NBC's "Reality Check" from the Left on Bush's Tax Cut Plan
Time Magazine at Least Showed Percentage Cuts
Stephanopoulos Recalls: "We Were Fighting" Bush's 2001 Tax Cut
Very Strange Washington Post "Clarification"
6. Fawning Tributes to Carter by Hopkins and Lange
7. Sheryl Crow's Insight on How to Avoid War
Is West Wing Channeling Frustrations of Real Reporters?
Muller hoped: "As more and more troops head overseas, more and more Americans may head for the streets."
On October 14 last year Jennings pushed his campaign against President Bush's policy on Iraq as World News Tonight devoted a story to proving how "there are growing concerns" across the country about Bush's plans. The "A Closer Look" segment highlighted the opposition of nine people, but not one person in favor.
Reporter Bill Redeker assured viewers that those concerned in San Diego, Denver and Charleston are "not so much against getting rid of Saddam Hussein but how, when and at what cost. Although public opinion polls show that most Americans still support military action, that support is beginning to slip." But at that very moment ABC was showing video of some very much out of the mainstream protesters who displayed no interest in countering Hussein. They were carrying signs proclaiming things such as, "Make War on Corporate Crime," "No Blood for Oil," "Bombing = Terrorism" and "George Bush You Are Not An Army of One."
Redeker warned that "military retirees" in San Diego "remember getting bogged down in Vietnam and losing support at home. Many here are leery of a rerun." Redeker found the same elsewhere, "Unilateral action also troubles those we talked to in Denver. Few want to go it alone," before concluding that "contrary to what the President says, when it comes to war, America does not speak with one voice."
For more about that story, see the October 15
Fast forward to Sunday's World News Tonight and, despite how the anti-war voices have yet to materialize as much as ABC suggested in October, ABC again exaggerated the depth of anti-war sentiment and promised more will come if war starts.
Anchor Carole Simpson set up the January 12 story, as checked against the tape by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson: "Around the world, anti-war activists have staged many demonstrations. In Morocco today, thousands of protesters shouted anti-American slogans and burned the American flag. In this country, protests against the war have been lightly attended, but that may change soon. Here's ABC's Judy Muller."
The Los Angeles-based Muller began: "From Los Angeles to Minneapolis."
And ABC will make sure those with such sentiments know they are not alone.
Which will get more coverage from ABC News: The anti-war march on Saturday or the pro-life march next Wednesday, the 30th anniversary of Roe v Wade?
Liberals have claimed that Bush's tax cut plan would provide peanuts for the middle and lower class while "giving" the most to the rich while supporters of the plan have noted how the higher your income the lesser percentage cut you would receive as the plan would further shift the income tax burden onto the wealthier since it would remove millions more from the income tax rolls.
After having relayed the class warfare and jealousy arguments of liberals last week while having yet to outline the burden shift and huge tax reductions promised for those making under $40,000 noted by conservatives, guess whose arguments NBC News on Monday night decided to disprove and undermine in a "reality check"? Picking up on the Bush administration's claim that "92 million Americans will keep an average of $1,083 more of their own money," the often contrarian Lisa Myers offered a very conventional assessment of how "the claim is true, experts say, but misleading."
The same could be said of NBC's story.
Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw introduced the January 13 piece: "NBC News In Depth tonight. More on the Bush tax cut plan. A closer look at a number the administration is using to convince middle class Americans of how much they'll benefit under the proposal. As NBC's Lisa Myers tells us, before you start counting on a big refund check, you might need this reality check."
Myers began her story for which MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth checked the transcript against the tape: "It's a big selling point for the President's tax plan, repeated again and again."
And beware of any reporter who uses dollar values instead of percentage reductions when, obviously, a smaller percentage tax cut for those who pay more in income taxes every year will be for a larger amount of money than the larger percentage cut will net for someone whose total income is smaller than what the wealthier person pays in taxes in the first place.
Myers gave a clause to how the wealthy "pay most in taxes," she did not, as no ABC, CBS or NBC reporter yet has, detail the uneven burden.
As Tony Snow pointed out in his "Parting Thoughts" on Fox News Sunday, "the poor get the largest proportional tax breaks, the richest the smallest" and the "tax code right now is insanely imbalanced. Half the public pays nearly 100 percent of the income taxes, which mocks the idea that citizenship demands that each person pull his or her weight."
Now there's an angle for ABC, CBS or NBC to pursue. But if even Lisa Myers does little more than tout liberal spin, don't count on seeing anyone looking at the angle raised by Snow.
For the numbers from a Tax Foundation report on how those in the top one percent, top five percent, top ten percent, top 25 percent and top 50 percent all pay a greater share of the income taxes collected in 2000 than they earned as a share of overall income, but the bottom 50 percent took more from others than they put in, see the January 13
As for the skew of the dividend tax, as noted in the January 9 CyberAlert, the Tax Foundation reported: "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: http://taxfoundation.org/DividendIncome.html
For a fairly thorough rundown of how those at lower incomes would get a far greater percentage income tax reduction than those who are wealthier, 96 percent versus ten percent for those with two kids, see the January 9 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2003/cyb20030109.asp#5
Matching NBC's Lisa Myers (see item #2 above), this week's Time magazine asserted that "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" as "the top 1% would get breaks of $24,400, on average."
After relaying how Senator Kent Conrad fumed about how "this is the most reckless policy I have seen pursued by any President in my adult life," Time's Bill Saporito declared that "the tax-cut benefits will be concentrated heavily in the upper income brackets." But, unlike NBC viewers, Time magazine readers could see numbers which Saporito didn't mention in his piece. A table accompanying the story showed how those at lower incomes would get an equal or greater percentage cut than those much wealthier.
An excerpt from Saporito's story in the January 20 edition:
Democrats, several of whom have unveiled their own more modest proposals, say Bush's economics embrace a central stereotype of the Republican Party: only the rich need apply. 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 top 1% would get breaks of $24,400, on average. "This is the most reckless policy I have seen pursued by any President in my adult life," fumes Kent Conrad of North Dakota, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee.
Reckless or not, here it comes. The House, where the Republicans are comfortably in control, is likely to move quickly to serve up a bill mirroring or exceeding the White House plan. The Senate is a different animal. There, expect a hagglefest over the critical swing bloc of moderate Republicans and Democrats. Republican Senators John McCain and Lincoln Chafee are already calling for more relief for the middle class. There will likely be a scaled-back compromise, finalized perhaps this summer. But that's how the Bush team is playing it: scaling back from 100% gets you more than scaling back from half as much.
That the tax-cut benefits will be concentrated heavily in the upper income brackets--59% of the reductions would go to the top 10% of earners, according to the Brookings Institution--matters little to Republicans. For them, it's a question of mathematics, fairness and job creation. Any percentage cut across the board will always favor those who have more. "You have to give tax cuts to the people who pay taxes," argues House majority whip Roy Blunt....
END of Excerpt
For Time's story in full:
The online version does not feature the table, but on page 34 of the hard copy Time printed a table, based on Tax Foundation data, showing the impact of Bush's plan on single filers, a married couple without kids and a married couple with two children -- all at various income levels.
A few of the numbers:
-- Married couple, two kids: $40,000 income family's taxes would drop from $1,178 to $28, a 97.6 percent cut, while the family making $300,000 would get a comparatively measly 9.8 percent reduction in their tax burden from $71,186 to $64,244.
-- Married couple, no kids. The rich make out better, but barely, as the $40,000 couple's taxes would fall by 13.5 percent and the taxes for the $300,000 couple would shrink by 14.1 percent, though at $61,640 they would still pay more in income taxes than the other couple earns in total income.
-- Single filer. Here the wealthier do make out a bit better, with the $40,000 filer only getting at 6.1 percent cut while the $300,000 filer would get a 16.8 percent cut -- but the $40,000 filer would only be paying about ten percent of his income in income taxes while the $300,000 earner would have to fork over about 20 percent.
Did George Stephanopoulos on Sunday accidentally blurt out how he personally fought against President Bush's 2001 tax cut proposal. Interviewing Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle on the January 12 This Week, Stephanopoulos reminded Daschle that his criticism of the unfairness of Bush's plan is "similar to what you said when, ah, we were fighting the original Bush tax package in 2001."
A Freudian slip? Or did Stephanopoulos really mean to say that when "we were fighting over" the bill, where "we" just meant the collective Washington political community? The latter is my assessment, but you can judge for yourself.
A couple of e-mailers alerted us to what Stephanopoulos said and MRC analyst Jessica Anderson tracked it down.
The Stephanopoulos remark came after Daschle labeled the Bush plan a "stimulus for the rich and a sedative for the rest." Daschle wrapped up his castigation of Bush's proposal: "Finally, it's reckless, very reckless. We're going to borrow every dollar. We're going to be taxing, we're going to be drawing down the resources to states by another $4 billion and we're going to war, so -- at least, possibly going to war, and if that's the case, it just seems to me this is one of the most reckless fiscal policies this President, or any President, has put forth in many years."
Stephanopoulos then reminded Daschle of the ineffectiveness of his arguments last time: "Well sir, that's very strong rhetoric and it's similar to what you said when, ah, we were fighting the original Bush tax package in 2001, but at that time you failed to hold the Democrats together against the package, and already you see some signs this year that the Democrats may reach out to support President Bush...."
Back in 2001 Stephanopoulos did fight on This Week against the Bush tax cut. At least he pleaded with Daschle to "revisit" it. On the September 9, 2001 This Week Stephanopoulos pressed Daschle about how to best reduce the deficit:
The "clarification" on page 2 of the January 14 Washington Post read: "The Jan. 13 Politics column quoted Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton on the subject of his past as saying 'I think you got white trash with worse backgrounds.' The quote was taken from a transcript of NBC's Meet the Press done by eMediaMillWorks and distributed by the Associated Press. NBC's transcript of the show quoted Sharpton as saying, 'I think you've got white candidates with worse backgrounds.' A review of a recording of the program was inconclusive. Sharpton spokeswoman Rachel Noerdlinger said she did not know what word Sharpton used but 'he definitely didn't use the words 'white trash.'"
No he didn't and the tape of the show is far from "inconclusive." I cued up the MRC's tape of the show and discovered that Sharpton clearly used the word "candidates" and definitely did not say "trash." But even NBC's transcript, posted as www.mtp.msnbc.com, is inaccurate.
In response to a question by Tim Russert about Sharpton's disreputable history, including the Tawana Brawley lie and things like not paying rent he owed, Sharpton really replied: "I think you've had white candidates with worse backgrounds." Had, not got.
Last Friday night A&E aired a two-hour special, "2002 Nobel Peace Prize Concert" from Oslo, Norway with acts including Michelle Branch, Santana, Josh Groban, Jennifer Lopez and Willie Nelson. Hopkins and Lange served as emcees of the event which, I assume, was taped in December when Carter was presented with his award. Carter was in the audience.
Lange proclaimed: "President Carter is a peace-maker. With a moral compass he maneuvers around the hot spots of the world, fearlessly voicing his opinion, untireringly focusing on injustice and suffering."
A bit later, Lange gushed: "This year's laureate is a politician. But he uses his political expertise to further peace, human rights, disarmament, economic and health issues. He serves no one political party. He works for no one political regime. Jimmy Carter is a calm voice of reason in shouting matches across the globe. And this is why he is honored here tonight."
At least Lange found something about America she likes. At a film festival in Spain last September, Lange complained that "it is an embarrassing time to be an American. It really is. It's humiliating." She denounced Bush: "I despise his administration and everything they stand for." And: "The election was stolen by George Bush and we have been suffering ever since under this man's leadership." On Iraq: "It's unconstitutional, it's immoral and basically illegal." For details:
By that reasoning, the best way to counter liberal media bias is not to recognize that any liberal media bias exists.
When Crow won the award for "favorite pop rock female artist," she bound on stage and adjusted her jack so viewers could see this in black lettering on her white T-shirt:
She thanked some people and then added: "And, I don't know, peace. Peace this year."
Later, Crow came on stage, ironically to introduce Toby Keith (with Willie Nelson), wearing the same T-shirt. She effused: "Hi everybody! I know this is an awards show, but I just want to encourage everybody to get involved in some kind of movement for peace."
An AP story by Beth Harris related: "Crow accepted her award for pop-rock female artist wearing a white T-shirt emblazoned with the message 'war is not the answer' in black sequins. She had the V-neck shirt specially made.
How profound. As James Taranto quipped in his "Best of the Web" column (www.opinionjournal.com/best): "Crow has a point about the desirability of not having enemies. So let's kill them."
For a photos of Crow wearing her custom T-shirt:
The West Wing channeling true-life frustrations of the real White House press corps? With another episode airing tonight, I was reminded of a scene from last week's show (January 8) in which reporter "Danny Concannon," played by Timothy Busfield, scolded White House Press Secretary "CJ Cregg," played by Alison Janney, after the "Bartlet" White House lost a Senate vote for increased foreign aid.
As the two chomped on Chinese food, this exchange took place:
Danny: "You blew it."
For the Internet Movie Database page on Busfield, who is probably best-known from his days as a co-star of ABC's thirtysomething: http://us.imdb.com/Name?Busfield,+Timothy
> Scheduled to appear tonight, Wednesday night, on NBC's Night with Conan O'Brien: Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Lieberman. -- Brent Baker