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CyberAlert -- 06/10/1997 -- Purgatory for Molinari

Purgatory for Molinari; Higher Taxes or We Create Another Hitler

  1. CBS anchor Paula Zahn demands: "What do you think is the most insidious threat to women today: sexism or racism?"
  2. A NBC News VP urges "a period of, a cleansing if you will, a purgatory" so Susan Molinari can "jettison" her partisanship. But it's the NBC News staff that really needs a "cleansing."
  3. Al Hunt launches another mean fusillade at Burton and Gingrich.
  4. Raise taxes on the wealthy and "tame" the market or the West will face the rise of a new Hitler, argue two Chicago Tribune reporters.
  5. NBC confuses Gil Davis with cloned sheep.

1) Paula Zahn had a chance to challenge an affirmative action advocate about why she favors preferences or how she reacts to the view that affirmative action stigmatizes all blacks in the workplace. But instead Zahn opted for tossing up liberal assumptions. For her "One on One with Paula Zahn" segment on Saturday's (June 7) CBS Evening News, Zahn profiled Johnnetta Cole, outgoing President of Spelman College.

Here are Zahn's loaded questions, as transcribed by MRC inter Jessica Anderson:

-- "What do you think is the most insidious threat to women today: sexism or racism?"

-- "As we see this movement in our country to do away with affirmative action, are you concerned that the gains that you've witnessed over the last 20 years will be erased?"

-- "Cole worries that fewer black students are applying to those mainstream colleges where affirmative action laws have been banned....Can you imagine a time when our society will be free of racism?"

Cole replied: "The answer, very quickly, yes."
"Really?" exclaimed a surprised Zahn.

A better question: Can you imagine a time CBS reporters make even a token attempt at challenging liberalism instead of promoting it?


2) In the wake of Susan Molinari's jump to CBS News, the PBS NewsHour aired a discussion Friday night of the revolving door. A NBC News executive argued that 1) It is okay to jump from politics to a network, as long as you are behind the scenes; and 2) There's "no partisanship" in the news.

Appearing with David Gergen, professor Lewis Wolfson and GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, NBC News Vice President Cheryl Gould contended:

"I think that I have no reason to believe that Ms. Molinari can't learn the basics of journalism, of clarity and fairness. We shouldn't be judging her before the fact. But that's not where I think the problem lies. I think that there really is an issue of the blurring of the lines and that there shouldn't be such an easy exit from one arena to the other. I wish that in her case there had been a period of, a cleansing if you will, a purgatory, a time when she could prove that she really does, is able to jettison her partisan background and act as a journalist."

Later, David Gergen suggested that "Tim Russert of NBC took time out and I think proved himself."

Jim Lehrer jumped in: "He took time out. He left Moynihan and what did he do, Ms. Gould, he became the Washington bureau chief for NBC?"

Gould explained: "Prior to that he was an executive in New York for several years helping to run the news division."

COMMENT: Russert, who worked for Senator Pat Moynihan and then for New York Governor Mario Cuomo, jumped immediately from Cuomo's office to Vice President of NBC News in 1984. So, by Gould's reasoning it is a more serious threat to journalism to go directly from politics to hosting a weekly show on the least newsy day of the week than it is to jump from a politician's staff to a top executive position where you can influence all network news shows.

Talk about image over substance. As a behind the scenes person herself, who was the Senior Producer of NBC Nightly News for many years, I'd think Gould would have a better appreciation for how network news is more than who is perky enough to be chosen to read Tele-Prompter copy written by someone else.

At another point, Lehrer pressed Gould: "But what about the Congressman's point that it was a phony boundary; that there is partisanship already in the news, and all this does is just make it a little more open and honest?"

Gould responded: "I don't feel that there is partisanship in the news. I think that there are -- is an attempt -- I mean, it is the basic tenet of journalism to be fair, to be critical, to be watchdogs, and sometimes that means to take unpopular positions with one side of the aisle versus the other. But I think as an activist, as an elected official, it is very difficult for the public to then think that you're now able to -- to remove yourself from that debate and act as a journalist should."

COMMENT: "To be fair." Let's see. Here's how Tom Brokaw introduced America to the Contract with America on September 27, 1994: "Today, GOP congressional candidates were summoned to Washington and given a battle plan. However, as NBC's Lisa Myers tells us tonight, it is long on promises and short on sound premises." On March 22, 1995 Brokaw again distorted the Contract: "When NBC Nightly News continues: In Washington, if they cut food stamps, who doesn't eat?"

Here's an exchange from an April 12, 1996 Today segment promoting a Dateline story on Oklahoma City victims.

Bill Moyers: "They're angry now that, most of the people who were killed were connected, in one way or the other, to the federal government. They thought of themselves as public servants. Then politicians and talk radio turned them into faceless bureaucrats, and finally the terrorists turned them into victims, and they're angry."

Bryant Gumbel: "You mention talk radio. They have some very hard feelings about talk radio and the hate being spewed by some of those on the far end of the spectrum."

Moyers: "If anything, talk radio in that part of the world is more anti-government today than ever. The airwaves are saturated with hostility, it's just an unremitting vilification of government. Sometimes it's, sometimes it's, you know, the government makes mistakes and there are justifiable grievances against government. But this is, this goes beyond that, it's excessive. And these people take it like salt in the wound. They drive around, they turn on their radio, they hear some vicious attack on government, and they think, `You know, if you strike the government, you kill my daughter.'"

When do Brokaw, Gumbel and Moyers go in for a "cleansing"?


3) Al Hunt really hates Gingrich and is enraged that Congressman Dan Burton might actually do a little investigating. The latest mean-spirited shot from the Wall Street Journal's Executive Washington Editor was uttered on the May 31 Capital Gang. Here's his Outrage of the Week, as transcribed by MRC intern Jessica Anderson:

"House Speaker, Newt Gingrich, is blatantly and unethically trying to use House Appropriations Chairman Livingston and Judiciary Chairman Hyde to intimidate the FBI in its investigation of sleazy fundraising practices by Congressman Dan Burton. Burton is the miscast Chairman, investigating Clinton fundraising improprieties. Imagine the screams if the White House tried Gingrich's tactic. But then, why should this surprise us coming from the only Speaker ever to be officially sanctioned for unethical conduct."

Gee, can't we all just get along?


4) Two Chicago Tribune reporters warn that if the West fails to raise taxes on the rich it will face another Hitler. Browsing the Tribune Web page, MRC news analyst Clay Waters came across a Sunday, June 8 Perspective section piece titled "Revolt of the Have-Nots: An Election Harbinger from Europe?" Ron Grossman and R.C. Longworth, identified as "Tribune staff writers," offered an explanation couched in Marxist language as to why conservatives lost:

"A little belt-tightening now will yield a feast of future prosperity, the French and British conservatives promised. A lot of voters, though, seemed to have noticed that the unemployment rolls have been growing even as international trade and corporate profits have been increasing. So they translated the politicians' equation into a question: 'We should do with even less so you can profit even more?'

And off they went to the polling places, thumbing their noses at the status quo. The late communist poet and avant-garde playwright Bertolt Brecht once expressed the morning-after chagrin that the British and French establishments now must feel for being so unappreciated by the unwashed. Told that the East German people had lost confidence in their political leadership, Brecht responded: 'Then the Party will have to elect a new people.'

"In democracies, of course, that's not easily done. That pesky little thing called the vote allows the least of the have-nots to throw a monkey wrench into the best-laid schemes of plutocrats and technocrats every election day."

Observing that in the West a social bargain was struck long ago in which "life's winners have an obligation to help the losers," the reporters insisted that's now falling apart:

"All that has been changed by the emergence of a global economy. Suddenly, a lot more losers exist. In the U.S., the gap between the rich and the poor is greater now than at any time since the 1920s, and greater than in any other industrial country. The theory of a trickle-down effect was one of the first casualties of the new economic order. Inequalities of wealth used to be justified on the assumption that some of the crumbs from the groaning tables of the wealthy drizzle down on the classes below. But in an age of global markets, the rains in Spain (or the U.S., etc.) often fall on some other country's plain."

The solution: Global government cooperation to make sure anyone who succeeds cannot escape confiscatory taxes. While the "well-heeled" have been able to avoid taxes, workers "have been increasingly financing their own safety net -- in a case of robbing Peter to pay Peter. But there is only so much money to be made in soaking the poor."

Grossman and Longworth argued that "any government...that loses the power to tax loses the power to compensate life's also-rans. If the new governments of Britain and France try to increase corporate taxes to sustain the welfare state -- which is what got them elected -- they could precipitate an even greater scramble for overseas tax havens. Indeed, unless nations work collectively to tax the winners in a global economy and force them to reassume their social responsibilities, these left-wing governments might just prove to be political way-stations.

"They could be succeeded by other nastier regimes, responding to workers' demands to stop a Brave New World they want to get off of. More than a half-century ago, Hitler and Mussolini seemed to offer their peoples a respite from history.

The Windy city duo concluded with this ominous warning:
"As David Marquand, a British political scientist, has noted, the Western nations soon may face just such a choice between their most hallowed political traditions and contemporary economic forces. 'Either democracy has to be tamed for the sake of the market,' Marquand has written, 'or the market has to be tamed for the sake of democracy.'"

Finally, something useful for the UN: takeover the IRS. The full article can be read at: http://www.chicago.tribune.com/ print/perspective/current/perspective.html


5) Finally, as Sunday morning Today viewers saw a picture of Paula Jones' attorney Gil Davis over news anchor Bob Kur's shoulder, Kur announced:

"A special presidential commission is recommending that Congress enact a law that prohibits creation of human beings by cloning until more is known about the safety and ethics of the procedure. We'll have more on the cloning debate in a few minutes, here on Today."

The previous story had nothing to do with Davis and neither did the next. Tuesday Davis faces a four-man Republican primary in Virginia to win the Republican nomination for Attorney General. A few clones might help his chances.

-- Brent Baker