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Russert Relentlessly Pushes Schwarzenegger to Raise Taxes --2/23/2004


1. Russert Relentlessly Pushes Schwarzenegger to Raise Taxes
Two weeks after Tim Russert pushed President Bush to raise taxes, on Sunday's Meet the Press, he did the same with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. In his second question, Russert asked Schwarzenegger if his proposed bond measures don't pass, "will you have to raise taxes?" Russert cited as an authoritative source a liberal politician quoted by a far-left columnist as he lectured about cancelling the car tax hike: "Wouldn't it be better to maintain programs for the poor and for the disabled, and for the blind, and for students, than refund $135 to Californians?" Russert even invoked Ronald Reagan: "Pete Wilson, Republican, Ronald Reagan, Republican, when it came down to the crunch, raised taxes, fees, in order to make sure the balanced the budget. You would do that if necessary?"

2. Pryor Painted as Extra-Legal Abortion and Religious Extremist
ABC and CBS on Friday night greeted President Bush's recess appointment of William Pryor to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals by putting his views on abortion in an unfavorable light ("an opponent of abortion rights") while the Washington Post, without bothering to mention how he, as Attorney General of Alabama, enforced court rulings to remove a Ten Commandments display from the state Capitol building last year, portrayed him as putting personal religious beliefs ahead of the law: "In 1997, his first year as Alabama Attorney General, he invoked God's will while speaking at a Christian Coalition rally to defend a state judge who posted the Ten Commandments in his courtroom."

3. Koppel Uses Guard in Iraq to Note Bush's Guard Time to Avoid War
Setting up a Thursday night look at how a significant portion of the troops in Iraq are from the National Guard, and the strain that is putting on a system based on people with regular jobs, Nightline anchor Ted Koppel managed to bring up the issue of President Bush's National Guard service. But Koppel contrasted Bush's Guard with today's as he recalled how back in the late '60s and early '70s "some people did join the National Guard to avoid the military draft and in the hope that it would keep them out of Vietnam," and a mere two-tenths of one percent of those killed in Vietnam were in the Guard, but now "nearly ten percent of the U.S. troops who've died in Iraq were National Guardsmen."

4. CNN's Schneider Awards "Play of the Week" to San Francisco Mayor
A week after CNN's Bill Schneider awarded his "Political Play of the Week" on Inside Politics to Democrats for how they trumpeted the scurrilous "AWOL" charge, on this past Friday afternoon's IP he awarded "the newly elected" Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco, as opposed to the unelected Massachusetts Supreme Court, for the non-stop issuance of illegal same-sex gay marriage certificates, though Schneider, naturally, failed to characterize the entire circus as beyond the law. Instead, Schneider championed how "the 36-year-old Mayor is looking to the future. Younger Americans are much more inclined to favor same-sex marriage. It's like their civil rights issue."


Russert Relentlessly Pushes Schwarzenegger
to Raise Taxes

Two weeks after Tim Russert pushed President Bush to raise taxes ("Why not say, I will not cut taxes any more until we have balanced the budget?", "Why do you keep cutting taxes and draining money from the treasury?" and: "How about no more tax cuts until the budget is balanced?"), he did the same with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

On Sunday's Meet the Press, in his second question, Russert asked Schwarzenegger if his proposed bond measures don't pass, "will you have to raise taxes?" In another question, Russert gave equal billing to cutting spending, telling him, "You're going to have to make fundamental changes in the way California governs itself: either cut spending more or raise taxes." But Russert soon returned to lecturing Schwarzenegger about the need for higher taxes as he cited as authoritative source, about supposedly awful budget cuts, a liberal politician quoted by a far-left columnist: "John Burton, a man you know well, the leader of the Democrats in the Senate," Russert set up before quoting him from a Robert Scheer column: "'The aged, the blind, the disabled and poor women with children are paying for a big chunk of the loss of revenue from the vehicle tax.' Wouldn't it be better to maintain programs for the poor and for the disabled, and for the blind, and for students, than refund $135 to Californians?"

Russert even invoked Ronald Reagan: "Pete Wilson, Republican, Ronald Reagan, Republican, when it came down to the crunch, raised taxes, fees, in order to make sure the balanced the budget. You would do that if necessary?"

Russert's tax and spending-related questions to Schwarzenegger, who was in-studio since he was in DC for the National Governors Association meeting, on the February 22 Meet the Press:

-- "This is what you said in January, Governor: 'We're running out of money in June. That is the reality of it. So if we don't pass Proposition 57 and 58' -- on the ballot in March, as you mention -- 'we will really be in a huge financial crisis -- unlike anything else the state has ever faced.' 'Armageddon' is a term you've used. If they don't pass, those propositions, will you have to raise taxes?"

-- "This is what George Skelton wrote in his political column in the Los Angeles Times: 'If Schwarzenegger gets everything he wanted -- including the ballot measures and all the cuts in his budget proposal -- the state still would spend $7 billion more than it took in during the fiscal year starting in July 2005.' So this is, at best, a Band-Aid. You're going to have to make fundamental changes in the way California governs itself: either cut spending more or raise taxes."

-- "During the campaign, you said you would conduct a quote '60-day audit performed by an independent accounting firm, the results will be published for all the people to see.' Why haven't you done such an audit?"

-- "But will you do an independent audit, not by your own administration, and release the results?"

-- Reciting, according to the on-screen credit for the text he quoted, a January 12 U.S. News story by Betsy Streisand followed by a January Robert Scheer column: "You mention the car tax. Each Californian getting about $135 refund. And this is the way it's been reported on: 'By rolling back the car tax, Schwarzenegger single-handedly worsened the very problem he was elected to fix. His move pushed California, whose bond rating was already the lowest of all 50 states, $4 billion deeper into debt.' And John Burton, a man you know well, the leader of the Democrats in the Senate: 'The aged, the blind, the disabled and poor women with children are paying for a big chunk of the loss of revenue from the vehicle tax.' Wouldn't it be better to maintain programs for the poor and for the disabled, and for the blind, and for students, than refund $135 to Californians?"
Schwarzenegger: "Well, first of all, let me just say what will be better is if we discipline our lawmakers in Sacramento so they don't continuously spend money that they don't have. This has been the biggest problem in the last five years. Continuously they've spent more money. Our revenue increase went up by 25 percent but our spending went up by 43 percent. It is irresponsible to have this kind of an increase of spending. That's where the problem came in. If we would have increased our spending by only 24, 25 percent, we will be even, we will be able to afford the programs, we will be able to do anything but they've outspent themselves. This is why it is important for the people to vote yes on Proposition 58, because this is the balanced budget initiative, which is the first time that our politicians' credit cards have been torn up and thrown away so they never, ever can spend more money than the state takes in. That's the problem...."

-- After some discussion about lack of adequate federal aid: "Pete Wilson, Republican, Ronald Reagan, Republican, when it came down to the crunch, raised taxes, fees, in order to make sure the balanced the budget [that's what he said]. You would do that if necessary?"
Schwarzenegger: "If we have an emergency and something unexpected happens, absolutely, I will raise the taxes. But I am not faced with those kinds of emergencies at this point...."

MSNBC's page for Meet the Press: www.msnbc.msn.com

Earlier CyberAlert items on Russert's obsession with tax cuts over soaring spending:

-- February 9, CyberAlert: Tim Russert told President Bush, on Sunday's Meet the Press, how conservatives are "saying you are the biggest spender in American history." But even after Bush brought up Medicare prescription coverage, instead of pouncing on that huge program, Russert, true to his record of being much more concerned with undoing tax cuts than in cutting spending, saved his scoldings for the tax cuts. Russert lectured Bush: "Every President since the Civil War who has gone to war has raised taxes, not cut them.... Why not say, I will not cut taxes any more until we have balanced the budget?" Russert assumed all money belongs to the government, not people who earn it, as he bemoaned: "Why do you keep cutting taxes and draining money from the treasury?" Russert recommended: "How about no more tax cuts until the budget is balanced?" www.mediaresearch.org

-- September 15, 2003 CyberAlert: Don't cut other spending, rescind the tax cut to pay for Iraq. On Sunday's Meet the Press, NBC's Tim Russert once again displayed his obsession with blaming tax cuts, not spending hikes, for any deficit. Picking up on a liberal proposal pushed by Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, Russert proposed to Vice President Dick Cheney: "If you froze the tax cut for the top one percent of Americans, it would generate enough money to pay for the $87 billion for the war." A bit later, when Cheney blamed the economic slowdown and 9-11 for the rising deficit, Russert interjected: "And tax cuts." See: www.mediaresearch.org

-- July 21, 2003: On Sunday's Meet the Press, Tim Russert scolded House Speaker Dennis Hassert for allowing the deficit to grow so large and suggested that in retrospect it would have been better for the tax cuts to have been smaller, but then he wanted to know if Hastert would support a Senate effort to "correct" the non-inclusion of low-income non-taxpayers in the expanded child credit and pressed Hastert to agree with a plan to hike spending on AmeriCorps by $100 million. Russert preposterously described the far-left Center on Budget and Policy Priorities as a group "which consists of Democrats and Republicans." See: www.mediaresearch.org

-- April 10, 2003: Victory in Iraq means Bush's plans for a tax cut should be withdrawn. Barely two hours after celebrating Iraqis toppling the Hussein statue, NBC's Tom Brokaw admired a "quite a powerful piece in the New York Times on the opinion editorial page...saying this is not the time for the tax cut" because rebuilding Iraq "is gonna cost a lot of money." Tim Russert gleefully chimed in: "And it's not a partisan issue any longer, Tom. Republican John McCain has stepped forward and said that we have to see how much this war costs before we determine the size of a tax cut." See: www.mediaresearch.org

-- From the December 16, 2002 CyberAlert, an excerpt of a compilation of instances of Russert's anti-tax cut advocacy:

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 [December 15, 2002], 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?"
Levin: "No. That doesn't add up. Friedman pointed out it doesn't add up. He was right then, and I hope he stays to his position."
Russert: "So what do we you do? You raise taxes in the middle of a recession?"

Other than raising with John Kerry on December 1 [2002] 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

Pryor Painted as Extra-Legal Abortion
and Religious Extremist

ABC and CBS on Friday night greeted President Bush's recess appointment of William Pryor to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals by putting his views on abortion in an unfavorable light ("an opponent of abortion rights") while the Washington Post, without bothering to mention how he, as Attorney General of Alabama, enforced court rulings to remove a Ten Commandments display from the state Capitol building last year, portrayed him as putting personal religious beliefs ahead of the law: "In 1997, his first year as Alabama Attorney General, he invoked God's will while speaking at a Christian Coalition rally to defend a state judge who posted the Ten Commandments in his courtroom."

On ABC's World News Tonight on Friday evening, anchor Peter Jennings intoned: "President Bush bypassed Congress again today and installed a controversial nominee to a federal appeals court. He named Alabama Attorney General William Pryor to a one-year term while Congress was out of town. Senate Democrats were blocking the appointment. Judge Pryor has denounced the legalization of abortion. He called it 'the worst abomination in the history of constitutional law.'"

Over on the February 20 CBS Evening News on Friday night, Dan Rather asserted, after a story on Bush appealing to conservatives on gay marriage: "The President did something today that will likely appeal to those same core Republicans voters. With the Senate out of session, he used what's call a 'recess appointment' to put an opponent of abortion rights, Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor, on a federal appeals court. Pryor is one of several Bush nominees who have been blocked by Senate Democrats."

"Bush Again Bypasses Senate to Seat Judge," declared the front page headline in Saturday's Washington Post by Mike Allen. An excerpt from the top of the February 21 article:

President Bush bypassed the Senate on a high-profile judicial nomination yesterday for the second time in five weeks and seated William H. Pryor Jr., the Alabama attorney general and an outspoken opponent of abortion, as an appeals court judge through 2005.

Pryor is among six of Bush's appeals court nominees who have been blocked from confirmation votes by delaying tactics of Senate Democrats who contended the nominees are extreme conservatives.

He took the oath of office in Alabama last night and joined the Atlanta-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which covers Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

Pryor, 41, has described Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's landmark abortion rights decision, as "the worst abomination in the history of constitutional law." In 1997, his first year as Alabama attorney general, he invoked God's will while speaking at a Christian Coalition rally to defend a state judge who posted the Ten Commandments in his courtroom.

Senate Democrats said such comments show Pryor is out of the mainstream. But that same history has made him a luminary of the religious right. Bush made the election-year appointment during a weeklong Senate recess. In an e-mailed announcement, Bush said that Pryor's "impressive record demonstrates his devotion to the rule of law and to treating all people equally under the law," and that he "has received widespread bipartisan support from those who know him and know his record."

Bush's recess appointment was hailed by conservatives at a time when the right wing of his party has complained to the White House about issues including record federal spending and a delay in an endorsement of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

Pryor can serve through the end of the next session of Congress, which would adjourn at the end of 2005, Senate aides said.

Strategists in both parties said they took the announcement as a sign that Bush is still working to fire up his base voters for the November election. Geoffrey D. Garin, a Democratic pollster, said Bush is finding that "conservatives are angry about a host of things at a time when he ought to be making a turn to focus on the middle of the electorate."

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, maintained that none of Bush's nominees "is more controversial than Mr. Pryor."...

END of Excerpt

For the story in its entirety: www.washingtonpost.com

Allen's story left out a crucial point, which Washington Times reporter Charles Hurt raised in his February 21 piece: "As evidence of Mr. Pryor's adherence in the rule of law over personal beliefs, Republicans point to his role in the removal of the Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama state courthouse. Despite his strong beliefs that the monument should remain, Mr. Pryor fulfilled an order by the state Supreme Court to remove the stone tablets." See: www.washingtontimes.com

The AP dispatch on Friday night, by Jeffrey McMurray, conveyed the same point: "Many Alabama Republicans remain angry at Pryor for leading the charge to oust the state's chief justice, Roy Moore, for refusing to abide by federal court orders requiring him to move a Ten Commandments monument from his courthouse.
"Supporters hope almost two years on the federal appeals court will prove to Democrats that Pryor, as they say he showed in the Ten Commandments case, is willing to look at more than one side of an issue." See: story.news.yahoo.com

A month ago, when President Bush made a recess appointment for Charles Pickering, the January 19 CyberAlert highlighted ABC's differing treatment of it compared to when President Clinton made a recess appointment late in his term:
ABC's inconsistency on recess judicial appointments. On Friday night [January 16], Peter Jennings, without uttering a syllable about how Senate Democrats have used unprecedented tactics to block Bush judicial nominees or conveying anything positive about Charles Pickering's qualifications, highlighted how "Democrats accuse Pickering of opposing civil rights" while Senator Kennedy claimed "'the President's appointment serves only to emphasize again this administration's shameful opposition to civil rights.'" But back in December of 2000 when President Clinton made a recess judicial appointment, ABC anchor Aaron Brown treated Clinton as the one fully justified in his actions in the face of Senate Republicans opposed to black nominees. Brown trumpeted how Roger Gregory "will be the first African-American on the court. The President has nominated four African-Americans to the 4th Circuit but Republicans in Congress would not hold confirmation hearings."

For the full contrast: www.mediaresearch.org

Koppel Uses Guard in Iraq to Note Bush's
Guard Time to Avoid War

Setting up a Thursday night look at how a significant portion of the troops in Iraq are from the National Guard, and the strain that is putting on a system based on people with regular jobs, Nightline anchor Ted Koppel managed to bring up the issue of President Bush's National Guard service as he highlighted how "President Bush the other day deflected some of the attacks on himself by suggesting that the National Guard itself was under attack. 'I wouldn't denigrate service to the Guard,' said the President, 'because there are a lot of really fine people who served in the National Guard and who are serving in the National Guard today in Iraq.'"

But Koppel contrasted Bush's Guard with today's as he recalled how back in the late '60s and early '70s "some people did join the National Guard to avoid the military draft and in the hope that it would keep them out of Vietnam," and a mere two-tenths of one percent of those killed in Vietnam were in the Guard, but now "nearly ten percent of the U.S. troops who've died in Iraq were National Guardsmen."

MRC analyst Jessica Anderson caught how Koppel opened the February 19 Nightline:
"Clearly bristling at the implication that he may have served in the Texas Air National Guard with less than distinction 30-some odd years ago, President Bush the other day deflected some of the attacks on himself by suggesting that the National Guard itself was under attack. 'I wouldn't denigrate service to the Guard,' said the President, 'because there are a lot of really fine people who served in the National Guard and who are serving in the National Guard today in Iraq.' No question, no argument. Back in the late '60s and early '70s, though, some people did join the National Guard to avoid the military draft and in the hope that it would keep them out of Vietnam. It wasn't foolproof, but the numbers are instructive. Of 2.5 million Americans who served in Vietnam, fewer than 25,000 were in the National Guard -- less than 1 percent. Of 58,000 GIs killed in Vietnam, about a hundred were members of the National Guard -- about two-tenths of one percent. By contrast, nearly 10 percent of the U.S. troops who've died in Iraq were National Guardsmen. One out of every four American soldiers in Iraq today is in the Guard. It may, once upon a time, have helped some young Americans stay out of combat in Vietnam. It serves no comparable purpose today in keeping anyone out of harm's way in Iraq, and they're staying longer and at greater personal sacrifice than anyone had given them reason to expect."

CNN's Schneider Awards "Play of the Week"
to San Francisco Mayor

CNN's Bill Schneider A week after CNN's Bill Schneider awarded his "Political Play of the Week" on Inside Politics to Democrats for how they trumpeted the scurrilous "AWOL" charge, on this past Friday afternoon's IP he awarded "the newly elected" Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco, as opposed to the unelected Massachusetts Supreme Court, for the non-stop issuance of illegal same-sex gay marriage certificates, though Schneider, naturally, failed to characterize the entire circus as beyond the law.

Instead, Schneider championed how "the 36-year-old Mayor is looking to the future. Younger Americans are much more inclined to favor same-sex marriage. It's like their civil rights issue."

As recounted in the February 16 CyberAlert, Schneider on Friday night [February 13] awarded Democrats for their hounding of President Bush on AWOL charges, trumpeting how "the Democrats now have standing to play the military card and make it the 'Political Play of the Week.'" Schneider argued: "The issue may work this time not just because the Democrats have a war hero but because the Republicans have a war, an increasingly unpopular war and a President with a growing credibility problem coming out of that war." See: www.mediaresearch.org

A full rundown of Schneider's tribute to Newsom on the February 20 Inside Politics, as brought to my attention by MRC analyst Ken Shepherd:

Judy Woodruff set up the segment: "One week ago, he was relatively unknown to much of the country. But he is quickly becoming a household name. Some call him a hero. And others a villain. Bill Schneider joins us now to explain."

Bill Schneider: "In Massachusetts, unelected judges ordered the state to recognize same-sex marriages. In San Francisco, it was done by the newly elected Mayor. That's very different. In fact, it's the Political Play of the Week."
[footage of chorus in brightly colored men singing "Going to the Chapel" on courthouse or city hall stairs]
Schneider: "More than 3,000 same-sex couples married in San Francisco this week. How did this happen? It all started in January when newly-elected San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom attended President Bush's State of the Union speech."
George W. Bush, STOTU: "Our nation must defend the sanctity of marriage."
Schneider: "What Mayor Newsom heard was discrimination."
Mayor Gavin Newsom: "I do not have the benefit or privilege to discriminate against people and it's something I felt and take seriously and we acted accordingly."
Schneider: "With that, Mayor Newsom ordered the city and county of San Francisco to start issuing marriage licenses to gay couples."
Phil Matier, columnist, San Francisco Chronicle: "Was it a smart political move in terms of San Francisco? You better believe it."
Schneider: "At a stroke, Newsom, elected by a narrow margin in December, became a hero to the city's large and powerful gay community. And his cause, the target of criticism by President Bush."
Bush: "Watching very carefully but I'm troubled by what I've seen."
Schneider: "How big a problem can that be for Newsom in a city where George W. Bush got 16 percent of the vote? But what if Newsom has political plans beyond San Francisco?"
Matier: "I don't think he's going to be invited to speak at the Democratic National Convention."
Schneider: "The 36-year-old Mayor is looking to the future. Younger Americans are much more inclined to favor same-sex marriage. It's like their civil rights issue."
Newsom: "I imagine people are saying in 1966 the same things they're saying now about blacks and whites getting married. That's in my lifetime. It's just so absurd as to be literally unbelievable."
Schneider: "And in the meantime?"
Matier: "I mean let's face it, San Francisco has been put on this planet for one reason, and that's to give the rest of the country something to talk about. And once again, we haven't let you down."
Schneider: "Well for another reason, too. For the Political Play of the Week. Gays are an increasingly important power block in cities all over the country. Why, this week, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley said he had, quote, 'no problem with issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Cook County, Illinois.' I bet you didn't know Mayor Daley was a hip, cutting-edge kind of guy, did you?"

And we still don't.

# Scheduled on late night shows this week: Barbara Walters on the Tonight Show on Tuesday, Diane Sawyer on the Late Show on Wednesday and Donald Rumsfeld on the Late Show on Friday.

-- Brent Baker