Nets Raise "Voodoo Economics," Push Arnold to Rescind Tax Pledge --10/9/2003
2. Network Analysts Paint Recall Vote as Bad Omen for Bush
3. Jennings Emphasizes How Arnold Got Fewer Votes Than Recall
4. ABC's Douglass Dismisses Recall as a "Statewide Temper Tantrum"
5. GMA Gives Huffington Second Day to Blast Bush and Schwarzenegger
6. "Top Ten...If I, Gary Coleman, Had Been Elected Governor"
The day after Arnold Schwarzenegger's victory network reporters began their own recall campaign to have him rescind his no tax hike pledge. CBS and CNN even resurrected the derisive "voodoo economics" characterization as they worked to undermine the credibility of Schwarzenegger's pledge to balance the budget by cutting spending while holding the line on taxes.
CBS's Jerry Bowen employed the "even Republicans" argument as he asserted on Wednesday's CBS Evening News: "Now Governor-elect Schwarzenegger has to talk specifics, how to balance the budget without raising taxes. Even some fellow Republicans say it can't be done."
Over on the NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw showcased video from a few days ago of him pressing Schwarzenegger to adopt President George H.W. Bush's pledge: "Would you look into the camera and repeat his famous phrase, 'read my lips, no new taxes'?"
Thursday morning on Today, Katie Couric twice pushed Congressman David Dreier to concede taxes must be raised: "Arnold Schwarzenegger has to submit a balanced budget by January 10, so how can he do that without cutting programs and raising taxes?"
Dan Rather brought up "voodoo economics," the term used by then-presidential candidate George Bush in 1980 to denigrate Ronald Reagan's plan to cut taxes while increasing defense spending, a policy which was vindicated when the Reagan tax cuts spurred economic growth and a surge in income tax receipts. During an interview with Schwarzenegger, Rather told him that others are saying he "does not have any idea of a detailed plan. So, therefore, he's running, quote, 'voodoo economics,' which is something left over from the Reagan years, as you know."
Earlier in the day, CNN anchor Miles O'Brien recalled: "Well, I guess a generation ago, in the administration Schwarzenegger admires so much, the Reagan administration, the allegation was it was all 'voodoo economics,' cutting taxes, balancing the budget."
Now, more detail on the above-cited quotes from October 8 newscasts:
-- NBC Nightly News. Brokaw played a never before shown portion of his Sunday interview with Schwarzenegger aboard his campaign bus: "You're a friend of George Bush the 41st President of the United States. Would you look into the camera and repeat his famous phrase, 'read my lips, no new taxes'?"
-- Today, Earlier in the day, Katie Couric twice pressed Congressman David Dreier, chief of the Schwarzenegger transition team, about tax hikes, the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens noticed:
-- CNN. Just after 1pm EDT, following a live update from Bob Franken in California, MRC analyst Ken Shepherd caught this exchange between anchor Miles O'Brien and Bob Franken:
-- CBS Evening News. Jerry Bowen asserted during a story: "Now Governor-elect Schwarzenegger has to talk specifics, how to balance the budget without raising taxes. Even some fellow Republicans say it can't be done."
Next, CBS played excerpts from a Schwarzenegger interview conducted by Dan Rather in California.
Rather argued avoiding a tax hike is impossible: "I recognize you said all through the campaign that you would turn the state around economically. But you know the facts. You say you're not going to raise taxes. Eighty percent of the current spending is mandated by law. So, how can you possibly do what you said you'd do in the campaign?"
Rather shot back: "Nice sound bite. On the other side, one of the more favorite sound bites is listen, Arnold Schwarzenegger does not have any idea of a detailed plan. So, therefore he's running, quote, 'voodoo economics,' which is something left over from the Reagan years, as you know."
Rather moved on to the media's favorite topic: "You've been through a lot with these accusations about your past. I want to ask you a hypothetical question. If your wife came to you and said that some man had groped and grabbed her, and she used words like disgusted, afraid, humiliated to describe how she felt, as a husband, as a man, what would you do?"
Rather soon got silly, asking about amending the Constitution to allow the foreign-born Schwarzenegger to become President: "How does President Arnold Schwarzenegger sound to you?"
CBS has posted the text of the entire interview, barely a fifth of which made it onto the CBS Evening News, and in one question which did not make it onto the air Rather recalled how Reagan as Governor of California was unable to avoid raising taxes:
The interview text, with some still shots and video excerpts, is online at: www.cbsnews.com
Despite the fact that the California exit poll found that of those who approve of "the way George W. Bush is handling his job," 86 percent favored the recall of Governor Gray Davis, network analysts on Wednesday were quick to suggest the recall of Davis represented widespread anger with incumbents and could specifically spell trouble for Bush next year. But the exit poll also determined that 78 percent of those who disapprove of Bush voted no on the recall.
On Wednesday morning's Today, Katie Couric asked Tim Russert: "Does this portend anything for the national presidential race?" Russert argued, as noted by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens: "I think we saw anger in the electorate last night, willing to punish incumbent politicians. We see it in the Democratic primary debate. We see it around the country. A couple more states or cities may try recalls. Look out in 2004, this electorate is getting energized and it seems to be angry about the economy."
George Stephanopoulos opined on Wednesday's World News Tonight: "We've seen now in California that when voters have an outlet for their anger they take it."
Tom Brokaw teased at the top of Wednesday's NBC Nightly News: "Is there a message for President Bush in the California vote?" NBC's David Gregory maintained: "Arnold Schwarzenegger's total recall may prove once again that California is a political trendsetter. The message from yesterday's revolt: Incumbents should watch out for the angry voter."
Gregory contended that Schwarzenegger tapped into the same anti-establishment mood that fueled Perot and now drives support for Howard Dean and Wesley Clark. Gregory highlighted how "Dean hopes to exploit voter anger next year."
But Gregory soon allowed another analyst to undercut his original premise about an anti-incumbent attitude which could hurt Bush: "Even some Democrats question whether California's mood will spread East. They believe it comes down to the alternative."
For the exit poll numbers, as listed by the Washington Post: www.washingtonpost.com
Or by CNN: www.cnn.com
More people voted for Arnold Schwarzenegger than against the recall, thus creating a scenario in which Schwarzenegger became Governor with more votes than went to keeping Gray Davis in office, but instead of emphasizing how Schwarzenegger thus beat Davis head-to-head or his big 17 point margin over Democrat Cruz Bustamante, ABC's Peter Jennings chose to open Wednesday's World News Tonight by stressing how 4.3 million voted to recall Governor Gray Davis while "a smaller number, 3.6 million, or 48 percent, voted to elect Mr. Schwarzenegger."
But with several major candidates in the race how could Schwarzenegger not get fewer votes than the winner in a two-option choice?
On Tuesday's Nightline, Jennings similarly undercut Schwarzenegger's victory. Summarizing the early returns and exit poll data, Jennings told Ted Koppel: "Was it a victory for Arnold Schwarzenegger? No, it was a defeat, completely, for Gray Davis, but certainly Mr. Schwarzenegger is, as of now, the projected winner and the Governor-elect."
And on Wednesday's Good Morning America, Kate Snow insisted: "It wasn't so much, as you know, that Schwarzenegger won, but more that Davis lost."
Jennings opened the October 8 World News Tonight: "Well good evening from California. First of all, it is the same place and as everyone in this giant state agrees on the day after a new Governor has been chosen, campaigning is a whole lot easier than governing. Arnold Schwarzenegger will find out soon enough.
ABC's on-screen graphic provided these vote totals:
Though ABC, NBC and today's Washington Post all list their vote tallies as 100 percent of precincts, each had a different vote total for Schwarzenegger. ABC, as you can see above, pegged Schwarzenegger at 3,677,005 for 48 percent. The NBC Nightly News, however, assigned Schwarzenegger 3,694,474 votes for 50 percent. The October 9 Washington Post gave Schwarzenegger more votes but a lower percentage: 3,743,393 for 49 percent.
While Jennings predicted that Schwarzenegger will find that "campaigning is a whole lot easier than governing," the CBS and NBC anchors echoed each other in their verbiage. Dan Rather: "Now comes the hard part for Arnold Schwarzenegger." Tom Brokaw: "Now the hard part."
What is it about ABC News personnel blaming temper tantrums when a popular revolt rejects the media's preferred candidate? In 1994, when Republicans won control of the House and Senate, Peter Jennings dismissed the meaning of that voter choice by charged that "the voters had a temper tantrum last week." And on Wednesday morning, ABC's Linda Douglass, without citing any quote to support her contention, asserted that "Schwarzenegger acknowledged that the recall campaign was the result of a statewide temper tantrum."
From Los Angeles, Douglass charged during the first news update at the start of the October 8 Good Morning America, as caught by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson: "Schwarzenegger acknowledged that the recall campaign was the result of a statewide temper tantrum, that Democrats who run the legislature must be in shock and itching for revenge."
Douglass soon added: "Californians have no idea what to expect. All they know was they wanted a change, and this afternoon Arnold Schwarzenegger will hold a press conference where he will discuss the details of how he's going to govern, details that he did not discuss in much depth during the campaign."
I've not seen any other media report cite any "temper tantrum" acknowledgment and I don't see anything in Schwarzenegger's words which suggest any such thing. For the text of his victory speech: story.news.yahoo.com
Jennings spouted in his November 14, 1994 ABC Radio commentary:
ABC's favorite California analyst: the liberal Arianna Huffington, a vociferous critic of Arnold Schwarzenegger. After bringing her aboard Good Morning America on election day to attack Schwarzenegger, the day after the election GMA featured her in not one, but in two segments in two different hours of the program.
On Wednesday's GMA, Huffington described Schwarzenegger's backers as "big polluters" who are "going to be expecting their paybacks," urged Schwarzenegger to raise taxes, suggesting that "the easiest additional source of revenue is closing corporate tax loopholes" and delivered her ultimate insult when she declared: "He now has to decide whether he's going to be a real reformer, take them on, or act and govern like a Bush Republican." She also insisted that "there are many problems in California which can be attributed to Bush administration policies in Washington."
As recounted in the October 8 CyberAlert, GMA featured Huffington on Tuesday morning as if she were some kind of independent analyst. She took the opportunity to raise the word "rape" as she trashed Schwarzenegger: "It's very hard to dismiss 15 women whose stories are all independently corroborated. In fact, I think it is really offensive to dismiss them because that's what makes it so hard for women to come forward and talk about stories of sexual harassment or even rape. Only one in 10 women come forward to talk when they've been raped." See: www.mediaresearch.org
Huffington used her GMA-provided platform to urge Schwarzenegger to raise taxes: "Well, in order to balance the budget, he has said, without raising taxes and with repealing the car tax, there have to be some cuts and some additional sources of revenue. The easiest additional source of revenue is closing corporate tax loopholes, which would bring us about $5 billion. Would he be able to do that given the special interests that have funded his campaign? These are really the questions he has to address."
Delivering her ultimate insult, she declared: "He now has to decide whether he's going to be a real reformer, take them on, or act and govern like a Bush Republican."
During the 8am half hour, she claimed to see a national trend that started with John McCain and insisted that "there are many problems in California which can be attributed to Bush administration policies in Washington."
Gibson asked her: "But do you think this is a California phenomenon, that people are really angry just about the financial mess that is in this state, or do you think there is generally, nationally some kind of deep-seated anger about, with professional politicians?"
Gibson followed up: "It is one thing, though, to be angry with the professional politicians. It is another to take a total novice to politics. Now, he's been involved in various issues, but he's never held political office. Is that also a manifestation of anger or is it just a, sort of a hero worship of a movie star?"
From the October 8 Late Show with David Letterman, as read by Gary Coleman via satellite, the "Top Ten Ways California Would Be Different If I, Gary Coleman, Had Been Elected Governor" Late Show Web page: www.cbs.com
10. "Pretty much the same as Schwarzenegger, but less body oil"
9. "Three words: Lieutenant Governor Urkel"
8. "Thanks to my innocent charm, I'd get away with 60% more groping"
7. "I guess I'd have to quit my job as a security guard"
6. "You may not agree with me, but at least you could understand me"
5. "Inaugural address would have a laugh track"
4. "Television viewers wouldn't know if they were watching C-Span or Nick at Nite"
3. "Wouldn't have to worry about me having to take time off to do movies"
2. "I would form a task force to find out exactly what Willis was talking about"
1. "Unlike Schwarzenegger, I would admit I'm not qualified"
Number 2 is a play on a common line uttered on Coleman's Different Strokes sit-com.
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