CBS's Enron Movie Blames Reagan for Starting It All -- 01/06/2003 CyberAlert
ABC & NBC Trumpet McCain's Opposition to Bush Tax Cut Plan
NY Times Story Supports Daschle's Anti-Tax Cut Spin
Time & FNC Mislabel Edwards as "Moderate"
ABC Warns of Frist's Threat to "Abortion Rights"
James Warren: Coulter a "Venomous...Two-Legged Pez Dispenser"
Matching the reporting at the time in the news media, naturally no mention was made of Enron's links to Democrats.
The movie opened with a scene set at July 4th barbecue in 1986. When a friend asks "Jack Blue," played by Brian Dennehy, why he's leaving Texaco for a top executive slot at Enron, Blue/Dennehy responded:
The movie was based on a book by former Enron employee Brian Cruver, whose character, played by Christian Kane, acted as narrator of events starting in April of 2001.
Arriving for his first day at Enron, Cruver watches a new employee welcoming video from Ken Lay, during which photos are showcased of Farrell as Lay with 41 and 43.
Later, while riding in an elevator with a video display, the Cruver character hears this narration from Enron's in-house news service, a report illustrated with a photo of Farrell/Lay with 41 and 43 and of Farrell/Lay in the Rose Garden with 43 and Cheney:
At another point in the movie, Cruver listens to this TV news story: "And in national news, Enron Chairman Ken Lay met with Vice President Cheney to discuss the energy crisis in California. Chairman Lay serves on President Bush's energy advisory team after having raised more than $100,000 for the President's campaign."
Amazingly, Saturday's Washington Post reported that the director of the movie, Penelope Spheeris, accused CBS of playing politics in moving the air date from the Sunday night before the elections last November to last night.
A better question would be what political motivation might have been behind scheduling such a movie, which advanced the political cause of one party, to air two days before the election, a decision CBS wisely re-thought.
For CBS's Web page for the movie, with a picture of Dennehy: http://www.cbs.com/primetime/movies_specials/mas_crooked_e.shtml
[Web Update: CBS movie removed references to the Clinton administration. Brian Cruver, the Enron employee on whose book, Anatomy of Greed: The Unshredded Truth From an Enron Insider, the CBS movie was based, told the Houston Chronicle that by focusing solely on the company's ties to the Bush administration the movie distorted his first-hand recounting. The January 2 Chronicle quoted him: "In the book, as far as connections to the Bush administration, to me it was a bipartisan corruption, and I have as much information in the book about connections to (Bill) Clinton as (George W.) Bush. But the movie has taken a more one-sided view of that."
For the Houston Chronicle story in full with a picture of Cruver: http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/ae/tv/1721055]
Even though he opposed then-candidate Bush's tax cut plan during the 2000 campaign, on Sunday night ABC and NBC trumpeted Senator John McCain's opposition to Bush's new tax cutting plans as both used the identical phrase in heralding how the "prominent Republican" claimed the cuts would be skewed too much toward the rich.
On the January 5 NBC Nightly News, reporter Rosalind Jordan asserted: "But the President may have a tough sell. Even one prominent Republican says he won't support the President's plan because it favors the wealthy."
Over on ABC's World News Tonight/Sunday, anchor Carole Simpson intoned: "On Tuesday the President will outline an economic stimulus plan combining spending with controversial tax cuts."
Even as John Cochran acknowledged there is no plan on the table, he nonetheless proceeded to relay criticism: "Several Democrats, and a prominent Republican too, are expressing severe doubts about the President's tax cuts even before they know for sure what those tax cuts are."
Following clips of Senator John Edwards denouncing Bush's plans and of Grover Norquist defending the value to middle Americans of reducing the tax on dividends, Cochran warned:
You don't need a poll to see how the Washington press corps feels. McCain can be their hero again by bashing tax cuts from the left.
The New York Times on Saturday advanced the liberal effort to portray the expected Bush tax cut plan as beneficial only to the wealthy. Without once noting how a very small percentage of taxpayers pay the vast majority of the income tax and tax on dividends while over a third of Americans pay no income tax at all, so it's virtually impossible to give a very big tax cut to those making under $75,000, Times reporter Edmund Andrews offered figures to back up Tom Daschle's spin of the day.
In the January 4 story, Washington bureau reporter Andrews noted how with a dividend tax cut "the tax benefits flow almost exclusively to the very wealthiest taxpayers" and that one group calculated how "about 64 percent of the benefits will go to the wealthiest 5 percent of taxpayers." Without challenge, Andrews relayed how, "citing calculations by the Tax Policy Center, Mr. Daschle said that a person making more than $1 million a year would save $24,000 in taxes under Mr. Bush's plan while a person earning from $40,000 to $50,000 a year would save only $76."
What an idiotic point. Obviously, if you pay a lot more a cut will be a lot more dollar-wide. The $40,000 to $50,000 person is already paying a far lower tax rate than the millionaire.
An excerpt from the Times story headlined, "Bush to Propose $600 Billion Economic Stimulus Package." The excerpt:
....Firing a shot even before Mr. Bush formally outlines his tax package next week, the Senate Democratic leader, Tom Daschle, said the president's plan would be "the wrong idea at the wrong time to help the wrong people."
Democratic lawmakers are pushing for tax breaks intended for lower- and middle-income families, with some proposing a temporary "holiday" from payroll taxes for Social Security and others proposing one-time rebates.
White House officials declined to say how big Mr. Bush's final tax proposal would be, but they suggested that the plan was, if anything, more aggressive than previously reported when it came to tax cuts for investors and people in the highest tax brackets.
Even a 50 percent reduction in dividend taxes would total about $150 billion over 10 years and would probably be the centerpiece of his tax plan. Under such a plan, the tax benefits flow almost exclusively to the very wealthiest taxpayers because they are the ones who receive most dividends.
Calculations by the Tax Policy Center, a nonprofit research group run by the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, show that about 64 percent of the benefits will go to the wealthiest 5 percent of taxpayers.
Administration officials acknowledge that wealthy taxpayers will be the primary beneficiaries, but they argue that reducing dividend taxes will reduce distortions in the current tax system and lift the stock market.
White House officials said Mr. Bush was also likely to propose speeding up previously scheduled rate reductions for all classes of taxpayers.
"Congress has already concluded that tax relief is necessary and has enacted it into law," said one official, alluding to income tax reductions scheduled to take effect in 2004 and 2006. "The president doesn't see any need to distinguish between groups."
Today, one day after Mr. Bush announced he would detail his plan next Tuesday, Democrats began pre-emptive attacks that concentrated heavily on what they said was the unfairness of the plan for middle-income and poorer families.
"The president's plan won't help middle-income families, it won't contribute to economic growth, it won't make our homeland more secure," said Mr. Daschle, in the text of a radio address to be delivered on Saturday.
Citing calculations by the Tax Policy Center, Mr. Daschle said that a person making more than $1 million a year would save $24,000 in taxes under Mr. Bush's plan while a person earning from $40,000 to $50,000 a year would save only $76.
Mr. Bush has already denounced such criticisms as "class warfare," though White House officials are sensitive about the issue....
END of Excerpt
For the article in full: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/04/politics/04ECON.html
On Fox News Sunday Senator Rick Santorum maintained that 37 percent of Americans pay no income taxes at all. I don't know the source of his statistic, but it does match the general parameters of IRS data on whom the tax burden most heavily falls.
As noted in the January 3 CyberAlert, on October 24 the Joint Economic Committee released the latest IRS data for 2000. Here's the table:
> Top 1%: Adjusted Gross Income of more than $313,469, pays 37.42 percent of all income tax collected
> Top 5%: $128,336, pays 56.47 percent
> Top 10%: $92,144, pays 67.33 percent
> Top 25%: $55,225, pays 84.01 percent
> Top 50%: $27,682, pays 96.09 percent
> Bottom 50%: less than $27,682, pays a mere 3.91 percent
For the press release with those numbers: http://www.house.gov/jec/press/2002/10-24-02.htm
For six pages of detailed IRS tables, in PDF format: http://www.house.gov/jec/press/2002/irs2.pdf
On the January 2 Special Report with Brit Hume, but anchored by Tony Snow, FNC reporter James Rosen contended: "He spent $3 million of his own money to win his Senate seat four years ago. Since then the boyishly handsome freshman has won notice with his sponsorship of patients rights and prescription drug bills. A moderate, Edwards also bucked his state's textile lobby and voted for permanent trade relations with China."
Time online made Edwards its "Person of the Week" on Thursday, the MRC's Rich Noyes noticed. Time's Jessica Reaves maintained:
Reaves later observed: "As the press and the parties mull Edwards' announcement, much has been made of a recent political tradition: southern Democrats from conservative southern states winning election to the White House. Clinton, Carter and Johnson were part of this largely successful strategy, which seems to help deflate Republican charges of Democrats' rampant liberalism. Edwards fits neatly into this mold."
More like all four were pretty liberal politicians who, in order to maintain political viability in their home state, had to occasionally take a non-liberal position on an issue.
For the January 2 Reaves piece in full: http://www.time.com/time/pow/article/0,8599,403688,00.html
As for Edwards being a "moderate," it's ludicrous. His career rating from the American Conservative Union through 2001: a measly 12 percent. See:
On the left, the Americans for Democratic Action approved of his votes in 2001 an astounding 95 percent of the time. See: http://adaction.org/Senate2001fullVR.pdf
That's the same rating assessed to Senators even reporters usually concede are liberals: Barbara Boxer, Chris Dodd, Barbara Mikulski, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton. In fact, Clinton and Edwards voted identically on the 20 votes evaluated in 2001 by the ADA. Their only vote with which the ADA disapproved: Against a commission to recommend further military base closings, an issue of jobs in both their states.
Reviewing the votes assessed by the ADA and ACU for 2001, here's how the "moderate" Edwards voted: against the Ashcroft nomination, in favor of several campaign finance reform amendments supported by McCain, against the Bush tax cut, against temporary reduction of capital gains rate from 20 to 15 percent, against a school voucher demonstration program, against an amendment to withhold federal education funds from public schools which bar the Boy Scouts from using their facilities, against allowing a demonstration program for medical savings accounts, against allowing health insurers to sell policies for a lower rate in exchange for agreement to not sue and against reducing taxpayers subsidies to milk producers.
For the ADA's vote descriptions: http://adaction.org/senatevotedescrips2001.html
For the ACU's vote descriptions:
There is a Southern Democratic Senator who is a true moderate:
In other words, this was a story prompted by a press release from NARAL.
In a live stand-up from Capitol Hill, reporter Linda Douglass warned of how incoming Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist is an opponent of abortion, so "now both houses of Congress are controlled by opponents of abortion rights."
Vargas set up the January 3 story: "In Washington, the political shift in power has reignited the legal debate over abortion. Republican control of the executive and legislative branches has energized the anti-abortion movement. ABC News has learned that a leading abortion rights group, NARAL, is mobilizing as well. It will launch a multimillion dollar ad campaign and put thousands of volunteers to work. ABC's Linda Douglass is on Capitol Hill. Linda, abortion foes have a powerful new ally in the new Senate Majority Leader."
Douglass confirmed in her live report for the EST/CST feed: "They do, indeed. Senator Bill Frist, the incoming Majority Leader, is firmly on their side. And as you point out, the White House, and now both houses of Congress, are controlled by opponents of abortion rights. They say the political winds are on their side."
If there were, the Washington press corps would be in full panic over the threat to "abortion rights" by "anti-abortion" crusaders and "foes of abortion rights."
In round two of the McLaughlin Group's year-end awards Newsweek's Eleanor Clift anguished over the loss of Kathleen Kennedy Townsend to the political world and denounced supply side policies espoused by President Bush as "voodoo economics." Plus, James Warren of the Chicago Tribune praised Clinton's legacy of expanding government intrusion through the Family and Medical Leave Act and denigrated Ann Coulter, the conservative commentator and author of Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right, as "the venomous conservative who resembles a two-legged Pez dispenser with a blonde mop at the top."
(For how Clift blasted tax cuts and SUVs during round one of the McLaughlin Group's awards, see the December 30 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20021230.asp#2)
Under the "Sorry to See You Go" category, on the show aired over this past weekend, Clift suggested: "Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Her political career is likely over and a lot of Democrats thought she would be the first female President or Vice President. The end of a promising career."
For "Most Overrated," Clift complained: "Supply side economics. The first President Bush called it 'voodoo economics.' The son, apparently, is going to put his faith and trust in the same voodoo theory."
James Warren, the former Washington Bureau Chief for Tribune Media, who supposedly left Washington last year for an editor position at the Chicago Tribune because he tired of the Washington punditocracy, flew to DC to tape the McLaughlin Group. In the category of "Best Government $ Spent," he proclaimed: "A Clinton legacy: The Family and Medical Leave Act. It's humane, effective and inexpensive."
Warren's "New Year's Resolution" wasn't very nice: "I resolve to switch TV channels every time I see Ann Coulter, the venomous conservative who resembles a two-legged Pez dispenser with a blonde mop at the top."
For some pictures of Coulter so you can judge her body shape for yourself: http://www.anncoulter.org/images.html
So much for refraining from mean-spirited personal insults based on someone's looks. -- Brent Baker