CyberAlert -- 07/19/2002 -- CNN's Schneider: Cheney Parallels Agnew
CNN's Schneider: Cheney Parallels Agnew; Most Would Vote for Clinton to Solve the Corporate "Mess"; Corporate Media Hypocrisy; James Traficant (?-OH); Reporters Donated to Reich
1) Dick "Spiro" Agnew? CNN's Bill Schneider suggested on Thursday's Inside Politics that "the closest parallel" to Vice President Dick Cheney's troubles "would be the investigation of Spiro Agnew in the '70s."
2) Former Washington Post reporter David Maraniss declared on Hardball that the idea of a "left-wing media" is "such a farce." Maraniss also argued that most people still see Bill Clinton as the savior in the midst of the corporate scandals: "Who would the people turn to right now to get out of this mess? They'd probably vote for Clinton."
3) "Many of the media companies that have been reporting on -- and often criticizing -- corporate accounting and the aggressive use of stock options engage in the same practices themselves," the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz revealed. The New York Times condemned Enron without mentioning its own newsprint deal with the same company and the Washington Post lashed out at stock options while offering them to its own staff. Plus, major media companies pay their auditors for non-auditing consulting work.
4) U.S. Representative James Traficant (?-OH). In a Thursday night story lasting more than two minutes, the NBC Nightly News managed to avoid even once listing the Democratic Party affiliation of Congressman Traficant whom a House committee voted to expel after his convictions for fraud and bribery.
5) Fifteen reporters have given money to the Massachusetts gubernatorial bid of left-wing Democrat Robert Reich, the Boston Globe reported. Amongst the donors, a former Newsweek reporter, a prominent free-lance reporter for Vanity Fair and Time and a Cleveland-based AP correspondent. One reporter was honest enough to admit she's "another one of those liberals in the media."
6) CNN's Connie Chung confronted Martina Navratilova with her anti-U.S. comments equating the U.S. under Bush with communism ("I have exchanged one system that suppresses free opinion for another"). Chung told her: "I thought it was un-American, unpatriotic. I wanted to say, go back to Czechoslovakia." In a moment eerily reminiscent of her plea to Newt's mom, Chung asked Navratilova to "to tell me privately" about her adoption plans.
Dick Cheney = Spiro Agnew? On Thursday's Inside Politics, CNN analyst Bill Schneider suggested "the closest parallel" to Vice President Dick Cheney's troubles "would be the investigation of Spiro Agnew in the '70s." After having just done so, Schneider insisted "no one is suggesting that Mr. Cheney is another Agnew."
Agnew accepted bribes and cash payoffs while Governor of Maryland before Nixon picked him as his VP.
On the July 18 Inside Politics Schneider contended that the allegations involving Cheney are "a lot bigger than President Bush's problems over Harken Energy. Bush's dealings with Harken Energy date back more than ten years in the past and they have already been investigated by the SEC. The Cheney matter is new. The SEC investigation is just now getting underway and the Vice President cannot claim that this is old news, that it's already been investigated and that there's nothing there. Halliburton is also a bigger deal -- 18,000 jobs have been lost at Halliburton since 1999, and Cheney made a lot more money when he sold his stock at an opportune moment than George Bush did."
Anchor Judy Woodruff prompted: "Any precedent for what's going on?"
Schneider suggested: "Well, the closest parallel would be the investigation of Spiro Agnew in the '70s when he was Richard Nixon's Vice President. Now you recall that Agnew was ultimately forced to resign. Now no one is suggesting that Mr. Cheney is another Agnew, and Cheney's personal integrity is not under investigation by the SEC. But Cheney's problems could damage the Republican party this fall. Polls, like one in today's New York Times, show that people see a big difference between President Bush and his party on the issue of corporate governance. They see Republicans and members of the administration as dominated by corporate interests, much more so than the President himself."
"Democrats," Schneider added, "would love to make Dick Cheney the poster boy for the Republican's corporate governance problems."
Those Democrats would just be following the lead of the Washington press corps.
Lamenting how liberals are not being aggressive enough for him in going after Bush and Cheney over their corporate dealings, former Washington Post reporter David Maraniss declared that the idea of a "left-wing media" is "such a farce." Maraniss argued on Wednesday's Hardball that most people still see Bill Clinton as the savior: "Who would the people turn to right now to get out of this mess? They'd probably vote for Clinton."
More like the corporate leaders who made false financial statements were just following the moral lead set by Clinton.
The comments from Maraniss came about 20 minutes after David Shuster, fresh to MSNBC from FNC, filed a taped report in which he suggested, without mentioning how the media were demanding at the time that Cheney shed all interests in Halliburton, that Cheney made big money by selling his stock before its price plunged:
On Tuesday, Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank first floated the idea that Cheney sold because he had inside information. For more, see the July 17 Media Reality Check, "Washington Post's Bizarre Halliburton Spin: Disgruntled White House Correspondent Dana Milbank Floats Silly Cheney Stock Selling Theory." It's online at: http://www.mediaresearch.org/realitycheck/2002/fax20020717.asp
Later in the July 17 MSNBC Hardball, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, when host Chris Matthews pointed out how a USA Today/Gallup poll found that by 51 to 46 percent more blame Clinton than Bush for corporate corruption, Maraniss claimed that if they could the public would "vote for Clinton" to solve the mess:
Maraniss soon added: "The other thing that strikes me about this whole thing is that if this were eight years ago it would be an entirely different scene because you'd be talking about special prosecutors, remember that whole era? And, and that's gone."
Maraniss is probably best-known for his biography of Bill Clinton, First in His Class. He also co-authored Tell Newt To Shut Up. For a picture of him:
News media corporate hypocrisy. New York Times editorials have frequently condemned Enron's futures trading, but five years ago, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz reported on Thursday, "the New York Times Co. struck a 'newsprint swap agreement' -- a financial deal in which no physical assets changed hands -- with the very same Houston energy company."
The deal, Kurtz noted in his July 18 story, "was disclosed in the fine print of the newspaper company's Securities and Exchange Commission filings but not in editorials that slammed Enron for 'accounting shenanigans' and other financial misbehavior."
Washington Post editorials have condemned stock options, but the paper has been offering them itself for years, Kurtz noted as he also documented how all the major media corporations pay their auditing firms for non-auditing consulting work, a practice widely criticized by those same outlets.
An excerpt from Kurtz's July 18 piece:
....The Washington Post...said in an April editorial that "the current rules -- which allow companies to grant executives and other employees millions of dollars in stock options without recording a dime of expenses -- make a mockery of corporate accounts."
But The Post Co. has been doing the same thing, boosting its reported income by $3.6 million last year by not counting stock options as a cost of doing business. The company announced Monday that it will begin listing stock options to executives as expenses.
In a newsprint swap, described by the Times Co. as a "cash flow hedge," a publisher and a trading agent such as Enron lock in a fixed price for newsprint over several years. If newsprint prices go higher, the publisher gets a rebate from its trading partner; if prices drop, the publisher pays a rebate. The idea is to help even out the newspaper's costs over time.
"It might not have hurt to mention the relationship more -- had our journalists even been conscious of it -- but it's inconceivable that anyone will think our journalism was influenced by such a development," said Times spokesman Toby Usnik. He noted that the Enron relationship was mentioned in a news story last December....
And most media companies behave like other large corporations when it comes to compensating their executives, even if the method sometimes conflicts with their editorial stands.
The Chicago Tribune said in a March editorial: "Put stock options on the books. The use of stock options as part of compensation packages has exploded, partly because of the 1993 rule that limited tax deductibility of executive salaries once they exceeded $1 million."
But the Tribune Co. did not count as expenses substantial stock options to its top executives, including Chairman and CEO John Madigan, who received $5.3 million worth of options last year. Madigan exercised $1.8 million worth of options in Tribune shares. Company spokesman Gary Weitman defended the use of stock options but acknowledged that "there are good points on both sides of the debate."...
The Times noted in a March editorial that its parent firm awards options to top executives, but it said the practice has "been abused by some companies" since "the boom years of the late 1990's." Times Co. stock options that were not counted as expenses included 150,000 for Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr., which were worth $1.96 million when granted....
AOL Time Warner, parent company of CNN, granted 4 million options apiece last year to board Chairman Steve Case and then-CEO Gerald Levin, and 3.5 million to current CEO Richard Parsons....
The parent companies of the major networks -- General Electric (NBC), Disney (ABC) and Viacom (CBS) -- also do not count stock options as a corporate expense. This method enabled Viacom, for example, to boost its reported income by $118 million last year....
A similar pattern emerges on the issue of whether corporations should pay auditors -- the firms responsible for passing judgment on their books and detecting any irregularities -- additional fees for non-auditing services....
A Washington Post editorial last month supported as a "sensible proposal" a bill, passed by the Senate this week, that "would restrict accounting firms' ability to provide consulting services to clients whose books they audit." The Post Co. paid its auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers, $626,000 in consulting fees last year, in addition to $880,000 in audit fees. Post Controller Wally Cooney said the consulting fees are also audit-related.
Viacom paid PricewaterhouseCoopers $3.8 million for audits and $5.4 million in consulting fees. Disney paid PricewaterhouseCoopers $8.7 million for audit work and $36 million for other services....
In similar fashion, the New York Times Co. spent $1.2 million last year on audit work by Deloitte & Touche and $2.2 million on non-audit services. And General Electric paid KPMG $23.5 million for audits and $3.7 million for other work.
END of Excerpt
To read the entire story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A22440-2002Jul17.html
U.S. Representative James Traficant (?-OH). In a Thursday night story lasting more than two minutes, the NBC Nightly News managed to avoid even once listing the Democratic Party affiliation of Congressman Traficant. Following convictions in federal court for bribery and fraud, on Thursday the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct voted to expel Traficant from the House.
Reading a short item on World News Tonight, ABC's Peter Jennings identified him as a Democrat. But not NBC's Tom Brokaw in a plug before an ad break nor in introducing a full story on Traficant's wacky antics this week before the House committee. Brokaw referred to him simply as "the Congressman from Ohio." Reporter Joe Johns then began his piece: "A convicted felon facing the death penalty of congressional politics, Ohio's Jim Traficant turned the last three days into a circus."
Total time of Brokaw's intro and the Johns story, 2:20. But not one utterance of the word Democrat, not even on screen.
This isn't the first time NBC has refused to identify the party of the criminal Congressman.
As documented in the April 12 CyberAlert: Following his corruption conviction, anchors on ABC, CBS, FNC and CNN all identified Traficant as a Democrat. But not NBC or MSNBC.
In his 17-second item, Tom Brokaw managed to twice inform viewers that Traficant is from Ohio, but not his party affiliation. Brokaw announced on the April 11 NBC Nightly News:
MSNBC's Brian Williams also failed to identify Traficant's party. Williams, however, found time to note Traficant's hair and clothing style, relaying on The News with Brian Williams:
Really rooting for Reich. Fifteen reporters have given money to the Massachusetts gubernatorial bid of left-wing Democrat Robert Reich, the Boston Globe reported on Thursday. Four others donated to two other liberal Democratic candidates for the same office while just one has contributed to Republican Mitt Romney.
Few of the names are well known and only a few are in straight, daily news reporting, but the Reich donors do include a former Newsweek reporter (Hendrik Hertzberg), a prominent free-lance reporter for Vanity Fair and Time (John Heilemann), a Cleveland-based AP correspondent (Paul Singer) and a nationally-syndicated health columnist (Judy Foreman).
A reporter for a newspaper in Springfield, Massachusetts was honest enough to admit she's "another one of those liberals in the media."
An excerpt from the July 18 story by Bill Dedman about journalists financially backing Reich, who served as Clinton's Secretary of Labor:
....Some of the journalists say they are drawn to Reich's liberalism, while others know him personally. The journalists say they don't see any conflicts of interest.
"I write opinion, political opinion at that," said Hendrik Hertzberg, a senior editor at The New Yorker, who writes the "Comment" column and knows Reich from the days when both men worked in the Carter administration. Because his liberal point of view is well known, Hertzberg said, it is not a conflict for him to give Reich $350.
Sandra Constantine, a general assignment reporter in the Holyoke bureau of the Springfield, Mass., Union-News, gave Reich $20 but said she wished she could contribute more.
"I'm just a liberal," Constantine said. "Another one of those liberals in the media."
The donations trouble media ethics specialists, who say they undermine the credibility of the press in serving as an independent watchdog. Many news organizations forbid journalists from making campaign contributions or engaging in politics beyond voting, to protect their independence and the appearance of independence....
Judy Foreman, a Globe freelancer and former staff reporter who writes the nationally syndicated "Health Sense" column, gave $250 to Reich in June. Foreman said she had cleared with Globe management an earlier contribution to U.S. Senator John Kerry's reelection campaign.
However, Foreman, after being contacted by a Globe reporter this week, said she had requested both campaigns return her donations....
Amanda Heller, a freelancer who writes the Globe's ''Short Takes'' book reviews, gave Reich $250 and held a campaign event at her Newton home for him. "I don't really consider myself a journalist," she said. As for journalists not making campaign contributions, Heller said, "What a dull existence."
Others who gave to Reich include Madge Kaplan, the Boston bureau chief and senior health desk producer at WGBH for Marketplace, a business program, despite a station policy that forbids partisan activity by anyone who contributes editorial content. Reich is a former commentator on Marketplace.
"I had asked him to make it more anonymous," said Kaplan, referring to Reich, to whom she gave $35 in April. "I didn't view it as a public endorsement."...
[T]he preponderance of donations to Reich shows the media's comfort level with liberal ideas, said Rich Noyes, director of media analysis for the Media Research Center, which monitors the media for liberal bias.
"It partly shows the paucity of conservative journalists out there," Noyes said. "Also, it shows what trips people's ethical triggers. Nobody is going to lose their jobs out of this. But if it came out that three out of four journalists gave to Jesse Helms, or National Right to Life, that might rub people differently."
END of Excerpt
To read the story in full:
For the donor list: http://www.boston.com/news/daily/16/journalists.htm
To learn about the liberal views which Reich is espousing that have so enamored the journalists, check his campaign Web site: http://www.robertreich.org/campaign/index.asp
The Democratic primary is in mid-September.
Too much for even Connie Chung. In an interview with a German magazine in June, former tennis star Martina Navratilova condemned U.S. environmental policies and equated the U.S. under President Bush with Czechoslovakia under Soviet domination: "The most absurd part of my escape from the unjust system is that I have exchanged one system that suppresses free opinion for another."
Navratilova maintained: "President Bush is having more and more power. John Ashcroft is having more and more power. Americans are losing their personal rights left and right."
For the CyberAlert item on her German magazine interview and how her view conflicts with the past appreciation for Ronald Reagan expressed by fellow Czech athlete Jaromir Jagr: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020627.asp#4
Chung's first question to Navratilova on the July 17 Connie Chung Tonight: "I'm going to read what was said, a quote from that German newspaper. Quote: 'The most absurd part of my escape from the unjust system is that I have exchanged one system that suppresses free opinion for another. The Republicans in the U.S. manipulate public opinion and sweep controversial issues under the table. It's depressing. Decisions in America are based solely on the question of how much money will come out of it and not on the questions of how much health, morals or the environment suffer as a result.' So, is that accurate?"
Chung soon pressed again: "But what about that one key sentence, I think, 'the most absurd part of my escape from the unjust system is that I've changed one system that suppresses free opinion for another?' You're trading one regime for another. I mean, that's I think one of the main quotes that raised so much ire."
Chung moved on to how Navratilova is thinking about adopting. But she cautioned Chung: "If I ever do do it, I'm not going to say it to anybody because, you know, private life is private."
To that, Chung pleaded: "All right. Well, if you call me, I appreciate it anyway, just to tell me privately, because I'd be happy for you."
That sounded eerily like Chung's infamous "just between you and me" plea to Newt Gingrich's mother to get her to say on camera that Newt called Hillary Clinton a "bitch." For a video clip of that: http://www.mediaresearch.org/mrcspotlight/chung/welcome.asp
Nice shot at MSNBC from CNN's Anderson Cooper. MRC analyst Ken Shepherd caught this quip from Cooper when he filled in Wednesday night for Aaron Brown as anchor of NewsNight.
During a listing of interesting articles he saw in the week's magazines, Cooper commented on the July 17 broadcast:
> Koppel and Rivera tonight. ABC's Ted Koppel is scheduled to appear tonight, Friday July 19, on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman. Fox's Geraldo Rivera is scheduled to appear tonight on the program which follows Letterman, the Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn. -- Brent Baker