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ABC Again Hypes Small Anti-War Protests -- 01/15/2003 CyberAlert


1. ABC Again Hypes Small Anti-War Protests

Three months ago, after a story on protesters against an Iraq war, Peter Jennings promised: "On this broadcast in the days ahead, other voices." Those "other voices" have yet to get such air time, but on Sunday night ABC devoted another piece to how, as Judy Muller reported, "thousands of Americans this weekend demonstrated against war with Iraq" and that "more and more, these crowds are filled with middle-class Americans who have never demonstrated before." Muller hoped: "As more and more troops head overseas, more and more Americans may head for the streets."

2. NBC's "Reality Check" from the Left on Bush's Tax Cut Plan
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 in the Bush plan for those making under $40,000, guess whose arguments NBC News on Monday night decided to undermine in a "reality check"? Picking up Bush's claim that "92 million Americans will keep an average of $1,083 more of their own money," Lisa Myers maintained "the claim is true, experts say, but misleading." The same could be said of the story.

3. Time Magazine at Least Showed Percentage Cuts
This week's Time 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." Time's Bill Saporito declared that "the tax-cut benefits will be concentrated heavily in the upper income brackets." But Time 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.

4. Stephanopoulos Recalls: "We Were Fighting" Bush's 2001 Tax Cut
Did George Stephanopoulos on Sunday accidentally blurt out how he personally fought against President Bush's 2001 tax cut proposal. Interviewing 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."

5. Very Strange Washington Post "Clarification"
A very strange "Clarification" in Tuesday's Washington Post which conceded an NBC transcript showed Al Sharpton did not refer on Meet the Press to "white trash" politicians. But the tape was far from "inconclusive" as the Post maintained.

6. Fawning Tributes to Carter by Hopkins and Lange
Fawning tributes to Jimmy Carter from actor Anthony Hopkins and actress Jessica Lange who emceed a concert tribute to Carter aired on A&E. 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."

7. Sheryl Crow's Insight on How to Avoid War
During the American Music Awards shown Monday night on ABC, Sheryl Crow came on stage twice wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a political message: "War is not the answer." Off stage, she offered this insight to reporters: "I think war is never the answer to solving any problems. The best way to solve problems is to not have enemies."

8. Is West Wing Channeling Frustrations of Real Reporters?
The West Wing channeling true-life frustrations of the real White House press corps? On last week's show reporter "Danny Concannon" scolded White House Press Secretary "CJ Cregg." He demanded: "Why weren't you making a case the Republican Senators are bad on drugs and bad on national security? Why are Democrats always so bumfuzzled?"


ABC Again Hypes Small Anti-War Protests


Three months ago, after a World News Tonight story on protesters against an Iraq war, ABC's Peter Jennings promised: "On this broadcast in the days ahead, other voices." Those "other voices" in favor of Bush's policy have yet to get an equivalent positive and uncritical story on ABC's evening newscast, but on Sunday night ABC devoted another piece to how, as Judy Muller reported, "thousands of Americans this weekend demonstrated against war with Iraq" and that "more and more, these crowds are filled with middle-class Americans who have never demonstrated before."

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 CyberAlert:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20021015.asp#1

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."
Protesting woman #1: "I think everyone is absolutely taken aback by how many people are here."
Muller: "Thousands of Americans this weekend demonstrated against war with Iraq. The peace rallies included a lot of old familiar faces, but many new ones, as well."
Protesting woman #2: "I'm not with any group. I made my own sign."
Muller: "More and more, these crowds are filled with middle-class Americans who have never demonstrated before. Bonnie Morrison from Pasadena, California, for one."
Morrison: "I wanted to do what I could. I might not have been able to get on the phone with people from the administration, but I could show up there."
Professor Todd Gitlin, Columbia University: "I think mainstream America is worried sick about a war that does not make sense to them."
Muller: "So far these demonstrations are still relatively small compared to those of the Vietnam era, but there's a reasonfor that."
Gitlin: "It's a war that hasn't yet happened, and so people are being asked to protest against something hypothetical. That doesn't bite the way pictures of bodies and, and burning villages will ignite sentiment."
Muller: "A few who remember such times, however, have been turning out to protest."
Protesting man: "I understand the agony of war. I don't want to see another generation of Americans have to go through what I went through for nothing."
Muller: "He is not alone. Ex-Marine Igor Bobrowsky helped form a group called Veterans Against the Iraq War."
Bobrowsky: "If you feel strongly that something is dangerously wrong, you have a obligation and a duty to try to speak out about it."
Muller: "The group is planning to march soon on Washington. In fact, many protesters are gearing up for a big demonstration in DC next weekend. As more and more troops head overseas, more and more Americans may head for the streets."
Morrison: "I thought, well, you know, this is down the street. You can do this, Bonnie, you can do this."
Muller concluded: "New recruits to an old tradition. Judy Muller, ABC News, Los Angeles."

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?

NBC's "Reality Check" from the Left on
Bush's Tax Cut Plan

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."
George W. Bush: "Ninety-two million Americans will keep an average of $1,083 more of their own money."
Ari Fleischer: "Ninety-two million taxpayers will receive, on average, a tax cut of $1,083."
Myers: "The claim is true, experts say, but misleading. Misleading because 'average,' in this case, is considerably more than most Americans actually will receive. To explain the disparity, we went to statistics Professor Mary Gray of American University. Professor, show us how averages can be misleading."
Professor Mary Gray, American University: "Suppose you had a group of 10 people in a room. One of those people is Bill Gates. His income is $10 million. Each of the other nine people has a more modest income of $30,000. So what do you get? You get an average income for these 10 people of over $1 million."
Myers: "Which would be quite a shock to the nine people in the room earning $30,000."
Gray: "Very misleading."
Myers: "The same is true in calculating average savings under the tax plan. Take Citigroup CEO Sanford Weil. He stands to save at least $6 million from elimination of the tax on dividends alone. His driver might save about $1,100, his assistant, perhaps the same. Their average tax cut: $2 million. So how many Americans actually would get smaller savings than the $1,083 average touted by the White House?"
Peter Orszag, economist: "The reality is that 72 percent of income tax payers would get less than the tax cut the administration is touting. And most of those would get less than $500."
Myers conceded to non-millionaires will get to keep more of their own money: "Who does best under the Bush plan? Married couples, especially those with children, do better than singles. The wealthy do best of all, but the White House notes they also pay most in taxes. Experts say the best way for you to figure out your tax savings is to look at last year's income tax bill and figure a saving of ten percent. And beware of anyone who uses the word 'average.' Lisa Myers, NBC News, Washington."

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 CyberAlert:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2003/cyb20030113.asp#5

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

Time Magazine at Least Showed
Percentage Cuts

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:
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1101030120-407282,00.html

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.

Stephanopoulos Recalls: "We Were
Fighting" Bush's 2001 Tax Cut

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."

George Stephanopoulos 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:
"There are only two ways to get out of it long term: You either have to raise taxes or cut spending....We've had the lowest GDP numbers in eight years, the highest unemployment in four years and the non-Social Security surplus has all but vanished. Why isn't now the time to revisit that tax cut?"

Very Strange Washington Post "Clarification"


A very strange "Clarification" in Tuesday's Washington Post. What did Al Sharpton really say on Meet the Press?

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.

Fawning Tributes to Carter by Hopkins and Lange


Fawning tributes to Jimmy Carter from actor Anthony Hopkins and actress Jessica Lange.

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."
Hopkins picked up from Lange mid-sentence and championed Carter's efforts: "Often in direct opposition to so-called official line. He's a friend of the poor, the sick, the ravaged and the war-torn. As the 39th President, American President, he has served one country and over the past 22 years his work has benefitted people in over 65 countries. This is the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate for 2002 -- Jimmy Carter."

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:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20021007.asp#5

Sheryl Crow's Insight on How to Avoid War


Jessica Lange, meet Sheryl Crow. During the American Music Awards shown Monday night on ABC, Crow came on stage twice wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a political message: "War is not the answer." Off stage, she offered this insight to reporters: "I think war is never the answer to solving any problems. The best way to solve problems is to not have enemies."

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:
"WAR IS
NOT THE
ANSWER"

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.
"'I just think there's a really vital, sweeping peace movement out there that's not getting covered in the press, so I just kind of try to do my part,' she said backstage.
"'I think war is based in greed and there are huge karmic retributions that will follow. I think war is never the answer to solving any problems. The best way to solve problems is to not have enemies.'"

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:
http://abc.abcnews.go.com/primetime/specials/ama/gallery/2003redcarpet2.html
http://abc.abcnews.go.com/primetime/specials/ama/gallery/2003live32.html

Is West Wing Channeling Frustrations of
Real Reporters?

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."
CJ: "The Senate blew it."
Danny: "You did."
CJ: "We did everything but pass a hat."
Danny: "Nobody wants to put money into hats in Botswana when you have hats that need filling here. You can't make this about charity. It's about self interest. We cut farm assistance in Colombia, every single crop we developed was replaced with cocaine. We cut aid for primary education in Northwest Pakistan and Egypt, the kids went to madrases. Why weren't you making a case the Republican Senators are bad on drugs and bad on national security? Why are Democrats always so bumfuzzled?"

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

For Janney: http://us.imdb.com/Name?Janney,%20Allison
Or: http://www.nbc.com/The_West_Wing/bios/Allison_Janney.html

> Scheduled to appear tonight, Wednesday night, on NBC's Night with Conan O'Brien: Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Lieberman. -- Brent Baker