2. Day Late, Jennings Notes Greenspan's Approval of Bush SS Plan
3. NBC Gives Air Time to Left-Wing
4. "Al-Qaeda Has Replaced the Soviet Union as the Great Boogeyman"
5. NBC's Social Security for Dummies' Non-Existent "Trust Fund"
In profiling John Negroponte on Thursday night after President Bush nominated him for the new Director of National Intelligence position, NBC, CBS and CNN raised leftist claims about his supposed link to "right-wing death squads" and the Iran-Contra scandal. "As Ronald Reagan's Ambassador to Honduras," NBC's Andrea Mitchell recalled, "he was accused of ignoring death squads and America's secret war against Nicaragua." Over video of Oliver North, CBS's David Martin noted how "he oversaw secret CIA aid to rebels called the Contras" which "mushroomed into what became known as the Iran-Contra scandal." Martin insisted "he continues to be dogged by accusations he knew too much and protested too little about the activities of Honduran death squads." Dan Rather felt the need to remind viewers that "the Iran-Contra debacle involved U.S. missiles sold secretly to Iran's mullahs, and the proceeds funneled secretly to Nicaraguan rebels."
On CNN, Bruce Morton showcased how at an April hearing this year a protester yelled out: "Please ask the Ambassador about Battalion 3-16. Ask him about his involvement in a death squad in Honduras that he supported."
In a February 17 NBC Nightly News profile of Negroponte, Andrea Mitchell reported: "A career diplomat, Negroponte has spent the past 40 years in hot spots from Vietnam to Baghdad. At the UN, he helped make the case against Saddam Hussein. As Ronald Reagan's Ambassador to Honduras he was accused of ignoring death squads and America's secret war against Nicaragua."
Over on the CBS Evening News, Dan Rather introduced a profile story: "Negroponte is a 65-year-old family man, a graduate of Yale, born in London, the son of a Greek shipping magnate. And CBS's David Martin reports he is used to taking on tough challenges in sensitive, sometimes controversial, situations."
Martin began, as corrected against te closed-captioning by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth: "It's not the first time John Negroponte has signed on for a high stakes job nobody else seemed to want. When then-Secretary of State Powell was looking for an ambassador to Iraq -- a job sure to be not just demanding but dangerous as well -- Negroponte volunteered and gave up the comforts he enjoyed as American ambassador to the United Nations.
Rather then segued to the next story: "The Iran-Contra debacle involved U.S. missiles sold secretly to Iran's mullahs, and the proceeds funneled secretly to Nicaraguan rebels. Years after that 1980s scandal, Iran remains a bitter enemy of the United States. Today, Iran urged Middle Eastern Muslim nations to join it and Syria in an alliance against quotes, 'U.S. and Israeli plots.' But in Lebanon today, the talk was of Syrian plots, including a widely suspected but unproven role in Monday's car-bomb murder of a former Lebanese Prime Minister."
Earlier, on Judy Woodruff's Inside Politics on CNN, Bruce Morton focused on Negroponte's connection to death squads and Iran-Contra. Morton began, with vintage video throughout which matched his narration:
A day after ABC's World News Tonight ignored how Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told a Senate committee that he "approves" of creating private accounts in Social Security, on Thursday night Peter Jennings caught up as he briefly noted Greenspan's support, but added a caveat: "The Chairman of the Federal Reserve testified again today on Capitol Hill. In general, Alan Greenspan is positive about the President's plans to change Social Security. But today, he said that creating private accounts will not solve Social Security's longer-term financial problems."
On Wednesday Greenspan had appeared before the Senate Banking Committee. On Thursday, before the House Financial Services Committee.
The February 17 CyberAlert recounted:
On FNC's February 16 Special Report with Brit Hume, Jim Angle provided an overview of Greenspan's remarks before the Senate Banking Committee: "Alan Greenspan was drawn into one of the most partisan political debates in Washington and surprised many Senators by saying he likes the idea of personal accounts in Social Security." Greenspan: "So, if you're going to move to private accounts, which I approve of, I think you have to do it in a cautious, gradual way." Angle: "It's a good thing to do, he said, because of an unprecedented leap in the number of the people over 65, which is about to increase by 30 million. That's a strain he argued that the current system cannot handle." Greenspan: "My judgment is we've got a problem in that the existing pay as you go system is not working and we have to change it." Angle: "A matter of consternation for some Democrats. Chuck Schumer tried repeatedly to get the Fed Chairman to criticize personal accounts and when he didn't, the Senator interpreted his remarks on his on." Schumer: "It seems to me that what you're saying here is that moving to the system that's outlined, that the President may propose, is risky." Angle: "Greenspan jumped in to say doing nothing is also risky. That in fact all of the solutions are risky."
END of Excerpt from CyberAlert
For that CyberAlert article in full, with a rundown of how CBS and NBC handled Greenspan's endorsement: www.mediaresearch.org
NBC on Thursday gave broadcast network air time the cause-celebre of left-wing bloggers, the case of Jeff Gannon/James Guckert, a writer for a GOP-oriented Web site who posed softball questions during White House press briefings and who quit his job in the wake of bloggers' revelations about his background and changed name. The subject has animated MSNBC and CNN for a couple of weeks. On Thursday night, CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 devoted a segment to it with Howard Kurtz and MSNBC's Countdown led with how the "Gannon controversy widens." Today and Nightly News ran pieces Thursday as Brian Williams claimed Gannon/Guckert "is the talk of Washington these days." NBC's Tom Costello cited Gannon's "softball" questions during the Bush years, but as the MRC's Tim Graham argued on National Review Online, "if anyone who asked softball questions at the White House 'had to go,' the White House briefing room would have almost emptied out in the Clinton years."
Brian Williams set up the February 17 NBC Nightly News story, as checked against the closed-captioning by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, a shorter version of which ran earlier in the day on Today: "There is another controversy brewing tonight. This one involves the Bush administration and the news media. It is the talk of Washington these days. It involves a man who was a regular in the White House press briefing room. He was free to ask President Bush and his press secretary questions on a regular basis, but it turns out he wasn't really a journalist and wasn't using his real name. And there is more to his past that is making a lot of people wonder what he was doing in the White House in the first place. Here is NBC's Tom Costello."
Costello began: "It was at this presidential press conference where one question about Democrats-"
A reprint of "Gannons to the Left of Me: Softball reporter questions were routine in the Clinton White House," a February 16 National Review Online posting by Tim Graham, Director of Media Analysis at the MRC:
Stunned by the liberal mini-tempest over Talon News reporter "Jeff Gannon" (real name: James Guckert) asking a softball question to President Bush on January 26, leaders of the White House Correspondents Association met with Bush press spokesman Scott McClellan Tuesday to discuss tightening up the press-credentialing process.
Liberal media elitists say they want only "real" journalists, not "partisan operatives," to be allowed in the White House briefing room. But what they really might wind up accomplishing with their "Gannongate" pounding was the silencing of rare right-leaning voice in the White House press corps. To them, you can only be "authentic" by pounding the president from the left.
At the Columbia Journalism Review blog, Brian Montopoli claims "this isn't a media bias issue, no matter how hard you spin it...Real journalists, the ones who belong in press conferences, know that access to a president is a rare gift, and they know enough not to squander it. Gannon threw away his opportunity in favor of self-aggrandizing partisan spectacle. He put himself and his agenda ahead of the public good, and he did it in a manner so egregious that he left little doubt of his intentions. If both sides of the debate, blinded by partisan zeal, don't realize that's the real reason he had to go, they've missed the point."
Montopoli cannot be serious. If anyone who asked softball questions at the White House "had to go," the White House briefing room would have almost emptied out in the Clinton years. The problem for Montopoli and other liberals is they seem to think that the need for an adversarial press emerged in 2001, when President Bush was first inaugurated. If we travel back to the Clinton era, it's not hard to discover a whole chorus of White House reporters who, to use Montopoli's words, squandered their access to Clinton with helpful softball questions, who put his agenda ahead of the public good and made a partisan spectacle of themselves in front of a large number of Americans who wanted the press to act as a watchdog of President Clinton.
Review the press conference transcript from March 19, 1999 - President Clinton's first solo press conference in almost a year (blame the Lewinsky scandal) and his first meeting with the press since the impeachment process crumbled in the Senate, and since Juanita Broaddrick charged on the February 24 edition of NBC's Dateline that Clinton had raped her in 1978.
After some questions about Kosovo and Chinese espionage came what liberals might call Gannon #1, Wolf Blitzer of CNN: "Mr. President, there's been a lot of people in New York state who've spoken with your wife, who seem to be pretty much convinced she wants to run for the Senate seat next year. A, how do you feel about that? Do you think she would be a good senator? And as part of a broader question involving what has happened over the past year, how are the two of you doing in trying to strengthen your relationship, given everything you and she have been through over this past year?" Clinton replied: "Well, on the second question, I think we're -- we're working hard. We love each other very much, and we're working on it. On the first question, I don't have any doubt that she would be a magnificent senator." That might be a question people would like to hear answered, but it definitely placed the Clintons' agenda ahead of the public's agenda.
After that came Gannon #2, batty Sarah McClendon, once the classic poster girl for the loose credentialing process at the White House. Reporters laughed when Clinton went beyond the front row to pick her as she yelled to get his attention. Standing to show her snappy navy-blue beret, McClendon asked: "Sir, will you tell us why you think the people have been so mean to you? Is it a conspiracy? Is it a plan to treat you worse than they treated Abe Lincoln?" That allowed Clinton to make jokes. I don't remember the Columbia Journalism Review huffing that she "had to go" and her hard pass should be revoked.
Then, the seventh reporter called on, ABC's Sam Donaldson, finally asked about Broaddrick's charge of rape, which Clinton circumnavigated and declined to deny. Donaldson followed up: "Can you not simply deny it, sir?" Clinton insisted: "There's been a -- a statement made by my -- my attorney. He speaks for me, and I think he spoke quite clearly. Go ahead, Scott." Scott Pelley of CBS changed the subject back to Kosovo. Using the usual liberal complaint that a Gannon lets down the public when he fails to follow up on a tough question that has not been answered, Pelley and everyone after him failed that test on that day in 1999.
After Pelley came Gannon #3, John F. (for Fawning?) Harris of the Washington Post: "Sir, George Stephanopoulos has written a book that contain -- contains some tough and fairly personal criticism of you. Earlier, Dick Morris had written a somewhat similar book. How much pain do these judgments by former aides cause you? And do you consider it a betrayal for people to write books on the history of your administration while you're still in office?" See how these reporters feel Clinton's pain? Tightening the press credentials won't solve the problem of long-established media outlets acting like tender psychoanalysts for liberal presidents.
Then came Gannon #4, Kenneth Walsh of U.S. News & World Report, who followed up on Clinton's feelings and reflections on his pain: "I understand that you don't want to speculate about what your opponents might do now, after the impeachment struggle is over, but I wonder what your feelings are, after some period of reflection, on the impeachment process, the -- how you were treated and if you feel resentment, relief, and how you think people will deal with this and see it 10 or 20 years from now?" To Walsh, the only question was about Clinton's opponents and whether the president resented them. He couldn't even ask whether Clinton considered his presidency or his legacy irreparably damaged by the impeachment.
Gannon #5 was National Public Radio's Mara Liasson: "Mr. President, your vice president has recently been ridiculed for claiming that he invented the Internet and spent his boyhood plowing steep hillsides in Tennessee. I'm wondering what you think of those claims and what advice you'd give him about how to brag on himself without getting in so much trouble." This allowed Clinton to say with a smile: "Well, you know, he came a lot closer to inventing the Internet than I did." He then went into an extended defense of Al Gore's genuineness.
That's just one press conference. We could lengthen this sorry list considerably with other examples on other dates. But by the current standards of liberal media critics, at the very least CNN, the Washington Post, U.S. News, and NPR didn't have "actual journalists" at the White House. The man named "Gannon" is an embarrassment, but that's no reason to shut out opinion journalists -- conservative journalists (even partisans) have every bit as much right to sit in those chairs and ask their own questions as the everyday liberal partisans do.
END of Reprint
That's posted at: www.nationalreview.com
For more about Gannon/Guckert and his downfall, see "Online Nude Photos Are Latest Chapter In Jeff Gannon Saga," a February 16 Washington Post story by Howard Kurtz: www.washingtonpost.com
Washington, DC-based Boston Globe columnist Tom Oliphant, a former political reporter for the New York Times-owned newspaper, on Thursday morning haughtily dismissed any threat the Soviet Union once posed or al-Qaeda now poses. Commenting on MSNBC about how FBI Director Robert Mueller and CIA Director Porter Goss said that al-Qaeda intends to strike the U.S. again, Oliphant asserted: "The only thing that makes sense to me is this is mid-February, it's budget cycle, and al-Qaeda has replaced the Soviet Union as the great boogeyman, and you need to say it five or six or seven times to make sure your budget is as big as possible." That's right, the Soviet communists who enslaved millions, invaded nations and aimed nuclear missiles at us was nothing more than a "boogeyman" used by conservatives to unnecessarily boost defense spending.
The MRC's Jessica Barnes caught the exchange in the 7:30am half hour of Thursday's Imus in the Morning on which Oliphant appeared by phone.
Don Imus: "Well, we've just been informed now by Porter Goss and, I guess, the Secretary of Defense that al-Qaeda is still a big threat."
For Oliphant's Boston Globe columns: www.boston.com
NBC's Today on Thursday devoted seven minutes to a silly "Social Security for Dummies" explanation of the system and proposed policy changes, an explanation Katie Couric illustrated by having some college students in Newton, Massachusetts make and toss around snowballs. But Couric made a fundamental misstatement of reality as she asserted, over video of a pile of snowballs: "Today there are many more workers than retirees and there are so many snowballs that some go into this pile of surplus snowballs representing what's known as the 'trust fund.'" In fact, there is no trust fund.
Plugging the 8:30am half hour segment NBC at 7:52am Couric, the MRC's Geoff Dickens noticed, called herself a dummy: "Still to come this morning on Today we're gonna tell you about Social Security reform. Don't worry if you're confused it makes us all scratch our heads too so we're gonna try to figure it out as we give you Social Security for Dummies -- and we include ourselves in that category by the way." Matt Lauer: "Exactly."
Over video of Boston College students in two rows making and tossing softball at one another, Couric outline the system:
But it isn't there. There is no "trust fund" beyond an accounting note about what the federal government owes the Social Security program. Now, excess FICA collections beyond what goes out to Social Security recipients is spent immediately on other federal programs. The snowball pile does not exist. That means that when incoming FICA revenue is less than the amount needed for Social Security payments, general federal revenue, meaning income tax revenue, will have to be tapped. That means increasing the deficit, raising taxes or reducing Social Security benefits.
Today's "Social Security for Dummies" left naive viewers just as dumb about it as they were beforehand.