Corrected on SS "Trust Fund"; French Admired for Rejecting Bush; Reagan-Like Bush "Cheap"; Jesse Jackson: "Symbol of Human Rights"
1) Robert Novak corrected Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert for repeatedly referring to the "Social Security Trust Fund," pointing out "there is no trust fund." But Russert insisted on furthering the bi-partisan illusion as did ABC's John Cochran.
2) "Fifty million Frenchmen can't be wrong," Time magazine's Jack White blurted out in response to a poll which found that 59 percent of French citizens disapprove approve of Bush's international policy while 85 percent disagree with his decision to not support the Kyoto Protocol.
3) Steve Roberts denigrated George Bush for trying to "duplicate the Reagan strategy" of separating himself from Washington, DC. Roberts scolded Bush for making "political profit at bashing the government," calling it "cheap" and "cynical."
4) Setting up her interview with Jesse Jackson's mistress, Connie Chung described him as "the charismatic national symbol of human rights." Earlier on GMA, Chung praised Jackson for supporting the child financially and taking responsibility for her: "He acknowledged it, he didn't deny it."
5) Friday's CBS Evening News delivered a one-sided polemic about how lives will be devastated if any money is cut from a certain program. Bobbi Harley warned: "Lakisha fears she may lose her government-subsidized day care, the foundation on which she's built her fragile success because of cutbacks proposed in the federal budget." Harley proceeded to let a tax money recipient, without rebuttal, demand spending be doubled.
Clarification: The August 17 CyberAlert stated that "on Thursday night CBS also jumped on fears about dipping into the imaginary Social Security 'trust fund.'" As the subsequent quotes showed, while ABC's John Cochran indeed used the term, CBS's John Roberts actually did not as he employed the phrase "Social Security surplus," though he was relaying the same political point when he warned about "plunging into the Social Security surplus for the first time in three years."
A guest shoots back. On Sunday's Meet the Press Robert Novak scolded moderator Tim Russert for repeatedly referring to the "Social Security Trust Fund," pointing out "there is no trust fund." But Russert insisted on furthering the bi-partisan illusion and hours later, on ABC's World News Tonight/Sunday, another network reporter cited concern about the "Social Security Trust Fund."
All this is relevant since this week liberal Democrats plan to launch an attack on the Bush administration meant to scare the naive by blaming the tax cut for supposedly dipping into the "Social Security Trust Fund," as if ongoing payments to recipients are somehow endangered. Social Security payroll tax revenue greater than annual pay-outs have always been allocated to general government spending. With an overall surplus this year, just a few billion of the expected $160 billion Social Security revenue surplus will be spent on other programs.
Following Russert's separate interviews with Bush economic adviser Larry Lindsey and House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, Novak appeared on a panel on the August 19 show with Democratic spinner Paul Begala and incoming Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot.
Novak informed Russert: "The problem with
Larry Lindsey is he can't tell the truth because it would be adverse to
the Republicans on the Hill who are almost as silly as the Democrats. Tim,
there is no 'Social Security Trust Fund.' You see, you talked, you
said about six times in questioning these people, 'you going to dip into
the Social Security Trust Fund?' There is no trust fund. All it's got
in it are a bunch of IOUs which are worth nothing. There is no trust fund
under any sense of the word. All you're saying is that the $160 million,
billion dollar surplus estimated comes almost entirely from the payroll
tax. That isn't a trust fund. That's just the current accounts
that's coming in, but the Republicans-"
On ABC's World News Tonight/Sunday a bit later in the day John Cochran previewed the misleading reporting viewers can expect this week as Democrats go on the attack. He asserted: "The Democrats smelled blood when in the middle of Mr. Bush's vacation his economic advisers decided the Social Security Trust Fund had mistakenly been credited with $4.3 billion that should be used for other programs."
The "Social Security Trust Fund" is a bi-partisan illusion, but a truly adversarial press corps wouldn't buy into it. Maybe that's because it gives reporters such a convenient way to discredit any reduction in tax income to the government.
"Fifty million Frenchmen can't be wrong." Make Time magazine national correspondent Jack White an honorary citizen of France since that was his reaction to the poll last week which found overwhelming opposition in France to President Bush's policies.
The poll, by the International Herald Tribune and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, determined that 59 percent of French citizens surveyed disapprove and 16 percent approve of Bush's international policy while 85 percent disagree with his decision to not support the Kyoto Protocol.
During a brief discussion of the poll on Inside Washington over the weekend, White blurted out: "Fifty million Frenchmen can't be wrong."
Steve Roberts castigated President George W. Bush for trying to "duplicate the Reagan strategy" of separating himself from Washington, DC. Roberts, now with U.S. News and formerly a New York Times reporter, announced his personal opinion on CNN's Late Edition: "I find it inappropriate for people who are running the government to make political profit at bashing the government and I think that Bush is doing that and I think it's cheap and I think it's cynical."
The outburst from Roberts occurred during the
roundtable segment on the August 19 CNN show after viewers saw a video
clip of Bush trying to convince kids at a New Mexico elementary school
that he's from Texas and not Washington, DC. Roberts chastised Bush and
similar earlier conservative efforts which portrayed the politician as
battling entrenched interests in the District:
Sounds like Roberts is still a little bitter over Reagan's "incredible political feat."
By Roberts' reasoning only those who love the DC political culture, and therefore would never criticize it, have the right to do so.
When you hear the name Jesse Jackson, what pops into your mind? If it's "liberal political activist" or "race-baiting demagogue," forget a job with ABC News. But if "charismatic national symbol of human rights" came to mind, then you're perfectly qualified to write copy for ABC's 20/20, at least when Connie Chung fills in as host, since that's how she described Jackson in setting up her interview with Jackson's mistress who bore him a daughter, Karin Stanford.
On Friday's Good Morning America, after the then-upcoming Friday night 20/20 interview was previewed, Chung praised Jackson for taking responsibility for the child. Chung eagerly relayed how "he acknowledged it, he didn't deny it" and Stanford "says 'good for him,' because he was born out of wedlock and understood, you know, the pain that it causes."
Chung introduced the lead story on the August 17 edition of 20/20: "When you first heard that Jesse Jackson admitted he'd fathered an out of wedlock child, what did you think? Jackson, the charismatic national symbol of human rights, the married father of five grown children. Who was that so-called 'other woman'? What were your preconceptions about her? Tonight, we bring you an exclusive interview with Karin Stanford, the mother of Jesse Jackson's baby. A private affair goes public."
Earlier in the day, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson observed, on Good Morning America Chung was eager to credit Jackson for his responsible actions, even after it was pointed out to her that he only admitted a connection to the child when the National Enquirer was about to reveal the news.
After an excerpt of Chung's interview with
Stanford, GMA's Antonio Mora wondered: "Now Connie, you spoke to
Jesse Jackson yesterday. What did he say?"
But Jackson may never know the pain of a hostile press corps.
CBS's one-sided promotion of more federal spending. On Thursday night CBS reporter John Roberts recalled that "not six months ago Congress was rolling in record revenues wondering what to do with all that money," but the question now is: "Where did it all go?" He noted that the surplus had fallen from $125 billion with $74 billion going to the tax cut and the economic slowdown taking out another $40 billion. "What's left," he rued, "is precious little to meet spending priorities without busting the budget and plunging into the Social Security surplus for the first time in three years."
Maybe politicians wouldn't feel such pressure to spend if the networks refrained from highlighting victims of any real or imagined budget cuts. Indeed, the very next night the same CBS Evening News contributed to the spending problem by delivering a one-sided polemic, in the guise of a news story, about how lives will be devastated if any money is cut from a program which provides day care to mothers leaving welfare.
Profiling one potential victim, CBS's Bobbi Harley warned: "Lakisha fears she may lose her government-subsidized day care, the foundation on which she's built her fragile success because of cutbacks proposed in the federal budget." Harley went on to allow a recipient at the federal trough to demand spending be doubled for the program from which she benefits.
Though viewers heard five times about "cuts" or "cutbacks" to the program, CBS offered no hard information, such as the name of the program, how much is being spent on it, who is proposing the "cuts" and why, and if the "cuts" really are cuts or just a slight decrease in the rate of increase.
CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer set up the August 17 campaign for more spending: "Tonight's 'Eye on America' looks at a government program that pays for child care so parents can get off welfare and go to work. There is a long waiting list for this daycare, and Bobbi Harley reports it could get longer because of budget cuts."
Harley began her diatribe, as transcribed by
MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "From the day she got off welfare, Lakisha
Powell has worked hard and played by the rules. Exactly what the federal
government asks of mothers leaving welfare for work. After three years of
working 90 hours a week, she and her two boys moved out of the projects
into this comfortable apartment and off almost all public
Just once it would be refreshing to see a network news piece which portrayed an individual taxpayer as the victim of high taxes.-- Brent Baker 
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