Stephanopoulos Fails to Correct Dean's False $304 Tax Cut Claim --1/12/2004
2. Media Love O'Neill's Blast, CBS: Bush Said Tax Cuts Went to Rich
3. FNC's Hume & Columnist Cal Thomas Pick Up on
Stephanopoulos fails to correct Dean. In an interview with Howard Dean, taped aboard the ABC News campaign bus and shown on Sunday's This Week, Dean repeatedly made the fallacious claim that the bottom 60 percent only got an average tax cut of $304 in the Bush plan.
Stephanopoulos did not challenge Dean's math, but the "Annenberg Political Fact Check" Web page pounced on Dean's claim as made in an earlier debate. The Annenberg site, run by former CNN reporter Brooks Jackson, reported: "Half of all U.S. households got more than $470 according to the Tax Policy Center. Dean arrives at his figure by averaging in the cuts received by the bottom 60% of households, which includes all those who paid no taxes in the first place and thus got no cut."
On This Week, Dean insisted in response to video of a voter expressing concern that Dean would raise her taxes: "There was no such thing as a middle class tax cut under this President. The average person in the bottom 60 percent got $304 bucks. Well their property taxes, their college tuition and their health insurance each went up more than $304 dollars. What we want to do is, to give, to get rid of the Bush tax cuts so we can start to balance the budget and then-"
The "Annenberg Political Fact Check" is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. Their home page: www.factcheck.org
For their look at Dean's tax cut claim: www.factcheck.org
Network newscasts don't usually publicize the exclusive interviews with an author to be aired later on a competing network, but the networks were so excited by former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill's blasts at Bush -- as 'a blind man in a room full of deaf people' -- that on Friday night ABC and NBC picked up on the shot at Bush released by CBS to promote his appearance on 60 Minutes. The Saturday and Sunday Washington Post and New York Times also featured stories.
And in that 60 Minutes story about a new book by former Wall Street Journal reporter Ron Suskind, Lesley Stahl characterized O'Neill's claim, that from early 2001 the Bush administration was interested in regime change in Iraq, as "one of O'Neill's most startling revelations." But that just matched Clinton administration policy.
60 Minutes also featured a Suskind tale that only a liberal could dream of, that President Bush believed his tax cuts only helped the rich. According to a "nearly verbatim transcript" of a November, 2002 meeting to discuss speeding up the roll-out of the tax cuts, which eventually did occur, Bush supposedly worried: "Haven't we already given money to rich people? This second tax cut's gonna do it again."
On Friday's World News Tonight, ABC's Peter Jennings asserted: "On the subject of political criticism today, Mr. Bush's first Treasury Secretary's made some rather unflattering remarks about him. Paul O'Neill said the President was so disengaged in cabinet meeting, that he was quote, 'a blind man in a room of deaf people.' Mr. O'Neill spoke to the CBS program 60 Minutes. The White House has declined to comment."
On screen, ABC ran this text next to a picture of O'Neill:
Over on the NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams announced: "One of the few top officials ever fired by President George W. Bush is tonight firing back at his old boss. Former Alcoa aluminum CEO Paul O'Neill, the President's first Treasury Secretary, has said in an interview the President is disengaged and didn't ask a single question in their first hour-long meeting. He likened Bush's cabinet meetings to, and we quote now, 'a blind man in a room full of deaf people.' His story is part of a new book on the early Bush years."
The CBS Evening News, which on Saturday led with O'Neill's charges, on Friday featured a plug for 60 Minutes announced by Mike Wallace, who intoned over video of O'Neill and Bush walking up the steps of the Old Executive Office Building next to the White House: "When a former George W. Bush insider says that at cabinet meetings the President acted like blind man talking to the deaf, that's a story for 60 Minutes. Sunday."
The 60 Minutes piece featured both O'Neill and Suskind, author of The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill. Suskind was with the Wall Street Journal until 2000.
Stahl declared: "And what happened at President Bush's very first National Security Council meeting is one of O'Neill's most startling revelations." O'Neill recalled: "From the very beginning, there was a conviction, that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go."
A bit later in the story, Suskind told Stahl about a November of 2002 meeting: "It's a huge meeting. You got Dick Cheney from the, you know, secure location on the video. The President is there."
But ruining this liberal wet dream, Karl Rove whipped Bush back into place.
There's more to come this morning on the O'Neill bashing Bush front: Sunday's NBC Nightly News featured this promo spot: "Monday and Tuesday, a shocking portrait of the Bush administration that has the White House scrambling. The author and his source live, exclusively on Today on NBC."
For his page on his new book: www.ronsuskind.com
And for the text of recent articles by Suskind in Esquire which have conveyed claims embarrassing to the Bush administration: www.ronsuskind.com
You read it here first. Last Thursday, FNC's Brit Hume highlighted a CyberAlert report about how when Halliburton was being accused of wrongdoing, the CBS Evening News reminded viewers of Vice President Cheney's tie to the company, but when the firm was cleared this month, the CBS show ignored the development. Plus, in a column at the start of the year, Cal Thomas expanded upon a CyberAlert article about how CBS's Bob Schieffer described George Bush as "a polarizing politician," but hailed how Howard Dean has "begun to bring people together" while ABC's Terry Moran labeled Bush as "divisive."
-- On the January 8 Special Report with Brit Hume, during the "Grapevine" segment, Hume reported: "Last night we noted how some print media suddenly stopped mentioning in their leads that Vice President Dick Cheney used to run Halliburton Inc, once the company was, in effect, cleared of accusations that it overcharged for services in Iraq. According to the Media Research Center, the CBS Evening News referred twice to Cheney's past connection to Halliburton. But, the center says, now that Halliburton has been cleared, CBS Evening News hasn't mentioned that development at all."
Indeed, the January 7 CyberAlert noted: Back in mid-December, the CBS Evening News twice led with stories about "war-profiteering" by Halliburton for the price of gas it sold inside Iraq, with Vice President Cheney's name linked prominently. But three weeks later, when a January 6 front page Wall Street Journal story revealed that the Army Corps of Engineers had cleared Halliburton of any wrongdoing in its pricing, the CBS Evening News, which had earlier touted a concern of "Pentagon auditors," ignored the development. But Tuesday's CBS newscast had time for a full story on how, as anchor John Roberts put it, the Howard Dean campaign "offers America new love." That was a piece on how young people are using Dean's "meet-ups" as an opportunity to find a mate. See: www.mediaresearch.org
The night before his MRC item, Hume related how some print publications had suddenly buried Cheney's tie to Halliburton. Hume relayed on January 7: "Last month -- while Halliburton Inc. was being accused of overcharging for fuel shipped to Iraq from Kuwait -- the Associated Press began its report by saying: 'A Pentagon audit has found Vice President Dick Cheney's former company may have overcharged the Army.' Reuters began its story in a similar way, describing Halliburton as, quote, 'the oil services firm once run by Vice President Dick Cheney.' And the BBC began its story by saying President Bush 'expects an oil company once run by his Vice President to return money if it has overcharged for services in Iraq.' But when Halliburton was, in effect, cleared of any wrongdoing earlier this week, the references to Cheney suddenly dropped out of the lead of stories from the same news outlets."
-- The January 3 nationally syndicated column by Cal Thomas, "When the media meet the candidates," picked up some quotes first recited in the December 29 CyberAlert. An excerpt from Thomas' column:
....The early media line was unveiled on ABC last Sunday, when correspondent Terry Moran, sitting in on "This Week" for former Clinton administration operative George Stephanopoulos (no ideological difference there) noted that in the 2000 race, George W. Bush campaigned as "a uniter, not a divider." Moran concluded that he had failed and that he has become a "divisive president" and a "divisive figure." To liberals like Moran, one is a divider when one doesn't buy into the liberal line and offends their governmental, economic and cultural sensibilities. It does not matter to most of the media when conservatives are offended and thus "divided" and excluded from consideration by their leaders. To them, one can only unite (even though one divides conservatives) by reflecting a liberal worldview.
On CBS, Bob Schieffer echoed the Moran view, calling the president "a polarizing politician." While acknowledging that Bush, as governor of Texas, did seem to bring people together, now, according to Schieffer, he "seems to have become someone that you either love or hate." Liberal Democrats did not find that a problem with President Clinton. While agreeing that people either loved or hated Clinton, much of the media didn't think that made Clinton "divisive." They treated negatively people who hated Clinton, while they frequently treat Bush haters as noble and virtuous, wanting only the best for all of us.
Back on ABC, Moran was doing his best to set the tone and agenda for the media's campaign approach. In a question to former Clinton Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, Moran observed: "For many Americans, this is a divisive president. Is he vulnerable in the manner in which he seems to polarize people's opinions?" Panetta answered, "I think that is the case." (Surprise!) No self-respecting media liberal would ask such a question of, say, Sen. Hillary Clinton, about any of the Democratic presidential candidates and why they fail to draw conservative support. Apparently, division is a one-way street.
On CBS, Schieffer claimed that Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean is bringing people together. His source? A New York Times writer who believes the evidence comes from Dean's success as an Internet fund-raiser....
END of Excerpt
For the Thomas column in full: www.townhall.com
For the December 29 CyberAlert rundown of what Schieffer and Moran said on the December 28 Sunday shows: www.mediaresearch.org
-- Brent Baker