CyberAlert -- 12/06/1999 -- "Stupid" Tax Cut; "Alleluia" to Spending; Christmas "Saved" by Regulator

"Stupid" Tax Cut; "Alleluia" to Spending; Christmas "Saved" by Regulator

1) Washington media on the Bush tax cut. Evan Thomas: "It's stupid" policy driven by "wing nuts." Al Hunt: "This is a Trojan Horse which disproportionately gives huge tax cuts to the very wealthy." Eleanor Clift: "It is a huge income shifter."

2) Sam Donaldson heralded "alleluia" to the "enrichment of the welfare state" over a tax cut.

3) Not one word about the debates on ABC, CBS or NBC the next night. Ted Koppel focused on how Bush had to "fall back three times on that, sort of, tired old" mantra about Texas as 11th largest economy. On Today NBC's David Bloom said "Bush calmly and skillfully fended off" attacks from rivals but Tim Russert found him "a little too programmed," not "a stellar performance."

4) "Another Christmas saved" oozed NBC's Bob Faw of a federal bureaucrat. "Luckily there's someone in Washington whose job is to make sure" toys are safe, assured anchor Brian Williams.

5) FNC gave time to John Cochran's side of the Al Gore dinner controversy, but USA Today, which started it all, did not.

6) Is NBC's "Gadget Guru" a Gear-Head or a Coke-Head? Andy Pargh was arrested Saturday for buying 250 grams of cocaine.

7) Letterman's "Top Ten Other Achievements Claimed By Al Gore."


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes)Uniform disdain from the left on the weekend talk shows from reporters sitting in the liberal chairs for George W. Bush's tax cut plan. Bush may have tried to dissuade such class warfare attacks by giving those in the 15 percent tax bracket a one-third cut, much larger than for those at higher incomes, but the members of the media still took up the left-wing mantra about fairness.

-- Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas on Inside Washington: "I'm against a tax cut. Just on policy matters it's stupid and we shouldn't have one. But it's Republican pandering and it was kind of a mild Republican pander."

NPR's Nina Totenberg added that "It's still a tax cut that doesn't really do very much for the moderate and low income people."

An astonished Jack White of Time later chimed in: "What he was criticized for was he doesn't want to abolish the Internal Revenue Service right now. I mean that was the criticism."
That prompted Thomas to denigrate conservatives: "Because he's in the company of wing nuts, so anything he says looks moderate by comparison."

-- Wall Street Journal Executive Washington Editor Al Hunt and Time columnist and sometime reporter Margaret Carlson on CNN's Capital Gang:
Hunt asserted: "I give them credit. I think they, the Bush campaign, they rose to Clintonian levels with their ability to spin this beforehand. It really was a masterful job. They said this is focused on the middle class and the working poor. Now they did a great job of spin. The problem is it's not true. It's absolutely totally untrue. This is a Trojan Horse which disproportionately gives huge tax cuts to the very wealthy, to Bob [Novak] and his friends."

Hunt proceeded to make the usual complaint about how those who don't pay income taxes won't get an income tax cut:
"You know, both Bush and his my old friend Michael Boskin, his chief economic aide, one of his chief economic guys, said take the waitress who makes $22,000 a year with has three kids. Do you know what she gets out of that Bush plan? Zero, because I tell you, there are a whole bunch of working poor people like that who don't pay income taxes, but they pay 15.3 percent of their low salary to payroll taxes. They get absolutely nothing in this plan."

Later, reacting to a McCain operative's claim that he has offered a more responsible, "adult" tax plan, Mark Shields asked: "Margaret, looking for an adult?" Carlson replied:
"Yes, and George Bush may not be it. He's putting the ice cream out in his tax plan, very much a profile in courage. And you know, how much stimulation can one economy take? I mean the market hit new highs yesterday, and in and all the economic reports, you know, Greenspan keeps saying, you know, tamp it down. This is skewed toward -- not toward the working class, and it seems that the compassionate conservative should want to move the working class into the middle class. Sixty-three percent of the benefits go to the top five percent of taxpayers, and this is not what the economy needs."

-- Newsweek's Eleanor Clift on the McLaughlin Group: "This was a tax plan designed to pacify the right. It is a huge income shifter and his plan to get rid of the estate tax would cost $40 billion a year -- 98 to 99 percent of people in this country are exempt from the estate tax. He's mortgaging the entire surplus. Totally irresponsible."

Rich Lowry of National Review soon pointed out: "He takes six million off the rolls, lower and middle class taxpayers, Eleanor. They are not the rich."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Sunday morning Sam Donaldson assessed the Bush tax plan by comparing it to "Reaganomics," which he did not mean as a compliment. Donaldson also proclaimed that if the choice is between voting for a tax cut or further "enrichment of the welfare state," he'd pick more spending. Here's the relevant exchange from Sunday's This Week on ABC:

Sam Donaldson: "The Republicans tried to get through a huge tax plan this last year and found the country said 'wait, we can't pay for this. We get it. This would create more deficits.' And George Bush comes along now and says we'll grow our way out. It's Reaganomics."
George Stephanopoulos: "I think you're right about the internals of the tax plan does help some single working mothers. But when you add up his tax plan and his defense increases, there will be nothing left for Medicare and Democrats won't stop talking about it."
George Will: "But everyone who has added up the cumulative Bradley and Gore promises said they too have spent the surplus. This is why we have framed a serious presidential campaign for next year, because you have on the one hand a trillion dollar tax cut, on the other you have an enrichment of the welfare state. Let's vote."
Donaldson: "An enrichment of the welfare state to help people who are medically in need. Yes, let's vote. And to help people who need education. Right. Let's vote. I mean if that's what you call the enrichment of the welfare state, alleluia."


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) So, how much network coverage did George W. Bush's first debate appearance generate Friday night, the night after the New Hampshire confab? Not one syllable, incredibly, on ABC's World News Tonight, CBS Evening News or NBC Nightly News. The night of the 8pm ET debate, Thursday, ABC and CBS, but not NBC, ran preview stories. West coast viewers may have seen something about the 5pm PT debate Thursday night, but broadcast network viewers in the ET and CT zones never learned anything about it.

While all led Friday night with the Mars lander situation, instead of telling viewers anything about the debate ABC ran a full story on the woman who rowed across the Atlantic and controversy over the UN letting companies pay for programs through its "Adopt-a-Minefield" fundraising scheme. CBS also ran a full piece on the rower and a piece on problems at Boeing, which Dan Rather dubbed: "Tough going at Boeing." NBC spent several minutes "In Depth" on ideas about sending man to Mars, plus how a regulator has "saved" Christmas for kids. See item #4 below.

-- The night of the debate Nightline brought aboard two former Clinton-Gore administrations aides to assess the Republicans: David Gergen and George Stephanopoulos. Ted Koppel, as noted by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson, seemed displeased by one of George W. Bush's answers, raising the issue twice. Early in the show Koppel complained:
"If anyone was counting on Governor Bush to trip on his own shoelaces, he did not. Although three times when he seemed a little uncomfortable with questions, he fell back on exactly the same answer, although it had little or nothing to do with any of the questions."
Bush: "I've been the Governor of the second biggest state in the United States. If it were a nation, it'd be the eleventh largest economy in the world. I was overwhelmingly reelected because the people in my state realized I know how to lead and I've shown good judgment....There's only one person on this stage, only one person, who has been in a chief executive office or position, in terms of government. That's me, governor of the second biggest state....A test of a leader is when given responsibility, can you perform? And I've got a record of leading. It's the second biggest state in the Union. If it were a nation, it'd be the eleventh largest economy in the world."

Later, Koppel asked Stephanopoulos: "And what does it mean, I mean, if you're standing on the side of the stage and he's your man, and he has to fall back three times on that, sort of, tired old 'well, I'm governor of the second largest state in the country and if it were a country, it would be the eleventh largest economy,' sort of suggests that he's not able to answer a couple of those questions."
Stephanopoulos: "But he doesn't, but there's not a lot more there. In fact, throughout the whole debate, Bush never really used up his entire time and we only had minute-long answers and 45-second long answers when you had a lot of the other candidates using the time to go back to other issues, to talk about different issues, both foreign policy and domestic policy. I think that Bush will get better over time as he has more practice in these debates, but it wasn't, he didn't walk off the stage saying, 'I am the only President on this stage tonight.'"

-- On Friday's Today David Bloom and Tim Russert offered contrasting assessments of how Bush performed, MRC analyst Mark Drake noticed.

At 7:04am Bloom reported: "Having finally been pressured into debating his Republican rivals, Governor Bush calmly and skillfully fended off their attacks last night on everything from his tax cut plan to Social Security. At a post debate rally, Bush, giddy and breathing a sigh of relief, predicts victory here in New Hampshire, which is now his for the taking. Bush appears to have emerged unscathed from last night's debate despite sharp attacks from his Republican rivals, most especially from an increasingly desperate Steve Forbes, who called Bush's proposed $1 trillion tax cut, measly and criticized Bush for even considering raising the minimum age for older Americans to receive Social Security benefits...."

Four minutes later Katie Couric asked Russert how Bush performed and Russert replied: "I think a little too programmed, Katie. It wasn't a stellar performance but it was adequate and steady enough for him to maintain his front runner status."

Russert went on to say that he thought "John McCain and Steve Forbes probably helped themselves a little bit. John McCain really did try play to the independent voter of New Hampshire. They represent a third of the electorate and emerge as the maverick reformer. I think he did quite well in that regard and also tried to deal with this image of temperament and he did it with humor in a rather clever way. Steve Forbes is trying to become the conservative alternative: attack on taxes, attack on Social Security, and I think he solidified his conservative base. In fact, Katie, after the debate, in this morning's Manchester Union Leader, he received that paper's endorsement, which is very, very important for true right wing believing Republican conservatives in New Hampshire."


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Thank God for federal regulators. Or just one. He's the only thing standing between you and toys that would kill your kids. Friday night NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams noted that many ask if the toys they buy are safe. "Luckily," he assuringly noted, "there's someone in Washington whose job is to make sure they are." After profiling the bureaucrat, NBC's Bob Faw concluded that he had once again "saved" Christmas.

Introducing the last story on the December 3 NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams declared: "If you're like most Americans your weekend plans will include some form of holiday shopping and if kids are involved that means toys and that of course always leads to the question: Are they safe. Luckily there's someone in Washington whose job is to make sure they are."

Bob Faw began the laudatory story: "Tucked away in a sprawling federal laboratory, outfitted with the tools of his trade, is the Consumer Product Safety Commission's counterpart to, well, to James Bond's Q."
The man identified himself as the "toy policeman" before Faw warned that he found 38 toys so dangerous they needed to be recalled. After allowing David Miller of the Toy Manufacturers Association to insist toys are the safest ever, Faw countered by relaying the view of a left-wing group he failed to label:
"Despite all the pleasure, last year toys caused 153,000 injuries and one private watchdog group thinks the federal government should be much tougher."
Rachel Weintraub, U.S. Public Interest Research Group: "Last year 14 children died as they were playing with toys and eight of those deaths were due to choking."
Faw concluded: "Which is why, back at the lab, the pinching and poking -- the protection of children -- goes on. Another Christmas saved. Q, eat your heart out."


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes)Given John Cochran's adamance that he did nothing wrong in inviting Al and Tipper Gore to his house Thursday night, surprisingly the reporter who started it all did not update his story Monday morning. Peter Johnson's "Inside TV" column in the December 6 USA Today made no mention of his December 2 item with which ABC News took exception. See the December 3 CyberAlert for details.

As noted in CyberAlert, the December 2 Special Report with Brit Hume ran a story December 2 on the aborted controversy. The next night, Friday night, substitute host Tony Snow updated viewers: "I want to begin by referring to a story that ran on this program yesterday. It concerned ABC correspondent John Cochran.... invited the Vice President and Tipper Gore over to the house for dinner, which took place Thursday evening in Washington. John Cochran called today and wanted to clarify things. He said, 'people I cover, it is by nature an adversarial relationship. In the past, I've had Republican office-holders to my house for dinner, including Senator Richard Shelby, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, and Senator John McCain. They were, as with the dinner with Gore, working dinners.'"

Snow added that Cochran reported that Gore answered questions for 45 minutes, quoting Cochran: "They were tough questions, and I think that's part of my job. I found it very informative, and I would do the same thing if I were covering George W. Bush or Steve Forbes."

Let's see if and when anyone at ABC invites over Bush or Forbes.


cyberno6.gif (1129 bytes)Today show's "gadget guru" a gear-head or a coke-head? The "gadget guru of NBC's Today, who most often appears on the Saturday edition to show off the latest appliances and tools, was arrested Saturday for buying cocaine. Here's a short December 5 Reuters item on his arrest:

MIAMI (Reuters) -- Andy Pargh, the NBC Today show correspondent known as the "Gadget Guru," was arrested on a cocaine trafficking charge in Miami, jail records showed Sunday.

Pargh, 45, was booked in the Miami-Dade County jail Saturday on the charge and was released after posting $50,000 bond, a jail official said.

Television station WTVJ, an NBC affiliate in Miami, said Pargh was arrested near his home in the Sunny Isles neighborhood after allegedly buying 250 grams of cocaine from an undercover policeman. Police who made the arrest could not be reached for comment.

Pargh reports on new products on the Today show and also writes a technology column that appears in USA Today.

END Reprint


cyberno7.gif (1643 bytes)From the December 3 Late Show with David Letterman, the Top List inspired by Al Gore's series of outlandish claims, including the latest that he had first "found" Love Canal, though he called for hearings after people had already been evacuated. Here are the "Top Ten Other Achievements Claimed By Al Gore." Copyright 1999 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. Was first human to grow an opposable thumb
9. Only man in world to sleep with someone named "Tipper"
8. Current Vice President -- Moesha fan club
7. He invented the dog
6. While riding bicycle one day, accidentally invented the orgasm
5. Pulled U.S. out of early 90's recession by personally buying 6,000 T-shirts
4. Starred in CBS situation comedy with Juan Valdez, "Juan for Al, Al for Juan"
3. Was inspiration for Ozzy Osboune song "Crazy Train"
2. Came up with popular catchphrase "Don't go there, girlfriend"
1. Gave mankind fire

And from the Late Show Web site, some of "the extra jokes that didn't quite make it into the Top Ten."

-- 1991: Invented the Internet, Post-It Notes and Cheese-In-Crust pizza
-- Learned dolphin language, convinced them to call off all-out attack on mankind
-- Said to Ashford and Simpson -- "You two kids should get together"
-- Told young Michael Jordan to give that basketball game a whirl

Reminder: Another Republican debate with Bush tonight, Monday, at 6pm MT in Arizona. CNN will carry it live at 8pm ET. -- Brent Baker


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