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Interviewing Cheney, Blitzer Distorts Greenspan on Tax Cuts --3/3/2004


1. Interviewing Cheney, Blitzer Distorts Greenspan on Tax Cuts
Interviewing Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday, CNN's Wolf Blitzer distorted Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's testimony from last week as he told Cheney that Greenspan warned that "if you want to keep those tax cuts that you pushed through Congress, you're going to have to start thinking of reducing Social Security benefits for the baby boomers." In fact, Greenspan told a House committee that he favored making the tax cuts permanent and that Social Security pay outs must be adjusted since the system is structurally unsustainable due to the soaring number of retirees compared to the falling number of those paying in, not because of tax cuts.

2. Cronkite Jokes About Marrying Men, Does Video for Liberal Group
Walter Cronkite a polygynous gay man? The San Francisco Chronicle recounted on Tuesday how speaking at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco last week, after complaining about how the Bush foreign policy has "deeply embarrassed" the United States around the world and castigating the Christian Right as "obnoxious" for opposing gay marriage, Cronkite joked that though he's been happily married to a woman, "that doesn't mean I wouldn't have been happy to be married to several friends I had of the same sex." Meanwhile, Cronkite is using his credibility to advance the government spending efforts of a liberal group. The Hill newspaper last week reported how "the former CBS newscaster is the narrator on a 13-minute 'informational video' produced by Families USA, a left leaning healthcare advocacy group."

3. NBC's Today Trumpets the "Liberals' Answer to Rush Limbaugh"
Can you imagine the Today show running a promotional segment about Rush Limbaugh in 1988, months after he launched his national show, but when it was only carried by a few stations? That never happened, but on Tuesday, Today dedicated a 7:30am half hour segment to a glowing look at liberal talk show host Ed Schultz, whom Katie Couric claimed is "shaking up the industry," though he began a national show, which is not carried in any major city, barely two months ago. Couric touted him as "the man being called the liberals' answer to Rush Limbaugh." Jamie Gangel trumpeted: "Up until now successful talk radio has pretty much been dominated by conservative hosts. But there's a new guy in town and people across the country are tuning in."

4. Maria Shriver Uses Pillow Talk Time for Liberal Advocacy
Former NBC News reporter Maria Shriver used her pillow talk time for some liberal advocacy, pleading against any budget cuts, her husband, the Governor of California, disclosed on Monday's Tonight Show with Jay Leno on NBC. Arnold Schwarzenegger recalled that when he proposed cutting funding for the mentally disabled, "I got a call from my mother-in-law at midnight and then at two in the morning my wife reminded me again and at four o'clock in the morning she reminded me again so I put the program back in."


Interviewing Cheney, Blitzer Distorts
Greenspan on Tax Cuts

CNN's Wolf Blitzer interviewing VP Dick Cheney Interviewing Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday, CNN's Wolf Blitzer distorted Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's testimony from last week as he told Cheney that Greenspan warned that "if you want to keep those tax cuts that you pushed through Congress, you're going to have to start thinking of reducing Social Security benefits for the baby boomers." In fact, Greenspan told a House committee that he favored making the tax cuts permanent and that Social Security pay outs must be adjusted since the system is structurally unsustainable because of the soaring number of retirees compared to the falling number of those paying in.

Blitzer's distortion came during a set of ten-minute interviews Cheney taped separately, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, with Blitzer, FNC's Brit Hume and MSNBC's Lester Holt. CNN aired Blitzer's segment during the 5pm EST Wolf Blitzer Reports and just before 11pm EST during CNN's Super Tuesday coverage.

Blitzer inquired: "Alan Greenspan said in recent days that because of the huge budget deficit -- $500 billion, at least for the foreseeable future -- if you want to keep those tax cuts that you pushed through Congress, you're going to have to start thinking of reducing Social Security benefits for the baby boomers, future generations. Is he right?"

Cheney replied: "I read his testimony in a slightly different fashion. He talked about the current tax cuts that we've got in place, he's supportive of those, believes they ought to be made permanent and talked specifically about those in terms of what they've done for the economy and encouraging savings and investment and economic growth. Separate and apart from that is the long term problem we have on entitlements. In particular on Social Security and Medicare and those were the issues he was addressing -- the long term that will kick in in five, ten years down the road as we have more and more people retired and fewer and fewer people actually working to support those retirees."

The February 26 CyberAlert outlined how NBC had distorted Greenspan's testimony: Greenspan told the House Committee on the Budget on Wednesday [February 25] that the soon-to-be soaring number of retiring baby boomers and long-term deficit will require that Social Security costs be reduced by slowing cost of living hikes and/or by raising the retirement age, but though Greenspan specifically said he favors making the Bush tax cuts permanent and strongly urged budget cuts over tax hikes to reduce the deficit, the NBC Nightly News distorted Greenspan's testimony and targeted the Bush tax cuts, which they bizarrely labeled "Bush's spending," for blame. Greenspan recommended that lawmakers "close the fiscal gap primarily, if not wholly, from the outlay side."

But Blitzer had little excuse for his distortion since on the night of Greenspan's testimony CNN reporter John King, on NewsNight, gave time to Greenspan soundbites about how he wants spending cuts before tax hikes. King reported: "Chairman Greenspan has legendary status in Washington and both parties looked for election year advantage in his testimony. To the Democrats' delight, he said growing federal budget deficits eventually threaten long-term interest rates and living standards."
Greenspan: "It's out there somewhere and it's out there in this decade."
King: "Republicans liked his recipe for reducing that red ink. Greenspan did not rule out tax increases but was adamant that Congress impose strict budget caps and cut spending first."
Greenspan: "It's an easy solution to a problem where you have a deficit to increase taxes. It's not evident to me that over the long run that actually works."
King: "And Republicans nodded approvingly when Chairman Greenspan said the ten-year Bush tax cuts had helped the economy out of recession and, in his view, so long as spending is controlled that those tax cuts should be made permanent."
Greenspan: "They should be continued because I think over the long run they will benefit this economy."

For more on coverage of Greenspan's February 25 remarks, as well as some excerpts from them: www.mediaresearch.org

Cronkite Jokes About Marrying Men, Does
Video for Liberal Group

Walter Cronkite just as happy as a polygynous gay man? The San Francisco Chronicle recounted on Tuesday how speaking at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco last week, after complaining about how the Bush foreign policy has "deeply embarrassed" the United States around the world and castigating the Christian Right as "obnoxious" for opposing gay marriage, Cronkite joked that though he's been happily married to a woman, "that doesn't mean I wouldn't have been happy to be married to several friends I had of the same sex."

Meanwhile, Cronkite is using his credibility to advance the government spending efforts of a liberal group. The Hill newspaper last week reported how "the former CBS newscaster is the narrator on a 13-minute 'informational video' produced by Families USA, a left leaning healthcare advocacy group." The video recites the inadequacy of the Bush-supported Medicare prescription entitlement program.

The February 26 Hill relayed how Cronkite's video thrilled top liberals: "The House Democratic Caucus received a sneak preview yesterday, and party leaders gave it rave reviews, believing it will prove a useful tool to counter President Bush's media blitz on Medicare."
"Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the House minority whip, said: 'Having Mr. Cronkite speak out in agreement with Democrats on this issue is of immeasurable help.' Cronkite's narration does not include many outright negative comments, although he refers to 'disappointing features' of the law, such as its 'failure to contain skyrocketing drug costs.'"

Romenesko and the DrudgeReport on Tuesday highlighted the March 2 San Francisco Chronicle story, "A nation trusted him. And he has never betrayed that trust. We're still listening to Walter Cronkite," by Steven Winn, about Cronkite's visit the week before to the Bay area. An excerpt:

Cronkite and his wife, Betsy -- they've been married 63 years and have three children, assorted grandchildren and a new pair of cats -- were in town last week. The occasion was the newsman's sold-out Commonwealth Club appearance at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, preceded by a night of merrymaking with a friend, ex-Grateful Dead drummer and world percussion specialist Mickey Hart. A torn Achilles tendon Cronkite suffered on the tennis court 2 1/2 years ago had slowed his step, but not his avidity to be out and around a city he once toured regularly with the late Chronicle columnist Herb Caen....

In a private conversation, Cronkite sidestepped a question about President George Bush's character: "I don't like to get into the personality of the individual. I think the evidence is all in the record." To the Commonwealth Club, which he once regarded as "a bastion of conservatism," he pulled few punches.

"Our arrogant stand in nearly all our diplomatic approaches to the rest of the world with this administration has been such as to deeply embarrass the United States," declared Cronkite. His sarcasm was quietly withering. "Of course it's nice to know that Hussein is in jail," he noted. "I sit there and nod agreement when the president frequently mentions that....And then of course when poor Secretary of State Powell had to go before the U.N. and make that plea with intelligence we now know, at the most generous, as inaccurate -- that doesn't help at all."

Cronkite can be trusted to say things like this all the time now. After declaring himself a "registered independent" in the first of his newspaper columns in August, Cronkite has consistently derided what he calls "the Bush administration's facade of self-righteous certainty." He says he feels liberated to speak his mind, to "vent my rage and let the chips fall where they will." Cronkite doesn't hesitate to crank up his Moses-like rhetoric, in speech and in print, drawing on his deep well of journalistic gravitas. But he's just as likely to caper now as to thunder.

Just before railing against the Christian right's objection to gay marriage -- "That's about as obnoxious a thing as has ever happened" -- Cronkite was asked at the Ritz to what he attributed the longevity of his own marriage to Betsy.

"I do think one of the factors was we were of different sexes." He looked delighted as the laughter billowed around the room. "That doesn't mean I wouldn't have been happy to be married to several friends I had of the same sex," he followed. "It just never came up in our particular relations."

END of Excerpt

For the story in full: sfgate.com

The MRC's Tim Graham alerted me to the above-cited February 26 story in The Hill newspaper, focused on Capitol Hill news, "Dems hope Cronkite will help Medicare case." For the story by Hans Nichols: www.thehill.com

In a February 25 press release, Families USA touted its Cronkite video: "CRONKITE VIDEO HELPS LAUNCH NATIONAL SENIOR EDUCATION CAMPAIGN ABOUT NEW MEDICARE LAW; 'Medicare Road Show' Starts and Cronkite Video Sent to 10,000 Senior Centers Across Country." To read the press release: www.familiesusa.org

To watch the 13-minute-long video, which features Cronkite sitting in front of a bookcase: www.familiesusa.org

NBC's Today Trumpets the "Liberals' Answer
to Rush Limbaugh"

Can you imagine the Today show running a promotional segment about Rush Limbaugh in 1988, months after he launched his national show, but when it was only carried by a few stations? That never happened, but on Tuesday, Today dedicated a 7:30am half hour segment to a glowing look at liberal talk show host Ed Schultz, whom Katie Couric claimed is "shaking up the industry," though he began a national show, which is not carried by any significant station nor in any major city, barely two months ago. Couric touted him as "the man being called the liberals' answer to Rush Limbaugh."

Jamie Gangel trumpeted: "Up until now successful talk radio has pretty much been dominated by conservative hosts. But there's a new guy in town and people across the country are tuning in."

Several conservative hosts are carried by many more stations than Schultz, such as Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, Michael Reagan, Neal Boortz and G. Gordon Liddy -- and they all must earn advertiser dollars while Schultz's show, based in the tiny market of Fargo, North Dakota, is funded by a left-wing outfit, Democracy Radio, which raised money to fund the program. And some local liberal talk show hosts, such as Bernie Ward on KGO in San Francisco, have a larger audience than Schultz, as do numerous liberal talk shows distributed nationally by NPR and other public radio groups.

Gangel highlighted how "in his market he trounces Rush Limbaugh in the ratings," but she failed to note that in Fargo they do not go head-to-head. They are on the same station, KFGO (AM 790) at different times.

MRC analyst Geoff Dickens took down how Couric teased the upcoming segment on the March 2 Today:

-- At the top of the show: "Plus who in the heck is Ed Schultz? We're gonna profile the man being called the liberals' answer to Rush Limbaugh."

-- "Coming up in our next half-hour a radio host who had a change of heart and is now taking his liberal views nationwide."

-- "And then there's a different sound coming from your radio days these days. It's a liberal talk show host. Some say it's the left wing's answer to Rush Limbaugh. And you might be surprised to hear that this liberal host originates form the conservative heartland. We're gonna meet him in this half-hour."

-- Matt Lauer got into the act too: "And he calls himself a gun-totin', red meat eatin' liberal. Meet Ed Schultz, the radio talk show host raising tempers and ratings."

Couric set up the eventual segment: "Don't touch that dial. A radio talk show host based in North Dakota is shaking up the industry, daring to tread where few liberals have gone before. Ed Schultz is being called the liberal Rush Limbaugh. Our national correspondent Jamie Gangel traveled to Fargo to meet him. Hi, Jamie, good morning."
Gangel: "Good morning, Katie. He certainly is shaking things up. Up until now successful talk radio has pretty much been dominated by conservative hosts. But there's a new guy in town and people across the country are tuning in. Fargo, North Dakota, home of farmers, mythical winters, the conservative heartland. But these days when they turn on the radio this is the man they're listening to. 50-year-old Ed Schultz, the voice of liberal talk radio."
Ed Schultz on his show: "This unlike anything else you've heard on the radio dial, I realize that."
Gangel: "Yes, that's right. Once a dyed-in-the-wool conservative Ed Schultz is now a defender of the left-"
Schultz: "And don't blame the quote, liberal media, for this at all folks-"
Gangel: "A champion of the Democratic Party."
Schultz: "-it was the Clinton economic plan that turned that sucker around is what it took."
Gangel: "And a card-carrying Bush-basher."
Schultz: "-just ask the President one question. Were you AWOL? Yes or no?...We've never had a President who has stretched the military as thin as this guy has!"
Gangel: "A talk show veteran of 20 years Schultz's sound and style are often compared to Rush Limbaugh."
Schultz: "This program is 100 percent right all the time."
Gangel: "They even share a local billboard in town but Schultz says that's where the similarity ends. You're being called the liberal Rush Limbaugh. How do you feel about that?"
Schultz: "Well I, I mean they can call me anything they want, I've been called worse...I know that I can do this. And I know that I have the experience, the moxie and everything it takes to be a good talk show host. I don't care if you're in Fond du Lac or Flint or Fargo, talent's talent."
Gangel: "And with listeners Schultz doesn't pull his punches."
Schultz on his show: "Don't, don't twist what Senator Kerry is saying...Hold on a second!...Let me tell you something sir, somebody's gotta pay it...This administration's done nothing to make your world better."
Gangel: "But even those who disagree with him are fans."
Tim Skauge, Ed Schultz fan: "I don't know. Either you love him or you hate him but you still listen to him."
Schultz: "They're running baseball the same way they're running Iraq!"
Rob Lynch, Ed Schultz fan: "Occasionally I yell at the radio and at the speakers. But for the most part I really enjoy his show."
Gangel: "In fact, Schultz himself admits he is a recent convert to liberal causes. In many ways you're pretty conservative. You voted for one Democrat in your life."
Schultz: "He won too."
Gangel: "You're a hunter."
Schultz: "Yeah."
Gangel: "You are against abortions. So is it for real or is it for ratings?"
Schultz: "No it's very real. I, I have a story to tell and I'm for the little guy."
Gangel: "Schultz credits his transformation to his wife Wendy, a psychiatric nurse who now works as his producer."
Wendy Schultz: "And we're still waiting to hear from Kerry. It looks pretty good for today."
Gangel: "When they met she was working at a homeless shelter and invited him to lunch. A bologna sandwich, which he says, changed his life."
Ed Schultz: "It was a real bologna sandwich and there wasn't anything on it. And that might have been a first. I think my wife was telling me, 'you're pretty lucky and this is how the other side of the fence lives and maybe you ought to see it.'"
Gangel: "So they decided to take his show on the road. This is the famous Winnebago."
Schultz: "This is the Big Eddie Cruiser."
Gangel: "And Schultz says the people he met had a profound impact."
Schultz: "I saw what was happening in the heartland. I mean I saw families that couldn't afford health care. I saw families that were losing their farms. I've been to farm auctions. I've seen tears come down the, the face of good Americans. It swells me up to talk about it, it does. America can do better than this."
Gangel: "Schultz's new politics matched up with Democratic sponsors who are helping to syndicate his show."
Schultz: "I think tomorrow we're gonna try to have Hillary Clinton on the program."
Gangel: "Thus far it appears to be working. Schultz is number one in local ratings, has been picked up by more than a dozen stations across the country and Democrats are lining up to be on his show."
Schultz, interviewing John Kerry: "Some right wing operatives have come out and called you a cad, a kept man, a gigolo. Is John Kerry gonna stand up and give it right back to them?"
John Kerry: "Absolutely, when it's appropriate."
Gangel: "It is no secret that you are on the air for the next two years because Democratic donors have put up $2 million to launch this. Can you really say what you think?"
Schultz: "Well I had it written in our agreement that I'm not beholden to anybody."
Gangel: "You can say what you want to say?"
Schultz: "Absolutely. I said Howard Dean had the willies."
Schultz, during his show: "I told you a long time ago that the Al Gore endorsement was gonna do nothing for Howard Dean. That the, the Bradley endorsement was going to do nothing for Howard Dean."
Gangel: "And in the end Schultz says he knows success will come down to one thing."
Schultz: "There's no magic to this stuff. The name of the game is to get ratings and if you don't get ratings you're out. And that's why they say, 'Ed you're in.'"

Gangel, back in studio with Couric: "For the record Ed will not forgive me, Katie, if I don't mention that in his market he trounces Rush Limbaugh in the ratings, Katie."
Couric: "Jamie, what about nationwide? How's he doing?"
Gangel: "You know, reality check. Rush Limbaugh is on 600 stations but they hope to get Ed up to 40 by the end of the year which would be huge in, in radio stations and, and they think he's really catching on."
Couric: "Alright, Jamie Gangel. Jamie, thanks so much."

The MRC's Tim Graham referred me to a press release pushing the show's supposed success: "After making its debut on January 5, The Ed Schultz Show Syndicated by Jones Radio Networks in association with Democracy Radio, the national show airs Mondays through Fridays from 3 to 6 p.m. EST, and can be heard on a variety of talk radio stations throughout the country, as well as worldwide via streaming audio at www.WeGotEd.com." See: biz.yahoo.com

Schultz's Web page, www.WeGotEd.com, suspiciously does not list stations which carry his show. Maybe that's because, as a Minneapolis Star Tribune article revealed, they are nothing to crow about: "Democracy Radio committed to producing 'The Ed Schultz Show' for two years over the Jones Radio Networks, a national syndicating company based in Washington, D.C. In addition to airing on stations in North Dakota, Montana and California ('Rebel Radio' in Needles), the show is broadcast from 2 to 5 p.m. weekdays on XM satellite radio and on the Internet at www.bigeddieradio.com." For this story about Schultz in full: www.startribune.com

That's right, his sole California city is Needles, hardly a major market.

For his KFGO page: www.kfgo.com

Maria Shriver Uses Pillow Talk Time for
Liberal Advocacy

Former NBC News reporter Maria Shriver used her pillow talk time for some liberal advocacy, pleading against any budget cuts, her husband, the Governor of California, disclosed on Monday's Tonight Show with Jay Leno on NBC. Arnold Schwarzenegger recalled that when he proposed cutting funding for the mentally disabled, "I got a call from my mother-in-law at midnight and then at two in the morning my wife reminded me again and at four o'clock in the morning she reminded me again so I put the program back in."

One wonders if it were really a cut or simply a reduction in the rate of increase or, if it would really have been a cut, whether soaring hikes in previous years meant such a cut would have left spending higher than it was just a few years ago.

The MRC's Geoff Dickens took down the exchange on the March 1 Tonight Show:

Jay Leno: "Has there been any mistakes? Did you ever, did you screw up at all? Did you go, 'Uh oh? I, I.' You know what I mean. You know, obviously, there's gotta be something that didn't go...to plan. Have you made any mistakes you think?"
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger: "You mean like Hercules in New York? My movie? One of those mistakes?"
Leno: "No, no I mean like. I know that, no, no that's beyond a mistake. That's like a wardrobe malfunction, that thing. No, no. But you know what I'm saying where you said, 'Oh I did this and, and I shouldn't.'"
Schwarzenegger: "Yeah, no I, I have. I have made mistakes. Yeah I remember the one time I cut a program that I didn't want to cut which was for mentally disabled and then all of a sudden I got a call from my mother-in-law at midnight and then at two in the morning my wife reminded me again and at four o'clock in the morning she reminded me again so I put the program back in, the budget back in and said okay, 'No more cuts, no more cuts.' So yeah I mean you make mistakes like that because everything is, goes very fast and you, some of those budget decisions have to be made very quickly. So of course. But the key thing is, is to admit the mistakes that you made and then correct it again."

And people at NBC News wanted Shriver to quit because of the taint of being married to a Republican Governor? Schwarzenegger's election didn't make her any less liberal and, therefore, any less a good fit at NBC News.

-- Brent Baker