CyberAlert -- 08/07/1997 -- Kaplan's Clinton Claims

Kaplan's Clinton Claims; "Bravo" to Tax Hikers; Conking Connerly

  1. Rick Kaplan, FOB and new head of CNN, insisted that he'll direct coverage as a journalist, not a friend. But in 1992 he was a friend first.
  2. CNN's Bernard Shaw literally yelled "Bravo" and applauded a story praising those who have advocated or implemented tax hikes.
  3. ABC insulted Ward Connerly ("You've been called an Uncle Tom, an Oreo cookie"), but didn't challenge Jesse Jackson with such condemnations from the right.

1) The August 6 CyberAlert detailed the close personal and working relationship between Rick Kaplan, the new CNN President, and President Clinton. In the August 6 USA Today, TV writer Peter Johnson noted that "Kaplan has been friends with Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton for 20 years; he plays golf with the President and has stayed overnight at the White House." But, Johnson failed to tell readers anything about how Kaplan strategized with Clinton in 1992 about how the rescue his candidacy from the Gennifer Flowers revelation or how Kaplan arranged for a crucial pre-New York primary appearance on the Don Imus radio show.

Johnson relayed that Kaplan "sees no conflict between being a friend of the President's and running the country's top-rated cable news operation. 'I have 28 years of making news judgments behind me,' Kaplan said. 'And I'm not the first news executive to know a President.' He said he'd make news calls about Clinton coverage as a journalist, not a friend. 'If your job is to report, you report. Your business is your business.'"

Among Kaplan's 28 years of news judgments: his February 1992 advice to Clinton to not appear on ABC but go on a CBS show, 60 Minutes, in order to best help Clinton's campaign.

2) So, who is really responsible for leading America to a balanced budget? Those who advocated tax hikes, CNN political analyst Bill Schneider contended on last Friday's Inside Politics. Schneider cited seven people or groups he claimed made deficit reduction a priority: six of which advocated tax hikes, but just one, Phil Gramm, who argued for spending cuts. He failed to address the issue of how some of those he praised for urging a tax hike also would have (Walter Mondale) or actually did (George Bush) increase spending even faster.

Given the incredible imbalance of this piece, I'm running the whole story for you to see, as transcribed by MRC intern Jessica Anderson since it never made it onto the CNN transcripts page.

Schneider's August 1 "Play of the Week" on Inside Politics:
"Bernie, who should get the credit for passing a balanced budget? Not this President or this Congress -- they didn't do anything heroic. The booming economy made it easy, so easy, they could cut taxes and still balance the budget. The really difficult decisions got made years ago, by politicians who took deficit reduction seriously and paid for it with their own careers. So let's give credit where credit is due, to those who fell on the battlefield fighting for the cause of fiscal responsibility.

"This man certainly belongs on the honor roll. Back in 1984, Walter Mondale warned Americans that the deficit carried a price."

Mondale: "Mr. Reagan will raise taxes, and so will I. He won't tell you, I just did."

Schneider: "But did Americans want to listen? Not on your life. It was Mondale who paid the price. George Bush learned a lesson from Mondale."

Bush: "Read my lips: No new taxes."

Schneider: "But when he was faced with a deficit crisis, President Bush delivered what Mondale had promised, and opened himself up to ridicule."

Buchanan presidential campaign ad: "Can we afford four more years of broken promises? Send a message."

Schneider: "Let's give President Bush his due: the economic recovery that made balancing the budget so easy began in 1991 while Bush was President. It just didn't happen fast enough to save him. Other candidates have fallen on their swords for the cause of deficit reduction. Democrat Bruce Babbitt stood up for raising taxes in 1998 and got shot down. Republican Phil Gramm ran on the deficit issue in the 1996 campaign."

Gramm: "I think the best Christmas present that we can give America is a balanced budget."

Schneider: "And didn't even make it to New Hampshire. In 1992, Paul Tsongas proved that even in the Democratic Party, there was a constituency for fiscal responsibility."

Tsongas: "I'm not Santa Claus. I don't want to be Santa Claus."

Schneider: "Unfortunately for Tsongas, Santa Claus had a bigger constituency. Ross Perot spent his own money to make sure the deficit got on the political agenda."

Perot : "It's like the guy that went into the hospital, thought he had a sore arm and found out he had gangrene. But here we are, we're tough people, we can handle it. Look right here at the red. Seventy percent of that $4 trillion debt is due and payable in the next five years."

Schneider: "And he got called crazy. In 1993, congressional Democrats stuck their necks out to support President Clinton's budget."

Congressman: "It's going to constitute the largest deficit reduction program in history."

Schneider: "A year later, they got their heads chopped off. Two Senators and 34 Representatives, all Democrats who voted for President Clinton's tax hike, joined the ranks of politically fallen. Martyrs to the cause. [With Taps playing in the background] Let us pay homage to those who gave the last full measure of devotion that the budget could be balanced. They made the tough choices, and we owe them so much, beginning with this week's political Play of the Week.

"President Bush, the Democratic Congress, failed candidates for President -- they are the unsung heroes of this week's budget deal. Martyrs to the deficit, [salutes] we salute you."

Bernard Shaw, literally applauding: "Bravo. Thank you, that's why I love this program. Bill Schneider."

In the Shaw/Schneider world it's "tough" to vote to raise taxes. One could argue that the media make it a lot tougher to vote to cut spending. If you want to raise taxes you're "responsible." If you want to slightly reduce the rate of growth of spending the media will paint you as a mean-spirited "extremist."

Schneider didn't need to go further than his own show to see how the media became an impediment to adjusting soaring spending. Though the 1995 Republican plan called for Medicare and Medicaid spending to rise twice the rate of inflation, on the May 9, 1995 Inside Politics CNN reporter Bob Franken colorfully, but falsely, asserted: "The House Republican budget bloodletting will infuriate lots of people. Besides the Medicare cuts, Medicaid, the government health plan for the poor, loses $184 billion."

But no one at CNN could top Dan Rather's scurrilous March 16, 1995 CBS Evening News declaration: "The new Republican majority in Congress took a big step today on its legislative agenda to demolish or damage government aid programs, many of them designed to help children and the poor."

No wonder spending soars in the balanced budget deal while taxpayers only got a piddling cut equal to one percent of expected spending.

3) If you are a liberal ABC News will give you a largely unchallenged platform to spout your views. But if you are conservative you'll get challenged and be portrayed as out of touch with your race. That's the lesson you can take from how World News Tonight presented two black men recently highlighted on its weekend "A Conversation With..." feature.

For the August 2 World News Tonight/Saturday ABC's Carole Simpson talked with, well actually argued with, Ward Connerly, leader of the effort which successfully won passage of California's Proposition 209 to ban racial discrimination by eliminating racial quotas and set-asides.

Simpson opened by questioning his loyalty to his race: "May I ask you the question that all black people have wanted me to ask you, all the black people I know? Why you? Why you, leading an initiative against affirmative action?"

Next, Simpson demanded: "You've been called an Uncle Tom, an Oreo cookie. How do you respond to that?"

Connerly replied: "It concerns me that the average SAT of black students from the highest income group, $60,000 and over, is less than the average SAT of white and Asian students in the lowest income group, less than $20,000 a year. These are not kids who have been subjected to discrimination. These are not kids that are, that have been subjected to poverty. Why is this? Why is this?"

To which Simpson shot back in disgust: "You're trying to suggest to me Bell curve stuff."

Connerly: "No, I'm not."

Simpson: "That blacks are just intellectually inferior."

Connerly: "No, Miss Simpson, no one can reach that conclusion, but this is precisely why we haven't solved the problem because anytime someone throws back at you the statistics that are real, there are those who say, 'Charles Murray and the Bell curve, you're saying that we're not, that we're inferior.'"

Simpson kept up the argument: "That's what you seem to be saying. You said you don't understand it."

Simpson's next question revealed her bias: "I am an affirmative action baby. I say that proudly. Someone had to open the door for me. Are you saying that we no longer need those doors opened?"

Finally, Simpson's last question kept Connerly on the defensive: "The reality of America is there is still discrimination. How do we combat that?"

You'd never know that 40 percent of blacks in California voted for Proposition 209.

Now compare the treatment of Connerly to how ABC approached Jesse Jackson on the February 23 World News Tonight/Sunday earlier this year, a contrast tracked down thanks to the database logging of MRC analyst Gene Eliasen. ABC pegged the segment to Jackson's education "summit" in Chicago. ABC's Erin Hayes did challenge Jackson, but mildly, without the condescending attitude displayed by Simpson. And, Hayes gave Jackson at least two promotional questions that served as cues for Jackson's view. Here are all the questions posed, as transcribed by MRC intern Jessica Anderson:

"You're convinced that our crumbling schools are contributing to our overflowing prisons. Why?"

"Some people are convinced that pouring money into it [education] won't, won't help."

"It's a tremendous challenge. How do you think a three-day summit, even with some of the top educators, can turn that around?"

"I was wondering what you've seen that makes this a priority for you, I mean, what you've been seeing in the last few years."

"Some might say, 'Why you and why education?'"

-- Brent Baker