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Klein, Alter and Clift All Denounce Tax Cut, "Cruel" to Poor --6/3/2003


1. Klein, Alter and Clift All Denounce Tax Cut, "Cruel" to Poor The star journalists for the weekly news magazines have weighed in on the tax cut and have uniformly condemned the lack of a hike in the child credit for parents in lower income levels. Time's Joe Klein called it "fairly nauseating to hear spokesman Ari Fleischer argue" that "the money should go to people who actually pay income taxes." Klein charged that Bush "has given us a...domestic policy that is cynical, myopic and cruel." Newsweek's Jonathan Alter regretted how "too many...have acted as if the Bush administration's severe tilt toward the rich was an opinion instead of a fact." Eleanor Clift pleaded: "How much can Bush get away with before the public and the media hold him accountable?"

2. Brokaw Uncomfortable About DeLay's Tough Words on China? Speaking the truth about the Chinese communists made Tom Brokaw uncomfortable? On the June 2 NBC Nightly News, Brokaw cited how, "just at a time when President Bush is trying to get the Chinese to help out with North Korea," Tom DeLay charged the People's Republic of China "is a backward, corrupt anachronism run by decrepit tyrants which should not be allowed to impose its murderous ideology on Taiwan."

3. NBC News Presumes Beneficiaries of Racial Quotas Are "Qualified" Presupposing the issue in question. An NBC News promo for a Tom Brokaw special to air on Friday night about the University of Michigan affirmative action case now before the Supreme Court, asks: "Is it fair for a qualified person to get an edge based on the color of their skin?" But to assume those getting the advantage are otherwise "qualified" is to adopt the viewpoint of those favoring the racist admissions policy.

4. NBC Undermines ABC & BBC Reports that Belittled POW Lynch Rescue NBC News versus ABC News and the BBC. Back on May 7 ABC's World News Tonight with Peter Jennings belittled the military effort to rescue POW Jessica Lynch, focusing on how the U.S. forces knew they would face no opposition, unnecessarily frightened the staff and caused a lot of damage, specifically by breaking door knobs. The BBC accused the U.S. forces of firing off blanks, a sure sign it was all staged for the cameras. But now, NBC's Jim Avila has determined that the truth lies closer to the story initially conveyed by the U.S. military. Avila reported that hospital staff "say the so-called blanks were actually flash-bang grenades....And the Americans had every reason to expect trouble. Hospital workers confirm the Iraqi military used the basement as a headquarters."

5. Newsweek Cover Story Puts Abortion Advocates on Defensive, But... Newsweek's cover story this week, "The War Over Fetal Rights," not only spotlighted fetal imagery and fetal surgery, but included something incredibly rare: it put "hard line" and "abortion rights supporters" in the same sentence. Reporter Debra Rosenberg placed abortion advocates on the defensive over the killing of unborn babies their mothers wanted, but the magazine excluded Newsweek poll numbers showing how badly these advocates are losing in public opinion: 84 percent of Americans support laws defending unborn victims of violence.


Klein, Alter and Clift All Denounce Tax
Cut, "Cruel" to Poor

The star journalists for the weekly news magazines have weighed in on the tax cut and have uniformly condemned the lack of a hike in the child credit for parents in lower income levels. Time's Joe Klein conceded those in question don't pay income taxes, but that didn't make any difference to him as he called it "fairly nauseating to hear spokesman Ari Fleischer argue" that "the money should go to people who actually pay income taxes." Pieces by Newsweek's Jonathan Alter and Eleanor Clift, neither of whom acknowledged the people in question don't pay income taxes, have been posted online, not published in the actual magazine.

In a piece for the June 9 Time magazine posted on Monday, Joe Klein complained: "So the Republicans decided that the working poor, who pay little or no income taxes -- families with incomes from $10,500 to $26,625 -- should not receive the expanded child tax credit. Almost 12 million children were effectively denied stipends of up to $400. Nothing new here, you say? The Republicans have never been defenders of the poor. But Bush was supposed to be a different sort of Republican, a 'compassionate' conservative."

After condemning "the disgraceful wasteland that Bush's social policy has become," Klein charged: "Bush promised a foreign policy of humility and a domestic policy of compassion. He has given us a foreign policy of arrogance and a domestic policy that is cynical, myopic and cruel."

"Whacking the Waitresses," read the headline over an online Newsweek screed by Jonathan Alter posted on Friday. The loaded subhead: "And the other effects of George W. Bush's war on the poor."

Alter, who claimed "that working people mostly got the shaft," decided liberal thinking is fact as he expressed concern that more of the media don't agree with him: "It took a billionaire, Warren Buffett, to point out that the Bush tax plan was 'class warfare.' Too many of the rest of us have acted as if the Bush administration's severe tilt toward the rich was an opinion instead of a fact."

In a rant posted the same day, Eleanor Clift lamented about how "Bush's critics inside and outside his party are suffering from outrage exhaustion." She pleaded: "How much can Bush get away with before the public and the media hold him accountable?" She charged: "If this shameful provision is not repealed, 11.9 million children, or one of every six children under 17, will be shortchanged according to the Center on Budget and Priorities, an admittedly liberal group, but whose facts are not disputed."

Now, excerpts from the three online harangues brought to my attention by the MRC's Tim Graham:

-- "Blessed Are the Poor -- They Don't Get Tax Cuts: The Bush budget reveals the true priorities of the administration." A piece by Joe Klein posted by Time on June 2. An excerpt:

There are moments in public life when all is revealed, when the true priorities of a politician or a political party -- as opposed to the boilerplate and blather -- stand naked in the public square. George W. Bush had one last week. The White House and the Republican congressional leaders were desperate to squeeze the Bush tax cut into the $350 billion limit set by the Senate. There were plenty of ways to do this; all sorts of accounting flummeries had already been perpetrated, but a final tweak was needed. So the Republicans decided that the working poor, who pay little or no income taxes -- families with incomes from $10,500 to $26,625 -- should not receive the expanded child tax credit. Almost 12 million children were effectively denied stipends of up to $400. This saved an estimated $3.5 billion, or 1% of the final bill.

Nothing new here, you say? The Republicans have never been defenders of the poor. But Bush was supposed to be a different sort of Republican, a "compassionate" conservative. Indeed, it was ironic, and fairly nauseating, to hear spokesman Ari Fleischer argue last week that this was a matter of principle: the money should go to people who actually pay income taxes. Ironic because George Bush argued relentlessly and persuasively in 2000 that the working poor are hit harder by marginal tax rates than most Americans (because Social Security and Medicare taxes take a huge bite of their paychecks, and they lose credits as their incomes grow)....

In 1997 [Pete] Wehner -- a devout Evangelical -- wrote a courageous Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post that began with a question: "During His ministry, Christ spoke out most often about (a) the evils of homosexuality, (b) the merits of democracy, (c) family-friendly tax cuts or (d) the danger of riches? It turns out Christ said nothing about the first three and a lot about the last one. But you would never know it based on the rhetoric of many modern-day Christians -- particularly politically active ones." Wehner recounted some of the most famous New Testament parables in which Jesus castigates the wealthy, and he concluded, "It's unwise for Christians to keep averting our gaze from warnings that Christ placed in bright neon lights."...

I thought about Pete last week -- he is now a deputy to Karl Rove -- and wondered how he felt about the disgraceful wasteland that Bush's social policy has become. (Sadly, Pete didn't answer my call.) The tax cut, for example, is actually a double hit on poor children. In addition to the child tax credit fiasco, there is a potentially devastating impact on tax-free municipal bonds, which are used to finance major construction projects. Cities will have to offer higher interest rates to compete with private bonds now that all dividends are taxed at only 15%. That will be expensive, and it will certainly drain money from schools, crime and a host of other urban problems....

Bush promised a foreign policy of humility and a domestic policy of compassion. He has given us a foreign policy of arrogance and a domestic policy that is cynical, myopic and cruel. He once said his favorite philosopher was Jesus. I assume he meant the same Jesus who taught that "no one can serve two masters. You cannot serve both God and Mammon." Politicians aren't saints, but is it unfair to ask whom George Bush was serving last week?

END of Excerpt

For Klein's June 2 screed in full: www.time.com

-- "Whacking the Waitresses: And the other effects of George W. Bush's war on the poor." A polemic by Jonathan Alter posted by Newsweek on May 30. An excerpt:

Did anyone see night-shift nurses in the Capitol hallways outside the House-Senate conference committee last week? How about Army privates just back from Iraq?

Waitresses and janitors and security guards were around, of course, but they somehow didn't get consulted about the president's new tax bill either. No lobbyist in a nice suit with a Blackberry roamed the corridors, representing their interests. So it wasn't until after President Bush signed the bill in front of a 98 percent white audience at the White House (if you don't believe me, look at the wide angle picture of the signing ceremony in The New York Times), that someone read the fine print and found out that working people mostly got the shaft.

Ah, "working people." It has almost a quaint ring to it nowadays. I'm talking about Americans who haven't gone to college (though they're perhaps hoping to) and are just struggling to make it into the middle class. Reporters used to come more often from these families, and so they knew them better and covered them more. Now we in the media are a little slower on the uptake. It took a billionaire, Warren Buffett, to point out that the Bush tax plan was "class warfare." Too many of the rest of us have acted as if the Bush administration's severe tilt toward the rich was an opinion instead of a fact....

And the Democrats? They are out in force attacking the bill. But there's nothing about their invective that is the slightest bit memorable. Maybe they figure that rhetoric about the tax cut "nailing the waitresses" would remind everyone too much of Bill Clinton. So say something else. But say it in a way that takes the country just a little closer to the truth about this war on the poor-and on all the people who make the beds, clear the tables and keep us safe.

END of Excerpt

For Alter's May 30 diatribe in full: www.msnbc.com

-- "Fiction and the Tax Cut: Bush gets his gimmicky tax cut while a $400 child credit for millions of low-wage families is eliminated. Are his critics suffering from outrage exhaustion?"

An excerpt from the May 30 Newsweek posting by Eleanor Clift:

Under the glittering chandeliers of the East Room of the White House, President Bush signed into law the most wealth-oriented tax bill in history.

The interests of the invited guests, mostly prosperous looking men in dark blue suits, were well-represented when congressional leaders put the finishing touches on the bill, preserving Bush's dividend tax cut while a $400 child credit for millions of low-wage families was eliminated.

It was one of those nuggets that exposes the truth. Bush's tax cut was never about economic stimulus, or the rebate would have been directed toward the people who will spend it, not the rich who just get richer. Senate and House conferees brushed away the crumbs slated for those making barely more than minimum wage in order to maintain the fiction that the bill comes in under the Senate's $350 billion cap. In a bill already loaded with gimmicks, couldn't they have found one more phony accounting device to preserve the one tax break that makes economic and social sense?....

Bush's critics inside and outside his party are suffering from outrage exhaustion. How much can Bush get away with before the public and the media hold him accountable? If this shameful provision is not repealed, 11.9 million children, or one of every six children under 17, will be shortchanged according to the Center on Budget and Priorities, an admittedly liberal group, but whose facts are not disputed. Keep an eye on the media and whether the networks pick up the story, first reported in Thursday's New York Times....

END of Excerpt

For Clift's rant in full: www.msnbc.com

Indeed, as the May 30 and June 2 CyberAlerts documented, the networks did jump on the New York Times story.

-- From the 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." See: www.mediaresearch.org

As for the New York Times story which so impressed Clift, the same CyberAlert on Friday observed: 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 from the left-wing Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). Seeing the story, CNN's Aaron Brown gushed: "Here's why the New York Times is a great newspaper." The CBPP Web site reflects how they successfully used the Times to advance their political agenda as they put out a report one day and then the next they quoted the Times story on it as an authoritative, independent source. See: www.mediaresearch.org

The June 2 CyberAlert featured several related items: www.mediaresearch.org

Klein, Alter and Clift, while whining about how the working poor are getting "shafted," deliberately ignored, as have network stories and the distorted New York Times articles that have been little more than re-writes of press releases from liberal groups, how those in the lowest income tax-paying category already got the largest tax cut of any group when the 2001 bill slashed their tax rate by 33 percent -- from 15 to 10 percent.

Plus, about four million more lower-income people will now be removed from the tax rolls. For a Tax Foundation report outlining how the "the shrinking pool of taxpayers gets smaller under Bush plan," see: www.taxfoundation.org

Brokaw Uncomfortable About DeLay's Tough
Words on China?

Speaking the truth about the Chinese communists made Tom Brokaw uncomfortable? On the June 2 NBC Nightly News, Brokaw intoned:
"Tom DeLay, the Republican leader of the House of Representatives, had some tough words for the Chinese leadership in Beijing today just at a time when President Bush is trying to get the Chinese to help out with North Korea. DeLay, who wants a separate free trade agreement with Taiwan, said the People's Republic of China should have nothing to say about that because quote, 'the PRC is a backward, corrupt anachronism run by decrepit tyrants which should not be allowed to impose its murderous ideology on Taiwan.'"

NBC News Presumes Beneficiaries of Racial
Quotas Are "Qualified"

Presupposing the issue in question. An NBC News promo for a Tom Brokaw special to air on Friday night about the University of Michigan affirmative action case now before the Supreme Court, asks: "Is it fair for a qualified person to get an edge based on the color of their skin?"

But to assume those getting the advantage are otherwise "qualified" is to adopt the viewpoint of those favoring the racist admissions policy. Some are certainly qualified even without the extra points given by the university to boost the score of those in favored racial categories, but many would fail to meet the minimum admissions score without the extra points.

The NBC News promo, in full: "Friday: Tom Brokaw Reports. Meet Jennifer and Monique. Two people caught in the middle of a decision that could make history. Is it fair for a qualified person to get an edge based on the color of their skin? Soon the Supreme Court will make a decision that could change all that. Tom Brokaw Reports, 'A Question of Fairness.' Friday 8, 7 Central, on NBC."

NBC Undermines ABC & BBC Reports that
Belittled POW Lynch Rescue

NBC News versus ABC News, the Toronto Star and the BBC. Back on May 7 ABC's World News Tonight with Peter Jennings belittled the military effort to rescue POW Jessica Lynch from a Nasiriyah hospital, focusing on how the U.S. forces knew they would face no opposition, unnecessarily frightened the staff and caused a lot of damage, specifically by breaking door knobs.

ABC's story was prompted by a Toronto Star story which suggested that the presence of video cameras with the rescuers suggested it was all a Pentagon propaganda effort. A few weeks later, the BBC checked in with a documentary accusing the U.S. forces of firing off blanks in the hospital, a sure sign it was all staged for the cameras to provide great propaganda video of military heroics.

Jim Avila But now, several week later, NBC's Jim Avila and crew have gone to Nasiriyah and discovered that the truth seems to lie closer to the story initially conveyed by the U.S. military than to the anti-military tales spun by ABC and the BBC.

On Friday's NBC Nightly News, Avila reported that hospital staff "say the so-called blanks were actually flash-bang grenades used to stun and frighten hospital workers and potential resistance. No bullets or blanks were fired inside the hospital. And the Americans had every reason to expect trouble. Hospital workers confirm the Iraqi military used the basement as a headquarters." A doctor told Avila that "what he calls the big heads of the Iraqi army left just six hours before the raid." Avila added that "the Iraqis told NBC News the American soldiers' behavior was humane." For instance, when one of the physicians said the handcuffs "hurt and they were too tight," the "soldiers immediately loosened them."

Avila didn't mention or show what obsessed ABC's David Wright: broken door knobs.

As recounted in the Thursday, May 8 CyberAlert: ABC and Peter Jennings found another U.S. military action to complain about. Having supposedly failed to protect a museum, now Jennings is upset that they lied about the rescue of POW Jessica Lynch, a raid in which they unnecessarily broke some doorknobs in the hospital where she was being held. Recalling that rescue, on Wednesday's World News Tonight, Jennings asserted: "Now we hear that it may have been less dangerous and maybe even less challenging than Central Command first told us."

From Nasiriyah, David Wright noted that "the U.S. "soldiers broke down doors in the intensive care unit," but, he insisted, "they could have just asked where she was" since, people at the hospital told him, there were no Iraqi soldiers in the building. Over video of punched out doorknobs, Wright complained that "the hospital still bears the scars of that midnight raid. The administrators had to sell precious drugs to pay for the damage."

Hundreds of thousands or more Iraqis were murdered and tortured by the Hussein regime, but horror of horrors, the U.S. broke some doorknobs!

Jennings teased at the top of his May 7 broadcast: "Saving Private Jessica Lynch: The Iraqi doctors who looked after her say it wasn't quite how the military portrayed it."

He later mocked the military effort, plugging the upcoming story: "Rescuing the prisoner of war Jessica Lynch: Perhaps not so dramatic as it sounded at first."

For more: www.mediaresearch.org

The next day, the CyberAlert picked up on how ABC's story was prompted by a Toronto Star story on how Lynch and the U.S. special forces faced no danger and so overreacted in order to create a Hollywood-like drama. See: www.mediaresearch.org

A few weeks later, just before the BBC story about the U.S. forces using blanks aired, retired Army special operations Colonel David Hunt appeared on FNC's Fox & Friends. As noted in the May 19 CyberAlert, he denounced the Toronto Star and BBC stories, which ABC picked up, that the U.S. military concocted a fairy tale about the dangers in rescuing of POW Jessica Lynch when, in fact all the armed men had left the hospital before they arrived so they faced no danger or hostility. "This is just poor reporting," Hunt maintained on the May 16 Fox & Friends, "there's nobody, no military former or current that they bothered to talk to." Hunt asserted that "there were 25 to 30 guys, armed, both fedayeen and army, Iraqi military outside and inside the hospital." For more: www.mediaresearch.org

Now, more about Avila's May 30 NBC Nightly News story. Tom Brokaw set it up: "NBC News 'In Depth' tonight: The rescue of American POW Private Jessica Lynch getting a second look now since the BBC aired a highly critical report which included interviews with doctors and other workers at the hospital where Lynch was held. The BBC called Lynch's story one of the most stunning pieces of news management ever conceived. It's also become clear that the Pentagon allowed erroneous reports to go uncorrected. NBC's Jim Avila went to the scene and found out that some elements of the entire saga were exaggerated, but others were not. His report tonight 'In Depth.'"

Avila first addressed the claims of a "heroic" Private Jessica Lynch "captured after bravely fighting till she ran out of bullets." Avila pointed out: "No one from the Pentagon ever said on the record that Jessica had fired her weapon or had been shot, but a steady stream of leaks built a dramatic and false impression, an erroneous report often repeated."

Instead, Avila found: "Doctors say Private Lynch suffered a head injury and broken bones in both legs and her back when her supply truck flipped. She was unconscious when Iraqi soldiers and the Fedayeen brought her to the hospital."

Avila soon got to the rescue, the part of the story which ABC and the BBC used to mock the U.S. military: "Has recent critical reporting about the dramatic rescue of Private Lynch gone too far?"
Announcer on the BBC documentary, over video of Lynch being carried on a stretcher: "These pictures were rushed out for breakfast shows in America just when the new was bad and the talk was of a long, hard campaign."
Avila: "The BBC portrayed the American rescue as Hollywood dramatic and unnecessary, quoting hospital staff who claimed there was no resistance and accusing Special Forces of performing for the Pentagon's camera."
Unidentified Iraqi Man #1 in BBC story: "Like a film of Hollywood, they cry out, 'Go, go, go!' and shout, 'Go, go, go!' with guns and with blanks without bullets."
Avila: "But on this point, hospital staff interviewed by NBC News support the techniques used by special ops. They now say the so-called blanks were actually flash-bang grenades used to stun and frighten hospital workers and potential resistance. No bullets or blanks were fired inside the hospital. And the Americans had every reason to expect trouble. Hospital workers confirm the Iraqi military used the basement as a headquarters."
An Iraqi man pointing out a room in the hospital: "The room of the operation of Baath Party and the army and the ground a map of Nasiriyah City."
Avila: "Dr. Audi tells NBC News what he calls the big heads of the Iraqi army left just six hours before the raid."
Audi: " They have weapons and bodyguards and military cars, yes."
Avila: "Private Lynch was rescued, and despite the drama, the Iraqis told NBC News the American soldiers' behavior was humane. The Special Forces quickly gathered the medical staff into this small reception area. The doctors were handcuffed with those plastic cuffs, but one of the physicians said they hurt and they were too tight, so the soldiers immediately loosened them. Did the Americans hurt anybody here? Did they injure anybody?"
Abdul Razzaq, hospital worker: "No, no."
Avila concluded: "Facts that do nothing to diminish Private Lynch. Injured in combat, held captive inside enemy territory for 10 dangerous days that led to two months of confusion and misinformation for her fellow Americans. Jim Avila, NBC News, in southern Iraq."

None of the anti-U.S. military hostility displayed by ABC's Peter Jennings and David Wright.

This week's Time magazine, however, comes down on the BBC's side, presuming their take is legitimate and then making the Pentagon respond to it. In a story in the June 9 edition, Michele Orecklin relayed the BBC spin. An excerpt:

....Did the U.S. Use Too Much Force? American soldiers stormed Saddam Hospital in Nasiriyah with overwhelming power, but according to the BBC, the Pentagon knew it was needless. The BBC says U.S. forces had been tipped off by Nasiriyah resident Hassan Hamoud Awad that no Iraqi soldiers were in the hospital. Hassan told TIME the same story: that just minutes before the rescue, a U.S. translator approached him and asked if fedayeen (irregular Iraqi forces) were stationed at the hospital. Hassan said they were not. Iraqi forces had been stationed there but had fled by the time U.S. troops arrived. The Pentagon does not deny that U.S. forces met no resistance inside the hospital, but spokesman Bryan Whitman says, "This was a facility that was hostile and could have potentially had a lot more resistance than what was encountered."

Did the U.S. Use Blanks? Doctors at the hospital told the BBC and TIME that U.S. forces fired blanks during the rescue, bolstering the claim that the drama, filmed by the military, was all for the cameras. They note that no hospital personnel were injured and say the spent cartridges they found did not appear to be from live ammunition. "It was all a big show," said Dr. Khodheir al-Hazbar. Pentagon spokesman Gary Keck calls the charge "ludicrous" and says the Pentagon would never send soldiers into such a situation with only blank ammunition.

END of Excerpt

That story is online at: www.time.com

Newsweek Cover Story Puts Abortion Advocates
on Defensive, But...

Newsweek's cover story this week (a package under the title of "The War Over Fetal Rights: The politics of the womb are becoming ever more personal-and complex. The Peterson murder case, changing state laws and startling new science are causing many Americans to rethink long-held beliefs"), not only spotlighted fetal imagery and fetal surgery, but included something incredibly rare: it put "hard line" and "abortion rights supporters" in the same sentence.

The MRC's Tim Graham filed this item for CyberAlert and relayed how in the lead June 9 Newsweek story reporter Debra Rosenberg placed abortion advocates on the defensive over the killing of unborn babies their mothers wanted, but the magazine excluded the Newsweek poll numbers showing how badly these advocates are losing in public opinion: 84 percent of Americans support laws defending unborn victims of violence.

The cover package is not unabashedly in favor of fetal rights, but it does provide a surprising degree of balance. If it has a bias, it's that it selects a story from the pro-life news agenda, and suggests one front where abortion advocates are not winning. That emphasis is found not only in Rosenberg's feature on the changing face of the debate over fetal rights, but also Claudia Kalb's feature on developing fetal medicine, which as the headline explained, has "changed what he know and how we think about the unborn." The 11 pages of photos and features also include interviews with experts on both sides, even if it carried a little labeling imbalance between the "pro-life side," represented by "conservative bioethicist" Hadley Arkes, and the "pro-choice side," represented by "philosopher" Bonnie Steinbock.

Rosenberg's story included a rare sentence which acknowledged that pro-lifers are not the only ones to enunciate a hard line: "Recent dramatic breakthroughs in fetal and reproductive medicine only add to the confusion. Once just grainy blobs on a TV monitor, new high-tech fetal ultrasound images allow prospective parents to see tiny fingers and toes, arms, legs and a beating heart as early as 12 weeks. But while these images can make parents' hearts leap for joy, they also pack such an emotional punch that even the most hard-line abortion-rights supporters may find themselves questioning their beliefs."

Abortion advocates were placed on the defensive, another rare occurrence: "With the recent murders of Laci Peterson and her unborn son, Conner, nearly 9 months old, abortion-rights supporters are finding it increasingly difficult to claim credibly that a fetus just a few weeks, or even days, from delivery is not entitled to at least some protections under the law - but they vigorously argue against such laws anyway, fearing that giving a fetus rights will lead to the collapse of abortion protections. 'If they are able to make fetuses people in law with the same standing as women and men, then Roe will be moot,' says Planned Parenthood president Gloria Feldt."

Later in the story, which included pro-lifers from Rep. Melissa Hart to Doug Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee, Rosenberg found another pro-choice voice struggling: "Across town, NARAL Pro-Choice America president Kate Michelman sighs deeply when she learns the bill has been renamed after Laci and Conner. She accuses lawmakers of exploiting the tragic case. 'It's so crass, so offensive,' she says. 'It's part of a larger strategy to establish the embryo with separate distinct rights equal to if not greater than the woman.' But Michelman does not want to seem callous. She calls back later to stress how terminating a wanted pregnancy is 'an especially heinous crime that deserves enhanced penalties.' Yet because Michelman and her group refuse to grant the fetus any rights at any stage of development, she awkwardly argues in favor of alternative laws that would add harsh penalties for attacking pregnant women -- up to 20 years for harming a pregnancy and a life sentence for ending it. 'That's not inconsistent,' she argues. 'It centers on the violence against the pregnant woman.'"

If the cover package has a flaw, it's that Newsweek avoided reporting on its own poll numbers anywhere in 11 pages, except to try and suggest political risk for pro-lifers: "But by equating any use of embryonic research with murder, and even objecting to the storage of undeveloped embryos for future use by potential parents, anti-abortion activists risk alienating many Americans. (According to the Newsweek poll, 49 percent of Americans think it's OK for an IVF clinic to destroy human embryos without the parents' approval.)"

But in a press release for this week's issue began: "A majority of Americans believe that life either begins at conception (46%) or when an embryo is implanted in a woman's uterus (12%), according to a special Newsweek poll. Another quarter (24%) believe human life begins when the fetus is viable, i.e., can survive outside the womb. Only 11 percent believe that human life begins at birth."

Who's risking political pariah status here?

On legislation to punish killers of unborn children, Newsweek found another dramatic gulch in public opinion, but one which was not mentioned in the magazine: "When asked whether prosecutors should be able to bring separate murder charges against someone who kills a fetus still in the womb, a majority (56%) of Americans say this should be done in all cases where a pregnant woman is murdered and another quarter (28%) would allow it only in cases where the fetus is considered viable." The release does not explain how many joined Feldt and Michelman in opposing the laws. But in an e-mail from the National Right to Life Committee, Doug Johnson reported: "The position that pro-abortion groups have demanded that lawmakers adopt -- that the law must never recognize an unborn child as a crime victim -- is supported by nine percent (9%) in this poll."

For Newsweek's press release on the cover story, a press release which carries a headline conveying a finding not cited in the magazine, "Majority of Americans Believe Life Begins at Conception," see: www.prnewswire.com

For Newsweek's June 9 cover story package: www.msnbc.com

-- Brent Baker