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Rather Proposes Given Blackout, Bush Cancel Fundraiser Speech --8/15/2003


1. Rather Proposes Given Blackout, Bush Cancel Fundraiser Speech
Is President Bush the Commander-in-Chief or the Electrician-in-Chief? A bit past 6:30pm EDT, less than three hours into the blackout in some parts of the Northeast, CBS's Dan Rather wanted to know if "any serious thought" had been given to canceling Bush's appearance a few hours later at a San Diego fundraiser, "given the fact that so many millions of people are going through this in the Northeast?" As if Bush in California could somehow fix a power grid in Ontario if only he weren't at a dinner. And when Bush did make some comments about the blackout, CBS stuck with Amazing Race 4.

2. Koppel's "Happy Note," Gray Davis Sure Blackout No Threat to CA
Gratuitous plug of the night. At about 7:45pm EDT on ABC, Ted Koppel highlighted a "happy note," from California Governor Gray Davis, about how "the power outages on the East Coast pose no threat to the California power grid." Who thought otherwise?

3. Networks Give Hillary Time to Denounce Deregulation and Bush
Without any balancing political guests, several of the networks gave a platform throughout the evening to former Clinton administration Energy Secretary Bill Richardson and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, both of whom criticized Bush administration energy policy, but Clinton was the most egregious in taking advantage of the blackout coverage to resurrect anti-Enron talking points, denounce deregulation, castigate President Bush and even defend California Governor Gray Davis. She got time on ABC and CNN and on MSNBC Lester Holt drew her out while Jerry Nachman echoed her pro-federal regulation mantra.

4. Thanks to Outage, No HRC on Daily Show, TV Stars Sans Blow Dryer
Thanks to the blackout, no Hillary Clinton on Comedy Central and we got to see the real Diane Sawyer, Paula Zahn and Elizabeth Vargas sans benefit of blow drying their hair.


Rather Proposes Given Blackout, Bush
Cancel Fundraiser Speech

Is President Bush the Commander-in-Chief or the Electrician-in-Chief? A bit past 6:30pm EDT, less than three hours into the blackout in some parts of the Northeast, CBS's Dan Rather wanted to know if "any serious thought" had been given to canceling Bush's appearance a few hours later at a San Diego fundraiser, "given the fact that so many millions of people are going through this in the Northeast?" As if Bush in California could somehow fix a power grid in Ontario if only he weren't at a dinner.

Dan Rather Rather was also disturbed that Bush made his Chief-of-Staff, Andy Card, his "point man" in Washington to coordinate information for the traveling staff. Rather noted Card is "not an elected official" and quizzed reporter Bill Plante: "Where is Vice President Cheney and why wouldn't he be in charge since the President is not in Washington?"

Rather's comments came during the live feed of the 6:30pm EDT edition of the CBS Evening News. Plante, in San Diego, checked in to explain how Card, in DC, was the "point man" between the government agencies in Washington, DC and the President's traveling staff.

Rather wanted to know: "Bill, first of all, you said that Andrew Card, who's a White House official, but not an elected official, would be in the charge, the point man if you will, the point man for this. Where is Vice President Cheney and why wouldn't he be in charge since the President is not in Washington."
Plante: "Well Dan, when last heard from, Vice President Cheney was on vacation in Wyoming. I believe he's still there. But Andy Card is at the White House and presumably closer to the center of the operations with the Homeland Security people and can keep the traveling White House informed and he was the one who did talk to the officials in New York."
Rather then put the idea into play that Bush should cancel his appearance at a fundraising event in San Diego: "Any serious thought given to the President canceling his appearance at that big fundraising, campaign fundraising dinner tonight given the fact that so many millions of people are going through this in the Northeast."
Plante: "Dan, not that we have heard. We're attuned to the possibility of that, but there's absolutely no indication so far that he intends to cancel. He does intend, so far as we know, to go ahead with that fundraiser."

If CBS were so concerned about the blackout, maybe they could have cancelled some of their prime time line-up. ABC dropped their lame schedule, of ABC's 50th Anniversary Blooper Celebration, Extreme Makeover and PrimeTime Thursday, for three hours of ABC News coverage, anchored by Ted Koppel out of DC from late afternoon until 10pm EDT when Elizabeth Vargas took over. Like CBS, NBC also aired the regular prime time line-up, but at least made room, as did ABC, a bit before 9pm EDT to play a 7-minute or so tape of Bush's comments on the blackout.

But not CBS on which Rather earlier made such a point of demanding Bush pay attention to the blackout. While ABC, CNBC, CNN, MSNBC, and NBC were playing the tape of Bush at about 8:54pm EDT, CBS continued with Amazing Race 4. Then at 9pm EDT, Rather cut in with a one-minute update that included a Bush soundbite. Afterward, it was on to CSI and Without a Trace.

(FNC was also AWOL on the Bush comments in their initial playing, though FNC ran them several times later in the night. At 8:50pm EDT, during The O'Reilly Factor, FNC jumped to an old tape of a Fox Magazine profile of American Idol's Simon Cowell. Just as suddenly as FNC went away, it popped back mid-Bush at 8:58pm EDT -- at least that's what I got on my cable system.)

Koppel's "Happy Note," Gray Davis Sure
Blackout No Threat to CA

Gratuitous plug of the night. At about 7:45pm EDT on ABC, Ted Koppel highlighted a "happy note," from California Governor Gray Davis, about how "the power outages on the East Coast pose no threat to the California power grid." Who thought otherwise? Will Koppel next inform us as to how the Governor of Oregon doesn't think a hurricane in Florida will impact his state?

Koppel intoned: "One other happy note from a man who hasn't had many happy notes these last few days. Governor Gray Davis of California announces that the power outages on the East Coast pose no threat to the California power grid. That's probably the best news he has had for months."

Networks Give Hillary Time to Denounce
Deregulation and Bush

Without any balancing political guests, several of the networks gave a platform throughout the evening to former Clinton administration Energy Secretary Bill Richardson and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, both of whom criticized Bush administration energy policy, but Clinton was the most egregious in taking advantage of the blackout coverage to resurrect anti-Enron talking points, denounce deregulation, castigate President Bush and even defend California Governor Gray Davis.

Of course, the previous big blackouts occurred long before any Bush-inspired deregulation.

Other politicians did appear, including New York's Republican Governor, George Pataki, but they were not prodded to denounce regulation, praise deregulation or assess former President Clinton's energy policy.
Senator Clinton ranted to Ted Koppel on ABC about how "Enron and other energy traders manipulated the market and caused, deliberately, shortages that were very difficult for the people of California and, in fact, I think some of the problems in California today could be traced" to that "deliberate manipulation."

Later, on MSNBC, after she made the same points as she spelled out on ABC, anchor Lester Holt drew her out: "What's different about the way the administration's approaching it and the way you believe it should be approached?" Clinton lamented how "the administration wants to continue with this failed policy of deregulation that caused so much trouble in California a few years ago."

MSNBC Editor-in-Chief Jerry Nachman endorsed Clinton's pro-federal government regulation view: "Well, given the interstate nature of what happened today, it would seem like the federal government has full jurisdiction to get into it."
Clinton agreed, but rued: "Well you would think so Jerry, but under this Federal Energy Regulatory Commission they've been trying to cede authority as fast as possible and the energy legislation preferred by the administration would cede it even more..."

In between appearing on ABC and MSNBC, Clinton popped up on CNN's Larry King Live to make the same points.
Senator Clinton appeared on ABC News by phone, at about 7:50pm EDT, from her home in the Chappaqua area of New Castle, New York. Up front, she related a heartwarming tale about what she was doing earlier in Manhattan when the power went out: "I was in the middle of a meeting with my summer interns, getting their views about their experience when we were told to evacuate the building."

When Koppel very oddly asked her for the procedure used to re-start a nuclear power plant, as if she would know, Clinton conceded she did not know and then launched into a liberal spiel:
"It just strikes me, that I can't help but ask, why weren't we better prepared for this? What happened that would blow out the entire Niagra/Mohawk system, take out Southern Canada and take out our country from I guess Ohio and Western New York all the way over to Connecticut?"

Koppel pointed out how with 50 million impacted it was the biggest ever blackout and asked how the problem was allowed to ripple over a wide area.
Clinton took the opportunity to continue her diatribe: "Well Ted, I think that we have a lot of unanswered questions about where we're heading in this deregulated, privatized energy world. You know we had the big wake up call a few years ago when Enron and other energy traders manipulated the market and caused, deliberately, shortages that were very difficult for the people of California and, in fact, I think some of the problems in California today could be traced to the tremendous challenges, financially and energy-wise, that they confronted because of deliberate manipulation..."

A few hours later, at approximately 10:15pm EDT, she appeared by phone on MSNBC where Lester Holt asked her to expound: "Ultimately we're all going to wake up tomorrow and we're going to be looking at people like yourself in Washington and saying how come this happened, how come this is allowed to happen? Is there a really good answer?"
Clinton replied: "No, there isn't a good answer I mean because I think it illustrates how we don't have a very effective energy policy and, you know, we've been debating energy legislation now for two years and I can tell you there's nothing, in my view, in the bill that is going to be considered that would really help to prevent this. In fact, several of us tried to support an amendment last year that would have put some federal dollars and federal muscle behind trying to put in some safeguards, more reliability into the system, and were unsuccessful. So I hope that this is a wake up call to the administration and to others that in addition to looking at how we need to get more supply, we've got to do a better job with our transmission system and we also have to have some, you know, federal muscle and some back up in the federal energy regulatory scheme."
Holt prompted Clinton: "Well the President tonight said we need to work on our electrical system, so you're of the same mind in terms of the goal. What's different about the way the administration's approaching it and the way you believe it should be approached?"
Clinton: "Well, the administration wants to continue with this failed policy of deregulation that caused so much trouble in California a few years ago. They to want to actually, you know, impose it on the entire country. They want to take off a lot of the regulation that at least gave us some framework for determining how to ensure reliability and affordability of electricity in the past. And, you know, I think that, once again, they're going too far. There's a role for that. There certainly need to be incentives in the system. But there has to be a federal role that is a back up. And, you know, when we couldn't even pass an amendment to the energy bill at would prevent the kind of schemes that Enron used to practically, you know, bring California to a standstill. Remember those schemes called 'Get Shorty' and 'Death Star,' those games they played with people's livelihoods and even their lives by pretending there were energy shortages so they could manipulate the market? We couldn't even get any federal regulation that would address all of those kinds of outrageous schemes that have been perpetrated..."

Then, as quoted above, Nachman mimicked Clinton's theme.

Thanks to Outage, No HRC on Daily Show,
TV Stars Sans Blow Dryer

Thanks to the blackout, no Hillary Clinton on Comedy Central and we got to see the real Diane Sawyer, Paula Zahn and Elizabeth Vargas sans benefit of blow drying their hair.

-- Because of the blackout, TV shows produced in Manhattan, including NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien, couldn't tape a fresh show in the late afternoon and the networks had to go to repeats. CBS's Late Show was already in re-runs this week.

Comedy Central was unable to tape its scheduled new Daily Show with Jon Stewart with guest Hillary Rodham Clinton as part of her media tour to promote her book.

-- The Infobabes raw. With the networks saving their generator power for essential production tasks, there was no electricity to drive blow dryers and so we got to see what ABC's Diane Sawyer and Elizabeth Vargas, as well as CNN's Paula Zahn, look like in the morning -- only compounded by their heat-induced perspiration.

Diane Sawyer looked the most ragged in the evening as she showed up in ABC's West 66th St. facility wearing her husband's shirt, made damp by her trek on foot across Central Park, and sporting hair that was matted down.

# By the time this is sent at 5:30am EDT, I hope those who lost their power have regained it. Of course, if you haven't, you won't be reading this any time soon.

-- Brent Baker