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Maher Admits Naivete, Thought "Right to Privacy" in Constitution --4/28/2003


1. Maher Admits Naivete, Thought "Right to Privacy" in Constitution The controversy last week over Senator Rick Santorum's remarks about the slippery slope of the Supreme Court finding a right to any kind of consensual sex based on a "right to privacy" in the penumbra of the Constitution, has had one benefit: A well-known liberal commentator has conceded his naivete about which rights are in the Constitution. Friday night on HBO, Bill Maher admitted: "This has been a learning experience for me. I also thought that privacy was something we were granted in the Constitution."

2. On State Spending, USA Today: Way Up; NY Times: "Deep Cuts" USA Today versus the New York Times: One set of facts, two conflicting spins. USA Today readers were greeted with this front page headline on Friday: "States, localities spend at record pace." But those who flipped to the back page of the main section of Saturday's New York Times national edition saw this headline: "Deep Cuts Have Not Closed Deficit in Many States, Report Says."

3. MSNBC's Banfield Upset By Impact of Sanitized War Coverage MSNBC's Ashleigh Banfield is upset that U.S. TV networks did not show the "horrors" of war and so Americans are not sufficiently anti-war for her. In remarks last Thursday at Kansas State, Banfield rued: "I'm not sure Americans are hesitant to do this again -- to fight another war, because it looked to them like a courageous and terrific endeavor." She also complained about "cable news operators who wrap themselves in the American flag."

4. Ted Turner Denounces Murdoch as a "Warmonger" Ted Turner denounced Rupert Murdoch as a "warmonger," because of FNC's supposedly pro-war coverage, and the largest shareholder of a company which owns a dozen cable channels, the largest weekly news magazine and a large cable system, complained about how "the media is too concentrated, too few people own too much."


Maher Admits Naivete, Thought "Right
to Privacy" in Constitution

The controversy last week over Senator Rick Santorum's remarks about the slippery slope of the Supreme Court finding a right to any kind of consensual sex based on a "right to privacy" in the penumbra of the Constitution, has had one benefit: A well-known liberal commentator on political issues has conceded his naivete about which rights are in the Constitution.

Bill Maher On Friday night's Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, Maher admitted: "This has been a learning experience for me. I also thought that privacy was something we were granted in the Constitution. I have learned from this when in fact the word privacy does not appear in the Constitution."

Maher's admission of his naivete came after columnist/author Ann Coulter observed on the April 25 program: "I think what he said was completely defensible and I think it's an important point, which is, you know, the Constitution describes a limited form of government and then there's a Bill of Rights with very few rights. And I think that Americans should start to recognize there are a lot of good things that aren't constitutional rights."
Maher then conceded: "You know what, this has been a learning experience for me. I also thought that privacy was something we were granted in the Constitution. I have learned from this when in fact the word privacy does not appear in the Constitution."

You wonder how many journalists share Maher's basic lack of knowledge about the Constitution, a lack of knowledge which may explain much of the bad reporting on the matter.

A right to "privacy" was first broached by the Supreme Court in its 1965 Griswold v Connecticut decision overturning a state ban on birth control and solidified in the majority's Roe v Wade discovery of a privacy right in the "penumbra" of the Constitution in order to find rationale for overturning state bans on abortion. But it isn't in the Constitution.

On March 28, Maher won the MRC's "Ashamed of the Red, White, and Blue Award" at our "DisHonors Awards: Roasting the Most Outrageously Biased Liberal Reporters of 2002." His winner, from a November 1, 2002 appearance on CNN's Larry King Live:
Maher: "We take pride in being big charity givers. We're in fact dead last among the industrialized nations. We give an infinitesimal amount of our money to people around the world. I think what people around the world would say is it would take so little for this rich country to help and alleviate so much misery and even that is too much for them. We're oblivious to suffering."
King: "And so we are hated because of this?"
Maher: "Yes I think so. I mean, I think, Iraqis, I think, feel that if we drove smaller cars, maybe we wouldn't have to kill them for their oil."

HBO's site for Real Time with Bill Maher, which has aired Friday nights at 11:30pm EDT/PDT: www.hbo.com

Starting this Friday, Maher's show will be replaced for ten weeks by On the Record with Bob Costas. But the time slot will still feature left-wing anti-war activists: Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins will be on Costas' first show this Friday.

On State Spending, USA Today: Way Up;
NY Times: "Deep Cuts"

USA Today versus the New York Times: One set of facts, two conflicting spins. USA Today readers were greeted with this front page headline on Friday: "States, localities spend at record pace." But those who flipped to the back page of the main section of Saturday's New York Times national edition saw this headline: "Deep Cuts Have Not Closed Deficit in Many States, Report Says."

The take of ABC's Diane Sawyer, naturally matched the Times's assumption of dire budget cuts without consideration for soaring spending.

USA Today's April 25 story by Dennis Cauchon, "States, localities spend at record pace," began:

State and local governments are spending a record amount of the nation's wealth at the same time they're warning that a sour economy is forcing cuts in key programs.

A USA TODAY analysis found that state and local spending consumed 15.2% of U.S. personal income last year. That's the highest level since record-keeping began in 1929.

Spending rose 4.9% to a record $1.36 trillion, while personal income grew 2.8%, the Bureau of Economic Analysis says.

The spending increases come at a time when state and local officials are struggling to solve financial problems that the National Governors Association calls the worst since World War II.

The National Conference of State Legislatures reported Thursday that states face $21.5 billion in shortfalls for the budget year that ends June 30 in most states. The projected gap between spending and revenue next year is at least $53.5 billion, the group said.

Education and health care programs, which expanded during the economic boom of the late 1990s, are driving spending higher. State and local governments spent an average of $1,109 more per person last year than in 1997, up 31%....

END of Excerpt

For the story in full: www.usatoday.com

Now contrast that with the April 26 New York Times story by Michael Janofsky, "Deep Cuts Have Not Closed Deficit in Many States, Report Says," which began:

Despite widespread spending cuts that have helped many states narrow their budget gaps, more than half the states are still struggling to balance their budgets for the current fiscal year and the next, according to a new report by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The report attributes much of the problem to soaring health care costs, lagging tax revenues and inadequate payments from the federal government for mandatory programs.

The report's findings reflect what many analysts say is the states' worst financial predicament in more than 50 years. Mounting deficits for two years have eviscerated a number of critical programs and prompted even some Republican governors to support tax increases....

With all but four states ending their current fiscal years in June, the report found that the cumulative state deficit now stood at $21.5 billion, compared with $25.7 billion in January. It said 26 states and the District of Columbia had not achieved balance for the fiscal year, with nearly half reporting shortfalls greater than 5 percent of the state budget.

The outlook for 2004 means that many state programs, already cut for the current fiscal year, are vulnerable to more cuts. So far, 21 states have proposals to reduce spending in 2004 on public education, 26 are exploring ways to spend less on higher education and 27 have measures to contain Medicaid costs....

END of Excerpt

For the story in its entirety: www.nytimes.com

ABC News, naturally, sided with the spin of the New York Times about spending cuts instead of looking at soaring spending. On Thursday's Good Morning America last week, MRC analyst Patrick Gregory noticed, Diane Sawyer lamented:
"Well today is the day President Bush heads to Ohio campaigning for your support for his plan to cut federal taxes by hundreds of billions of dollars. But as he goes to these states, a lot of them are squealing and answering back, saying that states from Maine to Hawaii are in crisis, facing 100 billion dollars in red ink, having to cut services. It's being called the worst financial crisis since World War II, as the country pays for the excesses of the '90s. Something has to give, and we're going to have reports now from around the country to show you some of the details of the ways that it's affecting everything from your medical costs and children's schools on."

MSNBC's Banfield Upset By Impact of Sanitized
War Coverage

MSNBC's Ashleigh Banfield is upset that U.S. TV networks did not show the "horrors" of war and so Americans are not sufficiently anti-war for her. In remarks last Thursday at Kansas State, Banfield rued: "I'm not sure Americans are hesitant to do this again -- to fight another war, because it looked to them like a courageous and terrific endeavor."

She also complained about "cable news operators who wrap themselves in the American flag." Of course, MSNBC did that every bit as much as FNC.

An excerpt from an April 24 online story on the Web site of the Topeka Capital-Journal, a story highlighted by the DrudgeReport ( www.drudgereport.com ). The excerpt of the story by Matt Moline:

MANHATTAN -- War's sobering realities never reached American TV screens during the recent U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, according to NBC News correspondent Ashleigh Banfield.

"We didn't see what happen when Marines fired M-16s," Banfield said during a Landon lecture appearance today at Kansas State University. "We didn't see what happened after mortars landed, only the puff of smoke. There were horrors that were completely left out of this war. So was this journalism? Or was this coverage?"

On the other hand, she said, many U.S. television viewers were treated to a non-stop flow of images presented by "cable news operators who wrap themselves in the American flag and go after a certain target demographic."

"It was a grand and glorious picture that had a lot of people watching," Banfield said, "and a lot of advertisers excited about cable TV news. But it wasn't journalism, because I'm not sure Americans are hesitant to do this again -- to fight another war, because it looked to them like a courageous and terrific endeavor."...

In her lecture, Banfield noted inconsistences in the Bush administration's announced war aims in Iraq, beginning with the original U.S. pre-war contention that Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein's alleged stockpile of chemical and biological weapons posed a serious international threat.

"Conveniently, in the week or two we were in there, it became a message of 'freeing the Iraqi people,'" Banfield said. "That should have been the message early on, in fact, six to eight months preceding this campaign, if we were trying to win over the hearts of the Arab world."

According to Banfield, U.S. broadcasters do not accurately inform the American public of the basic reason behind widespread Islamic distrust of the U.S. -- the American government's continued unwillingness to treat Israelis and Palestinians as equal partners in the future of Israel.

"As a journalist, I have been ostracized just from going on television and saying, 'Here's what the leaders of Hezbollah, a radical Moslem group, are telling me about what is needed to bring peace to Israel,'" she said. "And, 'Here's what the Lebanese are saying.' Like it or lump it, don't shoot the messenger, but that's what they do."...

END of Excerpt

For the story in full, with a link to a Real Audio file of Banfield's remarks: www.cjonline.com

Ted Turner Denounces Murdoch as a
"Warmonger"

Ted Turner denounced Rupert Murdoch as a "warmonger," because of FNC's supposedly pro-war coverage, and the largest shareholder of a company which owns a dozen cable channels, the largest weekly news magazine and a large cable system, complained about how "the media is too concentrated, too few people own too much."

Turner's remarks came during a Thursday speech before the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, as recounted in a Reuters story picked up by the DrudgeReport.com. An excerpt of the April 25 story by Reuters reporter Duncan Martell:

Ted Turner said on Thursday too few people owned too many media organizations and called rival media baron Rupert Murdoch a warmonger for what he said was Murdoch's promotion of the U.S. war in Iraq.

"He's a warmonger," Turner said in an evening speech to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco of Murdoch, whose News Corp. Ltd. owns the fast-growing Fox News Channel. "He promoted it."

Fox News Channel has been the most popular U.S. cable news network during the conflict, trumping AOL Time Warner Inc.'s CNN, which Turner started more than two decades ago and came to prominence with its blanket coverage of the 1991 Gulf War.

Asked by an audience member for his thoughts on Fox's larger ratings share than CNN's, Turner said, "Just because your ratings are bigger doesn't mean you're better."

"It's not how big you are, it's how good you are that really counts," Turner said, drawing hoots from the audience.

Turner, who has pledged to give $1 billion to the United Nations and is a vocal proponent of population control and nuclear-arms elimination, criticized the concentration of ownership of the vast majority of U.S. television networks, radio and TV stations and newspapers in a few corporations.

"The media is too concentrated, too few people own too much," Turner said....

"There's really five companies that control 90 percent of what we read, see and hear. It's not healthy."...

END of Excerpt

For the story in full: story.news.yahoo.com

-- Brent Baker