ABC: Bush Team "Widely Accused of Favoring Corporate Interests..."
3. Liberal Columnist Dowd as Lauer's Guide
NBC's Brown: Kerry Not a "Liberal Massachusetts
60 Minutes Dismissed, But Iraq Was "Tantalizingly Close" to Nuke
HBO Movie: "Live from Baghdad"
"Top Ten Surprises in the 12,000-Page Iraqi Declaration"
ABC's Peter Jennings and CBS's Dan Rather displayed contempt on Monday night for the tax cut policies expected to be pushed by President Bush's new Treasury Secretary nominee, John Snow. Jennings relayed the standard liberal assumption that tax cuts cause deficits and Rather denounced Bush's tax cuts as "controversial."
Jennings sniffed to George Stephanopoulos: "He is said to be in favor of further tax cuts but against deficits. Doesn't one lead to the other?" Dan Rather described Snow as "a long-time corporate-backer of Republican candidates" before bemoaning how "the change at Treasury is not intended to bring change to the basic Bush economic policy, including more of his controversial tax cuts."
Both CBS's John Roberts and NBC's Campbell Brown highlighted Snow's membership in the all-male Augusta National Golf Club.
Tom Brokaw noted how Bush wants more tax cuts "and to make those already in place permanent. It's a bold move, and to critics it's irresponsible." Though that introduction didn't sound too favorable toward Bush's position, in the subsequent story David Gregory provided a remarkably balanced piece on the arguments of those for and against tax cuts. "Like President Reagan before him," Gregory dispassionately relayed, President Bush "argues cutting taxes increases government revenues in the long run by stimulating the economy."
On the December 9 World News Tonight, Jennings briefly reported on Bush's Treasury pick and then turned to Stephanopoulos: "George, why is he a good choice and why do some people think he's a bad choice?"
Jennings followed up with a loaded question: "Okay, he's also supposed to be a salesman. George, he is said to be in favor of further tax cuts but against deficits. Doesn't one lead to the other?"
Even if Jennings won't buy it.
Dan Rather opened the CBS Evening News: "Good evening. President Bush today nominated a long-time corporate-backer of Republican candidates to be the new Treasury Secretary. The President's pick runs a giant freight railroad empire, but from all indications, the change at Treasury is not intended to bring change to the basic Bush economic policy, including more of his controversial tax cuts."
John Roberts profiled Snow, highlighting how "until Friday, when he was asked by President Bush to take the job, he was a member of the all-male Augusta National Golf Club." Roberts did, however, also stress that "Democrats praised" Snow's "stellar reputation."
Over on the NBC Nightly News, Campbell Brown also treated the golf club membership as relevant: "To avoid controversy during his Senate conformation Snow is resigning as a member of Augusta National, the golf club that hosts the Masters now under fire from banning woman members." Leading into a soundbite from Grover Norquist, Brown raised how some Bush supporters "question" the "commitment to the President's goals" of the probable pick to chair the Council of Economic Advisers, Stephen Friedman.
Next, Tom Brokaw set up a longer look at Bush's tax cut plans: "And as we heard in Campbell's report, at the heart of the President's plan to kick-start the economy: tax cuts. He wants more, and to make those already in place permanent. It's a bold move, and to critics it's irresponsible. But as NBC's David Gregory reports tonight, the President is giving much more than lip service to the drive for tax cuts."
Gregory began, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "The Keaneys of
Simi Valley, California, felt like big winners when the President's trillion dollar tax cut became law last year. With a combined income of $60,000, two kids, and a Web design business, they pocketed $600."
Not the kind of balance you'd ever get on taxes from CBS. I just wish Gregory had pointed out the remarkably high percent of federal taxes paid by a very small minority of taxpayers.
"The administration has been widely accused of favoring corporate interests in its energy policy," ABC's Peter Jennings stated as an indisputable fact on Monday night in reporting how a federal judge, whom Jennings and CBS's Dan Rather made sure viewers realized was nominated by President George W. Bush, ruled unconstitutional, on the principle of the separation of powers, the General Accounting Office (GAO) lawsuit demanding the records of the Cheney energy task force.
"Widely accused" as defined by Jennings' prism of those on the left to far left.
Rather described it as "a victory" for President Bush in his "long-running battle to keep secret the names of corporate advisors and the advice they gave to Vice President Cheney's energy task force. Congress' General Accounting Office sued for access to that information, but today a judge -- a new one appointed by President Bush -- turned them down."
On the December 9 World News Tonight Jennings read this short item on the development: "The Bush administration won a victory in the courts today. A federal judge has rejected a lawsuit brought by the Congress -- or by the General Accounting Office of the Congress -- seeking information about meetings that Vice President Cheney and his energy task force held with lobbyists and corporate executives. The administration has been widely accused of favoring corporate interests in its energy policy. The judge, appointed by Mr. Bush, ruled that granting access to the information would have raised serious questions about the separation of powers between the President and the Congress."
The CBS Evening News provided a lengthier, but no less one-sided, piece by Bill Plante. Rather set it up:
Plante opened his story, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "At the urging of Democrats, the GAO has been trying for almost a year to discover which industry officials and lobbyists Vice President Cheney met with while formulating the administration's energy policy. U.S. District Judge John Bates acknowledged there were 'compelling constitutional questions,' but said, 'No court has ever granted what the Comptroller General seeks.' And he noted that Congress 'issued no subpoena' and 'gave no expression of support for this action.' Congressman Henry Waxman was one of the Democrats who asked the GAO to investigate but was never able to get a subpoena because Republicans controlled the House."
For a picture and bio of Judge John D. Bates: http://www.dcd.uscourts.gov/bates-bio.html
MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens caught this exchange during Russert's appearance on the December 9 Today:
At least Lauer sees an alignment between Dowd and Democratic politicians, but I don't recall him citing any the polemical points of conservative columnists recently.
Russert replied: "Over and over and over again. But they realize that when it comes to national security it's very tough to criticize without appearing disloyal. Not true with the economy. Look for the Democrats to come forward with a counter-proposal. A specific plan of tax cuts targeted to the middle class, not the top-end. They'll take a much different strategy in 2002 then they did in 2001."
Lauer drew from this portion of Dowd's December 8 column, sarcastic as always:
....Before the elections, the White House distracted us from its muddled policy on the economy by fussing about Iraq. Now it distracts us from its muddled policy on Iraq by fussing about the economy.
The C.E.O. Administration has given way to the Mayberry Machiavellis, as a former Bush official calls the politically obsessed West Wing in a Karl Rove profile in Esquire.
Now that the Republicans have control of Congress, the Bush team can stop pretending that it has an economic policy and can try to develop one in the 20 minutes before the 2004 campaign starts up.
Next time around, they're not going to be able to whine that the meanie Tom Daschle and his Democratic Senate were to blame.
By sending a forlorn Mr. O'Neill driving back to Pittsburgh, the White House offered only a counterfeit reckoning. In a genuine reckoning, they would have admitted the tax cuts aren't cutting it. If the Bushies want their fiscal policy, they can't have their national security policy. And if they want their national security policy, they can't have their fiscal policy....
END of Excerpt
For her column in full: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/08/opinion/08DOWD.html
The description of "liberal Massachusetts Democrat" now "doesn't really apply anymore" to liberal Massachusetts Senator and presidential candidate John Kerry? So argued NBC News White House reporter Campbell Brown on the syndicated Chris Matthews Show aired in most markets on Sunday.
Brown contended, in a remarkable dismissal of reality caught by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens: "But they're [White House] beginning to think about whether it's gonna be Gore or Kerry. Those are the two names you hear most often talked about. I think they'd like it to be Gore, I think they're afraid that it may be Kerry. And that initially they thought they might be able to write him off as liberal, Massachusetts Democrat. But that, that title doesn't really apply anymore. And the fact of the matter is, as someone in the White House said to me the other day, this is a guy who is smart, he looks presidential and he has a ton of money."
Why the title no longer applies she did not explain. If John Kerry is not a "liberal Massachusetts Democrat" who is?
The day after 60 Minutes correspondent Bob Simon mocked President Bush for the supposedly baseless claim that in 1991 Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime was only six months away from building a nuclear weapon, Simon's CBS News colleague Mark Phillips marveled at how an Iraqi official "admitted there not only were plans to build a nuclear device, the Iraqis were tantalizingly close to having one."
Phillips checked in from Baghdad and ominously began his December 9 CBS Evening News story: "The Iraqi declaration now being analyzed in Washington and elsewhere has put a new sense of urgency into the inspection process. Not just because of what was in the documents, but also because in describing their illicit weapons history the Iraqis bordered on boastfulness. In a surprisingly frank and brash admission, the man who has run Iraq's prohibited weapons programs admitted there not only were plans to build a nuclear device, the Iraqis were tantalizingly close to having one."
Now contrast that to the derisive tone, dismissive of any imminent treat from Iraq getting nukes, taken by Bob Simon on the December 8 60 Minutes, as recounted in the December 9 CyberAlert:
In a Sunday night 60 Minutes story, CBS News reporter Bob Simon contended that the Bush administration has exaggerated the threat from Iraq by selectively and misleadingly citing reports of Saddam Hussein's efforts to build a nuclear weapon....
MRC analyst Brian Boyd took down what Simon claimed on the December 8 60 Minutes. Simon's first example:
"It's generally assumed that Saddam does have chemical and biological weapons, but is he also on the verge of producing a nuclear bomb as the President says he's tried to do in the past?"
George W. Bush, date not noted: "I would remind you that when the inspectors first went into Iraq and were denied, finally denied access a report came out of the Atomic, the IAEA that they were six months away from developing a weapon. I don't know what more evidence we need."
David Albright: "There is no such report as far as I know."
Simon: "Physicist David Albright was a weapons inspector in Iraq during the 1990s and now directs a Washington think tank called the Institute for Science and International Security. He says contrary to what the President claimed, neither the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, nor any other investigative body has ever reported that Iraq was only six months
END of Excerpt of earlier CyberAlert
For how Simon contradicted an August CBS Evening News story by David Martin, how the time frame cited by Bush was an accurate estimate according to a 1991 IAEA report and how Simon had at least twice previously made clear his personal disagreement with Bush's Iraq policy, see the December 9 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20021209.asp#2
Simon's promotion from Middle East correspondent to 60 Minutes has an up side: Phillips and not Simon is in Iraq where Phillips seems a bit more interested in reality than potshots at those trying to protect the world from Saddam Hussein.
Inside the embassy, looking over the scene, a U.S. diplomatic official explains to CNN producer Robert Wiener, played by Michael Keaton: "They haul out a new group every day. Teacher's union, so-called writers and poets. You stop shooting, they all go home."
The movie first aired on Saturday night and will run several more times through the end of January. Here's how the HBO Web site describes it:
(I'm just cutting and pasting. HBO has Weiner/Wiener's name spelled two different ways, though I believe Wiener is correct.)
For HBO's page on the movie: http://www.hbo.com/films/livefrombaghdad/
The Web site lists only EST show times, but if you get the West version of the HBO channels then it should be at the same time in the PST. Those in the CST or MST will have to adjust back or forward from HBO East or HBO West times.
It will air again tonight, Tuesday December 10 at 9pm EST on HBO East (and that means at 12am EST/9pm PST on HBO West).
If you miss that you can catch it at 8pm EST on HBO2 East on Thursday night, December 12 (8pm PST on HBO2 West) and at 9pm EST on HBO East on Sunday, December 15 (9pm PST on HBO West). For a complete rundown of show times:
I give it a hardy thumbs up. I watched it Saturday night and found it remarkably well done with good acting based on a solid script that combined continuing action with factual details and several humorous moments. While it certainly portrays the CNN team as heroic, it also raises, on more than one occasion, concerns that CNN is being used as a propaganda tool by the Hussein regime. Though the movie takes liberties with certain time lines and incidents in order to compress events into single scenes, it conveys some realities quite well. The actor playing Peter Arnett reflects all of the real Arnett's pomposity. And the actor playing reporter Richard Roth is a dead-ringer for the real Richard Roth.
From the December 9 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Surprises in the 12,000-Page Iraqi Declaration." Late Show Web page: http://www.cbs.com/latenight/lateshow//
10. First 5,000 pages are kind of wordy
9. The inspirational foreword by Larry King
8. Iraq's most dangerous weapon: a rocket-powered goat
7. Using Saddam's system, fans are 80 percent more successful when betting against the spread in inter-conference games
6. At several points "plutonium" is crossed out and "chocolate milk" is written in
5. The whimsical cartoon character "Blinky" who introduces each chapter
4. Hilarious joke about Saddam's mother-in-law's meatloaf and weapons of mass destruction
3. For a while Tariq Aziz wrestled under name "Iron Sheik"
2. Declaration number one -- Bon Jovi rules!
1. More fun than Al Gore's new book
Don't laugh. CBS's Bob Simon could very well fall for #6. CNN's Peter Arnett pretty much did in 1991.
> Tom Brokaw is scheduled to appear Tuesday night on Comedy Central's Daily Show with Jon Stewart. That airs at 11pm and 1am EST. -- Brent Baker