Bush Approval Plunged to...69%; NBC Skipped Cuban Defections; AP: Hillary Clinton a "Moderate"; FNC Noted How Media Ignore Rubin Role Because of "Near Deification" of Rubin
1) President Bush's approval level has plunged to "its lowest...point since the September attacks," ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas declared Monday night, but she immediately clarified, "it is still overwhelmingly positive at 69 percent."
3) "Hillary Clinton Emerges as Moderate" declared the headline over a July 28 AP report. Reporter Shannon McCaffrey argued that Clinton has "belied" predictions that she would be "a liberal's liberal." McCaffrey's evidence: Clinton was scheduled to deliver "the keynote address at a Democratic Leadership Council meeting in New York" and the organization is a "centrist group." McCaffrey contended: "Clinton has cast herself as a New Democrat on some key issues." But McCaffrey contradicted herself as she reported that "Clinton now receives high marks from liberal groups."
4) "It's striking," FNC's Brit Hume contended Monday night, how Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin's "name almost never comes up" in media reports on corporate corruption, especially since he tried to get the Bush administration to pressure bond rating agencies to prop of Enron's rating. Fortune's Jeff Birnbaum marveled: "It is remarkable, I think, the near deification of Rubin by a lot of elements of the press." Indeed, last week David Broder oozed that Rubin's "judgment and integrity are praised by Republicans and Democrats alike."
Update: CBS hasn't given Harry Smith a chance to express his liberal views yet since The Early Show has avoided political topics. The closest he's come: Conducting an interview segment on Tuesday about South Carolina's ban on tattoo artists. One of the guests: Ken Starr, who is representing a tattoo artist trying to get the law overturned.
ABC warned Monday night that President Bush's approval level has plunged to...69 percent, a level most Presidents would dream of achieving. Elizabeth Vargas, anchor of ABC's World News Tonight, highlighted how a new ABC News/Washington Post poll found Bush's "approval rating has reached its lowest approval point since the September attacks," but she immediately clarified, "it is still overwhelmingly positive at 69 percent."
That's down three points, within the margin of error, from 72 percent two weeks ago in a poll by the same outfit.
Vargas announced on the July 29 broadcast: "A new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds President Bush's approval rating has reached its lowest approval point since the September attacks, but it is still overwhelmingly positive at 69 percent. Mr. Bush's high numbers are even more notable because public opinion on the economy has been souring, which usually hurts a President's ratings. Today only 17 percent of Americans think the economy is improving, down from 47 percent four months ago."
In less than the 30 seconds it took for Tom Brokaw to read an item on Monday's NBC's NBC Nightly News about how Pope John Paul II had arrived looking tired in Guatemala from Canada where he for the for the "first time spoke publicly" about sex abuse, ABC and CBS managed to inform their viewers how 23 Cubans defected during the Pope's time in Toronto. CNN's NewsNight devoted a full story to the Cubans effort to avoid going back to Cuba.
On ABC's World News Tonight, anchor Elizabeth Vargas took 12 seconds to relate: "Officials from the Roman Catholic Church today announced that 23 young citizens of Cuba defected in Canada last week during the Pope's visit to Toronto. They had been allowed to leave Cuba as religious pilgrims."
CBS Evening News anchor John Roberts took 26 seconds to announce: "Continuing his tour of the America's, Pope John Paul II arrived this evening in Guatemala. The Pope, who's 82, appeared exhausted at the airport reception. Tomorrow he plans to celebrate a special mass canonizing Central America's first saint. John Paul II flew to Guatemala from Canada where it's reported 23 young Cuban delegates to the World Youth Day there are in hiding and plan to defect after their delegation leaves for home."
Senator Hillary Clinton a "moderate"? However far to the left must you be to see Hillary Clinton as a moderate is where the mind of AP Washington bureau reporter Shannon McCaffrey resides. "Hillary Clinton Emerges as Moderate" announced the headline over McCaffrey's July 28 dispatch to which several CyberAlert readers alerted me.
The headline matched the text McCaffrey penned. She argued that Clinton has "belied" predictions that she would be "a liberal's liberal." McCaffrey's evidence: Clinton was scheduled to deliver "the keynote address at a Democratic Leadership Council meeting in New York" and the organization is a "centrist group." But Senator John Kerry belongs to the group and Senator Tom Daschle spoke to the gathering. Does that make them moderates too?
To the AP, probably.
McCaffrey soon contradicted herself as she reported that "Clinton now receives high marks from liberal groups," such as 95 percent approval from Americans for Democratic Action for her 2001 Senate votes.
Still, "far from aligning herself with Kennedy, Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone and the other members of the party's liberal wing," McCaffrey contended, "Clinton has cast herself as a New Democrat on some key issues." McCaffrey pointed to some slight deviations from the hard-core liberal line on bankruptcy, welfare work requirements and the marketing of sex and violence to children.
But after Senator Jesse Helms emerged as a champion of Third World debt forgiveness I don't recall any AP headline similar to: "Jesse Helms Transforms Self Into a Moderate."
Not until the 16th paragraph did McCaffrey allow a conservative to suggest that maybe Clinton is changing her public positions on a few topics just to re-make her image for a presidential run.
Showing how truly clueless McCaffrey is to where politicians are on the left-right spectrum, she referred to former California Rep. Vic Fazio as "a pioneer in pulling Democrats toward the center."
But as former MRCer Tim Graham pointed out to me, Fazio, who retired in 1998, earned a piddling and very liberal 6 percent lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union. He got a very respectable 85 percent approval from the left-wing Americans for Democratic Action over his career.
Now an excerpt from the July 28 AP piece by Shannon McCaffrey:
When Hillary Rodham Clinton began her Senate bid, some on the right warned she would make even liberals such as Ted Kennedy look conservative.
Fund-raising letters that raised millions of dollars for Clinton's Republican opponents decried her "wild-eyed radical leftist views" and branded her as "a liberal's liberal."
But since she won election in 2000, Clinton's behavior has often belied those predictions.
On Monday, she was giving the keynote address at a Democratic Leadership Council meeting in New York. The centrist group, whose "third way" ideas were popularized by her husband, is also home to Democrats including Louisiana Sen. John Breaux, whom President Bush courted for his Cabinet, and Georgia Sen. Zell Miller, who flirted with becoming a Republican.
Once a supporter of Republican Barry Goldwater, Clinton now receives high marks from liberal groups. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group scores her 85 out of 100 while Americans for Democratic Action gives her a 95 percent positive rating.
But far from aligning herself with Kennedy, Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone and the other members of the party's liberal wing, Clinton has cast herself as a New Democrat on some key issues.
"I have always tried to strike a balance and to be someone who was a New Democrat, a third-way thinker, about how we end the gridlock and brain-dead politics of the past," Clinton said Friday....
Clinton supported bankruptcy changes even though critics complained they did not do enough to protect mothers owed child support or those facing catastrophic medical bills.
She is co-sponsor of a welfare bill that increases child care aid but also work requirements. That so angered some poverty advocates they protested outside her Washington home.
She bucked her liberal Hollywood supporters and teamed with Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., on a bill that would penalize the entertainment industry for marketing sex and violence to children.
Supporters say it is no recent conversion....
"This has always been who Hillary is," said DLC founder Al From, who worked closely with both Clintons leading up to Bill Clinton's presidential bid.
"From her days as first lady of Arkansas, when she was pushing teacher accountability standards, she has never been the wild lefty," From said.
Former California Rep. Vic Fazio, a pioneer in pulling Democrats toward the center, agreed.
"The mythology of the Clintons is very different than the Clintons themselves. That is especially true for Hillary," Fazio said.
Others see a calculated makeover intended to position her for a return trip to the White House.
"She is a complete and utter opportunist," said Morton Blackwell, the Virginia Republican committeeman who formed an "Emergency Committee to Stop Hillary Rodham Clinton" during her Senate bid....
END of Excerpt
For the entire story:
CNN.com also posted it, sans the byline:
"It's striking," FNC's Brit Hume contended Monday night, how "there is one person whose name almost never comes up" in media reports on corporate corruption "and that is the Treasury Secretary under the Clinton administration, Bob Rubin," especially since he tried to get the Bush administration to pressure bond rating agencies to prop of Enron's rating, a move which would have benefitted Rubin's new employer, Citigroup, which had arranged questionable financing for Enron.
Hume's comments led into a July 29 panel discussion on his Special Report with Brit Hume in which Jeff Birnbaum, Fortune magazine's Washington Bureau Chief, marveled: "It is remarkable, I think, the near deification of Rubin by a lot of elements of the press."
Hume still wondered: "What accounts for the fact that we discussing this here at this table are probably the first group of journalists on television to do so, and we certainly aren't seeing a lot of it in the newspapers?" Morton Kondracke echoed Birnbaum, pointing to the media's "deification" of Rubin.
Indeed, as reported in the July 23 CyberAlert, in the July 29 edition of U.S. News & World Report Gloria Borger ridiculed the attempt by Republicans to blame Bill Clinton for the corporate wrongdoing. Her evidence: Bob Rubin told her so. She wrote: "The blame-Clinton scenario has the appeal of a simple cartoon: Today's corruption began in the 1990s and was shaped, as House Republican campaign chairman Tom Davis puts it, by a 'culture of dishonesty and situational ethics that flowed directly from the White House. A lack of accountability, dishonesty, evasion, and dissemblance are the true legacies of the Clinton era.' Ipso facto, Clinton did it."
She then countered: "One small problem: He didn't. 'Blaming Clinton is absolutely ridiculous,' ex-Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin told me."
Last week, in a column urging the repeal of the tax cut, Washington Post reporter David Broder put Rubin on a pedestal: "As Robert Rubin, the former Clinton administration Treasury Secretary, whose judgment and integrity are praised by Republicans and Democrats alike, has said..." Broder complained about how House Republicans, who are "seeking short-term political gain at the expense of long-term fiscal sanity, have been staging votes to make the tax cuts permanent." See below for more of Broder's July 24 column.
Back to FNC on July 29, Hume set up the roundtable segment, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
Jeff Birnbaum of Fortune acknowledged media infatuation with Rubin: "No, I think he should be called to testify, and he should be taken to task by some people for his role, to the extent he has one, or that his company has one, Citigroup, with Enron and other loans. And, in fact, they have been, not at Rubin's level. But he also should be asked what he thinks should be done. It is remarkable, I think, the near deification of Rubin by a lot of elements of the press, that he was the person who was able to soothe the markets in a way that Paul O'Neill cannot or will not or does not want to. I think that it would be great just to call Rubin and ask him what is it you would do right now to try to stop the markets from roiling. He may not have any better an answer than Paul O'Neill has-"
Weekly Standard Publisher Bill Kristol then recalled the questionable activities Rubin conducted on behalf of his new employer to prop up Enron: "Yeah, he wants to repeal, I think, as many Democrats do, at least the out years, some of the tax cuts in the out years. But one thing I think they should ask Bob Rubin is why on November 8th he called the Undersecretary of the Treasury, Mr. Fisher, to ask him, to suggest to him that he might want to consider leaning on the debt rating agencies not to downgrade Enron. Now, that's a really serious thing, you know. Ken Lay called the White House to try to get a government bailout for Enron on the grounds that it would be bad for the economy if Enron failed. But that's at least a straightforward thing. Government bailout, yes or no. It's public. It's transparent. Asking the Treasury, suggesting to the Treasury Department that it lean on the debt rating agencies not to accurately reflect the true-"
Thanks in part to news media acquiescence and admiration for him.
Recall how the New York Times fawned over Rubin in a February 11 front page story which lamented the attention given to his phone calls trying to influence Bush officials. Headlined "Rubin's Roles: A Public Man in Private Bank," reporters Joseph Kahn and Alessandra Stanley bemoaned how Rubin's call to the Treasury Department to try to save Enron's bond rating "inadvertently gave comfort to the White House and to some conservative commentators."
For more from the New York Times story and Forbes magazine's take on how the media soft-pedaled Rubin's activities, refer back to the February 14
And an excerpt of the July 24 David Broder column, "A Time to Face Fiscal Reality," quoted above:
....[A]s Robert Rubin, the former Clinton administration treasury secretary, whose judgment and integrity are praised by Republicans and Democrats alike, has said, Washington's policing of corporate behavior is less important than its willingness to put its own fiscal house in order.
In an article published Sunday on this page, Rubin said the starting point for Washington must be -- once again -- to get control of the budget. He noted that virtually the entire $5.6 trillion, 10-year surplus projected when Bush came to office has disappeared. Gone too, he said, is the spending discipline Congress and the administration imposed on themselves in the 1990s -- the policy that produced these rare surpluses. "In my view," Rubin wrote, "we need to restore the sound, broad-based strategy that was so central to the prosperity of the '90s."
Is that the same prosperity we now know was partly imaginary and built on phony numbers while Rubin presided at Treasury?
....Sen. George Voinovich, the plain-spoken Ohio Republican, was much more realistic when he told his colleagues last week, "The country's finances are in dire condition. We face a sea of red ink as far as the eye can see....We are on the edge of an abyss and we must stop before we commit fiscal suicide."
Voinovich's focus was on the spending side of the budget. He decried the farm bill, which Congress passed and the president signed despite its 10-year $80 billion increase in subsidies. He said bluntly that if Bush wants Congress to stay within the spending limit he has set for this year, then some of the $45 billion extra the president has requested for the Pentagon budget must be shifted "to the domestic area in order to meet legitimate domestic needs."
But the overriding question -- the one that dwarfs everything else -- is what to do about the huge tax cut that Bush pushed through Congress back when those mythical budget surpluses were still clouding most people's vision.
That tax cut will cost the Treasury $1.7 trillion, including debt service, in the first decade. But because most of it was back-ended to the years between 2006 and 2010, it can be recovered -- if politicians decide to be as honest as Voinovich and Rubin in telling people what we face.
Bush has been adamant in rejecting a rollback or even a delay in the tax cut -- virtually all of which will go to the highest-income voters. His House Republican allies, seeking short-term political gain at the expense of long-term fiscal sanity, have been staging votes to make the tax cuts permanent.
The Democrats, while resisting that folly, have been unwilling as a party to take what Rubin, their most trustworthy economic adviser, says should be the first step: Make those future top-bracket tax cuts part of the current budget debate.
While three of the party's presidential hopefuls -- Sens. Joe Lieberman and John Edwards and Gov. Howard Dean -- have lined up with Rubin, Democratic congressional leaders Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt have blocked any such move, apparently fearful it might cost them seats as they strive to hold their Senate majority and regain control of the House.
The country pays a high price for their timidity -- and the Republicans' folly. Fudging the numbers in Washington is no way to restore trust in government.
END of Excerpt
For the entirety of Broder's diatribe:
From the July 29 Late Show with David Letterman on CBS, some of the entries in the "Top Ten Signs the President Needs a Vacation." Web page: http://www.cbs.com/latenight/lateshow// 
10. Holding all press conferences outside to work on his tan
9. Asking Al Qaeda not to do anything until the end of August
8. Had workers remove Oval Office desk to make room for hammock
6. Constantly studying satellite photos of Club Med
5. Page 386 of his budget simply states 'need nap'
1. He's choking on pretzels just so he can pass out for a couple of minutes
Only a week until Bush begins his vacation on August 6. -- Brent Baker