CyberAlert -- 01/08/2002 -- Tax Cut Deepened Recession

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Tax Cut Deepened Recession; Salute to Engberg's Sleuthing; Shales: Goldberg a "No-Talent Hack"; CNN's Greenfield Cited MRC on Gumbel

1) CBS's John Roberts only allowed a Democrat to counter Bush's warning that they wish to raise taxes, but did not let any Bush-backer counter Tom Daschle's claim that the tax cut made the recession worse. Without pointing out how only a small fraction of the tax cut has occurred, NBC's David Gregory passed along how Democrats blame the deficit "on Bush's trillion dollar plus tax cut." He also personally pleaded with Bush to delay it.

2) In a good-bye salute to Eric Engberg, Dick Meyer, his long-time producer, boasted: "His reporting led to the only criminal conviction the government made stick on Oliver North. Engberg connected the infamous Willie Horton ads used against Michael Dukakis in 1988 to the Bush campaign, after years of obsessed sleuthing (and he's taking the files with him to Florida)." His departure means a loss of "collective wisdom."

3) In a vicious screed against Bernard Goldberg, Washington Post TV reviewer Tom Shales described the former CBS News correspondent at a "full-time addlepated windbag." Shales complained about how Goldberg has hauled "out the old canard about the media being 'liberal' and the news being slanted leftward," calling it "the first refuge of a no-talent hack."

4) CNN's Jeff Greenfield to Bernard Goldberg: "One person who never shows up in this book, Bernie, and it surprised me, Bryant Gumbel, who has been accused more often of liberal media bias than anybody else in the news if you look at the Media Research Center, which you often quote."

5) You read it here first: Fox News Channel, the Washington Times and Mobile Register all picked up on findings and analysis reported by CyberAlert.

6) Thursday's Investor's Business Daily featured an editorial showcasing the MRC's "Best Notable Quotables of 2001: The Fourteenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting."

>>> NQ now online. The January 7 edition of Notable Quotables, the MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media, is now online thanks to the MRC's Mez Djouadi and Kristina Sewell. Amongst the topic headings: "Impossible for Feds to Make Do On Less than $2 Trillion a Year"; "Scolding Bush for 'Breaking' a Treaty By Following Its Provisions"; "George W. Bush, War Criminal"; "'Caught Up' in Terrorism"; "ABC News Stars Think 'Insular' Americans Need Enlightening"; "Castigating the 'Vendetta' Against the Clintons"; "What NYT Columnist Learned in 50 Years: Ashcroft = Bin Laden" and "Correcting Lopsided Labeling."
For the all the quotes, go to:
To view a likeness of the hard copy seen by snail mail recipients, access the Adobe Acrobat PDF version: <<<


Senator Tom Daschle claims the tax cut made the recession worse while President Bush warned that Democrats want to raise taxes, but in a CBS Evening News story on Monday night, John Roberts only provided time to a Democrat to dismiss Bush's claim. Without pointing out how only a small fraction of the tax cut has occurred, NBC's David Gregory passed along how "Democrats blame" the deficit "on Bush's trillion dollar plus tax cut."

Earlier in the day Gregory had pleaded with Bush delay the tax cut. MRC analyst Ken Shepherd noticed that during a Cabinet room appearance, after Bush reiterated his opposition to rescinding the tax cut roll out, Gregory asked: "Why does everything have to be so black and white? Is there not room to maybe phase in the tax cut in the out years more slowly to protect the government's bottom line?"

Yes, that's more important than the bottom line of any taxpayer.

Roberts reported in his January 7 story, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "President Bush returned from two weeks on his Texas ranch today, summoning his economic team for a meeting with Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan. The photo-op was meant to show a President fully engaged with the business of rescuing the economy."
George W. Bush: "We're making good progress winning the war in Afghanistan, and we've got to make good progress about helping people find work."
Roberts: "Our new CBS News poll found the sagging economy is still the number one concern of Americans, beating out the war on terrorism. And in this election year, Democrats have wasted no time tying the recession to the President's tax cut."
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle: "So not only did the tax cut fail to prevent a recession as its supporters said it would. It probably made the recession worse."
Roberts: "Those charges of fiscal mismanagement brought a sharp rebuke from the President who accused Democrats of promoting a tax increase."
Bush in a Saturday speech: "Not over my dead body will they raise your taxes."
Roberts allowed a Democrat to counter Bush: "Democrats today fired back, 'What is the President talking about?'"
House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt: "I know of no Democrat, I know of no Democrat who is saying let's raise taxes. That would be the wrong thing to do in the middle of a recession."
Roberts rationalized the Democratic attack strategy: "It would also be the wrong thing to do in an election year, but with the President's approval rating sky high and control of Congress hinging on a handful of seats, Democrats need to do all they can to make the tax cut at least look like a bad idea."
Charles Cook of the Cook Political Report explained: "I think Democrats think it's do or die. I mean, that if they don't win control of the House back, Gephardt probably leaves, be big turn over in the leadership. You know, Democrats, their backs are against the wall. They really need to win the House back this time."
Roberts concluded: "President Bush continues to press the idea that to fund the war, protect the homeland, and stimulate the economy, it's right to cut taxes, even plunge back into deficit spending. And for the moment, at least, almost two out of three Americans still trust him to do the right thing."

Over on the NBC Nightly News, David Gregory began: "The President came back to town swinging today. At the start of this congressional election year, he is urging Democrats to, in his words, stop playing politics on the economy. Back from a Texas vacation today, the President immediately huddles with his economic team and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan for a new year's assessment of the recession. Declaring an official end to the era of budget surpluses, Mr. Bush warned Americans that in this year's budget at least, the deficit is back."
George W. Bush: "It makes sense to spend money necessary to win the war. It makes sense to spend money necessary to protect the homeland, and we're in a recession."
Gregory used the total tax cut number: "While the White House blames the deficit on the September 11th attacks, Democrats blame it on Bush's trillion dollar plus tax cut. Over the weekend, the President declared that any attempt to increase taxes by rolling back the later stages of the tax cut, would happen, quote, 'over his dead body.' Today another warning. 'Such a move,' he said, 'would spell economic disaster because it would send the wrong message."
Bush: "They'd say we weren't real about it, we weren't serious about tax relief. Tax relief is a part of the economic recovery plan."
Gregory: "Some Democrats countered by accusing the President of needlessly pumping up the political volume."
Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND): "But no one that I'm aware of suggests we should raise taxes. By the same token, we want a fiscal policy and a stimulus package that doesn't blow up the federal deficit in the long term as well."

Since barely $35 billion worth of cuts occurred in 2001, Gregory's use of the phrase "trillion dollar plus tax cut" offered misleading corroboration for the liberal rhetoric.


In a good-bye salute to Eric Engberg, who retired from CBS News as of last week, Dick Meyer, his long-time producer, boasted: "His reporting led to the only criminal conviction the government made stick on Oliver North. Engberg connected the infamous Willie Horton ads used against Michael Dukakis in 1988 to the Bush campaign, after years of obsessed sleuthing (and he's taking the files with him to Florida)."

I'm not sure such "obsessed" sleuthing over a matter which only animated a few conspiratorial liberals is anything of which to be proud. As the MRC's MediaWatch newsletter observed at the time, Engberg's October 14, 1992 story provided little more than "silly innuendo." An excerpt from the November 1992 MediaWatch:

Engberg told how Candace Strother, a "shadowy political intelligence operative," coordinated anti-Dukakis research at the Republican National Committee, and how she may have broken federal election law by contacting Elizabeth Fediay, the head of National Security PAC. Claimed Engberg: "When the Federal Election Commission conducted a limited investigation into that ad last year, Fediay's TV producer said a key source he used to write the ad was newspaper clippings he believed were obtained at the Library of Congress. But a check by CBS News revealed that one of the principal sources he listed, a newspaper from Massachusetts, was not available at the Library of Congress. There was one place in Washington where the clippings from that newspaper were readily available: the Bush campaign files."

How on earth could Engberg suggest that the only place the Horton story could be found in 1988 was the Bush campaign? Al Gore first raised the furlough issue in April. Then the largest-circulation magazine in the world, Reader's Digest, did its own Horton story in July. In fact, conservatives were distributing the Pulitzer-Prize winning Lawrence Eagle-Tribune series on Horton all over the country.

Engberg's "investigation" devolved into gossip: "Was there any connection? Someone thought so. A memo from the FEC's General Counsel, Lawrence M. Noble, details a tip he received from an anonymous caller claiming to be a GOP insider. The caller said: 'Candace Strother gave the material and information gathered on Willie Horton to Lily Fediay so the Bush campaign would not be connected to a racist ad.'" CBS has skewered the Bush campaign for raising questions about unsubstantiated charges, so why did Engberg report this anonymous tip without any proof?

Near the end of the story, Engberg asserted: "The committee is reportedly investigating charges Strother has received preferential treatment in a $100,000 a year job that didn't exist before she got it. The FEC never followed up on the report of the secret link between the Horton ad makers and the Bush campaign. The congressional investigators, with a second chance, appear to have a troubling new question on their agenda: Did the administration use a high-paying job on the federal payroll to make sure that the true story of Willie Horton would never be told?"

END of Excerpt

When called by the MRC in 1992 to discuss his report, Engberg asked: "Why should I spend one minute with a political, propagandistic rag like yours?"

For the rest of the MRC story excerpted above, go to:

For more examples of Engberg's biased reported aided by Meyer, refer back to the January 7 CyberAlert:

Meyer's admiration for Engberg's work came in a article posted on January 3 in which Myer, now Editorial Director of the Web site, noted he was Engberg's producer from 1993 to 1999. That means Meyer was the producer of the infamous 1996 polemic against the flat tax which motivated Bernard Goldberg to publicly castigate CBS News for its liberal bias.

In his online tribute, to which the MRC's Rich Noyes alerted me, Meyer gushed: "2002 opens with a goodbye for CBS News. Eric Engberg, who spent two decades covering and uncovering Washington for CBS, is retiring. When he leaves, a giant slice of this storied bureau's character, humor and collective wisdom will walk out the door."

Make that "collective liberal wisdom."

Meyer concluded: "Our bureau isn't going to see a guy like Eric again. I'll never have a partnership like I had with him again. Except maybe in a boat, someday."

Let's hope CBS News never again has a Washington-based on air reporter as biased as Engberg.

For Meyer's piece in full, go to:,1597,323066-412,00.shtml

By the way, thanks to Engberg's retirement to Florida (as Meyer noted, "he's taking the files with him to Florida"), Engberg may end up quite close to Goldberg who lives in the Miami area.


Washington Post TV reviewer Tom Shales, best known for his fawning reviews of CBS News shows and, especially, of anything involving Dan Rather, has penned a vicious screed against Bernard Goldberg in which Shales described the former CBS News correspondent at a "full-time addlepated windbag."

In his weekly column for Electronic Media, a Crain trade publication, Shales complained about how Goldberg has hauled "out the old canard about the media being 'liberal' and the news being slanted leftward," calling it "the first refuge of a no-talent hack."

In fact, there's evidence Goldberg's professional colleagues had high regard for his work since he earned six Emmy Awards for his stories on CBS's 48 Hours.

An excerpt from the Shales piece in the January 7 Electronic Media, which does not use a week-ahead dating and so was delivered to subscribers just yesterday, that was caught by the MRC's Liz Swasey:

Disgruntled has-beens everywhere have a new hero and role model: Bernard Goldberg, the one-time CBS News correspondent and full-time addlepated windbag who is trying to make a second career out of trashing his former employer. Goldberg has picked this moment in time to haul out the old canard about the media being "liberal" and the news being slanted leftward.

It's the first refuge of a no-talent hack, that argument, and about as old as the printing press; in fact, wasn't poor old Gutenberg denounced in some circles as a heretic and a radical? Mr. Goldberg would have been leading the charge, especially if he'd earlier attempted to work in Mr. Gutenberg's shop and had made a spectacular botch of it.

Obviously hoping to follow in the footsteps of Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly, two intellectual giants by comparison, Goldberg has fashioned his rantings into a book succinctly titled "Bias," which, appropriately enough, won the dubious honor of a commendatory editorial from The Wall Street Journal. And we all know how unbiased those Journal editorials are. Gosh it is soooo hard to figure out where they're coming from.

Goldberg's laughably inept hate campaign began in the Journal in 1996 when it published his tirade, "Networks Need a Reality Check." Goldberg's specialty is conjuring vast, sweeping generalizations that fit in with his own very obvious bias and are based on the tiniest of specifics rather than well-researched evidence. In his poorly written (and poorly edited) WSJ piece, Goldberg lambasted network news divisions for flagrant leftiness on the basis of one single piece that Eric Engberg had done for "CBS Evening News."...

Goldberg was not only a flop as a network correspondent, he's a lousy writer besides.

Quoting Engberg as having referred to one aspect of the Forbes plan as being its "wackiest," Goldberg then asked in rhetorical high dudgeon, "Can you imagine, in your wildest dreams, a network news reporter calling Hillary Clinton's health care plan 'wacky?' Can you imagine any editor allowing it?" Well, frankly, yes. But Hillary Clinton and Steve Forbes were not on an equal plane. She was first lady of the land and he was a national non-entity trying desperately to draw attention to his failing bid for a presidential nomination.

Does Goldberg think that the press was particularly loving and deferential to Hillary Clinton? Has there been in modern times a first lady who suffered worse press and worse relations with the press than poor Hill? His arguments were drivel....

In his book, Goldberg bases his allegations of liberal slant not only on what he perceived as bias in pieces that aired, but also by jotting down small talk that he heard bandied about in the workplace -- or that we must take on faith that he heard bandied about -- and using these alleged remarks of individuals to paint the whole profession with his broad, broad brush.

Goldberg was, let's face it, not a bright shining star in the firmament of CBS News. He usually looked disheveled and bleary-eyed on the air, and appearance does count in a visual medium. I remember a piece he did in the aftermath of a hurricane that could have ended eloquently on a shot of some household item sitting amid the horrible wasteland of debris. Instead the piece ended with Goldberg's sallow face and his own lame attempts at poignancy.

If things didn't go his way at CBS News, it may have been less a communist conspiracy against him than the fact that the place is to some degree a meritocracy....

END of Excerpt

To read the Shales tirade in full, go to:

Remember Shales' attitude the next time you see one of his syndicated reviews in your local newspaper.


On Monday night's Greenfield At Large on CNN, Jeff Greenfield cited the MRC as he came up with a fresh angle from which to prod Bernard Goldberg, author of "Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News."

Referring to how Goldberg is now a correspondent on HBO's Real Sports, which Bryant Gumbel anchors, Greenfield wondered on the January 7 show: "One person who never shows up in this book, Bernie, and it surprised me, Bryant Gumbel, who has been accused more often of liberal media bias than anybody else in the news if you look at the Media Research Center, which you often quote. Let me ask you, if it's fair to ask, that's because you now are a correspondent on a show he anchors?"

Goldberg replied: "Because, if you read the book, Jeff, you'll see that I almost, I have almost nothing to say about any of the morning shows. I don't think that they're hard news shows. I mention Katie Couric once. I don't mention Diane Sawyer, I don't mention Gibson, I don't mention Gumbel. I stick mainly with the evening news."

Of course, if Goldberg had attempted to recite Gumbel's liberal bias he wouldn't have had room left in the book for anything else.


You read it here first. Some recent examples of the media picking up on findings and analysis presented in a CyberAlert:

-- Brit Hume on the January 2 edition of FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume:
"Four years ago, when Chief Justice William Rehnquist criticized the U.S. Senate, then under Republican control, for its failure to act on judicial nominations, the New York Times put the story on its front page. At the time, the were 82 vacancies, as Rehnquist noted in his yearly report. Now, four years later with the Senate in Democratic hands, there are 94 judicial vacancies, and Rehnquist has renewed the criticism. But on Tuesday, as a Media Research Center noted, the New York Times put the story inside the paper, with no mention of the Senate until the 10th paragraph."

-- Greg Pierce in his Washington Times "Inside Politics" column for January 3:
"The Media Research Center points to 'a pretty flagrant New Year's Day double standard at the New York Times.'
"'Four years ago when Chief Justice William Rehnquist chastised the Republican-controlled Senate for holding up judicial nominees, the New York Times showcased the complaint on its front page under the scolding headline: 'Senate Imperils Judicial System, Rehnquist Says.' But this year, when he issued the same complaint about the Democratic-controlled Senate, the Times put the story inside and gave Rehnquist's complaint just two paragraphs -- the 10th and 11th ones. The headline: 'Rehnquist Says Courts Risk Losing Private-Sector Nominees.'
"'In both cases, Rehnquist's comments came in his annual year-end report, on the state of the judiciary, issued every December 31,' the Media Research Center's Brent Baker noted."

For Pierces's daily "Inside Politics" column:

-- A January 4 editorial in the Mobile Register:
"In his annual year-end report, Chief Justice William Rehnquist chastised the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate for its slow pace in confirming President George W. Bush's nominees for federal judgeships. But The New York Times buried the story on page 14, and buried the criticism itself in paragraphs 10 and 11 of the article.
"But as was noted by the Media Research Center (a conservative watchdog group), the Times treated as front-page, first-paragraph news a similar criticism from Mr. Rehnquist four years ago about the then-Republican-controlled Senate's treatment of President Bill Clinton's nominees. Back then, the story also was predicated on Justice Rehnquist's year-end report."

-- In a story on Greta van Susteren headlined, "New hire seen softening Fox," Jennifer Harper reported in the January 4 Washington Times:
"Perhaps the clear division is fading: Fox is not a purely conservative bastion, the brass say. 'We are not a conservative network,' said Kevin Magee, vice president of Fox news programming. 'But we do know and acknowledge that there's a conservative view out there. We are fair and balanced, for real. If the audience only wants to watch a single point of view, they can tune in to CNN.'
"Some don't buy it.
"'In snagging Greta Van Susteren from CNN less than two months after Geraldo Rivera came aboard from CNBC, the Fox News Channel has added a second high-profile cable news defender of Bill Clinton who also denigrated Ken Starr's law enforcement efforts,' Brent Baker of the Media Research Center ( noted yesterday.
"'During the Lewinsky scandal in 1998, Van Susteren used her CNN perch to urge President Clinton to defy independent counsel Starr's subpoena, impugning Starr by asserting it's 'improper for a prosecutor to set a perjury trap,' Mr. Baker observed."

For the entire story:


Thursday's Investor's Business Daily featured an editorial showcasing the MRC's "Best Notable Quotables of 2001: The Fourteenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting."

Under the headline of "Dogma At Eleven," the January 3 editorial carried this subhead: "Media Bias: Perhaps no institution needs a New Year's resolution more than the elite press. Last year was again marked by its leftward bias."

The lead sentence of the editorial: "The Media Research Center, the watchdog of the dominant media, has published its 14th annual 'Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting.' It is a useful and humorous reminder of the media's insularity and ideological arrogance."

Investor Business Daily editorials are not online, so to read the entire editorial you'll have to refer to a hard copy of the newspaper. The awards quotes themselves are, however, online: -- Brent Baker

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