ABC's Shipman Denies Any Media Bias Against New Clean Air Rules
3. ABC's GMA Honors Woman Who Got
Gun-Distributor Held 5% Responsible
Ed Asner Blames America First & Laughs-Off Bush's Vision
Correction: The November 22 CyberAlert quoted Rush Limbaugh as saying on CNN about Tom Daschle: "We all get threats, in public life. I think, and what did he say threats over, being call them destructionist?" I checked the CNN transcript against the tape of Inside Politics and caught and corrected several errors, but missed this one. Limbaugh actually referred to "being called obstructionists?"
"The rollback of clean air rules is a bonanza for hundreds of the nation's oldest and dirtiest power plants," declared CBS's Bob Orr just after anchor Dan Rather opened the November 22 CBS Evening News by citing a "major controversy" over the new regulations.
Orr gave one line to the administration's position before dedicating the most of his piece to opponents. "Critics accuse the administration of gutting the Clean Air Act with changes that threaten the environment and public health," Orr relayed before warning that "the greatest threat may be to the Northeast. Power plants throughout the Midwest and Southeast spew heavy emissions that are carried by prevailing winds over New England. Under the new rules, environmentalists warn, the fallout will only get worse."
ABC's Barry Serafin portrayed it all as a political payback to industry, noting that "Eric Schaeffer, who quit as head of EPA's enforcement office this year, says it's no accident that today's announcement came after the election." Serafin helpfully explained that "the Republican Party collected $11 million from electric companies and their employees over the past two years. The energy industry gave the Bush campaign almost $3 million." Serafin concluded with this ominous-sounding warning: "With the White House and Congress now in Republican hands, more controversial environmental decisions are in the works."
NBC Nightly News held itself to this one-sided but short item read by anchor Brian Williams: "Today was the day the Bush administration relaxed clean air rules to allow big utilities, refineries, manufacturers to avoid expensive pollution controls. The new rules were a priority for this White House which has been trying to give utilities more flexibility. Democrats, environmentalists condemned the new rules right away saying they will lead to much dirtier air. Several called for the resignation of EPA Director Christie Todd Whitman. Two states, New York and Connecticut, said they will try to sue to try to overturn the new policy."
Neither CBS or ABC, which focused only on how environmentalists were upset, hinted at how those in industry were also disappointed by the fairly minor rule change. Washington Post reporter Eric Pianin pointed out in his Saturday story: "The announcements satisfied neither the utility industry, which has sought a relaxation of enforcement rules since President Bush took office, nor Democrats and environmentalists who say the administration is trying to dismantle the only program that has cracked down on industry polluters."
Pianin relayed a view not even considered by the networks: "Utility executives and lobbyists who were expecting a far more definitive and helpful pronouncement on new regulations for power plants were generally glum in their appraisals. 'We are pleased that the EPA is starting to move the ball down the field on an issue that has plagued us for years,' said Quin Shea, executive director of the Edison Electric Institute. 'But we're frustrated that the agency has stopped short of advancing a specific proposal that would remove the perpetual threat of litigation hanging over the heads of power plant operators.'"
And while CBS and ABC hinted vaguely at the administration's rationale for how the new rules would actually result in cleaner air, New York Times reporter Matthew Wald on Saturday outlined why the current rules inhibit cleaner air: "The dilemma of the existing rules, experts say, is that new technologies are available that would make plants marginally cleaner or more productive. But installing those improvements would trigger a requirement that the owner bring the plant up to modern pollution standards; thus small improvements are discouraged."
Only FNC was fair and balanced on this story and explained how the current rules discourage improvements and gave as much time to the views of free-market people as to liberal environmentalists.
On Friday's Special Report with Brit Hume, anchor Brian Wilson asked:
Major Garrett explained the challenge: "Energy. Americans want more and they want it cheap, oh yes and less pollution too. In general, new energy plants can deliver all three, but older energy plants cannot, and under Clean Air Act rules first proposed by the Clinton White House, older power plants that modernize to boost energy production also had to spend millions on new anti-pollution devices, the idea guaranteed that higher energy production would never mean more pollution. It's an approach environmentalists support."
After a clip from a spokesman for the Sierra Club, Garrett highlighted a view spiked by ABC and CBS: "But free market analysts have long objected to this approach." Patrick Michaels of the Cato Institute suggested: "It's kind of like if I take my old beater car and get a new carburetor put on it but all of a sudden my old beater car has to correspond to all the new emissions controls."
Garrett explained to the new rules: "On Friday, the Bush Environmental Protection Agency eased the Clinton era Clean Air Act rules. From now on, older power plants can increase production without being forced to reduce noxious emissions. The EPA said the new rule will speed up plant modernization, reduce air pollution, increase energy output, and eliminate the fear of new lawsuits."
Garrett recited a statement from Whitman before going back to liberal complaints, setting up a clip from the Sierra Club guy: "But environmentalists said the move smacked of a gift to polluters and would drastically increase air pollution." Like ABC and CBS, Garrett reported: "New York and Connecticut have already promised to sue to block these new EPA rules. Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states have long argued that older power plants belch tons of noxious fumes into the air aggravating the problem of acid rain."
Compare FNC's story to the imbalanced approach of CBS and ABC on Friday night, November 22.
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather opened the broadcast with the "controversy," as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
Orr began with the loaded "rollback" terminology: "The rollback of clean air rules is a bonanza for hundreds of the nation's oldest and dirtiest power plants. Under the change, those plants will be allowed to pump out more power and consequently more smokestack emissions without having to install costly anti-pollution equipment. The Bush administration insists the move will encourage older power plants to invest in new equipment that ultimately will make them more efficient."
-- ABC's World News Tonight provided even less time to the administration's side. Anchor Charles Gibson announced: "The Bush administration has decided to significantly ease some of the federal regulations on pollution. The move, announced today, was immediately condemned by environmental groups, and several northeastern states said they'll challenge the changes in court."
Barry Serafin opened his story: "The Bush administration decision will make it easier for utilities, refineries and other manufacturers to avoid having to install expensive new antipollution equipment when they modernize their facilities. Even so, the administration says-"
That was it for the administration's side as Serafin devoted the rest of his piece to discrediting the Bush view: "But environmental organizations, the American Lung Association, and some state attorneys general condemn the changes, saying they'll lead to more pollution."
Without mentioning how much Markey's party gets from liberal environmentalists, Serafin concluded by warning of worse to come now that Republicans control the House, Senate and White House: "With the White House and Congress now in Republican hands, more controversial environmental decisions are in the works. Among them, Republicans are talking again about drilling for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and about stepping up energy exploration in the Rockies. So changing clean air rules may be the first of many post-election attempts to alter long standing environmental policy."
Let's hope so. That will really annoy reporters.
For the November 23 Washington Post story quoted above: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A27857-2002Nov22.html 
For the New York Times story: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/23/politics/23POLL.html 
Despite definitive evidence to the contrary as proven in item #1 above about how the networks, especially ABC, displayed hostility to any policy which contradicts the wishes of liberal environmentalists, on ABC's This Week Claire Shipman on Sunday denied any media bias against the Bush EPA's new clean air rules: "You can't just blame this on us. There are Republican Governors who are very critical in the Northeast of what the administration is doing. That's not the media fault."
During the roundtable segment on the November 24 show, host George Stephanopoulos wondered: "Friday afternoon, no cameras, no Christie Todd Whitman. Are they ashamed of this?" Shipman concurred: "Oh, absolutely." But a look at how the networks treated the story, see item #1 above, proves the Bush team was correct in presuming media hostility and distortion.
Stephanopoulos also adopted liberal assumptions about the Bush administration having been too conservative back in 2001 as he raised the name "Jeffords" in asking George Will: "But this brings us back to the beginning days of the administration before Jeffords' switch. George, do you believe this is a vulnerability for the administration on the environment?"
Will rejected the notion and blamed the media: "The media is in league with the professional hysterics in the environmental movement who have a financial, lets put it on the table, a financial investment in saying the sky is falling." Will noted that "the administration would like to have -- can't have given the media's disposition -- is a reasoned discussion about the scientific tradeoff, economic tradeoff, between measurable improvements in public health and demonstrable costs." Indeed, for proof of the refusal of the networks to even try to be fair and convey both sides, see item #1 above.
Now, a full rundown of the This Week discussion about the new EPA rules for power plants:
Stephanopoulos: "Friday afternoon, no cameras, no Christie Todd Whitman. Are they ashamed of this?"
Couldn't have said it better.
And speaking of ABC's liberal agenda, the discussion about clean air rules followed Stephanopoulos highlighting the anti-SUV campaign by a group asking "What Would Jesus Drive?" (WWJD) Stephanopoulos even helped the cause by playing a clip of the TV ad before Michel Martin suggested that as a carpenter Jesus would drive "a sporty pick up." But isn't that one of those awful, gas-guzzling trucks?
That makes it an ABC trifecta for the WWJD group, having already gotten glowing segments on World News Tonight and GMA. For more, see the November 21 CyberAlert: Normally when religious leaders speak out on public policy matters the networks either ignore them or condemn them for mixing religion and politics. But not on Wednesday when a group publicized its "What Would Jesus Drive?" TV ad campaign against SUVs. The cable networks and ABC swooned, discovering news value to the views of the religious figures on the side of liberal environmentalists, even if Peter Jennings oddly called them "conservative Christians." CNBC's Brian Williams aired a laudatory item in which he gratuitously noted that the Bush administration "has been criticized for having big oil men at the helm." Details: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20021121.asp#3 
ABC's Good Morning America rejoiced on Friday for how a Florida woman whose teacher husband was shot dead by a teenage student got a jury to hold the gun distributor five percent responsible. Diane Sawyer trumpeted the "landmark decision" before an interview of the woman by Robin Roberts, who described her crusade as "quite touching."
Roberts admired her quest: "I look at you, a mother of two, and big corporate America -- man, I cannot think of a more David-versus-Goliath situation." Adopting the "gun safety" description preferred by liberal gun control advocates, Roberts relayed how the jury "charged the company with five percent of the responsibility for his death, awarding his widow $1.2 million, a moral victory for gun safety advocates that could also lead to a legal precedent."
At least Roberts and ABC News hope so.
The piece, caught by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson, did not include one syllable from anyone with a different view, nor did it suggest any dangers ahead in holding manufacturers liable for the abuse of their legal products.
Sawyer set up the November 22 segment: "We want to turn to something serious now because there's been a landmark decision, and it was late last week. A Florida jury held a gun distributor partly responsible for the death of a popular middle school teacher and Robin is here with us because she has a report on one woman's deeply personal crusade about this."
Roberts explained, interspersed with soundbites from the widow who brought the lawsuit: "It's quite touching, as you can imagine, Diane. You may recall 13-year-old Nathaniel Brazill, who had called Barry Grunow his favorite teacher. Brazill shot and killed him in the hall on the last day of school. I talked with Grunow's soft-spoken widow, Pam, who for the past year and a half has waged a determined battle in her husband's memory....I look at you, a mother of two, and big Corporate America -- man, I cannot think of a more David-versus-Goliath situation."
Roberts elaborated on her cause: "Pam Grunow says at first she did it for her husband's parents, but eventually it became her own mission. The legal obstacles were formidable: no gun distributor has ever been held even partially responsible for a shooting death."
Roberts recalled: "When we first talked with her last year, Pam wore Barry's wedding band on a chain around her neck. Since then she had their wedding bands melted, mixing the gold together to form a new ring that she says she will wear always.
Actor and left-wing activist Ed Asner put his blame America first views and contempt for President Bush on full display on Friday afternoon during a debate on CNN with actor Ron Silver who supports Bush's Iraq policy through, ironically, he plays the chief campaign strategist to liberal Democratic "President Bartlet" on NBC's The West Wing.
During CNN's noontime EST Showdown with Iraq, Asner appeared with anchor Wolf Blitzer from Los Angeles while Silver appeared via satellite from New York. MRC intern Rudy Peseckas checked the CNN transcript against the actual video of the show.
Asner mocked the idea that Iraq poses any nuclear threat: "I think that the idea of Iraq being a nuclear threat is poppycock, and if they are a nuclear threat then they'd have to borrow atomic bombs from Israel."
After Asner kept citing the UN as the only legitimate authority over any nation, Silver, referring to Saddam Hussein, charged: "What he's done in the past seven years, he has consistently lied and flouted the UN. The UN, principle number four, is not the imprimatur of morality, thank God, because they stood by in."
Asner's anti-Americanism was even too much for Blitzer. Asner charged that Bush's policy is motivated by racism: "There's total Islamic fascism. I also think that there is a strong streak of racism, and whenever we engage in foreign adventures. Our whole history in regime change has been of people of different color."
Toward the end of the session, Silver praised Bush: "Well, let me tell you this, Ed, I thank God that the President has the clarity and the vision, and that you are not the President of the United States protecting us."
On The West Wing Silver plays campaign strategist "Bruno Gianelli." For his Internet Movie Database bio, which is sans a photo: http://us.imdb.com/Name?Silver,+Ron 
For some bad photos of him from some movies he's been in: http://us.imdb.com/PGallery?Silver,+Ron&source=ss 
I'd assume everyone is already all too familiar with Asner and his mug. -- Brent Baker