CyberAlert -- 05/16/2000 -- Bush's SS Plan Welcomed & Denounced
Bush's SS Plan Welcomed & Denounced; Mom March Agenda Pushed; Labeling Disparity
1) ABC's Peter Jennings gave Bush's SS private investment idea a warm welcome, but Betsy Stark worried "there's no guarantee investors will invest wisely" or the "stock market will go up." Tom Brokaw called it a "controversial strategy" and Dan Rather relayed how Gore says it risks "ruining" the "social safety net."
2) "We may look back on this one as one of those demonstrations that led to real change," hoped CBS's Bob Schieffer in reviewing the Million Mom March. NBC's Lisa Myers looked at the effort "to transform a one day success into a political movement."
3) Today and GMA gave Donna Dees-Thomases another platform Monday morning while GMA's Charles Gibson empathized with a marcher's cause: "I sense a great frustration in you" because people don't realize your son died and "something has to be done about that."
Coverage: How the news media miss the mark on the gun issue," a piece in
the June edition of Reason magazine by Washington Times Deputy Editorial Page
Editor Kenneth Smith, cites the MRC's January study by Geoffrey Dickens on
gun control coverage:
George Bush's Social Security reform plan announcement topped both the ABC and CBS evening shows Monday night while NBC also dedicated a full story to it after leading with a study on how the cancer rate is declining.
ABC's Peter Jennings gave Bush's plan a warm welcome by noting how it matches the view of the majority of Americans who want to be able to invest their own Social Security money, but in a second story ABC's Betsy Stark stressed criticism of how the plan "is so vague it is impossible to know how well retirees would do under it" while "there's no guarantee investors will invest wisely" and "there's no guarantee the stock market will go up as it has in the past."
Both ABC and NBC included Al Gore's reaction to what Tom Brokaw labeled Bush's "controversial strategy," but only Dan Rather put Gore's rebuke into the top of the show opening as he relayed how Bush's proposal means "changes Democrat Al Gore says risk ruining a great American social safety net." Rather also noted how a new CBS News poll found Bush eight points ahead of Gore, but he offered this admonition: "Polls this early in campaigns raise a lot of questions about reliability."
Earlier, on CNN's Inside Politics, Brooks Jackson insisted there is no painless solution: "Those details that George W. Bush isn't giving are important. Depending on the approach, proposals like his can be expensive or painful." He summarized some past proposals which either meant more costs up front or fewer benefits later, before concluding: "There is no pain free, cost free solution."
Here's how the three broadcast network evening shows on Monday night, May 15, handled Bush's Social Security proposal, made possible with some transcribing help from the MRC's Brad Wilmouth.
-- ABC's World News
Tonight. Peter Jennings opened the show:
From California, Dean
Reynolds summarized Bush's assurance that those on the program can relax
as nothing will change for them, but for those younger things must change
or Social Security will collapse. Unlike CBS and NBC, Reynolds highlighted
this warning shot from Bush aimed at Democratic demagoguery: "The
days of spreading fear and panic are over. The days of delaying, dividing
and demagoging are over."
Next, Peter Jennings relayed a poll finding complimentary to Bush's plan: "That ABC poll, by the way, on Social Security, finds Americans continue to have serious doubts about its future. Only 38 percent expect to ever receive their benefits, and it's 64 percent of the people who support a plan to invest some of their contributions in the market. So how will it work? Well, we actually don't know a lot, as Dean Reynolds said. The details are yet to come. But for a start, here's ABC's Betsy Stark."
Stark started by looking a 35-year-old guy who would like to invest his own money. At an income of $32,000 a year, she explained, he would now get $1,155 month from Social Security, but with just 2 percent invested privately that would go up to $1,423 a month.
Then Stark took on the
very idea of any market options: "The problem is the Bush plan is so
vague it is impossible to know how well retirees would do under it. First,
there's no guarantee investors will invest wisely, whether it's in
stocks, bonds, or something else. There's no guarantee the stock market
will go up as it has in the past or that it will be higher at retirement.
And that's a problem because the whole point of Social Security is to
provide a guarantee."
-- CBS Evening News. Dan
Rather announced at the top of the program:
The poll numbers, as listed on screen, had Bush ahead of Gore by 47 to 39 percent but the public preferring Gore on Social Security by the flip-side: 47 to 39 percent. For a complete rundown of the poll, go to: http://cbsnews.cbs.com/now/story/0,1597,195691-412,00.shtml
CBS reporter John Roberts proceeded to summarize the Bush proposal to give taxpayers control over a portion of their money and how Gore criticized it as a "roll the dice." Roberts added: "The 2030 Center, a liberal think tank for young people, agrees with the Vice President and favors Gore's plan to use savings from paying down the national debt to keep Social Security afloat." After a soundbite from a 2030 Center guy, Roberts pointed out how the CBS poll discovered 62 percent of those under 45 favor a private investment option, which is better for them, noted Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute, in a balancing soundbite.
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw called Bush's idea "controversial" in introducing a story by David Gregory: "Now to presidential politics and George W. Bush's plan for your money. Tonight he has released details on his controversial strategy for fixing Social Security."
Bush's plan: "Speaking to seniors outside Los Angeles today,
Governor Bush calls Social Security a defining American promise and offers
his boldest policy proposal yet, a plan to save the program by allowing
workers to invest part of their payroll taxes in the stock market."
Gregory wrapped up by pointing how something must be done as the program runs out of money in 2037, but that Bush is taking a political risk in talking about Social Security.
The night after Sunday's Million Mom March, ABC offered no follow up, but both CBS and NBC wished along its goals. "We may look back on this one as one of those demonstrations that led to real change," hoped CBS's Bob Schieffer. NBC's Lisa Myers highlighted how march organizers are trying "to transform a one day success into a political movement." Myers concluded by suggesting: "Republicans in close races admit to being nervous, that women just might, for the first time, cast their votes on this issue."
On the May 15 CBS Evening News Dan Rather adopted the "gun safety" spin favored by gun control advocates, declaring: "Another defining election year issue may be picking up political steam, the push for new gun safety laws."
Bob Schieffer trumpeted:
"Yesterday's turnout was impressive by any standard and we may look
back on this one as one of those demonstrations that led to real change.
The crowd was estimated between half and three quarters of a million
people, far beyond anyone's expectations."
Over on Monday's NBC
Nightly News, Lisa Myers announced: "The day after hundreds of
thousands of mothers cried enough is enough, organizers of the Million Mom
March try to transform a one day success into a political movement. This
morning the march organizer challenges the gun lobby."
So much for the march being apolitical.
Myers played soundbites
from two marchers and noted how gun violence hit home in Congress as the
17-year-old son of Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak used a gun over the
weekend to commit suicide. She showed a clip of Clinton prodding Congress
to take action, before noting: "Although Texas Governor George W.
Bush praised the march, many Republican leaders dismiss it as a Democratic
publicity stunt." Republican pollster Ed Goeas suggested it will just
be a story for a couple of days. Myers then concluded it could be much
As noted in item #2 above, Donna Dees-Thomases got a solo interview slot on Monday's Today. On Monday she also made her fourth appearance of the year on ABC's Good Morning America. GMA carried its post Million Mom March coverage through two half hours, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson observed, with a glowing review of the march and interviews not only with Dees-Thomases but another marcher who participated in Friday's GMA broadcast from the White House. ABC's Charles Gibson didn't challenge the premise of their march, just whether they have the "mettle" to push their agenda.
Late in the 7am half
hour Charles Gibson announced: "And finally this half-hour, Diane, we
turn to that Million Mom March. That was, of course, our focus in our
broadcast from the White House this past Friday. The moms came to
Washington and to other cities by the busloads, toting diaper bags and
bottled water. Yesterday they were demonstrating for what they call common
sense gun laws, and ABC's John Yang sums it up."
Yang picked up on a face
familiar to GMA viewers: "In Washington, one of the Million Mom
marchers was Linda Halpin, who joined us for our meeting with President
Clinton at the White House on Friday."
Back live, Gibson talked briefly with Donna Dees-Thomases, "the founder of the Million Mom March," whom he asked: "I've covered many a march in my days as a reporter in Washington and after the speeches are made and the songs are sung and people are going home, they say to each other, 'Now what?' So I ask you, now what?"
Dees-Thomases got to stick around into the next half hour, which Gibson set up: "We're going to continue our discussion on the Million Mom March, and joining us again from Washington is Donna Dees-Thomases, the founder of the event, and with me here in New York is Linda Halpin, who, as you heard in John Yang's piece and we mentioned on Friday, her son died in a shooting on last Mother's Day. Donna, let me come back to you, because we had a chance to talk briefly in the last half-hour, and you said, okay, now we have to turn to electoral politics. So are you saying that this group, the Million Moms, will prove their mettle on election day, or not?"
If it did, she's now qualified to be a network correspondent.
Amongst the speakers at Sunday's Million Mom March: Newsweek columnist Anna Quindlen. Imagine the outrage if alternate week Newsweek columnist George Will ever appeared before a gun rights rally. But it's okay for Quindlen, apparently because she's on the media's side of the issue.
MRC intern Michael
Ferguson took down some of what she spewed, as shown on C-SPAN:
"We know about the Second Amendment. The second amendment guarantees us the right to a militia, not the right to no questions asked gun purchases. But before our children learned the second amendment, they learned about the Declaration of Independence, and that guarantees them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness....
"They [the kids] deserve to be safe from gun violence, to have moderate, sensible laws that safeguard all of our kids-the kids of police officers, the kids of hunters, and the kids of NRA members, too....
"Over and over the ones who take money from the NRA have said that new gun laws won't solve all our problems. Well, maybe they won't solve all our problems. Maybe they'll just save a handful of kids. Maybe they'll only save one. Maybe it'll be your kid who lives, or yours, or mine, or maybe even one of theirs...."
She concluded with a mother's scold: "Why should the members of Congress listen to us? Well, I'll use the words I've used so many times to Quin, Chris and Maria. And I want you to repeat them after me. 'Because I said so. Because I said so. Because I said so!'"
Not very persuasive with kids or Congress.
The "conservative" Jim Rogan versus "a California State Senator named Adam Schiff" with no noteworthy ideology. That's how the May 10 Washington Post described the two candidates in California's 27th congressional district.
"Ignoring Impeachment," read the headline over the subhead: "In California's 27th, Rogan and Rival Woo Armenians with Issues Beyond Clinton's Trial." From Glendale, California, reporter William Booth asserted: "The upcoming congressional race here is being billed as the ultimate grudge match."
His next two paragraphs
displayed a disparity in labeling:
Nowhere else in the story was Schiff tagged ideologically.
From the May 11 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Signs Mayor Giuliani Is In Love With You." Copyright 2000 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. Shows up with wine, cheese and court
order forcing you to picnic with him
You have to be a New Yorker to get #8. -- Brent Baker
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