Appearance Alert
MRC's Bozell to appear on FNC's 'Kelly File' at 9:40pm ET

Nets See 'Political Censorship' in Cutting Emmy Anti-War Remark --9/19/2007


1. Nets See 'Political Censorship' in Cutting Emmy Anti-War Remark
Fox cut out three profanities uttered by winners during the Sunday night broadcast of the Emmy Awards, but instead of simply seeing that for what it was -- protection against potential FCC fines for airing such expletives -- ABC and NBC portrayed dropping the end of Sally Field's anti-war comment, which was proceeded by a profanity, as a case of "political censorship." On Tuesday's Good Morning America, Dan Harris ominously insisted without any evidence: "Some say the Fox network, owned by well-known conservative Rupert Murdoch, was engaged in political censorship." Harris acknowledged that Fox cut other remarks, but returned to how "it's the Sally Field case that is provoking the real cries of political censorship because Fox cut off not only her expletive but also her entire thought." Tuesday's NBC Nightly News used the incident as a hook for an "In Depth" segment. Anchor Brian Williams intoned that "from anti-war protests to Sunday's Emmy awards telecast, the right of free speech can often seem to collide with other rights that people have or claim to have." Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales saw something more nefarious at work: "So to censor her, supposedly on the grounds of profane language, but perhaps on the grounds of what she said politically, that's a very dangerous thing to happen in America."

2. Matthews: Troops Force 'Fascistic' Notion of Democracy on Iraqis
Upset that a University of Florida student was tasered by campus police at a John Kerry event, MSNBC's Chris Matthews, on Tuesday's Hardball, feared it was a result of the "fascistic notion" of American troops "forcing" democracy on Iraqis at "gunpoint", filtering back home.

3. NBC's Ann Curry Prods Chris Dodd to Bash Bush on Torture
On to promote his new book, Letters from Nuremberg, about his father's experiences at the Nuremberg trials, Democratic Senator and presidential candidate Chris Dodd, prompted by NBC Today co-host Ann Curry, accused the Bush administration of supporting torture at Guantanamo Bay. On Tuesday's Today show, after Curry spoke to the Senator about the book and the trial of Nazis after World War II, she pushed Dodd to contrast the fairness of the Nuremberg trials compared to the Bush administration's support of "tortures" at Guantanamo Bay: "You also write, in this, in the lead into this book, 'If for 60 years a single word, Nuremberg, best captured America's moral authority and commitment to justice, unfortunately another word now captures the loss of such authority and commitment, Guantanamo.' Are you saying that the Geneva Conventions, as reinterpreted by the Bush administration, represents a loss of America's moral authority in the world?"

4. Sawyer Recycles John Edwards Gimmick During Hillary Interview
On Tuesday's Good Morning America, Diane Sawyer interviewed Hillary Clinton about health care and recycled campaign talking points that her fellow 2008 Democrat, John Edwards, has been peddling. According to Sawyer, upon his election, Edwards will "cut off health care for Congress so that they don't have health care while the rest of America doesn't." The ABC anchor earnestly followed up by wondering, "Would you do that or is that a gimmick?" Clinton responded by observing the implausibility of the concept. She patiently explained to Sawyer that Edwards would "have to get Congress to vote for that, of course." The Sawyer interview did contain some surprises, however. The GMA host featured two clips from the 2008 Republican hopefuls challenging Mrs. Clinton. But she also asked Clinton emotional, softball queries. Over video of Clinton at a '93 health care event, the morning show host wondered, "What do you wish this woman we're looking at now on the screen had known then that you now know, since it went down in flames?"

5. Matt Lauer Hits Hillary Clinton from the Left on Health Care
Delivering his best Michael Moore in Sicko impersonation, NBC's Matt Lauer hit Hillary Clinton from the left on health care reform on Tuesday's Today show. Appearing in the first-half hour of Today, Clinton was tagged repeatedly by Lauer as he worried that Hillary "watered down" her new health-care reform plan and feared Hillary had sold out to the insurance industry as he wondered: "Are you losing some leverage in asking these insurance companies to get on board and make tough choices?"

6. Hsu-In: Only NBC Asked Hillary About Her Crooked Donor Scandal
Matt Lauer may have approached Hillary Clinton from the left (as if she were a centrist) on health care on Tuesday's Today (see item #5 above), but Lauer was the only morning show host to ask the former First Lady about her campaign-finance scandal surrounding the crook Norman Hsu. ABC, CBS, and CNN, which all interviewed her Tuesday morning, whistled past her campaign's decision to refund $850,000 in contributions that Hsu "bundled" to her campaign. Granted, Lauer simply asked: "How to you respond?" But in a follow-up Lauer also tweaked her campaign's claim that they used an "abundance of caution" in returning the money, asking if there was perhaps not so much caution in the original fundraising.

7. CNN's Roberts Prods Hillary Clinton on MoveOn's Anti-Petraeus Ad
As if she were President already, Hillary Clinton went on CNN's American Morning as well as the morning shows of the "Big Three" networks on Tuesday to sell her new health care proposals, a day after their unveiling. At the close of the American Morning interview, however, co-host John Roberts at least brought up the controversial "Betray Us" ad by MoveOn.org. He twice asked the junior Senator from New York if she wanted to distance herself from the ad. Both times, she skirted the question by talking about General Petraeus and his record of service, instead of the ad itself.


Nets See 'Political Censorship' in Cutting
Emmy Anti-War Remark

Fox cut out three profanities uttered by winners during the Sunday night broadcast of the Emmy Awards, but instead of simply seeing that for what it was -- protection against potential FCC fines for airing such expletives -- ABC and NBC portrayed dropping the end of Sally Field's anti-war comment, which was proceeded by a profanity, as a case of political censorship. On Tuesday's Good Morning America, reporter Dan Harris ominously insisted without any evidence: "Some say the Fox network, owned by well-known conservative Rupert Murdoch, was engaged in political censorship." Harris acknowledged that Fox cut other remarks, but returned to how "it's the Sally Field case that is provoking the real cries of political censorship because Fox cut off not only her expletive but also her entire thought." [This item includes quotations of the bleeped profanities]

Yet in showing how those in Canada heard the entire comment, ABC itself bleeped her "Goddamned," airing: "If the mothers ruled the war, there would be no [bleep] wars in the first place."

Of course, Fields' point was hardly suppressed since GMA, all the entertainment news shows and numerous newspaper stories have made clear what she said.

As the MRC's Scott Whitlock noted in a NewsBusters posting, during the ceremony Sopranos creator David Chase extolled the values of gangsters. In a halting speech, he asserted, "And hell, let's face it, if the world and this nation was run by gangsters- [pause] Maybe it is." Chase's political statement was not censored, nor were any of the numerous anti-Bush and Republican-slamming jokes that aired on the awards show.

GMA though framed the Field incident as one of political censorship even though the other two cuts were for a "shit" and a "screwing." Diane Sawyer teased at the top of the show: "And how do you really feel about TV censorship? Emmy viewers in Canada heard everything Sally Field said about war. In the U.S., we heard this:" Sally Field: "If the mothers ruled the war, there would be no G-" Sawyer: "Do Americans want the reality?"

Following the Harris piece, co-host Robin Roberts read how Fox explained that they cut out the words from Fields and other because "some language during the live broadcast may have been considered inappropriate by some viewers." Nonetheless, she proposed to guest Glenn Beck: "But it's not just the language that she was using, it was also, some people feel, because it was the political statement."

In fact, as a Monday TV Week story explained, it was the word "Goddamned" that got Field cut off, not her point: "Criticism is mostly being directed at the Federal Communications Commission for making the bleeping necessary. Some groups involved in the Washington fight over the FCC's crackdown on fleeting expletives said today that Fox's bleeps of a joke by Ray Romano and reaction to winning comments by Ms. Field and Katherine Heigl exceeded what was necessary by the FCC rules but indicated the kind of real world problems and chilling impact implicit in the agency's decision to begin imposing fines on TV stations that carry programming with profanity." See: www.tvweek.com

Indeed, a Hollywood Reporter story outlined the particulars of the other two comments:

Two other instances called for some creative camera selection on the fly. "Grey's Anatomy's" Katherine Heigl mouthed the word "shit" upon learning that she had won for supporting actress in a drama series, which prompted Fox to use a previously taped snippet of the audience in its stead.

Early in the broadcast, Fox was forced to drop picture and sound during a stand-up monologue from "Everybody Loves Raymond's" Ray Romano. Referring to the new Fox series "Back to You" featuring "Frasier" star Kelsey Grammer and his own former co-star on "Raymond," Patricia Heaton, Romano said, "Frasier is screwing my wife." Fox opted to eliminate the verb from the aforementioned sentence.

For the entire article: www.hollywoodreporter.com

Tuesday's NBC Nightly News used the incident as a hook for an "In Depth" segment. Anchor Brian Williams intoned that "from anti-war protests to Sunday's Emmy awards telecast, the right of free speech can often seem to collide with other rights that people have or claim to have."

Reporter Bob Faw began with Field and noted "her language was offensive said Fox, aware of that whopping $550,000 fine the FCC levied against CBS for Janet Jackson's celebrated wardrobe malfunction." Yet Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales saw something more nefarious at work: "So to censor her, supposedly on the grounds of profane language, but perhaps on the grounds of what she said politically, that's a very dangerous thing to happen in America."

In Monday's newspaper, Shales conceded the expletive fear, but still contended there was a political motive:

Early in the program, comic actor Ray Romano and actress Katherine Heigl were both cut off when they apparently used four-letter words in remarks. The performers suddenly vanished for a few seconds and were replaced by static shots from elsewhere in Los Angeles's Shrine Auditorium, where the telecast originated. The program was on time-delay, which gives networks the opportunity to edit live shows.

An arguably obscene word uttered even spontaneously can earn a network and even performers enormous fines from the Federal Communications Commission, re-activated as a national censor under the Bush administration.

The third instance of censorship may have been political. Sally Field, making one of her long and rambling acceptance speeches (winning for best actress in a drama on "Brothers & Sisters"), was interrupted by silence when she used a God-related swear word in voicing antiwar sentiments.

For the September 17 column in full: www.washingtonpost.com

Grasping for examples of the supposed oppressive trend, Faw reached back to a policy in place for many years: "Increasingly more seems off limits, returning coffins of dead soldiers and sailors, for example, can no longer be photographed as they once were."

# Good Morning America, September 17:

7:30am tease.
ROBIN ROBERTS: And the controversy surrounding the Emmys.
DIANE SAWYER: Oh, yes. What about that? How do we really feel, as we said, about the fact that the Canadians heard everything? They heard Sally Field say what she said in her acceptance speech about war. Do Americans want to be censored as much as they were censored? We're going to take a look and let you weigh in. You be the judge. You let us know what you think.

The story in the 8am half hour:

ROBIN ROBERTS: And now a look at what you did not see and hear at the Emmy awards. Producers cut away from best actress winner Sally Field during her acceptance speech. It was not the night's only bleep, as you know. Lately, the FCC has been cracking down on what it deems is inappropriate behavior on television. Yes, from Janet Jackson's infamous wardrobe malfunction to Bono at the Golden Globes. Censorship appears to be on the rise. But are we going too far here? Well, here's ABC's Dan Harris.

ABC GRAPHIC: Sally silenced: Do Censors Go to Far?

SALLY FIELD AT EMMY AWARDS: Surely this belongs to all the mothers of the world.
DAN HARRIS: It happened as Sally Field was accepting the Emmy for outstanding actress for her role as a mother in the ABC show Brothers and Sisters.
SALLY FIELD: "Especially the mothers who stand with an open heart and wait, wait for their children to come home from danger, from harm's way and from war. If the mothers ruled the world, there would be no G'€""
HARRIS: "The producers killed her mic and cut to shots of the audience. But on Canadian TV, they aired the whole thing.
FIELD: If the mothers ruled the war, there would be no [bleep] wars in the first place.
HARRIS: Backstage, Field didn't seem too worked up about it.
FIELD, BACKSTAGE: If they bleeped it, oh well. I'll just say it someplace else.
HARRIS: Some say the Fox network, owned by well known conservative Rupert Murdoch, was engaged in political censorship. Fox said the comments might be considered inappropriate by some viewers. During the same show, the network also cut Ray Romano.
RAY ROMANO: From what I hear, Fraiser-
HARRIS: And Katherine Heigl.
[wide shot]
KATHY GRIFFIN, AT CREATIVE ARTS EMMYS ON E! A WEEK EARLIER: A lot of people come up here and they thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus.
HARRIS: Kathy Griffin's comments at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards, which aired the night before the Emmys, were edited because she made some off-color remarks about Jesus.
GRIFFIN: So, all I can say is-
HARRIS: On Larry King Live last night, Griffin appeared to be enjoying the publicity.
GRIFFIN: I love it. Larry, I've had the best week of my life.
HARRIS: But it's the Sally Field case that is provoking the real cries of political censorship because Fox cut off not only her expletive but also her entire thought.
HOWARD KURTZ, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: This was a live news event. Fox was supposed to cover it as a news event and not sanitize it or censor it or package it in such a way that we couldn't find out what she was saying.
HARRIS: For Good Morning America, Dan Harris, ABC News.


# NBC Nightly News, September 17:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: We're back here with NBC News In Depth tonight. It's about freedom of speech. We don't need to tell you it's a cornerstone of this country enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution, something most everybody agrees on until you get into the gory details, like not being able to yell fire in a crowded theater. That tasered college student protester we showed you earlier is just the latest example -- from anti-war protests to Sunday's Emmy awards telecast -- the right of free speech can often seem to collide with other rights that people have or claim to have. Our report from NBC's Bob Faw.

BOB FAW: We are, we brag, an open society. But Sunday on Fox TV, when Sally Field swore about the war, her profanity was bleeped. SALLY FIELD AT EMMY AWARDS: Let's face it, if mothers ruled the world, there would be no-
FAW: Her language was offensive said Fox, aware of that whopping $550,000 fine the FCC levied against CBS for Janet Jackson's celebrated wardrobe malfunction.
TOM SHALES, WASHINGTON POST TV CRITIC: So to censor her, supposedly on the grounds of profane language, but perhaps on the grounds of what she said politically, that's a very dangerous thing to happen in America.
FAW: Yesterday the free speech of that tasered University of Florida student was also interrupted, as it was Saturday at this anti-war rally in Washington when a supporter of the war tried to speak and was rebuffed. Increasingly more seems off limits, returning coffins of dead soldiers and sailors, for example, can no longer be photographed as they once were. Three years go, Jeffrey and Nicole Rank were arrested just for wearing anti-Bush T-shirts. Though they sued and won $80,000, this White House manual told White House advance teams and Secret Service agents how to locate hidden signs at rallies, advising them quote, "action needs to be taken immediately to minimize the demonstrator's effect."
FLOYD ABRAMS, FIRST AMENDMENT ATTORNEY: It is a time in which an awful lot of speech that we ought to have and an awful lot of rights that people ought to understand that they have are being trampled on, they really are.
FAW: Even in a televised awards ceremony.
SHALES: The more censorship there is on television, the more people I think are inclined not to protest it, but to become accustomed to it. And then that's very bad because then the grounds for censorship are broadened.
FAW: In a society which is often more bleeping than open. Bob Faw, NBC News, Washington.

Matthews: Troops Force 'Fascistic' Notion
of Democracy on Iraqis

Upset that a University of Florida student was tasered by campus police at a John Kerry event, MSNBC's Chris Matthews, on Tuesday's Hardball, feared it was a result of the "fascistic notion" of American troops "forcing" democracy on Iraqis at "gunpoint", filtering back home.

Matthews charged on the September 18 Hardball: "You know when we walk into those, every night on television you watch pictures of American soldiers risking their lives to break into homes in Baghdad, at gunpoint, telling people to go along with the government that we've set up over there. Democracy at gunpoint. I wonder if it's filtered back here at home. I wonder if it's drift back home? The idea that democracy is something you do at gunpoint. 'Either you behave and do it this way and show up by putting your fingers in the ink and doing it this way or you're an insurgent, therefore, we can round you up and if you resist we can kill you.' That notion it's a bit fascist and it's certainly a fascistic notion of democracy we're forcing, forcing on people over there. They didn't invited us into Iraq and I wonder now whether we are picking up some of the bad habits of the war front?"

[This item, by Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Tuesday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

A little earlier in the Hardball segment, that featured leftists Joe Conason of the New York Observer and Madea Benjamin of anti-war protest group Code Pink, Matthews was dismayed that Republican supporters of President Bush didn't engage in obnoxious, rude and disruptive behavior, as he compared them to "Stepford Wives."

Matthews: "Let me ask you, Joe, about you've been covering this campaign, I'm in the studio here. It's a great job but I don't get out of here much. When you get out there and cover these presidential stops? Is it, does it feel like, like Truman-ville or something? Like, I look at the faces of the people who are watching the President. They have this passivity of, I shouldn't be cruel, but are they, are they Stepford wives and golfing Republicans? Who are these people that just sort of sits there, 'Oh that's interesting the war is gonna end positively, everything is going well and our troops are doing the job' and everything is so calm and collected, I don't get who these people are."

NBC's Ann Curry Prods Chris Dodd to Bash
Bush on Torture

On to promote his new book, Letters from Nuremberg, about his father's experiences at the Nuremberg trials, Democratic Senator and presidential candidate Chris Dodd, prompted by NBC Today co-host Ann Curry, accused the Bush administration of supporting torture at Guantanamo Bay. On Tuesday's Today show, after Curry spoke to the Senator about the book and the trial of Nazis after World War II, she pushed Dodd to contrast the fairness of the Nuremberg trials compared to the Bush administration's support of "tortures" at Guantanamo Bay: "You also write, in this, in the lead into this book, 'If for 60 years a single word, Nuremberg, best captured America's moral authority and commitment to justice, unfortunately another word now captures the loss of such authority and commitment, Guantanamo.' Are you saying that the Geneva Conventions, as reinterpreted by the Bush administration, represents a loss of America's moral authority in the world?"

[This item, by Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org

The following exchange occurred on the September 18 Today show:

Ann Curry: "In one letter your father writes about the trial, 'Some day it will be recognized as a great landmark in the struggle of mankind for peace. Some day the boys will point to it, I hope,' you being one of those boys, 'to be proud and inspired by,' clearly you are inspired and proud. However you also write, in this, in the lead into this book, 'If for 60 years a single word, Nuremberg, best captured America's moral authority and commitment to justice, unfortunately another word now captures the loss of such authority and commitment, Guantanamo.' Are you saying that the Geneva Conventions, as reinterpreted by the Bush administration, represents a loss of America's moral authority in the world?"
Sen. Chris Dodd: "I think it does and that Colin Powell made the same point in many ways. We're, this was a remarkable event at Nuremberg. We stood up for the rule of law. Churchill wanted to summarily execute the defendants at Nuremberg, the Soviets did as well. But Jackson, Henry Stimson, a few others, my father included, said, 'No let's give them a trial. Let's prove the, the difference, the civility of people who believe in the rule of law. And today, in a sense, when you do away with habeas corpus, restore tortures as means of collecting information, walk away from the Geneva Conventions, calling it sort of an antiquated idea, then it's retreating from the very high ground that Nuremberg represented at the end of World War II. We talk about the greatest generation winning that war. That greatest generation also understood the value of justice and the principles upon which this country was founded. We're retreating from those values today. That's why this book has relevancy, not just as history, but also the lessons it teaches our generation."
Curry: "Senator Chris Dodd, a man running for President of the United States and also the son of Tom. Thank you so much. A pleasure to speak to you. Best to you."

Sawyer Recycles John Edwards Gimmick
During Hillary Interview

On Tuesday's Good Morning America, Diane Sawyer interviewed Hillary Clinton about health care and recycled campaign talking points that her fellow 2008 Democrat, John Edwards, has been peddling. According to Sawyer, upon his election, Edwards will "cut off health care for Congress so that they don't have health care while the rest of America doesn't." The ABC anchor earnestly followed up by wondering, "Would you do that or is that a gimmick?" Clinton responded by observing the implausibility of the concept. She patiently explained to Sawyer that Edwards would "have to get Congress to vote for that, of course."

The Sawyer interview did contain some surprises, however. The GMA host featured two clips from the 2008 Republican hopefuls challenging Mrs. Clinton. But the eight minute and 19 second segment also continued GMA's habit of offering generous amounts of time to the New York Senator. In March, the ABC program featured Hillary for over 30 minutes during a town hall style infomercial. See: See NewsBusters: newsbusters.org

And the March 27 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

During Sawyer's interview on Tuesday, she also asked Clinton emotional, softball queries. Over video of Clinton at a '93 health care event, the morning show host wondered, "What do you wish this woman we're looking at now on the screen had known then that you now know, since it went down in flames?"

As noted earlier, Sawyer did ask Clinton some tough questions. In addition to featuring clips of Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani expressing skepticism over universal health care, the GMA host began the segment by bluntly asking, "First of all, how would you enforce it and who is going to pay for it?" However, other pithy questions, such as querying, "Can you realistically keep [a universal health care plan] at $110 billion?" included no follow-up with additional questions about the difficulty of holding those numbers low with the government running such a program.

[This item, by Scott Whitlock, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Finally, little moments during the piece tended to portray the proposal as bold. An onscreen ABC graphic read like a Clinton campaign slogan. It asserted, "Clinton Unveils Health Plan: New Century, New Plan"And Sawyer twice referred to the program as "headline-making."

A transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:10am on September 18:
Diane Sawyer: "We turn now to the Democratic presidential race and candidate Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, her headline-making new $110 billion health care plan. Under the plan, everyone would be required to have health insurance, much as we're all required to have car insurance. You'd be allowed to keep your current insurance plan or, if you don't have it, you could also choose from two government programs, Medicare, or the plan that currently insures government employees and there would be extra help for people of low-income. But there's a lot more to this headline-making proposal. Senator Clinton has laid down a marker on this issue and she joins us now live from Washington. Good morning, Senator Clinton."
Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY): "Good morning, Diane."

ABC Graphic: "Clinton Unveils Health Plan: New Century, New Plan"

Sawyer: "Let's get right to the question of insuring the 47 million people who do not have health care insurance. They wake up the morning after you're president and they're required to have it. First of all, how would you enforce it and who is going to pay for it?"
Clinton: "Well, first, Diane, I think it is important to recognize that our current system has a lot of strengths and we build on those strengths. Many people are satisfied with their health care and they get to keep what they have now with no changes. But for the 47 million who are uninsured and the millions more who are under insured, they will for the first time, through a combination of access to the same plans that members of Congress have, also through tax credits that will enable them to afford these plans and some tax credits for small businesses, which employ the majority of Americans, to make it affordable for anyone to have access to a quality health care plan. Now, we're also going to do a lot of things to get the costs down for everyone. I have been working for several years now to support an electronic medical records system, which it is estimated would save $77 billion a year. And we're going to require insurance companies to quit cherry-picking and skimming and they're going to have to guarantee issue and start competing on cost and quality, instead of eliminating people from coverage."
Sawyer: "Okay, let's, let's ask some questions from a couple angles, if we can now. The Republicans, as you know, were out in force saying, First of all, you've talked about increasing taxes on those who make more than $250,000 to pay for it, also reducing waste to pay for it. But they say, for instance, Medicare is already $16 trillion over what has been funded and it's going to cost a lot more than you say. And here are some of the Republicans."
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney: "It's a European-style socialized medicine plan. That's where it leads and that's the wrong direction for America."
Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani: "This is essentially a Michael Moore/Hillary Clinton approach, which is let's see if we can build socialized medicine."
Sawyer: "Can you realistically keep it at $110 billion?"
Clinton: "Absolutely. And, you know, my question for my friends on the other side is, well, what is their answer for moving our country toward quality, affordable health care for everyone? Are they really going to tell the American people that we spend $2 trillion on health care now. We don't cover everybody. We don't get the best quality for everyone in the system, and we're going to let it continue to deteriorate until it finally undermines even people who think that they're protected because they have good insurance? You know, this is not a problem that gets better by ignoring it. And I think that the plan I've put forward, the American Health Choices Plan, really does provide the right balance between individual responsibility, employer responsibility, drug and insurance company responsibility, as well as government responsibility."
Sawyer: "But you have-"
Clinton: "And if you look at the amount of money that we can save and redirect in the system, and everyone knows it's there, I think my plan is very fiscally responsible. "
Sawyer: "But you talk about those who already have health insurance. And, as we know, a lot of them are just staggering under the cost of the premiums, which keep going up."
Clinton: "That's right."
Sawyer: "Senator Edwards and others have talked about the fact that you are not going to be capping premiums. And he is particularly tough saying that you can't be talking to the lobbyists and having them as involved in the process as you do without, without paying a price for the people who are just paying more and more and more. Here is what Senator Edwards said."
Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards: "I don't believe you can sit down with lobbyists, take their money and cut a deal. The lesson that Senator Clinton seems to have learned from her experience with health care is, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. I've learned a very different lesson from decades of fighting these powerful interests, which is you can never join them. You just have to beat them."
Sawyer: "What about putting a lid on the premiums they're allowed to charge?"
Clinton: "Well, I don't think he has had a chance to review my plan. In fact, it does do that. We have limit on premium indexed to a person's income as a percentage of income. So, in fact, we do put a limit. And I think that, if you look at the details of the plan, I believe that it is the most comprehensive, realistic approach toward achieving universal coverage. Obviously, I've had a lot of experience in tackling this issue. I've taken on all of these special interests for 15 years. I don't think I'm going to be nominated for the insurance woman of the year because I have been standing up to them for a very long time. But I also think that it's important to get the votes that are needed to pass a plan, and what I have proposed has all kinds of support and individual features from people on both sides of the aisle."
Sawyer: "Senator Edwards says he knows how to get those votes and that he is going to when he's President, after six months, if he doesn't get the vote, he's going to cut off health care for Congress so that they don't have health care while the rest of America doesn't. Would you do that or is that a gimmick?"
Clinton: "Well, he'd have to get Congress to vote for that, of course. But I think the real issue is who has the best plan? Who has the experience and the commitment of a lifetime to health care? I've been working on this issue back in the days when I was First Lady of Arkansas, working to expand health care in rural areas and during my time as First Lady here, to help create the children's health insurance program, and to do a lot of what has really helped to relieve the pain and burden on people. But I'm absolutely convinced we have got to have a system that provides quality, affordable health care to everyone, and I think I've proposed an approach I believe could get us there."
Sawyer: "A quick, final question on that. You talk about the fact that we did see you in 1994 taking a lot of knocks for the health care attempt that you were making then. What do you wish this woman we're looking at now [Video of '€˜93 Hillary onscreen] on the screen had known then that you now know since it went down in flames?"
Clinton: "Oh, Diane! We don't have enough time for me to tell you everything. But very quickly, obviously, I know much more about the way to get things done in Washington than I did when I first arrived back in 1993. I have had the unique experience of being on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue and I understand both the institutional and the personal dynamics that are at play. I also understand how important it is to reassure Americans who have health insurance now. A lot of people thought we were only concerned about helping the uninsured and, you know, we're quite easily concerned about what might happen to them and I believe my plan today will help to take care of any concern like that. And finally, I've learned that it is important to keep trying. You know, I don't give up easily. I am someone who keeps coming back to try to get it right and make it happen, and I think my years of experience and certainly now my six and a half years as a two-term senator from New York has given me both an insight and really strengthened my commitment to make sure that, when I'm president, this is my highest domestic priority."
Sawyer: "Senator Clinton, again, thanks for joining us this morning."
Clinton: "Great to talk to you. And I'm still worried about all those men who don't wash their hands, Diane."
[Laughter]
Sawyer: "You're going to put that on-"
Clinton: "That's going to be part of my health care plan after hearing from you all."
Sawyer: "Thanks again for being with us."

Matt Lauer Hits Hillary Clinton from
the Left on Health Care

Delivering his best Michael Moore in Sicko impersonation, NBC's Matt Lauer hit Hillary Clinton from the left on health care reform on Tuesday's Today show. Appearing in the first-half hour of Today, Clinton was tagged repeatedly by Lauer as he worried that Hillary "watered down" her new health-care reform plan and feared Hillary had sold out to the insurance industry as he wondered: "Are you losing some leverage in asking these insurance companies to get on board and make tough choices?"

[This item, by Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Tuesday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The following are all of Lauer's questions, on health care, to the Senator from New York and her responses as they aired on the September 18 Today show:

Matt Lauer: "Senator Hillary Clinton is in Washington this morning. Senator, good morning to you."

[On screen headline: "Decision 2008, Can Clinton Fix Health Care This Time?"]

Hillary Clinton: "Good morning, Matt."
Lauer: "You talk a lot about the scars you have from 1993 and your, your efforts to reform health care back then. But this plan has only been out there for 24 hours and already critics are saying that this, in some ways, is the kind of plan that you would have rejected back in 1993. How do you respond to that?"
Clinton: "Well I think it's absolutely the case that I've learned a lot in the last 15 years. I think America has. I think we all understand that ignoring the problems don't make them better. We have more uninsured people. Millions more that are under insured. We are losing jobs because of the global competitive pressures on American business. And so I think it's important that you take a new assessment and that's what I've done. I've worked hard to, you know, listen to a lot of people, learn from what we tried to do and, and were not successful in doing before."
Lauer: "But in avoiding those battles, this time around Senator, have you watered down reform?"
Clinton: "No, I think what we've done is to come up with a practical approach that will actually move us and achieve universal coverage but without disruption. If you like your health insurance, you like your doctor, you like your hospital, nothing will change. But if you are among the 47 million uninsured or millions who think they should get a better deal for what they're paying, you will now have the same choices that members of Congress will have. And I think that's a significant move, based on what we think will work better."
Lauer, citing a liberal advocacy group: "Let me read you something. Jamie Court, who is the president for the Foundation For Taxpayer and Consumer Rights told Newsweek magazine. He said, quote, 'There's nobody in this race with her knowledge to make health care available to every American at a cheaper cost, but it would take going after the insurance industry that's funding her candidacy.' In fact some of your competitors have said you've taken more money from the insurance industry than any other candidate. So the, the question is, is there a conflict looming on the horizon? Are you losing some leverage in asking these insurance companies to get on board and make tough choices?"
Clinton: "Well I don't think so because I believe in reality-based politics. And the fact is that my plan is very tough on requiring insurance companies to guarantee insurance to everyone. No exclusions for pre-existing conditions. They're going to have to change the way they do business. And I believe that they can and they will. We'll either work with them or we will make the case, based on all of the rest of us, that we cannot continue on the path we're on. So I think that this system, which builds on what works in America, but fixes what's wrong is exactly what is prescribed. And I'm thrilled to have the positive responses I've been receiving from so many groups. Physicians, nurses, hospitals-"
Lauer: "Right."
Clinton: "-the people who actually deliver the care. The insurance industry is not going to nominate me for Woman of the Year because I've always been tough on what I think are practices that undermine the quality and cost of health care. But I think that they will recognize that the time has come. We cannot continue on the path we're on."
Lauer: "Right."
Clinton: "We are undermining our health care system, and frankly undermining our health."
To read more on how closely Lauer resembled Michael Moore's criticism of Hillary Clinton, see: www.washingtonpost.com

To read more on the liberal-advocacy group that Lauer cited in attacking Hillary Clinton, visit: www.consumerwatchdog.org

For more on coverage of Clinton's health pan, check Tuesday's Media Reality Check, "Network News Touts Clinton Care 2.0; All Three Morning Shows Host Hillary; NBC's Lauer Hits From Left: 'Have You Watered Down Reform?'" It was distributed as a CyberAlert Special and is online at: www.mrc.org

Hsu-In: Only NBC Asked Hillary About
Her Crooked Donor Scandal

Matt Lauer may have approached Hillary Clinton from the left (as if she were a centrist) on health care on Tuesday's Today (see item #5 above), but Lauer was the only morning show host to ask the former First Lady about her campaign-finance scandal surrounding the crook Norman Hsu. ABC, CBS, and CNN, which all interviewed her Tuesday morning, whistled past her campaign's decision to refund $850,000 in contributions that Hsu "bundled" to her campaign. Granted, Lauer simply asked: "How to you respond?" But in a follow-up Lauer also tweaked her campaign's claim that they used an "abundance of caution" in returning the money, asking if there was perhaps not so much caution in the original fundraising.

Lauer did not remind the audience that the Clinton-Gore campaign in 1996 was riddled with illegal foreign contributions that were returned -- but only after the news media started reporting on it.

[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Tuesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The MRC's Geoff Dickens did the transcript for the exchange on the September 18 Today:

LAUER: A couple of other questions that your campaign's been dealing with lately. Let me talk about Norman Hsu. He's in jail right now on, apparently he had a 15-year outstanding warrant. Your campaign returned an $850,000 contribution from him. Just so people understand, he's a bundler, that's not his money. This comes from 260 individual donors. The, the question is, you know there are a lot of red flags here. What happened? The New York Times writes this, "This hurried -- but not hurried enough -- giveback, one of the largest on record, lays bare again how easily campaign professionals can allow greed to trump healthy skepticism and good sense when supporters like Mr. Hsu arrive on the scene with eye-popping contributions." How do you respond?
CLINTON: Well obviously, everyone was taken aback, to say the least not only the dozens of candidates who were the beneficiaries of contributions but the people who actually gave him money for investments and it was, it was a terrible and rude awakening. The fact is we need to move toward public financing. I've been saying that for years. I will strongly support that as president and my campaign has a good system for checking. This missed, this was missed. It was missed by everyone who looked. So-
LAUER: So when your, when your campaign returned the money, they said you're operating under an abundance of caution. Are you saying there wasn't that same abundance of caution when the check arrived?
CLINTON: Well yes, of course, we always check everything and check every person but, you know, it wasn't just my campaign. Unfortunately this goes back several years and the databases that were used didn't have this information. As soon as people found out, we all took action.

As soon as she found out? An editorial in Tuesday's edition of Investor's Business Daily could have been read by Lauer as a rebuttal:

Hillary's presidential campaign knew since at least June that there were serious questions about China-born Hsu, her own top fundraiser now behind bars.

Yet she agreed to return the $860,000 he bundled for her from mostly Asian donors only after the scandal broke in the press. Even so, she's declined to publicly identify the 260 donors, and may ask for some of the funds back.

Now as then, Ickes is involved, this time as an adviser to her campaign. And the same guy who courted all the shady Asian donors in last decade's Clinton campaigns is heading Hillary's fundraising now. His name: Terry McAuliffe. Seems they're up to their old tricks.

Hillary claims she had no reason to vet big Asian donors to her presidential campaign, no reason to be suspicious of them. She suggests critics who think she should have been more suspect are racist.

"We reject the suggestion that suspicion should be based on ethnicity in America," her spokesman said.

But the Ickes notes clearly show Hillary had every reason to check out Hsu, with whom she and Bill snapped photos and whom she let fete her campaign manager in all-expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas.

SUSPEND Excerpt

The editorial also explored a similar pattern in 1996, when the Clinton campaign planned to delay any return of funny money until after the election, despite knowing in April it had a problem:

The smoking gun came in the form of handwritten notes taken by deputy White House chief of staff Harold Ickes.

"Charlie Trie -- Money orders -- Don't report names if $ are returned," Ickes wrote. "Could return all $ & ask people to resend it if they want."

Then this: "BC/HRC to put it out of his mind and wait until after the election." BC stands for Bill Clinton, HRC for Hillary Rodham Clinton. Ickes cited "HRC" several other times in his notes.

If this sounds like deja vu, it is.

END of Excerpt

For the September 17 editorial online: www.ibdeditorials.com

Or deja Hsu?

CNN's Roberts Prods Hillary Clinton on
MoveOn's Anti-Petraeus Ad

As if she were President already, Hillary Clinton went on CNN's American Morning as well as the morning shows of the "Big Three" networks on Tuesday to sell her new health care proposals, a day after their unveiling. At the close of the American Morning interview, however, co-host John Roberts at least brought up the controversial "Betray Us" ad by MoveOn.org. He twice asked the junior Senator from New York if she wanted to distance herself from the ad. Both times, she skirted the question by talking about General Petraeus and his record of service, instead of the ad itself.

Besides Roberts, Harry Smith of CBS News, ABC's Diane Sawyer, and NBC's Matt Lauer interviewed Clinton on Tuesday morning. Out of the four, Roberts was the only one who brought up the issue of the ad.

[This item, by Matthew Balan, was posted Monday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

A transcript of the exchange between Roberts and Senator Clinton, which took place near the bottom of the 7 am Eastern hour of Tuesday's American Morning:

JOHN ROBERTS: Senator, we've got to let you go in a second, but I just wanted to touch on other issue. You were one of the senators who voted unanimously for General Petraeus's confirmation. And we saw that MoveOn.org [ad] last week calling him 'General Betray Us.' Obviously, you didn't have that opinion when you voted for him. Do you want to distance yourself from that ad?
SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRAT, NEW YORK: Well, I've never had that opinion, and I've said publically on numerous occasions, including at the last hearing, how much I respect General Petraeus, his service to our country. Obviously, I have a disagreement with Republicans and with President Bush about what direction we should be-
ROBERTS: Right.
CLINTON: -heading in Iraq.
ROBERTS: So, was that MoveOn.org ad over-the-top?
CLINTON: Well, I certainly speak for myself, and I am a very strong admirer of General Petraeus, his record of service for our country, the dedication he has brought to a very difficult job that many of us think does not have a military solution.

-- Brent Baker