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Stephanopoulos and Russert Cue Up Talking Points to Bill Clinton --9/19/2005


1. Stephanopoulos and Russert Cue Up Talking Points to Bill Clinton
Other than a few gentle challenges from George Stephanopoulos, such as "why shouldn't Democrats vote for John Roberts in the same proportions Republicans voted for Justice Breyer and Justice Ginsburg?," Stephanopoulos, and NBC's Tim Russert even more so, tossed up talking points more than questions to Bill Clinton in taped interviews shown on Sunday. When Clinton advocated a tax hike, Stephanopoulos fretted with him: "The President is not going to move. What do Democrats do?" Stephanopoulos cued up Clinton to talk about his new pet project: "Take us out ten years. It's 2015. What do you want the Clinton Initiative to have achieved? And will it be the center of your public life?" He also repeated back: "So we're losing in Afghanistan, at risk of losing in Iraq. What do we do right now? What should the new strategy be?" Russert was even easier on Clinton, pitching up such talking point cues as "Do you think the war in Iraq has hurt the U.S. image in the world?," "Do you think global warming influences, effects, creates hurricanes or the severity of them?" and on paying for the Iraq war and Katrina, "How can we afford that? What is it going to do to the deficit? And what should we do about tax cuts and spending cuts?"

2. Evacuee Reaction on ABC to Bush: "Mixed" vs "Loved Every Word"
Update to the Friday CyberAlert item on how after President Bush's Thursday night national address, hurricane evacuees from New Orleans gathered by ABC News in the Houston Astrodome parking lot, contradicted the media line as they praised Bush and blamed local officials for their plight. On Friday's Good Morning America, Jessica Yellin avoided the pro-Bush consensus of those shown on ABC the night before and characterized the reaction of evacuees as "mixed," a description she managed to support by running a clip from a woman in a different location. But George Stephanopoulos didn't try to deny what occurred. At the start of the roundtable on Sunday's This Week, with Sam Donaldson, Cokie Roberts and George Will, Stephanopoulos observed about Bush's speech: "I was watching on ABC on Thursday night. Some of the victims we collected in Houston loved it. They loved every single word."

3. NPR's Totenberg Urges a "Katrina Tax," Says "I Want More Taxes"
On the Inside Washington TV talk show aired on three Washington, DC stations over the weekend, NPR reporter Nina Totenberg suggested that President Bush's Thursday night speech "would have been a great opportunity to say, 'look, I'm for tax cuts, but we need a Katrina tax, we need to really pay, to do this and to pay for it.'" Host Gordon Peterson repeated her point: "You want more taxes." Totenberg chuckled as she reiterated: "I want more taxes, yes." Two weeks ago, Totenberg blamed tax cuts for the levee breakage: "For years, we have cut our taxes, cut our taxes and let the infrastructure throughout the country go and this is just the first of a number of other crumbling things that are going to happen to us."

4. Ted Turner: Tanks Don't Stop Terrorism, "Giving People Hope" Does
CNN founder Ted Turner rued on Friday's Late Show with David Letterman that "we paid $400 billion to find a nut in a fox hole" and declared that the Iraqi people "were better off without us." He also charged that "we violated international law by going to war without a clear mandate from the security council." Though the 9/11 terrorists were hardly poor, Turner contended: "You don't stop terrorism with tanks, you stop it with giving people hope so they won't want to blow themselves up." To that end, he proposed giving the UN $62 billion a year to alleviate poverty. As for the UN's oil-for-food scandal, "there was money siphoned off at Enron and a lot of American corporations during the last few years, but we didn't close down American business as result of it." But Enron is no longer around.

5. Tacky Danner and Classy Arquette Comment on Iraq During the Emmys
Just 40 minutes into the Emmy Awards presentations Sunday night on CBS, Blythe Danner, in accepting the award (picture of acceptance) for the Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her role in Showtime's Huff, relayed views she attributed to her late husband Bruce Paltrow, best known as the producer of St. Elsewhere, though it was unclear if her political statement about Iraq, coming after a tribute to New Orleans, was her own or just what she believed her husband would have thought: "I know Bruce would want me to pay tribute to New Orleans, his favorite city, and all the Gulf Coast and our kids in Iraq. Let's get the heck out of there!" Just under two hours later, however, in accepting (picture of acceptance) the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her starring role on NBC's Medium, Patricia Arquette delivered a classier appreciation of the troops in Iraq. She announced: "My prayer for you is that when you get home you can come home safe and sound." On the E cable channel's post-Emmy coverage, Arquette said she wanted to remind the troops "that we haven't forgotten them."


Stephanopoulos and Russert Cue Up Talking
Points to Bill Clinton

Other than a few gentle challenges from George Stephanopoulos, such as "why shouldn't Democrats vote for John Roberts in the same proportions Republicans voted for Justice Breyer and Justice Ginsburg?," Stephanopoulos, and NBC's Tim Russert even more so, tossed up talking points more than questions to Bill Clinton in taped interviews shown on Sunday. When Clinton advocated a tax hike, Stephanopoulos fretted with him: "The President is not going to move. What do Democrats do?" Stephanopoulos cued up Clinton to talk about his new pet project: "Take us out ten years. It's 2015. What do you want the Clinton Initiative to have achieved? And will it be the center of your public life?" He also repeated back: "So we're losing in Afghanistan, at risk of losing in Iraq. What do we do right now? What should the new strategy be?" Russert was even easier on Clinton, pitching up such talking point cues as "Do you think the war in Iraq has hurt the U.S. image in the world?," "Do you think global warming influences, effects, creates hurricanes or the severity of them?" and on paying for the Iraq war and Katrina, "How can we afford that? What is it going to do to the deficit? And what should we do about tax cuts and spending cuts?"

Both interviews were pre-taped in the same room at the site of the Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York City. Stephanopoulos touted his session as Clinton's "first Sunday interview since leaving the White House." Russert plugged it: "In his first Meet the Press interview since 1997, former President Bill Clinton reflects on poverty, religion, and politics 2008, right here on Meet the Press."

A rundown of the questions from Stephanopoulos on This Week:

# Stephanopoulos: "We're here on your initiative, and I want to talk about that, but let's begin with Katrina. President Bush has brought you into the recovery effort, but he's not taking all of your advice. You say roll back the tax cuts for the wealthy. He says no tax increase of any kind. We're spending $5 billion a month in Iraq, probably $200 billion on Katrina. Something's got to give."
Clinton: "Well, that's what I think. I think this idea'€" I think it's very important that Americans understand, you know, tax cuts are always popular, but about half of these tax cuts since 2001 have gone to people in my income group, the top 1 percent. I've gotten four tax cuts. They're responsible for this big structural deficit, and they're not going away, the deficits aren't. Now, what Americans need to understand is that that means every single day of the year, our government goes into the market and borrows money from other countries to finance Iraq, Afghanistan, Katrina, and our tax cuts. We have never done this before. Never in the history of our republic have we ever financed a conflict, military conflict, by borrowing money from somewhere else.
Stephanopoulos: "The President is not going to move. What do Democrats do?"
Clinton: "They should continue to oppose it..."

# Stephanopoulos: "Is there anything coming out of this initiative here that you can apply directly to Katrina and the poverty we saw revealed there?"

# Stephanopoulos: "The problems of race that were tied to poverty here, and I know you don't think there's any conscious racism at play in the response, but we saw one more time blacks and whites looked at this event through very different eyes. What can President Bush do about that, and looking back, do you think there was anything more you could have done as President?"
Clinton: "Well, I think we did a good job of disaster management."
Stephanopoulos: "But the racial divide."
Clinton: "Well, I think we did a good job of that. For example, we had the lowest African-American unemployment, the lowest African-American poverty rate ever recorded. We had the highest homeownership, highest business ownership, and we moved 100 times as many people out of poverty in eight years as had been moved out in the previous 12 years....But I think the fundamental problem there was, it's like when they issued the evacuation order: That affects poor people differently. A lot of them in New Orleans didn't have cars. A lot of them who had cars had kinfolk they had to take care of. They didn't have cars, so they couldn't take them out."
Stephanopoulos "And they couldn't get gas."
Clinton: "And they couldn't get gas. Then, you had another thing nobody's talked about: a lot of these people never had any home insurance, didn't have any flood insurance. Everything they owned was in their little home. And if we really wanted it to do it right, we would have had lots of buses lined up to take them out and also lots of empty vans so that everybody with no kind of home or flood insurance could have been given a little bit-"
Stephanopoulos: "The mayor probably should have had those buses."
Clinton: "A little bit of it..."

# Stephanopoulos: "You said you didn't want this conference to just be about talk. You wanted it to be action. Can you total it up over the three days that you've gotten-"
Clinton: "Looks like now, we're not quite through yet, but it looks like we're at about $800 million worth of commitments. And they're very specific, and they've written cards out, you know, with their commitments. And we're going to have people during the year that check in, see if they need help making them, and we're going to give reports, progress reports between now and next year. So everybody is going to know whether we've kept our commitments or not."
Stephanopoulos: "Take us out ten years. It's 2015. What do you want the Clinton initiative to have achieved? And will it be the center of your public life?"

# Stephanopoulos: "Let's talk about John Roberts. You had two picks to the Supreme Court, Justice Breyer and Justice Ginsburg. Republicans voted for them overwhelmingly in both cases. John Roberts is unquestionably qualified; no ethical problems at all. Why shouldn't Democrats vote for John Roberts in the same proportions Republicans voted for Justice Breyer and Justice Ginsburg?"
Clinton: "Well, I think, in fairness, that there is a little bit of difference."
Stephanopoulos: "How so?"

# Stephanopoulos: "But he's a one-for-one replacement for Rehnquist, isn't he?"

# Stephanopoulos: "Let's talk Iraq for a second. We just had one of the bloodiest weeks of the war. I know you've said that we have to have a strategy for victory and see this through to victory, but a lot of Democrats and also some Republicans like Chuck Hagel look at the situation now and say you know what? We don't have that strategy. We're not winning."
Clinton: "We don't."
Stephanopoulos: "We don't have a strategy for victory?"
Clinton: "Well, if we do, it's not working right now, at least. But I know what they say..."

# Stephanopoulos: "Would you put more troops in now?"

# Stephanopoulos: "So we're losing in Afghanistan, at risk of losing in Iraq. What do we do right now? What should the new strategy be?"

# Stephanopoulos: "You know, we're just about out of time. What's the Democratic bumper sticker in 2008?"
Clinton: "Let's get the country back together, move the country forward again."
Stephanopoulos: "Not buy one, get one free?"
For ABC's posted version of the transcript: abcnews.go.com


Russert's questions on Meet the Press:

# Russert: "How would you describe the Clinton global initiative?"

# Russert: "Accountability, how can you enforce it?"

# Russert: "When you talk about religion, how concerned are you that we are, in fact, in a religious war, Islam vs. Christianity?"

# Russert: "Are you concerned that Iraq may wind up with a fundamentalist Islamic regime?"

# Russert: "Do you think the war in Iraq has hurt the U.S. image in the world?"

# Russert: "Global warming: There used to be a deep philosophical, ideological debate about it. Do you think that has dissipated?"

# Russert: "Do you think global warming influences, effects, creates hurricanes or the severity of them?"

# Russert: "John Lehman, the Republican, former Secretary of the Navy, who was on the September 11 Commission, said that the woefully inadequate lack of preparation for the hurricane, he believes it will embolden terrorists to know what kind of havoc they can wreak on the United States. Do you buy that?"

# Russert: "So we should take FEMA out of Homeland Security and make it an independent agency again?"

# Russert: "The President said we're going to rebuild New Orleans. It's estimated to cost probably close to $300 billion. How can we afford that? What is it going to do to the deficit? And what should we do about tax cuts and spending cuts?"

# Clinton: "....The rest of the money we're borrowing from China, from Korea, from the Middle East. So we go into the debt market -- we borrow this money every day to cover our deficit. In effect, we're borrowing the money to pay for Katrina, pay for Iraq, and pay for Bill Clinton's tax cuts. I don't approve of that. I think it's ethically not good, and I think it's terrible economics."
Russert: "Do you think these are the kind of issues that will be front and center in 2008?"

# Russert: "Did you ever hear of the Dennis Thatcher Society?...And first men all around the world formed the Dennis Thatcher Society. Are you about to apply?"

For MSNBC.com's transcript of the September 18 Meet the Press: www.msnbc.msn.com

Evacuee Reaction on ABC to Bush: "Mixed"
vs "Loved Every Word"

Update to the Friday CyberAlert item on how after President Bush's Thursday night national address, hurricane evacuees from New Orleans gathered by ABC News in the Houston Astrodome parking lot, contradicted the media line as they praised Bush and blamed local officials for their plight. On Friday's Good Morning America, Jessica Yellin avoided the pro-Bush consensus of those shown on ABC the night before and characterized the reaction of evacuees as "mixed," a description she managed to support by running a clip from a woman in a different location. But George Stephanopoulos didn't try to deny what occurred. At the start of the roundtable on Sunday's This Week, with Sam Donaldson, Cokie Roberts and George Will, Stephanopoulos observed about Bush's speech: "I was watching on ABC on Thursday night. Some of the victims we collected in Houston loved it. They loved every single word."

On the September 16 GMA, Yellin reported: "Evacuees watching the speech from Baton Rouge and Houston had mixed reviews."
Woman outside at Astrodome, in clip from ABC's Thursday night coverage: "He said we're coming back, and I believe we're coming back. He's going to build the city up. I believe that."
Woman inside in Baton Rouge: "All they can do is tell you what they're going to do. We need something done now. Yesterday."

The table of contents summary of the September 16 CyberAlert item: ABC News producers probably didn't hear what they expected when they sent Dean Reynolds to the Houston Astrodome's parking lot to get reaction to President Bush's speech from black evacuees from New Orleans. Instead of denouncing Bush and blaming him for their plight, they praised Bush and blamed local officials. Reynolds asked Connie London: "Did you harbor any anger toward the President because of the slow federal response?" She rejected the premise: "No, none whatsoever, because I feel like our city and our state government should have been there before the federal government was called in." She pointed out: "They had RTA buses, Greyhound buses, school buses, that was just sitting there going under water when they could have been evacuating people." Not one of the six people interviewed on camera had a bad word for Bush -- despite Reynolds' best efforts. Reynolds goaded: "Was there anything that you found hard to believe that he said, that you thought, well, that's nice rhetoric, but, you know, the proof is in the pudding?" Brenda Marshall answered, "No, I didn't," prompting Reynolds to marvel to anchor Ted Koppel: "Very little skepticism here." See: www.mediaresearch.org

By early this morning, this item, as posted on the MRC's NewsBusters.org blog, had more than 43,000 "reads," the most ever on our blog. That NewsBusters node for this article features an illustrative video clip (in both RealPlayer and Windows Media) as well as a MP3 audio clip. Go to: newsbusters.org

NPR's Totenberg Urges a "Katrina Tax,"
Says "I Want More Taxes"

On the Inside Washington TV talk show aired on three Washington, DC stations over the weekend, NPR reporter Nina Totenberg suggested that President Bush's Thursday night speech "would have been a great opportunity to say, 'look, I'm for tax cuts, but we need a Katrina tax, we need to really pay, to do this and to pay for it.'" Host Gordon Peterson repeated her point: "You want more taxes." Totenberg chuckled as she reiterated: "I want more taxes, yes." Two weeks ago, Totenberg blamed tax cuts for the levee breakage: "For years, we have cut our taxes, cut our taxes and let the infrastructure throughout the country go and this is just the first of a number of other crumbling things that are going to happen to us."

(This item was posted early Sunday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To share your comment, go to this node: newsbusters.org )

For more on Totenberg's Labor Day weekend blaming of tax cuts for the "crumbling" levees, see the September 6 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org

For a video clip from that Labor Day weekend show, check the NewsBusters node: newsbusters.org

Back to Totenberg's latest, she advocated a tax hike on Inside Washington, a show taped at ABC's Washington, DC affiliate, WJLA-TV, channel 7 (actually in Arlington, Virginia), where it airs after This Week on Sunday mornings. It first runs Friday nights on the PBS station, WETA-TV, channel 26, and then on Saturday nights at 7pm on NewsChannel 8, the local all-news cable channel owned by the ABC affiliate.

Full recitation of the exchange quoted above, as Totenberg offered her reaction to Bush's Thursday night national address:

Nina Totenberg: "I thought it was weird lighting. It all looked a little strange to me. I was very happy to see him take responsibility and to not pretend that the buck stops someplace else. But it would have been a great opportunity to say, 'look, I'm for tax cuts, but we need a Katrina tax, we need to really pay, to do this and to pay for it.'"
Gordon Peterson: "You want more taxes."
Totenberg, as she chuckled: "I want more taxes, yes."

Ted Turner: Tanks Don't Stop Terrorism,
"Giving People Hope" Does

CNN founder Ted Turner rued on Friday's Late Show with David Letterman that "we paid $400 billion to find a nut in a fox hole" and declared that the Iraqi people "were better off without us." He also charged that "we violated international law by going to war without a clear mandate from the security council." Though the 9/11 terrorists were hardly poor, Turner contended: "You don't stop terrorism with tanks, you stop it with giving people hope so they won't want to blow themselves up." To that end, he proposed giving the UN $62 billion a year to alleviate poverty. As for the UN's oil-for-food scandal, "there was money siphoned off at Enron and a lot of American corporations during the last few years, but we didn't close down American business as result of it." But Enron is no longer around.

(This item was posted Saturday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: Exposing and Combating Liberal Media Bias. To share your comment, go to the node for this item: newsbusters.org )

Some of Turner's more colorful comments during his appearance on the September 16 Late Show with David Letterman on CBS:

# "I was against the war. First of all I'm anti-war. I'm a man of peace and I believe that we should be following the leadership of Gandhi and Martin Luther King with using nonviolent ways of achieving our goals. And I don't believe in violence. And certainly not unless you're attacked. And Iraq did not attack us. They didn't have a single airplane to put in the air when we started bombing them. I mean it was a joke. I mean we paid $400 billion to find a nut in a fox hole and he really was a nut. And we should have known that. I mean he didn't, (applause) there were no weapons with of mass destruction. All there was was he was building palaces with the money that he had. I mean, you know. I mean like building real estate. Crazy. I mean and we just really -- to have such bad information and to go to war on such faulty information, we're now, you know, so many of our boys are dying needlessly and a lot of Iraqis are dying too needlessly. They were better off without us -- without us there even though it was a mess. I mean basically, you know, if we want to try and straighten someplace out, why don't we go back and try on Haiti. It costs a lot less, it's closer by and we've already given them a democracy once with Aristide. You know, you can't impose democracy on other countries. Basically they've got to earn it themselves the way we did here."

# "We violated international law by going to war without a clear mandate from the security council."

# After explaining how Lester Brown of the Worldwatch Institute's estimated it would take $62 billion a year to resolve the world's ten biggest problems, such as hunger and education: "The U.S. military budget is close to $500 billion now, so it's a little, about 12 percent of the U.S. military budget. The global military budget is, of course, a trillion, double the U.S. military budget. And so it's only six percent of the global military budget and I would say that spending that $62 billion, cutting the military budgets back by 10 percent and using that money to basically solve the real, the real serious poverty problems in the world would be a much better investment in fighting terrorism than, you don't stop terrorism with tanks, you stop it with giving people hope so they won't want to blow themselves up."

# "The UN could administer it. Would there be some corruption, would there be some money siphoned off? Of course there would. But there was money siphoned off at Enron and a lot of American corporations during the last few years, but we didn't close down American business as result of it. We just try and reform and that's just what you try and do."

Tacky Danner and Classy Arquette Comment
on Iraq During the Emmys

Just 40 minutes into the Emmy Awards presentations Sunday night on CBS, Blythe Danner, in accepting the award (picture of acceptance) for the Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her role in Showtime's Huff, relayed views she attributed to her late husband Bruce Paltrow, best known as the producer of St. Elsewhere, though it was unclear if her political statement about Iraq, coming after a tribute to New Orleans, was her own or just what she believed her husband would have thought: "I know Bruce would want me to pay tribute to New Orleans, his favorite city, and all the Gulf Coast and our kids in Iraq. Let's get the heck out of there!" Just under two hours later, however, in accepting (picture of acceptance) the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her starring role on NBC's Medium, Patricia Arquette delivered a classier appreciation of the troops in Iraq. She announced: "My prayer for you is that when you get home you can come home safe and sound."

Afterwards, on the E cable channel's post-Emmy coverage, Arquette elaborated: "I think even though the troops aren't on television all the time, they're part of our country and it's important to remember they're there and to reach out and remind them that we haven't forgotten them."

(This item was posted early this morning on the MRC's NewsBusters.org blog. To add your comment, go to: newsbusters.org )

For the Internet Movie Database's page on Danner: www.imdb.com

For IMDb's page on Arquette: us.imdb.com

For a Yahoo News picture of Danner's acceptance: news.yahoo.com

For a Yahoo News picture of Arquette's acceptance: news.yahoo.com

-- Brent Baker