Small COLA Bad; Admiring Hillary's Liberalism; Skipping Video News
1) An AARP survey on how too few have saved enough tomaintain the same living standard in retirement led the three broadcast networks Thursday night. Each also emphasized, as ABC anchor Lisa McRee put it, "bad news for those who are already retired" as Social Security recipients will get the smallest cost of living hike in a decade. Other than a mention of a U.S.-Japan dispute over port fees, the ABC and NBC evening shows were free of any political stories. CBS aired a fawning review of how Hillary Clinton wowed an Argentine audience "with a passionate plea for women's rights and birth control."
None uttered a word about the videotapes or any aspect of fundraising even though a Thursday Washington Post story detailed how the tapes show that Clinton knew the party-paid soft money ads were designed to circumvent hard money limits. See item #3 below for more on this disclosure which was picked up by CNN's Inside Politics.
Here's a rundown of the Thursday, October 16 shows:
" Bad news? The cost of living index may not be exactly accurate, but it is meant to match inflation. So the elderly are really no better or worse off whether the hike is 1 percent or 8 percent. Either way it just matches inflation. Of course, even within the network perspective of dollar amount equals good or bad news, no network looked at the issue from a taxpayer's point of view, that taxpayers won't have to cough up so much more next year.
-- NBC Nightly News broadcast from Seattle. Tom Brokaw also portrayed
the Social Security hike as bad news, opening the show:
NBC didn't have time for a White House videotape update, but Nightly News dedicated the "In Depth" segment to an update what has happened to all those involved in the "Baby Jessica" rescue of 1987.
-- Dan Rather started the CBS Evening News by plugging the AARP report, but first went to Eric Engberg for the Social Security news. Engberg called the cost of living increase "the smallest in a decade" which "was unwelcome news for many of the 44 million people who receive benefits." Of the three network reporters, only Engberg found any upside to the small hike, concluding his piece: "While the small size of the benefits increase may crimp people living on Social Security it's also a sign of reduced inflation which is good news for the overall economy."
2) Hillary the Great. In a top of the show tease Thursday night, CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather announced: "In Argentina, no tango but Hillary Clinton wows her audiences with a passionate plea for women's rights and birth control."
Scott Pelley filed his report from Buenos Aires, providing a laudatory
review of how she heroically took on the Catholic church and pushed
her liberal views as she enters a new stage in her life. Here's the
full story. (Note how about half the story is made up of soundbites
from Mrs. Clinton nicely set up by Pelley, who found no critics.)
Scott Pelley: "In the old Opera House, the First Lady of the
United States said what politicians do not say in Argentina. Listen to
the reaction to her message of contraceptive freedom among a people 90
percent Catholic, in a nation where abortion is illegal."
Maybe she could get a job as a network reporter. She'd fit right in and her colleagues certainly like her political agenda: a true liberal unlike her husband who keeps moderating too much.
Tape, Clinton Links Lead in Polls, Issue Ads" announced a front
page Washington Post headline on Thursday. Post reporters Susan
Schmidt and Lena Sun explained how the tapes raised the possibility of
an illegal funding move:
The Post reporters later emphasized the relevance of Clinton's remarks: "While the legal rules on the subject are murky, Clinton's comments could add new fuel to arguments that the advertising was a blatant end-run around the spending restrictions and offer a sharp contrast to party officials' repeated public statements that the advertising effort was not focused on Clinton's reelection."
Thursday afternoon CNN's Inside Politics picked up on the angle. Judy
Woodruff reported that "some Republicans say that they see
something illegal in the videos showing President Clinton talking
about TV ads financed with soft money." CNN's John King
Other coverage: Zilch. King's story did not even run on CNN in prime time. Thursday night's The World Today skipped it and did not air anything about fundraising. The ABC, CBS and NBC evening shows went fundraising-free Thursday night, October 16.
Similarly, the morning shows ignored the angle:
-- During the 7am news Today ran a re-edited version of the same piece by Pete Williams that ran on Wednesday's Nightly News. The three topics explored in the 7am half hour interview segments: Baby Jessica, the nanny murder trial in Massachusetts, and the anniversary of 1987 crash. At 8am news reader Ann Curry went to David Bloom in Buenos Aires for a report on how the Clinton team is upset that the trip is being "overshadowed by the flap over fundraising."
Of course, instead of airing White House complaints, Today could have used the time to talk about fundraising AND what Clinton is doing policy-wise in South America.
-- Good Morning America ran two stories with nothing new, a 7am piece
from Karla Davis and another at 8am from Linda Douglass who emphasized
how the tapes showed nothing unusual. When news reader Kevin Newman
asked "shouldn't we be surprised" by a President so actively
fundraising, Douglass reassured him that everybody does it:
Case closed. End of scandal. Clinton did what everybody does all the time.
Coming Monday: a special MRC 10th Anniversary edition of Notable Quotables: A Decade of Bias. It's a four page issue with some of the most biased quotes since 1988.
-- Brent Baker