Storm Victims Reject ABC’s Script
Reporter Dean Reynolds: “Did you harbor any anger toward the President because of the slow federal response?”
Hurricane victim Connie London: “No, none whatsoever, because I feel like our city and our state government should have been there before the federal government was called in. They should have been on their jobs.”
Reynolds: “And they weren’t?”
London: “No, no, no, no. Lord, they wasn’t. I mean, they had RTA buses, Greyhound buses, school buses, that was just sitting there going under water when they could have been evacuating people.”
Reynolds: “...Was there anything that you found hard to believe that he said, that you thought, well, that’s nice rhetoric, but, you know, the proof is in the pudding?”
Hurricane victim Brenda Marshall: “No, I didn’t.”
Reynolds: “Good. Well, very little skepticism here....”
— Exchange with hurricane evacuees now living in a Houston shelter, during ABC’s coverage following the President’s speech from New Orleans, September 15.
Seeing Catastrophe’s Sunny Side
“If there’s an upside to Katrina, it’s that the Republican agenda of tax cuts, Social Security privatization and slashing government programs is over. It may be too much to predict an upsurge of progressive government, but the environment and issues of poverty, race and class are back on the nation’s radar screen.”
— Eleanor Clift in her weekly “Capitol Letter” column published on Newsweek’s Web site, September 9.
Hoping to Lure Bush to the Left
“The primary economic problem is not unemployment but low wages for workers of all races....Until Katrina intervened, the top priority for the GOP when Congress reconvened was permanent repeal of the estate tax, which applies to far less than 1 percent of taxpayers....Meanwhile, House GOP leaders are set to slash food stamps by billions in order to protect subsidies to wealthy farmers....What kind of President does George W. Bush want to be? He can limit his legacy to Iraq, the war on terror and tax cuts for the rich — or, if he seizes the moment, he could undertake a midcourse correction that might materially change the lives of millions. Katrina gives Bush an only-Nixon-could-go-to-China opportunity, if he wants it.”
— Newsweek Senior Editor Jonathan Alter in the September 19 cover story on poverty, “The Other America.”
Media Lobby for Higher Taxes
“The President and I continued to talk, by the way, after the interview....And I said, ‘Will you call for tax increases, in fact, if that’s required?’ And he said there won’t have to be tax increases, that he believes that it’s very important not to throw a curve to the economy at this particular moment.”
— ABC’s Diane Sawyer following a live interview with President Bush on Good Morning America, September 1.
“Just before we went on the air, Diane and Robin, I asked her [Hillary Clinton] — given the fact that it’s going to cost so much for recovery and with what we’re spending in Iraq — whether we’re not going to have to raise taxes.”
— ABC’s Charles Gibson following an interview with Senator Clinton, September 7 Good Morning America.
“Are you going to maintain that we can pay for this, we can pay for the war in Iraq, and we can pay for the rising healthcare costs in this country without raising taxes? These are astronomical dollars we’re talking about that will cost the federal treasury.”
— ABC’s Charles Gibson to White House counselor Dan Bartlett on Good Morning America, September 15.
“The last thing in the world that George W. Bush wants to do is raise taxes, but the amount of money that we’re talking about here — we’re talking about many, many, many tens of billions of dollars — can that be done without raising taxes?”
— ABC’s Ted Koppel to George Stephanopoulos during live coverage following Bush’s September 15 speech.
George Stephanopoulos: “You say roll back the tax cuts for the wealthy. He [President Bush] says no tax increase of any kind. We’re spending $5 billion a month in Iraq, probably $200 billion on Katrina. Something’s got to give.”
Former President Bill Clinton: “Well, that’s what I think.”
— ABC’s This Week, September 18.
NPR’s Nina Totenberg: “I was very happy to see him take responsibility and to not pretend that the buck stops someplace else. But it would have been a great opportunity to say, ‘Look, I’m for tax cuts, but we need a Katrina tax, we need to really pay, to do this and to pay for it.’”
Moderator Gordon Peterson: “You want more taxes.”
Totenberg: “I want more taxes, yes.”
— Inside Washington, September 17.
Blame Bush’s Racism
George Stephanopoulos: “Did government neglect turn a natural disaster into a human catastrophe? And was it rooted in racism?”
Rapper Kanye West on NBC’s Concert for Hurricane Relief: “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”
Stephanopoulos: “We’ll ask the only African-American in the Senate, Barack Obama, in an exclusive interview.”
— Stephanopoulos beginning ABC’s This Week, Sept. 11.
No Choppers for New Orleans?
“You know, I’ve been to some pretty lousy places in my life. And Iraq over the past 12 months and Banda Aceh, open graves and bodies. These were Americans, and everyone watching the coverage all week, that kind of reached its peak last weekend, kept saying the same refrain: ‘How is this happening in the United States?’ And the other refrain was, had this been Nantucket, had this been Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, how many choppers would have – ”
— NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, September 8. Audience applause drowned out Williams as he was finishing.
Upset by Bush’s Visit to “Big Oil”
“Today they sent him [President Bush] to the Chevron refinery in Pascagoula, Mississippi, as if reminding everybody of his oil connections and the government’s oil connections was not among the worst things he could do right now. Where did the political sharpshooters in this administration go?”
— MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann to Chris Matthews on the September 15 Countdown about 10 minutes before the President’s speech in New Orleans.
Too Much Southern Comfort?
“When John G. Roberts Jr. prepared to ghostwrite an article for President Ronald Reagan a little over two decades ago, his pen took a Civil War re-enactment detour....The Indiana native scratched out the words ‘Civil War’ and replaced them with ‘War Between the States.’...Sam McSeveney, a history professor emeritus at Vanderbilt University who specialized in the Civil War, said that Roberts’s choice of words was significant. ‘Many people who are sympathetic to the Confederate position are more comfortable with the idea of a “War Between the States,”’ McSeveney explained. ‘People opposed to the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s would undoubtedly be more comfortable with the words he chose.’”
— Washington Post reporter Jo Becker, August 26 article.
NBC Promotes Sheehan to “Icon”
Reporter Carl Quintanilla: “[Left-wing activist Cindy] Sheehan, say some historians, may be evolving as an icon in the war’s turning point, if this is one. For three weeks, she’s dominated headlines, mobilized protesters, both with and without relatives in Iraq.”
Cindy Sheehan: “They don’t have what I like to call skin in the game, but we are all affected.”
Quintanilla: “Making it safe, her supporters say, to voice doubts about the war, just as Walter Cronkite did on the Evening News in 1968....Historians say we won’t know Cindy Sheehan’s place in the war until the war itself is history.”
— NBC Nightly News, August 25.
Ted: Tanks Don’t Stop Terrorism
“Cutting the [worldwide] military budgets back by ten percent and using that money to basically solve the real, the real serious poverty problems in the world would be a much better investment in fighting terrorism than — you don’t stop terrorism with tanks, you stop it with giving people hope so they won’t want to blow themselves up.”
— CNN founder Ted Turner on CBS’s Late Show with David Letterman, September 16.
...And We Should Trust Kim Jong-Il
Ted Turner: “I am absolutely convinced that the North Koreans are absolutely sincere. There’s really no reason for them to cheat....I looked them right in the eyes. And they looked like they meant the truth.....”
Wolf Blitzer: “But this is one of the most despotic regimes and Kim Jong-Il is one of the worst men on Earth....”
Turner: “In the pictures that I’ve seen of him on CNN, he didn’t look too much different than most other people.”
Blitzer: “But, look at the way, look at the way he’s, look at the way he’s treating his own people.”
Turner: “Well, hey, listen. I saw a lot of people over there. They were thin and they were riding bicycles instead of driving in cars, but – ”
Blitzer: “A lot of those people are starving.”
Turner: “I didn’t see any, I didn’t see any brutality....”
— Exchange on CNN’s Situation Room, September 19.
The Master of Nuance
“The President is a moron! I’m saying it. I don’t care. He’s an idiot. Cheney is evil. I’m sick of, impeach them, get them out! I hate them! I hate them. Get them out. They got to go!...What is it going to take for you people? Get Bush out! Impeach. Out! Out! Out!”
— Actress/comedienne Kathy Griffin on Comedy Central’s Weekends at the DL, September 10. [MP3 audio] 
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