segment, Schieffer interviewed Senator Fred Thompson. Schieffer made him respond to Lieberman's claims: "You just heard Senator Lieberman say that he thinks the President's getting bad advice from advisors who are telling him to veto this bill. He also said this business about whether or not these people get civil service protection is a phony issue. What's your take?"

When Thompson maintained the federal bureaucracies now have many problem with disfunctional personnel systems and so we shouldn't burden the new department with the current system, Schieffer countered: "You just heard Senator Lieberman say that in fact the President already has the authority to move these people around, to get rid of people that are bad. He says that anytime, that it's already the law, you can invoke it, it's a matter of national security, you can move these people out. So, is that right?"

Thompson disagreed and contended that the President and Secretary of the department will have less authority than with other departments. Since 1979, he asserted, the President has had the power to abrogate collective bargaining for national security, but that has been taken away in this bill.

2

Bollixed by Bogle. On Fox News Sunday, Vanguard Group founder John Bogle rejected the suggestion from NPR reporter Mara Liaison that it was the passage of the anti-corporate corruption bill which prompted the market rebound.

On the July 28 show, Liaison proposed: "Congress recently passed some sweeping government reform. I'm wondering if you think that the recent upticks in the market had anything to do with that action and what investors in general think about those reforms, if they think they're going to do any good?"
Via satellite from his summer home, Bogle rejected the notion: "It's hard for me to read the investors' minds. But I don't think the passage of that legislation was a big factor in changing investors' opinions about the future. I think investors' confidence has been shattered and it's going to take a lot more than some congressional action to re-build it."

3

Newsweek's Eleanor Clift took another shot on the McLaughlin Group over the weekend at Bush's idea to allow people to invest some of their Social Security money in the stock market. She hoped it would be "political suicide" for him.

Clift asserted: "And for the President to continue to push the partial privatization of Social Security I hope is political suicide."

4

The Los Angeles Times realizes Congressman James Traficant of Ohio is a Democrat, but a Friday editorial misidentified Congressman Gary Condit at a Republican.

The first paragraph of the July 26 editorial brought to my attention by an alert CyberAlert reader:
"The House of Representatives is losing one of its most colorful figures, and not a moment too soon. James A. Traficant Jr. (D-Ohio) was expelled from Congress this week after a U.S. District Court jury in April convicted him of racketeering, bribery and corruption."

And the 6th paragraph:
"Traficant's behavior during his hearings and the seriousness of his multiple convictions left the Ethics Committee no choice. The House vote to expel was 420 to 1, with the only 'no' vote coming from another beleaguered member, Rep. Gary A. Condit (R-Ceres)."

The editorial is online at:
http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/opinion/la-ed-traficant26jul26.story?
coll=la%2Dnews%2Dcomment

Last July the MRC conducted a study about how ABC, CBS and NBC avoided identifying Condit as a Democrat. To read the results, as reported in the July 12 Media Reality Check by Rich Noyes, "Avoiding Gary Condit's Democratic ID; MRC Study: Networks Failed to Label California Congressman as a Democrat in 92% of Levy Stories," go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/realitycheck/2001/20010712.asp

5

Last week an opportunist lawyer found a client on whose behalf to file a lawsuit against several fast food restaurants, blaming them for causing the man to be overweight and to have heart attacks. Instead of just ignoring such a publicity-stunt motivated and frivolous lawsuit, ABC's Good Morning America on Friday devoted an entire segment to the man and his lawyer.

At least fill-in co-host Claire Shipman challenged both of them to justify their positions.

Shipman set up the July 26 7:30a half hour segment: "But first, Charlie, that fast food lawsuit -- a lot of people are going to be talking about this one. Well, a group of overweight New Yorkers say four fast food chains are to blame for their obesity and their ill health. They're suing McDonald's, Burger King, KFC and Wendy's, and joining us now is the attorney who filed the suit, Samuel Hirsch, and the lead plaintiff in the case, Caesar Barber."

Shipman's first question: "You say that fast food is responsible for the fact that you're overweight. Now, I know this food is delicious, but a lot of people are going to say, 'Can't you just eat somewhere else?'"
Barber: "In the last couple of years I have, but before that I used to eat at McDonald's, Burger King. I ate, the fat that they had, they never explained to you, they had saturated fat, the salt, the sodium, the sugar, I never knew about, and they never had displayed what was in their food in any of the restaurants I went to. And at that time I was a single adult and I was eatin' at least four or five times a week in there and my health deteriorated."
Shipman: "But Mr. Barber, your own, you had a heart attack."
Barber: "Two."
Shipman: "Two heart attacks and your own doctor told you don't eat fast food, but you kept eating it."
Barber conceded his idiocy: "I ate it three more years. After that I had another heart attack."

Shipman turned to the lawyer: "What are the grounds, Mr. Hirsch, for this sort of lawsuit? Why won't people say, 'This is completely frivolous, what you eat is a matter of personal responsibility'?"
Hirsch: "I think it's not really about legislating healthy diets. I think it's a question of informing the consumer..."

Shipman pointed out a difference with a cause he news media trumpeted: "And I know you think there are some similarities between your lawsuit and the lawsuits against Big Tobacco, for example, because obviously everybody knows this kind of food, if you eat a lot of it, might be unhealthy, cigarettes are unhealthy. But, you know, I talked to Michael Moore last night, Mississippi's attorney general, who was so successful in prosecuting a lot of those Big Tobacco lawsuits, and he said the problem is you don't have false advertising here. What you had with tobacco was companies that lied for many years about how bad their products were, in addition to marketing them to children, children smoking is illegal. But you don't really have false advertising here, do you?"

Hirsch ludicrously maintained: "But here, too, there is an addiction. I mean, you listen to Mr. Barber who said that even after the first heart attack, he just couldn't stop eating at McDonald's. It's an addiction that is formed as a result of a craving after a constant diet of fast food junk, and it's not necessarily addictive only in adults, but even more so with children."

Turning back to Barber, Shipman inquired: "Don't you believe that there's also a matter of personal responsibility here. A lot of people are going to look at this and are going to say, 'Why stop with fast food? Why not sue Haagen Dazs or sue the city of Las Vegas for promoting gambling? Aren't you responsible for this?'"

Anyone who wants to file such a suit can count on GMA being eager to give air time to their cause.

6

This week Harry Smith, now a host of Biography on the A&E cable channel, is serving as co-host of CBS's The Early Show. Will he deliver the same type of liberal pontificating as he did as co-host from 1989 to 1996 of CBS's former morning effort, CBS This Morning?

During his This Morning days Smith repeatedly condemned the 1980s as "the decade of greed" while scolding how "we continue to dirty our planet like there was no tomorrow." Reviewing President Bush's 1990 State of the Union Address, Smith lamented: "The President was remarkably upbeat for a man who runs a country with a monstrous national debt, huge balance of trade problems, a crumbling infrastructure, dirty air, countless homeless people..."
This week Harry Smith returns to CBS to co-host The Early Show. Will he deliver more liberal pontificating?

With Newt Gingrich, he denigrated the Contract with America: "But the real deal here if we're talking about Reaganomics, which this seems to be harkening back to, tax cuts for the rich and everything else...You're talking back to the days when budget deficits ran out of control."

After asking Gingrich one morning whether the elderly should be "afraid" of him, he slobbered another morning all over Mario Cuomo, referring to "the sense of the promise that you may have been able to deliver to people, your eloquence, your intelligence."

He blasted the "gun lobby": "While our children are being gunned down by thugs and criminals, we continue to allow ourselves to be bullied by a gun lobby which refuses to budge on issues which make simple common sense."

In 1996, toward the end of his This Morning tenure, he gushed about the "completely free, good quality, state-run pre-school" offered in France, but earlier he had found less to like about the U.S. as he charged: "America turns thousands of innocent black children into cast-offs. It's one of the accomplishments of America's system of apartheid."

He did sometimes criticize liberals, but from the left. After moving on to a reporting slot for the CBS Evening News in mid-1996, he looked at the supposed victims of welfare reform. He concluded a story which focused on poor women in Chicago: "Their long faith in the Democratic Party has been shaken, and the actions of President Clinton confirm their fear that the poor just do not count."

Below is a look down memory lane at the liberal preaching Smith delivered the last time CBS inflicted him on morning show audiences when he co-hosted with Paula Zahn, who is now host of CNN's American Morning.

-- A piece in the April 1990 MediaWatch, a newsletter published at the time by the MRC, reviewed the views espoused by Smith in his "The Record of Who We Are" commentaries. An excerpt:

....The Eighties. Since the series' inception on December 22 [1989], three reports evaluated the '80s -- and all focused on greed. On December 29, Smith told us that 1989 was a year in which "we saw the icons of American politics bow down to the almighty dollar. And we threw one last party to celebrate the end of the decade of greed. Yet we continue to dirty our planet like there was no tomorrow."

On February 23, he was still preoccupied by the past decade: "The '80s are almost the good old days. It's too bad there won't be much to remember them by....The greedy, gaudy '80s are fading fast. In a few years, when we look back, we shouldn't be surprised to find nothing there."

Bush's State of the Union. On Feb. 2, Smith sounded much like Bush's 1988 challenger: "We would like to believe the State of the Union address is the time when the President tells the American people the way it is. But no one really wants to hear that, so the President keeps reality down to a minimum. The President was remarkably upbeat for a man who runs a country with a monstrous national debt, huge balance of trade problems, a crumbling infrastructure, dirty air, countless homeless people, a coast-to-coast drug epidemic, and a faltering self-image. The country's that is, not his." Over audio of "Don't Worry Be Happy," he intoned: "Just remember George Bush's unofficial campaign theme song."

Smith revisited the state of the nation theme on March 16, recalling John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath. "Booms and busts move folks from the Rustbelt to the Sunbelt and back again...Mostly we chose not to hear or see the suffering of the dispossessed. It helps us sleep better at night. What's happened to them must be their fault. What's happened to them can't be our responsibility."

Black America. On March 2, Smith argued that "Twenty-three percent of the young black men in America are behind bars, on probation, or on parole. As surely as an assembly line, America turns thousands of innocent black children into cast-offs. It's one of the accomplishments of America's system of apartheid."

What caused this? "A racism ripened by a society that has changed its public policies but not its private feelings. Whites and blacks are still separate in this country, economically if not legally. The chasm that separates whites and poor blacks in our country is as significant as any wall of barbed wire or bricks."

Death Penalty. Smith admitted Americans overwhelmingly support the death penalty, but he disparaged the idea. On March 23, he asked sarcastically, "Now there are two political litmus tests: abortion and the death penalty. Does it confuse anyone when a candidate is both pro-death and pro-life at the same time?" Smith concluded: "America is about the only developed country that still kills criminals."

The Soviet Union. Smith's foreign policy analysis didn't sway much from liberal rhetoric either. On December 22, he characterized Mikhail Gorbachev as "this Christmas' star in the East [who] ironically enough is an atheist." The Soviet leader, Smith told us, made it clear that "ruling by the barrel of a gun is no longer the rule of the day."

On February 9, Smith questioned the rush for freedom in the Soviet Union: "Yes, somehow, Soviet citizens are freer these days, freer to kill one another, freer to hate Jews, freer to express themselves....Doing away with totalitarianism and adding a dash of democracy seems an unlikely cure for all that ails the Soviet Union."...

END of Excerpt

And some quotes from Smith on This Morning as gathered from the archives of the MRC's MediaWatch and Notable Quotables newsletters, roughly in order from oldest to newest:

-- What Is The Second Amendment? Smith's "The Record of Who We Are," August 31, 1990: "A constitutional right which gun lovers have lorded over us for years. But the right to bear arms has blossomed into the right to deliver instruments of certain death into the hands of people who probably aren't sportsmen and probably aren't collectors...While our children are being gunned down by thugs and criminals, we continue to allow ourselves to be bullied by a gun lobby which refuses to budge on issues which make simple common sense....Constitutional rights? Ask the parents of the children who were shot this summer about the right to bear arms. They bear only the pain of their loss."

-- Tax Raiser Florio, the Governor of New Jersey, as a Hero. On the November 2, 1990 CBS This Morning, co-host Harry Smith refused to fault Florio: "Some of the blame for this 'have everything attitude' could easily be placed on the Reagan Administration and a compliant Congress....Face reality, like Governor Jim Florio has in New Jersey, and you've got a revolt on your hands. The recession has cut revenues there, so he's trying to raise taxes in order to still deliver the services the people in New Jersey say they want. That, of course, is political heresy."

-- Mocking GOP Campaign Strategy as Too Conservative While Worrying About How Clinton Should Best "Fight Back."
The normally chummy co-host of CBS This Morning, Harry Smith, didn't miss an opportunity throughout October, 1992 to rail against Republican campaign strategy. Following the first presidential debate, Smith declared to pundit Fred Barnes: "Clearly, that Red-baiting junk didn't work for the President last night. What's he going to try next?" Apparently, character issues continued to irritate Smith, as he grilled Pat Buchanan on October 19: "Why is it the White House though, has insisted on this sort of campaign to discredit Bill Clinton, which has clearly not worked in the least." He then suggested that "the Bush/Quayle team spent too much time paying attention to the Right, and as they paid too much attention to the Right, they lost the middle." To radio and television talk show host Rush Limbaugh on October 21, Smith again insisted that "none of this Red-baiting, none of this stuff, none of it works."
Did the Democrats receive the same campaign advice from Smith? Hardly. On October 15, Smith simply reversed the question to Clinton/Gore co-chairman Senator Tim Wirth: "The poll lead, if not staying the same, is increasing a little bit. If George Bush comes out like a junkyard dog, the way the Vice President did two nights ago, what does Clinton do to fight off that kind of attack?"

-- Praising Clinton's budget efforts. On the April 30, 1993 This Morning, Smith asked Senator Bob Dole: "Yesterday you came out and said 'Let's give the President an E for effort.' Shouldn't he get a better grade for at least passing a budget that takes the deficit seriously for the first time?"

-- Those Horrendous Twelve Reagan-Bush Years. Smith responding to Pat Buchanan's criticism of the "Reinventing Government" report, September 8, 1993: "We have seen in the past, during Reagan-Bush administration days, when huge slashes went through, when entire programs were dismantled, and what ends up being left sometimes in its wake is the sort of vacuum and chaos and even more problems than were there to begin with."

-- Attacking the Contract with America. Smith's questions to Newt Gingrich, September 30, 1994: "There were 300 of you on the Capitol steps a couple of days ago, got together to sign this pledge which kind of harkened up a lot of memories of Ronald Reagan...Among the things you talk about wanting to do -- raise defense spending, cut taxes, balance the budget -- but did you all neglect to figure out how to pay for all of that?...But the real deal here if we're talking about Reaganomics, which this seems to be harkening back to, tax cuts for the rich and everything else...You're talking back to the days when budget deficits ran out of control."

But He Loved Mario Cuomo. Smith's questions to Cuomo, December 30, 1994: "A lot has been written about you in the last couple of weeks. Much of it has a sense that Mario Cuomo is a man full of promise and now that your 12 years in Albany is done, much of that promise is unfulfilled. Do you disagree with that?....The sense of the promise that you may have been able to deliver to people, your eloquence, your intelligence, that did not translate, for lack of a better term, into dynamic governance?....How are you going to use this? Are you, will you continue to use this passion, will you continue to use this eloquence? Some people have suggested you should become a counterbalance to Rush Limbaugh."

-- "Afraid" of Newt Gingrich. Smith to Gingrich, April 4, 1995: "Even on the radio on the way in this morning, I was listening to a roundtable of older Americans, and they're -- it's worse than not thrilled -- they're downright afraid of you. Do they have anything to fear from you?"

-- Paris Envy. "This morning we're taking a close look at the problem of child care, a problem some countries are solving," co-host Harry Smith announced on the February 21, 1996 CBS This Morning. The country with the solution? France and its expensive, old-style socialist system.

Smith marveled at the state-mandated benefits: "Like all new mothers in France, Helene took a 16-week paid maternity leave from her job. In addition, mothers who work for larger companies can take off two more years unpaid, with the guarantee their jobs will still be there when they get back." To support this system, Smith admitted that taxes are "much higher in France than in the United States...and that may be why they're going through some of their own economic problems." But, incredibly, he also referred to the system as free: "When Jeanne leaves day care, she can attend a completely free, good quality, state-run pre-school where she stays until she is six and primary school begins." Smith followed the segment with an interview of Ellen Galinsky of the liberal Families and Work Institute. His first question was more accusation: "In the United States, are we just not willing to pay for child care?"

-- Hitting Clinton from the Left for Signing Welfare Reform. On the August 27, 1996 CBS Evening News during the Democratic convention, Smith ignored taxpayers and focused on victims: "We talked to four welfare moms from across Chicago. They feel like they are this year's political target...President Clinton seemed deaf to protests last week when he signed the new welfare cuts into law. Cuts many Americans support, but cuts these women think go too far."
Smith concluded: "Neighborhoods like Cabrini-Green have more than their share of misery. Folks around here think misery is only going to grow. Their long faith in the Democratic Party has been shaken, and the actions of President Clinton confirm their fear that the poor just do not count."

For a picture of Harry Smith: http://www.aande.com/tv/shows/travelswithharry/

The posted version of this CyberAlert item will also feature a shot of Smith from when he co-hosted This Morning in 1991.

The Early Show does so little political coverage that Smith may not have a chance to pontificate, but if he does you can be sure he'll be coming from the left and condemning conservatives. -- Brent Baker


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