Jennings Delivers Liberal Cliches on Reagan and Taxes and Blacks --6/11/2004
2. Today Trumpeted Reagan for Raising Taxes and Backing Gun Control
3. Stem Cells Unlikely to Benefit Alzheimer's, But Media Don't Care
4. Under Reagan "America Had a New Household Term: 'The Homeless'"
5. NBC's Mitchell Uses Rotunda Service to Take Shot at Bush
6. Washington Post Photo Captures MRC Staffers at Reagan Procession
ABC's Peter Jennings just can't let a moment pass without pointing out how Ronald Reagan was not popular with African-Americans. On Thursday's Good Morning America, Jennings delivered a liberal cliche as he asserted that at the end of Reagan's presidency "a great many people thought he'd made the wealthy wealthier and had not improved life particularly for the middle class, and there were just occasional intrusions yesterday of the divisiveness which was evident during his presidency, particularly in the African-American community, which felt that Ronald Reagan had not given it their due."
As recounted on the June 10 CyberAlert, as the late President Reagan's hearse arrived at the tarmac at Point Mugu Naval Air Station on Wednesday, Jennings brought up how "we haven't seen many African-American faces up at the presidential library or this morning." Later in the day, as casket-bearers carried Reagan's body up the Capitol steps while a military band played the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," Jennings decided it was a good time to point out how analysts have "not talked a lot yet about his relationship to African-Americans." For more on those comments: www.mediaresearch.org
On the June 10 GMA, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, Charles Gibson asked Jennings: "Peter, one of the things that struck me yesterday, we're about to go into a very divisive election in this country and the politics is going to get pretty thick in the coming months. And yet I thought it was interesting that Ronald Reagan, who at many times was divisive in his presidency, yesterday there really was an extraordinary uniting. It's not so terrible, I think, to go into an election which may divide us with some remembrance of that which unites us and really a stress on the Americanism of the man as opposed to the politics of the man."
NBC's Today on Thursday championed Ronald Reagan's policies -- of raising taxes and supporting gun control. In an interview with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Campbell Brown pressed him to agree that Reagan, as Governor of California, "was a leader but not an ideologue. He made a lot of compromises to get things done." She then twice reminded Schwarzenegger of how Reagan "raised taxes." Today also featured Jim and Sarah Brady and Katie Couric insisted that "it's important to point out" that Reagan backed gun control. Couric, who also trumpeted how Nancy Reagan backs stem cell research, yearned for success on gun control efforts: "And I know the assault weapons ban is expiring in September. What are the hopes that it will be extended?"
Couric proposed: "Do you think that's one of Ronald Reagan's greatest gifts, the gift, the gift of flexibility?" Sarah Brady, a gun control activist, agreed.
MRC analyst Geoff Dickens caught both segments, starting with Brown with Schwarzenegger. Matt Lauer set up the taped interview: "California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has also moved from actor to politician in the footsteps of his hero Ronald Reagan. NBC's Campbell Brown caught up with Governor Schwarzenegger in Sacramento. Campbell, good morning to you."
Brown asked him: "Did you look at him as a role model, as someone that you saw in the future you'd like to try to emulate?" Brown soon pointed out: "He was a leader but not an ideologue. He made a lot of compromises to get things done. Fair?"
Couric teased her session with the Brady's: "Coming up in this half hour we're gonna be talking with President Reagan's former press secretary Jim Brady who, as many of you know, narrowly survived one of the administration's darkest days. He and his wife Sarah will be here to share their memories of the President and his support of their efforts in the field of gun control in just a few minutes, Matt."
As the three sat in chairs on Washington's Mall, Couric asked for their thoughts about Ronald Reagan's passing away and how Reagan supported them after Jim Brady was shot, and then Couric got to gun control: "You all became huge crusaders in the area of gun control. Certainly fighting very vocally, very hard and some people might think that this was sort of a philosophical thing that, that the president couldn't support. But that wasn't the case, was it Sarah? And I think it's important to point out."
Don't confuse us with the facts. Thursday's Washington Post reported that despite stem cell research advocates using the death of Ronald Reagan, who suffered from Alzheimer's, to advance their cause, "the infrequently voiced reality, stem cell experts confess, is that, of all the diseases that may someday be cured by embryonic stem cell treatments, Alzheimer's is among the least likely to benefit."
Nonetheless, journalists incessantly highlight, in the face of the Bush administration's opposition, Nancy Reagan's advocacy of stem cell research.
ABC's World News Tonight on Thursday night picked up on the Post story two days after Charles Gibson, on the June 8 Good Morning America, trumpeted how on stem cell research Nancy Reagan "is a staunch advocate, like many medical experts who consider it to be the best hope for beating Alzheimer's and other diseases, but that puts Mrs. Reagan at odds with many of her fellow conservatives."
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Thursday night acknowledged the Post story, but nonetheless suggested that "the immediate political legacy of Ronald Wilson Reagan may not be the anticipated flag waving at Madison Square Garden replete with President Bush holding hands with Nancy Reagan at the end of August. That immediate legacy may be controversy over stem cell research." Pointing out how crowds at Wednesday's procession through DC streets clapped for Nancy as she went by, Olbermann argued to Newsweek's Howard Fineman: "If President Bush is on one side of this thing and the grieving presidential widow is seen to be on the other one, ultimately is it not the President who has to give in?"
"Stem Cells An Unlikely Therapy for Alzheimer's," declared the headline over the page 3 story in the June 10 Washington Post. The subhead could have been referring to the news media: "Reagan-Inspired Zeal for Study Continues." An excerpt from the article by Rick Weiss:
Ronald Reagan's death from Alzheimer's disease Saturday has triggered an outpouring of support for human embryonic stem cell research. Building on comments made by Nancy Reagan last month, scores of senators on Monday called upon President Bush to loosen his restrictions on the controversial research, which requires the destruction of human embryos. Patient groups have also chimed in, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) on Tuesday added his support for a policy review.
It is the kind of advocacy that researchers have craved for years, and none wants to slow its momentum.
But the infrequently voiced reality, stem cell experts confess, is that, of all the diseases that may someday be cured by embryonic stem cell treatments, Alzheimer's is among the least likely to benefit.
"I think the chance of doing repairs to Alzheimer's brains by putting in stem cells is small," said stem cell researcher Michael Shelanski, co-director of the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York, echoing many other experts. "I personally think we're going to get other therapies for Alzheimer's a lot sooner."
Stem cell transplants show great potential for other diseases such as Parkinson's and diabetes, scientists said. Someday, embryo cell studies may lead to insights into Alzheimer's. If nothing else, some said, stem cells bearing the genetic hallmarks of Alzheimer's may help scientists assess the potential usefulness of new drugs.
But given the lack of any serious suggestion that stem cells themselves have practical potential to treat Alzheimer's, the Reagan-inspired tidal wave of enthusiasm stands as an example of how easily a modest line of scientific inquiry can grow in the public mind to mythological proportions.
It is a distortion that some admit is not being aggressively corrected by scientists.
"To start with, people need a fairy tale," said Ronald D.G. McKay, a stem cell researcher at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. "Maybe that's unfair, but they need a story line that's relatively simple to understand."
Human embryonic stem cells have the capacity to morph into virtually any kind of tissue, leading many scientists to believe they could serve as a "universal patch" for injured organs. Some studies have suggested, for example, that stem cells injected into an injured heart can spur the development of healthy new heart muscle.
END of Excerpt
For the Post story in full: www.washingtonpost.com
On the June 8 Good Morning America, however, ABC celebrated Nancy Reagan's push on stem cells motivated by Ronald suffering from Alzheimer's. Charles Gibson, the MRC's Jessica Anderson observed, touted:
The next morning, June 9, NBC's Norah O'Donnell asked Laura Bush on Today: "And he suffered from Alzheimer's which your father suffered from, a painful disease. And as you know Nancy Reagan has become an advocate for finding a cure and has, has differed with your husband on the issue and has said he should ease restrictions on stem cell research."
Over on the June 9 Early Show on CBS, the MRC's Brian Boyd noticed, Bill Plante pressed First Lady Laura Bush: "And of course, she's [Nancy Reagan] now pushing to have the restrictions on stem cell use removed, restrictions that the President put on three years ago, because she feels that it could help patients with diseases like Alzheimer's."
The June 8 CyberAlert recounted: Leading journalists are exploiting Ronald Reagan's death to push for wider embryonic stem cell research as they emphasize how President George W. Bush is out of step with Nancy Reagan on the issue. On Sunday, Washington Post television reviewer Tom Shales ridiculed how "Bush thinks he hears Jesus giving him orders." Monday on ABC's daytime show, The View, Barbara Walters proclaimed that by fighting for stem cell research Nancy Reagan is "going to change the lives of millions of people." Walters trumpeted how "it's probably, maybe the most important contribution that she has made." NBC's Tom Brokaw mildly scolded some Senators for not using Ronald Reagan's name in a letter urging stem cell funding. "Out of her isolation, she [Nancy Reagan] found her cause," CBS's Sandra Hughes touted Monday night, "fighting for a cure. Recently, that's meant supporting stem cell research, putting her at odds with her own party." See: www.mediaresearch.org
Back to Olbermann now on Thursday's Countdown, as transcribed by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth. He teased the June 10 program: "On the eve of the national funeral service, an unexpected Reagan legacy. Will the President now have to politically oppose Nancy Reagan?"
Olbermann soon asserted: "Amid the public sadness, among the kind of institutionalized remembrance that is nowhere done better than in Washington, we have perhaps not really seen it coming. The immediate political legacy of Ronald Wilson Reagan may not be the anticipated flag waving at Madison Square Garden replete with President Bush holding hands with Nancy Reagan at the end of August. That immediate legacy may be controversy over stem cell research. First Lady Laura Bush, whose own father suffered from the same Alzheimer's Disease that ultimately claimed Mr. Reagan, voicing her continued support for the current policy on stem cell research to combat that long dismal tide of incapacitation and other diseases, but continuing also to oppose any expansion of it."
Olbermann elevated stem cell research to top status as he asked Newsweek's Howard Fineman: "What happens now? Three forces seem to be colliding: The sadness and the nostalgia for Ronald Reagan, the extraordinary public support for Nancy Reagan, and the Republicans' intent to use the Reagan legacy in the current campaign."
Olbermann wondered: "So how does the President expect to get the cooperation of Nancy Reagan in the immediate wake of her husband's death while denying her that which she has not only set her heart on in her grief, but set her heart on publicly?"
Olbermann followed up: "I was out during the state funeral procession yesterday, right behind us in Taft Park, all the appreciation of the military bands, all of the awestruck responses to the F-15s flying over so low and in succession and the missing man formation, even the passing of the caisson itself, of all of these things in that 15 minutes or so that it took to go past a given point, the most spontaneous genuine response from that crowd, those people there, was when Nancy Reagan drove past. If President Bush is on one side of this thing and the grieving presidential widow is seen to be on the other one, ultimately is it not the President who has to give in?"
Olbermann itched for a controversy: "Do you center up to that podium if there is no agreement? Do we have suddenly something of fascination at the Republican Convention? Is that now suddenly something to, as a plug for people to watch it, is it something to watch now?"
The second paragraph of a "news" story in Thursday's San Francisco Chronicle by "reporter" Kevin Fagan: "Before Reagan, people sleeping in the street were so rare that, outside of skid rows, they were almost a curiosity. After eight years of Reaganomics -- and the slashes in low-income housing and social welfare programs that went along with it -- they were seemingly everywhere." The short, but to the left-wing polemical point, third paragraph: "And America had a new household term: 'The homeless.'"
"Amid tributes, activists lament Reagan's failure on homelessness," read the headline over the page 16 story in the June 10 edition of the newspaper, brought to my attention my MRC analyst Ken Shepherd.
Fagan's lead: "Praise for the late President Ronald Reagan's sunny resonance with the common man has been rasping all week on the ears of many activists and social workers who watched in vain as homelessness exploded under his watch -- and they hope the history books remember one thing:"
Fagan failed to mention anywhere in his story the impact of late 1970s court ruling, supported by liberals, which denied states the ability to hold many mentally ill people in mental health facilities.
An excerpt from the remainder of the very slanted article in which Fagan relayed, without any doubt, some left-wing talking points and a ludicrous claim about how the HUD budget was cut to one-third of its pre-Reagan level:
"I don't think he was a bad guy, but I think he thought the private charity system could address homelessness. And he was wrong," said Michael Stoops, co-founder in 1981 of the National Coalition for the Homeless in Washington, D.C., which he still helps direct. "He was a Robin Hood in reverse, who took from the poor and gave to the rich, and I think Americans have such short attention spans they forget this."
Reagan's supporters don't quite see it this way, of course, but his critics say the single most powerful thing Reagan did to create homelessness was to cut the budget for the Department of Housing and Urban Development by three-quarters, from $32.2 billion in 1981 to $7.5 billion by 1988. The department was the main governmental supporter of subsidized housing for the poor and, combined with the administration's overhaul of tax codes to reduce incentives for private developers to create low-income homes, the nation took a hit to its stock of affordable housing from which it has yet to recover, they contend.
During the same period, the average family income of the poorest fifth of the American population dropped by 6.1 percent, and rose 11.1 percent for the top fifth, according to "Sleepwalking Through History," the best-selling assessment of the Reagan years by Haynes Johnson. The number of people living beneath the federal poverty line rose from 24.5 million in 1978 to 32.5 million in 1988.
And the number of homeless people went from something so little it wasn't even written about widely in the late 1970s to more than 2 million when Reagan left office.
"His HUD cuts were the main factor in creating homelessness, and we said that throughout the 1980s, but Reagan and his people never listened," said Stoops. "Reagan, very similar to Herbert Hoover, did not believe the federal government had a role in addressing poverty, so he resisted any legislation or programs that did that.
"Besides, how could he help the poor when he didn't even know who they were?"...
"He was a catastrophe," said Terry Messman, who co-founded the now- defunct Oakland Union of the Homeless in 1986. "He was single-handedly responsible for homelessness as we know it today -- and he did it to feed the wealthy and the Pentagon."...
END of Excerpt
For the diatribe in the guise of a news story in full: www.sfgate.com
NBC's Andrea Mitchell used the opportunity, of former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney paying his respects at Ronald Reagan's casket in the Capitol Rotunda, to take a shot at President Bush for losing the trust of the allies. Mitchell recalled on MSNBC how when President Reagan offered to send an aide to provide evidence to justify an air strike on Libya, Mulroney said "'You don't have to send me an aide. Your word is good enough for me." Mitchell drove home her point: "Speaks to very different relationship among the Allies when there was trust."
MRC analyst Jen Schwarz took down Mitchell's remarks, from about 8:30pm EDT on Wednesday night, to which Robert Cox of TheNationalDebate.com alerted me. A few minutes after the Rotunda memorial service ended, Mitchell commented as Mulroney approached the casket: "Now you see, of course, Brian Mulroney, another one of the former foreign leaders who was in a very close relationship with the man he called Ron Reagan, and his wife."
For a photo and bio of Mulroney, the Progressive Conservative Prime Minister of Canada from 1984-1993: www.collectionscanada.ca
You can barely make out, in a big photo emblazoned across the front page of Thursday's Washington Post, showing the caisson carrying the late President Reagan down a Washington, DC street on Wednesday, some MRC staffers who attended the procession.
In addition to myself, MRC Research Director Rich Noyes, news analysts Geoff Dickens, Jessica Anderson, Brian Boyd and Ken Shepherd, and intern Mary Fisher, all went into DC on Wednesday. We picked a spot on the south side of Constitution Avenue, just as it merges into Pennsylvania Avenue a bit west of 4th Street, and stood in the sweltering hot sun from about 3:15pm until the caisson passed at about 6:45 pm. (This put us across the street from the Canadian embassy so we could watch for any comings or goings by Peter Jennings!)
It was well worth the wait. After the caisson passed, we walked down 4th Street and stood in the middle of the Mall and watched, in the very distance, the casket being carried up the steps of the Capitol.
(I had brought along a radio scanner with an earphone so I could follow what was happening, and inform those around us of the status of the hearse. And it was when the casket was being carried up the Capitol steps, as I listened to the audio of ABC News being broadcast on WJLA-TV, that I caught Jennings, as the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" played, deciding it was a good time to point out how analysts have "not talked a lot yet about his relationship to African-Americans" -- a quote I cited in the June 10 CyberAlert.)
Back to the Post's picture, go to this address and click on "enlarge photo": www.washingtonpost.com
We were on TV too when the pool boom camera caught us in the foreground during a sweeping shot. And by coincidence, we were right in front of the FNC tent, set up on the museum lawn behind us, to shield Molly Hennenberg and crew from the sun.
-- Brent Baker