2. Walter Cronkite Declares: "We Ought to Be Increasing the Taxes"
3. Torie Clark Departing Because She's "Frustrated" Over No
4. Woodruff to Kennedy: Plan Not Big Enough, Seniors "Undercut"
5. Two Years Apart CBS & ABC Feature Same Woman as Drug Cost Victim
6. Actor Kelsey
Grammer Avows He's a "Pro-Bush Guy"
7. "Penn's Pugnacity of the Day, Flag Symbolizes Murder and Greed
8. "Top 10 Things Going Through Bush's Mind" as Falling Off Segway
A bunch of criminal thugs rioted in a Michigan town, burning the private property of their neighbors, but CBS's Byron Pitts saw the rampaging by blacks, which followed a black guy dying when he lost control of his motorcycle while fleeing police, as a far greater sociological trend to be rationalized, "the smoldering ash of race and rage ignited."
Pitts followed the standard liberal line in not holding the criminals accountable for their own actions as he cited how "community leaders say" that the rioting was driven by "high unemployment and even higher crime." Pitts concluded that the situation in Benton Harbor, Michigan "may be a reminder" of how "America is still at war of sorts, at home and abroad."
Pitts, who narrated his June 18 CBS Evening News story from New York City, began over video of burning buildings: "Once again in America, the smoldering ash of race and rage ignited..."
Later, Pitts rationalized the criminal behavior of a minority of citizens: "Onlookers cheered as police officers were pelted with rocks and bottles. Community leaders say this is not just about one death, but rather years of violent confrontations between police and citizens, high unemployment and even higher crime."
Walter Cronkite thinks that taxes should not only not be cut, they should be raised. Wednesday night on CNN's NewsNight with Aaron Brown, Cronkite argued: "It seems to me that instead of cutting taxes, we ought to be increasing the taxes to pay off the deficit."
As if higher taxes always bring in more revenue than they cost in reduced economic activity, or if higher taxes wouldn't just lead to even greater spending as it always has in the past.
In the taped interview aired on the June 18 CNN program, slimmed this week from 90 to 60 minutes, Cronkite also railed against the Bush administration's foreign policy. In August, Cronkite will launch a weekly syndicated newspaper column.
For more about the column, see the June 4 CyberAlert about how Cronkite will begin writing a weekly column in August to be syndicated by King Features, the home of Helen Thomas' rants, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday. The former CBS News anchorman promised that in his first column he'll be "pointing out what is a liberal and explaining why I think most reporters are liberals." But, by Cronkite's reasoning, journalists are "liberals" because they're neither liberal nor conservative, just not "doctrinaire." Plus, a CyberAlert flashback to "Cronkite's Crockery of the Day," the liberal pontificating in his 1997 book. Go to: www.mediaresearch.org
Brown promised, or warned, of more Thursday night in part two of his interview with Cronkite.
ABC's Charles Gibson suggested on Tuesday's Good Morning America that Torie Clark is leaving her Pentagon press job because she's "frustrated with the questions" about how weapons of mass destruction "haven't been found yet" in Iraq.
MRC analyst Jessica Anderson caught the question during Gibson's June 17 interview with the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. His questions:
-- "Underway right now, you've got a frustrating, and so far fruitless search for chemical and biological weapons in Iraq, you've got Operation Desert Scorpion going on with these raids, and it almost seems as if the war is starting up again. So why leave now?"
-- "But isn't this really a very critical post-war stage and wouldn't you want to see this through, on the search for chemical and biological weapons, or are you just frustrated with the questions that they haven't been found yet?"
-- "You came to the Pentagon with a political and a public policy background, not a military background, and I'm curious, what was the one thing you learned about the military that you didn't expect, that most surprised you?"
-- "A lot of people have teased you about the outfits that you wore -- very colorful, you were. No military khaki, no military drab for you."
Instead of challenging Senator Ted Kennedy from the right about the cost of creating a massive new entitlement program, CNN's Judy Woodruff suggested to him on Wednesday's Inside Politics that his prescription coverage giveaway program in Medicare doesn't go far enough: "I began by asking him about his signing off on a plan that would leave some seniors with less drug coverage than they need and whether he undercut those seniors..."
Woodruff worried that the Senate version "is going to have to be compromised in the direction of the House version, which is much friendlier to the insurance industry," and how, "at a time when the Democrats are trying mightily to carve out distinct positions for themselves against a very popular Republican President," she scolded Kennedy, "what you have done is helped a Republican President take a very controversial issue off the table."
As an MRC Media Reality Check on Wednesday showed, Woodruff's portrayal of the Medicare expansion plan as not going far enough matches the theme expressed by reporters and anchors on ABC, CBS and NBC.
Some excerpts from Woodruff's taped session with Kennedy in his office played back on the June 18 Inside Politics:
Woodruff set up the segment: "Earlier today, Senator Edward Kennedy gave me his views of the issues involved. And I began by asking him about his signing off on a plan that would leave some seniors with less drug coverage than they need and whether he undercut those seniors and some of his own Democratic allies."
Woodruff's concern that the massive new spending plan doesn't go far enough matches the theme expressed recently by the other networks as reported in recent CyberAlerts and collated on Wednesday by the MRC's Tim Graham for a Media Reality Check. An excerpt with the examples of network reporters, who criticized the tax cut because of its impact on the deficit, but who portrayed the new prescription drug entitlement as not being big enough:
ABC: On June 11's World News Tonight, reporter Linda Douglass complained the bill was not an unlimited giveaway: "Senators voted earlier this year to limit the cost of any plan to $400 billion over 10 years. So the Senate plan has limits....Democrats complain that a third of seniors will still be stuck with big bills." On the June 16 Good Morning America, weatherman Tony Perkins interviewed HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson: "Some have said this bill doesn't go quite far enough -- it's more of a start than a long-term solution."
CBS: On the June 10 Evening News, Dan Rather portrayed a new Medicare entitlement as long overdue: "In Washington today, for the umpteenth time, there's talk of a possible compromise deal to provide at least some prescription drug coverage for people on Medicare. CBS's Joie Chen reports what's different this time as millions of older Americans wait for action." Chen touted "some badly needed help may be on the way, a $400 billion plan outlined today would give all seniors a prescription drug benefit."
Minutes later, Dan Rather tied tax cuts to a rising deficit, but not the "badly needed" Medicare subsidies: "The Congressional Budget Office is upping its projection of the federal budget deficit by 33 percent, largely because of the Bush tax cut. The CBO now estimates a record American deficit of more than $400 billion."
NBC: On the June 11 Today, reporter Campbell Brown warmly greeted "New hope for the 40 million seniors on Medicare. Next week the Senate is expected to pass a bipartisan plan finally adding a prescription drug benefit....The cost of the plan, $400 billion. But advocates for seniors, like the powerful American Association for Retired Persons, say it's still not enough."
On the June 16 Today, news anchor Ann Curry suggested even a record expansion would leave some liberals thinking Congress was stingy: "The Senate begins debate today on what would be the biggest expansion of Medicare benefits in its history. If the bill passes, prescription drugs would be subsidized for all 40 million members for the first time. Critics say the drug benefit isn't enough."
END of Excerpt
For the June 18 Media Reality Check in full: www.mediaresearch.org
For the Adobe Acrobat PDF version: www.mediaresearch.org
What a coincidence. Two years apart CBS News and ABC News featured the same elderly woman, in news stories about the need for a new prescription drug coverage program in Medicare and the shortcomings of Republican-pushed alternatives, as the poster victim of high prescription costs.
The MRC's Tim Graham noticed, while working on the Media Reality Check excerpted in item #4 above, the exploitation of the very same woman, Eva Baer-Schenkein, by the two networks.
But CBS and ABC didn't agree on her ailment. CBS's Diana Olick complained in 2001: "President Bush backs a plan that would target only the poorest and that leaves out middle income patients like Eva Baer-Schenkein." Baer-Schenkein asserted: "So now I'm not taking anything at all for my osteoporosis."
Two years later, ABC's Linda Douglass worried about how "71-year old Eva Baer-Schenkein suffers from hypertension and other health problems. She cannot afford the cost of her prescription drugs and is tired of waiting for Congress to help her."
Full rundowns of the two stories with the very same victim:
-- The Sunday, July 1, 2001 CBS Evening News:
Diana Olick began: "No sooner had the winning gavel sounded on the Patients' Bill of Rights than Senate Democrats announced they would charge ahead on comprehensive health care reform when they return from the holiday recess."
Following a clip of Senator Bob Graham of Florida, Olick explained: "Last Thursday Democrats introduced a Medicare reform act which includes unlimited prescription drug benefits for seniors who have paid their deductibles. President Bush backs a plan that would target only the poorest and that leaves out middle income patients like Eva Baer-Schenkein."
For more on that story, see the July 5, 2001 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
-- Fast forward to last week, and ABC featured the whinings from the very same woman on the June 11, 2003 World News Tonight.
Linda Douglass excitedly relayed: "The President and the Congress are hurrying now to pass this prescription drug plan. They do not want to face the voters in this, next year's election and tell them that they've failed one more time. Seventy-one-year old Eva Baer-Schenkein suffers from hypertension and other health problems. She cannot afford the cost of her prescription drugs and is tired of waiting for Congress to help her."
For more on coverage of the issue that night: www.mediaresearch.org
I'd guess that a mere 50 cents per CyberAlert subscriber every year, that would total about $7,000, would more than cover her prescription bills.
On a more serious note, this probably occurred because lazy and gullible network producers were guided to the same victim by one of the liberal groups pushing for the new spending program.
This afternoon, the MRC's Web team of Mez Djouadi and Tim Jones will post side-by-side still shots of Baer-Schenkein as showcased two years apart on CBS and ABC.
Actor Kelsey Grammer, star of NBC's Frasier sit-com, is "a pro-Bush guy," he declared Wednesday morning on FNC's Fox & Friends. Grammer praised President Bush for "a clear message" and "real courage" and dismissed investigations into pre-war claims about weapons of mass destruction as a "political ploy" since "everybody else saw the same information."
MRC analyst Patrick Gregory took down the relevant exchange on the June 18 Fox & Friends on FNC:
Steve Doocey: "You know, Kelsey our country has been through so much over the last year, in particular the war in Iraq. A lot of Hollywood celebrities anti-war, anti-Bush, but where do you come down?"
For more about Grammer and a picture of him, consult the Internet Movie Database's page on him: us.imdb.com
On Friday night this week, Grammer will be the guest host, filling in for David Letterman, on CBS's Late Show.
Now the exact opposite of Grammer, the ninth installment of "Penn's Pugnacity of the Day," quotes drawn from actor Sean Penn's 4,000-plus word ad which filled a full page of the May 30 New York Times. In this installment, Penn regrets how the U.S. "flag that took me so long to love, respect, and protect, threatens to become a haunting banner of murder, greed, and treason against our principles, honored history, Constitution, and our own mothers and fathers."
As noted in the June 4 CyberAlert, it's impossible to sum up Penn's diatribe, so I'll defer to Tony Snow, who in his end of the show "Final Thoughts" on the June 1 Fox News Sunday, offered this apt description of the screed: "It throbs with loopy desperation, as if he were trying to persuade authorities that aliens from Alpha Centauri had instructed him to scale a TV tower, put on a hat made of foil and await lightning. You know the old theory that a chimp, given enough time in front of a typewriter, would pound out the Gettysburg Address? Well, this is a simian rough draft."
Links below to the earlier installments.
Today, the ninth installment of "Penn's Pugnacity of the Day," culled from the 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th and 26th paragraphs:
I'm not a Democrat, not a Republican, not a Green, not aligned with any party. Yet, as a citizen of the United States, I was raised in the public school system of the 1960's and '70s. Each morning, following the first bell, we were called upon as young boys and girls to stand, put our right hand over our hearts, and pledge allegiance to the flag of our country. As a schoolboy, I participated in this tradition unquestioningly and by rote. When in fact, neither flag, nor country, nor school for that matter, is of much interest to most young boys dreaming of bicycle rides, surfing, or the girl in the front of the class. (Was it the way the flag waved or the wave of her hair I'd pledged to?... I don't remember.)
Of course, with age, and maturity, come examination of, and rebellion toward, the traditions and compulsory behaviors of our childhood. With some time however, we gain at least an objective appreciation and respect for the great symbol of sacrifice and heroism reflected in such an icon as our flag (albeit historically and presently intermingled with varying degrees of corruption and exploitation). Ultimately though, as with many things this life, these symbols are vulnerable to underappreciation, until we have lost them. I am an American and I fear that I, and our people are on the verge of losing our flag. If it is lost, it will have been under our watch, under mine and undermined.
Only five short years ago, September 12th, 1998, I sat upon a wooden church pew as a military honor guard reached across my lap to place a precisely folded American flag into the stoic hands of my father's widow. His beloved wife of forty-one years...my mother. My dad, Leo Penn had died from lung cancer at the age of 77. The last time I saw my father was in a viewing casket on September 11th.) A decorated soldier in World War II and blacklisted artist in the '50s, it was this cloth of Stars and Stripes and all it had meant to him, and had come to mean to me, that brought unexpected and unrestrained emotion. The soldier, in his fine dress uniform, began to speak to my mother "In the name of the President of the United States and in gratitude for your husband's heroic..." And that was it, I was gone. I thought, where the hell did this flood of emotion come from?
But, the answer came quickly. My father loved this country so deeply, and he had passed that love and patriotism on to his three sons. At that moment, this son, this distracted boy from the public school system, became all that patriotic could describe in a living civilian, and that flag before my mother's now gently tear-streaked face, came to embody every freedom, privilege, and pride I'd ever known. It symbolized my father. His great heart, his kindness, his courage, and yes, even his (I was lucky) occasional human lapses.
Yet, now here we are, just those five short years have passed, and that same flag that took me so long to love, respect, and protect, threatens to become a haunting banner of murder, greed, and treason against our principles, honored history, Constitution, and our own mothers and fathers. To become a vulgar billboard, advertising our disloyalty to ourselves and our allies. Our forefathers entrusted that flag and what it should stand for, whether times of bliss or terror, to our fathers and mothers. And they have entrusted it to us. The responsibility "for which it stands" is ours. That flag is my father and I want him back.
END of Excerpt
For a picture of Penn and a rundown of his movie roles, check the Internet Movie Database's page on him: us.imdb.com
Just one more scintillating installment to go, the final three paragraphs.
From the June 17 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Things Going Through President Bush's Mind at this Moment (Falling off a Segway)." Late Show Web site: www.cbs.com
The top ten list was displayed over a still shot of Bush falling off the segway last weekend at his family's home in Kennebunk, Maine.
10. "Damn you, Al-Qaeda!"
9. "I'm sure Thomas Jefferson fell off his Segway every now and then"
8. "It looked so easy on 'The Jetsons'"
7. "I misunderestimated my center of gravity"
6. "Thank God no one got a picture of this"
5. "Only 4 days 'til Hulk! Only 4 days 'til Hulk! Only 4 days 'til Hulk!"
4. "Damn, this thing would give Cheney, like, 3 heart attacks"
3. "Congratulations, Segway -- you just joined the axis of evil"
2. "To distract everyone, bomb the hell out of Syria"
Guest Rob Reiner, a liberal actor, then came out and suggested his own entry: "I thought one of the Top Ten was going to be: 'Ahh, I finally found a weapon of mass destruction!'"
Actually, that one's not too bad.
And from the June 18 Late Show's "Top Ten Worst Summer Jobs," item #9: "The New York Times fact checker."
-- Brent Baker