Appearance Alert!
MRC's Brent Bozell on FNC's The Kelly File, Friday 9:40pm ET/PT

CBS Takes on Bush SS Plan: "Takes the Safety Out of Safety Net" --2/4/2005


1. CBS Takes on Bush SS Plan: "Takes the Safety Out of Safety Net"
Twenty-one hours after President Bush outlined his plan for Social Security, CBS News began its campaign to discredit it. "He claims it would guarantee future retirees a nest egg," John Roberts relayed before countering that "as the last market crash proved, investments are hardly a sure thing." Though polls show young adults overwhelming support the idea of putting some money into personal accounts, Roberts couldn't find one. Instead, he highlighted two college students, one who "thinks the President's plan takes the safety out of safety net." That student's insight: "I just feel like the stock market itself, like, who knows when it's going to crash?" The other student "didn't hear enough last night to convince him." After Roberts, CBS turned to Anthony Mason for an outline of Bush's proposal. Mason featured a professor who asserted that "personal accounts can be viewed, in large part, like a shell game." Echoing Roberts, Mason treated the Senate Minority Leader as an expert on stock market performance: "The market doesn't always go up. As Senator Harry Reid said, we could be playing 'Social Security roulette.'"

2. Apple & Olbermann Cite 1967 Vietnam Vote to Undermine Iraq Vote
A September 4, 1967 New York Times story headlined, "U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote: Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror," is gaining momentum as the favorite anecdote of liberal journalists interested in undermining any good feelings about the election in Iraq. On Thursday's Imus in the Morning, prompted by New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, Times veteran R.W. "Johnny" Apple asserted: "I was struck by the similarity between the euphoric reaction in Washington after the elections there [Vietnam] in 1967 and the euphoric reactions to the elections in Iraq. I'll just read you one, the lead paragraph of a piece from that year in the Times..." MSNBC's Keith Olbermann read the same passage Thursday night on Countdown. George Stephanopoulos had opened Monday's Nightline by showcasing the vintage news article.


CBS Takes on Bush SS Plan: "Takes the
Safety Out of Safety Net"

CBS's Dan Rather Twenty-one hours after President Bush, in his State of the Union address, outlined his plan for Social Security, CBS News began its campaign to discredit it. "He claims it would guarantee future retirees a nest egg," John Roberts relayed before countering that "as the last market crash proved, investments are hardly a sure thing." Though polls show young adults overwhelming support the idea of putting some money into personal accounts, Roberts couldn't find one. Instead, he highlighted two college students, one who "thinks the President's plan takes the safety out of safety net." That student's insight: "I just feel like the stock market itself, like, who knows when it's going to crash?" The other student "didn't hear enough last night to convince him."

CBS's John Roberts After Roberts, CBS turned to Anthony Mason for an outline of Bush's proposal. Mason featured a professor who asserted that "personal accounts can be viewed, in large part, like a shell game." Echoing Roberts, Mason treated the Senate Minority Leader as an expert on stock market performance: "The market doesn't always go up. As Senator Harry Reid said, we could be playing 'Social Security roulette.'" Mason concluded by warning that "personal accounts add risk to a system designed to reduce it."

In fact, over any decade-plus period in modern history the stock market has risen in real terms and out-performed Social Security's three percent return.

As for how younger people feel about it, a Quinnipiac University Poll, of those 18 to 40, asked: "Do you support or oppose allowing individuals to invest a portion of their Social Security taxes in the stock market?" Result: Favored by 61 percent to 35 percent. The Polling Report posted this survey. See: pollingreport.com

Dan Rather opened the February 3 CBS Evening News with the two stories as he adopted the "privatizing" terminology used by opponents of the Bush plan:
"Good evening. Just hours after delivering his State of the Union address, President Bush hit the road today to try to sell the centerpiece of it, the centerpiece of his domestic agenda: His plan to dramatically change Social Security by privatizing part of it, allowing workers to invest in Wall Street and other investments. He's barn-storming through five states in two days, states that have at least one Democratic Senator he believes may be persuaded to back him. CBS's John Roberts reports the President will need all the support he can muster."

American University student Fareha Ahmed Roberts began, as corrected against the closed-captioning by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth: "President Bush, Fareha Ahmed and Sam Garrett were all hard at work today. The President, selling his State of the Union plan to reform Social Security with personal accounts. Ahmed and Garrett, figuring out what it all means to them. The President had no problem finding takers today. After all, the crowd was hand-picked and friendly."
George W. Bush, at an event at an unknown location: "Do you have any problems with the personal retirement accounts?"
Man on stage with Bush: "Absolutely not. They offer a-"
Bush: "I was hoping that'd be the answer."
Roberts: "But off the political stage, the calculation was far more complex. President Bush would allow workers to divert a third of their Social Security payroll taxes into personal accounts, with an initial yearly cap of $1,000, rising by $100 a year. He claims it would guarantee future retirees a nest egg. But as the last market crash proved, investments are hardly a sure thing. And personal accounts don't fix the looming shortfall in Social Security funding."
Fareha Ahmed, American University student: "I actually think that privatization of Social Security is a bad idea."
Roberts: "We first talked to Fareha Ahmed two months ago. A student and part-time worker at American University, back then she was on the fence about private accounts. She now thinks the President's plan takes the safety out of safety net."
Ahmed: "There's just a risk in no matter what you choose, and I just feel like the stock market itself, like, who knows when it's going to crash? Who knows when it, you know, it has its ups and downs."
Roberts: "Two months ago, graduate student Sam Garrett thought personal accounts might be a good idea. But he didn't hear enough last night to convince him."
Sam Garrett, graduate student: "I'd be more sold on the idea of private accounts if I felt certain that there were adequate protections for maintaining the social safety net side of Social Security, and also that the private aspect of the accounts would be large enough that I would actually have a meaningful benefit when I retire."
Roberts concluded, from the White House lawn: "And it's not just younger workers who are skeptical. Many members of the President's own party are queasy about the idea. They also worry that the entire campaign could be meaningless. President Bush doesn't now have the support to get it through, and with Democrats vowing to block him at every turn, he may never have the votes."

Rather segued to the next report: "The President insists the Social Security system needs to be substantially overhauled. Is this true? And if so, is his plan the best way to do it? We asked CBS News business correspondent Anthony Mason for a 'Reality Check.'"

Mason declared: "Putting Social Security money into personal accounts might get better returns in the stock market, but it won't make the Social Security system solvent."
Robert Chirinko, Emory University: "Oh, not at all. I think the personal accounts can be viewed, in large part, like a shell game. They're moving pieces around, and at the end of the day you actually have less than what you started with."
Mason: "As President Bush said last night:"
George W. Bush, in his State of the Union address: "In 2018, Social Security will be paying out more than it takes in."
Mason: "But personal accounts would actually cost the system money in the short term because if payroll taxes were diverted to those accounts, the government would have to borrow money to pay out benefits. How much money? The White House estimates $660 billion. But some economists say it could be more -- as much as $3 trillion.
"So what will fix the system? One proposal being floated in Washington is to change the way benefits are calculated. Instead of tying them to the rise in wages, they could be tied to price inflation, which historically doesn't rise as fast. What would that mean for a typical worker? Under the present wage-based system, a worker making $36,000 planning to retire in 2040 could expect benefits of more than $14,000 a year. But if those benefits were based instead on price inflation, that same worker might get less than $8,000 -- a drop of more than 40 percent. Those benefit cuts would make the system solvent, and the theory is that higher stock market returns in personal accounts would offset the losses in guaranteed benefits. But the market doesn't always go up. As Senator Harry Reid said, we could be playing 'Social Security roulette.'"
Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader, in his Monday Democratic response speech: "And that's coming from a Senator who represents Las Vegas."
Mason: "Personal accounts add risk to a system designed to reduce it. And that's important because a third of the retirees on Social Security depend on it for 90 percent of their income. Anthony Mason, CBS News, New York."

That may be true now, but with 401k/403b plans and IRAs now common, as time passes future retirees will be less dependent on Social Security.

Apple & Olbermann Cite 1967 Vietnam Vote
to Undermine Iraq Vote

R. W. Apple Jr. A September 4, 1967 New York Times story headlined, "U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote: Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror," is gaining momentum as the favorite anecdote of liberal journalists interested in undermining any good feelings about the election in Iraq. On Thursday's Imus in the Morning, prompted by New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, Times veteran R.W. "Johnny" Apple asserted: "I was struck by the similarity between the euphoric reaction in Washington after the elections there [Vietnam] in 1967 and the euphoric reactions to the elections in Iraq. I'll just read you one, the lead paragraph of a piece from that year in the Times..." MSNBC's Keith Olbermann read the same passage Thursday night on Countdown. George Stephanopoulos had opened Monday's Nightline by showcasing the vintage news article.

At the top of the January 31 Nightline, Stephanopoulos contended that "you don't have to be a cynic to wonder if the current Iraqi Prime Minister got just a little ahead of himself when he declared today that the terrorists now know they cannot win." With the 1967 New York Times headline on screen, Stephanopoulos asserted that "it wouldn't be the first time that the promise of elections went unfulfilled." After reading the Vietnam headline, Stephanopoulos pointed out how "our troops were there for six more years." For more, see the February 2 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org

Via phone, Apple appeared in the 6:30am EST half hour of Imus in the Morning on MSNBC. The MRC's Jessica Barnes caught this February 3 exchange between Imus and Apple, the former Washington Bureau Chief for the newspaper who still occasionally writes for it:

Imus: "Well, Maureen [Dowd] mentioned that you had some thoughts on this, and drew some parallels between the election in Vietnam, in South Vietnam in '63, was it?"
R.W. Apple Jr.: "Sixty-seven, yeah."
Imus: "Sixty-seven, I'm sorry."
Apple: "Well, I'm an old bozo so I have a long memory, and I was struck by the similarity between the euphoric reaction in Washington after the elections there in 1967 and the euphoric reactions to the elections in Iraq. I'll just read you one, the lead paragraph of a piece from that year in the Times:
"'United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election, despite a Viet Cong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting. Many voters risked reprisals threatened by the Viet Cong,' et cetera, et cetera.
"I know that there are a lot of dangers in comparing Vietnam to Iraq, but one thing is obvious in both cases: the people who don't like us didn't take part in either election, and the challenge, greater perhaps than the voting itself, is to get them into the tent, so to speak. We never got any significant defections from the Viet Cong as a result of this election, and I think that the President is optimistic if he thinks that you're going to get the people who didn't want this election, the Sunnis and many of the Kurds, to take part in the new government. We shall see, but it's a perilous thing, trying to construct a democracy while bombs are going off...."

Apple, however, has proven that his obsession with seeing everything through the prism of Vietnam has led him to laughably inaccurate dire warnings. In a "news analysis" for the March 30, 2003 New York Times, one week before Baghdad fell, he admonished:
"With every passing day, it is more evident that the failure to obtain permission from Turkey for American troops to cross its territory and open a northern front constituted a diplomatic debacle. With every passing day, it is more evident that the allies made two gross military misjudgments in concluding that coalition forces could safely bypass Basra and Nasiriya and that Shiite Muslims in southern Iraq would rise up against Saddam Hussein. Already, the commander of American ground forces in the war zone has conceded that the war that they are fighting is not the one they and their officers had foreseen. 'Shock and awe' neither shocked nor awed...
"Mr. Hussein seems to have decided that he can turn this war into Vietnam redux. He appears willing to take casualties and to give away territory to gain time. Over time, his strategy implies, he thinks he can isolate the United States and build a coalition of third-world nations. Already he is seen as less of an ogre and more of a defender of Islamic honor across the Arab world."

On his MSNBC Countdown program on Thursday night, the MRC's Bard Wilmouth noticed, Keith Olbermann delivered this tricky item meant to fool viewers:
"To our third story, Iraq. In the immediate aftermath of the successful elections this past Sunday, and a New York Times story summed up the vista neatly. 'United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in the election despite a terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting. A successful election has long been seen as the keystone,' the Times continued, 'in the President's policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes. That hope could have been dashed by a small turnout, indicating widespread scorn or a lack of interest in constitutional development, or by disruption of the balloting.'
"Unfortunately, those quotes are from an article from the New York Times of September 4, 1967. The heartening vote was in South Vietnam. The President for whom it was believed to be a keystone was Lyndon Johnson. And the turnout by registered voters there was 83 percent. With that preamble, insurgent violence has returned to the battered landscape of another country called Iraq..."


-- Brent Baker