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Isaacson: Ben Franklin Would Make Fun of Bush's Foreign Policy --7/1/2003


1. Isaacson: Ben Franklin Would Make Fun of Bush's Foreign Policy
If Ben Franklin were alive today, he'd enjoy sitting around making fun of President Bush's foreign policy. And Clinton's scandals too, former CNN News Group Chairman Walter Isaacson contended on Monday's Today.

2. Newsweek v. Newsweek on Whether O'Connor in Sync with America
Newsweek versus Newsweek. The "Conventional Wisdom" box in this week's Newsweek awarded the Supreme Court an up arrow and lauded its perceptiveness: "Love 'em or hate 'em, diversity and gay-rights decisions were in sync with America." But a few pages later, in a story praising Justice Sandra Day O'Connor for how her opinion in the affirmative action ("diversity") case "helped America seek a middle ground on the thorny subject of race," Evan Thomas and Stuart Taylor Jr. had to, nonetheless, concede: "The ruling does not really represent a consensus of popular opinion."

3. Refusal to Hike Taxes, Not Soaring Spending, Behind State Crises
To the news media, it's bull-headed Republicans and conservatives who refuse to raise taxes who are exacerbating the state fiscal crises, not liberals and Democrats who are resisting budget cuts. On Monday's CBS Evening News, Bill Whitaker pointed to "bullheaded politics" for California's crisis as "Republicans refuse to raise taxes, and Democrats refuse any further program cuts." In fact, California has already raised taxes this year by tripling the annual state tax on vehicles. Whitaker proceeded to portray spending cuts as more onerous than tax hikes as he pointed out how "45 states have raised taxes or made draconian cuts." A Washington Post story painted tax hike opponents as the hindrance.

4. More Whining About Prescription Plan Not Going Far Enough
On Saturday night ABC delivered another one-sided whine-fest of complaints, from the left, about how the massive new proposed prescription drug plan for seniors doesn't go far enough. ABC failed to utter a syllable from anyone opposed to creating the huge new entitlement program. "Many seniors doubt the help will be enough," anchor Dean Reynolds intoned on the June 28 World News Tonight/Saturday. Bob Jamieson proceeded to relay how seniors "expected more help" and that "there's also disappointment." Jamieson warned that at a senior center in Illinois, "there's the first stirring of anger toward the politicians." A woman ludicrously claimed: "When you reach a certain age, they just forget about you."

5. Another Late Night Host Pokes Fun at NY Times for Making Up Stuff
David Letterman's Friday night guest hosts keep telling anti-liberal media jokes. On June 20, Kelsey Grammer took a shot at the "effete" Peter Jennings and last Friday Jimmy Fallon poked fun at the New York Times for making up stuff.

6. James Carville Shares with CNN Audience How He's Poorly Endowed
James Carville must not think much of the right to privacy so vaunted in recent days by liberals. On Friday's Crossfire on CNN, he shared how he's poorly endowed: "That thing would have to be very sensitive to pick up any of my privates, let me tell you, it would take about an electron microscope for that thing to show up."


Isaacson: Ben Franklin Would Make Fun
of Bush's Foreign Policy

If Ben Ben Franklin were alive today, he'd enjoy sitting around making fun of President Bush's foreign policy. And Clinton's scandals too, former CNN News Group Chairman Walter Isaacson contended on Monday's Today.

Isaacson, the former Managing Editor of Time magazine who oversaw CNN for nearly two years ending a few months ago, suggested to NBC's Katie Couric on the June 30 Today:
"Franklin is one of those people who, you know, you can, you can imagine having a beer with him after work and showing him how a Palm Pilot or a Blackberry worked or show him a business plan. Or making jokes about, you know, Clinton scandals or Bush's foreign policy. And he, he's just very real."

Isaacson is the author of a new book, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, which is excerpted in this week's Time magazine.

MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens caught this exchange from Today:

Couric: "Let's talk about the fact that you say he is the Founding Father who winks at us. What do you exactly mean by that? You, you said the others were made of marble. They, they'd appreciate that."
Issacson: "No, you can't really imagine touching George Washington on the shoulder. In fact one guy at the Constitutional Convention did and he never quite recovered from it because Washington was so mean to him afterwards. But Franklin is one of those people who, you know, you can, you can imagine having a beer with him after work and showing him how a Palm Pilot or a Blackberry worked or show him a business plan. Or making jokes about, you know, Clinton scandals or Bush's foreign policy. And he, he's just very real."

For a picture of Isaacson: www.pbs.org

The July 7 Time cover story on Franklin includes Isaacson's take on "Citizen Ben's Great Virtues." Those are:
"1. An Aversion to Tyranny
"2. A Free Press
"3. Humor
"4. Humility
"5. Idealism in Foreign Policy
"6. Compromise
"7. Tolerance"

See: www.time.com

For Time's cover story package: www.time.com

Newsweek v. Newsweek on Whether O'Connor
in Sync with America

Newsweek versus Newsweek. The "Conventional Wisdom" box in this week's Newsweek awarded the Supreme Court an up arrow and lauded its perceptiveness: "Love 'em or hate 'em, diversity and gay-rights decisions were in sync with America." But a few pages later, in a story praising Justice Sandra Day O'Connor for how her opinion in the affirmative action ("diversity" in college admissions) cases "helped America seek a middle ground on the thorny subject of race," Evan Thomas and Stuart Taylor Jr. had to, nonetheless, concede: "The ruling does not really represent a consensus of popular opinion."

Thomas and Taylor elaborated: "Most Americans say they favor 'affirmative action' and oppose 'quotas' -- both loaded terms. But asked more neutrally whether they approve 'racial preferences,' the answer from both blacks and whites is overwhelmingly no."

The July 7 Newsweek carries a "Special Bench Warmers Edition" of the Conventional Wisdom box: "As the Supreme Court session ended with big decisions, the continuing story was more losses in nonpacified Iraq. Is Saddam laughing somewhere?"

On the Supreme Court, Newsweek offered two items:

-- Supremes, up arrow: "Love 'em or hate 'em, diversity and gay-rights decisions were in sync with America. Now who's retiring?"

-- C. Thomas, down arrow: "Affirmative-action justice passionately inveighs against affirmative action. So does he think he belongs there?"

That's online at: www.msnbc.com

A few pages later, Evan Thomas and Stuart Taylor Jr. offered a conflicting view in a piece carrying the admiring headline: "Center Court. She helped America seek a middle ground on the thorny subject of race. Sandra Day O'Connor's brand of justice."

Thomas and Taylor wrote:
"Her ruling has little impact on average African-Americans, relatively few of whom apply to the 100 or so selective colleges in the United States. Rather, she is concerned with creating more black leaders by opening places for them in elite schools. The ruling does not really represent a consensus of popular opinion. Most Americans say they favor 'affirmative action' and oppose 'quotas' -- both loaded terms. But asked more neutrally whether they approve 'racial preferences,' the answer from both blacks and whites is overwhelmingly no.
"O'Connor voted with five other justices to strike down the numerical system used to admit Michigan undergraduates. Assigning a 20-point bonus for skin color seemed to smack of quotas. But O'Connor and four others voted to uphold the law school's admission system, which is less blatant but nonetheless affords a clear racial preference. An African-American with a B-minus average in college has about the same chance of admission to Michigan Law as a white or an Asian with an A average."

For the entirety of the article: www.msnbc.com

Refusal to Hike Taxes, Not Soaring Spending,
Behind State Crises

To the news media, it's bull-headed Republicans and conservatives who refuse to raise taxes who are exacerbating the fiscal crises in states like California, not liberals and Democrats who are resisting budget cuts or, who like many Republicans, pushed huge spending hikes during the 1990s.

Bill Whitaker On Monday's CBS Evening News, Bill Whitaker pointed to "bullheaded politics" for California's crisis as "Republicans refuse to raise taxes, and Democrats refuse any further program cuts." What cuts have supposedly already been made, Whitaker did not say, but a Monday Washington Post story noted that California has already raised taxes this year by tripling "the annual state tax on vehicles, a $136 increase for most motorists."

Whitaker proceeded to portray spending cuts as more onerous than tax hikes as he reported that "45 states have raised taxes or made draconian cuts." Apparently, tax hikes are never "draconian."

In the June 30 Washington Post story, reporter Rene Sanchez, from Los Angeles, painted those against tax hikes as the impediment:
"Davis and the Democrats who control both houses of California's legislature cannot get their way on the budget because state law requires a two-thirds majority vote for it to be approved. They need a few Republican lawmakers to support their plan, which they say must include new taxes in order to save public schools and other vital programs from ruin.
"But Republicans are refusing to consider any tax increase, which they say would harm California's already weak economy, and are demanding deeper cuts in government spending."

Neither Whitaker or Sanchez managed to point out how spending in California soared between 1990 and 2001 by twice the rate in growth of inflation and population growth.

Sanchez only relayed a vague charge about how "Republicans here also contend that Davis, who was narrowly elected to a second term in November, has spent recklessly while in office and relied on accounting gimmicks to balance the budget last year."

For the Washington Post article in full: www.washingtonpost.com

CBS Evening News anchor John Roberts ominously opened the June 30 broadcast: "It is a 'New Year's Eve' with little to celebrate. States all over America begin a new fiscal year at midnight, many with budgets that call for record deficits, higher taxes and drastic cuts in programs. The nationwide economic slowdown is getting much of the blame. Some states may begin the new year without a budget. CBS's Bill Whitaker reports it appears the most populous in the nation, California, is close to financial meltdown."

Whitaker began with dire anecdotes about firefighters being let go and how "nursing home residents fear they could lose the roof over their heads."

Whitaker intoned, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "California's crisis was triggered by a monstrous $38 billion deficit and compounded by an unpopular Governor and bullheaded politics. Republicans refuse to raise taxes, and Democrats refuse any further program cuts...."

(Whitaker actually said that "Republicans refuse to cut taxes, and Democrats refuse any further program cuts," but he clearly meant that Republicans refuse to "raise" taxes.)

Whitaker added: "California may be the worst, but it's hardly alone. Twelve states ran smack up against today's fiscal deadline, 45 states have raised taxes or made draconian cuts. Massachusetts may be getting out of the university business. Tomorrow the state of Washington releases 350 prison inmates to save money."

But as the Cato Institute's Chris Edwards, Stephen Moore and Phil Kerpen documented earlier this year in their report, "States Face Fiscal Crunch after 1990s Spending Surge," California's "budget gap was caused by a remarkable run-up in state spending in the late 1990s under Gov. Gray Davis. Spending doubled between FY94 and FY01 from $39 billion to $78 billion. California's general fund expenditures jumped 15 percent in FY2000 and then another 17 percent in FY01. Thus, in just two years spending increased by one-third."

The Cato trio added: "Although general fund spending jumped almost $12 billion in FY01, FY02 spending was reduced only by just over $1 billion. As in other states, newspaper headlines in California make fiscal restraint sound draconian. A recent Los Angeles Times story declared 'Wrenching Changes Likely with Budget Cuts,' but the 'wrenching' changes listed included such items as the first university fee increase since 1994, small increases in admission charges for state parks, deferral of some transportation projects, and a modest tightening in eligibility for the state's low-income health program. Those are hardly wrenching changes in sprawling state government."

An accompanying table laid out how California state government spending skyrocketed by 108 percent between 1990 and 2001 while the benchmark for inflation plus population growth increased by a comparatively modest 57 percent.

For the Cato report: www.cato.org

More Whining About Prescription Plan
Not Going Far Enough

On Saturday night ABC delivered another one-sided whine-fest of complaints, from the left, about how the massive new proposed prescription drug plan for seniors doesn't go far enough. ABC made no pretense of professional journalism as the network once again, just like all the networks in recent days, failed to utter a syllable from anyone opposed to creating the huge new entitlement program.

"Many seniors doubt the help will be enough," anchor Dean Reynolds intoned on the June 28 World News Tonight/Saturday. Bob Jamieson proceeded to relay how seniors "expected more help" and that "there's also disappointment." Jamieson warned that at a senior center in Illinois, "there's the first stirring of anger toward the politicians." A woman preposterously claimed: "When you reach a certain age, they just forget about you."

Forget about seniors? They already benefit from the plurality of the federal budget which goes to Social Security, an ongoing transfer of income from the working population to those no longer working.

Someday it would be nice to see a network news story about the impact of the burden all these new spending programs put on those who have to pay for them.

Anchor Dean Reynolds introduced the story observed by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson: "In his weekly radio address, President Bush urged congressional leaders to quickly settle their differences on Medicare reform. The Senate and the House passed Medicare bills this week. Both would help seniors pay for prescription drugs, but many seniors doubt the help will be enough. Bob Jamieson has more."
Jamieson: "The prescription drug plans passed by the House and Senate were not what they expected at the Levy Senior Center in Evanston, Illinois. Seventy-two-year-old Marjorie June, who spends $3000 a year on prescriptions, expected more help."
June: "I'm going to be about in the same place that I am now."
Jamieson: "There's also disappointment in Miami."
Reuben Goldstein, retired educator: "The details are too complicated and there are too many uncertainties for a large number of seniors."
Jamieson: "The 40 million people covered by Medicare now pay an average of $2,300 a year for prescriptions. Many believed the government would cover most of that. The plan doesn't even take effect until 2006, when the average annual prescription bill is expected to exceed $3,000. Of that, seniors would still have to pay more than half; the government would pick up the difference."
John Rother, AARP: "These bills will offer some partial relief, but for most people they will find that they will still be faced with paying for a majority of the costs of prescription drugs themselves."
Jamieson: "One reason, drug costs are expected to increase more than 20 percent before the plan takes effect and the legislation doesn't cover that."
Woman #1: "Fosamax for osteoporosis, Lipitor for high cholesterol."
Jamieson: "At the senior center in Evanston, there's the first stirring of anger toward the politicians."
Woman #2: "When you reach a certain age, they just forget about you."
Woman #3: "Maybe some of them should probably come and live with us so they can see, you know, what we worry about."
Jamieson concluded: "Even with this plan, they say, that worry won't end."

Recent CyberAlert item's on the media's crusade in favor of the big new government expansion:

-- CNN's Judy Woodruff landed a rare opportunity to question Senator Hillary Clinton on policy, but instead of challenging Clinton from the right, Woodruff used her session on Friday's Inside Politics to continue her crusade in eliminate obstacles which might block adding prescription coverage to Medicare. Woodruff summarized how Clinton thinks Senator Ted Kennedy is favoring a version which doesn't go far enough and then relayed how she began her session with Clinton: "I asked Senator Clinton if she thinks Kennedy made a mistake." Woodruff soon worried about how making a prescription deal would hurt the liberal cause: "Doesn't it take a potentially good issue for the Democrats off the table and let the President have a victory here?" www.mediaresearch.org

-- ABC, NBC, the New York Times and Washington Post on Thursday delivered another round of complaints that the proposed new Medicare prescription benefit doesn't go far enough. ABC's Linda Douglass decided that "many will be disappointed" since "many seniors will be surprised to learn how much they will still have to pay out of pocket." On Today, Matt Lauer grilled Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist from the left, pressing him about "this donut hole in coverage." Lauer demanded: "If I'm a senior and I'm paying my, my monthly premium why should I have to then fork over all the money during that, that gap period?" Front page New York Times and Washington Post stories relayed whining from selfish and ungrateful seniors who want others to pay their expenses. www.mediaresearch.org

-- More evidence that the supposedly typical victims of high prescription costs featured by the networks are hardly average seniors. They are really political activists who are part of a political lobbying campaign by a liberal group, the AARP, which consistently pushes for ever bigger government and more spending. NBC's Norah O'Donnell highlighted this victim: "77-year-old Pat Roussos of Connecticut, who suffers from arthritis, diabetes and high blood pressure. Her out-of-pocket drug costs now, as much as $6,500 a year." But, Roussos is really a top dog in an AARP state chapter. www.mediaresearch.org

-- "With only $400 billion to spend." Not even $400 billion is enough spending for CBS and NBC which on Monday and Tuesday night ran stories lamenting the inadequate level of spending proposed to create a prescription drug entitlement. Dan Rather warned: "The plan may wind up falling far short of what Medicare recipients were hoping for." Joie Chen found a victim of "the donut hole. That's the point at which there's no coverage." And why the donut hole? "Well, with only $400 billion to spend, there just isn't enough money to fix it..." NBC's Norah O'Donnell focused on how "the AARP argues the plan...will short-change seniors." She targeted the tax cut as the culprit: "Some Democrats charge the recent tax cuts killed off any hope of closing the benefit gap." www.mediaresearch.org

-- CNN's Judy Woodruff, a case study in the media's liberal, pro-government spending/government can solve any problem bias. Last Wednesday, she took on Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy from the left suggesting to him that his prescription coverage giveaway program in Medicare doesn't go far enough: "I began by asking him about his signing off on a plan that would leave some seniors with less drug coverage than they need and whether he undercut those seniors." This week she interviewed Republican Senator Rick Santorum and worried about how with Democratic and Republican plans in conflict a new program might not pass: "I started by asking him if the whole Medicare reform effort could unravel over this kind of disagreement." www.mediaresearch.org

-- Instead of challenging Senator Ted Kennedy from the right about the cost of creating a massive new entitlement program, CNN's Judy Woodruff suggested to him on Wednesday's Inside Politics that his prescription coverage giveaway program in Medicare doesn't go far enough: "I began by asking him about his signing off on a plan that would leave some seniors with less drug coverage than they need and whether he undercut those seniors..." Woodruff also worried about how, "at a time when the Democrats are trying mightily to carve out distinct positions for themselves against a very popular Republican President," she scolded Kennedy, "what you have done is helped a Republican President take a very controversial issue off the table." www.mediaresearch.org

-- What a coincidence. Two years apart CBS News and ABC News featured the same elderly woman, in news stories about the need for a new prescription drug coverage program in Medicare and the shortcomings of Republican-pushed alternatives, as the poster victim of high prescription prices. www.mediaresearch.org

-- Though, as news reader Ann Curry conceded on Monday's Today, "the Senate begins debate today on what would be the biggest expansion of Medicare benefits in its history," it's still doesn't go far enough as she added: "Critics say the drug benefit isn't enough." In the media's world, there just isn't anyone who could possibly oppose creating a massive new government entitlement program. Over on ABC's Good Morning America, Tony Perkins had only one substantive complaint for HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson: "Some have said this bill doesn't go quite far enough." www.mediaresearch.org

-- Every time the tax cut debate arose over the past couple of years network reporters were most concerned about its high "cost," who would most benefit and who would not. But with talk this week of a bi-partisan compromise agreement to create a new prescription drug entitlement, the networks have not displayed any interest in outlining who pays (those at lower incomes still working) and who benefits (the elderly, the wealthiest age group), and when they mention the cost it's in the context of how it's not high enough ("The cost of the plan, $400 billion. But advocates for seniors...say it's still not enough"), as reporters campaign in favor of Congress "finally" creating the new program which will give "new hope" and "badly needed help" to struggling seniors. www.mediaresearch.org

Another Late Night Host Pokes Fun at
NY Times for Making Up Stuff

David Letterman's Friday night guest hosts keep telling anti-liberal media jokes. On June 20, Kelsey Grammer took a shot at the "effete" Peter Jennings and last Friday Jimmy Fallon poked fun at the New York Times for making up stuff.

During his opening monologue on the June 27 Late Show, the MRC's Kristina Sewell noticed, Fallon, who co-hosts the "Weekend Update" fake newscast on NBC's Saturday Night Live, delivered this joke:
"How many of you have seen Weekend Update? That's the segment on SNL where we make up stuff about what's happening in the news. No, wait, I'm sorry, that's the New York Times."

As recounted in the June 25 CyberAlert, guest-hosting the June 20 Late Show on CBS, actor Kelsey Grammer, who holds the record for playing the longest-running ever sit-com character ("Frasier Crane" on both Cheers and Frasier), delivered this joke during his opening monologue:
"So it seems I've been playing the same effete, pompous character on television for 20 years. And I know what you're thinking: 'Wow, Peter Jennings looks terrible!'"

For a photo of Fallon, see his Internet Movie Database page: us.imdb.com

James Carville Shares with CNN Audience
How He's Poorly Endowed

James Carville must not think much of the right to privacy so vaunted in recent days by liberals. On Friday's Crossfire on CNN, he shared how he's poorly endowed.

MRC analyst Ken Shepherd caught how during a June 27 segment on the new full body scanners that the TSA wants to use at airports, which leave little to the imagination, the liberal co-host of Crossfire quipped: "That thing would have to be very sensitive to pick up any of my privates, let me tell you, it would take about an electron microscope for that thing to show up."

No wonder Carville was so jealous of Bill Clinton. And now you know something only Mary Matalin knew before.

File this under TMI: Too Much Information.

-- Brent Baker