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CyberAlert -- 08/06/2001 -- Dictator's Hit on Bush

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Norwood Like "Patty Hearst"; Dictator's Hit on Bush; Bush Approval Jump: "Statistically Insignificant"; Kondracke a "Conservative"

1) Time's Jack White claimed that George Bush had turned Charlie Norwood "into the Patty Hearst of the House of Representatives." A bitter White was upset that after being held "hostage" by Bush, Norwood got "a case of political Stockholm Syndrome" and went over to "the other side" on a Patients' Bill of Rights.

2) On CNN's Capital Gang Margaret Carlson of Time castigated CPSC chairmanship nominee Mary Sheila Gall: "She never saw a defective product, she only saw defective parents. She could find a reason for every injury other than the product at hand..."

3) Both ABC and CBS stressed how North Korean "leader" Kim Jong Il denounced Bush's missile defense plan, but the NBC Nightly News item on his trip didn't mention the criticism.

4) CBS's Bob Schieffer demanded of Tom Daschle: "Will this tax cut have to be re-visited come fall?" On PBS's Washington Week, after Time's Michael Duffy lamented how since the income tax cut the House has passed many bills "disguised as something else" but which feature tax cuts, host Gwen Ifill worried: "Can we afford this?"

5) In defending ABC's decision to not report its own poll showing an up tick in Bush's approval rating, ABC News Washington Bureau Chief Robin Sproul dismissed it as "statistically insignificant," but on Sunday's This Week Cokie Roberts raised one of its positive findings for Bush. And the poll discovered a higher favorable rating for Dick Cheney than for John McCain.

6) Morton Kondracke a right-winger? In rattling off for Don Imus the names of prominent people in favor of embryonic stem cell research, NBC's Tom Brokaw identified Kondracke as "a conservative political commentator in Washington."

7) Bob Schieffer on Sunday and Gloria Borger last week urged Bush to move forward on embryonic stem cell research as both dismissed the concerns of opponents as unenlightened. Equating opponents with those "who refused to look through Galileo's telescope," Schieffer lectured Bush: "If he reads history, he will know that history remembers those who climbed the mountain, not those who stayed home in fear of the unknown."

8) Some Fox News-NBC News bi-partisanship as Brian Wilson rescued Tim Russert in a "fashion emergency."

9) Letterman's "Top Ten New York City Tourist Questions."


1
President George Bush, kidnapper? On Inside Washington over the weekend Time national correspondent Jack White claimed that in talking to Congressman Charlie Norwood at the White House on Wednesday, a meeting which resulted in an agreement between the two on a Patients' Bill of Rights, Bush had turned Norwood "into the Patty Hearst of the House of Representatives." A bitter White was upset that after being held "hostage" Norwood got "a case of political Stockholm Syndrome" went over to "the other side."

Asked about his prediction a week earlier that Bush would "cave" on the subject, White announced: "I was wrong when I said last week he was going to cave on this issue, but I didn't know he was going to take, to turn Charlie Norwood into the Patty Hearst of the House of Representatives -- take him up to the White House, hold him hostage long enough for him to start getting a case of political Stockholm Syndrome and go with the other side."

2

On CNN's Capital Gang White's Time magazine colleague, Margaret Carlson, applauded a Senate committee's rejection of Bush's nominee for chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission as she mimicked the liberal demagoguery about her record, spin which National Review's Kate O'Beirne corrected.

Carlson argued on the August 4 CNN show, in reference to Mary Sheila Gall: "It was that she never saw a defective product, she only saw defective parents. She could find a reason for every injury other than the product at hand. Now, if McCain wanted to vote for her for under secretary of Commerce, where you defend the manufacturer come what may, you know, the president should get his nominee. But this, the very purpose of this organization is to look at products that are dangerous to children and to either recall them or give them standards. She just wanted, you know, manufacturers to -- 'oh, well, if we feel like it, we'll do it, otherwise we won't.'"

National Review Washington Bureau Chief Kate O'Beirne immediately pointed out: "I'm sorry to say that Margaret's reflecting the phony talking points of Barbara Boxer and Hillary Clinton. She was defeated, I think, for two reasons, part petty politics, a friend of Hillary Clinton's is currently chairman, and she'd like her to remain chairman, and part proxy, as a proxy way to fight against what might be less of a regulatory agenda from the Bush administration. Mary Gall was on that commission for over 10 years. Over 90 percent of the time, the commission's unanimous. In a couple of cases she took a common-sense approach, saying parents are equally responsible or responsible for the use of these products. She also favored voluntary standards, which are much faster to put in place and have a higher rate of compliance than mandatory standards."

3

The North Korean dictator as the surrogate voice for the U.S. news media? On Saturday night both ABC and CBS stressed how during a visit to Moscow Kim Jong Il denounced Bush's missile defense plan, but the NBC Nightly News item on his trip didn't mention the criticism.

CBS Evening News anchor Thalia Assuras declared on the August 4 show: "Also in Moscow today, President Bush's proposed missile defense system came under a two-pronged attack. In his first visit to Moscow, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il joined Russian President Vladimir Putin in denouncing the plan. The two leaders also denied the charge that North Korea is a rogue state whose missiles pose a threat to other countries."

Over on ABC's World News Tonight, anchor Michelle Norris introduced a full report: "In Moscow today Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il signed a joint declaration promising to work together to try to block President Bush's controversial plans for a missile defense shield."

Mike Lee began the subsequent report: "It was an elaborately-staged show of solidarity between two old Cold War allies. Along with signing the joint declaration, both leaders promised to work together to try to keep the 1972 anti-ballistic missile treaty which the U.S. wants to scrap...."

But NBC Nightly News views heard none of that as anchor John Seigenthaler reported: "In Moscow today it seemed like old times, Soviet style. Visiting North Korean leader Kim Jong Il met Russian President Vladimir Putin, then signed a declaration pledging close cooperation on security and economic issues. Kim repeated his plan to continue missile development, but vowed to continue a moratorium on testing until 2003. Kim also became the first world leader since the Soviet era to visit Lenin's tomb."

All three network anchors were consistent, however, in innocuously identifying Kim Jong Il as North Korea's "leader."

4

The Washington press corps isn't interested in how new and higher federal spending will eat away at the surplus, just how to "pay" for tax cuts and whether "we" can "afford" them.

Latest examples: Bob Schieffer opened his Face the Nation interview with Tom Daschle by wondering: "Will this tax cut have to be re-visited come fall?" And on PBS's Washington Week on Friday, after Time's Michael Duffy lamented how since the income tax cut passed, "pretty much every week that's gone by since then the House of Representatives has passed some bill which is disguised as something else but actually has tax cuts in it." His list prompted host Gwen Ifill to worry: "Can we afford this?" Was that a Freudian slip in using "we," as if the Washington press corps and the federal government are the same entity?

-- CBS's Face the Nation, August 5. Bob Schieffer's first question to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle: "As you know, the checks went out this week to taxpayers around the country with refunds, the result of the President's tax cut. But the downturn in the economy seems to be shrinking the surplus now, and now the Treasury Department is saying it may have to borrow $51 billion, some of which must be used to pay for this tax cut. Will this tax cut have to be re-visited come fall?"

Daschle declined Schieffer's invitation.

-- PBS's Washington Week, August 3. Time Washington Bureau Chief Michael Duffy rued: "Once upon a time we thought that the tax cut fever in Washington sort of hit a peak with the passage of the big bill in May which cut taxes by $1.3 or $1.8 trillion, depending on how you count. But really, if you look closer, every week that's gone by, pretty much every week that's gone by since then the House of Representatives has passed some bill which is disguised as something else but actually has tax cuts in it.
"We take them in order of appearance. You know, the faith based bill, you know, of last month which basically realigned the way we think governments relate to churches and religious institutions, included about $14 billion worth of tax cuts, mostly to small donors, but there was a tax piece in there. There was another tax bill came along, we didn't call it a tax bill in the form of the energy bill. It had $34 to $36 billion worth of tax cuts, mostly for oil and gas exploration companies, but people who make home appliances and Coke machines. Now the Patients' Bill of Rights is a tax bill, but no one actually talks about it that way. It has about, I think, 16 billion worth of tax preferences for people, small businesses and for people who can afford to create medical savings accounts. There are two other pieces that have passed that are more complicated than anyone can explain in a 30 minute television show, but which amount to another $18 billion. So that's $80 billion in the last two months."

Host Gwen Ifill's concern: "But can we afford this?"

Duffy alerted the panel to the strange views of conservatives:

"We've got to remember that, particularly in the House of Representatives where these start, there is a group of people, particularly in the leadership, that believe that one of the reasons they came to Washington was to de-fund the government. 'De-fund it.' That's the way they talk about it and if you can't do it by cutting spending their plan is to do it by cutting taxes and just cutting them and keep cutting them and cutting them."

5

In defending ABC's decision to not report on World News Tonight or GMA its own poll showing a jump in President Bush's approval rating, ABC News Washington Bureau Chief Robin Sproul dismissed it as "statistically insignificant," but on Sunday's This Week the poll was not "insignificant" enough for Cokie Roberts who, during an interview with Senator Joseph Lieberman, raised one of its positive findings for Bush.

Picking up on a point highlighted in the August 3 CyberAlert, in Monday's Washington Post, media reporter Howard Kurtz included this item in his August 6 "Media Notes" column:
"A Washington Post/ABC News poll showed Bush with a 59 percent approval rating last week -- up from 55 percent two months ago -- but ABC's morning and evening news shows didn't mention it. 'It seemed odd that the President's poll numbers went up and it wasn't covered,' says White House spokesman Ari Fleischer. Says Washington Bureau Chief Robin Sproul: 'A far better story out of the White House was a deal on the patients' bill of rights rather than a statistically insignificant increase in poll ratings.'"

For details about the poll and a comparison to how ABC's World News Tonight and Good Morning America treated Bush's early June drop in approval as the most important story of the day, refer back to the August 3 CyberAlert:
http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20010803.asp#1

With a three point margin of error, a four point change is just beyond it. But let's test Sproul's new news standard. If any future ABC News/Washington Post poll discovers a four point or less drop in Bush's approval, if Sproul's standard is followed, it will not make it onto ABC's airwaves.

Sproul's Washington bureau colleague Cokie Roberts apparently didn't get Sproul's message about ignoring this latest ABC News/Washington Post poll. While she didn't mention the overall Bush approval number, on This Week she pointed out to Senator Joseph Lieberman how on energy policy Bush's approval level had increased six points since early June, from 37 to 43 percent while disapproval had fallen from 58 to 53 percent.

One other fun fact from the poll you shouldn't expect the media to publicize, though last Thursday's Washington Post noted it deep in their story: oil industry-tied Vice President Dick Cheney has a higher favorable rating than does media hero John McCain.

The poll asked: "Do you have a favorable or unfavorable impression of:" For Dick Cheney, 60 percent answered favorable. John McCain prompted a favorable reply from 57 percent. But I guess that difference is statistically insignificant.

Ronald Reagan earned a 69 percent favorable rating, which shows it is possible to overcome media hostility if enough time passes.

6

Tom Brokaw's skewed prism. In rattling off for Don Imus on Friday morning the names of prominent people in favor of embryonic stem cell research, Brokaw identified Morton Kondracke as "a conservative political commentator in Washington."

That's correct, from Brokaw's perspective Kondracke is a "conservative." Just one more bit of evidence of how, as former CBS Newsman Bernard Goldberg suggested in the Wall Street Journal in May, many New York City-based journalists think they are in the middle and see everyone to their right as conservative when, in fact, they themselves are well to the left of center so to them centrists appear conservative. Kondracke, the Executive Editor of Roll Call who is a regular panelists on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, is the very definition of a moderate or a centrist. If anything, he leans a bit to the left.

Brokaw called in to Imus from his ranch in Montana, as he takes the summer off, ostensibly to plug that night's Dateline special he hosted on the Chinese who arrived in the U.S. by boat and have been held in a prison ever since. MRC analyst Ken Shepherd caught this bit of labeling as Brokaw listed the names of prominent people, who support embryonic stem cell research, though he dropped the word "embryonic." After listing Mary Tyler Moore and Pat O'Brien, Brokaw added:

"...Mort Kondracke, who is a conservative political commentator in Washington is for stem cell research because of his wife Millie's condition with Parkinson's disease. There's a wide range of interests that are represented here because it could be the key to any number of these genetically-inclined diseases."

7

Bob Schieffer on Sunday and Gloria Borger last week urged Bush to move forward on embryonic stem cell research as both dismissed the concerns of opponents as unenlightened.

Schieffer concluded Sunday's Face the Nation by contrasting two types of people, those who want to cross mountains and those who are afraid of what is on the other side -- the type "who refused to look through Galileo's telescope." Schieffer lectured Bush: "If he reads history, he will know that history remembers those who climbed the mountain, not those who stayed home in fear of the unknown."

Schieffer seemed particularly ill-informed, however, as he repeatedly referred to Bush's decision as involving "stem cell research" -- that's research virtually no one opposes and which is not facing any presidential decision. What is up for a presidential decision is research on embryonic stem cells.

Reminding readers of how "Bill Clinton took on rapper Sister Souljah on lyrics," in U.S. News Borger argued Bush should use the debate "as an opportunity to lead," not "to cement Catholic conservatives for the GOP but to encourage science." She concluded: "The Pope, shaking from a disease that could benefit from embryonic-stem-cell research, rejected the idea. No one can question his heart. Ideally, Bush will disagree with him because he has questioned his own."

-- Bob Schieffer at the end of the August 5 Face the Nation:
"Finally today, some thoughts as the President decides whether or not the government should back stem cell research. History's longest argument has been over what to do about the mountain. One group has always wanted to cross the mountain, to explore and see what is on the other side. The other group, no less sincere, has always been willing to let well enough alone. That group worries there might be things on the other side of the mountain we didn't want to know. They were the ones who refused to look through Galileo's telescope. They already knew all they needed to know about the moon and the sun and the stars.
"Some will argue that the debate over stem cell research is more complicated than that, and perhaps it is. But there is no argument about what history teaches: The store of knowledge increases when one generation is free to explore and build on what the previous generation has learned. The ancient Chinese invented gunpowder and set it afire to ward off evil spirits, but the next generation harnessed the explosive power of gunpowder in a container and created the cannon. Later generations built on that knowledge and produced the internal combustion engine.
"Science tells us the next step in stem cell research may yield cures for crippling diseases and ease the pain and suffering of millions. Are we not obligated to see what is on the other side of this mountain? History argues yes. The President says it is the hardest decision he will ever make, but if he reads history, he will know that history remembers those who climbed the mountain, not those who stayed home in fear of the unknown."

-- Schieffer's Face the Nation co-host Gloria Borger in he August 6 issue of U.S. News & World Report, in a column caught by MRC analyst Ken Shepherd. An excerpt:

...[T]he clerical hierarchy is out of touch with most Catholics, 72 percent of whom support stem-cell research. In fact, even those more conservative, regular churchgoers (about one quarter of all Catholics) are split evenly on the issue. "The politics of this decision just isn't that compelling," says pollster Andrew Kohut. "Conservative Catholics aren't going to go dashing off because of one opinion."

And what if they did? "The fallout would not be good," predicts Deal Hudson, an informal White House adviser who edits Crisis, a Catholic magazine. But where would these Catholics go? To a pro-choice Democrat? Hardly. And if politics is a consideration here, what's wrong with Bush expressing a heartfelt disagreement with a key constituency? Bill Clinton took on rapper Sister Souljah on lyrics and organized labor on trade, and it helped him with moderate voters. Hudson calls the stem-cell decision "an authentic struggle" inside the White House. If Bush decides against the church hierarchy on a matter over which he has agonized, they can't challenge his motives.

How about looking at this as an opportunity to lead? Not to cement

Catholic conservatives for the GOP but to encourage science --while making sure the legitimate "slippery slope" arguments are addressed. To wit: Bush can call for the criminalization of human cloning. He can propose to outlaw the creation of embryos solely for science. He can set guidelines-for public and private research. Who can growl at that?

The Pope, shaking from a disease that could benefit from embryonic-stem-cell research, rejected the idea. No one can question his heart. Ideally, Bush will disagree with him because he has questioned his own.

END Excerpt

To read the entire column, go to:
http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/010806/politics/6pol.htm

On the NBC's Meet the Press, Tim Russert pressed White House chief-of-staff from the right on embryonic stem cell research, an approach you don't see or read very often in the mainstream media. Russert asked Card on the August 5 show: "The President said yesterday on his way to Texas that he is going to make a decision on stem cell research before, probably, Labor Day. This is what the President said during the campaign: 'I oppose federal funding for stem-cell research that involves destroying living human embryos.' Straight up. 'I oppose federal funding.' The President said, 'A promise made will be a promise kept.' Will the President keep his word?"

Russert followed-up: "Supporters of the president who took him at his word during the campaign have now taken out a full-page ad in The Washington Times. I'll put it on the screen: 'The Bush Family Secret For One-Term Presidencies.' The former President: 'Read my lips, no new taxes.' The current President: 'Read my lips, I oppose federal funding for stem cell research that destroys human embryos.' This is the American Life League by Judy Brown, president. Do you believe the President politically could break his campaign promise if he could articulate the reasons why to the public?"

8

Some inter-network cooperation. Speaking of Tim Russert, Saturday's "Names & Faces" column in the Washington Post revealed how FNC's Brian Wilson came to Russert's rescue on Friday with some wardrobe help. The August 4 item, in full:

Tim Russert was in a jam. He'd forgotten his blazer at NBC's bureau office on Nebraska Avenue, and here he was at the CNBC studio on North Capitol Street, jacketless and with mere minutes before he had to tape the "Tim Russert" show.

The only person Russert could think of with enough girth to have a jacket that would fit him was from the competition -- Fox News correspondent Brian Wilson.

"I said, 'Mr. Russert, of course, may borrow one of my jackets,'" Wilson said. "We're arch rivals. If it comes to sharing information, there's a bright white line beyond which we will not step. But if it's a fashion emergency, we here at Fox are happy to help in the cause."

Look for Wilson's navy blue Burberry blazer on Russert's show tonight and tomorrow at 10pm.

END Reprint

Indeed, Wilson's jacket was on Russert as he interviewed Tom Daschle for his weekend show on CNBC.

Because of the views it offers of the U.S. Capitol, C-SPAN, Fox News and MSNBC all have studio space in the same building at 400 North Capitol St. Russert normally works out of the NBC News/WRC-TV facility way out on Nebraska Ave., where he tapes Meet the Press, but that's a long (45 minute plus) trek in traffic from downtown and Capitol Hill.

9

From the August 3 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten New York City Tourist Questions." Copyright 2001 by Worldwide Pants, Inc. All the entries were read on the show by tourists.

10. "Does it always smell like this?"
9. "Did that rat just knock over a parking meter?"
8. "$23 for a pretzel!?"
7. "Why is your hand on my ass?"
6. "Are there really 2 'L's in 'Rolex'?"
5. "Who knew the diamond district had so many Amish?"
4. "What do you mean the guy carrying my bags doesn't work for the hotel?"
3. "Do I have to come back to New York to testify?"
2. "Where the hell are all the strip joints?"
1. "No, I'm not looking for a good time -- hey, aren't you President Clinton?"

That last one was read, of course, by a woman. -- Brent Baker


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