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NBC Frames Tax Cut Story Around Liberal Spin of Benefit to Rich --12/9/2005


1. NBC Frames Tax Cut Story Around Liberal Spin of Benefit to Rich
The Thursday NBC Nightly News framed the House vote, to extend dividend and capital gain tax rate reductions another two years, through a liberal prism which assumes all the money earned belongs to the government and that measures the fairness by the dollar amount of cuts for the rich versus the poor -- a silly notion since the wealthy pay most of the taxes. Anchor Brian Williams set up the story by stressing how tax cuts are "a top priority for the Bush administration, but some in Congress today said those priorities are misplaced." Chip Reid interwove soundbites from two liberal Democrats around his observation that "it was at times a furious debate, Democrats accusing Republicans of using tax cuts to reward the rich." With a matching graphic on screen, Reid relayed how "Democrats say" that "nearly half" of the cut, 48 percent, "will go to people making more than $500,000 a year." Reid segued to a third Democratic soundbite: "Mississippi Democrat Gene Taylor, whose district was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, says the cuts show Republican priorities are, quote, 'screwed up.'" Reid ran two Republican soundbites as he noted how "tax cuts for investors, they say, fuel a growing economy," but he countered that with how "a non-partisan deficit watchdog says tax cuts can hurt the economy when Congress fails to pay for them."

2. Olbermann: "Rioting from Hard Right" If Bush Appoints Democrat
On his Countdown show Thursday night, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, while interviewing New York Daily News correspondent Ken Bazinet about rumors that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will soon retire, speculated on the possibility of Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman being chosen to replace Rumsfeld, and proposed: "But a Democrat of any shape, stripe, or form in the Bush administration, would there not be rioting from the hard right?" Since the Bush administration has already had a Democratic Cabinet member for almost five years, Bazinet reminded Olbermann, "Well, you know, we already have Secretary Mineta obviously at Transportation, so it's not out of the question," but then went on to voice agreement with Olbermann's expectations of conservative opposition: "I think that you might have a rebellion just this side of Harriet Meiers on your hands, quite frankly."

3. Mike Wallace: Only a "[Expletive] Up" America Could Elect Bush
CBS's Mike Wallace, of 60 Minutes fame, ridiculed President Bush's qualifications for office when asked by the Boston Globe what questions he'd pose to Bush if he got the chance. Wallace said he'd want to ask if Bush thinks his election "has anything to do with the fact that the country is so [expletive] up?" The Boston Globe's headline over the q and a session conducted by Suzanne Ryan and run in Thursday's Arts and Entertainment section: "At 87, Wallace still tells it like it is." Ryan had asked Wallace: "President George W. Bush has declined to be interviewed by you. What would you ask him if you had the chance?" Wallace, on a media tour to promote his memoir, Between You and Me, began his answer: "What in the world prepared you to be the commander in chief of the largest superpower in the world? In your background, Mr. President, you apparently were incurious."

4. You Read It Here First: Columnist Picks Up on Murtha v Lieberman
You read it here first. In a nationally-syndicated column this week, Orlando Sentinel-based Kathleen Parker quoted from two CyberAlert items on the lack of coverage of Senator Joe Lieberman's take on Iraq compared to media interest in Congressman John Murtha's call for a pullout. Parker asserted: "Murtha, Murtha, Murtha, Murtha, Murtha, Murtha, (Lieberman), Murtha, Murtha, Murtha. That's about how news coverage has gone the past several weeks....Meanwhile, Lieberman has been relatively ignored. As the MRC reported, the three major networks (ABC, CBS and NBC) led their evening newscasts with Murtha's remarks when he first came forward. CBS even included Murtha's attack on Vice President Dick Cheney's lack of military service. By comparison, neither ABC nor CBS mentioned Lieberman's comments the day his op-ed ran. NBC included a sound bite from Lieberman along with a story about war protesters outside a Denver fundraiser the president was attending. Even the late-night comedy shows have given his remarks more coverage than many serious news sources. On the Tonight Show last week, Jay Leno pressed Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean about Lieberman's eyewitness account."

5. NBC's Brian Williams: A "Democret" Since He Was 7 Years Old?
It's long been known that NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams dropped out of the George Washington University in 1979 to intern in the Carter White House's correspondence office sorting letters. But in the 7:30 half hour of Thursday's Today we learned that 13 years earlier, in a 1966 letter to President Lyndon Johnson, he had proclaimed his commitment to the "Democret" party. Williams came aboard the Today show to plug a National Geographic book for which he wrote an introduction, Dear Mr. President: Letters to the Oval Office from the Files of the National Archives. As viewers saw Williams' 1966 handwritten letter to Johnson, Lauer noted how the seven-year-old Williams "signed off the letter 'one of your young Democrets,' not Democrats." Williams quipped: "You know, I was a young sycophant is what I was. And yeah, we've done Democrets. I think that's a chewing gum product. We've looked it up. It is no political party and for a registered independent it's now very embarrassing." Lauer razzed him: "Independart, you mean." Williams replied: "Oh, very funny."


NBC Frames Tax Cut Story Around Liberal
Spin of Benefit to Rich

The Thursday NBC Nightly News framed the House vote, to extend dividend and capital gain tax rate reductions another two years beyond their December 31, 2008 scheduled end, through a liberal prism which assumes all the money earned belongs to the government and that measures the fairness by the dollar amount of cuts for the rich versus the poor -- a silly notion since the wealthy pay most of the taxes. If the extension is not passed by the Senate and signed by the President, tax rates would rise at the beginning of 2009.

Anchor Brian Williams set up the story: "The House passed its version of a bill that would keep tax cuts for capital gains and dividends in place through the year 2010. It is a top priority for the Bush administration, but some in Congress today said those priorities are misplaced." Chip Reid interwove soundbites from two liberal Democrats around his observation that "it was at times a furious debate, Democrats accusing Republicans of using tax cuts to reward the rich." With a matching graphic on screen, Reid relayed how "Democrats say" that "nearly half" of the cut, 48 percent, "will go to people making more than $500,000 a year." Reid segued to a third Democratic soundbite: "Mississippi Democrat Gene Taylor, whose district was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, says the cuts show Republican priorities are, quote, 'screwed up.'" Reid ran two Republican soundbites as he noted how "Republicans defend the cuts as an essential part of President Bush's domestic agenda. Tax cuts for investors, they say, fuel a growing economy," but he countered that with how "a non-partisan deficit watchdog says tax cuts can hurt the economy when Congress fails to pay for them." Yes, tax cuts must be "paid for."

Neither ABC's World News Tonight nor the CBS Evening News mentioned the tax cut votes, the MRC's Brad Wilmouth informed me.

[This item was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To share your view, go to: newsbusters.org ]

Brian Williams introduced the December 8 NBC Nightly News story: "Now to Capitol Hill, where negotiators agreed to extend the Patriot Act before it expires at the end of this month. The anti-terrorism law has its critics, and one Democratic Senator, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, is threatening a filibuster to block the extension. Also on the Hill tonight, the House passed its version of a bill that would keep tax cuts for capital gains and dividends in place through the year 2010. It is a top priority for the Bush administration, but some in Congress today said those priorities are misplaced. Here with that, NBC's Chip Reid."

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), moving money between baskets labeled "Poor and Middle Class" and Millionaires," on the House floor: Christmas stockings: "It's going to be put over here into tax breaks for millionaires."
Chip Reid: "It was at times a furious debate, Democrats accusing Republicans of using tax cuts to reward the rich-"
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), on House floor: "Isn't that great? So the wealthy will be able to buy more yachts to float on the sea of red ink that the Republicans have created. They'll be able to hire more help around the mansion."
Reid, over a matching graphic: "The bill's centerpiece is a two-year extension of tax cuts on stock dividends and capital gains worth $20 billion. Nearly half that [48%], Democrats say, will go to people making more than $500,000 a year. Mississippi Democrat Gene Taylor, whose district was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, says the cuts show Republican priorities are, quote, 'screwed up.'"
Rep. Gene Taylor (D-MS), on House floor: "So what do you bring to the floor? Is it hurricane relief? Is it something to help the average Joes? It's a tax break for the wealthiest one percent of America."
Reid: "But Republicans defend the cuts as an essential part of President Bush's domestic agenda. Tax cuts for investors, they say, fuel a growing economy."
Rep. Melissa Hart (R-PA), on House floor: "Since the capital gains and dividends taxes were reduced in 2003, we've seen 10 straight quarters of, what is it, growth."
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), on House floor: "Tax relief has already created more than 4.4 million new jobs, but if you raise taxes, you start taking these jobs away."
Reid: "But a non-partisan deficit watchdog says tax cuts can hurt the economy when Congress fails to pay for them."
Robert Bixby, identified on screen as a "balanced budget advocate," [he's Executive Director of the Concord Coalition]: "Congress' appetite for tax cuts is much greater than its appetite for spending cuts, and, as a result, we get large budget deficits."
Reid concluded from Capitol Hill: "Case in point, in the last two days, the House has voted to cut taxes $96 billion, almost double what Congress wants to cut in spending. Chip Reid, NBC News, the Capitol."

Olbermann: "Rioting from Hard Right"
If Bush Appoints Democrat

On his Countdown show Thursday night, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, while interviewing New York Daily News correspondent Ken Bazinet about rumors that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will soon retire, speculated on the possibility of Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman being chosen to replace Rumsfeld, and proposed: "But a Democrat of any shape, stripe, or form in the Bush administration, would there not be rioting from the hard right?" Since the Bush administration has already had a Democratic Cabinet member for almost five years, Bazinet reminded Olbermann, "Well, you know, we already have Secretary Mineta obviously at Transportation, so it's not out of the question," but then went on to voice agreement with Olbermann's expectations of conservative opposition: "I think that you might have a rebellion just this side of Harriet Meiers on your hands, quite frankly."

[This item, by MRC news analyst Brad Wilmouth, was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To post your thoughts, go to: newsbusters.org ]

Earlier in the show, while introducing the rumors of Rumsfeld's retirement, Olbermann also compared the Bush administration to a "perversion of reality television" like The Apprentice, but in which, when it comes to dealing with Iraq, "No matter how badly anybody does, nobody ever gets fired." Olbermann referred to "Three architects of the conflict having already been bestowed with America's highest civilian honor," and coined the phrase, "Nothing breeds success like failure."

The three honor recipients Olbermann evidently saw as all being failures were former CIA director George Tenet, retired General Tommy Franks, and former Iraq administrator Paul Bremer. In his final question to Bazinet, Olbermann wondered if Rumsfeld would "immediately walk right from his resignation to a Medal of Freedom ceremony" since "we've had George Tenet get one, Tommy Franks got one, Paul Bremer got one. It would be, is that an indicator of how dissatisfied the President would be with his work?"

Below are transcripts of relevant portions of the Thursday December 8 Countdown:

Keith Olbermann, introducing the show: "Good evening. It sounds like a perversion of reality television. Maybe it's just its next mutation, a version of The Apprentice set inside the Bush White House. The task: war in Iraq. The twist: No matter how badly anybody does, nobody ever gets fired. Three architects of the conflict having already been bestowed with America's highest civilian honor, two more, it seems, now moving on to greener pastures, and eligible for it. Our fifth story in the Countdown, nothing breeds success like failure. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said to be engineering his own exit strategy from the Pentagon on his own terms, while former Deputy Paul Wolfowitz, already ensconced in his next post, feels he has nothing to answer for or to apologize about."

After covering President Bush's improving poll numbers, Olbermann then began his segment with Bazinet. The interview started with the following question and answer from Olbermann and Bazinet:

Olbermann: "Working backwards here about Senator Lieberman, we had Republicans in FDR's Cabinet, William Cohen was Defense Secretary in Bill Clinton's, but a Democrat of any shape, stripe, or form in the Bush administration, would there not be rioting from the hard right?"
Ken Bazinet, New York Daily News: "Well, you know, we already have Secretary Mineta obviously at Transportation, so it's not out of the question, but this is, as you pointed out, a war council position, so it's significant. I think possibly if this long-shot appointment were to take place, I think that you might have a rebellion just this side of Harriet Meiers on your hands, quite frankly."

The interview ended with the following question and answer from Olbermann and Bazinet:

Olbermann: "And does he immediately walk right from his resignation to a Medal of Freedom ceremony? I mean, we've had George Tenet get one, Tommy Franks got one, Paul Bremer got one. It would be, is that an indicator of how dissatisfied the President would be with his work?"
Bazinet: "Well, I don't think it is. I think it's just a badge of honor. Remember, Secretary Rumsfeld twice tendered his resignation over the Abu Ghraib disaster, and the President refused. The word was, and I think accurately so, that the President did not want anyone behaving like something was wrong, like Iraq was a failure, as if Iraq was a failure. So I think that what happens here is you serve your time, you do your job, and the President says 'Well done,' and he hangs a medal around your neck."

Olbermann: "As we used to say in radio, it's leaving here fine."

Mike Wallace: Only a "[Expletive] Up"
America Could Elect Bush

CBS's Mike Wallace, of 60 Minutes fame, ridiculed President Bush's qualifications for office when asked by the Boston Globe what questions he'd pose to Bush if he got the chance. Wallace said he'd want to ask if Bush thinks his election "has anything to do with the fact that the country is so [expletive] up?" The Boston Globe's headline over the q and a session conducted by Suzanne Ryan and run in Thursday's Arts and Entertainment section: "At 87, Wallace still tells it like it is." Ryan had asked Wallace: "President George W. Bush has declined to be interviewed by you. What would you ask him if you had the chance?" Wallace, on a media tour to promote his memoir, Between You and Me, began his answer: "What in the world prepared you to be the commander in chief of the largest superpower in the world? In your background, Mr. President, you apparently were incurious."

Hard to imagine why Bush has avoided Wallace.

Ryan introduced her q and a: "Mike Wallace and his hard-hitting brand of journalism have been synonymous with 60 Minutes since CBS introduced the program in 1968. Now 87 years old, Wallace, who has interviewed everyone from Malcolm X to Johnny Carson, has written his second memoir. Wallace was in Brookline, his hometown, recently to talk about Between You and Me. He managed to squeeze in trips to his old house on Osborne Road and to his elementary school, Edward Devotion, before answering a few questions."

"Q. President George W. Bush has declined to be interviewed by you. What would you ask him if you had the chance?"

"A. [ellipses in original] What in the world prepared you to be the commander in chief of the largest superpower in the world? In your background, Mr. President, you apparently were incurious. You didn't want to travel. You knew very little about the military.... The governor of Texas doesn't have the kind of power that some governors have....Why do you think they nominated you?...Do you think that has anything to do with the fact that the country is so [expletive] up?"

For the rest of the interview in the December 8 Boston Globe: www.boston.com

NewsBusters blogger Tom Johnson, picking up on a Romenesko (www.poynter.org ) link to the Globe interview, posted an item on it Thursday morning. To post your comments, go to: http://newsbusters.org/node/3126 ]

You Read It Here First: Columnist Picks
Up on Murtha v Lieberman

You read it here first. In a nationally-syndicated column this week, Orlando Sentinel-based Kathleen Parker quoted from two CyberAlert items on the lack of coverage of Senator Joe Lieberman's take on Iraq compared to media interest in Congressman John Murtha's call for a pullout. Parker asserted: "Murtha, Murtha, Murtha, Murtha, Murtha, Murtha, (Lieberman), Murtha, Murtha, Murtha. That's about how news coverage has gone the past several weeks....Meanwhile, Lieberman has been relatively ignored. As the MRC reported, the three major networks (ABC, CBS and NBC) led their evening newscasts with Murtha's remarks when he first came forward. CBS even included Murtha's attack on Vice President Dick Cheney's lack of military service. By comparison, neither ABC nor CBS mentioned Lieberman's comments the day his op-ed ran. NBC included a sound bite from Lieberman along with a story about war protesters outside a Denver fundraiser the president was attending. Even the late-night comedy shows have given his remarks more coverage than many serious news sources. On the Tonight Show last week, Jay Leno pressed Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean about Lieberman's eyewitness account."

To read Parker's column in full, "All the news that's fit to ignore," as published in the December 7 Orlando Sentinel, go to: www.orlandosentinel.com

For the column, as posted on TownHall.com: www.townhall.com

The two CyberAlert articles cited by Parker:

# From the November 30 CyberAlert, "Broadcast Networks, Which Led With Murtha, Ignore Lieberman." Check: www.mrc.org

# From the December 2 CyberAlert, "News Media Ignored Lieberman, But Leno Presses Dean About Him." Go to: www.mrc.org

NBC's Brian Williams: A "Democret" Since
He Was 7 Years Old?

It's long been known that NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams dropped out of the George Washington University in 1979 to intern in the Carter White House's correspondence office sorting letters. But in the 7:30 half hour of Thursday's Today we learned that 13 years earlier, in a 1966 letter to President Lyndon Johnson, he had proclaimed his commitment to the "Democret" party. Williams came aboard the Today show to plug a National Geographic book for which he wrote an introduction, Dear Mr. President: Letters to the Oval Office from the Files of the National Archives. As viewers saw Williams' 1966 handwritten letter to Johnson, Lauer noted how the seven-year-old Williams "signed off the letter 'one of your young Democrets,' not Democrats." Williams quipped: "You know, I was a young sycophant is what I was. And yeah, we've done Democrets. I think that's a chewing gum product. We've looked it up. It is no political party and for a registered independent it's now very embarrassing." Lauer razzed him: "Independart, you mean." Williams replied: "Oh, very funny."

[This item was posted early Friday morning, with a still shot of the "one of your young Democrets" portion of the letter, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To add your comments, go to: newsbusters.org ]

MSNBC.com has posted a PDF of Williams' introduction to the book, which features a child-age picture of him. He wrote that his "Democret" sign-off "would later become something of an embarrassment for a journalist who is an avowed and registered Independent."

For that PDF: msnbcmedia.msn.com

The full text of the November 25, 1966 hand-written letter from the seven-year-old Brian Williams of Elmira, New York:

"Dear Mr. President:

"I hope that the men in Vait Nam are doing well! Do they do this ever day? How are you felling? I hope your are felling good! I'am 7 and 1/2 years old!

"And I like you! I have not ben in the White house before but I will some time. I live in new york stat in Elmira! I want to visit you!

"One of you'r young Democrets Brian Williams
"927 W. Church St.
"Elmira, N.Y. 14905"

For the National Geographic's page on the book: shop.nationalgeographic.com

The still shot of the letter will be posted online with this item. In the meantime, you can see it in the NewsBusters posting.

-- Brent Baker