Complaining About Budget Cuts; Bush "Conjuring Up an Enemy" to Justify Missile Defense; Refurbished Greta; Prime Time Stem Cells
1) On This Week ABC's Sam Donaldson lamented to Donald Rumsfeld that the proposed Bush budget raises "the old question of guns versus butter" as it cuts domestic programs "all to pay for an expanded defense budget." After Rumsfeld insisted "our soldiers don't go around killing innocent people," Donaldson retorted: "Except you've just launched an investigation to see whether in fact we did."
2) To the Washington press corps "sacrifice" means no tax cut, not slowed spending hikes. Newsweek's Evan Thomas promised "I would happily pay more in taxes." Al Hunt complained on CNN that "there is no shared sacrifice" in Bush's budget since the administration proposes "lots of guns, lots of tax cuts for the very wealthy, and to cut back on job training and health care. In other words, they want to have guns, caviar and no margarine."
3) The Clift-Stephanopoulos axis. Newsweek's Eleanor Clift asserted that President Bush's "axis of evil" listing or Iraq, Iran and North Korea was really about "conjuring up an enemy" in order to justify missile defense. On ABC's This Week, George Stephanopoulos pointed to the same reason for Bush's "axis" as he called the policy "deeply incoherent."
4) Repeating the same complaint she lodged Tuesday night after the State of the Union address, on Fox News Sunday's roundtable Washington Post reporter Ceci Connolly bemoaned how President Bush ignored Enron, "the uninsured, the homeless, many elderly who are hurting out there."
5) Interviewing OMB Director Mitch Daniels on Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume uniquely pointed out how the Bush budget calls for huge spending hikes for farm subsidies: "Aren't you vulnerable though to the charges you're going along with some very serious spending of the very kind Republicans used to stand against?"
6) On NBC's Today, Matt Lauer prompted former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to denounce Bush's "axis of evil" concept and then prodded her: "And does he run the risk of alienating some of our allies by making statements like that?"
7) Expect to see a refurbished Greta Van Susteren when her new show debuts tonight on the Fox News Channel. USA Today's Peter Johnson revealed that Van Susteren had cosmetic surgery to eliminate bags under her eyes.
8) CNN's world: "Abortion rights supporters" versus "abortion rights opponents." Reporting on the Bush administration decision to allow states to provide health care coverage to the unborn, CNN, like CBS the same night, ran a story based upon the complaints of those opposed to the coverage expansion.
9) Prime time "ripped from the headlines." On Monday, CBS's Family Law looks at embryonic stem cells as a life-saver. On Tuesday, CBS's JAG takes up the imposition of Saudi Arabia's dress code on women in the U.S. Navy. On Wednesday, NBC's Law & Order revolves around a plot inspired by Chandra Levy's disappearance.
Corrections: As several readers noted in pointing me to various Navy ship Web sites, the name of the destroyer, whose crew members read a "Top Ten" list on the Late Show on Thursday night, was misspelled in the February 1 CyberAlert . It's the Thorn, not the Thorne. The January 30 CyberAlert  at one point misquoted Bush's "axis of evil" as "access of evil."
Sam Donaldson lamented to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on This Week about how the administration's new budget raises "the old question of guns versus butter" as it cuts domestic programs "the critics will say, all to pay for an expanded defense budget." At another point in the interview, after Rumsfeld maintained that "our soldiers don't go around killing innocent people," Donaldson retorted: "You said we do not go around killing innocent people. I take your point, except you've just launched an investigation to see whether in fact we did."
On Sunday's show, Rumsfeld reiterated to
Donaldson his warning that the U.S. remains under the threat of a
terrorist attack. Donaldson countered: "Some cynics believe, of
course, when you were saying that you were tying it to the increase in the
What happened to the media desire for "sacrifice." I guess that only applies to dumping the tax cut.
(ABC's on-screen graphic credited the budget cut numbers to a story in Sunday's Washington Post. But in that article reporter Eric Pianin noted that even after excluding hikes for defense, homeland security and the economic stimulus, the Bush budget calls for budget growth of two percent. Pianin also reported that the "proposal to eviscerate spending for a youth job training program, from $225 million this year to $45 million next year," comes in a program which passed "Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support under the Clinton administration in 1998." So, the nation survived without one cent spent on it until 1999.)
Back to This Week, Donaldson raised concerns about the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, asking about how the detainees will be classified. Rumsfeld explained that Al Qaeda terrorists were not uniformed members of a nation's army and therefore will not be considered prisoners of war.
He pointed out the differences between Al
Qaeda and U.S. soldiers: "Our soldiers don't go around killing
innocent people, nor do our soldiers go around pretending they are
civilians and blurring that distinction between a combatant and a
non-combatant. That's what puts civilians at risk."
A mistake is a little different from purposely doing so.
Regretting President Bush's lack of a call for "sacrifice" in his State of the Union address, Newsweek's Evan Thomas proclaimed on Inside Washington that he wished "they'd asked for a tax increase" as he promised "I would happily pay more in taxes." On CNN's Capital Gang, Al Hunt complained "there is no shared sacrifice" since the administration proposes "lots of guns, lots of tax cuts for the very wealthy, and to cut back on job training and health care. In other words, they want to have guns, caviar and no margarine."
How about a little sacrifice from the recipients of money taken from hard working Americans who pay all the taxes.
On Inside Washington, host Gordon Peterson
asked: "The call for volunteerism. What did you think of that?"
On CNN's Capital Gang on Saturday evening, Wall Street Journal Executive Washington Editor Al Hunt denounced Bush's budget priorities: "There is no shared sacrifice. If there's a war, the first priority must be the men and women in uniform. And certainly that is President Bush's first priority. History, Vietnam in particular, has shown us you can't have guns and butter over a sustained period of time. And what this administration proposes are lots of guns, lots of tax cuts for the very wealthy, and to cut back on job training and health care. In other words, they want to have guns, caviar and no margarine. That's the objection."
Great liberal minds think alike? On the McLaughlin Group taped on Friday, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift asserted that President Bush's "axis of evil" listing or Iraq, Iran and North Korea was really about "conjuring up an enemy" in order to justify missile defense. Two days later, on ABC's This Week, George Stephanopoulos pointed to the same reason for Bush's "axis of evil" as he called the policy "deeply incoherent" since "if you have a strategy of preemption, if you're going to go knock out the missiles before they're built."
On the McLaughlin Group, shown Saturday
afternoon in Washington, DC, Clift argued: "What he has done is made
for the first time a clear connection between nuclear proliferation and
bio-terrorism and his war on terrorism. He may be trying to lay the
predicate for some pinpoint strikes. What this is really about is about is
conjuring up an enemy so he can get money for his-"
Sunday morning, during the roundtable on
ABC's This Week, George Stephanopoulos reasoned: "I think what you
really have to look at here is this is really about his agenda for
national missile defense. The one thing that holds these nations together
-- Iran Iraq and North Korea -- is they're all trying to build ballistic
missiles, they're all trafficking in ballistic missiles and that's
what he's trying to get at."
Ceci Connolly's liberal mantra. Repeating the same complaint she lodged Tuesday night after the State of the Union address, on Fox News Sunday's roundtable Washington Post reporter Ceci Connolly bemoaned how President Bush ignored Enron, "the uninsured, the homeless, many elderly who are hurting out there."
Connolly rued: "A couple of interesting things missing from that speech. No mention of Osama bin Laden. Remember him? 'Dead or alive'? No mention of Enron and no mention of, I would say, lesser groups in this society, whether you're talking about the uninsured, the homeless, many elderly who are hurting out there."
Five days earlier, during Fox's post-speech coverage, Connolly packed five liberal agenda issues into one sentence: "I have to say that part of what also struck me, aside from how frightening much in this speech was, were the things that were missing. Very little with respect to minorities, the uninsured, the homeless, the elderly, Enron workers who have lost their life savings."
Such sentiment probably fits right in with the liberal culture of the Washington Post newsroom and should tell you the prism through which the Washington press corps assess speeches.
Hitting the Bush administration from the right. While Washington reporters like Sam Donaldson, Evan Thomas, Al Hunt and Ceci Connolly are disturbed by Bush's insistence on tax cuts and slight reductions in spending on a few domestic programs, Fox's Brit Hume uniquely pointed out how the Bush budget calls for huge spending hikes in at least one domestic area.
Interviewing OMB Director Mitch Daniels on Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume proposed: "The President has agreed to a farm bill that is said will, over a ten year period, will add something of the order of $73 billion to the spending on farm subsidies, something that a few years ago we thought we were weaning the farm economy away from. Aren't you vulnerable though to the charges you're going along with some very serious spending of the very kind Republicans used to stand against?"
Today's Matt Lauer on Friday prompted former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to denounce Bush's "axis of evil" concept and then prodded her: "And does he run the risk of alienating some of our allies by making statements like that?"
MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens caught this exchange on the February 1 show after the two discussed the case of kidnaped Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
Lauer: "While I have you here let me ask
you about something the President said in his State of the Union address
this week. He called, he, he, used the term 'axis of evil,' in referring
to North Korea, Iran and Iraq. It seemed like he was preparing the
American people for possible action in the war on terrorism against those
countries. What was your response?"
Glad she's come to that realization.
Expect to see a refurbished Greta Van Susteren when her new show, On the Record, debuts tonight at 10pm and 3am EST on the Fox News Channel. Last Thursday USA Today's Peter Johnson revealed that on January 14 Van Susteren had cosmetic surgery to eliminate bags under her eyes.
Johnson quoted Van Susteren in a January 31 article: "I was sitting around thinking, 'I've got four weeks off and, by God, I've got my 30th high school reunion this year. I've got to make all those guys who wouldn't go out with me jealous.' So I had the bags taken off."
Johnson added: "On the Record kicks off Monday at 10 p.m. ET/7 PT, and Van Susteren says her boss, Fox News chief Roger Ailes, 'almost had a stroke' when she told him right before the surgery. 'I wouldn't go that far,' Ailes says. 'But I was worried that it would delay the launch. She assured me it wouldn't, and I said, 'Hey, great, if your guy is that good, I'll go to him and have my whole body done.'"
If you've seen any of the promos FNC has been running for Van Susteren's new show you've surely noticed that she is also sporting new hair style.
CNN's world: "Abortion rights supporters" versus "abortion rights opponents." Reporting on the Bush administration decision to allow states to provide health care coverage to the unborn under a federal program, CNN, like the CBS Evening News the same night as detailed in the February 1 CyberAlert, ran a story based upon the complaints of those opposed to the coverage expansion, without any consideration for the hypocrisy of feminists now denouncing what for years they called for: More federal money for pre-natal care.
(For how CBS's John Roberts noted the
decision would "play well with conservatives," but that
"abortion rights advocates" call it "an assault on
women's rights under the guise of compassion," go to:
CNN anchor Aaron Brown set up the January 31 story observed by MRC analyst Ken Shepherd: "This one's stirring up a fuss even though at first blush you may wonder why. The administration today proposed changing a few lines of a federal regulation. Pretty wonky stuff, perhaps. It could free up billions of dollars for low-income mothers-to-be. It centers, though, on redefining when childhood begins. If it begins at birth, as the current regulations say, those billions of dollars can't be used. But if -- but they can, rather, if the language is altered to say that childhood, that life, begins at conception. So now you know where we're heading with this, and why there's all the fuss."
Kelly Wallace began by introducing a soundbite from HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson: "It doesn't sound controversial at first, using extra federal dollars to provide prenatal care to low-income pregnant women."
After Thompson, Wallace warned: "But here's where the debate begins. Tommy Thompson, the Health and Human Services secretary, wants to change a federal regulation governing the state program that provides health care coverage to children. In a statement, his department said it wants to, quote, 'clarify the definition of 'child,' allowing states to provide health care to children, quote, 'from conception to age 19.' Currently, coverage starts after birth. But abortion rights supporters argue this is a thinly veiled attempt to undermine a woman's right to choose."
CNN played a clip from NARAL's Kate Michelman before Wallace noted how "Thompson fired back, saying this is not about abortion rights, but health care."
Wallace elaborated: "Bush advisers say there was no political calculation here, just a way to use some of the more than $3 billion that was available but not spent last year on children's health care. The move, though, is delighting abortion rights opponents, who call it a way to value and protect human life."
Following a comment from Laura Echevarria of the National Right to Life Committee, Wallace concluded: "After a 60-day public comment period, the new policy would take effect. States could choose to participate, or they could opt out. And federal officials say there is a precedent here. They say up until 1981, developing fetuses were eligible under Medicaid."
Speaking of abortion policy in the news, tonight CBS's Family Law takes up embryonic stem cells as a life saver. This week several prime time shows address real-life controversies as CBS's JAG has a plot line around how female U.S. soldiers must dress in Saudi Arabia and NBC's Law & Order has a case inspired by the Chandra Levy disappearance.
Friday's National Review "Washington Bulletin" e-mailed newsletter noted that on Thursday's E.R. last week on NBC the victim of a bombing was identified as an embryonic stem cell researcher.
-- Tonight, February 4, on CBS's Family Law at 10pm EST/PST, 9pm CST/MST, as described in today's Washington Post: "A pregnant woman wants to induce early delivery to use the stem cells to save her 8-year-old son."
-- Tuesday night, February 5, on CBS's JAG, at 8pm EST/PST, 7pm CST/MST, as summarized in the Washington Post's TV Week: "Harm and Mac are dispatched to Saudi Arabia to defend a female Navy pilot who refuses to follow local laws and wear traditional dress and veils." That may be a repeat.
-- Wednesday night on NBC's Law & Order at 10pm EST/PST, 9pm CST/MST: "Frantic parents urge detectives to find their missing 24-year-old daughter, who worked as an aide to a state senator."
A whole week of shows "ripped from the headlines." -- Brent Baker 
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