2. CNN Features Angry Reaction from Europe and Iraq to Bush Speech
3. Now and 15 Years Ago CBS's Smith Sees Only Economic Dark Side
4. ABC & NBC Morning Shows Express Hostility to Extending Tax Cuts
5. Unusual Source Defending How Tax Cuts Work: CNN's Meteorologist
6. Tom Shales: Bush, "Scary"; Ted Kennedy Worthy of Mount Rushmore
7. "Top Ten Reasons I'll Make a Good Talk Show Host"
After Peter Jennings on Wednesday night declared that "as everybody in the country knows, the Bush administration has struggled with its economic policy" since "eight and a half million people are unemployed and more than 300,000 others stopped actively looking for work last month," ABC reporters complained that Bush's job training program won't spend enough. In two stories, ABC never allowed anyone to suggest the program is too big or beyond the proper role of government.
"The plan," ABC's Dean Reynolds explained, "would devote $250 million to create partnerships between community colleges and employers in such high-demand fields as computer engineering and health care, but critics say the money is not nearly enough." Terry Moran dismissed the effort, insisting that the "$250 million amounts to small change in the government's trillion-dollar budget."
If it were a $250 million tax cut, you can bet ABC wouldn't mock its small size.
On the January 21 World News Tonight, Moran reported on Bush's trip to Toledo to tout his proposed job training program. Moran mocked the small size of Bush's spending ideas: "That $250 million amounts to small change in the government's trillion-dollar budget, but was the biggest ticket item in the President's speech, which was marked by relatively minor but politically appealing initiatives: $23 million for drug testing in schools, $135 million for abstinence education, $300 million for post-release assistance to ex-convicts and a call to end steroid use in pro sports, which cost nothing."
Jennings next introduced a closer look at the jobs program: "Well as everybody in the country knows, the Bush administration has struggled with its economic policy. Eight and a half million people are unemployed and more than 300,000 others stopped actively looking for work last month. In this election year, Mr. Bush's proposal to finance more job training certainly seems designed to deal with a potential area of vulnerability."
From Chicago, Dean Reynolds began with an anecdote about a man, who is delivering pizza after spending 20 years in telecommunications, and doesn't think he has time for job training. Reynolds outlined the Bush plan, but featured a complaint about how it's not big enough: "The President's 21st century jobs proposal is an about face after years in which his administration cut spending on training. The new plan would devote $250 million to create partnerships between community colleges and employers in such high-demand fields as computer engineering and health care, but critics say the money is not nearly enough."
Without bothering to allow anyone to question why the government should spend a dime on training, Reynolds moved on to a second anecdote about a woman in Dallas in training in the health care field, but she fretted about how employers want experience and then Reynolds closed on the downbeat by noting how the pizza delivery guy has few better job prospects.
This was the second time in less than two weeks that Reynolds put anecdotes before any statistics or proof. As recounted in the January 15 CyberAlert: Dour emotion over statistical reality. On Saturday, January 10, the day after the Labor Department announced that the unemployment rate had fallen by two-tenths of a percent to 5.7 percent in December, a 14-month low, ABC devoted a story to how, as anchor Dan Harris put it, "behind these upbeat numbers are millions of workers who've had to downsize their paychecks and their dreams." Reporter Dean Reynolds, without citing a single source or statistic, other than "one analyst" who remained unidentified, rued as he cited a couple of anecdotes: "There's been a lot of talk on Wall Street lately about the economic recovery, but on the streets where these workers live, there is precious little sign of it." For details: www.mediaresearch.org
Though Bush's State of the Union speech occurred in the early morning hours in Britain (3am) and Iraq (5am), on Wolf Blitzer Reports on Wednesday afternoon CNN correspondents had no problem finding Britons and Iraqis angry about it. "Europeans find the President's talk about God and good and evil very scary," sniffed Walter Rodgers from London before trumpeting how "analysts here say that alienation is not going to change until Mr. Bush leaves the White House." Rodgers insisted that "the old North American alliance with Europe has been badly shattered by this President, and by the unilateralist policy." Specifically, Rodgers maintained, Europeans "got stiffed by President Bush last night."
From Baghdad, Michael Holmes relayed: "The attitude very much, we don't know what the President said, and quite frankly, we don't care." Nonetheless, Holmes then proceeded to convey the views of three Iraqis: The first complained about how Bush bombed "our houses and farms with missiles," the second asked, "How I can watch the speech when I have no power at my house?" and the third declared: "The President speaks of freedom in Iraq, but we are not free, we are occupied today by another country."
Wolf Blitzer set up the January 21 segment: "Looking at the state of European Union, but across the Atlantic there is plenty of interest in the President's speech. On the other hand, while the President focused much of his attention on Iraq, Iraqis apparently are not necessarily reciprocating. A look now at how some of the international reaction is unfolding beginning with our senior international correspondent Walter Rodgers, he's joining us in London, Walt?"
Blitzer at least challenged Rodgers a bit: "Walter, some administration officials insisting as the Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld did earlier last year, there's a difference in Europe between the old Europe, France let's say, and the new Europe, of the central European, eastern European nations, the emerging democracies, is there a change in their reaction as far as you could tell today?"
Blitzer moved on to Iraq: "Walter Rodgers in London, mincing no words. Thank you very much for that report. Let's go to Baghdad right now, see how the Iraqis are reacting to the president's State of the Union address. Here's CNN's Michael Holmes in Baghdad."
From an outside location, Holmes confirmed: "I'm Michael Holmes in Baghdad. Reaction to the President's speech here in Iraq was really a non-reaction. The attitude very much, we don't know what the President said, and quite frankly, we don't care. We went out and about in Baghdad today, we went on the streets, we went into cafes to gauge the reaction. Nearly everyone knew about the State of the Union speech but there was marked disinterest. Cynicism, too. Here's what some people told us."
University professors are on the left the world over.
Harry Smith's consistently hostile agenda spans 15 years. On Wednesday's Early Show on CBS, Smith rejected any notion of a good economy as he lectured White House Chief-of-Staff Andy Card about how "there's a $500 billion deficit, 43 million Americans without health insurance, 12 million American children living in poverty, record numbers of personal bankruptcies." Fifteen years ago, a week before President Reagan left office in January of 1989, he told Reagan's daughter, Maureen, that her father's real legacy was "one out of five babies born in the United States are born into poverty. There are hundreds of thousands of people in this country now that are homeless, have no place to live."
On the January 21 Early Show, as caught by MRC analyst Brian Boyd, Smith challenged Card: "Let's talk about the economy because that was a big subject last night. The President says the economy is in recovery. Let's look at the numbers: There's a $500 billion deficit, 43 million Americans without health insurance, 12 million American children living in poverty, record numbers of personal bankruptcies. Is that really an economic recovery?"
Fifteen years ago, on the January 12, 1989 CBS This Morning, the day after Ronald Reagan's farewell address, Smith lectured the late Maureen Reagan about her father's record: "He talked about being proud of what's happened with the economy, about the millions of new jobs that have been created. And as I listened to that, I also thought one out of five babies born in the United States are born into poverty. There are hundreds of thousands of people in this country now that are homeless, have no place to live. I wonder, how does your father reconcile that in his mind? How does he reconcile those two things?"
Hostility in the morning to tax cuts. The morning after President Bush's State of the Union address, hosts on ABC and NBC expressed enmity toward Bush's wish to make the tax cuts permanent, a move which would prevent a series of tax hikes over the next few years as rates and exemptions return to their previous levels.
On ABC's Good Morning America on January 21, Charles Gibson contended to White House Chief-of-Staff Andy Card: "On the domestic front, the President last night called for making the tax cuts permanent. Is that, in a sense, making deficits in the hundreds of billions of dollars permanent?"
Over on NBC's Today, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed, Matt Lauer recited to Card the content of a left-wing New York Times editorial: "Let me talk about the economy. Let me ask you about the economy. He said he wants his tax cuts made permanent. The New York Times in an editorial responded this way, and probably not surprising to you. 'The President's domestic policy comes down to one disastrous fact. His insistence on huge tax cuts for the wealthy has robbed the country of the money it needs to address its problems and has threatened its long term security.' It goes on to say, 'Mr. Bush, why would Mr. Bush be so determined to do the wrong thing? Because congressional majorities mean he probably can and because the wealthy donors helping underwrite his campaign expect that he will.' What's your response to that?"
Lauer followed up: "The tax cuts, they come with a cost though. Even conservatives are now saying this deficit is, is a problem, some $500 billion. And of course Democrats are saying the same thing. I guess, I'm curious, is the President okay with that level of deficit?"
In his next question, Lauer at least got to the spending side: "A caucus of conservatives in the House has urged the President to offset the cost of any new spending with cuts in spending elsewhere. Will he go along with that?"
A defense of tax cuts from an unusual source: A CNN meteorologist. When CNN Daybreak anchor Carol Costello read an e-mail from a viewer who wanted to know where the money would come from to pay for making the tax cuts permanent, meteorologist Chad Myers piped up and suggested it won't increase the deficit if the economy grows.
MRC analyst Ken Shepherd caught this exchange from about 6:11am EST on January 21, the morning after President Bush's State of the Union address:
Carol Costello: "Rich in Maryland says, 'Once again Bush talks about a bunch of great programs, yet fails to communicate how those programs will be funded.' I guess that was a negative one, sorry."
For CNN's profile of Myers: www.cnn.com
Bush: "Scary," Ted Kennedy worthy of Mount Rushmore. Reviewing President Bush's State of the Union address, nationally syndicated Washington Post television reviewer Tom Shales complained that "Bush had too many moments of cockiness" and fretted about how "the fact that Bush appeared to be so happy, so elated, so giddily primed for another political slugfest was a little bit disheartening, and even a little bit scary." But citing Senator Ted Kennedy's head-shaking, eye-rolling dismissive reactions to Bush, Shales gushed: "Kennedy looked great, like he was ready to take his place next to Jefferson on Mount Rushmore."
An excerpt from "State of the Union: Long on Long, Short on Lofty," the review by Tom Shales in the January 21 Washington Post:
We like a confident president, but we don't like a cocky president, and George W. Bush had too many moments of cockiness last night as he delivered his third State of the Union address to both houses of Congress and the viewing nation. Often the words of the speech were written to sound lofty, but Bush had such a big Christmas-morning grin on his face that they came out sounding like taunts -- taunts to the rest of the world or taunts to Democrats in the hall....
The speech was pretty much so-so, and Bush's gung-ho delivery -- something approaching the forced jollity of a game show host -- lacked dignity and certainly lacked graciousness. Bush has never been big on those things anyway.
Dan Rather of CBS News, who sometimes goes out of his way not to upset the Bush people -- since they are all ready to pounce on him for what they perceive (or claim to perceive) as a bias against their exalted glorious potentate -- said afterward that Bush's was "a strong speech, strongly delivered." It was one of the few times Rather sounded less than astute.
Over on the Fox News Channel, Fred Barnes, sounding as if he had walking pneumonia, allowed as how he'd heard George W. Bush deliver many an important and eloquent speech over the years, "and this was not one of them." It takes courage to say something like that on the Fox News Channel, normally a Bush cheering section. Someone noted that Bush is considered a master of the half-hour speech and State of the Union 2004 had dragged on for twice that length....
The best reaction shots were those of Ted Kennedy, whose stature seems to grow right along with his nose year after year after year. Kennedy has now reached a grand moment in the life of a senator; he looks like Hollywood itself cast him in the role. Seriously. With that waving mane of bright white hair, he evokes memories of Claude Rains looking distinguished as all get-out in Frank Capra's once- controversial, now-classic movie "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." Never mind that the senator played by Rains had some shady dealings in his repertoire.
Kennedy looked great, like he was ready to take his place next to Jefferson on Mount Rushmore. He gives off the kind of venerable vibes that some of us got from an Everett Dirksen way back when, or a Charles Laughton -- oh wait, Laughton was a make-believe senator, too (in "Advise and Consent")....
One of the bigger surprises of the night was instantly evident, even as Bush made his tedious way down an aisle before delivering the speech. Though he's favored blue ties (sometimes baby blue) throughout his presidency, Bush wore a red necktie last night. Could this signify a change in terrorism alert status? Or maybe just the fact that Bush is now in full ramming mode, not merely a president but a politician again, up to his collar in the rigors of an election year?
It was obviously the latter, and the fact that Bush appeared to be so happy, so elated, so giddily primed for another political slugfest was a little bit disheartening, and even a little bit scary.
END of Excerpt
For the Shales review in full: www.washingtonpost.com
From the January 19 Late Show with David Letterman, as presented by John McEnroe who will soon have a prime time talk show on CNBC, the "Top Ten Reasons I'll Make a Good Talk Show Host." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com
10. "You never know when I'll go nuts and beat a guest with a tennis racquet"
9. "America is starving for anecdotes about 20-year-old Wimbledon quarterfinal matches"
8. "It's on CNBC -- If they get ten viewers, they're happy"
7. "Bush is an idiot and he's President, so anything's possible"
6. "There's nothing more entertaining then watching me bully people until they cry"
5. "Uhh, you may recall a little hit show I hosted on ABC called "The Chair""
4. "You won't know this at home, but the studio is going to smell like a fresh can of tennis balls"
3. "How many grand slams has Oprah won"
2. "I've gotten some great advice from my idol, Jay Leno"
1. "I'm also willing to have a baby to boost ratings"
# Reminder: Dennis Miller is scheduled to appear tonight, Thursday, on NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Miller's new nightly program debuts Monday on CNBC at 9pm EST/6pm PST.
-- Brent Baker