Appearance Alert!
MRC's Brent Bozell on FNC's Hannity, 10:40pm ET/PT Wednesday

Return to the "Fiscal Discipline" of Bill Clinton? -- 01/03/2003 CyberAlert


1.
Return to the "Fiscal Discipline" of Bill Clinton?
Question of the night: On CNBC Andrea Mitchell characterized Bill Clinton as the avatar of "fiscal discipline." She asked just-announced Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards: "Do you think we need to return to the fiscal discipline that Bill Clinton espoused?"

2. Glowing Evaluations of John Edwards from ABC & NBC
John Edwards earned glowing assessments. "He's young, smart, Southern, a self-made millionaire trial lawyer," gushed Matt Lauer on Thursday's Today. ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas highlighted how Edwards "made his name convincing juries to give enormous awards to people who suffered terrible injuries. He won his clients more than $150 million before joining the Senate four years ago. And insurance companies were terrified of him. He now says he wants to fight for working people." George Stephanopoulos relayed how colleagues consider Edwards to be "whip smart."

3. Giving Credence to How Bush Tax Cuts Tilted to the Rich
ABC, CBS, CNBC and NBC on Thursday night all gave credence to the assumption that Bush's tax cuts unfairly benefit the wealthy, but none noted how the top ten percent of taxpayers pay 67 percent of income taxes collected while the bottom 50 percent pay a piddling four percent. ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas worried: "President Bush will roll out more tax cuts, but will they benefit everyone?" CBS's Bill Plante reported that Bush's plan will lower "the very top tax rate despite the criticism that that will disproportionately benefit the wealthiest taxpayers." NBC's Tom Brokaw stated that Bush insisted his plan will "help all Americans -- not just the wealthy."

4. AP's Skewed Poll Question
"Poll: Americans Wary of Tax Cuts, War." So announced AP's headline over a story run in many papers on December 31, but the story was based on a skewed poll question: "Is it more important to pass additional tax cuts to stimulate the economy now or to hold off on tax cuts so the budget does not go into a deeper deficit?"

5. CNN's Morton's Winter Holiday Blast at Bush
A winter holiday blast at President Bush's conservative policies by CNN's Bruce Morton. In a taped piece for the January 1 Inside Politics, Morton stated, as if beyond dispute, that Bush's "big tax cuts" are "tilted toward the rich." Morton also asserted that Bush "would let coal plants pollute the air more."

6. More Coverage of the MRC's "Best of NQ" Awards
More press coverage for the MRC's "Best Notable Quotables of 2002: The Fifteenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting." National Review Online on Thursday featured a piece about it while the Washington Times and Insight magazine reported the results and Atlanta-based radio talk show host Neal Boortz offered a plug.


Return to the "Fiscal Discipline" of Bill Clinton?


Question of the night. Bill Clinton as the avatar of "fiscal discipline"?

Filling in for Alan Murray on Thursday night as host of CNBC's 9pm EST (and re-run three hours later) Capital Report, NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell asked just-announced Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards:
"What is your view on deficit spending at this time given the softness of the economy. Do you think that some deficit spending is a good idea or do you think we need to return to the fiscal discipline that Bill Clinton espoused?"
Edwards began his reply: "I strongly believe in fiscal discipline..."

Espoused maybe, but certainly didn't pursue as a Republican-controlled House guided rising spending which grew slower than Clinton wished as soaring revenues poured in.

By the way, for his votes in 2001, the National Taxpayers Union gave the North Carolina Senator an "F" rating as a "Big Spender." I guess it takes as fiscally disciplined politician to know one.

For the NTU's 2001 ratings, in a PDF:
http://www.ntu.org/features/congress_by_numbers/ntu_rates_congress
/2001/VS_2001.pdf

Glowing Evaluations of John Edwards from
ABC & NBC

Speaking of the Edwards candidacy, he earned glowing assessments from some network reporters though most also raised his lack of national security experience. One word not used, except by Tim Russert on Today: liberal. On Thursday's Today, Russert tagged Edwards as a "progressive liberal."

"He's young, smart, Southern, a self-made millionaire trial lawyer," gushed Matt Lauer on the same Today show. Thursday night, ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas highlighted how Edwards "made his name convincing juries to give enormous awards to people who suffered terrible injuries. He won his clients more than $150 million before joining the Senate four years ago. And insurance companies were terrified of him. He now says he wants to fight for working people."

-- NBC's Today, January 2. Lauer plugged an upcoming interview with Edwards: "Senator Edwards and his wife Elizabeth have two young children at home, one other in college. He's young, smart, Southern, a self-made millionaire trial lawyer. But the question is does he have enough experience for the top job? We're gonna ask him about his plans coming up in just a few minutes."

In the subsequent interview, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed, Lauer did press Edwards about the unlikelihood of a Senator winning and how more North Carolinians oppose than support his candidacy before asking: "You were a very successful trial lawyer, personal injury lawyer before coming to the Senate. And, and as you know personal injury lawyers don't always carry with them the best image. As a matter of fact back in 2000 when you were considered a possible candidate for Vice President to run with Al Gore, then Bush advisor Ari Fleischer, said, 'Bring us the ambulance-chaser.' Do you think your history as a lawyer is a positive or a negative in this campaign?"

-- ABC's World News Tonight. Uncritical substitute anchor Elizabeth Vargas announced: "In presidential politics today, in North Carolina, Senator John Edwards said he will seek the Democratic nomination for President."
Senator John Edwards (D-NC): "I run for President to be champion, to be a champion for the same people I've fought for all my life, regular folks."
Vargas: "John Edwards is a millionaire personal injury lawyer, the son of a textile worker, made his name convincing juries to give enormous awards to people who suffered terrible injuries. He won his clients more than $150 million before joining the Senate four years ago. And insurance companies were terrified of him. He now says he wants to fight for working people."
Edwards: "I think these people are entitled to a champion in the White House, somebody who goes to work every day seeing things through their eyes and who provides real ideas about how to make their lives better."

Vargas then turned to George Stephanopoulos for an evaluation of Edwards' strength's and weaknesses but she couldn't resist praising him some more: "George, Senator Edwards, as we just saw in that piece, is certainly telegenic and well-spoken. What other strengths or weaknesses does he bring?"

On the strength side, Stephanopoulos cited being from the South, the region which was the home of the last three Democratic Presidents and that "everybody who works with him says he's whip smart." On the down side: "Big question is seasoning" since he has no national security experience.

Then again, neither did George W. Bush.

-- CBS Evening News. Substitute anchor Scott Pelley set up an interview segment: "Democrats are watching Edwards campaign for the nomination closely because he is a young fresh face in national politics. I talked to the Senator a short time ago, and I asked him why he opposes the Bush tax cut plan."

Pelley's other two questions did challenge Edwards: "You're a millionaire trial lawyer by trade. Do you really relate to the common man?" And: "What would say to someone watching this interview who says to themselves, 'First-term Senator from North Carolina. Before that, trial lawyer. Not much in the way of foreign policy experience, and it has become a very dangerous world.'?"

Giving Credence to How Bush Tax Cuts
Tilted to the Rich

Bush's tax cuts for the rich but no mention of who pays nearly all of the taxes. ABC, CBS, CNBC and NBC on Thursday night all gave credence to the assumption that Bush's tax cuts and speeding up their rollout unfairly benefits the wealthy, but though they allowed President Bush to reject the notion, none bothered to inform viewers of how in 2000, according to IRS data, the top ten percent of taxpayers, those earning $92,144 or more, paid 67.33 percent of income taxes collected while the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers, those making $27,682 or below, paid less than a piddling four percent of taxes collected.

It's pretty hard to not have a tax cut benefit those who pay the taxes and pretty hard to cut taxes very much for people who hardly pay any taxes.

ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas worried: "President Bush will roll out more tax cuts, but will they benefit everyone?" On CBS, Bill Plante noted how President Bush "brushed aside the debate over whether his tax policy favors the rich" and that Bush's tax cut package set to be unveiled on Tuesday will "very likely" include "the very top tax rate despite the criticism that that will disproportionately benefit the wealthiest taxpayers." CNBC anchor Forrest Sawyer intoned that it's "a package that critics are already saying is not enough and helps the wrong people." NBC's David Gregory noted how Bush insists his tax cuts "are not simply a giveaway to the rich." NBC's Tom Brokaw stated that President Bush insisted his "plan to fix a struggling economy" will "help all Americans -- not just the wealthy."

The details:

Vargas teased at the top of ABC's January 2 broadcast: "On World News Tonight, the struggling economy. President Bush will roll out more tax cuts, but will they benefit everyone?"

From Crawford, Texas, John Cochran reported how next week President Bush "will announce his economic stimulus package. He says he is still deciding the tough part: tax cuts. The President has to choose between what he wants and what is politically smart. He wants to speed up income tax cuts in all income brackets. But already Democrats are saying the very rich would benefit the most."
Bush: "You know, I understand the politics of economic stimulus. Some would like to turn this into class warfare."
Cochran: "To get any new tax cuts through Congress quickly, aides have told Mr. Bush he may have to compromise with Senate Democrats."
Tom Gallagher, political economist: "And to get their support, he's probably going to have to give up on some tax relief for the wealthy."
Cochran moved on: "Aides say the President is also considering other measures to pump up the economy: Eliminating taxes on dividends from stocks, which would make Wall Street more attractive to reluctant investors; cutting business taxes to encourage companies to invest more; increasing child care tax credits; and allowing workers to put more money in their retirement plans...."

Over on the CBS Evening News, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth, Bill Plante relayed: "At his Texas ranch, the President revealed he'll unveil a new economic stimulus package next week and brushed aside the debate over whether his tax policy favors the rich."
George W. Bush: "I will talk about how to create jobs, how best to create jobs, as well as how to take care of those who don't have a job."
Plante: "Administration sources say the President's stimulus plan will probably offer a speedup in the effective date of tax breaks and rate cuts passed in 2001, very likely including the very top tax rate despite the criticism that that will disproportionately benefit the wealthiest taxpayers. Also under consideration, a reduction in the tax on stock dividends, which administration officials think may be an easier sell now that a majority of Americans own stock. Anticipating the charge from Democrats that his plan will offer little to the poor and the middle class, Mr. Bush shrugged off what he called 'the politics of an economic stimulus.'"
Bush: "Some would like to turn this into class warfare. That's not how I think. I think about the overall economy."

Filling in for Brian Williams as anchor of CNBC's The News with Brian Williams, Forrest Sawyer intoned Thursday night: "And there is that hope hanging in the air that President Bush will give investors a late Christmas present, a new economic stimulus package that includes more tax cuts. It is a package that critics are already saying is not enough and helps the wrong people."

Tom Brokaw announced at the top of the NBC Nightly News: "The economy: President Bush promises a new plan to fix a struggling economy and help all Americans -- not just the wealthy."

The CNBC and NBC shows then ran the same basic story from David Gregory, who began: "Even with the prospect of an expensive war in Iraq, White House officials say the President is preparing to unveil a new round of tax cuts next week, cuts Mr. Bush says are not simply a giveaway to the rich. During a morning hike with reporters on his Texas ranch, Mr. Bush said anxious investors in the stock market should in this new year have faith in the economy."
George W. Bush: "This economy is pretty darn strong given the fact that we've been through a recession and a terrorist attack, a breach of corporate confidence because of some malfeasance."
Gregory: "But after three straight years of market declines, a return to budget deficits in Washington, and the prospect of an expensive war in Iraq, White House officials fear the political consequences of a prolonged economic slowdown. Next Tuesday, administration sources say, the President will unveil a stimulus plan with new tax cuts at its core, a cut on taxes investors pay on stock dividends, new tax incentives for businesses to increase investment and hiring, and an acceleration of the income tax rate cuts Mr. Bush won in 2001. Today the President dismissed criticism that his plan would be a boon for the rich."
Bush: "I understand the politics of economic stimulus, that some would like to turn this into class warfare. That's not how I think."

More on the IRS data: As recounted in the November 14, 2002 CyberAlert, a very small number of people pay nearly all of the income taxes, a situation exacerbated in recent years as child credits, individual exemptions and the Earned Income Tax Credit have all have been raised, leaving a situation in which it's nearly impossible to cut taxes for the bottom 50 percent because they pay no or very little federal income tax.

On October 24 the Joint Economic Committee released the latest IRS data for 2000. Here's the table:

> Top 1%: Adjusted Gross Income of more than $313,469, pays 37.42 percent of all income tax collected

> Top 5%: $128,336, pays 56.47 percent

> Top 10%: $92,144, pays 67.33 percent

> Top 25%: $55,225, pays 84.01 percent

> Top 50%: $27,682, pays 96.09 percent

> Bottom 50%: less than $27,682, pays a mere 3.91 percent

For the press release with those numbers: http://www.house.gov/jec/press/2002/10-24-02.htm

For six pages of detailed IRS tables, in PDF format: http://www.house.gov/jec/press/2002/irs2.pdf

AP's Skewed Poll Question


"Poll: Americans Wary of Tax Cuts, War." So announced AP's headline over a story run in many paper's on December 31, but the story was based on a skewed poll question.

AP Washington reporter Will Lester led: "Nearly two-thirds of respondents in an Associated Press poll said they believe it's prudent to hold off on more tax cuts." Lester soon explained: "When asked about new tax cuts, a centerpiece of President Bush's domestic agenda, 64 percent said it was better to hold off to make sure the federal budget does not go into a deeper into the red. About three in 10, 28 percent, said they favored additional tax cuts to stimulate the economy, according to the poll conducted for the AP by ICR/International Communications Research of Media, Pa."

For the entire story:
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&u=/ap/20021231
/ap_on_re_us/new_year_ap_poll

But here's the wording of the question in question: "Is it more important to pass additional tax cuts to stimulate the economy now or to hold off on tax cuts so the budget does not go into a deeper deficit?"

With that kind of leading wording which conveyed the liberal assumption that further tax cuts will lead to deeper deficits it's no wonder most thought more tax cuts are a bad idea.

CNN's Morton's Winter Holiday Blast at Bush


A winter holiday blast at President Bush's conservative policies by CNN's Bruce Morton. In a taped piece for the January 1 Inside Politics, Morton stated, as if beyond dispute, that Bush's "big tax cuts" are "tilted toward the rich." Morton also asserted that Bush "would let coal plants pollute the air more."

That's news to me. I believe the dispute over his adjustment to clean air rules involves the pace at which older plants will be forced to reduce pollution, not that they will be able to pollute more. As for how the tax cuts are tilted to the rich, see item #3 above for how half the population basically don't pay income taxes.

Morton began his piece previewing the new year: "President Bush will be trying to set the national agenda, of course, helped by Republican majorities in the House and the Senate. In some areas, he's a radical Republican. His education program greatly expanded the federal government's role in the schools. Fiscally, he's a Reagan Republican: big tax cuts tilted toward the rich. And if that means deficit spending, so what? He's pro-business, wants oil drilling in Alaska and offshore, would let coal plants pollute the air more.
"Polls show voters like his leadership in the war on terror. They're less happy with how he's handling the economy. And why not? The stock market just ended its third straight losing year. So, Democrats are likely to concentrate on these domestic issues. Their proposed anti-recession tax cuts will be aimed at lower- and middle-income Americans. Their prescription drug plan is likely to involve the government. Mr. Bush's relies on the drug industry...."

More Coverage of the MRC's
"Best of NQ" Awards

More press coverage for the MRC's "Best Notable Quotables of 2002: The Fifteenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting." National Review Online on Thursday featured a piece about it while the Washington Times and Insight magazine reported the results and Atlanta radio talk show host Neal Boortz offered a plug on his Web site.

-- "The Professionals: Press bias is as alive as ever," read the title over a January 2 National Review Online piece by Kathryn Jean Lopez, one of our judges. She began: "Media bias is so prevalent that save for a few brave souls, most conservatives are weary of even pointing it out anymore in fear of sounding kneejerkingly predictable. But how do you get around winners like this?"

For her favorite quotes:
http://www.nationalreview.com/lopez/lopez010203.asp

-- The January 2 "Inside Politics" column in the Washington Times by Greg Pierce reported the winner of the Quote of the Year. It was Bill Moyers. For Pierce's item: http://www.washtimes.com/national/20030102-6309208.htm

-- "The Insider" column in the January 7 edition of Insight magazine lists the winners in four categories. Check: http://www.insightmag.com/news/342421.html

-- Neal Boortz, who was also a judge, on Thursday provided a plug in his "Neal's Nuze" Web page for the awards: http://www.boortz.com/jan2-03.htm

I'd assume he also mentioned the awards issue on his show, which is based at WSB in Atlanta and is carried by many other stations.

You can access reprints and links to all the coverage in a page set up by the MRC's Mez Djouadi:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/notablequotables/bestof/2002/press.asp

Earlier coverage cited in previous CyberAlerts:

-- "Hoist on Their Own Petard" promised the headline over the December 31 lead New York Post editorial. Go to: http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/editorial/65861.htm

-- FNC's After Hours with Cal Thomas on Saturday night, December 28. Thomas opened his 11pm EST interview show with a "Column One" commentary focused of the MRC's annual awards quotes. To read which quotes he felt best illustrated liberal media bias and to watch a RealPlayer clip, go to:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/notablequotables/bestof/2002/press_fnc.asp

-- Mike Rosen's column in the December 27 Denver Rocky Mountain News:
http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/news_columnists/article/0,1299,
DRMN_86_1634540,00.html

-- Commentary by Patrick B. McGuigan posted December 19 on TulsaToday.com, appropriately titled: "Liberal Bias Awards 2002."
Go to: http://www.tulsatoday.com/getnews.php?key=13138

-- World magazine "Closing Thoughts" article by Marvin Olasky in the December 14 edition titled, "Paranoia, hatred, ignorance: But what's this about a journalist wanting to dance with Janet Reno?" Go to:
http://www.worldmag.com/world/issue/12-14-02/closing_2.asp

-- Mona Charen's December 4 column:
http://www.townhall.com/columnists/monacharen/mc20021204.shtml

> For the MRC Web site section devoted to the awards issue with all the quotes and RealPlayer clips for many of the television quotes, as well as a list of the judges, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/notablequotables/bestof/2002/welcome.asp

For an Adobe Acrobat PDF that matches the eight-page hard copy version:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/notablequotables/bestof/2002/pdf/BestofNQ2002.pdf -- Brent Baker