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CyberAlert -- 02/01/2002 -- "Right Into Cheney's Office"

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"Right Into Cheney's Office"; Bush's "Assault on Women's Rights"; Gumbel Pushed King Abdullah to Denounce Bush; GMA Fond of Fonda

1) On Thursday night NBC insisted the Enron scandal leads "right into Vice President Cheney's office." Setting up a story on how Enron supposedly influenced reaction to California's power problems, Tom Brokaw referred to charges that Enron kept "energy prices artificially high during the power crisis" by convincing the Bush team to not impose price controls on wholesale electricity prices. The free market is "artificial"?

2) A new study from the far-left U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), documented how the campaign finance reform bills pushed by journalists would have had little impact on Enron's recent donations, but don't expect many reporters to mention the PIRG study which undermines the media's case.

3) CBS on Thursday night framed a story around the pro-abortion agenda. Dan Rather: "There's a growing political storm over a new policy by President Bush that expands prenatal care for the poor but also reignites arguments about a woman's right to choose abortion." John Roberts noted the decision would "play well with conservatives," but that "abortion rights advocates" call it "an assault on women's rights under the guise of compassion."

4) When Jordan's King Abdullah refused to denounce the Bush administration for shunning Yasser Arafat and not helping the Palestinians, CBS's Bryant Gumbel repeatedly pressed him to do so. Plus, Gumbel wanted to know "how big a mistake" would it be for the U.S. to move "aggressively against Iraq?"

5) NBC's Today gave liberal advocate Ann Brown, Clinton's head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a platform from which to lobby the agency she formerly headed. Ann Curry really piled it on, praising her regulatory efforts: "Ann Brown, working so hard to protect us from faulty products."

6) "You need to hear what she has to say," declared Good Morning America's Diane Sawyer before a laudatory profile of Jane Fonda and her crusade to counter conservatives as she advocates access for minors to contraceptives. After Fonda scolded Americans to "take your head out of the sand," ABC's Nancy Snyderman enthused: "Telling words from a woman and icon who went from acting to activism..."

7) As read by crew members of a US Navy destroyer, Letterman's "Top Ten Reasons Why I Love America."


>>> Tribute to the News Media. The MRC ended its "Dishonor Awards: Roasting the Most Outrageously Biased Liberal Reporters of 2001," with a ten-minute video tribute to network coverage of September 11th and its immediate aftermath. You can now view the stirring video, produced for the MRC by Horizons Television, online. MRC Webmaster Mez Djouadi has added it to the Dishonor Awards page. To watch it via RealPlayer, go to:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/nq/dishonor2002/dishonor2002c.html#tribute <<<

1

NBC on Thursday night maintained the Enron scandal "paper trail" leads "right into Vice President Cheney's office." While ABC and CBS focused their Enron stories on the revelation that the board of directors had been informed about how the company was hiding losses in artificial partnerships, and ABC added a story about Enron's continued use of expensive corporate jets, NBC insisted upon portraying Enron as a Bush administration scandal.

Setting up their story of how Enron supposedly influenced Bush administration reaction to the California power problems, anchor Tom Brokaw referred to allegations that "the Houston company kept California's energy prices artificially high during the power crisis last year" by convincing the Bush team to not impose price controls on wholesale electricity prices.

So, by Brokaw's reasoning, government-mandated price controls are natural and the free market is "artificial"?

In the subsequent story, reporter Jim Avila recounted all the money Enron had donated to the Bush family and then relayed the claims of unnamed liberal activists: "Critics charge that investment bought Enron access and say this memo obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle, from Ken Lay to Vice President Dick Cheney during a private meeting April 17th of last year, is exhibit A."

Brokaw introduced the January 31 NBC Nightly News story, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
"On the Enron front tonight, federal energy regulators say they will investigate whether the Houston company kept California's energy prices artificially high during the power crisis last year. Enron officials insist they did nothing wrong but, as NBC's Jim Avila reports tonight, before Enron went bust, it left a long paper trail. And some of that paper appears to lead right into Vice President Cheney's office."

Avila began, over video of Lay talking to George H.W. Bush as they stood a few feet behind George W. Bush in the stands of a stadium: "Ken Lay, long-time friend to the first President Bush, and together with Enron, the single largest political contributor to the second, donating nearly $800,000 over the last seven years to George W.'s campaigns and inauguration. Critics charge that investment bought Enron access and say this memo obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle, from Ken Lay to Vice President Dick Cheney during a private meeting April 17th of last year, is exhibit A."
David Lazarus, San Francisco Chronicle: "It essentially belies the administration's claims that Ken Lay enjoyed no special favors or no special access to the White House."
Avila: "Here's the context: California suffers six days of rolling blackouts after capping what retailers can charge for electricity while wholesalers like Enron are left free to hike prices. Cheney chairs the President's energy task force looking for solutions. California now wants caps on wholesalers; Enron does not. At that April meeting, a month before President Bush announces his energy policy, Ken Lay allegedly gives Cheney this eight-point memo. Point three asks the administration to reject wholesale price caps."
Phil Flynn, Alaron Trading Corporation: "There weren't any surprises in the memo. I mean, basically, Mr. Lay said, hey, we're against prices caps. And basically, so was the Bush administration."

Despite that obviously point undermining the premise of NBC's conspiracy, Avila plowed ahead: "But the complaint from Californians who wanted price caps was that they didn't get to make their case and Enron did. Even California's senior Senator, Democrat Dianne Feinstein, says she tried three times during the crisis to talk to President Bush and was rebuffed."
Senator Dianne Feinstein: "Enron had the ability to get in, but I didn't."

Maybe she should have sent a memo.

Avila continued: "Vice President Cheney's staff tells NBC News he does not remember receiving the memo, and that there's no record of it at the White House. His spokeswoman, Mary Matalin, tells NBC News the administration has always been against price caps."
Mary Matalin: "Of course we consulted with Ken Lay, but the agenda for the preparation of the energy report and recommendations to the President was sound energy policy, not Ken Lay's agenda."
Avila concluded: "Tonight some Democrats are not convinced, prompting investigations in both California and Washington."

To read the San Francisco Chronicle story:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2002
/01/30/MN46204.DTL&type=news

For the supposed smoking gun memo in question, access this less than succinct Web address where the newspaper has posted it:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/object.cgi?object=/chronicle/pictures/2002/01/30
/enron_memoscan.gif&paper=chronicle&file=MN46204.DTL&directory=/c/a
/2002/01/30&type=news

2

Speaking of charges Enron bought political influence, liberals, echoed by the Washington press corps, insist that the Enron case demonstrates the need to get corporate influence-buying out of politics by enacting "campaign finance reform."

A new study, however, by the far-left U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), documented how the bills to curb soft money donations would have had little impact on Enron's recent donations. But don't expect many in the media, who regularly cite PIRG when the group denounces conservative policies, to mention the PIRG study which undermines the media's case for McCain-Feingold and Shays-Meehan. (PIRG advocates much more drastic hard money donation limits.)

The AP wrote a story on January 30 about the PIRG numbers and USA Today ran a short story on page 3 of the Money section on January 31.

On its Web site PIRG listed its key findings:

-- "More than 62 percent of Enron's and Arthur Andersen's combined $11.2 million in political contributions since the 1990 election cycle were made with 'hard money.' The Shays-Meehan bill significantly increases hard money limits."

-- "Kenneth and Linda Lay gave $882,580 in hard and soft money combined since the 1990 election cycle. Under Shays-Meehan's and McCain-Feingold's increased contribution limits, the Lays would have been able to give $975,000 in hard money alone during that period."

-- "Enron employees have made $508,000 in $1,000 contributions since the 1990 election cycle. Arthur Andersen's employees made $294,000 in $1,000 contributions during the same period. McCain-Feingold's increased contribution limits would allow these wealthy executives to double their contributions."

-- "Through giving to state parties, issue groups, or independent expenditures, Enron and Andersen could have spent the same amount of soft money under Shays-Meehan as they did previously."

-- "Since 1997, Enron's and Andersen's lobbying expenditures dwarfed their campaign contributions. Enron has spent more than $7.5 million on lobbying since 1997, nearly double their $3.8 million in campaign contributions over the same period. Andersen spent $9.6 million on lobbying, compared to $2.8 million on campaigns over the same period."

For the PIRG report: http://www.uspirg.org/newsroom/democ/020130dem.htm

As recounted in the January 28 CyberAlert, CBS's Dan Rather and NBC's Katie Couric on Friday used the Enron scandal as an excuse to push for campaign finance "reform."

Rather pleaded: "In tonight's Eye on America, CBS gives you an in-depth look at the sudden revival of congressional interest in legislation that's been killed more times than Dracula: Legislation for serious campaign finance reform. In the wake of the Enron fiasco, will Congress finally put its votes where its mouth is?"

Earlier Friday, Today co-host Katie Couric conveyed her wishes to MSNBC/CNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews: "What does this portend for, for campaign finance reform? Could this be the straw that breaks the camel's back that makes people say, 'Enough is enough! This has got to happen! We don't care what those folks on Capitol Hill say?'"

So far, not a word on either show about the evidence that more regulation would have done nothing to curb what Rather and Couric find so disturbing. If the media ever do take up the PIRG analysis, however, they'll probably use it not to show how another regulatory scheme won't solve anything but that, as PIRG maintains, the current bills don't propose enough new regulation.

3

When liberals complain, CBS usually jumps. As they did Thursday night in framing an entire story around the agenda of pro-abortion groups upset that the Bush administration has dared to let states include unborn children in a health care program for the poor.

Dan Rather intoned: "There's a growing political storm over a new policy by President Bush that expands prenatal care for the poor but also reignites arguments about a woman's right to choose abortion." John Roberts noted how the decision would "play well with conservatives," but that "abortion rights advocates see it in sharply different terms, what they call an assault on women's rights under the guise of compassion."

Over on ABC, World News Tonight held itself to this short item read by Peter Jennings: "The Health Secretary says that fetuses will be classified as unborn children and eligible for government health care. This will help low income women, but it concerns supporters of abortion rights. They don't want the Bush administration to classify fetuses as human beings."

What a nefarious scam, to "classify fetuses as human beings." As opposes to what?

Back to the January 31 CBS Evening News, Roberts began the story which Rather had introduced: "In a move bound to reignite the abortion debate, the Bush administration today declared that a developing fetus may be classified as an unborn child and eligible for federally funded health care."
Tommy Thompson, Secretary of Health and Human Services: "This is going to help poor mothers be able to take care of their unborn children."
Roberts: "The proposal would expand the definition of a child under the Children's Health Insurance program, which currently covers children from birth to age 19. Under the Bush plan, states would have the option to include fetuses in their program, which would make the mother eligible for prenatal and delivery care. The administration heralded the plan as a way to provide prenatal coverage to the 10.9 million women of child-bearing age who don't have insurance. But abortion rights advocates see it in sharply different terms, what they call an assault on women's rights under the guise of compassion."
Laurie Rubiner, National Partnership for Women and Families: "The President himself has reiterated that he is anti-choice in many different ways and has stated that he would like to make abortion illegal in all circumstances."
Roberts: "The move will certainly play well with conservatives, especially important in this election year. But the health secretary said today it has nothing to do with an anti-abortion agenda."
Thompson: "How anybody can now turn this into a pro-choice or pro-life argument, I can't understand it."
Roberts concluded: "Abortion rights advocates say there are plenty of ways that the government could provide prenatal care for pregnant women without officially conferring personhood on a fetus, but this is one battle that they are likely to lose. The President can change the rules with little more than a stroke of his executive pen."

Not a liberal in sight.

4

When Jordan's King Abdullah refused to denounce the Bush administration for shunning Yasser Arafat and not helping the Palestinians, CBS's Bryant Gumbel repeatedly pressed him to do so.

On Thursday's Early Show, MRC analyst Brian Boyd observed that Gumbel recounted how a Saudi Prince "chastised the Bush administration for doing nothing to help the Palestinians -- their words -- 'suffering at the hands of Israel,'" asked Abdullah if Palestinians have "a right to blame the Bush administration for doing little or nothing to help them?" and, noting how "this administration has shunned Yasser Arafat," wanted to know if Abdullah thought "that's a mistake?"

Gumbel set up the top of the 7am half hour interview with Abdullah, who appeared via satellite from Washington, DC: "Tomorrow morning Jordan's King Abdullah will meet with President Bush for a working breakfast at the White House. Hostilities in the Mideast as well as the war on terrorism will be atop the agenda. His Royal Highness is already in Washington. Your Majesty, good morning...What do you hope to accomplish tomorrow morning in your meeting with the President?"

After Abdullah talked about exchanging views on the deterioration of relations between Palestinians and Israel and looking at reducing the violence, Gumbel inquired: "Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia this week chastised the Bush administration for doing nothing to help the Palestinians -- their words -- 'suffering at the hands of Israel.' Is his outrage warranted?"

Abdullah agreed that the "Arab street" is frustrated at seeing the "suffering of Palestinians" and that the recent woman bomber shows the "level of desperation" of Palestinians.

Gumbel pressed Abdullah to blame the U.S.: "But have they a right to blame the Bush administration for doing little or nothing to help them?"
Abdullah discredited Gumbel's premise: "No. The Bush administration obviously has been trying to play a very balanced view, they've always been involved in trying to reach out to both sides...very quietly working behind the scenes to try and get both parties together..."
Gumbel was undeterred from his agenda: "You say a 'balanced' approach even though this administration has shunned Yasser Arafat. Do you not think that's a mistake?"
Abdullah put the burden on Arafat, explaining terrorist acts make it difficult for the Bush administration to deal with him.

Gumbel moved on: "Let me speak of some other matters with you, one of Jordan's key roles since 9/11 has been the sharing of intelligence information because you have very good human information on the ground. What is your view about how many countries, if any, have been implicated in the al Qaeda network?"

Gumbel followed up: "Well, I ask you that because, as you know, on Tuesday night in his State of the Union message the President singled out Iraq along with Iran and North Korea as being part of what he called an 'axis of evil.' Your nation has very close relations with Iraq. Do you think there is merit to the charge?""
Abdullah said his nation has always advocated "dialogue over armed conflict" and would prefer to try to rehabilitate Iraq.
That prompted Gumbel: "But, as you know, this administration continues to talk of moving aggressively against Iraq. To your mind how big a mistake would that be?"
Abdullah suggested it will be very difficult because of the frustration the Arab street feels over the Palestinians and so the Bush policy could create "immense instability in the region."

5

Not only did NBC's Today hire the liberal regulatory advocate Ann Brown, Clinton's Chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, as a reporter, on Thursday morning Today gave Brown a platform from which to lobby the agency she formerly headed. Today's Ann Curry really piled it on, praising her activist efforts to impose more regulations: "Ann Brown, working so hard to protect us from faulty products."

Curry's endorsement of Brown's regulatory zeal came after Today aired a story by Brown about the recall of some humidifiers. MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed that Today co-host Curry then gave Brown a forum to publicize her personal efforts to lobby the agency she formerly oversaw. Curry noted: "We should also mention that your non-profit organization is trying to do something even further. Is proposing legislation so that more people are protected from faulty products. Explain."
Brown complied: "Well, the recall system and my non-profit is called S.A.F.E and we are looking for a safer America for everyone. The recall system has a loophole. When people get products, particularly children's products or small electrical products you know that terrible card that they come with that has all that return card, with all that information about demographics and, and how much money you make. Nobody sends them back. We are proposing that the CPSC be required companies, require companies to have a recall card, just simple. It will already be postage pre-paid, it will have the product on it with the number and all you have to do is write your name and address, it will be kept secret and they mail that back or do it online. And then when there's a recall people can be individually contacted."
Curry then gushed: "Ann Brown, working so hard to protect us from faulty products. Thank you Ann, this morning."

And you wonder why liberals love campaign finance "reform." While they and the Washington press corps fret over undue influence of corporate donations and former government officials lobbying the insiders they once directed, they have the news media to promote their liberal policy prescriptions.

6

"You need to hear what she has to say," declared Good Morning America co-host Diane Sawyer before a laudatory profile on Thursday of Jane Fonda and her crusade to counter conservatives as she advocates access for minors to contraceptives.

Fonda argued: "In this country, you think, 'Oh my gosh, if we tell kids how to avoid getting pregnant, it's going to make them have sex.' Come on! I mean, take your head out of the sand. Come on! It is so disrespectful to young people."
ABC's Nancy Snyderman endorsed the sentiment: "Telling words from a woman and icon who went from acting to activism, a woman who says she didn't begin to find her real self until well after she hit middle age..."

Sawyer set up the January 31 profile caught by the MRC's Jessica Anderson: "And Jane Fonda joins us now, provocative as ever, talking about President Bush, talking about her celebrated and now-ended marriage to the high-voltage Ted Turner, and her passion for improving the lives of young girls around the world." Sawyer insisted: "You need to hear what she has to say."

Nancy Snyderman handled the pre-taped interview: "This is the Jane Fonda you thought you knew. This is the Jane Fonda you need to know, working with young women in Third World countries, giving them information about basic human rights, sexuality, self-worth."

Snyderman to Fonda: "At this stage in your life, having done so much, you're now an activist really fighting for young women around the globe. Why?"
Fonda: "It's taken me far too long to gain my voice and I don't want that to be the case for other girls. When you give girls information about their bodies, access to health care, education and rights, they become whole, safer, they can stand up for themselves, they refuse genital mutilation, they refuse to be married as child brides, they tend to have smaller families and they tend to want their children to be educated and healthy like they are. If you deny girls those things, then you begin to see tremendous poverty, then sustainable development is impossible and you begin to see tremendous population growth."
Snyderman: "So whose cages should we be rattling?"
Fonda: "We should be rattling the Bush cage and our elected senators and congressmen, and we should say to them, 'We care about girls' and women's rights and health, and we want you, as our representatives, to care too and to put it into practice with money.'"
Snyderman: "Fonda also fights for the young people in her own backyard, now in Georgia, arming them with information and choices."
Fonda: "In this country, you think, 'Oh my gosh, if we tell kids how to avoid getting pregnant, it's going to make them have sex.' Come on! I mean, take your head out of the sand. Come on! It is so disrespectful to young people."
Snyderman: "Telling words from a woman and icon who went from acting to activism, a woman who says she didn't begin to find her real self until well after she hit middle age, well after two Oscars, two marriages and children.
"In each decade of your life, have you continued to find more and more of this voice that's been, sort of, simmering inside of you?"
Fonda: "Mmhmm. I feel like some kind of an underground plant that has grown racines [Jessica looked that up and it's the root of a Latin word] under the surface and then, but it wasn't until I was 60 that they started to come over, to come above ground."
Snyderman: "At 60 you were married to Ted Turner. Was that part of this metamorphosis?"
Fonda: "Yeah, he was very much a part of my healing and growth, and so is the fact that I'm not with him now. But you know something so great about him? He understands what we're talking about. He gets it. This good old boy from the South that my son calls 'Bubba,' with his U.N. foundation, he understands that the future of the world depends on the empowerment of women and girls and the slowing of population growth, which are really one and the same."

Snyderman concluded: "Change seems the only thing constant in Jane Fonda's life. Today at 64 and with a mission, she is a reluctant celebrity, but she knows it is her celebrity that will further her cause."
Fonda: "If we can make our girls strong before they lose it as women the way I did and so many other women did, you're changing the future of the world."

Sawyer oozed: "Again, Jane Fonda, who has polarized us in her history and been provocative all along and talking about change."

7

From the January 31 Late Show with David Letterman, as read by crew members on the US Navy destroyer Thorn based in Norfolk, Virginia, the "Top Ten Reasons Why I Love America." Copyright 2002 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. Even after 225 years, it still has that new-country smell
(Operation Specialist, Ron Morris)

9. Some of our best presidents were American
(Lieutenant Jr. Grade, Erica Munzinger)

8. You're never more than 200 feet from a Dunkin' Donuts
(Fire Controlman 2nd Class, Nick Pavlinek)

6. Years of scientific research have made it possible for us to have our eyeglasses ready in about an hour
(Yeoman Seamen, Jeremiah Mason)

5. What other country has both a South Dakota and a North Dakota?
(Cryptologic Technician Maintenance 2nd Class, Jason Halvorsen)

4. If somebody ever teaches a chimp to drive a car, it'll probably be an American
(Electronics Technician 1st Class, Shawn Goodwin)

3. The uniforms look damn good
(Damage Controlman 2nd Class, James Laban)

2. None of our current or former leaders live in a cave
(Gunner's Mate 3rd Class, Elijah Muse)

1. Where else could a geek like Letterman get his own show?
(Electronics Technician 3rd Class, Gregory Allen Davis II)

Tonight is Letterman's 20th anniversary hosting a late night show. His NBC program first aired on February 1, 1982. -- Brent Baker


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