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Stephanopoulos Forwards Anti-McCain Tax Cut Analysis from Left --6/30/2008


1. Stephanopoulos Forwards Anti-McCain Tax Cut Analysis from Left
Here we go again. Just as with 2001-2003 coverage of Bush's tax cuts which gave the greatest percent cut to those in the lowest income tax bracket, ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Sunday chose to undermine the fairness of John McCain's proposed tax plan by citing estimated dollar cuts by income level, as if it's unfair for someone earning more to get a larger dollar amount tax cut than someone making less. Citing the Tax Policy Center, a project of two left of center organizations -- the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution -- Stephanopoulos reminded This Week guest Tim Pawlenty, the Republican Governor of Minnesota, how "your trademark has been that the Republican Party has to be the party of Sam's Club, not just the country club." Stephanopoulos, who failed to hit his other guest, Democratic Congressman Rahm Emmanuel with any numbers critical of Obama's tax plan, pounced on Pawlenty: "It shows that if you're making under $60,000 a year about, the bottom 60 percent will get about $150. The top one percent of people, making about $600,000 a year, get $45,000. The top 0.1 percent -- that's approaching $3 million a year -- get almost $270,000. How do you sell that as a plan that targets Sam's Club more than the country club?"

2. Morning Shows Give a Combined 3.5 Minutes to Historic Gun Ruling
Despite the "historic" nature of Thursday's Supreme Court ruling that the Second Amendment is an individual right, all three morning shows on Friday virtually ignored the decision, devoting a combined total of three minutes and 33 seconds to the story. And between CBS's Early Show, NBC's Today and ABC's Good Morning America, that's out of eight hours of programming. In fact, the three and a half minutes of story time does not even equal the over four minutes that Wednesday's Early Show alone gave to the critically important subject of how to Feng Shui your house for pets. On Friday, however, the CBS program could only find a mere 30 seconds for the most definitive gun ruling the Supreme Court has ever made. And while Good Morning America spent almost three minutes on Madonna and whether or not she's getting divorced, the show only allowed 93 seconds of air time for the D.C. gun case. Similarly, the Today show devoted 90 seconds to the topic, despite admitting that it was "the most important ruling ever on gun rights."

3. Time Magazine: Scalia 'Arch-Conservative,' But Stevens Unlabeled
Time's Alex Altman wrote a story online titled "The Future of Gun Control," in which he declared the text of the Second Amendment to be quite "puzzling" and "convoluted," but his liberal tilt clearly came through in how his Thursday posting described Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the majority opinion, as "arch-conservative" while leaving liberal dissenter John Paul Stevens unlabeled: "The Constitution does not permit 'the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home,' Justice Antonin Scalia, the court's arch-conservative, wrote in the majority opinion....In one of two dissenting opinions, Justice John Paul Stevens called Scalia's argument 'strained and unpersuasive.' He also blistered the majority for its expansive reading of the Amendment's 'ambiguous' text."

4. Stephanopoulos Hosts Party for Book on How Dems Can Win Religious
George Stephanopoulos might be Chief Washington correspondent of ABC News, but that apparently doesn't stop him from hosting partisan book parties at his Georgetown home for Democratic authors trying to help the Democrats "get religion" and nab some more voters of faith. In Thursday's Washington Post, religion reporter Michelle Boorstein wrote a story boosting the new book by Michael Sean Winters on wooing Catholics back into the Democratic fold: "All the pieces were there for a classic Washington celebrity book party: George Stephanopoulos's gorgeously appointed Georgetown home, media glitterati like Chris Matthews milling around, a book about politics, a bunch of priests."

5. Neuharth: Raise Income Tax So Iraq War Hawks Will Become Doves
Regretting that "few grownups are concerned about the $526 billion cost so far for the Iraq war without end" because "President Bush and his rich buddies have made sure most of the monetary burden will be borne by our children and grandchildren," USA Today founder Al Neuharth, in his weekly column on Friday, recommended "a stiff income tax surcharge" to pay for the war. But Neuharth made clear his real motive is to turn those for the war against it: "The surest way to jar us into realizing the unconscionable cost of the Iraq debacle is to impose a stiff income tax surcharge to pay for it. If we did that, most hawks would become doves overnight."


Stephanopoulos Forwards Anti-McCain Tax
Cut Analysis from Left

Here we go again. Just as with 2001-2003 coverage of Bush's tax cuts which gave the greatest percent cut to those in the lowest income tax bracket (going from 15 down to 10 percent, a 33 percent reduction), ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Sunday chose to undermine the fairness of John McCain's proposed tax plan (and illustrate the media hostility sure to greet McCain whenever he takes a conservative position) by citing estimated dollar cuts by income level, as if it's unfair for someone earning more to get a larger dollar amount tax cut than someone making less.

Citing the Tax Policy Center, a project of two left of center organizations -- the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution -- Stephanopoulos reminded This Week guest Tim Pawlenty, the Republican Governor of Minnesota, how "your trademark has been that the Republican Party has to be the party of Sam's Club, not just the country club." Stephanopoulos, who failed to hit his other guest, Democratic Congressman Rahm Emmanuel with any numbers critical of Obama's tax plan, pounced on Pawlenty:
"The Tax Policy Institute [actually, Center] has crunched the numbers on John McCain's tax plan. I want to put some of them up there right now. It shows that if you're making under $60,000 a year about, the bottom 60 percent will get about $150. The top one percent of people, making about $600,000 a year, get $45,000. The top 0.1 percent -- that's approaching $3 million a year -- get almost $270,000. How do you sell that as a plan that targets Sam's Club more than the country club?"

Demonstrating the liberal appeal of the Tax Policy Center's analysis based on dollars instead of percent cuts, as a guest on Fox News Sunday Democratic Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell cited the same Tax Policy Center report as did Stephanopoulos.

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Monday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Picking up on the Tax Policy Center's raw numbers, the right of center Tax Foundation crunched them and discovered a trend the media rarely discuss:

Obama's plan would greatly accelerate the decades-long trend toward a federal government that depends for tax revenue almost exclusively on a few high-income people.

This contrasts starkly with the McCain plan, according to [Tax Foundation President Scott] Hodge, which would give every taxpayer a cut and leave the current tax burden distribution approximately where it is.

An excerpt from the Tax Foundation's June 26 press release:

"Under the Obama plan for 2009," explains Hodge, "more than $131 billion would be redistributed from the top 1 percent of taxpayers to all other taxpayers."

As a result, the top 1 percent of households would pay more federal taxes of all kinds than the bottom 80 percent of households. That lopsided distribution under Obama does include payroll taxes and other federal taxes, but it excludes the new payroll tax hike that Obama plans to levy on people making more than $250,000 because details about that plan are currently unclear.

"In other words," says Hodge, "it is at this point a cautious estimate to say that in 2009, under Obama's plan, 1.13 million Americans would pay more in all federal taxes than 128 million of their fellow citizens combined."

To put the Obama plan in historical context, Hodge cites various statistics that show the U.S. tax system evolving into one where a majority of Americans pay little or nothing:

- Between 1999 and 2006, the number of tax filers who had no income tax liability after taking advantage of their credits and deductions grew from 30 million to nearly 44 million.

- Looking at all federal taxes combined, the CBO says that between 1990 and 2005, the tax share of the bottom 80 percent of households dropped from 42 percent of the total to 31 percent. Meanwhile, the tax share of the top 1 percent of households rose from 16 percent to 28 percent.

- In 2004, the nation's tax and spending policies redistributed more than $1 trillion in income from the top 40 percent of American households to the bottom 60 percent of households.

The June 26 press release: www.taxfoundation.org

For the Tax Foundation's full report, "Hard Numbers on Obama's Redistribution Plan," go to: www.taxfoundation.org

The full question from Stephanopoulos on the June 29 This Week, as provided by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth who also got the screen shots for me:

I do want to turn to taxes right now. And, Governor Pawlenty, your trademark has been that the Republican party has to be the party of Sam's Club, not just the country club. And the Tax Policy Institute has crunched the numbers on John McCain's tax plan. I want to put some of them up there right now. It shows that if you're making under $60,000 a year about, the bottom 60 percent will get about $150. The top one percent of people, making about $600,000 a year, get $45,000. The top 0.1 percent -- that's approaching $3 million a year -- get almost $270,000. How do you sell that as a plan that targets Sam's Club more than the country club?

For the summary page for the Tax Policy Center's report released on June 24, "A Preliminary Analysis of the 2008 Presidential Candidates' Tax Plans," go to: www.taxpolicycenter.org

PDF of the full report: www.taxpolicycenter.org

Morning Shows Give a Combined 3.5 Minutes
to Historic Gun Ruling

Despite the "historic" nature of Thursday's Supreme Court ruling that the Second Amendment is an individual right, all three morning shows on Friday virtually ignored the decision, devoting a combined total of three minutes and 33 seconds to the story. And between CBS's Early Show, NBC's Today and ABC's Good Morning America, that's out of eight hours of programming.

See AP for the "historic" language: ap.google.com

In fact, the three and a half minutes of story time does not even equal the over four minutes that Wednesday's Early Show alone gave to the critically important subject of how to Feng Shui your house for pets. On Friday, however, the CBS program could only find a mere 30 seconds for the most definitive gun ruling the Supreme Court has ever made. And while Good Morning America spent almost three minutes on Madonna and whether or not she's getting divorced, the show only allowed 93 seconds of air time for the D.C. gun case. Similarly, the Today show devoted 90 seconds to the topic, despite admitting that it was "the most important ruling ever on gun rights."

Now, what could the cause for all this be? Could it have something to do with the fact that presidential candidate Barack Obama has repeatedly flip-flopped about his position on the case? Or maybe it's because Democrats in general don't seem eager to see gun control become a major issue in the 2008 presidential race and liberals in the media are helpfully playing along.

[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Friday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Finally, although GMA reporter Dan Harris did acknowledge in his report the position of gun owners, he tried to offer what could be a hopeful spin: "Gun control advocates are confident their side will win out, but they worry that their hands will be tied in the meantime, in the fight against urban violence."

Transcripts of the limited June 27 coverage from the morning shows:

# ABC's GMA, 93 seconds at 7:13am:

KATE SNOW: The Supreme Court's ruling Thursday that Americans have a constitutional right to own guns is already triggering a flood of lawsuits. Advocates of gun rights are now vowing to challenge every limit on gun owners rights and big city mayors are vowing to fight back. Our Dan Harris explains.

DAN HARRIS: This morning in San Francisco, the first in an expected avalanche of legal challenges to gun laws as a result of the Supreme Court ruling. A lawsuit against the city which bans handguns in public housing.
CHUCK MICHEL (California Rifle and Pistol Association): And in the process deprives them of the right to choose to own a firearm to defend themselves or their families.
HARRIS: Chicago and several surrounding suburbs are also bracing for similar challenges. They have laws that are similar to the one the Supreme Court overturned. Chicago's mayor is not happy.
MAYOR RICHARD DALEY (D-Chicago, Illinois): Why don't we do away with the court system and go back to the old west? You have a gun and I have a gun and we'll settle in the streets.
HARRIS: Across the country a whole range of gun regulations could now come under attack from rules requiring mandatory trigger locks to bans on assault weapons. Gun control advocates are confident their side will win out, but they worry that their hands will be tied in the meantime, in the fight against urban violence.
ROBYN THOMAS (Exec Dir, Legal Community Against Violence): We have a great concern that resources will have to be spent defending good laws that are already on the books.
HARRIS: The Supreme Court may have answered one big question about guns in America, but now other questions will soon emerge in a courthouse near you. For "Good Morning America," Dan Harris, ABC News.


# NBC's Today, 90 seconds at 7:09am:

NATALIE MORALES: Thursday's Supreme Court ruling striking down Washington, DC's handgun ban is having recoil effect in other cities around the U.S. More now from NBC's justice correspondent Pete Williams.

PETE WILLIAMS: Just a few hours after the most important ruling ever on gun rights, pro-gun groups went to court to challenge Chicago's hand gun ban. An angry mayor defended the ban and called the Supreme Court's ruling frightening.
CHICAGO MAYOR RICHARD DALEY: Do you think your next door neighbor should have an Uzi, and AK-47, any type of a gun? Do you really believe that? Good luck.
WILLIAMS: The Court said the Second Amendment right to bear arms applies to individuals, not just members of militias striking down Washington, DC's ban on handguns, the Court said they're well suited for self-defense, especially at home where the five-member majority said the "need for defense of self, family and property is most acute."
WAYNE LAPIERRE, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: It's vindication for Americans all over this country that always knew it was their freedom worth protecting.
WILLIAMS: The NRA said it would challenge gun restrictions in San Francisco and might take on licensing requirements in New York City where the mayor said his city's background checks will hold up.
NEW YORK MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: You have a right under the Second Amendment, we've always believed, to hold, to have a pistol or to have a rifle. What you don't have a right to do is to hold one if you are a criminal.
WILLIAMS: The court said cities can still put restrictions on gun ownership but exactly which ones will keep court battles going for years to come. Pete Williams, NBC News, at the Supreme Court.


# CBS's Early Show, 30 seconds at 7:08am:

RUSS MITCHELL: That Supreme Court ruling that Americans have a right to own guns is still a hot topic of discussion this morning. Yesterday the justices shut down a Washington, D.C. gun ban. Chicago has one that's very similar. And the ruling angered Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.
RICHARD DALEY: The Supreme Court and Congress has no obligation to keep our country safe. It falls on the backs of mayors and your local officials.
MITCHELL: Within hours of the ruling gun rights advocates filed suit to overturn Chicago's law. The National Rifle Association plans to file a similar complaint against San Francisco.

Time Magazine: Scalia 'Arch-Conservative,'
But Stevens Unlabeled

Time's Alex Altman wrote a story online titled "The Future of Gun Control," in which he declared the text of the Second Amendment to be quite "puzzling" and "convoluted," but his liberal tilt clearly came through in how his Thursday posting described Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the majority opinion, as "arch-conservative" while leaving liberal dissenter John Paul Stevens unlabeled: "The Constitution does not permit 'the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home,' Justice Antonin Scalia, the court's arch-conservative, wrote in the majority opinion....In one of two dissenting opinions, Justice John Paul Stevens called Scalia's argument 'strained and unpersuasive.' He also blistered the majority for its expansive reading of the Amendment's 'ambiguous' text."

[This item, by the MRC's Tim Graham, was posted Saturday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Time illustrated my maxim that to the media, the epic battles of our time are fought between the arch-conservatives and the non-partisans.

Wouldn't your average American who wants to land in a reasonable, less ideological position lean left as they read this piece? Or maybe they're too busy laughing at the notion of a liberal scolding a conservative for an "expansive" reading of the Constitution. Altman also displayed a labeling imbalance at the end of the article:

Instead of rendering the Second Amendment a dormant law, the Court's ruling has given it life. "It is not the role of this Court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct," Scalia wrote. That view aligns the Court's conservative wing with most current scholarly interpretations, says [Randy] Barnett, the Georgetown professor. But despite finally affixing its imprimatur on a reading of the convoluted Amendment, the Court's ruling raises nearly as many questions as it settles. As Justice Stevens wrote, it "leaves for future cases the formidable task of defining the scope" of its impact.

For the June 26 Time magazine posting: www.time.com

Time's writer deserves credit for balancing the experts by using Randy Barnett, who's written and blogged a bit for National Review.

Stephanopoulos Hosts Party for Book on
How Dems Can Win Religious

George Stephanopoulos might be Chief Washington correspondent of ABC News, but that apparently doesn't stop him from hosting partisan book parties at his Georgetown home for Democratic authors trying to help the Democrats "get religion" and nab some more voters of faith. In Thursday's Washington Post, religion reporter Michelle Boorstein wrote a story boosting the new book by Michael Sean Winters on wooing Catholics back into the Democratic fold:

All the pieces were there for a classic Washington celebrity book party: George Stephanopoulos's gorgeously appointed Georgetown home, media glitterati like Chris Matthews milling around, a book about politics, a bunch of priests.

A bunch of priests?

If anything embodied the complicated, shifting and sort of weird relationship between politics and religion these days -- particularly on the left -- it was the party Tuesday night for local writer Michael Sean Winters's new book: "Left at the Altar: How the Democrats Lost the Catholics and How the Catholics Can Save the Democrats."

SUSPEND Excerpt

[This item, by the MRC's Tim Graham, was posted Thursday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The Washingtonian magazine Web site has pictures from the fete: www.washingtonian.com

(Unsurprisingly, Post columnist E.J. Dionne was also there for the religious-left gathering.) Stephanopoulos and Winters are apparently long-time friends. Winters managed the Washington bookstore Kramerbooks and Afterwords, and Stephanopoulos used to live above the bookstore when he first came to DC. The Winters bio touts a plug from Stephanopoulos: "In 2002, National Journal's Hotline asked George Stephanopoulos, 'Who is the most important person in Washington nobody has ever heard of?' He replied, 'Michael Sean Winters.'" See: www.garamondagency.com

Boorstein added color to the party scene:

The gay Jamaican insurance adjuster by the hummus was talking about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and how everyone would have ignored the Chicago minister had he been railing against gays and lesbians. The priest standing near Stephanopoulos's massive seashell collection was talking about how Pope John Paul II urged clergy to stay out of American politics, which is "the bread and butter of American culture." Winters, a former seminarian and political speechwriter, pined for the days when church officials made radio speeches paid for by the Democratic Party.

In a nation founded with a separation of church and state, "we have certain ideas about how religion and politics mix, where the line is....The line shifts, and Democrats have been on the losing side of that line, and we have to figure out how to be on the winning side," Winters told the crowd from the landing of the foyer's grand staircase, prompting an "mm-hmm."

Lately Americans across the political spectrum have been embroiled in debates about what is the proper place of religion in politics. Winters argues that it should be obvious that John F. Kennedy was wrong when he said religion is "a private affair"; instead it is the starting point for tens of millions of Americans when they describe why they believe what they do.

Not everyone at the party was completely won over by that idea. Wieseltier said the Democrats' deliberate pursuit of the faith mantle was a bit "cynical."

"Liberalism doesn't have to be hostile to religion, but it has to be skeptical of all absolute claims in the public realm. This idea that everyone should rush into each other's arms because that's how [Karl] Rove got [George] Bush elected is odd and unattractive."

END of Excerpt

For the June 26 article in full: www.washingtonpost.com

This isn't the first time the Post has boosted Winters. At the end of March, Winters wrote a piece for the Sunday Outlook section touting how Pope Benedict would be dramatically at odds with President Bush on foreign policy when he visited America: www.washingtonpost.com

George Weigel rebutted the piece on National Review Online, charging it had "won the pole position in this year's chase for the coveted Father Richard McBrien Prize in Really Inept Vaticanology." See: article.nationalreview.com

Neuharth: Raise Income Tax So Iraq War
Hawks Will Become Doves

Regretting that "few grownups are concerned about the $526 billion cost so far for the Iraq war without end" because "President Bush and his rich buddies have made sure most of the monetary burden will be borne by our children and grandchildren," USA Today founder Al Neuharth, in his weekly column on Friday, recommended "a stiff income tax surcharge" to pay for the war. But Neuharth made clear his real motive is to turn those for the war against it: "The surest way to jar us into realizing the unconscionable cost of the Iraq debacle is to impose a stiff income tax surcharge to pay for it. If we did that, most hawks would become doves overnight."

Neuharth hailed Abraham Lincoln for imposing an income tax to pay for the Civil War and stressed how the current rates in the U.S. "are below those of other major countries. France, Germany, Great Britain and Japan all assess higher rates. The Netherlands' top rate is 52% and Sweden's is 60%."

As always, below Neuharth's column USA Today featured one supportive and one opposing view. For this column, Bob McIntyre of Citizens for Tax Justice praised the "great idea!" while Duane Parde of the National Taxpayers Union provided a solid retort: "Defense spending is topping $600 billion this year, but social spending will be almost three times bigger. Washington should cut waste and set priorities with the trillions of dollars it already has, not further loot people's wallets."

(Screen shot of Neuharth, to be posted with the online version of this CyberAlert, is from a 2004 Smithsonian event carried by C-SPAN. CyberAlert article on it: www.mediaresearch.org )

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Sunday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

An excerpt from Neuharth's June 27 column: "Fairest war tax is 146 years old July 1":

Few grownups are concerned about the $526 billion cost so far for the Iraq war without end. That's because President Bush and his rich buddies have made sure most of the monetary burden will be borne by our children and grandchildren.

What a difference from the war that saved our nation. One hundred forty-six years ago next week, on July 1, 1862, President Lincoln signed our first and very fair income tax law to pay for the Civil War....

It was re-enacted in 1913 in anticipation of World War I and has been in effect ever since....

Current IRS rate ranges:

* 10% for annual income up to $16,050.

* 35% for those earning over $357,700.

Actually, those rates are below those of other major countries. France, Germany, Great Britain and Japan all assess higher rates. The Netherlands' top rate is 52% and Sweden's is 60%.

Income tax increases or surcharges are the fairest way to pay for any emergencies. That's especially true of wars.

With an all-volunteer military, most of us avoid the sacrifice of service. So we should pay the bills for proper equipment, pay and retirement rewards for those who serve....

The surest way to jar us into realizing the unconscionable cost of the Iraq debacle is to impose a stiff income tax surcharge to pay for it. If we did that, most hawks would become doves overnight.

END of Excerpt

For the entire column: blogs.usatoday.com

-- Brent Baker