2. Jennings Showcases Poll on How Iraqis Say They'll Be Better Off
3. Headlines All Over the Place on Bush Address to the UN
4. CNN's Arraf on Iraq: "Reality Is, It Is Pretty Bleak There"
5. Letterman Audience Applauds Bringing Democracy to Iraq
6. "Top Ten Ways Arnold Schwarzenegger Prepared for the Debate"
Much to Tim Russert's delight, since it matches his weekly mantra on Meet the Press, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that to pay for the $87 billion for Iraq, 56 percent of the public prefers to cancel the recent tax cuts for the "upper income brackets" and only 13 percent want to cut other spending.
Russert appeared both on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News and Thursday's Today to outline how Bush's approval rating has fallen to 49 percent and to tout the public's wish to rescind part of the tax cuts -- for people other than themselves. Unfortunately, none of the stories on the poll (Russert, MSNBC.com or the Wall Street Journal) stated whether the question about how to pay for the Iraq money was open-ended or if respondents were presented with options from which to choose.
Russert stressed how "one-third of Republicans said cancel the tax cut for the top brackets," prompting Tom Brokaw to hope: "That will get the attention of the White House." The next morning, Matt Lauer trumpeted: "Maybe one of the few times they get away with saying, 'we can win by saying increase taxes.'"
Brokaw set up the September 24 Nightly News session with Russert: "Tonight the news for the Bush administration in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll is not very encouraging."
Russert outlined how Bush's approval has fallen to 49 percent, disapproval at 45, when a year ago it was 64 to 30 percent for a net loss of 15 points. Russert noted the partisan divide: 85 percent of Republicans approve, just 16 percent of Democrats with independents at 46 to 44 positive. So, Russert observed, "we are a 50-50 nation."
Russert went on to cite how 43 percent approve Bush's handling of the economy with 52 percent disapproving. Bush's strong point: 60 percent approve war his approach to the war on terrorism with only 34 percent disapproving.
Russert then arrived at the cancel the tax cut response: "When we asked people how do we pay for the $87 billion for Iraq, 12 percent said borrow, increase the deficit, 56 percent said cancel the tax cut for the upper income and 13 percent said reduce spending. And Tom, one-third of Republicans said cancel the tax cut for the top brackets."
Thursday morning on Today, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens reported, Russert ran through the same approval numbers as he did on Nightly News before Matt Lauer raised the cancel the tax cuts finding:
Lauer: "I think I have time to get to one more question. Of course there's this $87 billion request the President is making of Congress. Most people think Congress will, of course, vote to approve that for the war on terrorism and the Pentagon. But where the money comes from has some interesting results."
Thursday's Wall Street Journal, the MRC's Rich Noyes noticed, featured this listing of the question:
"Q: If Congress approves President Bush's request to spend $87 billion in Iraq and Afghanistan, how would you prefer that Congress pay for it?
Put me with the 7 percent.
For the MSNBC.com story on the poll, a posting which does not have any link to complete poll results: www.msnbc.com
Russert has been campaigning for two years to have the tax cuts rescinded. An excerpt from the December 16, 2002 CyberAlert:
If it's Sunday, as any regular CyberAlert reader knows, it's time for Tim Russert to overlook spiraling spending and push his guests to advocate rescinding or suspending the rollout of the Bush tax cuts. This Sunday, Russert read aloud from a Concord Coalition ad which recommended rescinding the tax cuts and not enacting a prescription drug program, but in pressing his guests, Democratic Senator Carl Levin and Republican Senator Rock Santorum, Russert worried more about the tax cuts.
Skipping the admonition about a costly new entitlement program, Russert asked Santorum: "Should we freeze or postpone prospective tax cuts and avoid any new tax cuts until we are sure we have the money to pay for the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq?"...
Russert soon turned to Levin and included a prescription drugs program in his list, but put a higher priority on the danger of the tax cuts: "Senator Levin, can we afford to keep the Bush tax cuts in place, have more tax cuts, pay for the war on terrorism, pay for the expected war in Iraq and have a new prescription drug program, and still have no deficits?"
Other than raising with John Kerry on December 1 President Kennedy's rationale for a tax cut, over the past several months Russert has been pounding away at guests over postponing or repealing the Bush tax cuts. Examples from past CyberAlerts:
-- To South Carolina Democrat Alex Sanders: "Would you consider freezing or postponing the Bush tax cut in order to have the revenues so we don't tap into Social Security and have the revenues to pay for the potential war in Iraq?" Russert treated Republican Lindsey Graham as an oracle of wisdom, reminding him how he had warned Bush's tax cut would "eat up all the surpluses" and was "not fiscally responsible." Russert praised his foresight: "You were prescient, prophetic about the Bush tax cut." See: www.mediaresearch.org
-- Russert's October 6 target: Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. Russert hoped: "Would you be in favor of postponing the Bush tax cut, the implementation, in order to have money to pay for the war and also reduce the deficit?" For details: www.mediaresearch.org
-- During a Colorado Senate debate segment, to Democratic candidate Ted Strickland: "Would you be supportive of freezing or postponing the Bush tax cut in order to raise revenues to help fight the war in Iraq?" To Republican incumbent Wayne Allard: "How are you going to pay for the war in Iraq without, would you suggest, holding off on the tax cut?" Details: www.mediaresearch.org
-- In a span of just over five minutes, eight times on the Labor Day weekend edition of Meet the Press Russert urged that the Bush tax cuts be rescinded: "Would it be better to freeze, postpone, the Bush tax cut?....Why not freeze the tax cut rather than spend the Social Security surplus?....How did they squander it? With the tax cut?....As part of a budget summit, would you be in favor of freezing the Bush tax cut?....You did come to office with a $5.6 trillion surplus, and it's gone, and a third of that can be directly attributed to the tax cut." For details: www.mediaresearch.org
-- The MRC's Rich Noyes documented Russert's tilt over the first seven months of 2002. See his July 30 Media Reality Check: "A Bias Blind Spot for Meet the Press Host; One-Sided Questioning: Russert Pushed Both Friends and Foes of Bush Tax Cut to Suspend Its Benefits." To read it: www.mediaresearch.org
END Excerpt of Previous CyberAlert
ABC's Peter Jennings on Wednesday night, but not CBS's Dan Rather or NBC's Tom Brokaw, highlighted a Gallup poll of people in Baghdad which found that 62 percent think that getting rid of Saddam Hussein was "worth the personal hardship" they endured and that though 94 percent see Baghdad as less safe than before the war, 67 percent believe that in five years the nation will be better than it was under Saddam Hussein.
That belief clearly befuddled New York Times reporter Patrick Tyler. In a story in Wednesday's paper, he led into that finding by listing a litany of negative events: "Despite the systemic collapse of government and civic institutions, a wave of looting and violence, and shortages of water and electricity, 67 percent of 1,178 Iraqis told a Gallup survey team that within five years, their lives would be better than before the American and British invasion."
Baghdad-based Tyler did add that the survey "conducted through face-to-face interviews from Aug. 28 through Sept. 4 across the ethnically diverse landscape of the battered capital," also discovered that "only 8 percent of those queried said they believed that their lives would be worse off as a result of the military campaign to remove Mr. Hussein and his Baath Party leadership from power."
On the September 24 World News Tonight, Jennings reported:
This was not the first poll of Iraqis, just the first to generate some broadcast network attention. A couple of weeks ago the American Enterprise magazine released numbers from a Zogby poll of Iraqis in several cities excluding Baghdad.
As summarized by the magazine's editor, Karl Zinsmeister, in a piece which ran as an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on September 10:
-- Iraqis are optimistic. Seven out of ten say they expect both their country and their personal lives will be better five years from now. On both fronts, 32 percent say things will become MUCH better.
-- The toughest part of reconstructing their nation, Iraqis say by three to one, will be politics, not economics. They are nervous about democracy. Asked which is closer to their own view: "Democracy can work well in Iraq," or "Democracy is a Western way of doing things," five out of ten said democracy is Western and won't work in Iraq. One out of ten weren't sure. And four out of ten said democracy can work in Iraq.
-- Asked to name one country they would most like Iraq to model its new government on, after being offered five possibilities-neighbor and fellow Baathist republic Syria, neighbor and Islamic monarchy Saudi Arabia, neighbor and Islamist republic Iran, Arab lodestar Egypt, or the U.S.-the most popular model by far was the U.S. The U.S. was preferred as a model by 37 percent of Iraqis selecting from those five-more than neighboring Syria plus neighboring Iran plus Egypt, all put together. Saudi Arabia was in second place at 28 percent.
Headlines all over the place Wednesday morning on President Bush's Tuesday address to the UN. Brit Hume, during the "Grapevine" segment on Wednesday's Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC, displayed several ones with various takes.
The September 24 headlines highlighted by Hume:
-- USA Today: "Bush invites help in Iraq"
And I'll add two of my own:
-- Los Angeles Times: "Bush Urges Leaders to Unite for Iraq's Sake"
Add CNN Baghdad reporter Jane Arraf to those who see the situation in Iraq as "bleak." She insisted on Wednesday's American Morning that while "there are small bits of good news" in Iraq, all reporting from Iraq "is against the backdrop of something that cannot be seen as other than bad news." She recited how "American servicemen are dying, Iraqis are afraid, and it's really only when you've been there...that you get a sense of it." She contended: "We can't paint a rosier picture than exists. And the reality is, it is pretty bleak there."
As recounted in the September 24 CyberAlert, three reporters in Iraq see a disconnect between the bleak media portrayals of Iraq and the better reality. A day after Democratic Congressman Jim Marshall condemned the media's excessive negativism in covering Iraq, Time magazine's Brian Bennett, MSNBC's Bob Arnot and FNC's Molly Henneberg backed him up on how media reports don't match the improving reality of the situation, but CNN's Nic Robertson and CBS's Kimberly Dozier contended it's just as bad as they portray it. See: www.mediaresearch.org
On CNN's American Morning on Wednesday, Arraf appeared with Marshall. As recounted in the September 23 CyberAlert, in a September 22 op-ed for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, U.S. Representative Marshall of Georgia, who just returned from a trip to Iraq, asserted: "I'm afraid the news media are hurting our chances. They are dwelling upon the mistakes, the ambushes, the soldiers killed, the wounded....Fair enough. But it is not balancing this bad news with 'the rest of the story,' the progress made daily, the good news. The falsely bleak picture weakens our national resolve, discourages Iraqi cooperation and emboldens our enemy."
For an excerpt of Marshall's piece and link to the full op-ed: www.mediaresearch.org
Arraf stood by her bad news reporting: "There are small bits of good news, and we do try to do them, and everyone who's there tries to do a balanced picture. But I don't think we can forget that this is against the backdrop of something that cannot be seen as other than bad news. American servicemen are dying, Iraqis are afraid, and it's really only when you've been there, as we have, and as the representative have, that you get a sense of it. But one of the things I have to say, as well, is that most congressional delegations who have come to Iraq do not even spend the night. They consider it too unsafe and they go back to Kuwait for the night, which is really an indication. We can't be overly -- we can't paint a rosier picture than exists. And the reality is, it is pretty bleak there."
For a photo and bio of Arraf: www.cnn.com
A spontaneous sign that the public is not so hostile to Bush's Iraq policy as the media think? On Wednesday's Late Show, when Second Lady Lynne Cheney talked about "continuing the good work that's going on in Iraq, moving the process of democracy forward," loud applause broke out inside the Ed Sullivan Theater. Letterman draws an audience of 400 or so for each show from across the country, but it is normally dominated by those from the relatively liberal Northeast and New York City area who can most easily get to the Manhattan theater.
Cheney appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman as part of her media tour to promote her new children's book, A is for Abigail.
When Letterman asked her to describe the mood at the White House, Cheney replied: "I think everybody really is pretty much focused on doing a couple of things that are very important. One is continuing the good work that's going on in Iraq, moving the process of democracy forward."
That brought immediate and loud applause and she went on to site positive developments in Iraq, such as irrigation for farms and schools being built.
From the September 24 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Ways Arnold Schwarzenegger Prepared for the Debate." Late Show Web site: www.cbs.com
10. Bribed moderator not to call on him
9. Drew inspiration from the wise words of Chuck Norris
8. Soothed his nerves with a gin-and-protein-powder martini
7. Asked campaign staff to devise new and exciting ways to mangle the English language
6. Prepare? Only wimps prepare?
5. Watched George W. Bush debate highlights, did the opposite
4. Boned up on issues facing California with six-episode marathon of "The O.C."
3. Attempted to travel forward in time to see what he was about to do wrong
2. Brushed up on topics he doesn't know much about -- education, budget deficits, welfare, tax policy, immigration laws and corporate fraud
1. "Oiled his glutes," if you know what I mean
Secretary of State Colin Powell is scheduled to appear tonight (Thursday) on the Late Show with David Letterman.
-- Brent Baker