2. Sharpton Thanks Matthews for a Great Anti-Bush SS Plan Soundbite
3. When Juvenile Executions Okayed, Nets Stressed Condemnation
4. Rather Cries During Interviews, Still Believes Memos Authentic
5. Welcome to the New CyberAlert and Our Two New Versions
Dan Rather led Wednesday's CBS Evening News by touting how a new poll found most opposed to President Bush's Social Security reform plan and how a majority "say they would support raising the amount of wages subject to Social Security payroll taxes." CBS ignored Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan's latest comments in favor of private accounts, but denigrated a small conservative group with a little-seen anti-AARP ad. Rather asked John Roberts: "Are there or are there not signs that this fight is going down the slime, smear, nasty road?" Without citing AARP's smearing of private account supporters, Roberts responded: "Oh, Dan, absolutely there are. A conservative retirees' lobby, USA Next, has teamed up with the brain trust behind last year's Swift Boat ads to take on the AARP." NBC's David Gregory noted the anti-AARP ads, but also pointed out how Greenspan urged "Congress to fix Social Security by adding private accounts."
ABC's World News Tonight avoided the Social Security debate and while Peter Jennings cited Greenspan's testimony, he only reported Greenspan's criticism of the large budget deficits and how consideration should be given to raising taxes. Jennings read this short item: "The Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan, warned the Congress today about the federal deficits. They were, he said, unsustainable, and lawmakers should consider spending cuts and maybe even tax increases. The President's budget anticipates a record $427 billion shortfall in the new fiscal year."
-- Dan Rather led the March 2 CBS Evening News with the bad poll numbers for Bush: "Good evening. President Bush is about to launch a renewed all-out battle to win public support for changing Social Security. From all appearances, it is an uphill battle. Take a look at a new CBS News/New York Times poll. More than half of Americans polled say the President's plan for private accounts is a bad idea [51 to 43 percent]. It gets majority support from only the youngest adults, those 18 to 29 [good idea by 55 to 37 percent]. But if adding private accounts means cutting now guaranteed benefits, even they say no [60 to 31 percent]. A majority of all Americans polled say they would support raising the amount of wages subject to Social Security payroll taxes [61 percent], but few would back raising the retirement age. So those are the numbers. Let's go to the White House now and John Roberts. John?"
For the CBSNews.com rundown of the survey results: www.cbsnews.com
Rather then asked: "Well, John, are there or are there not signs that this fight is going down the slime, smear, nasty road?"
As Roberts spoke, viewers saw a still shot of the ad, as displayed on a left-wing Web site critical of it, with an "x" over a soldier next to a check mark over a picture of two men kissing: www.dailykos.com
The home page for USA Next: www.usanext.org
The AARP's Web page viewers briefly saw in the Roberts story: www.aarp.org
Unlike the little-known USA Next, AARP has tons of money and has spent a lot of it on high-priced ads in widely-distributed major newspapers, ads which call Bush's plan "extreme" and "radical" and claim it will "destroy" the program and "hurt all generations."
AARP and USA Next share one thing in common, however: Neither put their ads on their own Web sites.
Williams led the broadcast, as corrected against the closed-captioning by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth: "Good evening. Ask a senior citizen in this country what organizations they belong to, and there is a good chance they will mention AARP. Its huge membership gives it enormous power in Washington. But it's been under attack by some because it is one player in a high-stakes effort to reform Social Security. The President is pushing private investment accounts. The Democrats say that idea is dead. It is clear that fixing whatever may ail Social Security may be easier said than done. And we begin here tonight with NBC's David Gregory."
Gregory began: "On Capitol Hill today, it was Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan sounding the alarm urging Congress to fix Social Security by adding private accounts before the program can no longer keep its promises to seniors."
"That was a great soundbite, Chris. I might use it," left-wing former Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton told MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Tuesday night after Matthews went on a rant about how Bush's Social Security plan will create more debt financed by the Japanese, so "why don't they just start paying people in their Social Security checks with yen, because we're getting money from them to pay the older folks their regular check?"
The MRC's Geoff Dickens caught the exchange on the March 1 Hardball.
Matthews: "What about the bigger problem, Reverend Sharpton? We're talking about the President's plan, which is, on top of the half-trillion dollars in deficit we have each year now in the federal government, adding more and more debt, more and more money we owe the Chinese and Japanese investors. Now he comes along and, as part of his plan, he says, to finance the plan of personal accounts, we're gonna borrow up to $2 trillion over the next 10 years again from the international markets, again from the Chinese and Japanese investors. I mean, why don't they just start paying people in their Social Security checks with yen, because we're getting money from them to pay the older folks their regular check?"
Tuesday's Supreme Court decision voiding the death penalty sentences of 72 convicted murderers, who committed their crimes as juveniles, drew barely more than a yawn from Wednesday morning's network news shows. NBC barely touched it while ABC and CBS didn't trumpet how conservatives were upset about it. But in 1989, when the court had ruled capital punishment for juveniles was allowable, ABC and CBS emphasized liberal condemnation. Back then, ABC's Morton Dean highlighted how "another high court ruling has triggered cries of protest from death penalty opponents" and CBS's Charles Osgood proclaimed that "two Supreme Court decisions are coming under fire this morning from death penalty opponents."
(But the morning shows on Wednesday of this year did not completely ignore news from the criminal justice system -- all three programs ran full reports on the opening statements in the Michael Jackson child molestation trial.)
[The MRC's Rich Noyes checked the MRC's archive for the 1989 contrast and submitted a draft of this item for CyberAlert.]
On the June 27, 1989 Good Morning America, news anchor Morton Dean highlighted liberal outrage. MRC's Jessica Barnes took down Dean's introduction to a story by reporter Tim O'Brien: "Another high court ruling has triggered cries of protest from death penalty opponents. The Justices have decided that executing mentally retarded convicts and minors is not cruel and unusual punishment."
Over on CBS's This Morning, the MRC's Brian Boyd transcribed how news anchor Charles Osgood took a similar approach: "Two Supreme Court decisions are coming under fire this morning from death penalty opponents. The Court ruled that capital punishment can be imposed on murderers who are as young as 16 when they commit their crimes. The justices also said that mentally retarded murderers could be executed."
But on Wednesday morning's Early Show, CBS found no one outraged either by the Supreme Court's reversal or the activist logic it used to get there. News anchor Julie Chen read a two-sentence item: "The Supreme Court has ruled that murderers who killed before they were 18 years old can not be executed. That means Washington sniper Lee Malvo and dozens of other convicted killers will serve life in prison instead."
On Good Morning America newsreader Robin Roberts portrayed the reverse ruling as merciful: "A decision in another case will spare the lives of more than 70 death row inmates across the country. The Supreme Court ruled it's unconstitutional to execute offenders who were under 18 when they committed their crimes." But the subsequent story by ABC reporter Manuel Medrano did focus on the "outraged" reaction of the mother of a man car-jacked and killed by a teenager.
For its part, NBC's Today skipped reporting on the Supreme Court's upholding of the death penalty back in 1989. On Wednesday, news anchor Ann Curry had only a single sentence: "On Tuesday, the high court ruled that the death penalty for juveniles is unconstitutional."
The March 2 CyberAlert recounted Tuesday night coverage: In reporting the Supreme Court's decision to bar the death penalty for those under 18, the networks on Tuesday night stressed how out of step the U.S. had become with the rest of the world and ABC and CBS gave equal time to relatives of murderers as to victim's families. NBC anchor Brian Williams heralded how the ruling "ends a practice that drew ridicule for years from some of America's closest friends around the world." Peter Jennings trumpeted how "this brings the U.S. into line with much of the world." ABC's Manuel Medrano highlighted how "most of the world has already outlawed juvenile executions" and lamented how the U.S. "was among only a handful of countries permitting such executions." Medrano relayed how one woman "is relieved that today's decision means her father's death sentence will never be carried out." CBS's Jim Stewart passed along how a murderer's mother "was relieved, arguing that crimes committed as a juvenile don't deserve the ultimate grown-up punishment." See: www.mediaresearch.org
On Tuesday's Imus in the Morning on MSNBC, the New Yorker's Ken Auletta revealed that Dan Rather, in "the dozen or so hours of interviews we did, he cried very often, and unashamedly by the way. He wasn't, you know, embarrassed by the tears, but I think this is a man whose life is flashing before him and who worries that he's going to be judged, his entire career is going to be judged by that September 8th broadcast and not by the other good things he's done throughout his journalistic career." In the magazine, Auletta revealed that Rather was "heartened that the panel declared that it couldn't prove political bias or that the documents were fake."
Appearing via phone on the March 1 Imus in the Morning on MSNBC, Auletta reported: "The poignancy of Rather to me, and what I tried to convey to readers in that piece, is here he is at 73 looking at a precipice and wondering is this the last time? Am I going to have an opportunity to go to 60 Minutes Wednesday, or is it going to be cancelled? And if it is cancelled, will they allow me to go to 60 Minutes Sunday? And it's not clear they will. So he's wondering -- he loves to fish, he loves sports, but that's not what really interests him. He wants to work, and will he be able to work at age 74 as he is at age 73? And that creates this sense of his life flashing before his eyes, and it's one of the reasons why throughout the dozen or so hours of interviews we did he cried very often, and unashamedly by the way. He wasn't, you know, embarrassed by the tears, but I think this is a man whose life is flashing before him and who worries that he's going to be judged, his entire career is going to be judged by that September 8th broadcast and not by the other good things he's done throughout his journalistic career."
In his March 7 New Yorker story, which featured an unflattering up close, full page color photo of Rather, Auletta hinted at Rather's tears as he relayed how Rather apparently still believes the widely-discredited National Guard memos are real. After Rather defended his colleagues as "honorable people" and proclaimed how he's not going "to give them up," Auletta wrote:
As Dan Rather's last night as anchor approaches (March 9), check out "Countdown to Dan's Departure: MRC's Documentation of Rather's Record of Liberal Bias."
The MRC has posted two resources for those interested in quotes and reporting which demonstrate Dan Rather's liberal record:
-- "Dan Rather's Legacy of Outrageous Liberal Bias," a special four-page Notable Quotables, put together by the MRC's Rich Noyes, with more than 45 quotes from Rather's career. Four of the quotes are accompanied by RealPlayer video clips. Go to: www.mediaresearch.org
For the Adobe Acrobat PDF which matches the printed version: www.mediaresearch.org
The MRC's Mez Djouadi created the HTML files and converted the videos into RealPlayer clips.
For the home page of "The Dan Rather File," go to: www.mediaresearch.org
Rather will be a guest tonight, Thursday, on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman, one of his very few interviews scheduled before he steps down next week.
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-- Brent Baker