Dividend Tax Cut Over 11 Million Kids "Not a Negative Attack" --6/2/2003
2. Stephanopoulos: 11 Million Kids the "Big Losers" in Tax Cut
3. Another Liberal Press Release in the Guise of a
NY Times Story
4. Moyers: Rich "Rewarded" by the Tax Cut, Poor Kids "Punished"
Weekly Standard Expose of Bill Moyers' Hidden Conflicts
6. As If It's Not Liberal Enough, Bryant Gumbel to Join PBS Line-Up
Liberal attacks on the tax cut for not raising the child credit for parents earning $10,500 to about $26,000 a year, a spin aimed at making the plan look unfair, a take which was eagerly forwarded by the news media late last week without noting how few parents in that range pay any income tax, was "not a negative attack," an apparently serious David Broder maintained on Sunday's Meet the Press.
The Washington Post reporter adopted the liberal spin as reality: "Something got screwed up in terms of your priorities if you think it's more important to get rid of the dividend tax than it is to take care of 11 million kids." To which, fellow panelist Bob Novak, said "you could have fooled me" that it wasn't a negative attack. Novak suggested something that is quite obvious to him, but not to liberals in the guise of journalists: "To me, it's obvious that if somebody doesn't pay taxes, they shouldn't get a tax cut. They shouldn't get anything."
Tim Russert soon jumped in on the liberal side, arguing those who pay little or no income tax deserve a tax cut: "There are indications that some of the soldiers in Iraq, because of their low income, will not be getting beneficiaries of this tax cut."
The exchange from a panel segment with Broder, Novak, Bill Safire and Al Hunt on the June 1 Meet the Press:
Broder: "...The Democrats are also talking about other issues: Who gets tax cuts and who doesn't? We just learned this week that in this $350 billion they, at the last minute, cut out $3 1/2 billion that would have helped 11 million kids whose parents make close to the minimum wage. That's not a negative attack. That's saying, 'something got screwed up in terms of your priorities if you think it's more important to get rid of the dividend tax than it is to take care of 11 million kids.'"
See item #2 below for how the networks distorted this subject on Friday.
Add ABC's George Stephanopoulos to the list of network media figures who, fed by Thursday's New York Times, distorted the equity of the tax cut. On Friday's Good Morning America, Stephanopoulos complained that the "very vulnerable group" of "eleven million children" are the "big losers." Stephanopoulos added that "Republicans say they don't pay income taxes, they shouldn't get a break," as if not giving away something to someone constitutes not giving them a break when they have paid in nothing from which to get a break.
For more on the distorted reporting of this issue, see the Friday, May 30 CyberAlert: Prompted by a left-wing group's charge that low income parents will not get a child credit payment, ABC, CBS, CNBC, CNN and NBC on Thursday night, with little or no regard for how those parents already pay no income tax, all treated the complaint as an indictment of the supposed unfairness of the income tax cut. Peter Jennings asserted: "One group of taxpayers was cut out of this legislation at the last minute, and that was low-income working families with children." CBS anchor Jane Clayson fretted: "The tax cut the President just signed will not help many who need help the most." In what CNBC's Brian Williams called an "embarrassing omission," lower income families "get left out while critics say many who do not need a tax cut get one anyway." Details: www.mediaresearch.org
On Friday morning, Stephanopoulos came aboard the May 30 GMA and, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, Diane Sawyer asked him about the tax cut:
All the left-wing rhetoric of anti-tax cut groups is all that's fit to print. Three days after the New York Times carried a front page story prompted by material fed to it by a liberal group, "Tax Law Omits Child Credit in Low-Income Brackets," a story which never pointed out that parents in the $10,500 to $26,000 annual income range addressed in its story already don't pay any net income taxes, the Times returned with another front page article fed to it by a couple of liberal, anti-tax cut groups suddenly concerned the tax cut was not expansive enough.
The June 1 story by David Firestone, the same reporter who re-wrote the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities press release into the May 29 front page piece, began his June 1 liberal press release in the guise of a news story: "A new study by groups critical of the tax law that President Bush signed on Wednesday has found that 8 million mostly low-income taxpayers will not receive any benefit from the law."
This time, Firestone at least focused on how these people really do pay a bit of income tax, but while he noted that they are in the 10 percent tax bracket, the lowest one, so they don't get another cut this year, he failed to point out how they already got a huge tax cut two years ago when the lowest rate was reduced from 15 to 10 percent, thus providing them with a 33 percent tax cut, the biggest one afforded to any tax bracket.
As documented in the May 30 CyberAlert, all the distorted network reporting about how parents making $10,000 to $26,000 don't qualify for the increase in the child credit were spawned by a Thursday front page New York Times story which was little more than a conduit for a press release (or a public relations guy's phone call tipping the Times reporter) from the left-wing Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a story which though it went into great detail about the specifics of the income range in question and how the 2001 tax cut bill governs the amount of a credit those people can receive, never made the most relevant point: That virtually no parent, with kids 17 or younger, who earns under $26,000 pays any net federal income tax. The CBPP Web site reflects how they successfully used the New York Times to advance their political agenda. For more: www.mediaresearch.org
....The new analysis says that the taxpayers who get nothing from the tax law are primarily low-income single people who do not have children and lack income from dividends or capital gains. A large number of low- and moderate-income single parents with children over 16 will also get no benefit from the law, because it did not change the tax rate for such parents who are unmarried.
The study was conducted by two groups who have been critical of the law, the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, which is affiliated with the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal research group.
Last week, the two groups, along with Citizens for Tax Justice, found that 6.5 million minimum-wage families -- with nearly 12 million children -- would not receive the $400-per-child increase in the child tax credit contained in the new law. The families were left out of the tax law in last-minute Congressional negotiations over how much to cut the tax on stock dividends and capital gains, while keeping the entire bill under the Senate limit of $350 billion.
In combination with the children who were cut from the bill's benefits by the Congressional negotiators, the study says, there are 50 million households -- 36 percent of all households in the nation -- who will receive no benefit from the tax law. The figure includes people who do not earn enough to owe income tax....
The Republican National Committee Web site describes the law in detail and summarizes the point that many members of Congress have also made this week.
"Who benefits under the president's plan?" the Web site asks. "Everyone who pays taxes -- especially middle-income Americans -- as tax rate reductions passed by Congress in 2001 are made effective immediately."
Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary, made a similar point in his news briefing on Thursday, saying that people in the lowest tax bracket would "benefit the most" from the bill. "This certainly does deliver tax relief to the people who pay income taxes," he said, referring particularly to families with children....
But the new study found five million taxpayers in the lowest tax bracket who get no benefit from the law, and 2.5 million single parents with children who also pay taxes but get nothing.
In the first category are taxpayers in the 10 percent bracket who have no children and no dividend or capital gains income. This group, which constitutes 89 percent of all single taxpayers in the lowest bracket, do not benefit from the expansion of the 10 percent bracket because they are already in it. They have no children, so they do not get the child credit, and they do not benefit from the law's relief for married couples. Members of this group, who make $9,300 to $13,800 a year, now pay up to $600 in income taxes.
The second group consists of 2.5 million taxpayers in the head-of-household filing status -- mostly single parents -- who have a child over 16 and who are in the two lowest tax brackets. The study found that they will not receive a tax cut, even though they pay as much as $5,200 in income taxes, because the lowest bracket is not expanded for head-of-household filers under the new law. The child credit is not available, either, because of the age of the children....
"It's another illustration that the real purpose of this tax bill was not to give a boost to the economy now," said Robert Greenstein, executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "The bill really consists of new provisions, like dividend tax cuts, that administration officials and their supporters in Congress have long wanted for other reasons. If they were really serious about boosting the economy, they would not have excluded these people, because they're the ones who spend rather than save."
Mr. Fleischer, contacted Friday on the president's trip to Europe, said the study failed to take into account that many people who did not benefit from this tax bill received benefits in the president's first tax cut, in 2001.
"If any taxpayers did not get tax relief in this bill, it is because it was such a priority to get them a head start on tax cuts in 2001," he said. "They had a two-year head start, because they were prioritized over upper-income taxpayers. The upper income taxpayers had to wait for tax relief for this bill."...
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For the Times article in full: www.nytimes.com
Inspired by the distorted New York Times story about how parents at lower income levels will not get the child credit, and naturally, without bothering to mention how those people already escape paying any net income tax, Bill Moyers on Friday night delivered a rant about how the rich are "rewarded" by the tax cut while poor kids are "punished."
Moyers concluded the May 30 Now with Bill Moyers with a personal attack on Bush administration officials: "It's the richest Americans -- the top one percent -- who get the lion's share of the tax cuts. People like Secretary of the Treasury John Snow, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Commerce Don Evans, multimillionaires all."
What he uttered in his concluding commentary:
Moyers: "We close tonight with some items in the news. You no doubt saw this: Mr. Bush signing his tax cut. A big day for the President."
Those last words aired over a photo on screen of Snow, Cheney and Evans.
The above text does not exactly match the text posted on the Now Web page ( www.pbs.org ), before the show aired, since I checked it against the tape and so the above is actually what he said on the show.
You'd never know from the mainstream media that, as noted in previous CyberAlerts, the tax cuts, by eliminating millions more from the income tax rolls, will in the long term shift an even greater burden onto the wealthy for the total income tax collected.
"Bill Moyers flagrantly indulges in the same conflicts of interest, Washington logrolling, and mutual back-scratching that he finds deeply objectionable in, well, everyone other than Bill Moyers," Stephen Hayes documented in an expose in this week's Weekly Standard.
Hayes determined: "In his dual roles as head of the $75 million Florence and John Schumann Foundation and PBS Pontificator-in-Chief, Moyers regularly interviews the people he funds (conflict of interest). He has gotten rich at 'the public trough,' producing shows partially financed by taxpayers and lining his pockets with the royalties (profiteering). And while he demands strict disclosure of others in the public sector, Moyers rarely tells his viewers when his interview subjects are the recipients of his foundation's grants or discloses details of his own financial relationship with public broadcasting."
As the Weekly Standard noted in a tag line, Hayes was able to prove this by taking advantage of the MRC's videotape library: "Thanks for research assistance on this article is owed to intern David Hackett and to the Media Research Center in Alexandria, Virginia, where we plodded through more than 50 hours of Now with Bill Moyers."
More like painfully plodded through.
An excerpt from Hayes' piece, "PBS's Pontificator: Whatever happened to Bill Moyers's promise to disclose conflicts of interest?," in the June 9 Weekly Standard:
....In the fusillade of insults that he sent my way [after an earlier article], one claim stuck out as something that could later be verified. He said that he always disclosed the fact when a Schumann grantee appeared on one of his programs. The claim wasn't true when he made it. But surely he has since mended his ways? Well, not exactly.
Typical was an interview with pollster Daniel Yankelovich, which aired on June 14, 2002. Moyers ladled on the praise, describing Yankelovich as "the grand old man of listening, recognized the world over for careful and credible research on American values and public opinion." Public Agenda, a Yankelovich nonprofit that does polling on policy and social issues, "has long been at the forefront of social research on national issues," Moyers said.
Moyers asked Yankelovich about a topic close to Moyers's heart, a subject that animates much of his work with the Schumann Foundation and his advocacy on public television. "So when the watchdogs become lapdogs 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....You know, conflict of interest -- it's been meaningless the last couple of years on Wall Street and other places. It's as if the concept didn't even exist. Hardly paid lip service to it, or just lip service to it." As he finished this thought, the identifier at the bottom of the screen reminded viewers that these were the views of "Daniel Yankelovich, Founder 'Public Agenda.'"
One wonders if the show's executive editor, Judith Davidson Moyers, planned it as a clever bit of irony. Mrs. Moyers is on the board of Public Agenda. The Public Agenda Foundation was a recipient of a two-year, $300,000 grant from the Schumann Foundation in 2001. Not that any of this was mentioned. Conflict of interest? It's as if the concept didn't even exist.
Last October 4, Moyers began a segment of his weekly PBS news series "Now with Bill Moyers" with this rant:
Out of sight and out of mind big energy producers are getting the deluxe treatment. Drilling for oil in Alaska's pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Weakening auto emissions standards. Billions of dollars in tax breaks and subsidies [footage of energy plant]. Just a few of the giveaways under consideration as part of the Bush energy bill now being hammered out by a Senate and House conference committee on Capitol Hill.
Continued Moyers: "According to the watchdog group Public Citizen, power companies pushing for the law's repeal gave more than $15 million to federal candidates."
But who will watch the watchdog? Public Citizen is a frequent recipient of Schumann grants: $42,000 in 1999 to "fund a full-time investigative reporter to research and write on the nexus between special interest political contributions and the outcome of major domestic policy debates." Another $75,000 in 2000 for "the Public Citizen Congress Watch investigative research program." A further $204,000 in 2001 for "general support of Public Citizen's educational efforts." In fact, from 1991 to 2001, the last year for which IRS records are available, Moyers's Schumann Foundation gave Public Citizen a total of $411,000.
Seems like a one-sided deal, doesn't it? Courtesy of Moyers, Public Citizen gets a lot of money and, courtesy of PBS, it gets publicity for its work. Not to worry. Public Citizen can scratch backs, too, noting on its website: "It is not often that we advertise for TV programs, but we'll make an exception this time. Bill Moyers has done a documentary on PBS entitled: 'Trading Democracy,'" which you can order from Public Citizen "for $29.95 (plus shipping)."...
This isn't the first time, or even the second time, Moyers has been caught funding his own sources. Consider this report from the November 1, 1999, issue of a weekly newspaper called Current, devoted to covering public broadcasting:
When Bill Moyers interviewed three campaign-finance-reform advocates for a PBS documentary aired in June, he didn't think to disclose that they had received grants from a foundation he runs. "It should have occurred to me to identify them," he told Current last week. "Next time, I'll be sure to do so."
Still, Moyers was defiant. "I don't see that it's a conflict, but I do believe in disclosure," he told Frazier Moore, the television writer for the Associated Press, shortly after these questions were first raised. "We won't give our critics another chance to ignore the journalism for their own purposes."
Leave aside for the moment Moyers's assertion that his high-dollar advocacy constitutes journalism. The PR he does for his grant recipients, and the research they do for him, makes that at least an open question. And leave aside, too, the rather amusing claim that there is no conflict of interest in conducting interviews with subjects who have received millions of dollars that you control. (Imagine how Moyers would react if, say, Rush Limbaugh gave $1 million to the Heritage Foundation and then repeatedly interviewed its experts for his nationwide audience, and did so over a taxpayer-funded medium, like NPR.)...
Bill Moyers isn't the victim of unfair attacks, as he would have us believe. He just refuses to practice what he preaches. When The Weekly Standard asked Moyers in February 2002 about his continued funding of sources, he bristled:
"Yes, sometimes -- not often -- a Schumann Foundation grantee shows up in one of my programs; the concerns of democracy that interest me as a citizen also interest me as a journalist (just as, say, a prominent conservative columnist may have a penchant for baseball and write about it even while serving on the board of a major league team). But on the rare occasion it happens, and I know it, I make that fact public."
Is Moyers clueless about who receives the millions of dollars his foundation dispenses in grant money? A review of his PBS program since that statement shows that Moyers regularly interviews or cites research from his grant recipients but rarely acknowledges a financial relationship. Here is a partial list of the groups Moyers has funded and featured on his show without disclosure. (The dollar amount represents the total given from 1991, his first year as president of the Schumann Foundation, to 2001, as well as grants from the affiliated Florence Fund.)
Annenberg School of Communication -- $100,000
That's $4,806,000 over the past decade to groups that have gotten free PR on Moyers's show just in the past 16 months. In several cases, he aired stories reported, or at least co-reported, by grant recipients like the Nation and the Center for Investigative Reporting. In one instance, Moyers encouraged his viewers to buy the next issue of the Nation for more information. Given all that, it would probably be simpler for him just to add game-show boilerplate to the end of his broadcasts ("promotional considerations have been paid to some of the guests on this show")....
Shortly before Moyers's financing of the guests on his show first came under scrutiny in 1999, his Florence and John Schumann Foundation gave birth, with an initial grant authorization of $6,250,000, to another grantmaking organization known as the Florence Fund. Moyers installed his son, John, as the executive director of the Florence Fund. The group's statement of purpose describes, succinctly and precisely, what Bill Moyers has tried to do by blurring the distinction between his non-profit and public broadcasting roles: "To invigorate public debate by helping public interest groups put their messages and work products before larger audiences or to penetrate target audiences more deeply. Special interests include the role of money in politics, the environment and media criticism."
The Florence Fund appears to meet its objective. With grants to left-wing groups and the creation of TomPaine.com (a frequent advertiser in this magazine), the fund has provided another voice to those who believe the Democratic National Committee, the Wilderness Society, and Peter Jennings are too conservative. It has had another consequence -- it's now more difficult to trace the funding Bill Moyers directs to his work in public broadcasting....
We know about some of the relationships cited above only because Moyers identified the institutional ties. What is more difficult to determine is how often Moyers relies on experts from organizations he has funded without telling his viewers. Take Pamela Gilbert, who in a "Now" episode last February on campaign finance was identified only as a lawyer and former director of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. But she was also the chief congressional lobbyist for Public Citizen throughout the early 1990s. Or take John White. In a story this January about anti-SUV legislation in California, Moyers identifies White as simply an "environmental consultant." White was also a top lobbyist for the Schumann-funded Sierra Club, a group that pushed strenuously for the new legislation. At least once, Moyers needed to look no further than his own board of directors for an expert. When "America's First River" ran a week after Moyers promoted it on Now, the special prominently featured environmental activist Bill McKibben, who earned $25,000 in 2000 and 2001 for his work on the Schumann Foundation.
And on it goes.
Even as PBS executives tolerate Moyers's advocacy, he is busy working to move public broadcasting further left. One Schumann-funded outfit, Citizens for Independent Public Broadcasting, laments the "conservative bias" on PBS. As Moyers himself likes to say, I'm not making this up. According to a CIPB analysis, "U.S. Public Broadcasting: Structure and Programming," "large numbers of small stations in conservative pockets of the country exercise great influence over the national schedule." Later, the report complains, "PBS underwriting guidelines, while friendly to corporations, ban support from organized labor and public interest groups."
Moyers is of course free to broadcast and fund whatever he wants. And journalism ethics classes can debate his practice of interviewing grantees. Much of what happens in Washington is a collaboration of likeminded people who work together to promote ideas and causes they believe in -- in this, Moyers is no more sinister than those he targets on his show. All of that would be his own business were it not for the fact that his show, which is a collaborative effort with National Public Radio, takes taxpayer money. We don't know how much because PBS doesn't reveal funding for individual programs.
END of Excerpt
For much, much more in the lengthy article: www.weeklystandard.com
As if PBS isn't already liberal enough with Bill Moyers, next month they will add Bryant Gumbel to the line-up. Newsday reported on Friday that, starting in July, PBS will launch a quarterly prime time news show hosted by Gumbel, Flashpoints USA.
Romenesko's page (www.poynter.org ) on Friday highlighted the May 30 Newsday story by Verne Gay. An excerpt:
Bryant's back. A year after leaving CBS, Bryant Gumbel is returning to broadcast television as an anchor of a quarterly news series on PBS that debuts next month....
The new show, to originate at Washington's WETA, is entitled "Flashpoints USA," and will be anchored by Gumbel and Gwen Ifill, moderator of "Washington Week" and senior correspondent for "The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer." It also will reunite Gumbel with longtime friend and colleague Steve Friedman, who will be one of three executive producers on the show....
A WETA spokesman said the first edition of Gumbel's new PBS series, which premieres July 15 at 9 p.m., "will look at the balance between homeland security and the freedoms we're looking to protect."
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For the Newsday story in its entirety: www.newsday.com
Consider yourself warned.
-- Brent Baker