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Couric Highlights 4 Year Mark of Powell's 'Embarrassment' at UN --2/6/2007


1. Couric Highlights 4 Year Mark of Powell's 'Embarrassment' at UN
CBS's news judgment: Monday's CBS Evening News devoted a first segment story to, as anchor Katie Couric put it, the "irony" that the Senate debate over resolutions on the Iraqi surge occurred "four years to the day" after Colin Powell made his presentation at the UN which "became an embarrassment." Couric asked and answered: "And how's this for irony? Today's Capitol Hill confrontation began four years to the day after then-Secretary of State Colin Powell made a dramatic speech at the UN to make the case that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction. It was a brilliant performance, enough to sell the Congress and the nation on going to war. But before long, it became an embarrassment."

2. NYT Iraq Reporter: 'American Troops Were Greeted as Liberators'
Reminded by Tim Russert on Russert's Saturday night CNBC show, about how Vice President Cheney predicted U.S. troops would be welcomed as "liberators" by the Iraqi people, New York Times Iraq reporter John Burns corrected Russert's presumption that Cheney was misguided: "The American troops were greeted as liberators. We saw it. It lasted very briefly, it was exhausted quickly by the looting." Burns added: "I think that the instincts that led to much that went wrong were good American instincts: the desire not to have too heavy of a footprint, the desire to empower Iraqis." As for what led to the inaccurate assumption that Iraqi would "stand up" for democracy, Burns contended that journalists made the same error: "I think that the policy makers in Washington, and to be on honest with you the journalists also, to speak for myself, completely miscalculated the impact of 30 years of violent, brutal repression on the Iraqi people and their willingness, in President Bush's phrase, 'to stand up' for themselves, to take authority, to take risks." AUDIO&VIDEO See & Hear the Bias - Audio & Video Clip Archive

3. Newsweek's Evan Thomas: 'Our Job Is to Bash the President'
On Friday night's edition of Inside Washington, a local Washington, DC program produced by DC's ABC affiliate, WJLA-TV, but first aired Friday night on PBS station WETA-TV, the first topic was whether the media's been unfair to President Bush, given his abysmal approval ratings. NPR reporter Nina Totenberg said Bush received a "free ride" for years, so now the worm has turned and the coverage is fierce. Then the host turned to Newsweek's Evan Thomas, who was frank in his assessment of the media's role: "Well, our job is to bash the President, that's what we do..." AUDIO&VIDEO See & Hear the Bias - Audio & Video Clip Archive

4. ABC & CNN Campaign for Dodd's Expansion of Mandated Family Leave
Picking up on an effort by left-wing presidential candidate Chris Dodd to expand federally-mandated family leave, ABC on Friday morning and CNN on Monday morning, fretted about how only the U.S. and some African nations have such a poor level of "family-friendly" policies. On Monday's CNN Newsroom, Heidi Collins relayed: "Fourteen years after it was passed, some say the Family and Medical Leave Act is in need of an upgrade. Ali Velshi is 'Minding Your Business.' Can we jump on board with that, Ali?" Velshi gushed: "Yes, absolutely." With an on-screen graphic listing Lesotho and Liberia along with the U.S., Velshi complained: "In a survey by Harvard and McGill University in Canada, they found that of the 170 countries that they surveyed, only five don't have any paid medical leave. The U.S. is one of them. And four African countries are on that list otherwise. So that's not very good." On Friday's Good Morning America, Elizabeth Vargas fretted: "26 million mothers in this country work. The vast majority say to make ends meet, they must. With that many moms in the work force, you'd think the U.S. would lead the way in flexible, family-friendly policies. Think again..." AUDIO&VIDEO See & Hear the Bias - Audio & Video Clip Archive


Couric Highlights 4 Year Mark of Powell's
'Embarrassment' at UN

CBS's news judgment: Monday's CBS Evening News devoted a first segment story to, as anchor Katie Couric put it, the "irony" that the Senate debate over resolutions on the Iraqi surge occurred "four years to the day" after Colin Powell made his presentation at the UN which "became an embarrassment." Couric asked and answered: "And how's this for irony? Today's Capitol Hill confrontation began four years to the day after then-Secretary of State Colin Powell made a dramatic speech at the UN to make the case that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction. It was a brilliant performance, enough to sell the Congress and the nation on going to war. But before long, it became an embarrassment."

Of course, at the time nearly everyone believed what Powell believed, as evidenced by former U.S. weapons inspector David Kay who told CBS News Pentagon reporter David Martin that he was impressed with Powell's presentation. Martin moved on to other misguided assumptions, asserting "the intelligence about Iraq was not all wrong. On the eve of the invasion, CIA analysts, including Paul Pillar, warned the aftermath could get ugly." Martin also, however, pointed out that "bad intelligence about WMD started the war, but it can't be blamed for all that has happened since." Former CIA analyst John Brennan explained: "We would still have the same bloodshed, instability and destruction even if we did uncover those treasure troves of purported weapons." So, the fourth anniversary of Powell's presentation about WMDs really isn't relevant to the current situation, but that didn't deter CBS from bringing it up.

[This item was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Neither ABC's Word News or the NBC Nightly News brought up the four-year-old Powell presentation.

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the video against the closed-captioning for the February 5 CBS Evening News story:

Katie Couric: "And how's this for irony? Today's Capitol Hill confrontation began four years to the day after then-Secretary of State Colin Powell made a dramatic speech at the UN to make the case that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction. It was a brilliant performance, enough to sell the Congress and the nation on going to war. But before long, it became an embarrassment. National security correspondent David Martin looks back four years later."

Colin Powell at the UN, February 5, 2003: "What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence."
David Martin: "That statement about the evidence Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction was made by one of the most trusted men in America. Weapons inspector David Kay remembers being impressed."
David Kay, former Chief U.S. Weapons Inspector: "It was partly because it came with Powell's reputation as much as the individual facts."
Martin: "He assumed the intelligence Powell had unveiled was only the tip of the iceberg."
Powell, at UN: "We have firsthand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails."
Kay: "To have detailed diagrams of what those labs looked like seemed to me it meant that you had pretty detailed intelligence from inside the program."
Martin: "But after the invasion, Kay was put in charge of finding the WMD, and he found out where those diagrams came from."
Kay: "It was a single source, a source that the U.S. intelligence had never at that point talked to, didn't know his name-"
Kay clip #2: "And, in fact, he was a fabricator."
Martin: "The intelligence about Iraq was not all wrong. On the eve of the invasion, CIA analysts, including Paul Pillar, warned the aftermath could get ugly."
Paul Pillar, former CIA counterterrorism officer: "It would be long, it would be turbulent, it would be filled with conflict and probably violence."
Martin: "But, says former CIA officer and now CBS consultant John Brennan, the administration passed over that intelligence."
John Brennan, CBS News terrorism analyst: "And I don't think there was enough attention paid to those assessments that said after the war, after the invasion, there's going to be difficulty in the streets of Iraq and in Baghdad."
Martin: "Bad intelligence about WMD started the war, but it can't be blamed for all that has happened since."
Brennan: "We would still have the same bloodshed, instability and destruction even if we did uncover those treasure troves of purported weapons."
Martin: "Powell now says his UN speech will forever be a blot on his reputation. And George Tenet, who was director of Central Intelligence at the time, admits in a soon-to-be-published book he let Powell down."

The online CBSNews.com version of Martin's story, sans Couric's "embarrassment" spin: www.cbsnews.com

NYT Iraq Reporter: 'American Troops Were
Greeted as Liberators'

Reminded by Tim Russert on Russert's Saturday night CNBC show, about how Vice President Cheney predicted U.S. troops would be welcomed as "liberators" by the Iraqi people, New York Times Iraq reporter John Burns corrected Russert's presumption that Cheney was misguided: "The American troops were greeted as liberators. We saw it. It lasted very briefly, it was exhausted quickly by the looting." Burns added: "I


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think that the instincts that led to much that went wrong were good American instincts: the desire not to have too heavy of a footprint, the desire to empower Iraqis."

As for what led to the inaccurate assumption that Iraqi would "stand up" for democracy, Burns contended that journalists made the same error: "I think that the policy makers in Washington, and to be on honest with you the journalists also, to speak for myself, completely miscalculated the impact of 30 years of violent, brutal repression on the Iraqi people and their willingness, in President Bush's phrase, 'to stand up' for themselves, to take authority, to take risks." Burns also rejected the notion that different U.S. strategies would have prevented the current chaos: "My guess is that history will say that the forces that we liberated by invading Iraq were so powerful and so uncontrollable that virtually nothing the United States might have done, except to impose its own repressive state with half a million troops, which might have had to last ten years or more, nothing we could have done would have effectively prevented this disintegration that is now occurring."

[This item was posted, with video, Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. The video will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert. In the meantime, to watch the Real or Windows Media video, or MP3 audio, go to: newsbusters.org ]

An exchange from about 35 minutes into the February 3 Tim Russert, a pre-taped show which airs at 7pm, 10pm and 1am EST on Saturday nights:

Tim Russert: "John, was it possible for our policy makers to truly understand the way Iraqis would have reacted? The judgments made here were that when we went in we would be greeted as quote, 'liberators,' to quote Dick, Vice President's Cheney's phrase, that they were prepared, in effect, to take governing into their own hands, that they were so upset and had been so downtrodden by Saddam Hussein that they would embrace democracy and rise up, almost immediately."
John Burns, New York Times: "Well first of all, I think, again, to be fair, the American troops were greeted as liberators. We saw it. It lasted very briefly, it was exhausted quickly by the looting and the astonishment and puzzlement and finally anger of Iraqis that nothing, or very little was done to stop that. I think that to be fair to the United States, when I speak as a citizen of the United Kingdom, I think that the instincts that led to much that went wrong were good American instincts: the desire not to have too heavy of a footprint, the desire to empower Iraqis.
"But, and I think that the policy makers in Washington, and to be on honest with you the journalists also, to speak for myself, completely miscalculated the impact of 30 years of violent, brutal repression on the Iraqi people and their willingness, in President Bush's phrase, ' to stand up' for themselves, to take authority, to take risks. Why did we who, people like Rajiv [fellow guest Rajiv Chandrasekaran of the Washington Post] and myself who were there under Saddam, why did we not fully understand that? I think it's because we were extremely limited by the Saddam's regime as to where we could go and where we could go and speak to and what we wrote about mostly -- certainly I can speak for myself -- was what was most palpable and accessible to us which was the terror, it was real.
"To that extent, I suppose you'd have to say people like myself enabled what happened, the decisions made here to go into Iraq and I'm not going to apologize for that. I've been to, I think many of the world's nastiest places in a 30 year career as a foreign correspondent for the New York Times and Iraq was, by a long way saving only North Korea, the nastiest place I've ever been. It was a truly terrible place and what I think we were transfixed by was the notion that if you could remove this of carapace of terror and you could liberate the Iraqi people, many good things would happen. We just didn't understand, and perhaps didn't work hard enough to understand, what lay beneath this carapace which is a deeply fractured society that had always been held together, since the British constructed it, by drawing geometric lines on the map -- Winston Churchill and Lawrence of Arabia in the 1920s -- a country that had really always been held together by force and varying degrees repression. The King, King Faisal, is remembered, the King who was assassinated in 1958, as a kind of golden era, but even that is really, was not really a parliamentary democracy. It was still basically an autocratic state and I think we needed to understand better the forces that we were going to liberate.
"And my guess is that history will say that the forces that we liberated by invading Iraq were so powerful and so uncontrollable that virtually nothing the United States might have done, except to impose its own repressive state with half a million troops, which might have had to last ten years or more, nothing we could have done would have effectively prevented this disintegration that is now occurring."

Newsweek's Evan Thomas: 'Our Job Is to
Bash the President'

On Friday night's edition of Inside Washington, a local Washington, DC program produced by DC's ABC affiliate, WJLA-TV, but first aired Friday night on PBS station WETA-TV, the first topic was whether the media's been unfair to President Bush, given his abysmal approval ratings. NPR reporter Nina Totenberg said Bush received a "free ride" for years, so now the worm has turned and the coverage is fierce. Then the host turned to Newsweek's


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Evan Thomas, who was frank in his assessment of the media's role: "Well, our job is to bash the President, that's what we do..."

[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The exchange:

Gordon Peterson: "What do you think, Evan? Are the mainstream media bashing the President unfairly?"
Evan Thomas: "Well, our job is to bash the President, that's what we do almost-"
Peterson: "But unfairly?"
Thomas: "Mmmm -- I think when he rebuffed, I think when he just kissed off the Iraq Study Group, the Baker-Hamilton Commission, there was a sense then that he was decoupling himself from public opinion and Congress and the mainstream media, going his own way. At that moment he lost whatever support he had."

The message in that is very simple: the President must never "decouple" himself from the "mainstream media," because they are the key players in maintaining public opinion. Remember, Thomas also believed this "mainstream" media would be worth "maybe 15 points" to John Kerry in 2004, which didn't exactly work out. See: www.mrc.org

But Newsweek's polling clearly demonstrates Newsweek's desire to throw him out, in appearance if not in reality. Their end-of-January poll questions included:

-- "In general, do you think George W. Bush will have enough support over the next two years to make a difference in getting things done in Washington, or not?"

-- "Do you think President Bush's decisions about policy in Iraq and other major areas are influenced more by the facts or more by his personal beliefs, regardless of the facts?"

-- "At this point in time, do you personally wish that George W. Bush's presidency was over, or don't you feel this way?"

Now try to imagine Newsweek asking anything this anti-Clinton in its polls in 1999. From there, Thomas went on to make excuses for the congressional Democrats for not having a position, as Charles Krauthammer begged for a "second idea" on Iraq. NPR reporter Nina Totenberg drew a harder line of disgust at the Democrats for being too easy on the freedom-depriving Bush administration:

Thomas: "The Congress has never been comfortable about leading the way on war, since the Spanish-American War when they got McKinley. Since then, they basically follow the executive branch..."
Nina Totenberg: "They got suckered on the war, there was no W.M.D., It was in the aftermath of 9/11 they gave up huge amounts of their power and our freedoms, in my view, when they did that, and opened up the administrations hands to take even more power, and now they're stumbling around. I have somewhat limited sympathy for them, because they don't want to take back some of the powers that they could take back more easily."

Then they discussed the Scooter Libby trial, but Thomas seemed to clam up pretty quickly:

Gordon Peterson: "Evan, tell us about it."
Evan Thomas: "I think it's impossible for a normal person to follow. I can barely follow it and I'm supposed to know something about it."
Nina Totenberg: "You should try writing about it. It's really hard."
Thomas: "It's, we've long since lost what this thing was all about."
Colby King: "Didn't you get an honorable mention also in the trial?"
Nina: "Yeah, yeah. They didn't reach him. They tried to reach him where he could be a witness. If they reached you, you might be a witness." (Evan shrugged and deferred to Krauthammer).

Did someone see this and call him in? Thomas grew cryptic in the 6:30 am half hour of Imus In the Morning on MSNBC's simulcast Monday morning:

Imus: "The Scooter Libby trial. Just jumping around here because we have to cover a bunch of stuff. I didn't have any interest. I read Frank Rich yesterday and Frank made me think maybe I should have an interest in it because it's gonna, you know, pry the lid off all of these lies about why we went got into the war, but then don't we already know that. Or what's your view of that?"
Thomas: "Uh, you know, I really can't talk about it because I might have to testify."
Imus: "Really?"
Thomas: "Yeah." [Awkward pause for several seconds]
Imus: "Wow. What did you do?"
Thomas: "I can't talk about it, I might have to testify."
Charles McCord, joking: "Going to jail?"
Thomas: "I'm not going to jail."
Imus: "I didn't know -- I didn't know you were involved in all this."
McCord: "No, I didn't, either."
Thomas: "I'm barely involved. But I may have to briefly testify this week."
Imus: "How cool is that?"
Charles: "That's great."
Thomas: "Not cool, but I just can't talk about it."
Imus: "It makes it cool that you are involved with it, like russert. So we know if you are involved in this, we know that you are a player, not some chump on the periphery."
Thomas: "You don't want to be a player in the Scooter Libby trial."
Imus: "But I like the fact you are going to be in there under oath."
Thomas: "I may be."
Imus, ending interview: "All right, well, thank you very much."

ABC & CNN Campaign for Dodd's Expansion
of Mandated Family Leave

Picking up on an effort by left-wing presidential candidate Chris Dodd to expand federally-mandated family leave, ABC on Friday morning and CNN on Monday morning, fretted about how only the U.S. and some African nations have such a poor level of "family-friendly" policies. On Monday's CNN Newsroom, Heidi Collins relayed: "Fourteen years after it was passed, some say the Family and Medical Leave Act is in need of an upgrade. Ali Velshi


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is 'Minding Your Business.' Can we jump on board with that, Ali?" Velshi gushed: "Yes, absolutely." With an on-screen graphic listing Lesotho and Liberia along with the U.S., Velshi complained: "In a survey by Harvard and McGill University in Canada, they found that of the 170 countries that they surveyed, only five don't have any paid medical leave. The U.S. is one of them. And four African countries are on that list otherwise. So that's not very good." Collins giddily and naively contended: "A lot of comparisons to European countries and other countries around the world. And we are so low. I mean, isn't it about production -- happy workers equals better production, right?"

Friday's Good Morning America, the MRC's Scott Whitlock noticed, openly lobbied for the passage of legislation that would require employers to offer six weeks of paid time off to workers for maternity, illness, or the care of a loved one. Robin Roberts set up the segment: "Now to a new study from Harvard about paid maternity leave all around the world. It ranks countries based on how generous or stingy their benefits were. And the bottom five countries may have you scratching your head and saying, 'You must be kidding.' ABC's Elizabeth Vargas is here with the details. And we did see this and we were like, no, no, no. This cannot be right."

Elizabeth Vargas chimed in: "Everybody has that reaction, Robin. 26 million mothers in this country work. The vast majority say to make ends meet, they must. With that many moms in the work force, you'd think the U.S. would lead the way in flexible, family-friendly policies. Think again. For millions of working moms, those first weeks after giving birth are a time to take off, recover, and bond with your new baby. But increasingly, the question is who pays?"

When a Labor Department official suggested that "we need to do more to encourage Americans to save more for the times they do need to be out of the workforce," Vargas found that reasonable idea which has worked for generations to be incredible: "It's up to a person to save enough money before they have a baby to be able to stay home for a few weeks and recover and spend some time with that new baby?"

ABC's on screen display during the February 2 segment: "Is America Worst for Family Leave?"

In his Friday NewsBusters posting, online at newsbusters.org , Scott Whitlock recounted:

Vargas' tone constantly betrayed incredulity at just how rotten America's leave policies are. At no time was the effect of paying for an additional six weeks seriously considered. After co-host Robin Robert's introduction, Vargas began the report by asking women on the street which country they thought would be the worst offender:

Vargas: "Most countries around the world provide paid maternity leave, but which ones don't?"
[Montage of women answering the question]
Woman #1: "Maybe India?"
Woman #2: "China?"
Woman #3: "Maybe Russia or Mexico."
Vargas: "In fact, a study out this week from Harvard and McGill University, shows that of 173 countries surveyed, only five provide no form of paid maternity leave: Papua New Guinea, Lesotho, Swaziland, Liberia, and the United States."
Michelle Porter (Mother): "I do think American women are not aware of how bad they have it."
Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut): "We take better care of pets and your automobile than we take care of your child in this country."
Vargas: "Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut says that only 12 percent of U.S. companies offer paid maternity leave, even though 71 percent of all mothers work. Late yesterday, he proposed expanding the Family Medical Leave Act to allow all employees in this country at least six weeks of paid leave, to care for a baby or any sick family member. Senator Dodd says studies show it is good business for employers to offer paid maternity or medical leave. But when we spoke to Karen Czarnecki from the Department of Labor, she disagreed."
Karen Czarnecki: "We'd end up losing jobs. I think the economic consequences would be dire."
Vargas: "Czarnecki says it would cripple many businesses if they had to pay an employee to take time off to care for a newborn or a sick parent. She says it's up to each employee to plan for those life events."
Czarnecki: "We need to do more to encourage Americans to save more for the times they do need to be out of the workforce."
Vargas: [Incredulous] "It's up to a person to save enough money before they have a baby to be able to stay home for a few weeks and recover and spend some time with that new baby?"
Czarnecki: "Yeah. I think people have to take responsibility for themselves and they shouldn't always look to government to have an answer for them."

First off, note that Chris Dodd is only identified as a Democrat in an onscreen graphic. Vargas simply referred to him as a Senator from Connecticut. Secondly, when Karen Czarnecki, a Labor Department advisor, actually suggested that people save for children and other life events, Vargas clearly found it difficult to hide her bewilderment at such a thought. Anchor Robin Roberts closed the report by essentially dismissing Czarnecki's remarks:

Roberts: "In a perfect world you can save money. We just had the report yesterday, negative one percent that Americans-"
Vargas: "Right. Exactly. We're spending more than we have."
Roberts: "Exactly! All right. Also in this study, which I found alarming, 65 countries have paid paternity leave. Here in the U.S., we don't even have paid maternity live."
Vargas: "Many countries do more for the fathers who, by the way, haven't just given birth or aren't breast feeding, 'cause that's another part of the equation. The U.S. government launched a campaign encouraging women to breast feed for a full year after they gave birth and yet they don't require employers to provide any place to breast feed. I mean, many women going back to work, especially in some of these jobs that are less flexible, you know, they don't have an office to go to, or a place to pump milk or a place to store that milk. It's really tough for a lot of these working moms."
Roberts: "And, as you said, in that report, there are some people who resent the fact that there are men and women that are going to have paid time off that they don't get."
Vargas: "-Who feel like parents are asking for special treatment. That's a very legitimate feeling and that's why the writers of the Family Medical Leave Act say that it's not just for parents, it's not just for children or newborns. If you have a parent, spouse who's sick, you too can take time off, paid time off from your job to take care of that loved own."

Finally, nowhere in Vargas' piece did she point out that countries that have such generous paid leave policies, such as France, consistently have high unemployment rates and problems with giving such generous benefits. But that fact clearly wouldn't jibe with Vargas' liberal agenda.

CNN joined the crusade on Monday morning's Newsroom at about 9:25am EST:

Heidi Collins: "Fourteen years after it was passed, some say the Family and Medical Leave Act is in need of an upgrade. Ali Velshi is 'Minding Your Business.' Can we jump on board with that, Ali?"
Velshi: "Yes, absolutely."
Collins: "Is that right?"
Velshi: "Heidi, it was 14 years ago President Clinton signed the Family Medical Leave Act into effect. It was his first piece of legislation, and it guaranteed 12 weeks of leave for, you know, maternity, or caring for a family members member or being sick, but it didn't guarantee paid leave. It guaranteed that you'd have your job and your seniority and your benefits while you were away.
"Now, what's happened since then is that when, in a survey by Harvard and McGill University in Canada, they found, they found that of the 170 countries that they surveyed, only five don't have any paid medical leave. The U.S. is one of them. And four African countries are on that list otherwise. So that's not very good.
"Senator Chris Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, wants to introduce a new act which will guarantee several weeks of paid leave for people who want to have a child, adopt a child, take care of a sick family member, or are sick themselves. And he expects there will be some resistance from this, obviously, between the minimum wage provisions that are coming in to place and the family leave. A lot of businesses are saying it costs them too much money. But America really is down near the bottom of the heap in terms of how, you know, family-friendly workplace policies -- Heidi."
Collins: "Well, how does something like that change? And you may not have the answer, Ali. But, you know, we do talk about this a lot. I mean, a lot of comparisons to European countries and other countries around the world. And we are so low. I mean, isn't it about production -- happy workers equals better production, right?"
Velshi: "Yes. This is what the debate is. A lot -- it's clear that doing this -- Dodd's proposal, for instance, would have the worker, the employee -- the employer, the employee and the federal government share the cost of this. And, of course, the employer says, but this is just going to cost more money. And the other side of the argument is, yes, but if your employees like where they work, they're happy, they are more productive and they get you a better bottom line."
Collins: "Sure."
Velshi: "Remember, a lot of American companies do provide paid leave for this sort of thing. But, Heidi, when you read any magazine or survey at the end of every year about the best places to work, that typically is way up at the top of the list, worker friendly policies about leave."
Collins: "Do Americans -- the American worker, I should say, just not understand how much it costs? Because sometimes these types of things are built in with your job. You know, there are people who can back you up when you're gone, and sort of rotating thing."
Velshi: "Right. And now everybody-"
Collins: "Is it really that expensive?"
Velshi: "We run a lot more leanly. And remember, one thing that's changed over the last 15 years in America is the shift from pension benefits, unionized jobs, into jobs where, you know, we think about it as only taking care of our own retirement with 401(k)s and IRAs. But, fundamentally, those are a lot of the shifts that were lost. And in unionized jobs, those were protections you had. In non-unionized jobs, they're cheaper for the employee. We don't have those protections. So, you know, in a -- in a tight labor market like we are now, where we've got less than 5 percent unemployment, employees have choices. And they will make those choices based on workplace policy. So this is probably the best time to try and get legislation like this upgraded, or updated, as it were."
Collins: "Huh. Interesting. I'm jumping on board for the more vaca."
Velshi: "Yes, absolutely."
Collins: "All right."
Velshi: "If you need to take some time off, I'll be happy to fill in."
Collins: "Terrific. I think you guys would be great together."

Of course, if family leave makes for happier and more productive workers then companies will offer that on their own without a government mandate and if that's what the better workers want, more employers will have to offer it to attract the best staff.

-- Brent Baker