All Tax Cuts "Huge" to CBS?; CNN: Klein's Clinton Book "Balanced"; Today Featured Bruni's "Ambling Into History" & EPA's Bush-Basher
1) Is a tax cut ever seen as anything but "big" or "huge" by CBS News? On Thursday night, Bob Schieffer found the culprit for why the stimulus bill was delayed: "Republicans insisted on coupling unemployment benefits with huge tax cuts for business."
2) Joe Klein's new book is titled, "The Natural: The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton," but CNN anchor Aaron Brown declared it a "very balanced book on the former President." Klein expounded on CNN about Clinton's "courageous" policies and how he couldn't fix the FBI by firing Louis Freeh "because it would appear that he was firing him over Monica Lewinsky." Years ago, Klein defended Clinton's morals: "Having an interesting sexual history is a leading indicator of success in the presidency."
3) NBC's Today showcased New York Times reporter Frank Bruni and his new book, Ambling Into History: The Unlikely Odyssey of George W. Bush. Bruni recounted amateurish behavior by Bush at a 1999 memorial service and how Bruni finds Bush uninformed about popular culture, but that he was transformed by September 11 so people now see the genuine and plain-spoken side. Bruni insisted: "This is not meant to bash him or to bolster him."
4) Today also featured former EPA staffer Eric Schaeffer who Katie Couric prodded to repeat his attacks on Bush's environmental policy as she challenged him only once, and then very mildly. But seconds later, with EPA chief Christie Todd Whitman, Couric played devil's advocate with every question and demanded she respond to the spin from a liberal House Democrat about how "more Americans will breathe toxic air pollution for a longer period of time."
>>> Hear Dan
Rather as he accepted the "Gilligan Award (for the Flakiest Comment
of the Year)" at the MRC's Dishonor Awards: Roasting the Most
Outrageously Biased Reporters of 2001. Sort of. Roast attendees really
heard an interview between Kate O'Beirne and Dan Rather made possible by
the editing together of audio clips of actual past Rather comments. Now,
the MRC's Mez Djouadi has posted a RealPlayer clip of the exchange
enjoyed by those at the roast back on January 17. To hear it, as well as
to read a transcript, go to the address below and scroll down a bit:
Is a tax cut ever seen as anything but "big" or "huge" by CBS News? On Thursday night, Bob Schieffer reported that the House managed to agree to a stimulus package which had been delayed because "Republicans insisted on coupling unemployment benefits with huge tax cuts for business."
Schieffer opened his March 7 story on the CBS Evening News: "With the six month anniversary of the attack less than a week away, Congress is finally near agreement on an economic stimulus package to get the economy going again and help the unemployed. Until now, House Republicans insisted on coupling unemployment benefits with huge tax cuts for business."
Last year in the MRC's study, "Liberal
Spin Prevails: How CBS Led the Networks' Charge Against the Bush Tax
Cut," the MRC's Rich Noyes determined that CBS's Dan Rather
branded "the President's tax plan as 'big' eleven times,"
more often than any other network reporter. To read the study, refer back
Joe Klein's new book features an image of Bill Clinton on a mocked-up dime surrounded by the title, "The Natural: The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton," but CNN anchor Aaron Brown declared it a "very balanced book on the former President."
(To view the cover with Clinton's head on a dime under the word "Liberty," check this Amazon.com page: http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0385506198.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg)
Interviewing Klein on Wednesday's NewsNight, Brown wanted to know, "what did he do that was good?" After Klein admired how "his domestic policy was excellent and it was courageous," Brown didn't see Clinton as having any "bad" policies, just "less successful" ones: "Would you agree that he was less successful a President on the foreign policy side?"
Klein is most famous for writing Primary Colors which dealt with how personal foibles of a Clinton-like character impeded the noble goals of a liberal politician. But a few years ago Klein was holding up Bill Clinton's character and morals as an attribute since "having an interesting sexual history is a leading indicator of success in the presidency." Two quotes from the MRC archive:
-- As a Newsweek Senior Writer, in the January 3, 1994 issue he opined: "I suspect that as long as the peccadilloes remain within reason, the American people will have great tolerance for a President who has not only seen the sunshine of Oxford, but also the dusky Dunkin' Donuts of the soul."
-- A few months later, on the May 8 Face the Nation, Klein mocked concerns about Clinton's behavior: "Are we in an era of government by Geraldo? Have we created an atmosphere where no one with any interesting aspects of their past is going to want to get involved in politics? Are we going to look back on this time 100 years from now the way we look back on Salem?...We're going to wind up with government by goody_goodies, government by people who have done nothing in their life except walk the straight and narrow, who have no creative thoughts. We're going to look back on this 100 years from now and say we drove some of our best people out of politics. In the 20th century, having an interesting sexual history is a leading indicator of success in the presidency."
A Publisher's Weekly review showcased by
Amazon.com demonstrates that Klein's new book hardly offers a balanced
take on liberal and conservative policies and leaders during the Clinton
presidency. Picking up on Klein's criticism for Clinton's Lewinsky
relationship, the review noted:
MRC analyst Ken Shepherd noticed how Brown
opened the March 6 NewsNight with his always self-indulgent rant, this
time about how the independent counsel's final report bothered him. At
the end of his remarks he got to his claim about the "very
balanced" nature of Klein's book:
Brown later set up his interview with Klein:
"For President Clinton now, or citizen Clinton, the investigation is
now officially over. We mentioned this earlier in that sometimes-annoying
Page Two that begins the program. No reason to say it again, it's done, he
lied, $70 million, no trial.
Brown began by asking if Klein thought he knew Clinton and "are there people who you think know him?" Klein replied: "His wife, perhaps. Some of his close friends...."
Brown then inquired: "Let's try and cover
a couple things a little quickly here. It's always seemed to me that he is
perceived in a kind of black-and-white way. You either love him or you
hate him, and one of the arguments you make in the book is that, in fact,
the guy did good and the guy did bad."
Of course, Clinton picked Freeh to run the FBI.
Brown next contended that irrational reasoning
is behind any dislike of Bill Clinton: "You talked about his
relationship to the military and going back to Vietnam, which is for me, a
perfect segue into this theory I have about people's feelings about him.
That I've always thought that many people had, inappropriately, I'm not
sure that's really the word I want, strong dislike for him that is out
there somewhere years ago, but not necessarily related to anything he
specifically did. Does that make sense?"
Brown probably thinks his interview was balanced -- by the same standard he thinks the book is balanced.
NBC's Today on Thursday morning showcased New York Times reporter Frank Bruni and his new book, Ambling Into History: The Unlikely Odyssey of George W. Bush. Bruni recounted some supposedly amateurish and inappropriate behavior by Bush at a 1999 memorial service and how Bruni finds Bush surprisingly uninformed about popular culture, but that he was transformed by September 11 so people now see the genuine and plain-spoken side Bruni saw behind the scenes while covering him in 1999 and 2000.
NBC's Matt Lauer summed up Bruni's view: "There's a huge balance there. So he doesn't know much about Sex and the City, or Stone Phillips or Leonardo DiCaprio, he's earnest and sincere." Bruni insisted: "This is not meant to bash him or to bolster him this is just a book-length answer to the question: What is he like up close and personal?"
Stone Phillips as a representative name everyone should know from pop culture? Stone Phillips?
Since it is possible to separate Bush from conservative policies, I'd suggest that offering a negative evaluation of Bush's personal behavior does not necessarily make the book a biased anti-conservative screed unless it castigates Bush for pushing conservative policies, which it apparently does not. Let's remember that in 1999 and 2000 a lot of conservatives wondered if George W. Bush was up to the job.
Some excerpts from the March 7 interview as taken down by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens:
-- Lauer: "Why don't we just start with
the title okay. Ambling Into History, you look it up, ambling means, 'to
move with an easy gait, to saunter,' why that description?"
-- Lauer: "Another quote from you in the
book. 'Part scamp and part bumbler. A timeless fraternity boy and heedless
cut-up. A weekday gym rat and weekend napster.' You talk about and you
make fun of some of his lack of pop culture knowledge. Rush Limbaugh says
the following: 'So Bush is out of it. He doesn't know any of the latest
pop icons. The important thing is this, George W. Bush knows who he is,
knows the country and knows who you are and he knows what's best.' Isn't
that more important in a President, if you agree with that?"
The Today Web page features an excerpt from the book's chapter about Bush's odd behavior at a memorial service, a picture of Bruni and a video clip of the Today interview: http://www.msnbc.com/news/720190.asp
A week after he resigned in a publicity stunt to create a platform to bash the Bush administration for not being liberal enough on environmental policy by daring to consider policy solutions other than heavily bureaucratic regulatory enforcement schemes, NBC's Today on Thursday featured former EPA staffer Eric Schaeffer.
Today's Katie Couric prodded Schaeffer to elaborate on his opinions and only once, and then very mildly, challenged his premise. But seconds later, with EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman, Couric played devil's advocate with every question and demanded she respond to the spin from a liberal House Democrat: "Congressman Henry Waxman says quote, 'Contrary to the Clean Air Act the Bush administration has delayed the date by which toxic air pollution will be cleaned up. With this delay more Americans will breathe toxic air pollution for a longer period of time.'"
The March 4 CyberAlert documented: An EPA
official who resigned by denouncing Bush environmental policy was rewarded
with a boomlet of laudatory media coverage with stories in major
newspapers and on ABC, CBS and NBC, as well as an interview on This Week.
MSNBC's News with Brian Williams featured the NBC Nightly News story,
but three nights earlier, when Nightly News aired a piece about how
"Enron did surprisingly well during the Clinton years,"
MSNBC's prime time newscast not re-air that story. For
A rundown of the questions posed to Schaeffer and Whitman on the March 7 Today as tracked by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens:
Couric set up the segment: "Last week Eric Schaeffer, a senior Environmental Protection Agency official leveled some very serious allegations against the Bush administration and its enforcement of clean air laws. Then he resigned. Eric Schaeffer joins us this morning. Mr. Schaeffer good morning."
-- Couric: "Ultimately what made you say, 'I'm mad as heck and I'm not gonna take it any more?'"
-- Couric: "So you have charged, pretty much Mr. Schaeffer, that big business and industry in exchange for generous contributions to the Bush campaign has been lobbying to relax clean air standards. Do you really think there's a quid-pro-quo going on here?"
-- Couric: "And what, what is the rationale for getting rid of the Clean Air Act?"
-- Couric mildly challenged Schaeffer, but presented the question in the form of asking him why the Bush policy is bad: "But meanwhile the Bush administration has introduced something that you well know, it is called the Clear Skies Initiative. Christie Todd Whitman has said it's quote, 'the most aggressive initiative to cut air pollution in a generation. Why don't you think that's an adequate replacement for the Clean Air Act?"
-- Couric: "And real quickly what do you hope to achieve through your resignation?"
-- Couric turned to Whitman: "Well obviously Mr. Schaeffer has leveled some pretty serious accusations against the Environmental Protection Agency and the Bush administration. How do you respond?"
-- Couric: "What about the, the, the sentiment that, that these new initiatives are intended to help energy suppliers? That the White House is in essence paying back its friends to the detriment of public health in this country?"
-- Couric: "The EPA has also been criticized for extending the deadline for compliance with the Clean Air Act. Congressman Henry Waxman says quote, 'Contrary to the Clean Air Act the Bush administration has delayed the date by which toxic air pollution will be cleaned up. With this delay more Americans will breathe toxic air pollution for a longer period of time.'"
By extending Couric's contract, NBC has extended the length of time Americans must endure her harmful biased approach to interviews.
> I've run out of space again before getting to my planned further analysis of the PBS NewsHour's assessment of the cable news channels and FNC's conservative bias. I'll try again to fit it in on Monday along with my take on the just-published New Republic cover story which attacks the premise of Bernard Goldberg's book. -- Brent Baker
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