Lieberman Claim of Lott Presidential Succession Not Corrected
3. Schieffer Only Labels Conservative Guest
CBS & NBC Smear Legitimate Conservative Positions
Russert Again Raises Postponing Tax Cuts
Hunt Presses Granholm to Raise Taxes
Jennings Again Impugns Kissinger for "War Crimes"
FNC's Fox Newswatch Debates the MRC's "Mau-Mau" Impact
Say it ain't so, Al. Reacting to Al Gore's announcement that he won't run for President in 2004, ABC anchor Carole Simpson twice reminded viewers of how Gore won the popular vote in 2000 and during his appearance on 60 Minutes Lesley Stahl seemed disappointed by his decision and tried to prod him into reconsidering, at least for 2008.
Simpson opened the December 15 World News Tonight/Sunday by characterizing it as "a remarkable decision from the man who won the popular vote in the 2000 election." She wrapped up the broadcast by returning to her theme: "This, despite winning the popular vote in the 2000 presidential election."
A befuddled Stahl pressed Gore: "I'm still trying to understand why you won't run." Stahl wistfully asked Gore: "So this is it. You were in the House, you were in the Senate for two terms, ran for President twice, Vice President of the United States for eight years and this is it?" But Stahl did not lose all hope: "You said I'm not going to be a candidate 'this time.' What about 2008?"
Opening World News Tonight/Sunday, Simpson announced: "Tonight former Vice President Al Gore has announced he will not run for President in 2004. The statement puts to rest months of speculation. It is a remarkable decision from the man who won the popular vote in the 2000 election."
At the end of the show she repeated her point: "Finally, a brief review of our top stories. Former Vice President Al Gore has announced that he will not run for President in 2004. This despite winning the popular vote in the 2000 presidential election."
Minutes later, Gore appeared in a short taped interview on CBS's 60 Minutes. After Gore said he would not run and Stahl pressed him about whether he still has the ambition to become President, she remained baffled: "I'm still trying to understand why you won't run."
Gore explained how while he thinks he could beat Bush, the race would be all about 2000 instead of the future and he's confident a Democrat can win by focusing on the poor economy.
Accepting his decision, Stahl grew wistful in this exchange which ended the segment:
Half credit to George Stephanopoulos, but a big F in basic American civics to Senator Joe Lieberman. Stephanopoulos earned half credit for pressing Lieberman on Sunday's This Week about wanting to censure Trent Lott when he rationalized a racial epithet last year uttered by Democratic Senator Robert Byrd. But Stephanopoulos gets marked down for not correcting Lieberman when he insisted the Lott transgression was "more consequential" because he was speaking "as a person in line to the presidency." The Senate Majority Leader is not on any succession list.
After Lieberman told Stephanopoulos that he would vote in favor of censuring Lott, Stephanopoulos reminded Lieberman of how he reacted after Byrd used an epithet (Byrd used the term "white nigger" during a Fox News Sunday interview, but Stephanopoulos didn't quote Byrd): "Last year when Senator Byrd used those racial epithets you accepted his apology and you basically excused what he said, said it was the product of a tired mind and fatigue. Should Senator Byrd be censured as well, should the Senate speak out on that?"
When Lieberman finished, Stephanopoulos moved on to North Korea and Iraq with his two guests, Lieberman and Republican Senator Richard Lugar.
If George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Dennis Hastert were all to die in the next few days the President of the United States would be the Senate Pro Tempore, the only current U.S. Senator, a Wall Street Journal editorial pointed out on Friday, to have voted against both black nominees, one liberal and one conservative, to the Supreme Court: Democrat Robert Byrd.
The Senate Majority Leader is not in the line of succession. The Senate Pro Tempore is the only member who can become President and after him it goes to Cabinet members, starting with the Secretary of State.
The "Lott in line to the presidency" fallacy may have gone out in some kind of Democratic talking points memo since Julian Bond made the same argument about Lott on CNN's Late Edition, but fellow guest Senator Arlen Specter corrected him.
Here's a trivia question: After the Senate convenes in January and new members are sworn in, who will be the Senate Pro Tempore, the longest serving member of the majority party who will be the third in line to the presidency? See the end of this CyberAlert for my guess.
Schieffer set up his December 15 show: "Today on Face the Nation, the Lott controversy, and Iraq. Should Senator Lott resign from his leadership position in the wake of his comments on Strom Thurmond's past? We'll ask former Bush and Reagan Cabinet member Bill Bennett, Wade Henderson of the Leadership Council on Civil Rights, and political scientist Merle Black of Emory University. Plus, conservative Editor of The National Review, Rich Lowry. Then we'll talk about Iraq with Senator Joe Biden, Democrat of Delaware."
Getting to Lowry, Schieffer labeled him for a second time: "Rich, there in New York. You're the editor of sort of the conservative bible. You called, before all of this developed into the firestorm that it is, on Senator Lott to step down, and you made no bones about it. Why so?"
On Friday night CBS's John Roberts and NBC's Norah O'Donnell smeared legitimate positions taken by many conservatives, against a Martin Luther King holiday and extending the Voting Rights Act, by offering Trent Lott's opposition to both as evidence to support the notion that he's racially intolerant.
On the December 13 CBS Evening News, Roberts intoned: "Lott had declared it was simply a poor choice of words to say the country would be better off had segregationist Strom Thurmond been elected President in 1948. But he'd said almost exactly the same thing 22 years ago, and his voting record against an extension of the Voting Rights Act, the Martin Luther King Holiday, and an African-American judge's confirmation suggested to some in his home town a disturbing pattern."
Over on the NBC nightly News, Norah O'Donnell asserted: "His praise of Strom Thurmond's segregationist presidential campaign has given his critics a chance to remind people that in the 1980s he voted against extending the voting right act and a federal holiday for Martin Luther King Junior."
For more on this theme, see the December 13 CyberAlert: A Friday front page Washington Post story impugned all conservatives as racists, or at least segregationist sympathizers. Under the headline, "Lott Has Moved Little On Civil Rights Issues; Analysts Say Remarks, Record Consistent," the Post recounted how Lott has failed to adopt liberal positions: "An examination of his record shows that over the past 40 years, he has consistently taken positions at odds with those of the traditional civil rights community." Many of those views matched most conservatives, such as opposing forced school busing. And even media hero John McCain voted against a Martin Luther King Day holiday. For details: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20021213.asp#3 
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 posed this lengthy question over a still shot of an October 13 ad in the New York Times: "The cost of the war, if there is one, the cost of the war on terrorism, the ongoing recession, the President has a new economic adviser, a new nominee for the Secretary of the Treasury. Going back and looking at some of the references, the Concord Coalition, a group that is outspoken about deficits -- there it is on the screen. The vice chair was Stephen Friedman, President Bush's new economic adviser, and this is what they said in October, a full-page ad when Mr. Friedman was vice chair: 'We ask our soldiers to sacrifice. What about the rest of us?...costly policies based on the premise of perpetual large surpluses should be scaled back or postponed until the fiscal outlook improves. This specifically includes politically popular items such as a Medicare prescription drug benefit and prospective tax cuts that are not scheduled to take effect until later years.'
Santorum opposed slowing the rollout of the tax cuts.
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?"
Other than raising with John Kerry on December 1 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." http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20021014.asp#1 
-- 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: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20021008.asp#2 
-- 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: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020923.asp#1 
-- 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: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020904.asp#3 
-- 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: http://www.mediaresearch.org/realitycheck/2002/fax20020730.asp 
During the second half of the December 14 Capital Gang, viewers saw a taped satellite interview conduced by Hunt, Executive Washington Editor of the Wall Street Journal, with Governor-elect Jennifer Granholm.
Hunt hoped: "You've been very lukewarm to any tax increases, yet given the dire fiscal situation of your state, should the entire burden be borne by those receiving services?"
Back on the show live, panelist Bob Novak wondered: "Did you notice the love light went out of Al's eyes when she said no tax increases? I mean, he said, 'Oh, my God.'"
To ABC's Peter Jennings, in reporting on President Bush's selection of Henry Kissinger to head a commission probing the 9/11 attacks and Kissinger's resignation from the position on Friday, Kissinger came in as a man accused of "war crimes" and he went out as a man accused of "war crimes." Though he found the left-wing attacks on Kissinger newsworthy, Jennings never raised any criticisms from conservatives about Kissinger being too liberal.
On the November 27 World News Tonight Jennings castigated Kissinger: "He is a controversial choice for some. He is a winner of a Nobel Peace Prize. But he has more recently been pursued by some of his critics, who say he's guilty of war crimes." Details: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20021202.asp#2 
Fast forward to Friday night, December 13, and Jennings delivered an echo: "The appointment was brief and very controversial. Dr. Kissinger was a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize but has also been accused of war crimes."
What Jennings reported on the December 13 World News Tonight in full, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "As we said, Henry Kissinger is giving up government service. The former Secretary of State said late today that he will not serve as head of the presidential commission investigating what went wrong before the September 11th attacks. Mr. Kissinger's financial interests were the issue. He was under pressure to reveal the clients of his consulting firm before the presidential commission began its work. He said today it would take too long to get the list together. The appointment was brief and very controversial. Dr. Kissinger was a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize but has also been accused of war crimes. ABC's George Stephanopoulos is with us from Washington tonight. George, you've been working the phone late today on both these issues. First, Dr. Kissinger. What does this mean to his reputation?"
The Media Research Center (MRC) got caught up in an argument on FNC's Fox Newswatch over the weekend over whether the MRC has successfully mau-maued the media. Two panelists decided we haven't, one that we have.
When Newsday columnist Jim Pinkerton said on the December 14 program that complaints from a far left-wing group about the lack of coverage of an anti-war rally led to follow-up coverage, former Los Angeles Times reporter Jane Hall fired back: "You don't think the Media Research Center has mau-maued people into stuff?"
Pinkerton maintained: "The New York Times and Washington Post don't respond to the Media Research Center." To which, Hall retorted: "Oh baloney!" Columnist Cal Thomas agreed with Pinkerton: "The Media Research Center, a conservative media watchdog group, regularly complains about left-wing bias and you see hardly any corrective efforts in the media."
The MRC came up in the midst of a discussion about how little attention nationwide protests received on Tuesday and how the media supposedly underplayed an earlier march in Washington which attracted 100,000 protesters.
Pinkerton credited a far-left group with getting two papers to jump at their complaint and run follow-up stories on the Washington march: "The New York Times and the Washington Post had to come back and add more coverage after Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, a left-wing pressure group,
mau-maued them into doing it. It shows you how easy it is-"
Cal Thomas soon came down on Pinkerton's side: "Jim's point is very good. The Media Research Center, a conservative media watchdog group, regularly complains about left-wing bias and you see hardly any corrective efforts in the media."
We appreciate Hall's confidence in our influence, but we haven't beaten back the liberal media quite yet.
And, by the way, Saturday's CBS Evening News ran a full story on the Tuesday protests and how they supposedly involved a wide cross-section of American society, a story which seemed to closely match the laudatory theme of a December 11 New York Times story highlighted in the December 13 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20021213.asp#4 
> I transcribed this, but it didn't fit into any of the above items and yet I think it's worth repeating since it shows how little respect Lott has with conservative commentators. George Will on This Week about what can happen if Senate Republicans hold a new vote to elect a leader: "Then justice will be done. It will be done when either Trent Lott will be replaced, or in calm deliberation the Republicans will have chosen to continue being led by this inadequate mediocrity and they'll pay a price."
> Space prevents me from doing an item as I'd intended on Sean Penn in Iraq, a trip ABC highlighted on Sunday night as Dan Harris revealed Penn is more rationale than Democratic Congressman Jim McDermott: "Last fall Penn paid more than $50,000 to take out a newspaper ad accusing President Bush of promoting fear and stifling debate on Iraq. But today, on foreign soil, Penn took pains not to criticize anybody."
> The answer to the trivia question I posed in item #2: Who will be the Senate Pro Tempore in January when Republicans take control of the chamber? I'm pretty sure of this, but going from memory of who I believe is the longest serving Republican now that Strom Thurmond will be gone: Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska. -- Brent Baker