"Massive" Tax Cut "Too Small"; Liberal Whining About Quoting JFK; CNN Vet Quit Over Turner's "Jesus Freaks"; Harvard Honored Turner
1) Dan Rather: "President Bush insisted today that he was not caving in to big money contributors, big-time lobbyists, and overall industry pressure when he broke a campaign promise to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants." CBS promised "both sides of the story," but delivered only one side.
2) Tom Brokaw regularly refers to Bush's tax cut as "massive," but on Wednesday night David Gregory, after calling Bush's proposal "a big tax cut," promoted the view that the cut is too small to "jump start" the economy this year.
5) Upset by Ted Turner's "Jesus freaks" remark, CNN Moneyline co-anchor Stuart Varney left CNN. The New York Post added: "Insiders say Varney believes the cable network has strayed from its middle-of-the road political coverage -- and has slanted heavily towards Democratic party positions."
6) Despite his offensive comment, Harvard University presented Ted Turner with the "Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism." Turner maintained: "I do not believe in any form of prejudice or discrimination, especially religious intolerance."
Rather announced on the March 14 newscast, as transcribed by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth: "President Bush insisted today that he was not caving in to big money contributors, big-time lobbyists, and overall industry pressure when he broke a campaign promise to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. But the air was thick today with accusations from people who believe that's exactly what happened. CBS's John Roberts has both sides of the story."
Roberts began with a soundbite from House
Minority Leader Dick Gephardt: "Once again the special interests paid
a visit on the White House and things got turned around."
Roberts then moved onto a wider topic:
"The first time was when Colin Powell declared he was ready to pick
up negotiations on North Korea's missile program right where the Clinton
administration left off. A day later, as President Bush met with South
Korea's president, a humbled Powell was dispatched to say maybe
Rather followed up after Roberts finished: "The context of the debate on carbon dioxide emissions now includes this: Using satellite data, British researchers tonight reported the first of what they called 'direct evidence' that greenhouse gasses are building up in Earth's atmosphere and allowing less heat to escape into space."
So where was the other side in CBS's promise of explaining "both sides"?
On Tuesday night Tom Brokaw again referred to Bush's "massive tax cut," but on Wednesday night reporter David Gregory, after calling Bush's proposal "a big tax cut," promoted the view that the cut is too small to "jump start" the economy since taxpayers would only save $360 this year.
Brokaw set up the March 14 NBC Nightly News piece: "All this tough news off Wall Street turns out to be a mixed blessing for President Bush. It causes a great deal of anxiety and gives his critics a chance to say, 'see if the economy goes south we can't afford a tax cut.' But the President responds the best way to kick start the economy is to pass the tax cut."
Gregory reported that in New Jersey President Bush insisted, in Gregory's words, that "a big tax cut will turn things around" for the economy. Gregory warned: "But some doubt the tax cut will give the economy the shot in the arm he says it will. Why? Because taxpayers wouldn't get enough this year to get them spending again on everything from stocks to retail goods. It's that kind of spending that jump starts the economy."
Gregory looked at an Annapolis family with an income of $55,000 and he scowled at how they would only get $360 this year, which Gregory called "not much." But the family is hardly unique since the proposal for this year is to reduce the 15 percent rate to 12 percent, thus saving everyone with a taxable income above about $20,000 the same $360.
"In fact," scoffed Gregory, "this year the benefit from the Bush tax cut would amount to just $6 billion, less than one-tenth of one percent of a ten trillion dollar economy." Indeed, as Gregory pointed out, 89 percent of the tax savings do not kick in until 2006-2010. (On last weekend's Fox News Sunday, Tony Snow made he same point to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott.)
Nonetheless, Gregory acknowledged, a NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey found 66 percent favor a tax cut to stimulate the economy.
Bottom line: Tax cut advocates can't win with the media. A modest tax cut is exaggerated into a risky "big" or "massive" one which is then derided as being too small in the short term. But if Republicans and/or Bush proposed a significant tax cut for this year you can bet NBC would change its focus to how that would destroy Social Security and Medicare.
NBC's Today gave prime 7am half hour air time on Wednesday morning to whining from liberals, specifically Ted Kennedy, about the use of President Kennedy's words in a pro-Bush tax cut radio ad. CNN's Inside Politics aired a story on the same subject on Tuesday night.
Katie Couric introduced the tape piece aired near the end of the March 14 7am half hour, as transcribed by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens: "A new ad campaign supporting President Bush's tax cut proposal is drawing fire from another powerful American political family. NBC's Campbell Brown has that story."
Campbell Brown began: "Members of the
Kennedy family calling a new campaign for President Bush's tax cut quote,
'dishonest and politically irresponsible.' At issue, Republican sponsored
radio ads using former President John F. Kennedy to sell Bush's plan.
Taking an audio excerpt of a 1962 speech in which Kennedy pitches his own
across the board tax cut."
Ted Kennedy labeled the ad a "gross misrepresentation," though I believe his brother's tax cut lowered the top rate from 91 to 70 percent, a far greater percentage reduction than proposed by Bush for the current top rates.
Brown continued: "But Republican
consultants who came up with the ad say they are only using Kennedy's own
Following a clip of Ari Fleischer confirming that Bush himself has noted how President Kennedy promoted across the board rate cuts, Brown concluded: "The ads are now running in the home states of fence-sitting Senators the President is pressuring to support his tax cut. The Republican group behind the campaign says it has no intention of taking the ads off the air."
On the up side, this supposed controversy led the Today show to actually air a sentence from the media's hero, John Kennedy, outlining the advantages of a tax cut.
Network television stories and interviews assert America is "flooded" with easily available guns which lead to violence and death. Just check the morning show interviews after the California school shooting last week as detailed in the March 9 and 14 CyberAlerts.
On Wednesday night, however, FNC's Brit Hume picked up on a trend you're not likely to ever see cited by Katie Couric or Bryant Gumbel: Mandatory gun ownership in a community deters crime.
Hume outlined the evidence in the
"Grapevine" segment on the March 14 Special Report with Brit
Maybe the problem isn't too many guns, but not enough guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens.
Ted Turner's "Jesus freaks" insult was the last straw for Stuart Varney, a 20-year plus CNN veteran who had been co-anchor of the Moneyline News Hour. AP and Reuters dispatches late Wednesday confirmed New York Daily News and New York Post stories that he resigned after hearing last week of Turner's latest outburst.
The March 14 New York Daily News reported: "Last Thursday, after hearing that Turner called CNN employees who observed Ash Wednesday 'Jesus freaks,' Varney resigned in a huff, sources said, although his resignation was kept quiet." The New York Post added: "Insiders say Varney believes the cable network has strayed from its middle-of-the road political coverage -- and has slanted heavily towards Democratic party positions."
Turner's remark, at the February 28
retirement party for Bernard Shaw at CNN's Washington bureau, first came
to light via FNC's Brit Hume on March 6 -- as detailed in the March 7
CyberAlert. The March 8 New York Post plastered it on the front page under
the headline: "Ted Makes an Ash of Himself." Post reporter Andy
Geller recounted the comments from the Vice Chairman of AOL Time Warner:
AP television reporter David Bauder confirmed Varney's departure. An excerpt of Bauder's Wednesday afternoon piece:
After a four-day absence, partly out of anger about a comment by Ted Turner, Stuart Varney quit Wednesday as co-host of the network's struggling Moneyline.
No immediate replacement was named for CNN's nightly business show, which Willow Bay co-anchors.
Varney, who did not return a telephone call seeking comment, was furious when Turner, CNN's founder, referred to network employees who observed Ash Wednesday as 'Jesus freaks,' according to a CNN executive who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Turner later apologized for his comment.
Varney also was reportedly upset that Moneyline was becoming more focused on new correspondents like Allan Chernoff, Terry Keenan and Myron Kandel instead of the anchors, the executive said.
He last appeared on the air March 7. Turner's comment was made public the next day....
Turner was supposedly angered more than a year ago when he was interviewed by Varney on Moneyline and the questions dealt with religion and John Rocker, the Atlanta Braves pitcher who was widely condemned for disparaging homosexuals, minorities and foreigners. (Turner owns the Braves.)...
Phyllis Furman of the New York Daily News
provided greater detail about the earlier confrontation:
++ For a visual assist on what Varney looks like, check the MRC home page after 10am ET when Webmaster Eric Pairel should have a photo up of Varney. Go to: http://www.mrc.org 
Ted Turner awarded. Turner's "Jesus freaks" remark, recounted in full in item #5 above, didn't dissuade Harvard University from presenting him on Tuesday night with the "Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism" from the Joan Shorenstein Center at the Kennedy School of Government. Asked about the remark, the Harvard Crimson reported that Turner maintained: "I do not believe in any form of prejudice or discrimination, especially religious intolerance."
On Bush's decision to not regulate carbon dioxide emissions, Turner regretted the "bad news."
As plugged by Jim Romenesko's MediaNews (online at http://www.poynter.org/medianews/ ), an excerpt from the March 14 Harvard Crimson story by Elliott Balch about Turner's appearance in Cambridge:
Media mogul Robert E. "Ted" Turner sent a packed crowd of students and journalists into hysterics at the ARCO forum last night as he described the beginnings of the Cable News Network (CNN) in the 1970s.
Turner was at the forum to receive the Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism from the Joan Shorenstein Center at the Kennedy School of Government....
More than CNN, Turner seemed excited about vaguely sketched plans to run a new television network in Russia.
"There's a great danger that freedom of the press could be snuffed out in Russia," he said....
Turner described himself as "a global citizen."
"I feel like I carry all the problems of the planet," he said. "Nuclear weapons, my fault. Slavery, my fault."
Turner seemed particularly amused that he was speaking at Harvard, since his application to the College was rejected.
"If I had come to college here, God knows what would have happened," he said.
Turner said he has given $100 million to Brown University, his alma mater, and also, last week, to his estranged wife of eight years, film star Jane Fonda.
"I gave my wife $100 million last week," he proclaimed. "$13 million of it went right here [to Harvard], goddammit, to a gender study."
Last week, Fonda announced that she was making a $12.5 million donation to Harvard's Graduate School of Education (GSE) to fund studies of gender and early child development. The gift was the largest in the GSE's history.
"I want you to know that's my money, goddammit," Turner quipped.
One attendee of last night's ARCO event asked how Turner felt about the Bush administration's plans, announced yesterday, "not to worry about carbon dioxide emissions."
Turner's attention and money have turned recently to philanthropy, including a $1 billion gift to the United Nations and a focus on nuclear weapons proliferation and the environment.
"I just lost my job and my wife," Turner replied. "Do you have any other bad news?"
Turner's award last night comes as religious leaders have attacked him for offensive comments he made at a CNN employee event last week.
Turner, speaking to about 300 employees at a retirement party for CNN anchor Bernard Shaw, reportedly noticed ashes on an employee's forehead in honor of Ash Wednesday.
"I was looking at this woman and I was trying to figure out what was on her forehead. At first I thought you were in the earthquake" that day in Seattle, Turner reportedly said.
"I realized you're just Jesus freaks. Shouldn't you guys be working for Fox?" he reportedly said.
Since the incident, Turner has responded contritely as Christian leaders have criticized him. "I apologize to all Christians," he has said. "I do not believe in any form of prejudice or discrimination, especially religious intolerance."
Last night, Turner expressed similar feelings. "I'm not against any religious groups," he said.
To read the entire story, go to: http://www.thecrimson.harvard.edu/news/article.asp?ref=11369 
As for Turner's insistence he's opposed to religious intolerance, the March 8 New York Post reminded readers that Turner once called Christianity "a religion for losers."
When you think of Bill Clinton do you think of "family"? The Hollywood left apparently does. In two weeks a bunch of celebrities plan to hold "A Family Celebration" to honor Bill Clinton with the sponsoring group planning to award Clinton with its "Highest Honor of Merit." USA Today's Jeannie Williams reported on Wednesday that the tribute will be led by David E. Kelley, creator of ABC's The Practice and Fox's Ally McBeal, his wife Michelle Pfeiffer and actress Whoopi Goldberg.
An excerpt of the March 14 USA Today item on the event to be held at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel:
Bill Clinton will get his first big post-presidential Hollywood embrace April 1 at "A Family Celebration," led by David E. Kelley of TV series fame and wife Michelle Pfeiffer.
Whoopi Goldberg will toast the former prez, and the family charity, in its second year, will give Clinton its "Highest Honor of Merit."...
MTV's Carson Daly will emcee, Britney Spears will be a presenter, and performing after a reception and auction will be the 'NSYNC lads, Rod Stewart and Marc Anthony, with David Foster in charge of the music. Producer Aaron Tonken also co-produced the Hollywood Gala Salute to Clinton last August on the eve of the Democratic convention. "He's happy to do this for the benefit of the charities," which include children's, AIDS and wildlife groups, says Tonken....
USA Today's Jeannie Williams did not identify the name of the sponsoring organization, unless it's called "A Family Celebration." --Brent Baker 
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