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CyberAlert -- 06/20/2001 -- Couric Dated Clinton Spinner

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Upset by Thanks to Congress & Bush; Ferraro a "Hero to Millions"; Anti-Soft Money Ban Ruling Skipped; Couric Dated Clinton Spinner

1) A letter from the IRS informing taxpayers that thanks to Congress and the President they will be getting a tax cut disturbed CBS. "Democrats who didn't vote for the tax bill pointed out that the mailing will cost over $20 million and called the letter shamelessly political," Bill Plante intoned.

2) "Australia has now joined the U.S. in rejecting the Kyoto global warming treaty and for similar reasons," FNC Brit Hume uniquely reported Tuesday night.

3) Geraldine Ferraro's 1984 popularity exaggerated. "It seems it was just a few years ago when Geraldine Ferraro became a hero to millions of Americans," gushed NBC's Ann Curry. CNN's Bill Schneider insisted that "people were genuinely excited" by her candidacy in 1984 as "women found themselves caught up in the thrill of it all."

4) An enthusiastic review from Geraldo Rivera for Alan Dershowitz's new book, Supreme Injustice: How the High Court Hijacked Election 2000. Rivera boasted it "makes a point that I firmly believe" and he called it Dershowitz's "best" book.

5) When a federal district judge issued a ruling which advanced a liberal cause, forcing an employer to cover prescription contraceptives for females, ABC, CBS and NBC all ran full stories even though the decision impacted only one employer. But when another federal judge ruled unconstitutional Alaska's ban on soft money, thus potentially undermining the media's cherished McCain-Feingold bill, the networks ignored it.

6) "Gene Sperling and Katie Couric's top-secret dating adventures." Last year Couric dated Clinton's economic adviser, Tuesday's Washington Post revealed.


1

The latest scandal given credence by the CBS Evening News: Letters from the IRS to taxpayers which inform recipients that they will be getting a tax cut thanks Congress and President Bush. Bill Plante highlighted how "Democrats who didn't vote for the tax bill pointed out that the mailing will cost over $20 million and called the letter shamelessly political, suggesting it sounded more like a sweepstakes promotion."

Anchor John Roberts introduced the June 19 story, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
"You've got mail or soon will have from the IRS. But don't worry, it tells you about your coming tax rebate check and who deserves your thanks. So who approved the message in this mass-mailing at taxpayer expense? Bill Plante has the bottom line for you."

Plante began: "Even before the check is in the mail, the Internal Revenue Service will be sending out a letter designed to make certain taxpayers know who should get the credit. 'We are pleased to inform you,' says the mailing, 'that the United States Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed the law which provides immediate tax relief in 2001 and long-term tax relief for the years to come.' The letter then tells each recipient how much money to expect and reminds them that this is 'just the first installment.' Democrats who didn't vote for the tax bill pointed out that the mailing will cost over $20 million and called the letter shamelessly political, suggesting it sounded more like a sweepstakes promotion."
Senator Charles Schumer: "Quote, 'You need to take now additional steps. Your check will be mailed to you.' Thanks, Mr. President."
Plante: "The President's spokesman acknowledged the White House had signed off on the wording of the letter but said it would alert people to an unexpected windfall."
Ari Fleischer: "In the IRS's judgement, it's going to cut down the number of surprise phone calls they get from taxpayers who say, 'Why all of a sudden do I receive a check?'"
Plante: "The IRS says Congress told them to send the notification letter, but it didn't tell them what to say. The IRS worked that out with the White House. And just to make sure you don't miss the point, there'll be a short message about tax relief right on the check itself."

Maybe there wouldn't be any need for a letter if CBS News and the other networks had been less politically-motivated in their coverage. Imagine all those who will be surprised to learn they are getting a tax cut after hearing for months about how the cut is skewed to the wealthy.

2

President Bush now has company in rejecting the Kyoto treaty. Unlike the Europeans who just complain about the lack of U.S. effort to ratify the global warming treaty while they ignore it, Australia's Prime Minister has rejected the treaty, FNC's Brit Hume disclosed.

On Monday's Special Report with Brit Hume, during the "Grapevine" segment, Hume relayed:
"Australia has now joined the U.S. in rejecting the Kyoto global warming treaty and for similar reasons. Prime Minister John Howard said that because the treaty exempts poorer countries, such as China or India, quote 'if you've got a dirty industry which is not allowed in a country like Australia but is allowed in another country, it will shift to the other country and there will be no net reduction in greenhouse gasses,' end quote. Australia, though small, is the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gasses per capita."

3

The sad news that 1984 Democratic vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro is battling a terminal form of cancer, first revealed Tuesday in an interview on NBC's Today with Jamie Gangel, led another NBC reporter to fondly recall how Ferraro "became a hero to millions of Americans" and to some re-writing of history by CNN's Bill Schneider who exaggerated her popularity.

At the top of Tuesday's Today, fill-in co-host Ann Curry betrayed her approval of the pick of the liberal Democratic Congresswoman by Walter Mondale, as she gushed: "Good morning everybody. It seems it was just a few years ago when Geraldine Ferraro became a hero to millions of Americans, particularly American women."

On Tuesday's Inside Politics CNN political analyst Bill Schneider insisted that in 1984 "people were genuinely excited" by her candidacy as "women found themselves caught up in the thrill of it all."

More like journalists were "caught up in the thrill of it all" -- and seem to be again.

Schneider began his June 19 piece:
"Before the 1984 Democratic convention, Walter Mondale was under a lot of pressure from women's rights activists to put a woman on the ticket. If he does that, cynics said, Mondale will look like he's caving in to another special interest. He did name a woman, Geraldine Ferraro, Democratic Congresswoman from Queens, New York. But the reaction was not what the cynics expected. People were genuinely excited....Women found themselves caught up in the thrill of it all, Democrats were over the Moon."

Later, Schneider asserted: "At one point in the vice presidential debate that year, her opponent stepped over the line."
Vice President George H.W. Bush: "But let me help you with the difference, Miss Ferraro, between Iran and the embassy in Lebanon."
Schneider: "Ferraro called him on it."
Ferraro: "Let me just say first of all that I almost resent, Vice President Bush, your patronizing attitude, that you have to teach me about foreign policy."

If that's a patronizing attitude then many reporters are currently displaying it toward President Bush on the same topic.

4

To no one's surprise, Geraldo Rivera announced Monday night that Alan Dershowitz's new book, Supreme Injustice: How the High Court Hijacked Election 2000, "makes a point that I firmly believe." Rivera called it the Harvard professor's "best" non-fiction book as he approvingly read aloud several excerpts about the "history-making heist."

MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens took down some highlights from the June 18 Rivera Live on CNBC:

-- "Across the nation in New York City, Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, the prolific author whose latest blockbuster is called Supreme Injustice. I, I think it's a great book. I'm sure that it will raise the hackles of most Republicans but it makes a point that I firmly believe and backs it up with, well, you'll see."

-- "Did the Supreme Court of the United States rob the American people of their duly elected President? I was there when they argued. Yes, says Alan Dershowitz. That history-making heist is exactly what happened when the justices issued their highly controversial Bush vs. Gore ruling last December. The 5-4 decision stopped the Florida ballot recount as you recall, put George W. Bush in the White House. And according to Professor Dershowitz forever tarnished the exalted reputation of this nation's highest court. Now the professor backs up his charges in this hard-hitting and maybe his best, certainly in the non-fiction area, Supreme Injustice: How the High Court Hijacked Election 2000."

-- "Before we go much further, here's what I think from a lawyer's point of view. The book's most important sentence or sentences. Now after noting that the Court said that its decision was quote, 'limited to present circumstances only,' Professor Dershowitz writes: 'The purpose of the remarkable cautionary line, which is virtually an admission that this decision does not fit into a continuing,' uh, 'line of continuing precedence was to cobble together a majority for Bush consisting of justices who almost never find equal protection violations, except perhaps when white people are discriminated against by affirmative action, and who do not want a broad equal-protection decision waiting out there to be used as a precedent in other cases in which the result would be inconsistent with the political or ideological results they generally prefer.'"

-- "To me that's interesting but not nearly as interesting as the more provocative point, I believe, Professor Dershowitz you allege and this is what we'll discuss after the break, that it was based on personal and professional conflicts of interest, this decision. This decision was based on what these people had to gain by making Bush the President of the United States or in some other personal way be satisfied or self-aggrandized."

-- To his other guest, Dan Lungren, the former Attorney General of California, Rivera demanded: "Didn't this decision mark a high point as Professor Dershowitz writes in conservative judicial activism? Here they did, they granted the stay of the, of the counting. 'Rendered the decision permanently stopping the counting. They ended the election that had been widely perceived as so inconsistent with the alleged conservative approach to judging that it signals a new conservative boldness, which is unlikely to me.'"

Even if everything Dershowitz charges were true, a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court to allow the Florida Supreme Court-ordered recount to proceed wouldn't have changed the outcome, two recent media recounts have determined.

5

Last week when a federal district judge issued a ruling which advanced a liberal cause, forcing an employer to cover prescription contraceptives for female employees, ABC, CBS and NBC all ran full stories even though the decision impacted only one employer in Washington State. But a week later, when the Washington Times reported how a federal judge ruled unconstitutional Alaska's ban on donations from labor unions and business to political parties (soft money), thus potentially undermining the media's cherished McCain-Feingold campaign speech regulatory scheme, the networks ignored it.

MRC analyst Ken Shepherd alerted me to the contrast he predicted would occur after he read a front page story in the June 19 Washington Times.

Back on June 12, World News Tonight anchor Charles Gibson opened the ABC show by celebrating the particular court ruling: "We start tonight with a court decision that could be a great advance in women's rights." Dan Rather set up the CBS story: "Many women may soon have to pay less out of their own pockets for birth control prescriptions. As CBS's Sandra Hughes reports, it's a federal first: A court ruling today about health insurance coverage for female contraception." NBC anchor Tom Brokaw proclaimed: "A federal court ruling that could mean big savings for women in the workplace. A drug company was ordered to include the cost of birth control for women in health care benefits."

For more on coverage that night, check the June 13 CyberAlert: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20010613.asp#2

MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams also aired a story followed by an interview with a lawyer for the plaintiff and the next day the morning shows dedicated segments to the decision. (I did not see Tuesday night's News with Brian Williams, but I doubt it picked up on the campaign finance ruling after NBC Nightly News skipped it as did all three morning shows on June 19.)

The networks have displayed no interest in the soft money ruling which actually came down last week. An excerpt from the June 19 Washington Times story by Ralph Z. Hallow:

A federal judge's ruling that "soft money" contributions to political parties are a constitutional right demolished the underpinnings of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill, key Republicans said yesterday. They called the decision a "harbinger" of what the Supreme Court would do if the McCain bill became law.

"This is a tremendous victory for our democracy," Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, told The Washington Times. "McCain-Feingold is a ticking constitutional time bomb. If enacted, it would blow up the minute it landed in court."

Mr. McConnell repeated his pledge to "be the lead plaintiff lighting the fuse."...

When asked for comment by The Washington Times yesterday, backers of a regulation bill sponsored by Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and Sen. Russell D. Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat, seemed unaware of Friday's ruling in an Alaska case.

In that decision -- which went largely unreported in the press outside Alaska -- U.S. District Judge James Singleton struck down a part of the state's 1997 campaign contributions law that blocked businesses and labor unions from donating money to political parties.

The judge let stand the state law's ban on business and union contributions to individual candidates.

Some regulation proponents were cautious in assessing the significance of the Alaska decision on the sweeping new federal prohibitions sought by Mr. McCain and others....

Regulation opponents, by contrast, were more confident about the decision's impact.

"This decision reaffirms that the campaign finance regulators' legislation has a terrible track record with the federal judiciary," Michael Toner, the Republican National Committee's chief legal counsel, told The Washington Times. The Supreme Court ruled in 1996 that federal limits on political parties' expenditures made to help individual federal candidates violate the First Amendment when that spending is not coordinated with a candidate's campaign.

Mr. Toner said Friday's ruling "could be a real harbinger of how the Supreme Court would view McCain-Feingold if it ever became law."

In his ruling, Judge Singleton said that restricting "donations to political parties for purposes unrelated to nominating or electing candidates [including] issue advocacy and voter registration...significantly interferes with the protected rights of speech and association."...

END Excerpt

To read the entire story, go to: http://www.washtimes.com/national/20010619-16869257.htm

6

Last year Today co-host Katie Couric dated a top Clinton administration official, Tuesday's Washington Post revealed. In his "The Reliable Source" column Lloyd Grove unveiled the short-lived secret relationship in March 2000 between Couric and Gene Sperling, at the time the Chairman of the National Economic Council, a job which then entailed bashing the Bush tax cut proposal.

Grove's June 19 item:

Now it can be told: Gene Sperling and Katie Couric's top-secret dating adventures. Okay, so it happened more than a year ago, before Couric started her serious romance with television sitcom impresario Tom Werner, but hey, we just heard about it.

Apparently, the 42-year-old former Clinton White House economic czar, once named "Washington's Most Eligible Bachelor" by W magazine, and the 44-year-old "Today" show star, a widowed mother of two, shared a couple of Manhattan dinners back in March 2000, when Couric was stepping gingerly into the singles scene after the January 1998 colon cancer death of her husband, Washington lawyer Jay Monahan. On their second date, Sperling was using crutches because of a tennis injury. Katie apparently liked Gene, telling friends that he was "smart." We hear that there was supposed to have been a third date, but after an ineffectual game of phone tag, Sperling began reading in the gossip columns about Couric and Werner.

When we called Sperling yesterday for details, he sheepishly told us: "We're just friends, and that's a standard denial denial. But it was nice to be out with someone shorter than me." Couric didn't return our call yesterday. We hear that she was vacationing in Europe -- with Werner, natch.

END Excerpt

To remind yourself of who Sperling is, go to the online version of this story and scroll down a bit to see a photo of him: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A16450-2001Jun19.html

I checked the MRC News Tracking System database and learned that though soundbites from Sperling ran in news stories on Today, he did not appear at the time on Today as a guest interviewee, nor in the months before or after his dinner dates with Couric. -- Brent Baker


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