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

Skip Greenspan's Approval of SS Plan, Excited Bush May Hike Tax --2/17/2005


1. Skip Greenspan's Approval of SS Plan, Excited Bush May Hike Tax
A night after ABC's World News Tonight centered a story around how a couple of GOP back benchers oppose President Bush's Social Security reform plan, the newscast on Wednesday had time for stories on identity theft, car sharing and an interview with Bill Gates, but ignored Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's revelation to a Senate committee that he "approves" of creating private accounts. NBC and CBS briefly noted Greenspan's endorsement, but NBC excitedly hyped President Bush's comment that he would consider raising the income subject to the Social Security tax as Brian Williams trumpeted how "a tax increase is emerging as a leading fix" for Social Security. NBC Nightly News viewers then heard how a poll found most think putting Social Security money into the stock market is a bad idea. CBS balanced a brief mention of Greenspan with a full report from Jim Axelrod in New Hampshire about how Granite staters don't think there's a Social Security "crisis" and how those he found in a coffee shop are unconvinced by Bush's sales pitch for his plan.

2. Jennings Uses Bill Gates to Push Americans to Travel Abroad
ABC's Peter Jennings on Wednesday used an interview session with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates to raise one of his pet peeves, the lack of foreign travel by Americans. Jennings reminded Gates of how he once "said that Americans who spent more time traveling in Africa, for one, would learn something." Jennings prodded: "How do you think the average American would change if he or she traveled more?" Gates, a big financial supporter of left-wing causes, replied: "I think they'd vote for politicians who cared more about the developing world and the tough conditions there. That our aid would be more enlightened and a higher percentage of what we do."

3. GMA Hypes Prediction of "Devastating" Flooding Caused by Warming
ABC's Good Morning America on Wednesday aired their own version of a disaster movie, highlighting an EPA-funded study that projects global warming will lead inevitably to massive and "devastating" flooding in Boston around the year 2100. From the edge of Boston Harbor, reporter Bill Weir warned that the EPA had "a team of experts spend more than four years figuring out just how bad it'll be" and their "study predicts that if nothing is done, flooding will cost Boston alone $94 billion, which raises the $94 billion question: what to do?" On one side an environmentalist urged "we have to take action today." On the other side of the global warming debate? A skeptical scientist? A conservative think tank? No, men on the street saying, "who's saying this, scientists? What do they know?" And: "what year, 2100? I'll be dead."

4. NPR Commentator Denounces "Support Our Troops" Stickers on Cars
Most Americans, regardless of their position on the war in Iraq, don't object to the expression "Support Our Troops," but earlier this week one National Public Radio commentator asserted that in at least one context, that phrase is "glib," "self-righteous," "partisan," and "vaguely...Ann Coulterish." He also declared darkly that "analyzing its rhetoric" may constitute "treason."

5. CBS Producers in Memogate Refuse to Go, Implicate Top CBS Execs
More than a month after CBS President Leslie Moonves, in the wake of the report documenting the misdeeds of CBS News on its hit job on President Bush's National Guard service, asked three producers to resign, all have refused and, though no longer performing their former duties, continue to be paid, the New York Observer and New York Times reported Wednesday. The three, Josh Howard, the Executive Producer of the Wednesday edition of 60 Minutes, Mary Murphy, the Senior Producer for the program, and Betsy West, Senior Vice President of CBS News, have all hired lawyers and dispute the Thornburgh/Boccardi report and how Moonves interpreted it to justify asking for their resignations. Howard, the New York Observer's Joe Hagan relayed, maintains that "the report itself excludes evidence that would implicate top management at CBS."


Skip Greenspan's Approval of SS Plan,
Excited Bush May Hike Tax

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan A night after ABC's World News Tonight centered a story around how a couple of GOP back benchers oppose President Bush's Social Security reform plan, the newscast on Wednesday had time for stories on identity theft, car sharing and an interview with Bill Gates, but ignored Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's revelation to a Senate committee that he "approves" of creating private accounts. NBC and CBS briefly noted Greenspan's endorsement, but NBC excitedly hyped President Bush's comment that he would consider raising the income subject to the Social Security tax as Brian Williams trumpeted how "a tax increase is emerging as a leading fix" for Social Security. NBC Nightly News viewers then heard how a poll found most think putting Social Security money into the stock market is a bad idea. CBS balanced a brief mention of Greenspan with a full report from Jim Axelrod in New Hampshire about how Granite staters don't think there's a Social Security "crisis" and how those he found in a coffee shop are unconvinced by Bush's sales pitch for his plan.

On FNC's February 16 Special Report with Brit Hume, Jim Angle provided an overview of Greenspan's remarks before the Senate Banking Committee: "Alan Greenspan was drawn into one of the most partisan political debates in Washington and surprised many Senators by saying he likes the idea of personal accounts in Social Security."
Greenspan: "So, if you're going to move to private accounts, which I approve of, I think you have to do it in a cautious, gradual way."
Angle: "It's a good thing to do, he said, because of an unprecedented leap in the number of the people over 65, which is about to increase by 30 million. That's a strain he argued that the current system cannot handle."
Greenspan: "My judgment is we've got a problem in that the existing pay as you go system is not working and we have to change it."
Angle: "A matter of consternation for some Democrats. Chuck Schumer tried repeatedly to get the Fed Chairman to criticize personal accounts and when he didn't, the Senator interpreted his remarks on his on."
Schumer: "It seems to me that what you're saying here is that moving to the system that's outlined, that the President may propose, is risky."
Angle: "Greenspan jumped in to say doing nothing is also risky. That in fact all of the solutions are risky."

But ABC viewers heard none of that on Wednesday evening. As noted above, however, the night before ABC decided that some GOP opposition to Bush's plan was quite newsworthy. As recounted in the February 16 CyberAlert:
If you're a Republican Congressman and want to get on TV, at least on ABC News, all you have to do is oppose Bush's Social Security reform plan, preferably by attacking it from the left using the same arguments forwarded by liberals. On Tuesday's World News Tonight, Linda Douglass gave network air time to a little-known second termer: "Michigan Congressman Thaddeus McCotter worries Mr. Bush's plan to divert payroll taxes into personal accounts will jeopardize future Social Security benefits." After a clip of McCotter, Douglass relayed how "Republican Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri wrote her constituents that she will 'oppose any cut in Social Security benefits' and said Social Security is 'nowhere near bankruptcy.'" See: www.mediaresearch.org

NBC Nightly News jumped on the possibility President Bush will consider a tax hike. Anchor Brian Williams announced: "It was President Bush's father who ended up famously eating the words 'no new taxes,' and while his son, the current President, has never said that, he has cut taxes. But this is apparently the season to fix Social Security, and a tax increase is emerging as a leading fix. Our report tonight from NBC's Chip Reid with us on Capitol Hill."

President George Bush Reid touted from Capitol Hill: "At a campaign-style appearance in New Hampshire today, the President said he's wide open to suggestions for fixing Social Security."
President Bush: "Let's sit down at the table and discuss ways to permanently fix the system. I'm open-minded."
Reid: "But what he didn't mention is what he told a group of regional newspapers yesterday at the White House, that for the first time, he is now willing to consider Social Security payroll tax increases for higher income taxpayers. Here's how it would work. Under the current system, all income up to $90,000 a year is subject to the Social Security payroll tax. Under the option that the President has now put on the table, that cap would be raised. The result, everyone earning more than $90,000 a year would pay more in payroll taxes. White House spokesman Scott McClellan today told NBC News, 'the President hasn't ruled it out, but he hasn't embraced it either.' Republican Senator Lindsey Graham says the President should get credit for having the courage to take political risks to save Social Security."
Senator Lindsey Graham: "By raising the cap above $90,000, we can get money to save Social Security from people who can afford to give it, and it will help them down the road because you won't have to have massive tax increases when the system fails."
Reid: "But some conservatives in Congress condemned the idea."
Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana: "Raising the cap on the income that is eligible for Social Security payroll taxes would represent an enormous tax increase on working Americans and House conservatives will oppose that."
Reid: "Now, one thing critics and supporters agree on is that this is a significant development, that this President who is so anti-tax would even consider a tax increase shows just how serious he is about Social Security reform. Brian."

Williams then asked: "And, Chip, I know Alan Greenspan, the Fed Chairman, was on the Hill where you are today and he normally doesn't take on the topic of Social Security but did today."
Reid: "He did because he was peppered with questions about it. Now, Brian, he endorsed the basic idea of these private accounts, but he did say there should be a go-slow approach. He said it should go in a cautious, gradual way. Now, because his opinions carry such weight up here, Republicans and Democrats immediately tried to spin it their way. Republicans said, what great news Alan Greenspan supports these private accounts. But Democrats said the fact that he wants to go slow makes it far from a ringing endorsement."

Williams next brought aboard the anchor desk Campbell Brown to outline negative poll results for Bush on his Social Security plan: "And on that very topic, there are new numbers out tonight. In fact, we're releasing them here for the first time, the result of our new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll on Social Security, on Iraq, even the President himself. With more on that, I'm joined here in our studio by NBC's Campbell Brown. And, Campbell, it is very clear now the President is putting at least most of his political chips on Social Security reform for this second term."
Brown: "That's right, Brian, he is. But the problem, according to our new poll, is that people are putting a host of other issues ahead of it. Number one is the situation in Iraq, but also health care, education, and the economy. Moral values, people ranked moral values just as important as Social Security [on screen, Iraq at 35%, Domestic issue at 30%, economy at 25% and moral values and Social Security at 15%].
"Now, when we asked people generally whether they thought the President's reform plan was a good idea or a bad idea, and that's letting people put some of their Social Security contributions in the stock market, 40 percent said good idea, 51 percent said bad idea. That's after the President's been out there the last few weeks really pushing this idea. Now, troubling news for the White House, though, is that most of those who are against his reform plan say they are strongly against it, that he is not going to be able to change their mind. And of those who support the idea, most of those say that they can be swayed. So even the support he has right now is a little bit soft."
Williams: "Now, this news we're reporting tonight about a hike in the payroll tax to pay for it all, is there any support for that?"
Brown: "Of the ideas that are being talked about right now, that has the most support of all of them except for one, and that's limiting benefits to wealthy retirees. That's the most popular idea."

Over on the CBS Evening News, Dan Rather briefly noted Greenspan's remarks and Bush's comment on Social Security taxes: "Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan gave the U.S. economy a good report card today, but signaled the Fed will continue raising interest rates trying to keep inflation in check. He also said he approves of personal investment accounts for Social Security, but said they should be introduced slowly and cautiously. President Bush took his campaign for that and other big Social Security changes to New Hampshire today. In an interview he said he's open to raising the yearly limit on Social Security payroll taxes, but said he will not raise the tax rate from the current 12.4 percent."

Rather then set up a story from New Hampshire: "The President has been giving his plan the hard sell ever since his State of the Union address two weeks ago. How's it playing with the public? CBS's Jim Axelrod samples the response in our special series, 'Eye on Social Security.'"

From the Breaking New Grounds coffee shop in Portsmouth, Axelrod began, as corrected against the closed-captioning by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth: "Just a few miles from where the President was selling, we checked in to see who was buying."
Bruce Sommers, New Hampshire resident: "He's bringing it on the table, where others haven't. I respect that."
Axelrod: "And what's been cutting through when it comes to changing Social Security?"
Mary Ross, New Hampshire resident: "The thing that's stuck is that he wants private investment."
Axelrod: "And that's where it seems to end for the President in pushing his top domestic agenda item, at least in this coffee shop. After personal investment accounts, you hear the same thing from Republicans-"
Unidentified man: "He needs to get into the details."
Axelrod: "-Democrats-"
Jeffrey Plante, New Hampshire resident: "His speeches just usually don't have any information in them."
Axelrod: "You mean specifics?"
Plante: "Yeah."
Axelrod: "-and independents."
Sommers: "I would prefer more detail."
Axelrod cited an unnamed survey: "You'll find something else across the board in New Hampshire. In the latest poll, just 13 percent say Social Security is in crisis, though more than half [on screen: 53 percent] say it has major problems. What do you think? Is Social Security in crisis?"
Costas Mimimas, New Hampshire resident: "No, my perception is that it's an engineered crisis."
Axelrod: "But here's the striking thing: Those poll numbers are spread among roughly the same numbers of Democrats and Republicans. So in this country so divided the two sides can't agree what color the sky is, here's an issue, and a huge issue at that, which seems to offer some common ground."
Sommers: "Because it affects us the same. It doesn't affect a Republican different than a Democrat, Social Security, so, therefore, I think we'll probably look at it in the same light. Now, we'll have different varying solutions."
Axelrod concluded with a warning to Bush: "But solutions require details, and if this one coffee shop is any indication, they can't come soon enough. Jim Axelrod, CBS News, Portsmouth, New Hampshire."

Jennings Uses Bill Gates to Push Americans
to Travel Abroad

ABC's Peter Jennings ABC's Peter Jennings on Wednesday used an interview session with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates to raise one of his pet peeves, the lack of foreign travel by Americans. Jennings reminded Gates of how he once "said that Americans who spent more time traveling in Africa, for one, would learn something." Jennings prodded: "How do you think the average American would change if he or she traveled more?" Gates, a big financial supporter of left-wing causes, replied: "I think they'd vote for politicians who cared more about the developing world and the tough conditions there. That our aid would be more enlightened and a higher percentage of what we do."

Jennings, who anchored the February 16 World News Tonight from Seattle, began his interview segment by asking Gates about being beaten by Google in search technology, what mistakes he's made and what has surprised him in technology over the past year. Jennings then inquired: "You've been a big advocate of travel. And you, on occasion, said that Americans who spent more time traveling in Africa, for one, would learn something. What would we learn?"
Gates: "Well I think there's a lot of compassion when you see people in a very tough situation. You can see parents dying of AIDS. You see orphans. You see malaria. If you don't see it. If you're just reading the statistics, it's hard to relate to. It's hard to think about as something that important to help change."
Jennings: "How do you think the average American would change if he or she traveled more?"
Gates: "I think they'd vote for politicians who cared more about the developing world and the tough conditions there. That our aid would be more enlightened and a higher percentage of what we do. I think they'd want to get involved themselves, either being part of a volunteer organization here in the U.S. or spending some time helping out overseas. I think they'd feel a more common bond and realize how privileged they are."

GMA Hypes Prediction of "Devastating"
Flooding Caused by Warming

ABC reporter Bill Weir ABC's Good Morning America on Wednesday aired their own version of a disaster movie, highlighting an EPA-funded study that projects global warming will lead inevitably to massive and "devastating" flooding in Boston around the year 2100. From the edge of Boston Harbor, reporter Bill Weir warned that the EPA had "a team of experts spend more than four years figuring out just how bad it'll be" and their "study predicts that if nothing is done, flooding will cost Boston alone $94 billion, which raises the $94 billion question: what to do?" On one side an environmentalist urged "we have to take action today." On the other side of the global warming debate? A skeptical scientist? A conservative think tank? No, men on the street saying, "who's saying this, scientists? What do they know?" And: "what year, 2100? I'll be dead."

[The MRC's Tim Graham submitted this item for CyberAlert.]

Diane Sawyer set up the February 16 segment with a dramatic example of current weather: "We've got some wild weather now to tell you about. It's a sort of perfect storm. Take a look at this, a double cyclone, 155-mile-an-hour winds, massive waves battering islands in the South Pacific. And these wild weather patterns, as we know, what we're all talking about, are they connected to global warming? Well, there is a new study out, a new report, taking a closer look at global warming and wanting everybody in America to know exactly what kind of havoc it could wreak and destruction if it someday hit the United States, and they decided to focus on Boston. And GMA Weekend anchor Bill Weir went to Boston to give us the details. Bill?"

Weir, standing by the ocean, explained: "Diane, yeah, this study is the first of its kind, and just by coincidence, a huge global treaty went into effect just hours ago. A treaty aimed at curbing global warming, 141 nations involved, the U.S. not among them. That is a controversial policy, especially in light of this new study, that predicts in 2100, with the right conditions, this water could end up downtown.
"This is Hollywood's version of the effects of global warming. [scene of waves rolling over a city in the movie The Day After Tomorrow]. And this is the scientists' version [rendering of downtown Boston showing flooded areas]. Granted they don't have the same special effects budget, but the projection is just as devastating. The gray areas are the parts of downtown Boston that would be covered in water, given another century of global warming and one decent sized storm. With global temperatures steadily rising and polar ice melting, the EPA had Professor Paul Kirshen and a team of experts spend more than four years figuring out just how bad it'll be."
Paul Kirshen, Tufts University: "The ocean's now going to be two or three feet higher around here. So, that means any storm surge's going to be two or three feet higher as well. So instead of the storm surge here being five feet, it's going to be like eight feet or so."
Weir: "The study predicts that if nothing is done, flooding will cost Boston alone $94 billion, which raises the $94 billion question, what to do?"
ABC's answer came from environmentalist Philip Warburg of the Boston-based Conservation Law Foundation: "We can't simply adapt to that sort of damage. We have to prevent that sort of damage. We have to worry about this. We have to take action today."
Then came ABC's soundbites of apathetic men on the street. The first one said: "Does it concern me? Um, no, it's too far in the future."
Weir: "Here lies the real challenge in all of this. Motivating people to head off a disaster that is a century away."
Unidentified Man #2: "Who's saying this, scientists? What do they know?"
Unidentified Man #3: "What year, 2100? I'll be dead."
Weir concluded with a weak nod to more serious critics of global warming theory, before ending on the predictably dire note: "But it really is a big debate. There are those who disagree with the science, who don't believe global warming is an impending disaster. And so it will rage on. But this, the first time the EPA has commissioned such a study, just to figure it out, and of course, Boston is just one coastal city. If it could happen here it could happen in New Orleans, Los Angeles, and on and on."

The study was publicized in Tuesday's Boston Globe, where reporter Susan Milligan noted one thing ABC did not, that the five-year EPA study came out of political calculation: "Frustrated by the unwillingness of a Republican-controlled Congress to address the issue of global warming, the Clinton administration had commissioned a series of reports on metropolitan areas, including the Boston area. The Boston report was completed last year...Environmentalists said the report makes a strong argument for regulation to control greenhouse gas emissions."

For the otherwise quite slanted Globe story in full: www.boston.com

In the past, the Globe itself has been at the forefront of dire warnings of impending environmental doom. In 1992, the MRC reported: "Boston Globe reporters Ross Gelbspan and Dianne Dumanoski tried to panic the Eastern seaboard with a May 31-June 2 series that began with a newscast from 2030: 'Food riots erupt in Boston... Nature helps avert a water war between New York and Pennsylvania...Garbage dumping begins in the Grand Canyon...Red Sox game smoked out in Chicago [by Saskatchewan prairie fires]'...Scenarios like these are being forecast by more and more scientists. Unless skyrocketing rates of pollution and population growth are reduced soon, they warn, many biological systems needed to sustain humans will collapse within the lifetimes of today's children." See more at: www.mrc.org

For the November 2004 study on global warming coverage by the MRC's Free Market Project, go to: www.freemarketproject.org

NPR Commentator Denounces "Support Our
Troops" Stickers on Cars

Most Americans, regardless of their position on the war in Iraq, don't object to the expression "Support Our Troops," but earlier this week one National Public Radio commentator asserted that in at least one context, that phrase is "glib," "self-righteous," "partisan," and "vaguely...Ann Coulterish." He also declared darkly that "analyzing its rhetoric" may constitute "treason."

[Tom Johnson, who monitors NPR for the MRC, filed this item for CyberAlert.]

This past Monday on All Things Considered, Bob Sommer, whose son recently completed a year's service in Iraq, began his segment: "You would think that the sight of a yellow-ribbon magnet on the back of a car, proclaiming 'Support Our Troops,' would give me a lift, but it doesn't. It just seems so easy to express patriotism by slapping a magnet with a slogan on your car, so glib, so...self-righteous. 'Support Our Troops.' That sentence is neither a request nor a statement; it's a command. There's a hint of a dare in it that reminds me of a similar sentence: 'Bring it on.' It's vaguely...Ann Coulterish. Analyzing its rhetoric may be treason."

Sommer further complained: "I've noticed that these magnets often appear on vehicles that display still-lingering Bush-Cheney stickers. It isn't a big leap to conclude that there's something partisan about them, and the sight of all these yellow magnets is starting to bring out the worst in me. Sometimes, I want to roll down my windows and confront the drivers. I want to exclaim, 'Who doesn't support the troops? What have you done to support the troops?' They may be well-meaning and sincere people, but I'm convinced that they're just driving along, thinking support-our-troops thoughts like 'Thank God I live in a red state,' or 'Maybe it's time to price a Hummer.' That's what I assume they're thinking, anyway."

After Sommer detailed how he and his wife "expended a lot of emotional energy, as well as some financial resources, supporting our son and his buddies," including "sen[ding] Christmas gifts to the whole squad," he resumed his exegesis: "Still, that curious phrase, 'Support Our Troops,' on those yellow-ribbon magnets, seems to accuse me of not doing my part. Then I realized that 'Support Our Troops' is a code...Here's what I think it means: Those who presumably need to be admonished to support the troops are those who oppose the decisions of the [Bush] administration. 'Support Our Troops' means, then, that we should be supporting the war. I believe that most yellow-magnet-bearers want support not just for the troops, but for the mission, the presence, the President. Maybe the magnets should say, 'Shut Up and Support Our Troops.'"

It's hard to say whether "Support Our Troops" would bother Sommer much less if he saw it on, say, a red-white-and-blue lapel pin.

(OpinionJournal.com's James Taranto, in his "Best of the Web" column on Wednesday, ran an item on this NPR commentary. The MRC was already aware of it, but Taranto beat us on reporting it.)

Last month, All Things Considered aired another exotic commentary on military matters, in which regular ATC contributor Andrei Codrescu suggested that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld staged a military exercise in New Orleans because many "foreign artists" and anti-Bush "Hollywood actors" were in town. See: www.mediaresearch.org

CBS Producers in Memogate Refuse to Go,
Implicate Top CBS Execs

More than a month after CBS President Leslie Moonves, in the wake of the report documenting the misdeeds of CBS News on its hit job on President Bush's National Guard service, asked three producers to resign, all have refused and, though no longer performing their former duties, continue to be paid, the New York Observer and New York Times reported Wednesday. The three, Josh Howard, the Executive Producer of the Wednesday edition of 60 Minutes, Mary Murphy, the Senior Producer for the program, and Betsy West, Senior Vice President of CBS News, have all hired lawyers and dispute the Thornburgh/Boccardi report and how Moonves interpreted it to justify asking for their resignations. Howard, the New York Observer's Joe Hagan relayed, maintains that "the report itself excludes evidence that would implicate top management at CBS."

For the February 16 New York Times article, "Asked to Resign, 3 at CBS Hire Lawyers Instead," by Jacques Steinberg, see: www.nytimes.com

An excerpt from, "The CBS Three Won't Slink Off; Hiring Lawyers," by Joe Hagan in this week's New York Observer:

On Jan. 10, when the 224-page report on the investigation into CBS News' 60 Minutes Wednesday memo scandal arrived, CBS president Leslie Moonves issued a statement dwelling on the failures of the employees involved in producing the disputed segment.

Prominent among the targets was executive producer Josh Howard. Mr. Howard, Mr. Moonves said, "did little to assert his role as the producer ultimately responsible for the broadcast and everything in it. This mistake dealt a tremendous blow to the credibility of 60 Minutes Wednesday and to CBS News in general."

The producer, he wrote, had been asked to resign, and the network was "taking a variety of actions to put this crisis behind us."

Five weeks later, the crisis is not yet behind Mr. Moonves....

Mr. Howard and two other ousted CBS staffers -- his top deputy, Mary Murphy, and CBS News senior vice president Betsy West -- haven't resigned. And sources close to Mr. Howard said that before any resignation comes, the 23-year CBS News veteran is demanding that the network retract Mr. Moonves' remarks, correct its official story line and ultimately clear his name.

Mr. Howard, those sources said, has hired a lawyer to develop a breach-of-contract suit against the network. Ms. Murphy and Ms. West have likewise hired litigators, according to associates of theirs, and all three remain CBS employees and collect weekly salaries from the company that asked them to tender their resignations.

None would agree to participate in this article.

Legally, CBS and the ousted staffers are in an unusual stalemate: The network cannot be sued for breach of contract unless it actually fires them. Theoretically, the network could refuse to offer an apology or correct statements and simply drag its feet, continuing to write paychecks to the trio until their contracts expire....

But Mr. Howard's complaint about Mr. Moonves' remarks could pose a serious problem for CBS. Sources close to Mr. Howard said he believes that the report -- which was assembled by an outside team of former Attorney General Richard Thornburgh and former Associated Press head Louis Boccardi Jr. -- contradicts Mr. Moonves' statement about Mr. Howard's share of the blame.

Mr. Howard also believes, those sources said, that the report itself excludes evidence that would implicate top management at CBS and restore Mr. Howard's reputation in the television news business.

A senior official at CBS told NYTV that Mr. Howard's claims had no basis in fact and that management had only acted on the findings of the report, which the company deemed thorough, accurate and independent....

In a recent article in The New York Law Journal, James C. Goodale, the former vice chairman of The New York Times, called the CBS investigation "a flawed report. It should not be swallowed hook, line and sinker."

He added: "Surprisingly, the report is unable to conclude whether the documents are forgeries or not. If the documents are not forgeries, why is the panel writing the report?"

In the event of a lawsuit, Mr. Howard has told associates that he would like to see Mr. Moonves and Mr. Schwartz put under oath to talk about their own roles in the network's stubborn, hapless defense of the flawed segment on President Bush's National Guard service.

Mr. Howard has also indicated to colleagues that he would subpoena specific CBS documents, including the e-mails of top executives. That might shed further light on what members of management were saying to each other on Friday, Sept. 10, two days after the segment aired -- a day that Mr. Heyward and Mr. Schwartz were making important decisions about CBS's defense strategy.

That was also when Mr. Howard's leadership role, judging by CBS's own account, stopped being so important. The network held Mr. Howard, as executive producer, responsible for airing the flawed segment. But it apparently ignored him when he asked management to reconsider the strategy of categorical denial that led to 12 days of stonewalling.

On page 162, the report says that it was Mr. Howard who made the first concerted effort to address the possibility that the segment had been in error: At 4:53 a.m., he sent Ms. West an e-mail recommending that CBS News acknowledge the possibility that it had been duped and that the documents could be a hoax.

That request was ignored by Ms. West, who ceded responsibility to Mr. Heyward -- who apparently ceded responsibility to the network's public-relations man, Mr. Schwartz. Mr. Schwartz reports directly to Mr. Moonves and is responsible for penning his press releases (including, presumably, the Jan. 10 statement with which Mr. Howard takes issue).

Mr. Howard told the panel that later that day, further evidence offered by a typewriting specialist had been an "'unsettling event' that shook his belief in the authenticity of the documents." According to the report, both Ms. West and Mr. Heyward ignored his concerns and, in league with Mr. Moonves' communications director, continued to defend the documents....

END of Excerpt

For the New York Observer article in its entirety, go to (this address will work until next Tuesday): www.nyobserver.com


-- Brent Baker