CyberAlert -- 08/02/2002 -- Cheney Like Enron?
Cheney Like Enron?; CNN's Kagan Scolded the Senate for Not Creating New Entitlement: "Shame on Them"; Couric Cheered Movie Plot with Adult-Minor Sex; Moyers' Pontifications and Conflicts
1) Cheney = Enron executives? Though the media never would have countenanced Dick Cheney not selling his Halliburton stock immediately after being picked as the VP nominee, two years later CBS's Jane Clayson imputed a nefarious motive to the sale. On Thursday's Early Show she noted that he sold it at $50 a share when it is now only $13 and asked Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill: "Did the Vice President do what we're hearing so many CEO's have been doing recently?"
2) "Shame on all of them," CNN anchor Daryn Kagan declared Wednesday morning in scolding the Senate for not making taxpayers pay for prescription drugs. She kvetched: "I know we have a lot of viewers at home, a lot of older people who their simple, simple request is just to be able to afford the drugs that they need." And FNC identified "older Americans" as the "victim."
3) NBC's Katie Couric applauded the content of a movie which portrays a 40-something woman having sex with a 15-year-old boy. On the August 1 Today, Couric cheered Tadpole: "I was gonna say the older woman's revenge, finally! Because, you know, how many movies have we seen when men, where men in their forties, fifties, sixties are with twenty-four year-olds, and nobody blinks an eye?" But in this case the younger partner is a minor.
4) If it's Friday, it's time for another hour of liberal pontificating on PBS from Bill Moyers. Last Friday he condemned how Bush's tax cut benefits the rich. The day after the 4th of July Moyers wondered: "Did your heart leap with joy last week when the federal court in California said that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional?" The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes found more cases in which Moyers featured a guest from a group he praised which he or his wife fund through a foundation they control -- a connection Moyers doesn't bother to mention.
To comply with conflict of interest standards and what surely would have been howls of outrage from the media if he had not done so, within days of being selected by George W. Bush as his running mate, Dick Cheney sold his stock in the company he ran, Halliburton. But two years later, CBS's Jane Clayson imputed a nefarious motive to the sale. On Thursday's Early Show she noted that he sold it at $50 a share when it is now only $13 and asked Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill: "Did the Vice President do what we're hearing so many CEO's have been doing recently?"
Clayson began the August 1 interview by querying O'Neill: "Let me ask you first about this story on the front page of the New York Times this morning that suggests that Vice President Dick Cheney is under scrutiny from government investigators for what he did as CEO of Halliburton. How much trouble is the Vice President in here?"
After O'Neill replied, "I think none at all," MRC analyst Brian Boyd caught this as Clayson's next question:
Clayson's reasoning matches a July 16 Washington Post story by reporter Dana Milbank about how Cheney, as "an insider," benefitted financially by selling his Halliburton stock in 2000 before its price fell.
Milbank opened his polemic in the guise of a news story: "An executive sells shares in his energy company two months before the company announces unexpected bad news, and the stock price eventually tumbles to a quarter of the price at which the insider sold his. George W. Bush at Harken Energy Corp. in 1990? Yes, but also Richard B. Cheney at Halliburton Co. in 2000."
But as the MRC's Rich Noyes found for a Media Reality Check report, Cheney was just doing what a Washington Post editorial and many of Milbank's colleagues demanded. One Sunday in August of 2000, after he had sold his stock, Cheney was hit with ten questions on the ABC, CBS and NBC interview shows about divesting of Halliburton stock options.
For the text of the Media Reality Check, "Washington Post's Bizarre Halliburton Spin: Disgruntled White House Correspondent Dana Milbank Floats Silly Cheney Stock Selling Theory," go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/realitycheck/2002/fax20020717.asp
Maybe they could better afford them if they weren't spending $50 a month on cable to watch CNN. How about having the government make taxpayers pick up the cable TV tab for those who can't now afford it?
Kagan's opining, MRC analyst Ken Shepherd noticed, came when
Kate Snow wrapped up a live report on how Senate Republicans and Democrats could not make a deal. Kagan then lectured: "And you know what, Kate? Shame on all of them. They're sitting there playing politics in Washington. I know we have a lot of viewers at home, a lot of older people who their simple, simple request is just to be able to afford the drugs that they need."
If "young folks" can help their parents then why do we need a whole new transfer program?
(The August 1 CyberAlert noted how on Wednesday night ABC and NBC focused on elderly victims of the Senate's inaction. MRC analyst Patrick Gregory noticed that FNC conveyed the same theme that night. On the July 31 Fox Report, anchor Shephard Smith read this short item: "Partisan politics raging in Washington. The potential victim this time, older Americans. The Senate again failing to approve a prescription drug plan under Medicare.")
NBC's Katie Couric applauded the content of a movie which portrays a 40-something woman having sex with a 15-year-old boy. On the August 1 Today, Couric cheered Tadpole: "I was gonna say the older woman's revenge, finally! Because, you know, how many movies have we seen when men, where men in their forties, fifties, sixties are with twenty-four year-olds, and nobody blinks an eye?"
But in this case the younger partner in the sex is portrayed as a minor.
In the interview with actress Bebe Neuwirth, who plays the older woman, Couric complained about all the movies with an older man and a younger woman, hoping: "Do you think, sort of now, finally women are getting revenge or at least it's kind of a fun notion." Couric added: "And it's much more accepted, don't you think, these days? That people don't think it's so strange. At least here in New York I know that it's, it's fairly common."
Couric also announced that "I loved the movie" because "it seems very French to me for some reason in its sensibilities."
The movies.com synopsis of Tadpole:
For the movies.com page on the Miramax film: http://movies.go.com/movies/T/tadpole_2002/index.html
Couric set up the August 1 Today segment brought to my attention by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens:
Neuwirth promised: "The first question I asked the director was how old is the guy?"
A bit later, Couric asserted: "You know a lot of people including the Today show have glommed onto this whole notion of older women, younger men. It's sort of like, you know, the older woman-"
For a look at the movie's poster, which shows Neuwirth with her lips to the boy's ear, check out Miramax's Web page for its film: http://www.miramax.com/tadpole/index.html
For the trailer in Apple QuickTime: http://www.apple.com/trailers/miramax/tadpole.html
If it's Friday, it's time for another hour of liberal pontificating and condemning of conservatives on PBS in the prime time Now with Bill Moyers.
Last Friday he concluded his show, which runs at 9pm EDT/PDT, 8pm CDT/MDT in most markets, by condemning how Bush's tax cut benefits the rich. Following a 31 minute-long story, yes 31 uninterrupted minutes, on the residential treatment center of Children's Village in Dobbs Ferry, New York, Moyers lectured:
The day after the 4th of July, The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes reported in an online piece last week, Moyers proposed to Norman Lear: "Did your heart leap with joy last week when the federal court in California said that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional because that phrase 'one nation, Under God' violates the separation of church and state?"
Hayes also discovered another case in which Moyers, who loves to condemn Cheney's "cover-up" of his energy task force and the conflicts of interest of Harvey Pitt, brings guests onto his show from groups he or his wife fund through a foundation they control, and praises the group's work while never bothering to mention his financial support for the organization.
An excerpt from Hayes' piece posted on July 26 on the Weekly Standard's daily Standard page:
Several months ago, I took a long look at the nation's foremost liberal scold, Bill Moyers. Among the many questions the article raised was this one: Why would a show dedicated to promoting the views of the most extreme elements of the far left in America get a coveted prime-time spot on the television network funded by the American taxpayers?
Some PBS sympathizers guessed that the decision-makers at PBS either didn't know or didn't recognize just how left-wing the avuncular Moyers has become. There is some support for that speculation. At their convention last month, PBS executives invited the likes of Alan Alda, Robert Redford, and Ted Turner to address the gathering. One local PBS executive phoned in his complaint to The Weekly Standard.
"I'm sitting here looking at the schedule and I can't find a single right-of-center person on the entire thing." So, yes, despite years of criticism that PBS skews dramatically to the left, maybe PBS big-wigs are still ideologically oblivious. It's the ideological equivalent of Shaquille O'Neal looking at Manute Bol -- he's tall, but he's not that tall.
But now, thanks to a report in April 8 issue of the Nation, we can posit a second hypothesis. PBS executives deliberately carved out a prime-time spot for Moyers because they see such programming as central to their mission. Indeed, at the PBS pow-wow last month, Moyers participated in a pep-talk dressed up as a panel discussion to address the issue directly: "Reaffirming Our Relevance -- Public Affairs and the Public Broadcasting Mission."
That mission, in its essence, involves providing programming that might not survive the harsh competition of market-driven television. The Nation report suggests that were Moyers subjected to competition, his brand of public affairs programming would be in trouble. Here is that item, in its entirety. It ran under the headline, "Bring Back Bill: Public Broadcasting Suspends Bill Moyers's 'Now' Program":
"Some thirty public television stations suspended Bill Moyers's 'Now' during pledge drives, apparently on the theory that the program's controversial stories might offend donors. If your PBS station isn't carrying it -- protest (and withhold your donation). Note: House Majority Leader Dick Armey, who says PBS is too liberal, recently called for totally defunding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as a way of trimming the deficit."
The Weekly Standard asked PBS and Moyers's production house, Public Affairs Television, Inc., for a comment on the report in the Nation. In a statement, PBS spokesman Laura Nichols said, "The bottom line is that the Nation got it wrong, and we're seeking a correction." She further explains, "the stations that pre-empted 'Now' are most likely juggling their schedules to accommodate pledge drives. Depending on a local station's format, theme and objective for any pledge drive, they often change their schedule and that means not running regularly scheduled programs. It's not unusual for a show to get pre-empted -- it happens to 'American Experience,' 'NOVA,' 'Masterpiece Theatre' and others."...
So what is it about Moyers's show that causes local PBS station managers to get nervous? A lot. Consider his show from July 5.
Many of us -- this author included -- spent this Independence Day celebrating, with a renewed appreciation, the freedoms we have and the wisdom of the American Founders. It was a time to pause, to have a few beers and some of the tastiest slow-cooked ribs ever known to man, and to think about the unique experiment in self-government that has endured for a remarkable 226 years. It was a time to remember the founding of a great country, a nation committed to the principle of moral equality of all men and the ideals of religious, political, and economic freedom.
But Bill Moyers has a, well...unique view of the founding. "It shouldn't surprise Americans when people rise up to protest a foreign power's encroachment on their rights. We started it all because of a multinational company called the East India company backed by the British Crown."
That little nugget of insanity comes from Moyers's introduction of an interview with Norman Lear, founder of the leftist People for the American Way. But at least there was a July 4 tie-in. Lear, Moyers says, is "a longtime friend, a patriot known to shed a tear when the flag unfurls." The eccentric Hollywood producer paid $8.2 million for a personal copy of the Declaration of Independence, and though one might expect waves of outrage from Moyers about the privatization of national treasures, he merely compliments Lear as "a good showman."
When Moyers wonders if "we are more sentimental about [the Declaration of Independence] than we are devoted to living it out," Lear laments the forgotten notion of "sacred honor." The famous producer then suggests "The Godfather" -- though, he allows, for the "wrong reasons" -- as one of the few places to see that concept in action. (Speaking of honor, it should be noted that Lear was one of President Clinton's staunchest defenders throughout the president's impeachment, giving Clinton the maximum allowable amount for his legal defense fund and going so far as to write fundraising letters targeting Republicans who argued in favor of impeachment.)
Moyers followed that inquiry with this one: "Did your heart leap with joy last week when the Federal Court in California said that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional because that phrase 'one nation, Under God' violates the separation of church and state?" Which seemed to take aback even so progressive a soul as Lear, who answered, "I won't say that I was pleased; I wasn't upset."
The two then shared a smirky chuckle at the idea that "people in the religious right" don't know that the Pledge of Allegiance was authored by "a Christian socialist."
On other shows, Moyers has given socialist gadfly Barbara Ehrenreich taxpayer-funded airtime for her an uninterrupted "Commentary" on "what a serious mistake our nation has made with welfare reform." Commentator John Ridley got the same platform for his gripes about positive news coverage of the administration. Moyers used water rights in Bolivia as an illustration of the perils of capitalism. (Don't take my word for all of this. There's lots more at his website.) [www.pbs.org/now]
Moyers spends much of his time pointing out the conflicts-of-interest of those in government and corporate America. Moyers calls Vice President Cheney's claims of executive privilege "a cover up." He says that SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt has "got so many conflicts of interest he makes a Wall Street analyst look like Saint Francis of Assisi."
Compared to Moyers, however, Harvey Pitt is positively papal. For years Moyers has used taxpayer-funded television to get rich, and to give a platform to the left-wing groups he supports with foundation money. And despite his previous pledge to disclose these obvious and troubling conflicts, he hasn't done so. On a recent show, he described Patrick Schwartzmann from the Media Access Group as a "First Amendment watchdog," without ever revealing that his foundation has given Schwartzmann's group at least $125,000 since the mid-'90s.
From his comfortable cocoon of market isolation, Moyers continues his weekly assaults on anyone who shades right-of-center. His latest target is someone who, unlike Moyers, has taken on his prime-time television competition and won. Two million people tune in to his show each night. This, apparently, is too much for Bill Moyers, who expressed his disgust at the panel discussion in San Francisco.
"I don't want to live in an America where Bill O'Reilly carries the day," he declared.
Perhaps we should take up a fund for moving expenses.
END of Excerpt
For the Hayes piece in full:
While I wish I could believe that a significant number of PBS station managers or boards find Moyers one-sided and, therefore, inappropriate programming, I doubt it. I bet his politics are in tune with PBS World where he's considered simply "sensible."
The "Scapbook" section in this week's (August 5) print version of the Weekly Standard features this item:
Weekly Standard readers will recall from Stephen F. Hayes's cover story ("PBS's Televangelist," Feb. 25, 2002) the walking conflict-of-interest that is Bill Moyers. His m.o. is simple. As head of the Florence and John Schumann Foundation, with assets of more than $90 million, Moyers is the Daddy Warbucks of dozens of organizations on the left. At the same time, from his prized perch on taxpayer-funded television, Moyers essentially conducts P.R. campaigns for many of the same groups he supports with his foundation. All of this would be unexceptional -- a case of putting your mouth where your money is -- were it not for the Tartuffean bravura with which Moyers scolds his political enemies for their conflicts.
In mid-June, for instance, Moyers interviewed pollster Daniel Yankelovich, chairman of "the research organization" Public Agenda -- a nonprofit organization, Moyers gushed, that "has long been at the forefront on social research on national issues, whose in- depth surveys capture the public's deeply held concerns and attitudes."
Yankelovich claimed that Americans "don't feel that the people who are supposed to be looking out for their interests are exactly doing so -- more looking out for their own interests," a favorite Moyers theme. "So when the watchdogs become lapdogs," asked Moyers, "there's nobody to bark for the people who have been exploited?" Yankelovich: "Yeah, and you know not only lapdogs, but become sort of interested in -- their own doggie pursuits --interested in the interests of the insiders, in the interests of the institution rather than in the people the institutions are supposed to serve. Yeah, and, you know, conflict of interest. It's been meaningless the last couple of years in Wall Street and other places."
Other places, perhaps, like Bill Moyers's Public Affairs Television, Inc., and Yankelovich's Public Agenda. What Moyers never mentions is that his wife, Judith Davison Moyers, is on the board of directors of Public Agenda. She is also the president of Public Affairs Television, Inc., the "private" production company that turns taxpayer dollars into "Now with Bill Moyers," the show that aired the interview. Not that there's anything wrong with that. We just thought we'd yap a little for the taxpayers who feel exploited.
END of reprint
For an excerpt from the above referenced earlier Hayes piece: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020219.asp#5
If liberals want Moyers on the air why don't they step forward and pick up the entire bill for PBS and stop forcing taxpayers to subsidize its biased programming? -- Brent Baker