CBS Jumps on "Bad News" for GOP & Hope for Dems, But in 1994... --5/10/2006
2. Katie Cites Reads Biblical Verses on Wealth in Scolding Pastor
3. WashPost Plays Up Liberal Chart Showing GOP Tax Cuts for the Rich
4. "Top Ten Surprises in ABC's Bird Flu Movie"
Bob Schieffer led Tuesday's CBS Evening News by heralding "bad news for the Republicans" in a new CBS News/New York Times poll and suggesting the new poll portends "a dramatic shift in the political landscape" with approval of Congress at only 23 percent, its lowest since 20 percent in 1994. But reporting on that low number 12 years ago, just six days before Republicans took control of the House and Senate, Bob Schieffer didn't see disaster ahead for Democrats. Back then he maintained: "It's hard to gauge who'll be helped or hurt by all this gloom come Election Day."
This year, Schieffer led with the bad news for the GOP poll: "Well, are we about to see a dramatic shift in the political landscape? If the findings of a new CBS News/New York Times poll are accurate, the answer may well be yes. President Bush's ratings have hit another all-time low" at "only 31 percent" approval "and the Republican-controlled Congress gets even lower marks, an approval rating of only 23 percent. That's just a little better than 1994 when dissatisfaction was running so high that Republicans wrested control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years from Democrats." Gloria Borger chimed in with how "our new poll shows just why Democrats are starting to believe, as opposed to simply hope, that change is in the air. By wide margins, the public says Democrats would do a better job of handling most all issues" and, "overall, Democrats are viewed favorably by 55 percent of Americans. Just 37 percent favor Republicans. That's a complete turnaround from 1994 when Republicans dominated public opinion just before taking control of the Congress."
Reporting the survey back in 1994, however, Schieffer did not inform viewers of how the GOP "dominated" issues, never referred to the Congress as "Democrat-controlled" and didn't bother to mention how 54 percent viewed Republicans favorably, ten points above the 44 percent who viewed Democrats favorably.
[This item was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To post your comments, go to: newsbusters.org ]
Twelve years ago, the CBS News/New York Times poll people waited until the very end of October to assess how the public viewed Congress and the Wednesday, November 2 CBS Evening News with Dan Rather and Connie Chung -- six days before the election -- waited until after the first ad break to get to the results.
Dan Rather dampened GOP excitement: "Republicans expect a big triumph. The latest CBS News/New York Times poll out tonight indicates many voters are confused and definitely in a volatile mood. No surprise there. But what may surprise you is what the people in our poll indicate they'll do to act on their frustrations on Election Day." Instead of zeroing in on the rejection of the Democratic Congress, Bob Schieffer, unlike this year, avoided partisan culpability as he explained how "only one voter in five gave Congress a favorable rating" and "many have apparently concluded it doesn't matter all that much who serves in Congress." What the public would do less than a week later escaped Schieffer: "Overall, people have a higher opinion of Republicans than Democrats, but Republicans seem to be failing in their effort to make these elections a referendum on the President" and "so it's hard to gauge who'll be helped or hurt by all this gloom come Election Day."
(That same newscast included then-reporter Eric Engberg's hit job on Newt Gingrich, whom he castigated as "bombastic and ruthless." Engberg maintained: "Newton Leroy Gingrich, former history professor, came to Congress in 1979. From the start, modesty was not his style. Rejecting the House's gentlemanly ways, he waged such constant guerilla war against the Democrats he was attacked for McCarthyism." Engberg scolded, "It's a record filled with contradictions: The family values candidate who divorced his ailing first wife, the avowed enemy of dirty politics who bounced 22 checks at the House bank and runs a big-dollar political action committee that won't disclose its contributors." Full transcript below.)
Back to this week. As usual, the CBS News/New York Times poll surveyed more Republicans than Democrats. The PDF of the full results lists 344 Republicans polled compared to 433 Democrats, numbers which were then weighted to give Democrats an even higher percent of those counted: 453 Democrats, but only 313 Republicans.
CBS Evening News with Bob Schieffer, May 9, 2006. Schieffer's tease:
Schieffer led his newscast with the poll, transcript corrected against the closed-captioning by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:
Gloria Borger on Capitol Hill, with numbers on screen: "Bob, our new poll shows just why Democrats are starting to believe, as opposed to simply hope, that change is in the air. By wide margins, the public says Democrats would do a better job of handling most all issues, including gas prices [Democrats 57%, Republicans 11%] and the war in Iraq [Democrats 48%, Republicans 30%]. And overall, Democrats are viewed favorably by 55 percent of Americans. Just 37 percent favor Republicans. That's a complete turnaround from 1994 when Republicans dominated public opinion just before taking control of the Congress." [Republicans viewed favorably by 37% now, 54% in 1994]
Now back to 1994. From Washington, DC on the Wednesday, November 2, 1994 CBS Evening News with Dan Rather and Connie Chung, Rather introduced the poll story right after the show's first ad break:
Bob Schieffer explained, over stock video of people and then numbers on screen:
Despite hiding the good news for Republicans in the poll, CBS producers must have realized what it meant since later in the half hour CBS aired a fairly derogatory profile of Newt Gingrich. Connie Chung set it up:
Eric Engberg: "Meet Newt Gingrich, the Republican who is President Clinton's walking worst case scenario of what could happen in next Tuesday's elections."
In what was perhaps an attempt to innoculate themselves against criticism of their hyping of The Da Vinci Code next week with Matt Lauer's "On The Road With The Code," NBC's Today show looked at the rise of "Christian conservatives," complete Tuesday morning with an interview with Pastor Joel Osteen of Sunday morning national TV fame. During the interview Couric, who is leaving for her new $15 million a year gig at the CBS Evening News, had the gall to question Osteen's own ventures, including a $13 million book deal: "How do you square your wealth with, with sort of the tenets of, of Christianity?"
Couric even recited a series of Bible verses to the pastor: "I looked up a couple of quotes which I found interesting. I was curious how, again, how you could square these things. It said, this is, Matthew 19, verses 23 and 24. 'Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'I tell you the truth. It is hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.'"
[This item, by the MRC's Geoff Dickens, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The following questions took place during the 7:30 half hour of the May 9 Today:
Couric: "Meanwhile your work I know Joel has made you a very wealthy man and you don't believe as Gordon Gekko did on Wall Street that, that, 'greed is good.' But you believe that wealth is good, that it's a positive thing. You make, I guess, most of your money from your books. You signed a $13 million book deal which I understand is bigger than Bill Clinton, Alan Greenspan and Pope John Paul II, so how do you square your wealth with, with sort of the tenets of, of Christianity?"
Osteen replied: "Well I don't think that just strive to get wealthy but you know the Bible, right there it says, 'the love of money.' It's what, what do you want to do. I mean my thing is if, if wealth is a problem then everyone of us here in America are, are sinners. Because you go to India where I've spent a lot of time and they don't have anything. So it's all relative to what your heart is toward it. I mean I can quote scriptures too that says, you know Jesus..."
Couric had set up the session: "In the past five years the power and influence of Christian conservatives has grown to unprecedented levels with the election and re-election of President Bush. The influence of Christianity is undeniable and its reach goes far beyond the walls of its sanctuaries. America's having an evangelical moment. A President who speaks openly about his faith."
The Washington Post reported on Wednesday's front page that House and Senate Republicans reached agreement on extending "President Bush's deep cuts to tax rates on dividends and capital gains," but the chart they used on the front page was a Democratic talking point. It shows that people with a 2005 income between $10,000 and $50,000 would receive nearly zero, while people making over $100,000 would have much larger returns. The source cited on the page was merely "Tax Policy Center."
But inside, readers learned that this supposedly nonpartisan center is a project of two liberal think tanks: "Middle-income households would receive an average tax cut of $20 from the agreement, according to the joint Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center, while 0.02 percent of households with incomes over $1 million would receive average tax cuts of $42,000."
And later, the Urban Institute complained about a Roth IRA provision: "Over the next 35 years, it would cost the government $36 billion, according to the Urban Institute. 'And it's losing the money when we're really going to need it,' said Leonard Burman, an economist at the Urban Institute."
The story itself, by Jonathan Weisman and Paul Blustein, includes both sides of the tax debate, but the Post really ought to have a more forthcoming front-page source citation, instead of trying to create a sense of ideological camouflage.
For the May 10 front page article: www.washingtonpost.com
It includes this "How Much Would You Save Under the Plan?" table:
[All the above was posted Wednesday morning by Tim Graham, on the MRC's NewsBusters blog. What follows is my elaboration:]
This isn't the first distortion of tax data by Washington Post reporter Jonathan Weisman to benefit the liberal spin. An excerpt from the May 14, 2003 CyberAlert:
The Democratic argument that the Bush tax cuts is skewed in favor of the rich "is seen by many as the sharpest and best weapon they have against Bush's drive to cut taxes by at least $550 billion over 10 years," Washington Post reporter Jonathan Weisman relayed before aiding that liberal spin by declaring it accurate.
In a oustandingly distorted and insidious May 13 "news analysis" piece, Weisman marveled at how "remarkable" it is that the Bush plan has gained public support given that "the President's original $726 billion tax cut plan -- and the smaller versions that passed the House and are under consideration in the Senate -- clearly do favor the affluent."
There you have it, the Washington Post taking sides in its news pages, declaring the political spin of one side accurate and of the other inaccurate by looking at the subject from just one point of view.
Weisman served as a stenographer for liberal class warriors: "Under Bush's original proposal, households with $40,000 to $50,000 in taxable income would receive an average tax cut of $482 and a boost of 1.2 percent to their total after-tax income. For households earning more than $1 million, the average tax cut would be more than $89,500, with an increase in their after-tax income of 4.2 percent, according to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center."
An accompanying table with the story on page A6 conveyed matching numbers, such as how those earning $10,000 to $20,000 would get only a $53 or $92 tax cut in the House or Senate plan while someone earning $200,000 to $500,000 would receive a cut of $5,631 or $4,232.
The Tax Foundation provides the analysis the Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman skipped:
-- According to preliminary data released by the Internal Revenue Service and a new Tax Foundation Special Report, the top-earning 25 percent of taxpayers earned more than two-thirds of the nation's income (67.3%) and paid more than five out of every six dollars collected by the federal income tax (84%) in 2000. There were 32 million tax returns in the top 25 percent, all with adjusted gross incomes (AGI) over $55,225.
The top one percent of U.S. taxpayers (annual income over $313,469) made 20.8 percent of the income earned in 2000 and paid 37.4 percent of the total federal individual income taxes collected that year. This fraction of the tax burden paid by the top one percent -- well over a third of the total -- is up from 25.1 percent ten years earlier in tax year 1990.
At the other end of the income spectrum, the bottom 50 percent of the nation's taxpayers earned only 13.0 percent of all income in 2000, but they paid an even smaller fraction of the federal individual income taxes collected -- 3.9 percent....
-- Skew of tax cuts in favor of lower incomes. A Tax Foundation table shows that under Bush's original plan a couple with two kids making $50,000 would have their income tax liability cut by 42 percent but that same family making $200,000 would receive a mere 9 percent income tax cut.
-- On dividend income, the Tax Foundation reported: "Despite widespread belief to the contrary, dividend income was earned by taxpayers across the income spectrum. In fact, 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.
END of Excerpt
For the May 14, 2003 CyberAlert with an excerpt from Weisman's polemic in the guise of a news article: www.mrc.org
From the May 9 Late Show with David Letterman, as presented by Britney Spears, the "Top Ten Surprises in ABC's Bird Flu Movie." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com
10. Thanks to sponsorship deal, flu is cured by delicious taste of Dr. Pepper
9. Humans attacked by pigeons with tire irons
8. 20% of population comes down with less dangerous "bird hiccups"
7. Every time someone says, "chicken," all the characters chug a beer
6. Hilarious scene in which Leslie Nielsen confuses his Tamiflu with his Viagra
5. Every single person in the world ends up at General Hospital
4. The big villain? Larry Bird
3. Sad conclusion in which Charlie Brown puts a bullet in Woodstock
2. Hilarious scene where the guy playing President Bush actually solves the problem
1. Sole survivors Michael Jackson and Rosie O'Donnell are forced to repopulate the earth
-- Brent Baker