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Couric Hits Rebate from Left, Displays Anti-ANWR Prism She Denies --5/3/2006


1. Couric Hits Rebate from Left, Displays Anti-ANWR Prism She Denies
Today co-host Katie Couric, who will assume the CBS Evening News anchor chair in a few months, on Tuesday morning hit Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist from the left on the $100 rebate idea and rejected the notion she opposes drilling in ANWR, despite how NBC illustrated her question about the "controversial" proposal by showing video of birds and streams. On the rebate concept, after noting opposition from two Republican Senators, Couric cited how "letters to the Editor of the New York Times are very critical," as if that were authoritative. Nonetheless, she read from a couple of them, including one writer with a clear agenda: "Isn't this just like the piddling Republican tax cuts given to middle-class taxpayers as compared with the enormous tax giveaways to the really wealthy?" As viewers saw video of birds on branches and by stream-side in a bucolic outdoor setting, Couric moved on to "another very controversial proposal which is allowing oil companies to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska." In answering Couric's loaded set up, Frist referred to how "maybe you don't support it." That earned a rejoinder from Couric: "I don't have a position on it."

2. CBS: Old People Skipping Food, Medicine Due to High Gas Prices
Monday's CBS Evening News inaugurated a new series, "Eye on the Road," the network's latest gimmick to keep people outraged at the high cost of gasoline. Reporter Sharyn Alfonsi is driving from Florida to Boston to find people to complain about the high prices, and she highlighted senior citizens who are ostensibly sacrificing food and medicine because of Big Oil's greediness. Alfonsi featured a poll taken by the liberal lobbying group AARP to supposedly prove the hardship gas prices are having on the elderly. "They're used to living on fixed incomes," Alfonsi reported, "but now skyrocketing gas prices are forcing seniors to make difficult choices. Some are cutting back on medicine, others say they're eating less." As she spoke, the screen showed an elderly man getting food from a refrigerator with "AARP Survey" superimposed across the bottom of the screen, plus the words "Cutting Back" followed by "Medicine 6%," then "Food 13%." But the poll wasn't taken "now," but eight months ago in the wake of Katrina.

3. NBC's Today Trumpets Cause of "Those Who Critics Call Illegals"
"Yesterday was shades of the early days of the civil rights movement: Hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets in dozens of cities," NBC's Katie Couric trumpeted at the start of Tuesday's Today as she matched the championing approach taken by the networks the night before. With "Sea of Humanity: Will Rallies Help Immigrants?" on screen, Kevin Tibbles enthused from Chicago: "It's estimated more than a million people took to the streets of America yesterday for these demonstrations, crisscrossing the nation from North to South, East to West. On the streets of almost every major city in America a sea of humanity." Tibbles concluded his report by referring to the illegal aliens who marched as "those who critics call illegals" -- as if those who are in the U.S. illegally are not really illegal, but just labeled that way by some.

4. Tim Robbins Blasts Media for "Ignoring" Bush's "High Crimes"
An AFP dispatch from Greece on Tuesday recounted how left-wing actor Tim Robbins, "at a news conference in Athens promoting his stage version of George Orwell's 1984," blasted President Bush's policies and the news media for ignoring Bush's supposed crimes. "We have right now a media that is willfully ignoring the high crimes and misdemeanors of the President of the United States," Robbins charged. He lamented that "Clinton lied about a blowjob, and got impeached by the media and Congress," while Bush "got us into the [Iraq] war based on lies that he knew were lies....yet no one in the media is calling for impeachment." The un-bylined May 2 AFP dispatch from Athens added that "Robbins pointed out similarities between current U.S. policies on terrorism and the authoritarian society described by Orwell" in his novel, 1984. Citing the "renditioning of innocent people without trial," Robbins asserted: "This is exactly what Orwell was talking about when he spoke of thought crimes."

5. Letterman's "Top Ten Signs Gas Is Expensive"
Letterman's "Top Ten Signs Gas Is Expensive."


Couric Hits Rebate from Left, Displays
Anti-ANWR Prism She Denies

Today co-host Katie Couric, who will assume the CBS Evening News anchor chair in a few months, on Tuesday morning hit Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist from the left on the $100 rebate idea and rejected the notion she opposes drilling in ANWR, despite how NBC illustrated her question about the "controversial" proposal by showing video of birds and streams. On the rebate concept, after noting opposition from two Republican Senators, Couric cited how "letters to the Editor of the New York Times are very critical," as if that were authoritative. Nonetheless, she read from a couple of them, including one writer with a clear agenda: "Isn't this just like the piddling Republican tax cuts given to middle-class taxpayers as compared with the enormous tax giveaways to the really wealthy?"

As viewers saw video of birds on branches and by stream-side in a bucolic outdoor setting, with the obvious implication that drilling will harm such wildlife, Couric moved on to "another very controversial proposal which is allowing oil companies to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska." In answering Couric's loaded set up, Frist referred to how "maybe you don't support it." That earned a rejoinder from Couric: "I don't have a position on it, but would you concede that it is controversial?"

For less-inviting look at the coastal plain part of ANWR, the limited 1.5 million acres where drilling would occur, out of the 19 million acre total size of ANWR: www.anwr.org

For more on the realities on ANWR: www.anwr.org

The MRC's Geoff Dickens provided a transcript of Couric's May 2 session with Frist.

She set up the interview: "With self serve regular averaging close to $3 a gallon nationwide lawmakers on Capitol Hill are scrambling for a solution. The Republicans have proposed a $100 rebate check to help ease the pain but it is drawing fire from all sides. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is one of the chief architects of the plan. Senator Frist good morning to you."

Couric's first question: "I know that your plan would ensure about 100 million taxpayers receive a rebate check of $100 at the end of the summer to help pay for the sharp increases in, in tax, in, in gas prices rather. How did you arrive at that $100 figure?"

Couric followed up with a question in the form of a polemical lecture: "At the same time Senator Frist you well know that this $100 rebate aspect of the plan is the one that's drawing the most ire from constituents. One congressional aide described reaction to it as 'surprisingly harsh.' There's been criticism from all corners. Trent Lott, a Republican from Mississippi said he didn't think much of it. Other people have been very critical. A spokesman for Senator John Cornyn of, of Texas, a Republican, said, the conservative think, 'conservatives think it is socialist bunk, the liberals think it is conservative trickery.' Letters to the Editor of the New York Times are very critical. Gloria in Rhode Island says, 'Let's see, $100 rebate checks to all taxpayers to offset rising gas prices. That's money out of my tax dollars back to, to me to give back to gas companies. The way I figure it that rebate won't even cover my gas one way to Washington to complain.' Another from New Jersey, 'Gee a $100 rebate check. Isn't this just like the piddling Republican tax cuts given to middle-class taxpayers as compared with the enormous tax giveaways to the really wealthy? Will we fall for chump change rather than real change?' What is your reaction to, to those reactions Senator?"
Frist, from Washington, DC: "Katie I would just ask where all of those commentators are on the increased exploration in Alaska."
Couric: "These are normal Sen-, these are normal citizens Senator, though, in addition to, to, to government officials."
Gist of Frist: Price a matter of supply and demand, must increase production and conservation, make sure no price gouging, rebate one point of 8-point plan.
Couric, over footage of birds: "Let me ask you about another aspect of your plan because I know the $100 rebate, Senator, is just one component but it's tied to another very controversial proposal which is allowing oil companies to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. That has repeatedly failed to pass in Congress. Some have questioned the Republican's sincerity because they know in, in, in the view of these critics that this won't pass."
Frist: "Well let's talk about that. Let's, let's talk about it, Katie, we passed, as you know last month in the United States Senate has overwhelmingly, maybe you don't support it, but it has overwhelming support by the American people, drilling in Alaska. We have passed it in the legislature back in 1996. President Clinton, President Clinton vetoed it. Unbelievable. Passed the House, passed the Senate and if President Clinton has not vetoed that we'd have more than a million barrels of oil coming here every single day. That's more oil than we import from Saudi Arabia right now. It's a matter of supply and demand. Right now we'd have increased supply if that had not been vetoed by President Clinton."
Couric: "I don't have a position on it, Senator, Senator."
Frist: "Overwhelming, overwhelming, overwhelming support in this, in this country today and we have passed it in the United States Senate."
Couric: "I don't have a position on it but would you concede that it is controversial?"
Gist of Frist: It's controversial but has majority support in Senate and country.
Couric: "Let me ask you one other question if I could Senator Frist. That Congress has been criticized because the country's three largest oil companies ExxonMobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips reported sky high profits of $15.7 billion in the first quarter which is a nearly a 17 percent increase from the year earlier quarter. In 1998 there were 11 major oil companies. After six mergers today there are only five. Do you think that government has allowed oil companies to grow too powerful and thereby exclude competition in the workplace or in the marketplace which is driving up prices?"
Frist: "No..."
Couric: "Alright. Well Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Senator as always thanks so much for talking with us this morning. And as we've told you we have invited executives from the top six oil companies to appear on Today. Only Rex Tillerson the Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil has given us a yes. We'll have that exclusive live interview tomorrow on Today. And if you have questions you, you would like to be asked go to our Web site at today.msnbc.com."

Given her last question, it seems Couric already has a hostile attitude toward the oil companies.

CBS: Old People Skipping Food, Medicine
Due to High Gas Prices

Monday's CBS Evening News inaugurated a new series, "Eye on the Road," the network's latest gimmick to keep people outraged at the high cost of gasoline. Reporter Sharyn Alfonsi is driving from Florida to Boston to find people to complain about the high prices, and she highlighted senior citizens who are ostensibly sacrificing food and medicine because of Big Oil's greediness.

[This item, by the MRC's Rich Noyes, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To share your take, go to: newsbusters.org ]

Alfonsi featured a poll taken by the liberal lobbying group AARP to supposedly prove the hardship gas prices are having on the elderly. "They're used to living on fixed incomes," Alfonsi reported, "but now skyrocketing gas prices are forcing seniors to make difficult choices. Some are cutting back on medicine, others say they're eating less."

As she spoke, the screen showed an elderly man getting food from a refrigerator with "AARP Survey" superimposed across the bottom of the screen, plus the words "Cutting Back" followed by "Medicine 6%," then "Food 13%."

But the poll wasn't taken "now," during the wave of network stories wailing about high gas prices. It was actually conducted for the AARP newsletter, AARP Bulletin, nearly eight months ago, in early September 2005, in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and fairly extensive supply disruptions in the eastern U.S.

For the AARP's October 3 press release on its survey: www.aarp.org

In reviewing CBS's Early Show on Tuesday, MRC's Mike Rule noticed the network aired a very similar report from Alfonsi that did not include the stale AARP survey. But it still conveyed the idea that old people were going to bed hungry because of fuel prices.

In clips shown on both the May 1 Evening News and May 2 The Early Show, Alfonsi interviewed an elderly man sitting on his front porch, asking him "What do you think when you fill up your car with gasoline now?"
The man, who seemed as if he may have been kidding with Alfonsi, replied, "I think, 'Have I got enough money to pay for all this and still get a loaf of bread?'"
But she decided to take him seriously. "Fortunately 91-year-old Delbert Osborne doesn't drive that much anymore. He relies on Meals on Wheels, a group that's also in a squeeze. Volunteer drivers, most who are retirees on fixed incomes, are dropping out everyday....Rising gas prices could curb deliveries to once a week."

Every year for April Fool's Day, the staff of the MRC writes up a set of imaginary quote that we think are far more ludicrous than the genuine bias we document on a daily basis. Back in 2005, one quote in our April Fools edition of Notable Quotables read:
"More bad news on gas prices this morning, as the average price for a gallon of unleaded rose four more cents, another record. The AARP issued an emergency alert, saying high gas prices are forcing many seniors to stop purchasing required medicine and, in some cases, to choose between gas for their cars and food."

Thirteen months later, that parody of liberal bias showed up as the real thing on the CBS Evening News.

For the 2005 April Fools edition of Notable Quotables: www.mediaresearch.org

NBC's Today Trumpets Cause of "Those
Who Critics Call Illegals"

"Yesterday was shades of the early days of the civil rights movement: Hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets in dozens of cities," NBC's Katie Couric trumpeted at the start of Tuesday's Today as she matched the championing approach taken by the networks the night before. With "Sea of Humanity: Will Rallies Help Immigrants?" on screen, Kevin Tibbles enthused from Chicago: "It's estimated more than a million people took to the streets of America yesterday for these demonstrations, crisscrossing the nation from North to South, East to West. On the streets of almost every major city in America a sea of humanity." Tibbles concluded his report by referring to the illegal aliens who marched as "those who critics call illegals" -- as if those who are in the U.S. illegally are not really illegal, but just labeled that way by some.

For a rundown of the celebratory Monday night coverage, check the May 2 CyberAlert item, "Nets Again Champion Cause of Marches on Behalf of Illegals," at: www.mediaresearch.org

The MRC's Geoff Dickens caught the illegals are illegal only to their critics spin from Tibbles.

Katie Couric announced on the May 2 Today, "Yesterday was shades of the early days of the civil rights movement: Hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets in dozens of cities. Look at that, Matt."

Lauer: "It was called 'A Day Without Immigrants' and people nationwide stayed away from work, from schools and shopping in stores to take to the streets. Their message? America actually depends on illegal immigrants and Congress should let them stay. We're gonna find out if lawmakers were listening coming up in just a few minutes."

Lauer soon introduced Tibbles: "But first those massive immigration rallies that stretched from coast to coast on Monday. NBC's Kevin Tibbles has more on that story from Chicago. Kevin, good morning to you."

Kevin Tibbles, live from a dark Chicago: "Good morning, Matt. Well it's estimated more than a million people took to the streets of America yesterday for these demonstrations, crisscrossing the nation from North to South, East to West. On the streets of almost every major city in America a sea of humanity."
Woman in Irish delegation of parade: "We love this country. We want our citizenship."
Tibbles: "Billed as 'A Day Without Immigrants,' they came waving the Stars and Stripes and the flags of their homelands. Different cultures, one common language, immigration reform."
Woman: "We want to be able to come back and forth, see our families and that's why we're marching today."
Tibbles: "Coast to coast from Denver to Chicago and New York, Los Angeles to Dallas and Miami. In Denver 75,000 plus and possibly the largest rally in state history. In Chicago, a city of immigrant neighborhoods more than 400,000 strong."
Woman #2: "It's a big day for us. This mean everything for us."
Tibbles: "To the nation's largest city, New York."
Woman #3: "I'm here because we, I know that we need a change."
Tibbles: "And in Los Angeles a half-million marchers demanding a better deal."
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, addressing the crowd: "We come here for the same reason, we come to work, we come for a better life, we come to participate in the American dream."
Tibbles: "In Florida many farm workers stayed out of the fields. More than a million immigrants off the job and absent from class hoping to demonstrate how much economic power they can wield."
Woman #4: "And I think it's terrible that people who have made it are suddenly trying to keep other people from making it."
Tibbles: "Today as the streets are returned to the automobiles, these people vow to continue their push for immigration reform so those who critics call illegals can continue to call America home. And while police here in Chicago estimate the crowd at 400,000 organizers here say they were closer to 700,000. And they believe that with those numbers they're a force to be reckoned with. Matt."

Tim Robbins Blasts Media for "Ignoring"
Bush's "High Crimes"

As picked up by the DrudgeReport, an AFP dispatch from Greece on Tuesday recounted how left-wing actor Tim Robbins, "at a news conference in Athens promoting his stage version of George Orwell's 1984," blasted President Bush's policies and the news media for ignoring Bush's supposed crimes. "We have right now a media that is willfully ignoring the high crimes and misdemeanors of the President of the United States," Robbins charged. He lamented that "Clinton lied about a blowjob, and got impeached by the media and Congress," while Bush "got us into the [Iraq] war based on lies that he knew were lies....yet no one in the media is calling for impeachment."

The un-bylined May 2 AFP dispatch from Athens added that "Robbins pointed out similarities between current U.S. policies on terrorism and the authoritarian society described by Orwell" in his novel, 1984: "'Unfortunately, the book and the play is more relevant now than it ever has been,' he said. '(It) talks about continuous warfare as a means to control the Western economy, and as a way to control rebel elements within society through the use of fear, constant fear.'" Citing the "renditioning of innocent people without trial," Robbins asserted: "This is exactly what Orwell was talking about when he spoke of thought crimes."

[This item was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To post your comments, go to: newsbusters.org ]

For the AFP dispatch, as posted by Yahoo: news.yahoo.com

The Internet Movie Database page for Robbins: www.imdb.com

I checked around and couldn't find any other news dispatch online about the comments nor any news or entertainment TV show which aired any video of this, and none may exist. But I will keep my eyes open over the next few days to see if any turns up on a U.S. news or entertainment news program.

Robbins' overseas attack on President Bush was hardly original for him. He launched the same rant, from Los Angeles, on CBS in December of 2004. An MRC CyberAlert, "Tim Robbins Urges a 'Good, Old-Fashioned Impeachment' of Bush," recounted:

Actor Tim Robbins has called for the impeachment of President George W. Bush. His long-time companion, Susan Sarandon, guest-hosted CBS's Late Late Show on Friday night [December 17] and when guest Gore Vidal, a far-left author, recommended that Bush "resign," Robbins, who appeared as Sarandon's sidekick who made martinis for Sarandon, himself and the

guests, suggested: "How about a good, old-fashioned impeachment?" Robbins recalled how Clinton was impeached "for lying about oral sex" and asked rhetorically: "So it's more of a high crime and misdemeanor to lie about oral sex than it is to lie about intelligence that forces a country into war?"

Video: To play a 40-second RealPlayer video clip (streaming only) of Robbins taking his shot, go to the December 20, 2004 MRC CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org

Letterman's "Top Ten Signs Gas Is Expensive"

From the May 2 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Signs Gas Is Expensive." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com

10. It's so expensive, Batman is patrolling the streets on a Schwinn

9. It's so expensive, mobsters are dousing snitches with olive oil

8. It's so expensive, Domino's only delivers within walking distance

7. It's so expensive, moviegoers flock to "RV" just to see someone driving

6. It's so expensive, Tom Cruise agreed to be a guest for 5 gallons of unleaded

5. It's so expensive, you're actually willing to car pool with Regis

4. It's so expensive, Starbucks is selling Gasaccino

3. It's so expensive, it's negatively influencing our foreign policy, hurting millions of hardworking Americans and threatening to throw our economy into absolute chaos

2. It's so expensive, Anna Nicole Smith married the night manager of a Texaco

1. It's so expensive, Britney Spears' baby is driving a Prius

For those interested in winning a Late Show mousepad, this week's "Top Ten Contest" topic, for which you can submit an entry, is on a news media-related topic: "Top Ten Questions in the White House Press Secretary Job Interview." Go to: www.cbs.com

-- Brent Baker