Jennings: Saudi Bombings Mean al-Qaeda Stronger Than Bush Admits --5/14/2003
2. WashPost Declares Bush Tax Cuts "Clearly Do Favor the Affluent"
3. Rather Describes Poll as Finding Tax Cut "A Problematic Sell"
4. Time Tags Mondale "Moderate" and Dean a "Fiscal Conservative"
5. Howard Dean Gets a Tough Session from Diane Sawyer on
6. Liberals Auletta and Cohen Cite "Diversity" for Blair Scandal Even liberals are now raising the issue of the quest for "diversity" for the Raines-gate/Jayson Blair scandal, or outright blaming the allegiance to ensuring affirmative action success stories. Tuesday morning on Today, New Yorker media reporter Ken Auletta wondered: "Did their desire, their good desire, to have a more diverse staff, did it somehow contribute to relaxing of the standards they usually apply to reporters?" Liberal columnist Richard Cohen asked why Blair had been protected and promoted and then answered: "The answer appears to be precisely what the Times denies: favoritism based on race. Blair is black, and the Times, like other media organizations, is intent on achieving diversity."
++ Correction: Though previous CyberAlerts spelled it correctly, as did other items in the same CyberAlert, in item #3 in the May 13 CyberAlert Jayson Blair's first name was misspelled without the "y."
Peter Jennings contended Tuesday night that the terrorist bombings in Saudi Arabia show that "al-Qaeda is better organized than the Bush administration has either believed or said publicly," but CBS's John Roberts suggested the bombings are an indication of the success of the war on terrorism since "under intense pressure al-Qaeda has been forced to abandon attacks in the United States and hit soft targets closer to its base of operation."
At the conclusion of a story by Brian Ross on the May 13 World News Tonight, referring to the assumption that al-Qaeda was behind the attacks on the facilities in Riyadh housing Americans, Jennings proposed to Ross that the bombing proved either the naivete or failure of Bush administration policies: "Brian, if the analysis today is correct, al-Qaeda is better organized than the Bush administration has either believed or said publicly."
But over on the CBS Evening News, John Roberts concluded from the White House with the more common view that the bombings illustrate al-Qaeda's weakness: "Ironically, some terrorism experts say that the Riyadh bombings may be an indication that the war on terror is having some effect, that under intense pressure al-Qaeda has been forced to abandon attacks in the United States and hit soft targets closer to its base of operation."
The Democratic argument that the Bush tax cuts is skewed in favor of the rich "is seen by many as the sharpest and best weapon they have against Bush's drive to cut taxes by at least $550 billion over 10 years," Washington Post reporter Jonathan Weisman relayed before aiding that liberal spin by declaring it accurate.
In a oustandingly distorted and insidious May 13 "news analysis" piece, Weisman marveled at how "remarkable" it is that the Bush plan has gained public support given that "the President's original $726 billion tax cut plan -- and the smaller versions that passed the House and are under consideration in the Senate -- clearly do favor the affluent."
There you have it, the Washington Post taking sides in its news pages, declaring the political spin of one side accurate and of the other inaccurate by looking at the subject from just one point of view.
Weisman served as a stenographer for liberal class warriors: "Under Bush's original proposal, households with $40,000 to $50,000 in taxable income would receive an average tax cut of $482 and a boost of 1.2 percent to their total after-tax income. For households earning more than $1 million, the average tax cut would be more than $89,500, with an increase in their after-tax income of 4.2 percent, according to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center."
An accompanying table with the story on page A6 conveyed matching numbers, such as how those earning $10,000 to $20,000 would get only a $53 or $92 tax cut in the House or Senate plan while someone earning $200,000 to $500,000 would receive a cut of $5,631 or $4,232.
An excerpt from Weisman's May 13 story, "Bush Blunts 'Fairness Question' on Taxes; President's 'Class Warfare' Rhetoric Brings Support for Cuts Skewed to the Wealthy," followed by the numbers making the opposite case which Weisman ignored:
As the fractious Senate plunges into debate this week over President Bush's proposed tax cut, Democratic opponents will emphasize its pronounced tilt to the wealthy.
Their argument -- which Democrats call the "fairness question" and the White House calls "class warfare" -- is seen by many as the sharpest and best weapon they have against Bush's drive to cut taxes by at least $550 billion over 10 years.
But even many Democrats agree that it may amount to little more than a sideshow in the Senate showdown. That is a remarkable testament to the administration's long-running efforts to neutralize a Democratic political staple: couching Bush's tax cuts as sops to the rich at the expense of the poor....
But much of the rhetoric on the issue has actually been the president's -- and polls suggest it has worked.
"Democrats are just scared to be accused of class warfare," a Senate Democratic tax aide conceded yesterday.
Peter R. Orszag, a Brookings Institution economist and critic of White House tax policy, gave Bush credit for what he called "a spin job" that used selective examples of lower-income families to convince many lower- and middle-income Americans that they have a stake in the tax cut's passage. Last week, a USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll found that 52 percent of Americans now think the tax cuts are "a good idea," an increase of 10 percentage points in two weeks.
That gain is all the more remarkable because the president's original $726 billion tax cut plan -- and the smaller versions that passed the House and are under consideration in the Senate -- clearly do favor the affluent....
The $550 billion version that passed the House last week is even more skewed. Those same middle-income households would receive a tax cut of $452 and an income boost of 1.1 percent, while millionaires would receive a cut of $93,537, enough to increase their after-tax income by 4.4 percent. The more modest $350 billion tax cut that passed the Senate Finance Committee last week would trim the average millionaire's tax cut a bit, to $64,431. But it would also trim the middle class cut to $415....
Liberal interest groups and their labor union allies are mobilizing around the issue now. The Fair Taxes for All Coalition, an umbrella organization, has dispatched activists dressed in top hats, tuxedos and evening gowns to protest appearances by Bush and administration officials. The group has purchased a full-page ad in today's New York Times proclaiming, "Bush tax cut leaves no millionaire behind...just millions of children."...
As for the dividend tax cut, Bush has stressed repeatedly that anyone who owns stock -- whether it be individual shares or through mutual funds or pension plans -- would benefit from a general surge in the stock market, which he says the tax cut would trigger....
A new study by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company specifically cast doubt on that assertion, concluding that even Bush's full dividends tax cut plan "seems unlikely to have a significant or lasting effect on U.S. share prices" or on corporate dividend policies.
END of Excerpt
For the Washington Post story in full: www.washingtonpost.com
-- "The Shrinking Pool of Taxpayers Gets Smaller Under Bush Plan: Plan increases the number of zero filers by 3.8 million, to nearly 40 million," read the headline over a Tax Foundation report earlier this year. An excerpt:
Since President Bush released his $674 billion tax cut plan, a blizzard of numbers have swirled around Washington about how various income groups will or will not benefit from the plan. The January 12 edition of Time Magazine contained a typical presentation of these competing numbers: "Although Bush touted the fact that the average tax bill would shrink $1,083, almost half of all filers would get reductions of less than $100, according to the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities."
The reason this statement is misleading is that the people who make up "almost half of all filers" owe almost no income taxes to begin with. Indeed, this year, 35.7 million tax filers (representing 69.6 million people) will have a zero tax liability. That is 26.7 percent of the roughly 133 million expected tax returns this year....
Tax Foundation economists estimate that should the Bush plan be enacted, it would increase the number of tax filers with a zero tax liability by 3.8 million, to 39.5 million....[T]he total number of people represented by returns with zero tax liability will rise from 69.6 million, to 82 million, an increase of more than 12 million people.
END of Excerpt
That's online at: www.taxfoundation.org
-- Already skewed income tax burden. From another Tax Foundation report:
According to preliminary data released by the Internal Revenue Service and a new Tax Foundation Special Report, the top-earning 25 percent of taxpayers earned more than two-thirds of the nation's income (67.3%) and paid more than five out of every six dollars collected by the federal income tax (84%) in 2000. There were 32 million tax returns in the top 25 percent, all with adjusted gross incomes (AGI) over $55,225.
The top one percent of U.S. taxpayers (annual income over $313,469) made 20.8 percent of the income earned in 2000 and paid 37.4 percent of the total federal individual income taxes collected that year. This fraction of the tax burden paid by the top one percent -- well over a third of the total -- is up from 25.1 percent ten years earlier in tax year 1990.
At the other end of the income spectrum, the bottom 50 percent of the nation's taxpayers earned only 13.0 percent of all income in 2000, but they paid an even smaller fraction of the federal individual income taxes collected -- 3.9 percent....
END of Excerpt
For the summary of that report: www.taxfoundation.org
For the PDF of the full report: www.taxfoundation.org
-- Skew of tax cuts in favor of lower incomes. A Tax Foundation table shows that under Bush's original plan a couple with two kids making $50,000 would have their income tax liability cut by 42 percent but that same family making $200,000 would receive a mere 9 percent income tax cut. See: www.taxfoundation.org
-- On dividend income, the Tax Foundation reported: "Despite widespread belief to the contrary, dividend income was earned by taxpayers across the income spectrum. In fact, of all taxpayers that claimed some dividend income in 2000, nearly half (45.8 percent) earned less than $50,000 in adjusted gross income (which includes dividends). Moreover, 63.8 percent of those taxpayers claiming dividends earned less than $50,000 in just wages and salaries." See: www.taxfoundation.org
Though by more than two-to-one, those polled in a new CBS News/New York Times survey said they thought the Bush tax cut would have a "good effect on the economy" over a bad one, on Tuesday's CBS Evening News Dan Rather characterized the poll as finding the tax cut is "a problematic sell for the President" since "less than half the respondents thought the Bush tax cut would actually help the economy."
Rather read this short item on the May 13 CBS Evening News, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
While "less than half," 41 percent, said the Bush tax cut would have a good impact the economy, that's twice as many as the 19 percent who predicted a bad effect. Another 33 percent saw no effect.
CBS News has posted the poll results at: www.cbsnews.com
"Bush's Support Strong Despite Tax Cut Doubts," read the headline over the May 14 New York Times story about the poll. See: www.nytimes.com
Over a photo of FDR, Time's cover story this week mourned: "Why They Don't Make Democrats Like They Used To (And How to Fix It)." Time's assigned adviser to Democrats, Joe Klein, declared inside: "Ever since the George McGovern disaster of 1972, the party has routinely chosen technocratic moderates for standard-bearers." Jimmy Carter in 1980? Mondale in 1984? Dukakis in 1988?
The MRC's Tim Graham, who wrote up this item for CyberAlert, also noted that not only are Mondale and Dukakis "moderates" to Klein, he considers Bob Graham to be more conservative than President Bush and sees Howard Dean as a "fiscal conservative."
In a sidebar titled "Who They'd Like to Be," with side-by-side photos of current Democratic contenders next to past ones they'd like to match, Klein wrote of Graham: "He's on Bush's right on security, arguing Iraq distracted us from al-Qaeda." Comparing long-shot Howard Dean with 1980 loser John Anderson, Klein found: "Both are brash, maverick fiscal conservatives -- built to fly in New Hampshire and crash soon after."
"Fiscal conservatives"? Anderson was drubbed out of the GOP primaries in 1980 for supporting a 50-cent-a-gallon gas tax hike. The Cato Institute awarded Governor Dean a "D" for fiscal matters in its report card last year. They noted: "He supports state-funded universal health care, generous state subsidies for child care, a higher minimum wage, liberal family leave legislation, and taxpayer-financed campaigns...After 12 years of Dean's so-called 'fiscal conservatism,' Vermont remains one of the highest taxing and spending states."
For the Cato report in PDF format, with Dean assessed on page 60: www.cato.org
Up front in the May 19 Time, in the "To Our Readers" box, Managing Editor James Kelly professed he's "thrilled" to acquire Klein: "From his days covering politics for Rolling Stone, New York, Newsweek, and the New Yorker to his best-selling work of fiction -- as Anonymous, he wrote Primary Colors, the scaldingly funny roman a clef about Bill Clinton -- Joe has emerged as one of America's premier political journalists."
Kelly never pointed out the unpleasant fact that Klein (along with Newsweek Editor Maynard Parker) dissembled inside and outside the magazine for months, denying Klein's authorship as the "Anonymous" shtick helped insure a best-seller. For details about that dissembling, check a 1996 Columbia Journalism Review story by Christopher Hanson: www.cjr.org
The headline inside for Klein's advice-giving cover story, "How to Build a Better Democrat: Fire the consultants, find some core values and speak from the heart, and then maybe one of the candidates will have a chance against Bush." See: www.time.com
Diane Sawyer seemed more interested on Tuesday morning in the "verbal fisticuffs" at the debate between Democratic contenders Howard Dean and John Kerry than anything else, but during an interview with Dean she did press him on how his massive health care spending plan would create a huge new bureaucracy, a "monster," and his claim that the Iraqi people are worse off now than before the war.
MRC analyst Jessica Anderson took down Sawyer's questions for Dean on the May 13 Good Morning America and some of his answers.
Sawyer set up the 7am half hour segment: "Well, you could call former Vermont Governor Howard Dean the stealth candidate. He is also a physician, by the way, and one of the nine contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination. Some people say he's stirring up the debates; others say he puts the 'candid' in candidacy. Early polls have showed him running strongly in New Hampshire, which holds the critical first primary in just eight months -- yeah, believe it or not, eight months from now -- and he's in New York this morning announcing a health care plan that would cover most of the 44 million Americans who don't have health insurance he says, and he joins us, and it's good to have you on the show, it's good to see you here."
-- Sawyer: "I just have to ask a political question right off the bat. As you know, nationwide you have single-digit recognition."
-- Sawyer: "Alright, I want to ask you, and we can't go into the details of the health insurance plan. But I know you've said you think yours will cost less than the others out there -- what, $88 billion or so, we're talking about. This is the question I have, though: People who would love to see universal health insurance, nevertheless, say you're going to create something, a monster you can't control."
-- Sawyer: "I want to turn to the war as well, because that's what's caused such a, such a -- well, it was fisticuffs practically, verbal fisticuffs in the debate with you and the other candidates. You were opposed to the war, you have said you think it's the wrong war at the wrong time, and I'm going to just play one clip of one thing you say and then ask about another phrase."
-- Sawyer: "But are the Iraqi people much better off today than they were before this war?"
-- Sawyer: "If we did [have a Shiite fundamentalist regime in the southern part of Iraq], what would a President Dean do about it?...So you'd go to war again?"
-- Sawyer, setting up video of a scowling Dean: "I want to turn again to the debates -- George Stephanopoulos hosted them. We saw you during those debates -- multiple expressions of, what were they here?"
My conspiratorial take: Sawyer is trying to help knock out Dean so a more electable Democrat gets the nomination.
Even liberals are now raising the issue of the quest for "diversity" in the Raines-gate/Jayson Blair scandal or outright blaming the allegiance to ensuring affirmative action success stories.
Of course, the Times' "diversity" effort is not very diverse as it's only interested in achieving diversity of skin color and not of ideology.
Tuesday morning on Today, Matt Lauer prompted New Yorker media reporter Ken Auletta: "The New York Times prides itself in diversity. As a matter of fact, said, we're going to lead by example in the area of diversity. Here was a young African American reporter who was a success story, how did that contribute to this problem, in your mind?" Auletta echoed: "Did their desire, their good desire, to have a more diverse staff, did it somehow contribute to relaxing of the standards they usually apply to reporters?"
In a column in Tuesday's Washington Post, nationally syndicated liberal columnist Richard Cohen asked why Blair had been protected and promoted and then answered Auletta's question in the affirmative: "The answer appears to be precisely what the Times denies: favoritism based on race. Blair is black, and the Times, like other media organizations, is intent on achieving diversity."
So it's not just conservatives seeing it that way. So does a leading liberal columnist.
-- On the May 13 Today Lauer, MRC analyst Ken Shepherd observed, asked Auletta to assess the Times's Sunday tome on the matter. Auletta raised affirmative action in his reply:
After a few questions about the failure of editors to catch Blair, Lauer returned to Auletta's affirmative action point: "This is a prime example of, as you called it, betraying trust, okay? But I want to take your comment a step further. This is a situation where the New York Times prides itself in diversity. As a matter of fact, said, we're going to lead by example in the area of diversity. Here was a young African American reporter who was a success story, how did that contribute to this problem, in your mind?"
-- "Credibility Chasm on 43rd Street" read the headline over a May 13 TimesWatch.org piece by Clay Waters. An excerpt:
Not even the liberal media trust the Times anymore. More in sadness than in anger, liberal Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen commented on just how badly the Jayson Blair fiasco has damaged the Times credibility -- and gives personal insight on the oracular status the Times has long held in media circles:
"Years ago I wrote a column using information from the New York Times. The story contained a mistake -- a whopper, actually -- which I repeated in my column. When the person involved called to complain, I checked with lawyers for The Post, fearing a libel suit. Nothing to worry about, I was told. Such was the reputation of the Times for veracity that both law and custom permitted me to use it without further checking."
Cohen also suggested management's quest for staff diversity superseded editorial concerns over Blair's reporting: "Several times Blair was reprimanded for his blatant inaccuracies. He was deemed so serious a threat to the paper's well-earned reputation for accuracy that in April 2002 the Times' metropolitan editor, Jonathan Landman, wrote an e-mail message to newsroom administrators saying, 'We have to stop Jayson from writing for the Times. Right now.' Yet not only was Blair not stopped, he was promoted to the national staff and ultimately given more responsibilities. Why? The answer appears to be precisely what the Times denies: favoritism based on race. Blair is black, and the Times, like other media organizations, is intent on achieving diversity."
END Excerpt from TimesWatch.org
Cohen concluded his column with points a conservative could have penned:
For Cohen's column in full: www.washingtonpost.com
++ Tonight on NBC: The season finale of The West Wing with Hollywood's dream President ordering around naval fleets to strike back at terrorists.
-- Brent Baker