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CyberAlert -- 08/21/2001 -- Roll Back the Tax Cut?

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Roll Back the Tax Cut?; Dangerous Home Schooling; Pollution Kills More Than Cars; Connie "Just Between You and Me" Chung

1) ABC's Charles Gibson advanced the Democratic spin blaming the tax cut for supposedly "squandering the federal budget surplus" as he demanded of Bush economic adviser Larry Lindsey: "Would you advocate rolling back some of the tax cut?" Gibson worried about not being able to spend more: "We can't afford a prescription benefit on Medicare."

2) A busy morning for Gibson as he also tried to undermine home schooling. As the public schools fail, he worried "about the qualifications of family members to teach" and the lack of testing as he warned that some of those who are home schooled "don't apply to colleges, so we don't know, overall, how they're doing."

3) "More people are apparently being killed by pollution from cars and trucks than by accidents involving them," warned ABC's Claire Shipman in highlighting a "study" also publicized by CBS. But as two experts told CNSNews.com, the numbers are baseless and not the result of any true scientific research.

4) With Connie Chung set to interview Gary Condit, recall her infamous 1995 exchange with Newt Gingrich's mother in which she urged Kathleen Gingrich to reveal her son's opinion of Hillary Clinton: "Why don't you just whisper it to me. Just between you and me." Chung was far nicer in 1993 to Bill Clinton's mom.

5) White House correspondent Helen Thomas made clear last week that George W. Bush is her least favorite President, saying it would take her a week to think of something good to say about him. She denounced him "for junking global accords like the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the Kyoto Protocol and installing 'retreads' from the Ford and Reagan years." She also insisted: "I never once was criticized for what I wrote."


Correction: The August 20 CyberAlert quoted Tim Russert as jumping in to cut off Bob Novak by saying: "Woe, woe, woe." That should have read: "Whoa, whoa, whoa."

1

In the midst of the economic downturn, the federal government is running a surplus of about $160 billion, but on Monday morning ABC's Charles Gibson advanced the Democratic spin blaming the tax cut for supposedly "squandering the federal budget surplus" as he demanded of White House economic adviser Larry Lindsey: "Would you advocate rolling back some of the tax cut?" Instead of showing concern for any excessive spending, Gibson worried about not being able to spend more: "With the surplus at zero, how can, you know, we can't afford a missile defense system, can we? We can't afford a prescription benefit on Medicare."

In fact, the surplus is at zero only if you don't count Social Security revenue above ongoing pay outs, a "surplus" which has always been counted in the past as part of overall annual budget numbers.

Gibson set up the August 20 Good Morning America interview, as taken down by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson, by outlining the Democratic arguments:
"Watch your newspapers this week. You'll find that the Democrats are going to be going on the warpath, charging the Bush administration with squandering the federal budget surplus. That surplus was once estimated at $125 billion for the year, not including Social Security. The revised estimates? Around zero. So where did the money go?"

"Watch your newspapers this week"? Gibson seems to have developed Ratheritis. I'm sure ABC News will make viewers aware of the liberal attacks.

His first question to Lindsey: "You know, the Democrats are going to be beating you up this week from one end of the country to the other saying that tax cut that the Republicans and George Bush were pushing was excessive, we told you it was excessive. The Republicans said there was plenty of surplus to cover it, but now it's gone. So how are you going to respond?"

Lindsey noted "that tax cut is there in order to stop the economy from the free fall" and that much revenue loss can be attributed to the economic decline.

Gibson countered any logic as suggested that in the midst of a downturn that taxes not be reduced: "And that's been responsible for a lot of the loss, but would you advocate rolling back some of the tax cut?"
Lindsey: "No, absolutely not. You know, if we did that, if we took those checks back from people, then consumer spending, which is what's keeping this economy going, what's keeping people employed, would stop....
Gibson lamented: "But Mr. Lindsey, with the surplus at zero, how can, you know, we can't afford a missile defense system, can we? We can't afford a prescription benefit on Medicare."

Gibson's next inquiry: "But the $125 billion surplus that was estimated for next year, $70 billion has gone in the tax cut, $40 billion because of the slowdown and $15 billion in extra spending -- down to zero."

Lastly, Gibson furthered the myth about special money allocated just to Social Security: "There is money in the Social Security surplus. The Republican staff director of the Senate Budget Committee says you're going to have to go in there and take some of the Social Security surplus. Can you promise you won't?"

2

Public schools are failing around the country with the NEA teachers union protecting its membership from any real testing of their competence. But on Monday morning, ABC's Charles Gibson didn't see home schooling as a logical response. Instead, he expressed worry "about the qualifications of family members to teach." And, while the education establishment resists student testing, Gibson warned that some of those who are home schooled "don't apply to colleges, so we don't know, overall, how they're doing."

Furthermore, he lamented how "they don't have athletics, they don't have school dances, they don't have the clubs that schools have."

If only he would express such concern for those stuck in terrible public schools.

Gibson did the NEA's bidding during an August 20 Good Morning America interview segment, caught by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson, which followed a piece profiling a home schooling family. Gibson interviewed the co-writer of Time magazine's article on homeschooling, John Cloud, and ABC's parenting contributor, Ann Pleshette Murphy.

Gibson's first question: "Ann, I worry about -- this is obviously a very able family that you profiled -- but I worry about the qualifications of family members to teach."
Murphy reassured Gibson: "Well, in fact, it's legal. Anybody, you're right, anybody can do it. It's legal in all 50 states, but whether you're qualified to do it or not is another question. However, you know, how do you measure success? If we look at their SAT scores, in the year 2000, the average SAT score for a homeschooled child was 1100, which is 80 points -- it's huge -- an 80-point advantage over the typical child, you know, the average. On the other hand, there are kids who fly under the radar, no question, depending on where they live."
Gibson warned: "Well, that's what I want to talk to John about, about ways we can measure this. Ann points out it's legal in 50 states, but do we know how they're testing? SATs, fine, they may be testing higher for SATs, but some of them don't apply to colleges, so we don't know, overall, how they're doing, do we?"

Gibson soon became upset: "So there are no state-standardized tests where we know that somebody's qualified to go from sixth grade to seventh grade to eighth grade?"
Cloud: "Well, some states do require and other states don't. The regulations for home schooling are different in every state."

Gibson soon expressed another criticism: "I worry about the social aspects, too. You quote a Yale dean, I think, in the article as saying these kids are very astute, but they often have to learn how to live and get along with others."
Cloud: "Right. They, home schooling parents will tell you that their kids learn to interact with people of all age groups, older folks and their younger siblings also. But interacting with kids their own age is a skill we also need to learn."
Gibson piped in: "They don't have athletics, they don't have school dances, they don't have the clubs that schools have."
Cloud: "Some homeschooling families, more and more in fact, are coming together to form their own groups and do that themselves. Also, more and more homeschooling parents are working with their public schools, some of which have lost so many students that they're working with the homeschooling families just to get that per-pupil funding back."
Gibson: "Can the kids come in and play basketball, for instance, or lacrosse?"
Cloud: "Sometimes. It's been a controversy in a lot of states."

Kids aren't even being taught how to read in public schools, but Gibson is worried about whether those home schooled will be able to play lacrosse.

Gibson didn't mention that his wife is the headmaster at a private school in New Jersey.

3

Late last week ABC and CBS considered newsworthy a "study" picked up by the AP and Reuters which claimed pollution from cars and trucks kills more people than traffic accidents. As two experts told CNSNews.com, however, while the numbers may have exited the media, they are baseless and not the result of any true scientific research.

Keeping with today's Charles Gibson focus, we'll start with him. He announced on the August 16 edition of ABC's World News Tonight, which he anchored: "A new study by Carnegie Mellon University finds that car pollution kills more people than traffic accidents. Researchers looked at four cities: New York, Mexico City, Santiago and Sao Paulo. They estimate that reducing air pollution in those cities alone could save 64,000 lives over the next 20 years."

Over on the CBS Evening News the same night, anchor Bob Schieffer asserted: "Nearly 42,000 people died in traffic accidents in the United States last year but researchers said today that air pollution from cars and trucks may have killed even more. The study concludes that tens of thousands of people die each year from heart disease, asthma and other ailments caused by green house gasses, the same fossil fuel pollutants blamed for global warming."

The next morning, during the 8am news update on Friday's Good Morning America, ABC's Claire Shipman told viewers: "More people are apparently being killed by pollution from cars and trucks than by accidents involving them. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University looked at four cities: New York; Mexico City; Santiago, Chile; and Sao Paulo, Brazil. They found that reducing air pollution in those cities alone could save thousands of lives."

The network mentions were apparently prompted by AP and Reuters stories. An August 16 dispatch by AP science writer Paul Recer began:
"More people are being killed by pollution from cars, trucks and other sources than by traffic crashes, researchers estimate in a report that says cleaning up would prolong the lives of thousands of people.
"The researchers, in a study in the journal Science, said that cutting greenhouse gases in just four major cities -- Sao Paulo, Brazil; Mexico City; Santiago, Chile and New York City -- could save 64,000 lives over the next 20 years.
"Greenhouse gases, principally carbon dioxide or ozone, are those pollutants that tend to trap the sun's heat in the atmosphere or to affect solar radiation.
"The gases have been blamed for causing global warming, but the study's lead author, Devra Lee Davis, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz School in Pittsburgh, said the effects are not just long-term....
"She said that burning of fossils fuels, such as gasoline in cars or coal in power plants, can create air pollutants such as ozone, airborne particles small enough to be inhaled, carbon dioxide and other gases. The pollutants, said Davis, can cause people to die prematurely from asthma, breathing disorders and heart disease.
"'It is our best estimate that more people are being killed by air pollution...than from traffic crashes,' said Davis."

Only then did Recer offer any caveat: "Some experts, however, say that the direct connection between air pollution and death is not that clear, even in cities. Dr. Russell V. Luepker, a cardiologist and professor at the University of Minnesota, said that air pollution is not recognized as a significant cause of heart disease in the United States...."

But Recer soon countered: "Dr. Jonathan Patz of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said the study by Davis and her co-authors draws 'an important conclusion.'
"'It shows that there are significant health benefits to be had from reducing emissions from the burning of fossil fuels,' he said.
"Carbon dioxide and other gases from the burning of coal and oil have been blamed by many researchers for warming of the climate. Some have predicted long-term and varied global effects, including such phenomena as melting glaciers, rising sea levels and recurring weather extremes."

In an August 20 story, John Rossomondo of the MRC's CNSNews.com, contacted two experts who dismissed the credibility of the study. An excerpt from his August 20 story headlined, "Air Pollution Study Called 'Editorial,' Not Science."

....[C]ritics of the study say it has no credibility and one claims the authors of the study pulled their conclusions "out of a hat."...

Dr. Pat Michaels of the University of Virginia's Department of Environmental Science labels Davis' report "an editorial, not a paper."

"The core of the [study] comes from non-referenced papers produced by a lobbying organization," Michaels said. "Davis and her colleagues don't even present their methodology."

Michaels also claims the Associated Press distorted the issue by inaccurately reporting that Davis' study referred to carbon dioxide as a pollutant. Michaels says he was unable to find such a claim in the study.

"I looked at the [Carnegie Mellon] article and looked for the word carbon dioxide, and [it is] not in the article," he said. "Devra Davis is a smart person, and she did not put carbon dioxide in her article because she knows that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant."

A Cato Institute scholar rejects the study's link between premature death and poor air quality. Steve Milloy, an adjunct fellow with Cato, has written extensively on the epidemiology related to air pollution, and says he has been unable to corroborate the scientific claims made in studies similar to Davis'.

"There is [not an existing] study that credibly links air pollution with premature death," Milloy said. "They've never measured the amount of air pollution that any of the study subjects have been exposed to. They are missing a lot of lifestyle [questions]. They are very crude studies [that come up with] very weak statistical results."

Milloy also labels Davis' claim that 64,000 lives would be saved through the installation of greenhouse gas abatement technologies, "complete nonsense."

"The studies have very weak statistics, and they are not scientific studies," Milloy said.

He claims researchers such as Davis use causal connections between mortality rates and the amount of air pollution to justify their results without determining which deaths are actually linked to air quality issues....

END Excerpt

For the entire story, go to: http://www.cnsnews.com/Nation/archive/200108/NAT20010820a.html

Of course, as vehicular safety increases, demagogues will be able to point to more things as causing more deaths than traffic accidents.

4

Connie "Just Between You and Me" Chung has landed the TV network sought-after interview of Congressman Gary Condit, (D-CA). ABC News announced on Monday that the "live-to-tape" 30-minute session will air this week on Primetime Thursday.

Chung has been nearly invisible at ABC News for the past couple of years, appearing only occasionally on 20/20 Downtown, though she popped up last Friday on the regular 20/20 where she described Jesse Jackson as "the charismatic national symbol of human rights." For more details, go to: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20010820.asp#4

But just a few years ago she was a CBS News star, co-anchoring the CBS Evening News and hosting her own prime time show, Eye to Eye with Connie Chung. It was on that show that her infamous 1995 exchange with Newt Gingrich's mother occurred in which she urged Kathleen Gingrich to reveal her son's opinion of Hillary Clinton: "Why don't you just whisper it to me. Just between you and me." Mrs. Gingrich leaned forward and whispered: "She's a bitch."

With Chung set to interview Condit, the MRC's Rich Noyes suggested that we post a RealPlayer clip of this now-infamous incident for which Chung is best-known. So, by late this morning ET, the MRC's Web team of Andy Szul and Mez Djouadi should have up about a minute-and-a-half RealPlayer excerpt.

If you play the video, you'll be able to see and hear this portion of the January 5, 1995 Eye to Eye with Connie Chung on CBS during which Chung sat across a table from Newt Gingrich's parents, Kathleen and Bob:

Connie Chung: "These are some of the things that are said about your son: 'a very dangerous man.'"
Kathleen Gingrich: "Never."
Chung: "'Visionary.'"
Kathleen: "Yeah."
Chung: "'Bomb-throwing guerilla warrior.'"
Kathleen: "No."
Chung: "'Abrasive.'"
Kathleen: "That could be."
Bob: "Especially if you don't like him, then he becomes very abrasive."
Kathleen: "Yeah, but who doesn't like him?"
Bob: "Yeah, right."
Chung: "Which brings us back to the battlefield. It's shaking up as the political heavyweight title fight. And it's expected to run two bruising years."
Chung to parents: "Do you think that Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich can ever become friends?"
Bob: "I don't think so."
Chung: "Mrs. Gingrich?"
Kathleen: "I don't think so either."
Chung: "What does Newt tell you about President Clinton?"
Bob: "The only thing he ever told me was that he's smart, that he's an intelligent man. That he's not very practical, but he is intelligent. That's all he's ever told me."
Chung: "Mrs. Gingrich, what has Newt told you about President Clinton?"
Kathleen: "Nothing. And I can't tell you what he said about Hillary."
Chung: "You can't?"
Kathleen: "I can't."
Chung, leaning forward: "Why don't you just whisper it to me. Just between you and me."
Kathleen, leaning in and whispering: "'She's a bitch.'"
Chung: "Really? That's the only thing he ever said about her."
Kathleen: "That's the only thing he ever said about her. I think they had some meeting, she takes over."
Chung: "She does?"
Kathleen: "Oh Yeah, yeah. But when Newtie's there, she can't."

To view the RealPlayer clip, access the online posting of this CyberAlert or just go to: http://www.mrc.org

At the time of that interview, the MRC's MediaWatch newsletter recalled how Chung was far nicer in 1993 to Bill Clinton's mother. An excerpt from an article in the January 1995 MediaWatch:

....Chung coaxed Kathleen Gingrich into telling what Newt thought of Hillary Clinton. Posing the now infamous "Why don't you just whisper it to me, just between you and me," Mrs. Gingrich whispered "She's a bitch."

CBS was engulfed in criticism for using a statement which many thought Chung made clear was "off the record." CBS News President Eric Ober bizarrely complained to The Washington Post: "It's a legitimate, very good interview that has unfortunately been reduced to one five-letter summary." Chung introduced the actual piece on the January 5 Eye to Eye by saying, "You may have heard one small portion of this interview. Now you will see it in context." It seems both forgot it was CBS which promoted the excerpt and showed it on CBS This Morning, CBS Evening News and Up to the Minute.

Even in context, Chung's interview was very different than one she did with Bill Clinton's mom in 1993. She questioned the motives for the Gingrich family interview: "Newt knows you're talking to us, right?... Some people out there would say he just wants the two of you to talk to us, and talk to the American people, because he wants everybody to know that he's just a homespun kind of guy." Chung dished some dirt: "According to a friend at the time, Newt said he was divorcing [then-wife] Jackie because she wasn't young enough or pretty enough to be the wife of a President and besides she has cancer." She also ran down a list for the Gingriches: "These are some of the things said about your son -- a very dangerous man...visionary... bomb-throwing guerrilla warrior...abrasive."

A very different Chung interviewed President Clinton's brother Roger and mother Virginia Kelley for the debut of Eye to Eye on June 17, 1993. She elicited stories from them showing the President in a positive light: how Bill Clinton protected them from his abusive stepfather, how he served as a father figure to his brother.

She never asked about any negative traits of Bill Clinton's. In a previously unaired portion of the interview on January 6, 1994, after Kelley's death, Chung asked: "It seems that both of your boys have this desire to be famous, and to be loved, and to be stars." She never read a list of adjectives, three-fourths negative, to Kelley about Clinton. The closest she came was "You always see the good and not the bad anyway, don't you?"

END Excerpt

5

Long-time UPI White House correspondent Helen Thomas, now a columnist for the Hearst Newspapers, made clear during an interview last week that George W. Bush is her least favorite President and that she has nothing good to say about him.

The Daily Progress newspaper in Charlottesville, Virginia relayed how after praising Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and labeling Clinton as "effective," she denounced Bush "for junking global accords like the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the Kyoto Protocol and installing 'retreads' from the Ford and Reagan years in his administration."

MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth came across the August 16 story on the Daily Progress Web site, though it is no longer posted. Reporter Peter Savodnik recounted her comments in an interview with Charles W. Sydnor Jr. of the University of Virginia and the host of the PBS show For the Record. Savodnik reported the interview is "slated to be broadcast sometime between November and March."

An excerpt from Savodnik's story about a public forum which preceded the TV interview:

She made it clear that her favorite president is John F. Kennedy, adding that she likes Lyndon Johnson's Great Society and thinks Bill Clinton "tarnished" the White House but was, in the end, an effective leader who oversaw prosperity. "He had a sense of humor," Thomas said of Kennedy. "He used his wit to deflect a lot of our questions...He had fun."

And she made it just as clear that her least favorite president is George W. Bush. Asked by one attendee at the standing-room-only Miller Center presentation if she had anything good to say about the current administration, Thomas said she'd probably be able to come up with something if she had a week.

In particular, Thomas lashed out at Bush's "isolationist" foreign policy, castigating the president for junking global accords like the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the Kyoto Protocol and installing "retreads" from the Ford and Reagan years in his administration.

"I think we are letting our leaders get away with too much," Thomas said, noting that President Bush has held only three press conferences in his nearly eight months in office.

But for all her aggressive questioning of world leaders, Thomas seemed a tad defensive when the spotlight briefly was turned on her. "I was a straight reporter," she said, responding to queries whether her self-described liberal politics influenced her journalism. "Fifty years, I never once was criticized for what I wrote."

END of Excerpt

Wow, she is clueless. Maybe she never heard much criticism since for many years her liberal sermons in the form of questions have led most to not take her seriously as a reporter. And most have never seen what she's written since it has appeared only in a small number of newspapers.-- Brent Baker


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