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CBS Treats Innocuous DeLay Comments on Schiavo as Scandalous --3/23/2005


1. CBS Treats Innocuous DeLay Comments on Schiavo as Scandalous
CBS's Bob Schieffer on Tuesday night noted how "members of Congress deny" their actions on the Schiavo case represented "a political move on their part but," Schieffer charged, "some of their comments caught on tape suggest otherwise." Wyatt Andrews insisted that "there is evidence some Republicans saw a political opening in Schiavo by framing her plight in the context of pro-life or anti-abortion politics." His evidence? One memo with a political point and some comments by Tom DeLay to "a leading Christian group," which Andrews treated as scandalous and characterized as DeLay saying "the Schiavo case was sent by heaven to focus attention on the helpless." As if that's something to be embarrassed about. Schieffer apparently thought so as he soon asked Andrews: "Has Tom DeLay issued any statement since these comments of his became public?" Andrews replied that "he has not" and went on to assert that "there is a lot of buzz here on Capitol Hill that he spearheaded this over the weekend to change the subject from some of the ethics questions that he's facing."

2. ABC Discovers that Disabled Worry What Schiavo Means to Them
Only after a federal court turned down a new review of the facts in the Schiavo case did ABC's World News Tonight decide it was time to let viewers know about how, as Jake Tapper reported, "some activists in the disabled community suspect Americans might not want to live in their conditions, either. And if Americans don't care about Terri Schiavo, maybe we won't care about them." Tapper highlighted the case of a woman whose husband was urged to let her die but who later recovered. Last Friday, the same newscast displayed hostility to the Schiavo cause as Tapper devoted a whole piece to how "members of Congress," all Republicans, "made claims contradicting experts in medicine and bio-ethics." He concluded with this blast: "Terri Schiavo and her family deserved better than the way Congress worked this week." But on Tuesday night, ABC discovered it is not just Republicans who are concerned. Tapper pointed out how "liberal Democratic Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, a long-time advocate for the physically and mentally challenged, has expressed concern about what the Schiavo case could mean for the disabled."

3. Guest Undercuts Olbermann's Shot at DeLay and Bush for Hypocrisy
Keith Olbermann's shot at Tom DeLay and George W. Bush for hypocrisy undercut by his guest. On Monday's Countdown on MSNBC, Olbermann highlighted how "ironic" it is that DeLay's home state of Texas "passed a bill permitting the termination of life support in cases where further treatment is considered, quote, 'futile,' even when family members oppose that termination." He trumpeted how "the bill was signed into law in 1999 by then-Texas Governor George W. Bush." But Olbermann's guest, Dallas Morning News reporter Wayne Slater, countered that if the Texas law were applied in the Schiavo case the same situation would have resulted. Olbermann tried again, wanting to know if there is "consistency between his position" on the law Bush signed "and the statement today that he made, 'It is wise to always err on the side of life'?" Slater rebutted Olbermann's interpretation of inconsistency: "There actually is consistency."

4. CNN's Schneider Goes to Liberal Enclave to Get Views on SS
One year ago, CNN's Bill Schneider portrayed, accurately, the Washington suburb of Bethesda, Maryland, as a darkly blue-hued bastion of liberalism, an area where "Bush hatred is now consuming liberals." Yet on Tuesday's Inside Politics, for a representative sample of young voters' views on President Bush's Social Security reforms, Schneider visited a Bethesda bowling alley to see how 20-somethings felt about Bush's proposed reforms. For a liberal town, Schneider featured a relatively balanced bunch of bowlers, though he did compare the risk of investing Social Security to a gutterball-laden bowling game and featured a bowler worried about the Bush plan leaving some "out in the cold."

5. Mary Mapes Signs Book Deal, Insists Bush Guard Memos Authentic
It looks like Mary Mapes, the CBS News producer who obtained the memos at the center of the network's fraudulent reporting on President Bush's National Guard service, will make some money off of her hit piece. New York's Business magazine on Thursday reported that "St. Martin's Press has agreed to pay in the high six figures to publish a book by Ms. Mapes tentatively titled The Other Side of the Story." Reporter Matthew Flamm relayed that "Mapes continues to insist that the story was accurate, and that the documents were not forged." Mapes told the AP: "I would like a chance to set the record straight about...the very valid journalism behind the story."


CBS Treats Innocuous DeLay Comments on
Schiavo as Scandalous

CBS Evening News CBS's Bob Schieffer on Tuesday night noted how "members of Congress deny" their actions on the Schiavo case represented "a political move on their part but," Schieffer charged, "some of their comments caught on tape suggest otherwise." Wyatt Andrews insisted that "there is evidence some Republicans saw a political opening in Schiavo by framing her plight in the context of pro-life or anti-abortion politics." His evidence? One memo with a political point and some comments by Tom DeLay to "a leading Christian group," which Andrews treated as scandalous and characterized as DeLay saying "the Schiavo case was sent by heaven to focus attention on the helpless." As if that's something to be embarrassed about. Schieffer apparently thought so as he soon asked Andrews: "Has Tom DeLay issued any statement since these comments of his became public?" Andrews replied that "he has not" and went on to assert that "there is a lot of buzz here on Capitol Hill that he spearheaded this over the weekend to change the subject from some of the ethics questions that he's facing."

At the top of the March 22 CBS Evening News, Andrews teased his upcoming piece: "I'm Wyatt Andrews. Congress says the Terri Schiavo law was all about principle. But was it really politics?"

Schieffer soon introduced his story: "As Schiavo's case moves through the federal courts, there's a real debate now about the way Congress actually made a federal case out of all of this. Members of Congress deny it was a political move on their part, but some of their comments caught on tape suggest otherwise. Wyatt Andrews has the tapes tonight for this report."

CBS's Wyatt Andrews & Bob Schieffer Andrews began: "With the country sharply divided over the way Congress rushed through a law for Terri Schiavo-"
Sarah Morris, Georgia resident: "I really just don't think that Congress has any business interfering in such a matter."
Andrews: "-congressional leaders have insisted their only motivation was saving a life."
Tom DeLay, House Majority Leader, on Monday: "This is not a political issue. This is life and death."
Andrews countered: "But there is evidence some Republicans saw a political opening in Schiavo by framing her plight in the context of pro-life or anti-abortion politics. One memo circulating in the Senate last week touted how the 'pro-life base will be excited by the issue.' Republican leaders strongly disavowed that. But on Friday, House Leader Tom DeLay told the Family Research Council, a leading Christian group, the Schiavo case was sent by heaven to focus attention on the helpless."
DeLay, in audio tape with an echo: "One thing that God has brought to us is Terri Schiavo to elevate the visibility of what's going on in America."
Andrews: "DeLay also described the stakes behind the Schiavo showdown as personal."
CBS Evening News DeLay, from same audio tape: "This is exactly the issue that's going on in America that attacks against the conservative movement against me and against many others."
Unidentified male protester: "Jesus, we pray right now."
Andrews acknowledged: "The Schiavo issue does resonate with religious groups who fear a devaluing of life in America. Is Ms. Schiavo's case important to your movement?"
Tony Perkins, Family Research Council: "Whether it be Terri Schiavo or Jane Smith, it's a human being. It's also important for the culture of life that I think is growing in this country, and that we hope to expand."
Andrews: "But an overwhelming majority of Americans believe that Congress intervened here out of politics, not out of principle. Most Americans believe this is a private family matter. Bob?"
Schieffer to Andrews: "Has Tom DeLay issued any statement since these comments of his became public, Wyatt?"
Andrews answered: "Bob, he has not. He's said to be traveling today. You know, there is a lot of buzz here on Capitol Hill that he spearheaded this over the weekend to change the subject from some of the ethics questions that he's facing. But his office told me today that he really believes there are too many helpless patients not being cared for. And on this one, he wanted to draw the line."

ABC Discovers that Disabled Worry What
Schiavo Means to Them

Sen. Tom Harkin Only after a federal court turned down a new review of the facts in the Schiavo case did ABC's World News Tonight decide it was time to let viewers know about how, as Jake Tapper reported, "some activists in the disabled community suspect Americans might not want to live in their conditions, either. And if Americans don't care about Terri Schiavo, maybe we won't care about them." Tapper highlighted the case of a woman whose husband was urged to let her die but who later recovered. Last Friday, the same newscast displayed hostility to the Schiavo cause as Tapper devoted a whole piece to how "members of Congress," all Republicans, "made claims contradicting experts in medicine and bio-ethics." He concluded with this blast: "Terri Schiavo and her family deserved better than the way Congress worked this week." But on Tuesday night, ABC discovered it is not just Republicans who are concerned. Tapper pointed out how "liberal Democratic Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, a long-time advocate for the physically and mentally challenged, has expressed concern about what the Schiavo case could mean for the disabled."

Tapper then played a clip from Saturday of Harkin. On Saturday night ABC didn't play any soundbite from Harkin or mention his support for the congressional action on Schiavo's behalf, the MRC's Brad Wilmouth confirmed.

On Friday night, as documented in the March 21 CyberAlert, ABC was the most hostile to the Schiavo cause:
There may be a split amongst conservatives over whether congressional action to allow a federal court to have jurisdiction over the Terri Schiavo case is wise, but ABC's World News Tonight on Friday approached the subject purely from the left, attributing nefarious and illegitimate motives to conservatives. "We're going to begin tonight with the extraordinary last-minute attempt by members of the Congress to interfere, or to intervene, in the case of Terri Schiavo," Peter Jennings announced before relaying how "the Florida judge...didn't think much of the interference." Linda Douglass highlighted GOP talking points about how "this is a great political issue...this is a tough issue for Democrats." Jennings next stressed how few people showed up to protest outside of the hospice center and Jeffrey Kofman fretted that while before the Florida legislature "there are huge issues -- hurricane recovery, education -- and yet almost a quarter of the legislative calendar has been devoted to Terri Schiavo." See: www.mediaresearch.org

Peter Jennings set up the March 22 World News Tonight story: "And as you well know, anybody and everybody in this country has an opinion on the Schiavo case. We try to cover many of them. Tonight, ABC's Jake Tapper on the activists in the disabled community."

Tapper noted: "Most Americans see Terri Schiavo in this videotape, taken in 2002 and, according to polls, conclude they would not want to be kept alive in that condition. But some activists in the disabled community suspect Americans might not want to live in their conditions, either. And if Americans don't care about Terri Schiavo, maybe we won't care about them."
Heather DeMian, Not Dead Yet activist: "We see it as the beginning of a slippery slope towards just getting rid of people that we see as a burden."
Tapper: "Last year, 17 disability rights groups asked the Florida Supreme Court to keep Schiavo's feeding tube in place. They argue that the medical community may not see the inherent value in her life."
Steve Eidelman, disability rights activist: "They may not value people with significant physical and intellectual disabilities."
Tapper: "In 1995, Kate Adamson had a severe stroke and for weeks was not able to communicate. Her husband says they were told her life would not be worth living."
Steve Klugman, husband of Kate Adamson, sitting next to her: "They advised me not to do anything, I think the word they used was 'heroic,' to save her. It was wink, wink, nod, nod, let us let her die."
Tapper: "Today, Kate Adamson is lobbying lawmakers in Florida arguing doctors make mistakes and societies should always err on the side of life."
Kate Adamson, stroke victim: "Just because someone is unresponsive, it doesn't mean to say that there's not somebody in there."
Tapper: "Medical technology keeps more people alive than ever before. Which leads to this question: Just because technology can keep so many people in grave conditions alive, should it? Liberal Democratic Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, a long-time advocate for the physically and mentally challenged, has expressed concern about what the Schiavo case could mean for the disabled."
Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) on Saturday: "Many times, there's no one to speak for them. And it's hard to determine what their wishes really are or were."
Tapper concluded: "In Houston, Texas, last week, the law permitted a hospital to take this severely handicapped six-month-old off a ventilator against its mother's wishes. One more example, say the disabled community, of their lives not being perceived as having any value. Jake Tapper, ABC News, Washington."

Guest Undercuts Olbermann's Shot at DeLay
and Bush for Hypocrisy

Keith Olbermann & Wayne Slater Keith Olbermann's shot at Tom DeLay and George W. Bush for hypocrisy undercut by his guest. On Monday's Countdown on MSNBC, Olbermann highlighted how "ironic" it is that DeLay's home state of Texas "passed a bill permitting the termination of life support in cases where further treatment is considered, quote, 'futile,' even when family members oppose that termination." He trumpeted how "the bill was signed into law in 1999 by then-Texas Governor George W. Bush." But Olbermann's guest, Dallas Morning News reporter Wayne Slater, countered that if the Texas law were applied in the Schiavo case the same situation would have resulted. Olbermann tried again, wanting to know if there is "consistency between his position" on the law Bush signed "and the statement today that he made, 'It is wise to always err on the side of life'?" Slater rebutted Olbermann's interpretation of inconsistency: "There actually is consistency."

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth caught Olbermann's contention and the subsequent exchange on the March 21 Countdown.

Keith Olbermann: "Trying to unravel the political gamesmanship behind the story seems more difficult for most of us than pronouncing the woman's name was to the very representatives who insisted on making this a federal case. In Florida, the state senate, led by nine Republicans, had refused to change Florida's 'death with dignity' law last week, even in the light of the growing maelstrom over the Schiavo case. In Washington, it is House Republican Majority Leader DeLay who is being credited or blamed with summoning the influence of the House on the side of congressional intervention, even though an ABC News poll released this morning indicates 70 percent of the public feels that that intervention is wrong. And 67 percent feels politicians like DeLay have become involved not for principles, but for political advantage.
"Ironically, it is in Texas, from which Mr. DeLay hails, that passed a bill permitting the termination of life support in cases where further treatment is considered, quote, 'futile,' even when family members oppose that termination. Last week, that law permitted a Houston area hospital to discontinue the life support for an infant named Sun [son?] Hudson, a five-month-old boy whose lungs were too small to support life. Over his mother's objections, the Texas 'futile case law' permitted the hospital to remove the boy's breathing tube, and he died minutes later. The bill was signed into law in 1999 by then-Texas Governor George W. Bush."

Olbermann then brought aboard Slater via satellite from Austin: "The subtleties -- medical, political and legal -- seem as fine and as fragile as that which could be the difference between life and death. Critics say that in light of the 'futile case law' in their home state, the President and the Majority Leader are being hypocritical. Defenders say that the Schiavo case is legally and medically completely different from the Sun Hudson story in Texas. Uniquely qualified to give us some perspective here is Wayne Slater, senior political editor of the Dallas Morning News, who covered the creation of the law in Texas, and is also the co-author of the biography of Karl Rove called 'Bush's Brain.'... First, that law. If Terri Schiavo were from Texas and not from Florida, would the 'futile treatment' statute even be applied to her now?"
Wayne Slater, Dallas Morning News: "It would be applied, but it probably wouldn't have much effect. Ultimately, what the law allows is that a hospital, after a series of procedures, can pull the plug, can withdraw special care, and a person can die. What the law does and what Bush signed into law in 1999, was a provision that guaranteed that before the plug could be pulled, there would be special attention, that the person representing the patient would have 10 days to find somewhere else to go. If that were the case in Texas, she probably would have run that 10 days and ultimately the same situation would have happened here as happened in Florida."
Olbermann: "When the law passed in Texas, did the then-Governor have a role in it besides signing it? Was he an advocate of this law?"
Slater: "He does. If you listen to the debate on the House floor, it was a bit confusing, at least as presented by the Democrats and Republicans, where there was a lot of politics, and you're right. Ultimately, what happened was in 1997 a law was passed very quietly -- we really didn't see it -- got to the Governor's desk, and the right-to-life forces asked the Governor to veto it. It was a law that basically provided the procedures for hospitals to turn off ventilators or withdraw food and water from patients who were declared hopeless or it was a futile situation. The Governor, Governor Bush, then did veto it. In the two years that followed, the 1999 law passed, and it included a provision sought by right-to-life forces that allowed this 10-day waiting period and extra grace period and extra effort on behalf of the right-to-life forces and extra protection for those families of the people who were in care so that they had an extra opportunity to be kept alive. It didn't guarantee that they would be kept alive. It added a simple provision that they could be if their families could find somewhere else for them to go."
Olbermann: "Lastly, Wayne, in the context of that law and as finely written as it may have been, is there, in your opinion, having covered then-Governor and now-President Bush, is there consistency between his position on that and the statement today that he made, 'It is wise to always err on the side of life'?"
Slater: "There actually is consistency. The law then was aimed at the provisions to provide life could continue, not guarantee it, but continue it for patients who were in a hopeless or a bad situation. What he moved here in this weekend was in the same direction. It really is complicated and difficult, but it was a consistent pro-life position by Bush as Governor and as President."

CNN's Schneider Goes to Liberal Enclave
to Get Views on SS

CNN's Bill Schneider One year ago, CNN's Bill Schneider portrayed, accurately, the Washington suburb of Bethesda, Maryland, as a darkly blue-hued bastion of liberalism, an area where "Bush hatred is now consuming liberals." Yet on Tuesday's Inside Politics, for a representative sample of young voters' views on President Bush's Social Security reforms, Schneider visited a Bethesda bowling alley to see how 20-somethings felt about Bush's proposed reforms. For a liberal town, Schneider featured a relatively balanced bunch of bowlers, though he did compare the risk of investing Social Security to a gutterball-laden bowling game and featured a bowler worried about the Bush plan leaving some "out in the cold."

[MRC analyst Ken Shepherd submitted this item for CyberAlert.]

On Inside Politics in March of 2004, the Democratic nomination wrapped up in Kerry's favor, Schneider filed a report on the "red-blue" divide in American politics, profiling Kennesaw, Georgia and Bethesda, Maryland as standard bearers for "red state" conservative America and "blue state" liberal America. After showcasing the politics and personality of both towns, Schneider summed it up:
"Lattes and guns, Wal-Marts and dog bakeries, Bethesda and Kennesaw, the great values divide. But what do they really have to fight about? The answer, Presidents. Bill Clinton was the first President to come out of the liberal culture of the '60s. While his policies were popular, his values tore the country apart. Conservatives were consumed with Clinton hatred. September 11th was supposed to end that division. It didn't. The war in Iraq, the Patriot Act and George W. Bush's cultural conservatism have re-ignited the conflict. Bush hatred is now consuming liberals."

A year later, the election in the rearview mirror and Social Security dominating the political agenda, Schneider went back to Bethesda to get a sense of where younger voters stand on Social Security reform. He began his piece asking: "Do younger workers really think much about their retirement? We were skeptical. So we caught up with some at a bowling alley. One of those funky, trendy bowling alleys where you won't find Homer Simpson, but you will find a lot of young people. For them, retirement was not a remote concern."

Schneider than featured an unidentified newlywed: "My wife, we've been married for a year and kinda just getting our life started. So, we definitely have to think about these things. It's suddenly become important to us."

Schneider continued: "The younger you are the more you like the idea of personal retirement accounts. Older workers say, no way. They depend on Social Security. Younger workers say, 'Way!' By a small majority, but they're more supportive than any other age group."

An on-screen graphic displayed numbers showing older people overwhelmingly opposed to personal accounts (by 67 to 27 percent) and 53 percent of those under 30 in favor of them.

Schneider went on to play clips from some women concerned about how they won't get Social Security and another bowler who supported the idea of having control over his Social Security plan, but then warned of investing, with video of bowling balls going down the ally matching his descriptions: "It's like bowling. You control your money like you control your ball. You roll it and with some skill you get a strike, or at least a spare. Financial security. I can do that, young people say. But a lot of people throw gutter balls. What happens to them? Young people care about that, too. That's their big problem with President Bush's plan."

Echoing Schneider's concern was the newlywed: "I worry about those that won't know what to do with their money. I think they'll end up being left out in the cold and their money will be squandered."

Mary Mapes Signs Book Deal, Insists Bush
Guard Memos Authentic

former CBS News producer Mary Mapes It looks like Mary Mapes, the CBS News producer who obtained the memos at the center of the network's fraudulent reporting on President Bush's National Guard service, will make some money off of her hit piece. New York's Business magazine on Thursday reported that "St. Martin's Press has agreed to pay in the high six figures to publish a book by Ms. Mapes tentatively titled The Other Side of the Story." Reporter Matthew Flamm relayed that "Mapes continues to insist that the story was accurate, and that the documents were not forged." Mapes told the AP: "I would like a chance to set the record straight about...the very valid journalism behind the story."

An excerpt from the March 22 New York's Business story:

Mary Mapes, the CBS News producer fired over "Memogate," has reached a deal to tell her side of the controversial story that effectively ended the career of Dan Rather and sent morale into a tailspin at the venerable news organization.

St. Martin's Press has agreed to pay in the high six figures to publish a book by Ms. Mapes tentatively titled The Other Side of the Story....

Ms. Mapes continues to insist that the story was accurate, and that the documents were not forged. The book will present a detailed counterattack against an independent panel's findings that the segment should not have aired, and will include documentation and analysis that she says backs up her reporting and which the panel did not release....

END of Excerpt

For the short story in full: www.crainsny.com

For the AP dispatch on the book deal: news.yahoo.com

The book is scheduled for release this fall.

-- Brent Baker