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CyberAlert -- 12/10/2001 -- Bush Learned from Enron?

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Bush Learned from Enron? "Confrontation" on Civil Rights Panel Caused by Bush; CNN's Familiar Slogan: "We Report, You Decide"

1) Newsweek's Eleanor Clift predicted a future presidential pardon for Taliban soldier John Walker. Hillary Rodham for President in 2004?

2) Al Hunt sarcastically suggested Enron CEO Kenneth Lay "may have shared" with President Bush his strategy to stiff "the lowest and average-paid workers" while taking care "of its fat cats."

3) Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Johnson, who quoted the NPR foreign editor as saying he would report the presence of a U.S. commando unit in Pakistan, defended himself against the NPR ombudsman's charge that he had "sucker punched" the radio editor. But Johnson also expressed regret for having provided ammunition to the "far right."

4) The Chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights refuses to seat a new member, claiming the term of a sitting commissioner has not expired when under any normal reading of the law it has. Yet both the New York Times and Washington Post put the burden for escalating the problem onto the Bush team. "The White House set up a confrontation..." And: "White House officials provoked a confrontation..."

5) Two CNN anchors late last week decided to "borrow" FNC's "We report, you decide" slogan. Wrapping up CNN's NewsNight on Thursday night, anchor Aaron Brown asserted: "We report, you decide." The next morning, anchor Paula Zahn prompted two guests: "So the bottom line is we report-" She then paused and her two guests announced in unison: "They decide."


1

Clinton in 2004? Is Newsweek's Eleanor Clift anticipating another run for the presidency Bill Clinton? Or a successful first attempt by Hillary Clinton?

Clift's response on McLaughlin Group over the weekend to where John Walker, the U.S. citizen who joined and fought for the Taliban, will be in ten years: "Not in prison, and I hope he is reformed and returned to society, maybe pardoned by a future President."

2

Al Hunt sarcastically suggested Enron CEO Kenneth Lay "may have shared" with President Bush his strategy to stiff "the lowest and average-paid workers" while taking care "of its fat cats."

For his "Outrage of the Week" on CNN's Capital Gang on Saturday night Hunt, the Executive Washington Editor of the Wall Street Journal, declared:
"The aforementioned Enron, with all its secret scams unraveling, filed for bankruptcy last week -- but not before this company, most of whose workers lost much of their retirement savings, doled out $55 million in bonuses to 500 top executives. The bottom line: In the face of fiscal calamity, the company stiffed the lowest and average-paid workers but took care of its fat cats. Sounds like Enron CEO Kenneth Lay may have shared this strategy with his good friend, President Bush."

3

Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Johnson, who in October quoted National Public Radio's foreign editor, Loren Jenkins, as saying he would report the presence of a U.S. commando unit in Pakistan, defended himself in a column last week against the NPR ombudsman's charge that he had "sucker punched" Jenkins.

But Johnson also expressed regret for having provided ammunition to the "far right," lamenting: "I'm not thrilled at having inadvertently supplied ammunition for what I continue to believe is a canard of the right: that 'NPR' is simply East Coast elitist code for 'SDS.'"

An excerpt from Johnson's December 7 column which was highlighted by Jim Romenesko's MediaNews (http://www.poynter.org/medianews/), titled: "A Confession of a skeptic: In context, I was just doing my job Steve Johnson."

Short of Michael Jackson's confidences, I can't imagine a stranger place in which to be. I've become a sort of favorite of the far right and the scourge of National Public Radio.

An article I wrote, including quotes from an NPR editor about trying to "smoke out" American troops near Afghanistan, has become part of the conservative repertoire. It's been cited by Rush Limbaugh and others in attempting to prove that the press, and those hippie holdovers at NPR, are unrepentant flag burners.

NPR, meanwhile, has indeed been liberal, at least in terms of impugning me. The organization's representatives have said that I took out of context or, "sucker punched" the veteran NPR senior foreign editor Loren Jenkins....

I got into this situation -- instructive in a time of heightened sensitivity to the media's balance of patriotism and professionalism -- simply by doing my job. My article on war reporting in the Tribune's Oct. 12 Tempo section included these lines about Jenkins:

"...He says his marching orders to the troops are to try to find where the Americans are.

"'The game of reporting is to smoke 'em out,' he says. Asked whether his team would report the presence of an American commando unit it found in, say, a northern Pakistan village, he doesn't exhibit any of the hesitation of some of his news-business colleagues, who stress that they try to factor security issues into their coverage decisions.

"'You report it,' Jenkins says. 'I don't represent the government. I represent history, information, what happened.'"

Obviously, it was a potentially incendiary quote. But I was not, contrary to insinuations later made by NPR ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin, out to get Jenkins.

Dvorkin's November piece on the matter (at www.npr.org/), which just came to my attention, says my article "sucker punched" the editor while it "purported to be" about war coverage -- as if all that other info were merely covering fire for an attempt to assassinate NPR....

I'm not thrilled at having inadvertently supplied ammunition for what I continue to believe is a canard of the right: that "NPR" is simply East Coast elitist code for "SDS." To my mind, for all its great work the public radio service is most clearly -- and, too often, blandly -- MOR, middle of the road.

Jenkins may have been blustering to me. He may have believed what he was saying in the abstract. Being the hardline independent, no matter the cost in popularity, is certainly a standard journalistic posture.

But tested in the field, the larger truth echoes NPR news vice president Bruce Drake's early November public statement on the matter: that nothing in NPR's distinguished war reporting suggests that Jenkins' opinions represent the official policy. NPR cannot state publicly what I believe is also truth: that a news organization needs a variety of opinions, even some radical ones.

END of Excerpt

To read the entirety of Johnson's column, go to:
http://chicagotribune.com/features/chi-0112070116dec07.column?coll=chi%2Dleisure%2Dnav

For Johnson's original column of October 12, go to:
http://chicagotribune.com/chi-0110120007oct12.column

For NPR Ombudsman Dvorkin's criticism of Johnson's October 12 column, go to:
http://www.npr.org/yourturn/ombudsman/011108.html

4

The Chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights refuses to seat a new member appointed by President Bush, bizarrely claiming the term of a sitting commissioner has not expired when under any normal reading of the law it has. Yet both the New York Times and Washington Post last week put the burden for escalating the problem onto the Bush administration.

New York Times reporter Katharine Q. Seelye began a December 6 story: "The White House set up a confrontation with the United States Civil Rights Commission today, declaring a vacancy on the commission and appointing its own candidate even though the commission chairwoman said a vacancy did not exist."

For the entire article, go to:
http://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/06/politics/06RIGH.html

In the Washington Post the next day, Hanna Rosin led her December 7 story: "White House officials provoked a confrontation with the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights by suddenly swearing in President Bush's new appointee late last night over adamant objections from the commission's chairwoman."

For the Post story in full, go to:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A5340-2001Dec6.html

The Washington Times on Thursday offered a more accurate description of the dispute. An excerpt from the December 6 front page story by Bill Sammon and Steve Miller:

The chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has refused to accept President Bush's nominee to the commission and has warned the White House that it will need federal marshals to seat the new member.

Chairman Mary Frances Berry told White House Counsel Al Gonzales that she would defy the president by refusing to swear in his nominee, Peter Kirsanow, a Cleveland lawyer and former chairman of the Center for New Black Leadership, Mr. Gonzales said.

Mr. Bush nominated Mr. Kirsanow to replace Victoria Wilson, who was appointed by President Clinton on Jan. 13, 2000, to fill an unexpired, six-year term that ended Nov. 29. Miss Wilson has hired an attorney to defend her seat on the panel and plans to attend today's meeting as a commission member.

The seat is key because if it goes to Mr. Kirsanow, the eight commissioners will be split 4-4 along party lines. The deadlock would end the outright authority Miss Berry enjoyed since 1992, when Democrats became the majority on a board created in 1957 with a bipartisan charter.

Miss Berry threw down the gauntlet during a heated phone conversation on Tuesday with Mr. Gonzales, the president's government attorney.

"You informed me that you do not consider yourself to be bound by opinions of the Department of Justice," Mr. Gonzales said yesterday in a letter to Miss Berry. "Nor do you intend to abide by them or to follow the directives of the president in this matter."

Miss Berry vowed she "will refuse to administer the oath of office to the president's appointee," Mr. Gonzales said. He advised Miss Berry that any federal official authorized to administer oaths could swear in Mr. Kirsanow. "Finally, you stated that, even if Ms. Wilson's successor has been lawfully appointed and has taken the oath of office, you will refuse to allow him to be seated at the commission's next meeting," Mr. Gonzales wrote. "You went so far as to state that it would require the presence of federal marshals to seat him.

"I respectfully urge you to abandon this confrontational and legally untenable position," he said. Mr. Gonzales warned Miss Berry that "any actions blocking" Mr. Kirsanow from taking his seat "would, in my opinion, violate the law."

END of Excerpt

For the rest of the story, go to:
http://www.washtimes.com/national/20011206-94429430.htm

National Review's John J. Miller & Ramesh Ponnuru first reported Berry's move in the December 4 Washington Bulletin e-mail:
"Victoria Wilson of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights apparently wants to be a commissioner for life. She recently announced her intention not to resign, even though her six-year term formally expired last week. She was appointed in 2000 to complete the term of the late Leon Higginbotham, but now she argues that she's entitled to a full six-year term rather than the remainder of Higginbotham's. This would keep her in office until 2006. The White House says her time is up; commission chair Mary Frances Berry accepts Wilson's self-serving interpretation of the law.
"Berry and Wilson made clear their disdain for the rule of law this summer, when they (and four other liberal commissioners) released a controversial report on the 2000 presidential election in Florida. They suggested that George W. Bush carried the state because of a racist conspiracy to suppress black votes. The only suppression anyone could point to, however, was their own: They defied established practice by refusing to publish a dissent authored by the commission's two GOP-appointed members.
"Wilson's argument makes no sense. It means that presidential appointees in time-limited positions could be "re-appointed" en masse right before the White House changes hands -- and therefore prevent the next president from shaping the government the way he deserves...."

For more from the NR story, go to:
http://www.nationalreview.com/daily/nr120401.shtml

5

Two CNN anchors late last week decided to "borrow" FNC's "We report, you decide" slogan, MRC analyst Ken Shepherd observed. Wrapping up CNN's NewsNight on Thursday night, anchor Aaron Brown asserted: "We report, you decide. You guys are wonderful, and it was fun here today. We'll see you tomorrow at 10:00." The next morning, anchor Paula Zahn prompted two guests: "So the bottom line is we report-" She then paused and her two guests said in unison: "They decide."

One of the guests, New York Daily News columnist Michael Kramer, joked about Zahn who left FNC a few months ago: "You can take the woman out of Fox, but you can't take Fox out of the woman."

Brown ended the December 6 NewsNight by discussing a poll being conducted on the Atlanta Constitution Web site about CNN's sexiest anchor: "Finally tonight, further proof if any were needed that this program will beat any good idea to death -- actually, any bad idea, for that matter. Last night, you may recall, I mentioned the online poll being done by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution web site which asked readers to vote for the sexiest CNN anchor.
"I was a little miffed, OK? Because my name was not included even as a possible choice. Larry [King] was. I wasn't. Now in mentioning this, some of you thought that perhaps I was suggesting that you take it upon yourselves to right this wrong and e-mail these guys. Now, you know me. Would I do that? OK, I would. So today when we looked at the web site we found a couple of things of interest. First, on the home page, over on the right, there I am. You can see me there. And then you jump to a page where you can cast your vote. This is yes or no vote on me. Essentially, it's me against the entire field. Not really fair, but the results are encouraging.
"There's also a link to your comments. And I tell you now, they did not do that with Bill Hemmer, OK? So we were pretty -- feeling pretty swell until we found the big poll page. The official page. And I'm still not there.
"Hemmer is killing everybody in this. John King is losing to Larry, however. Now there is some evidence -- I've got to be honest here -- that Hemmer is voting for himself. A lot. I can assure you that no one on the NewsNight staff would do such a thing. Well, no one except for Molly Levinson, my assistant. She's voted 47 times. But that's part of her job.
"Now, here's the problem. The reporter on this, Richard Eldridge, called us today begging you to stop flooding his e-mail. I don't know. We report, you decide. You guys are wonderful, and it was fun here today. We'll see you tomorrow at 10:00."

Friday, on Mornings with Paula Zahn, she brought aboard Michael Kramer of the New York Daily News, formerly with Time magazine, and Rich Lowry, Editor of National Review, to review the news of the day. She raised Bernard Goldberg's new book, Bias, and after Lowry observed that the problem is that inside the mainstream media liberal views are not seen as liberal but as just normal, Kramer maintained:
"You know, I think it's all well and good to go on like this like we always do at times like these and at other times too. The fact of the matter is that the public has a very good antennae for what we're all about. They don't believe us most of the time, that's why we're ranked so low. We do our job, they weigh it, they filter it and they come to their own judgments, which is why, for example, those of us like myself who are so exorcized about some of the things Ashcroft is doing is clearly in a minority in the country."
Paula Zahn: "So the bottom line is we report- [she paused]"
Lowry, joined by Kramer and Cafferty in unison: "They decide."
Amongst laughing, business reporter Jack Cafferty who was co-hosting with Zahn, asked: "Gee, where have I heard that one?"
Zahn: "Alright gentlemen. Good to see you Michael Kramer, Rich Lowry, Jack Cafferty."
Cafferty referred to the FNC chief executive: "You been listening, Roger [Ailes]?"
More laughing ensued as Kramer joked: "You can take the woman out of Fox, but you can't take Fox out of the woman."
Zahn went to a break as she rued: "Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy."

FNC should consider suing for breach of intellectual property rights. Or maybe they could just get CNN to pay them a fee each time CNN uses their phrase. -- Brent Baker


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