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CyberAlert -- 09/04/2001 -- Powell to Block "Extreme Things"

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Powell to Block "Extreme Things"; An Aghast Russert: "Another Tax Cut?"; CBS Relayed Castro on "Moral Duty"; Liberal Bias Confirmed

1) On the Labor Day Today Matt Lauer proposed that any ergonomics rules "should be mandatory, not voluntary." Later, Time's Johanna McGeary bemoaned how Colin Powell has failed to prevent the Bush foreign policy team from "doing really extreme things" as Lauer helpfully explained how "a lot of people had hoped that would talk the Bush administration out of missile defense."

2) Tim Russert was aghast on Sunday's Meet the Press at Senator John Kerry's suggestion that a capital gains tax cut might be wise to stimulate investment. Russert, who pressed for invoking a "trigger" to suspend the tax cut and who called a liberal group's anti-tax cut claims "quite striking," exclaimed in disbelief to Kerry's idea: "Another tax cut?"

3) Given how during the last government shutdown the media blamed the GOP-controlled Congress and not Clinton, Fox's Brit Hume wondered if this fall "the media will decide that it is...the responsibility of the President and not the Congress." Flashback to ABC in 1995: "The shutdown now has a human face. Joe Skattleberry and his wife Lisa both work for the government. Both have been furloughed. They can't afford a Christmas tree."

4) CBS took the UN racism conference quite seriously as Elizabeth Palmer relayed how Fidel Castro proclaimed that reparations for slavery are a "moral duty" for the U.S., a view supported by Jesse Jackson. But ABC's Richard Gizbert realized the conference was "consumed by the very hatreds it sought to eradicate."

5) NBC's Bob Faw dared to get close to home in listing examples of people not being banished for lying: "Mike Barnicle, dumped for lying in his newspaper columns, has found new life as a talk show host." On NBC's own MSNBC.

6) Newsweek's Evan Thomas revealed that "there is a perception, even among journalists, that the [New York] Times is going a little a bit left." Time's Jack White countered: "That's a lot of hokum....There is no liberal bias in the press in the whole. In fact, if there is a bias, it's on the other side."

7) After ten weeks and a day of vacation, more than twice as much time off as his network criticized President Bush for taking, guess who returns to work today?


1

Labor Day isn't a day off from liberal bias at NBC's Today. On Monday's show co-host Matt Lauer proposed to the Secretary of Labor that any ergonomics rules "should be mandatory, not voluntary." In the next half hour Time magazine reporter Johanna McGeary bemoaned how Colin Powell had failed to prevent the Bush administration from "doing really extreme things" as Lauer helpfully explained how "a lot of people had hoped that would talk the Bush administration out of missile defense."

Interviewing Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, Lauer pressed her about the status of ergonomics regulations put in place by Bill Clinton, but which were rescinded by Congress after Bush became President. When Chao explained the subject was under review, Lauer demanded: "If you conclude that there is a serious problem out there and people are being injured, would you agree that a solution should be mandatory, not voluntary?"

In the 7:30am half hour on the September 3 show Today brought aboard Johanna McGeary, a Time senior correspondent, to discuss her new cover story, "Where Have You Gone, Colin Powell?" She outlined Time's case that Powell has little influence within the Bush foreign policy team, complaining: "The biggest symbol to most people at this point is that they thought Colin Powell was the force of moderation in this administration, the guy who would keep the Bush administration from doing really extreme things. And so far, where he's done that he's had to pull them back from things they've already done and on the biggest issue of all, national missile defense, he seems to be going along with the rest of them."
Lauer helpfully elaborated: "He does agree in principle, it seems, with the Bush administration on missile defense and a lot of people had hoped that would talk the Bush administration out of missile defense because of the ABM treaty?"
"Yes," McGeary affirmed, adding how unlike the rest of Bush and his team, he "doesn't want to ride roughshod over the world."

"Most people" and "a lot of people" are, no doubt, their colleagues at Time and NBC News.

2

"Another tax cut?" Tim Russert was aghast on Sunday's Meet the Press at Senator John Kerry's suggestion that a capital gains tax cut might be wise to stimulate investment. Russert was taken aback after he had relayed what he termed a "quite striking" static-analysis claim by an unlabeled liberal group about how the tax cut will eliminate 75 percent of the expected surplus, leading Russert to press two guests about invoking a "trigger" to suspend the tax cuts.

Russert first interviewed on the September 2 show OMB Director Mitch Daniels, whom he hit with arguments from New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and another liberal group, both unlabeled. On the latter, Russert relayed: "The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has analyzed what has been going on. And they said something which is quite striking. I'd like to read it to you: 'The Congressional Budget Office's new report on the federal budget confirms that the surplus is considerably smaller than previously assumed and that, in some years, the budget outside Social Security will be in deficit. CBO now shows a surplus between 2002 and 2011 that is $2.2 trillion less than it estimated in May; about three-quarters of this decline was caused by the impact of the recently enacted tax-cut package.'
"So let's think out for the next 10 years. Based on that vanishing, or shrinking, surplus, would the President consider now to put in place a trigger, which was advocated by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, a trigger whereby a tax cut would not kick in unless a certain number of deficit reduction was present, or to avoid the federal budget from going into deficit?"

Next, with Democratic Senator John Kerry, Russert pointed out how Democrats don't want to cut taxes or spending but are instead setting a trap for Bush to do either so they can pounce rhetorically on him. But Russert soon pushed Kerry to adopt the "trigger" idea: "Would you be willing to put a trigger in place so that future tax cuts, in years two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 not kick in, not take place, unless the resources were there, unless it would guarantee we would not go into deficit?"
Kerry agreed: "I think it's absolutely common sense that a trigger be one of those items that is put on the table for a discussion because you can't start throwing away money or giving back money that you don't have..."

Kerry soon, however earned Russert's wrath when he broached a capital gains tax cut: "The problem is that the President is unwilling to step back from the rigidity of a position taken in the snows of New Hampshire on the tax cut. And now we are, the American people -- I mean, here we are right before Labor Day, you've got an awful lot of folks who'd love an increase in the minimum wage. You've got a lot of people who had a very hard time thrown out of work who are going to need transitional assistance. We need, you might even consider a capital gains tax reduction at this point in time to help spur the kind of capital investment that is not taking place as a consequence of the lowering of the interest rates."
Russert, clearly aghast, blurted in disbelief: "Another tax cut?"
Kerry: "Possibly, in the context of all of what we're talking about, Tim, because the key is: How do you move the economy forward now?..."

Kerry didn't point out how a capitals gains cut, as other have in the past, would actually increase government revenue from the tax, a concept which eludes liberals and, in this case it seems, Tim Russert as well.

3

A bias warning from Fox's Brit Hume speculating on who the media will blame for any possible government shutdown caused by the budget battle, a prescient concern given how 1995 and 1996 MRC studies showed one party received the preponderance of blame. CBS's Bob Schieffer, for instance, complained while anchoring the CBS Evening News one night in 1995: "Nine days from Christmas, Republicans have forced another partial shutdown of the government."

At the top of the roundtable segment on the September 2 Fox News Sunday, Hume issued a lookout:
"Here's something to watch for. Let's assume that the bills come up not in the order the President wants. In other words, the Democrats' spending priorities are what's acted on first, and they send him bills that are larger than he wants. In the course of the process, there will be either vetoes or threats of vetoes. And of course, with an October deadline, there will be the looming prospect, as there always is, of a government shutdown. If we get to that, or get close to that, it will be very interesting to see what happens in the media and in the Washington atmosphere. The last time we had a situation where the government actually did shut down, you'll recall who was blamed: Congress. It'll be interesting to see if that happens this time or whether the media will decide that it is, after all, the responsibility of the President, and not the Congress, when the government shuts down."

If that occurred, it would be pretty hard for reporters to argue they were maintaining consistency -- although they would be consistently blaming the Republican side.

Indeed, two studies published in the MRC's old MediaWatch newsletter documented how the networks adopted Clinton's spin as reality back in late 1995.

An excerpt from the study recounted in the January 1996 MediaWatch:

As a second partial government shutdown descended on Washington, network coverage once again favored President Clinton's arguments over those of House Republicans. Last month, MediaWatch examined coverage during the November 13-20 shutdown and found not a single story noted how much more than the GOP Clinton wanted to spend. No story questioned his rhetoric about "destroying" Medicare even though the GOP plan called for hikes. Reporters conveyed the Democratic spin about the disastrous impact upon federal workers and the public.

As a new budget impasse began in mid-December, MediaWatch analysts reviewed all 131 budget-related stories on evening newscasts (ABC's World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, and CNN's World News) from the evening before the shutdown (December 14) through the day it ended (January 5).

After President Clinton vetoed several spending bills, not one story blamed Clinton for the shutdown, but nearly two dozen declared the GOP culpable. Furloughed workers and other "victims" were featured in half the stories while no story explored the "Washington Monument" strategy or the financial boost offered by a balanced budget.

Blame. To fund the government, Congress passes appropriation bills which the President must then sign. Clinton vetoed spending bills on December 18 and 19 that would have kept open six cabinet departments. But on the question of who caused the shutdown, reporters exclusively pointed a finger at the Republicans. In the 48 stories in which reporters allocated blame, 23 assigned blame to the Republicans, but not one held Clinton culpable (25 blamed both).

On December 16, when the government's temporary spending authority ran out, Bob Schieffer led off the CBS Evening News like a disappointed father: "Well, they've done it again. Nine days from Christmas, Republicans have forced another partial shutdown of the government because they cannot come to an agreement with the White House on how to balance the budget." The next night, ABC's Jerry King also blamed the GOP. "There's no indication from House Republicans, whose budget-cutting zeal started all of this, that they are ready, Christmas season or not, to end it."

END Excerpt

ABC reporter Jack Smith got even more ridiculous in a story on the December 22, 1995 World News Tonight, just the fifth day of the shutdown: "Monuments and national parks are shut. So are museums. A long-awaited rare exhibit of the Dutch painter Vermeer at the National Gallery, eight years in the making, is closed. And the shutdown now has a human face. Joe Skattleberry and his wife Lisa both work for the government. Both have been furloughed. They can't afford a Christmas tree."

Now that is pathetic. Nothing brings back memories of bias like a purportedly serious story about how federal workers yet to have missed a paycheck, and who would get all their back pay as soon as a budget passed for their departments, couldn't afford to spend $20 bucks.

4

CBS took the UN's racism conference quite seriously. While a CBS Evening News story noted how slavery is ongoing in Africa, the report was mostly devoted to relaying the arguments from three people about how the U.S. should pay reparations for slavery. The three statesmen quoted by CBS's Elizabeth Palmer: Fidel Castro, Jesse Jackson and Charles Ogletree.

CBS Evening News anchor Thalia Assuras set up the September 1 story: "At a UN conference on racism being held in South Africa, Arafat today condemned what he called Israel's racist practices, but stopped short of calling Israel a racist state. The conference today also heard a lively debate over slavery and heard calls for the United States to pay reparations. Elizabeth Palmer reports."

Narrating from London, Palmer began her Saturday piece: "Until just a few months ago, 17-year-old Mariama Oumarou was a slave, bought for $300 by a Nigerian man who abused her. 'I was beaten because I was just a slave,' she tells delegates to the UN Conference Against Racism. Oumarou managed to escape, but she left behind friends who remain slaves. These are modern victims of slavery, which still goes on in parts of Asia and Africa, but it's the issue of American slavery, which ended more than a century ago, that's taken center stage here. Leaders like Fidel Castro are calling on the United States to make reparations, to pay for its past. 'Cuba supports the idea of reparations as an unavoidable moral duty,' he said. The United States fought hard to keep reparations for slavery off the conference agenda, but African-Americans here have made sure the controversial idea is getting lots of attention."
Reverend Jesse Jackson: "The idea of reparations time has come. It will not go back. The question left is how and in what form it will take place."
Palmer: "Charles Ogletree Jr., professor of law at Harvard, says that America has to recognize its responsibility, even if it costs billions of dollars."
Professor Charles Ogletree Jr.: "We will make sure that people understand that a debt is owed to the Africans who died in America."
Palmer concluded: "But there's no consensus on reparations, not in the United States and not at this conference. Few white Americans support the idea of payment and neither do some African leaders. Meanwhile, the rhetorical battle over historic slavery threatens to overshadow the plight of Mariama and the thousands of modern slaves who are not lucky enough to escape. Elizabeth Palmer, CBS News, London."

Overshadowed because reporters like Palmer give credibility to the rantings of Fidel Castro about a "moral duty."

ABC's Richard Gizbert reflected a more reasoned take on he conference the next night on World News Tonight/Sunday. After recounting how the conference turned into a fight over Israel, with a conference resolution calling Israel a "racist, apartheid state" guilty of "war crimes and acts of genocide," while calls were made for reparations by the U.S., Gizbert concluded: "In the end, the UN's anti-racism effort was hijacked by those with historical scores to settle -- consumed by the very hatreds it sought to eradicate."

5

Kudos to NBC's Bob Faw for pointing the finger close to home in a story on why so many people lie. Prompted by the fraud committed by the Bronx Little League team in using a player too old to play, Friday's NBC Nightly News explored, as anchor Stone Phillips put it, "the enduring power of the lie."

Bob Faw started his August 31 piece with Bill Clinton's infamous "I did not have sexual relations with that woman," followed by examples from, among others, historian Joseph Ellis, actor Brian Dennehy and Congressman Wes Cooley, as Faw suggested people lie because it helps them get ahead and gain power. After a soundbite from a human resources specialist on how many resumes are riddled with false credentials, Faw dared to get close to home:
"Personnel directors say the problem isn't just that so many people fake credentials, it's that for the few who do get caught often there is very little consequence. For every Janet Cooke, disgraced and stripped of her 1981 Pulitzer after caught lying, there's a Vanessa Williams. Lies cost her the Miss America crown, but not a big show business career. And Mike Barnicle, dumped for lying in his newspaper columns, has found new life as a talk show host."

On screen over his Barnicle comments viewers saw a scroll of the Boston Globe banner followed by Barnicle on his MSNBC show with the MSNBC logo in the corner.

Faw can hardly be faulted for not being able to keep up since MSNBC changes its 6pm line-up quarterly, but actually MSNBC has dumped Barnicle's old 6pm ET show, though he is a regular guest analyst on other MSNBC shows.

6

Newsweek's Evan Thomas revealed that "there is a perception, even among journalists, that the [New York] Times is going a little a bit left." Time's Jack White countered: "That's a lot of hokum....There is no liberal bias in the press in the whole. In fact, if there is a bias, it's on the other side."

Those reactions were generated by a discussion on Inside Washington over the weekend about Robert Samuelson's column last week in the Washington Post prompted by the elevation of Howell Raines, the liberal editorial page editor, to the Executive Editor slot. Samuelson argued: "Among editors and reporters of the national media -- papers, magazines, TV -- a 'liberal bias' is not so much denied as ignored, despite overwhelming evidence that it exists."

Thomas, Assistant Managing Editor of Newsweek, conceded that he knows the public sees a liberal tilt: "There's a tremendous feeling in the country that there is a liberal bias and it makes me exceedingly nervous that the New York Times -- which I lump with the Washington Post as kind of public trusts, the best and the most fair and just the best in the business -- if there is a perception that one of them is truly leaning to the left and there is fodder for that perception, that is worrisome."

Thomas disclosed: "There is a perception, even among journalists, that the Times is going a little a bit left, is getting more liberal. And that's disquieting."

But, Time magazine national correspondent Jack White seethed: "That's a lot of hokum, with all due respect to Evan. There is no liberal bias in the press in the whole. In fact, if there is a bias, it's on the other side. It's hard to find a person really, truly, of the liberal persuasion who are making any important decisions in any important media institutions in this country now. I've looked for them, I consider myself one, I have very few birds of a like feather around."

Just imagine how much more liberal time would be under White's direction.

For an excerpt of Samuelson's August 29 column and a link to it in its entirety, go to: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20010830.asp#2

7

Tom Brokaw, last seen anchoring the NBC Nightly News way back on Friday, June 22, five weeks before President Bush began his vacation, is scheduled to return from his vacation tonight, Tuesday, September 4.

I didn't really miss him.

-- Brent Baker


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