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CyberAlert -- 09/06/2001 -- "Threats to Social Security"

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"Threats to Social Security"; "Conservatives" Block "Miracle Cures"; Nightline's Tribute to Daschle; ABC's Maher Defends Condit

1) Baseless scare-mongering on Wednesday night from Dan Rather as he referred to the "showdown" between the President and Congress over "who's to blame" for "threats to Social Security and Medicare."

2) Embryonic stem cell research "could provide miracle cures for everything from Parkinson's Disease to diabetes," CBS's Bob Schieffer declared Wednesday night in adopting the exaggerated language of proponents but, Schieffer warned, "the problem is, many religious conservatives oppose such research."

3) Diane Sawyer failed to ask Senator Ted Kennedy even one challenging question when he appeared on Wednesday's Good Morning America. Sawyer wondered if is it "time for George Bush to pack up his honeymoon clothes for good?" She pushed him from the left to agree with her on embryonic stem cell research: "Has the President simply not gone far enough?"

4) Tom Brokaw argued that Bush is being damaged with Hispanics because of GOP support for California's Proposition 187 "designed to crack down hard on illegal immigration." But a new poll discovered that Hispanics are evenly split on Bush's plan to give amnesty to illegal Mexicans and more than twice as many said they would be less likely than more likely to vote for Bush if he extended amnesty.

5) CNN's Wolf Blitzer repeated his ludicrous labeling of Congressman Harold Ford as "another so-called conservative Blue Dog Democrat."

6) Nightline's Chris Bury oozed about Tom Daschle's visit home: "There are no aides, no driver, no press pack; just a rented red Pontiac and a map of the open road." Even Republicans love him, as Bury observed: "Daschle's skill at reaching beyond partisan lines could clearly come in handy should his aspirations run to a higher office." And who is allowed to say "bullshit" on Nightline?

7) Bill Maher opened Tuesday night's Politically Incorrect with a lecture about how Gary Condit is being treated unfairly by a public which really cares more about prying into his sex life than finding who really killed Chandra Levy. Maher gratuitously added that Jeb Bush is amongst those who have "the inevitable loser brother with a criminal record."

8) Letterman's "Top Ten Ways to Irritate Barbara Walters."


Correction: Due to a transcribing error, the September 5 CyberAlert quoted Tom Brokaw as recalling how over the summer he "went back to the Missouri River of my childhood, which still conjures up images of Louis and Clark..." Louis should have been spelled "Lewis."

1

Dan Rather delivered more baseless scare-mongering on Wednesday night as he referred to the "showdown" between the President and Congress over "who's to blame" for "threats to Social Security and Medicare." Of course, any use of the so-called Social Security surplus has nothing to do with current payments and no matter what policy is followed none of that surplus would be spent in any way on Social Security. As for Medicare, it costs more than it takes in.

Rather opened the September 5 CBS Evening News: "Good evening. Now comes the hard part. In the showdown between President Bush and his Democratic opposition in Congress over budget priorities, who blew the surplus and who's to blame for the sluggish economy and threats to Social Security and Medicare. The two sides drew sharper lines today for their fall offensive. It's a multi-front battle over spending on everything from education to defense to prescription drug coverage for seniors. And that's just for starters."

John Roberts began: "Not satisfied with their summer-long attack on George Bush for squandering the surplus, Democrats returned to Washington today and turned it up a notch, blaming the whole economic downturn on President Bush's budget and the tax cut."

After a clip from Dick Gephardt, however, Roberts noted that Republicans are "pointing out the economy began to turn South on Bill Clinton's watch."

2

Embryonic stem cell research "could provide miracle cures for everything from Parkinson's Disease to diabetes," CBS's Bob Schieffer declared Wednesday night in adopting the exaggerated language of proponents but, Schieffer warned in viewing the issue from the viewpoint of advocates, "the problem is, many religious conservatives oppose such research." For Schieffer, the question is whether the President's decision, to limit federally-backed research only to cells already created, will "be enough?" Who'd he go to for his answer? Ted Kennedy.

Schieffer began his crusading September 5 piece on the CBS Evening News, in which the soundbites ran three-to-one from the left against Bush's position, by noting how a Senate committee "waded" into science. Schieffer explained:
"At issue is what to do about stem cell research, the tiny cells that scientists say could provide miracle cures for everything from Parkinson's Disease to diabetes. The problem is, many religious conservatives oppose such research, so the President limited federally-backed research only to cells already created in previous experiments. But will that be enough?"
Senator Edward Kennedy: "President Bush has opened the door to government funding for this important area of health research. The question before the Congress is whether the door is open wide enough."
Schieffer: "No, said a Rhode Island Congressman who believes the cells may be used some day to repair the kind of spinal injury that left him a quadriplegic."
U.S. Representative Jim Langevin, (D-RI): "I am frustrated with the discovery of just how little room it leaves for medical advancement."
Schieffer: "The administration point man admitted there won't be as many cells available for research as the White House first said, but argued there are plenty to get started."
HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson: "We need to move beyond the back and forth over the numbers and get to actual work doing the basic research on the science."
Schieffer tried to show bi-partisan opposition to Bush's view: "This controversy does not break on party lines. The President's main critic is a leading Republican who says the President's plan simply does not make enough cell lines available."
Senator Arlen Specter: "It has become apparent that many of the lines sighted are not really viable or robust or usable."
Schieffer concluded: "Specter and the scientific community want a much bigger and more aggressive research program, but with the White House and some Republicans so sensitive to criticism from the conservative right, it's not clear yet where Congress will come down on any of this."

While Schieffer misleadingly referred only to "stem cell research," which no one opposes, in the set up Dan Rather did make clear the dispute was over embryonic stem cells.

3

Senator Ted Kennedy did not hear one challenging question when he appeared on Wednesday's Good Morning America, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson observed. Diane Sawyer simply asked him whether, with the battle over the budget and stem cell research, it is "time for George Bush to pack up his honeymoon clothes for good?", for a "thumbs up" or a "thumbs down" on Bush's record so far, and on the issue Kennedy was brought aboard to discuss because of the hearing later that day he was set to chair, she pushed him from the left to agree: "Has the President simply not gone far enough?"

Setting up her September 5 interview with Kennedy, Sawyer observed: "Well, if you love politics, fasten your seatbelts this morning because up on Capitol Hill, the war games are about to begin, starting today with the vital issue of stem cell research to find cures for diseases. As you'll remember, this summer we heard President Bush announce limited approval for federal funding for research only on a few stem cell lines."
President Bush in early August: "As a result of private research, more than 60 genetically diverse stem cell lines already exist."
Sawyer cautioned: "But that's in dispute, and now the most powerful, one of the most powerful Democratic senators on the Hill is going to launch hearings on that issue, starting today....We pick up the papers this morning [holds up The New York Times] and we see Democrats and Republicans getting ready to square off on all kinds of issues from stem cell research, Social Security, education, other things. Is it time for George Bush to pack up his honeymoon clothes for good?"
Kennedy replied: "I don't think so. I think, first of all, on education, we have differences in the House and Senate bill. We made good progress over the August recess...."

Sawyer then wondered: "So are you saying you think President Bush has done a good job? What is it: thumbs up, thumbs down?"
Kennedy began: "Well, let me just say I don't think we're really, have had the full opportunity. The overarching issue is our economy...."

Sawyer moved on to her original topic: "Okay, stem cell research: As we just heard, the President limited federal funding to some 60 stem cell lines and yet, a number of scientists are saying 34 of those lines may not be good enough for research and another two-thirds of them are under foreign control. Has the President simply not gone far enough?"
Kennedy: "Well, I think, as you mentioned the outset, we have to understand what this issue is really all about and that is the extraordinary opportunity that is out there for major breakthroughs on these dreaded diseases that affect about every family in America in one way or the other...."

4

Tom Brokaw ended Wednesday's NBC Nightly News with a sermon about the challenge facing President Bush on attracting Hispanic voters because of how certain Republicans backed California's Proposition 187 "designed to crack down hard on illegal immigration." Brokaw contended "the GOP has not been able to completely shake it off and now President Bush is caught in another illegal immigration squeeze play."

But, as National Review's Washington Bulletin e-mail pointed out on Tuesday, a new poll discovered that Hispanics are evenly split on Bush's current proposal to give amnesty to illegal Mexicans and more than twice as many said they would be less likely than more likely to vote for Bush if he extended amnesty.

Brokaw concluded his September 5 broadcast by commenting on how immigration poses political challenges for Mexican President Vicente Fox and for Bush. Picking him up after talking about Fox, Brokaw contended:
"As for President Bush, consider these numbers: In the last election, the Hispanic vote went against him almost two-to-one. Voter turnout amongst Hispanics was low, only about 25 percent, but they represented an estimated two million new voters. And most of them were in the big electoral states: California, Texas, Florida. Republicans have been trying for years to win the Hispanic vote, but they suffered a major setback in 1994 when Republican Governor Pete Wilson of California was the major champion of Proposition 187 designed to crackdown hard on illegal immigration. In the opening passages, it said: 'The people of California find...they have suffered...personal injury and damage caused by the criminal conduct of illegal aliens in this state.' Proposition 187 failed, but the GOP has not been able to completely shake it off and now President Bush is caught in another illegal immigration squeeze play with significant political consequences."

But those consequences could be bad for Bush if he moves left and too far from the Wilson policy. As John J. Miller & Ramesh Ponnuru reported in the September 4 "Washington Bulletin" e-mail from National Review:
"The chief attraction of President Bush proposing an amnesty of illegal aliens -- at least from a GOP perspective -- is that Republicans might win political support from Hispanics for doing it. The best-case scenario has Bush becoming a hero to voters who have close relatives living and working in this country against its laws as the GOP begins to undo the damage of Proposition 187. It all assumes, of course, that Hispanics actually support an amnesty of illegal aliens. What if they don't?
"Today, the Center for Immigration Studies released a new poll by Zogby International on the question. It turns out Hispanic opinion is evenly split -- 51 percent think amnesty is a bad idea and 49 percent think it's a good one. More interesting, though, is a further finding. Although 15 percent of Hispanics said they would be more likely to vote for Bush in 2004 if he supported an amnesty, 36 percent said they would be less likely. That doesn't sound like a formula for winning the Hispanic vote."

But it is a formula which would please Brokaw.

For the entire NR story, go to: http://www.nationalreview.com/daily/nr090401.shtml

5

CNN's Wolf Blitzer may be wrong, but never doubt he's consistent, just consistently wrong. Two days after he ludicrously claimed on Late Edition, as quoted in the September 5 CyberAlert, that Congressman Harold Ford of Tennessee is a "conservative Democrat," he repeated the claim on Tuesday night.

MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth noticed that during a September 4 discussion with First Evening News anchor Bill Hemmer about Gary Condit's future, Blitzer asserted on the 7pm EDT show: "Harold Ford, another so-called conservative Blue Dog Democrat from Tennessee, only this past Sunday expressing his very, very sincere disappointment in Condit's behavior."

As the September 5 CyberAlert pointed out, Ford's career rating from the American Conservative Union: a piddling 13 percent. The liberal Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) have approved of 84 percent of his votes through 2000. That puts him one point to the left of Dick Gephardt, who has earned a lifetime 83 percent from the ADA.

6

Nightline aired a fawning tribute to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle as Chris Bury on Tuesday night narrated a travelogue video of Daschle's August visit to his home state, South Dakota.

Bury oozed: "For Tom Daschle, driving these long, lonely stretches of South Dakota is more than a way to touch base with his home state. It's also an escape from the stuffy rituals of Washington and the relentless pressures of his new role." In South Dakota, Bury marveled, "there are no aides, no driver, no press pack; just a rented red Pontiac and a map of the open road." Even Republicans love him, as Bury observed at one meeting: "These Republicans give Democrat Daschle a standing ovation." Looking ahead to a presidential run, Bury argued that "Daschle's skill at reaching beyond partisan lines could clearly come in handy should his aspirations run to a higher office."

Some highlights from the September 4 Nightline. Bury announced at the top of the broadcast:
"Everybody knows where George Bush spent his summer vacation. Even in the dog days of August, the President made enough news to put Crawford, Texas, on the map. But chances are you have never heard of Mobridge, South Dakota, not to mention Selby or Eureka. Those are some of the places where the second most powerful man in Washington spent his August. Senator Tom Daschle has been a Washington player for nearly three decades, but his elevation to Senate Majority Leader has catapulted the South Dakotan to national prominence. He's already seen as a possible Democratic presidential contender in 2004.
"The Tom Daschle you usually see on television looks like a creature of the capital, partial to fancy English shirts and French cuffs. As Majority Leader, Daschle is awarded all the trappings of power, from a chauffeur driven car to one of the finest and biggest offices in all of Washington, where today he prepared for the start of the Senate session and a meeting with President Bush....
"Every August the Senator takes a road trip across South Dakota....For Tom Daschle, driving these long, lonely stretches of South Dakota is more than a way to touch base with his home state. It's also an escape from the stuffy rituals of Washington and the relentless pressures of his new role....
"On this trip, Senator Daschle has not only shed his jacket and tie, but also the entourage that serves as a second skin to someone like the Senate Majority Leader in Washington. Here there are no aides, no driver, no press pack; just a rented red Pontiac and a map of the open road. His plan is to visit all 66 counties in South Dakota....
"In his annual pilgrimage back to South Dakota, Senator Daschle returns to a place that, in many respects, is an unlikely base for the most visible leader of the national Democrats. Indeed, South Dakota is predominantly white, rural, and Republican. Meeting with farmers in the back room of a livestock auction barn, Daschle sounds like a Prairie Populist, blaming big oil for ratcheting up the price of gasoline."
Daschle: "I think that people worry about big government. They ought to be a lot more worried about big corporations and the dominance that they have in our lives today."
Bury: "But many farmers here also believe that President Bush's energy plan, pushing more exploration for oil, would help lower their costs, and at the state fair one of them angrily scolds Senator Daschle for leading the opposition to drilling in the Arctic....In this socially conservative state where Republicans have carried the last nine presidential elections, Daschle's record as a strong supporter of abortion rights is also a perennial sore spot....So for Tom Daschle, seen as a liberal to moderate Democrat, driving these roads is part of a balancing act that keeps him in office. And now that he's the national face of the Democratic opposition, tending to the fences back home, he acknowledged to me, is more important than ever to his political survival."...

Bury highlighted Republican admirers: "In an airplane hangar outside Mobridge, South Dakota, in plain view in a herd of buffalo, Tom Daschle makes a rare scheduled stop on this road trip. An old friend knew he'd be in the area, so he put together a barbecue and invited close to 100 guests. The odd thing is, nearly everyone of them is a registered Republican, including the host of the party, grocery store owner Benjamin Stoick.
To Stoick: "You are a rock-ribbed Republican?"
Stoick: "Baptized Republican."
Bury: "Yet you support Tom Daschle?"
Stoick: "Absolutely."
Bury: "Not always, though."
Stoick: "Not always. Years ago I even campaigned against him and did a television commercial for a friend of mine who was a Republican running against him. You know, this is too small a state not to really be aware of who the competition is. And once you get around Tom Daschle, you stay close to him, you learn more about him, and he's real, he's decent, he's all the things that Republicans said he wasn't."

Bury a bit later: "Indeed, these Republicans give Democrat Daschle a standing ovation....Politics, as practiced here, may be far more civil than in Washington, but Senator Daschle's skill at reaching beyond partisan lines could clearly come in handy should his aspirations run to a higher office, and wherever this road trip took him, the topic came up again and again."

At one point, Bury's piece did allow one woman to spout off against Daschle, though her language was bleeped: "So Majority Leader Tom Daschle, the highest ranking Democrat in the land, just shows up unannounced, at farms, banks, and of course, the South Dakota state fair. Here, most people he meets seem pleasantly surprised and genuinely proud, but they are not overly impressed by his title. One woman gives him hell for his position on a local dam project."
Daschle: "Uh huh."
Woman: "Don't 'uh huh' me. I'm tired of the lies and the bull[bleep] the politicians are giving us."
Bury: "Love him or hate him, South Dakotans call Senator Daschle by his first name

Apparently, while it's not okay for citizens to swear on Nightline, Ted Koppel can with impunity and without being bleeped. MRC analyst Jessica Anderson recalled two instances when Nightline viewers heard Koppel use the term "bullshit" without and masking sound effects, even in pre-taped interviews:

-- On the March 22 Nightline this year, when U.S. Customs Field Operations Director Rudy Camacho hemmed and hawed to Koppel's inquiry about whether U.S. officials have been bought off by Mexican drug cartels, Koppel charged: "That's a bullshit answer. You haven't given me an answer, Rudy."

-- The June 15, 1999 Nightline. Koppel to an interpreter for a Serbian man during a report on the Serb troops' withdrawal from Kosovo: "Look, tell him that I know when I get a direct answer and I know when I get bullshit and this is bullshit. I've asked him a direct question: What will he say when they come to him and they tell him about the atrocities that have happened in this country over the last three months? Will he say it never happened?"

7

Condit's defender on ABC. Bill Maher opened Tuesday night's Politically Incorrect with a lecture about how Gary Condit is being treated unfairly by a public which really cares more about prying into his sex life than finding who really killed Chandra Levy. Maher charged: "The country is protecting a more likely predator at the expense of this girl because the other story, the Condit story, is just more fun."

Maher gratuitously added that many have "the inevitable loser brother with a criminal record," noting that "Bill Clinton has one, Jimmy Carter has one, Jeb Bush has one."

Maher launched the September 4/5 show, as observed by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson:
"Reports from the capital say that Gary Condit is getting the cold shoulder from his fellow legislators. Now, hating Gary Condit is, of course, not only fun, it's easy. But make no mistake, keeping the focus on Condit is not only not going to solve the crime, it's probably helping the more likely, although less interesting, agent of Chandra Levy's disappearance. We want Gary Condit to be the criminal because it's a better story, and watching a politician lie and squirm is fun. But he's not the only liar in this.
"We, the American people, pretend that what we care about is the girl and that's why we have to know if they were having sex. That's why Connie Chung asked that question for 28 of her 30 minutes with him because the more we know about them having sex, the more it will help find her. That's what we're hanging this on, folks [applause]. That's what we're hanging this on, just so we know that. Why else would a reporter prepared 20 different ways of saying, 'Yes, but were you doing her?' We dress up gossip mongers saying, 'Details, details, I want details,' as journalism to allow us to convince ourselves that knowing the details will provide the connection to helping the person we care about.
"Ms. Chung, perfectly capturing the voice of the country, said to Condit, 'You're protecting your privacy at the expense of a girl who's missing.' Perhaps, but I would add the country is protecting a more likely predator at the expense of this girl because the other story, the Condit story is just more fun. Three other girls in the last year from the same neighborhood -- same age, same hair color -- abducted, but that's not a better story; it's just a better clue. But how can it compete with one of the lecherous old farts in Congress who's been married, as he said, 34 years and so has 34 years of sleazy in his closet: stewardesses he banged, pictures of him in leather chaps, this story writes itself for years. At these prices, we can't afford not to believe it. Neckties that are tied in knots, watch boxes discarded in the park, the inevitable loser brother with a criminal record, although everybody has one of those -- Bill Clinton has one, Jimmy Carter has one, Jeb Bush has one [audience laughs, applauds].
"Yeah, Gary Condit is an interesting guy, that's true -- a guilty pleasure, you might say. As long we all know that's what it is: a guilty pleasure."

As for three other women with the same hair color being abducted, I believe that would be news to the DC police as only one other woman has been abducted from the area recently.

8

Spurred by Barbara Walters losing out to Connie Chung for the Gary Condit "get" and the fresh news that singer Mariah Carey has delayed her scheduled sit-down with Walters, from the September 5 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Ways to Irritate Barbara Walters." Copyright 2001 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. Tease her about being married to that deadbeat James Brolin
9. Wear giant sombrero and keep saying, "Senor Pepe no understand"
8. Threaten to release steamy photos of her and Hugh Downs from Christmas '74
7. When you don't have an answer, meow like a kitty
6. Hog the covers (trust me, she hates that)
5. Call her "Alex," phrase all answers in the form of a question
4. Tell her she was your favorite Golden Girl
3. To camera say, "Whoa, Barbara, easy on the gin"
2. Only rule: Ask a question, remove a piece of clothing
1. If she's wearing a skirt, compliment her on "The View"

"The View" would a reference to her daytime ABC show.

-- Brent Baker


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