CyberAlert -- 03/02/2001 -- ABC's Denise $ Spin Contradicted

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ABC's Denise $ Spin Contradicted; CBS Relayed ABC Poll on How Democratic Tax Plan Favored; Rivera Steadfast for Clinton

1) Twice last month ABC's Jackie Judd insisted there was no link between donations from Denise Rich and the pardon since she gave the money before the pardon request. Thursday night, without noting how it contradicted her earlier spin, Judd reported the pardon effort began before some large donations.

2) For the second night the CBS Evening News refused to report how a CBS News poll found 67 percent support Bush's tax cut plan. Instead, John Roberts asserted that "new voters leaning slightly in favor of the Democratic plan." Dan Rather adopted the liberal line about how "to help bankroll the Bush tax cuts, ten federal programs...will face spending cuts."

3) FNC's Brit Hume highlighted how the CBS Evening News failed to report its own network's survey about overwhelming public support for Bush's tax cut plan.

4) There goes Tom Daschle? Bush's budget, ABC's Terry Moran warned before a Daschle soundbite, "may already have cost the President votes in Congress. Democrats lost no time in attacking the President's proposals as stingy to the point of meanness."

5) Lamenting how the New York Observer called for Hillary Clinton to resign, Geraldo Rivera pleaded to Lanny Davis: "If the Observer is lost what's left? Besides me and you?"

6) Tom Brokaw joked on the Late Show about his payoff to Hugh Rodham to arrange the appearance: "He's no longer taking money for these kinds of favors...but I did have to arrange for $2,000 worth of Big Macs and a car load of fries."

Oops. Twice in February on World News Tonight ABC reporter Jackie Judd trumpeted claims of how, since Denise Rich's large contributions came in before pardon efforts began, there was no connection between her $450,000 donation to the Clinton library and a pardon for her ex-husband. But on Thursday's World News Tonight Judd had to concede new evidence shows the pardon effort began well before Denise Rich's final payment, but Judd didn't point out how this contradicted her earlier reporting.

Back on the February 9 World News Tonight, anchor Charles Gibson castigated Republicans: "The furor surrounding President Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich is unabated, but ABC News has learned that some of the Republican outrage about the pardon may be misplaced. They claim Rich's former wife made a huge gift to the Clinton library and perhaps bought the pardon. That may not be the case."

Judd outlined the spin: "ABC News has been told by Democratic sources that the ex-wife of fugitive financier Marc Rich gave $450,000 to the Clinton library. The sources say the contribution was made in three separate payments, with the final check going out last May. That would mean it was paid before there was any known discussion of a pardon."

Six days later, on the February 15 World News Tonight, Judd reported on the criminal probe launched by the U.S. Attorney in New York City, Mary Jo White, who would follow the money to see if there's any connection between it and Clinton's action. But Judd cautioned:
"An inspection of Denise Rich's known political contributions shows no huge spike in giving when talk of a pardon began in earnest. She gave $172,000 last fall to the Democratic Party, $30,000 more than the same period two years earlier. Her $450,000 contribution to the Clinton library was made before the pardon came into play. Defense attorneys say that illustrates how deep prosecutors will have to dig to make a case."

Now fast forward to Thursday night, March 1. ABC and CBS led with the House Government Reform Committee hearing into the pardons at which Democratic fundraiser Beth Dozoretz took the 5th. Without giving credit to Newsweek's Michael Isikoff who broke the story, ABC's Judd as well as CBS's Bob Schieffer and NBC's Lisa Myers, in a piece after NBC led with Tom Brokaw in Seattle on the earthquake beat, all reported how a March 2000 e-mail from an associate of Marc Rich suggested Denise Rich follow a "well-prepared script" in making a "personal mission" to lobby Bill Clinton about the pardon, a mission she apparently completed.

Judd briefly outlined the significance of the discovery: "That would have been before Denise Rich made her final payment promised to the Clinton library, $450,000 in all, and before Beth Dozoretz pledged to raise a million dollars for the library."

Lisa Myers offered a clear outline of the donation pattern in her NBC Nightly News story: "Federal records show that after that date Rich's already generous contributions to the Democratic Party, Hillary's campaign and the Clinton library accelerate. She gives more than a half million dollars over the next nine months."


When does CBS News promote a competitor's poll instead of its own? When its own inconveniently determined people overwhelmingly favored President Bush's tax cut plan while the competitor's poll suggested a preference for the Democratic tax cut plan. Thursday night, CBS again skipped its own survey while John Roberts asserted "new voters leaning slightly in favor of the Democratic plan."

Wednesday night, as detailed in the March 1 CyberAlert, the CBS Evening News refused to report a poll, taken after Bush's Tuesday night speech to Congress, which found 67 percent favored his tax cut plan compared to 31 percent who opposed it. Instead, CBS's John Roberts featured a woman in an Omaha restaurant who thought Bush's tax cut "could probably be reduced" as he added that another woman "fears the President is rolling the dice on eight years of success just for political gain." For more, go to the March 1 CyberAlert:

For details about the CBS News poll, go to:,1597,275048-412,00.shtml

(Wednesday morning on CBS's The Early Show Jim Nantz, filling in for Bryant Gumbel, introduced a story on Bush's speech by noting how a CBS News survey discovered "88 percent who watched say they approve of the President's proposals. On his centerpiece, 67 percent now favor his tax cut.")

But Dan Rather still won't let his viewers hear anything about it. He introduced a March 1 Evening News story by again adopting the liberal spin about how Bush is cutting spending just to make room for his tax cut,, warning "that to help bankroll the Bush tax cuts, ten federal programs, at least, will face spending cuts."
Rather intoned:
"Congressional Republicans are trying to push President Bush's big tax cut plan quickly onto a fast track to passage. The House Ways and Means Committee approved it today along a party line vote. Democrats maintain that the top one percent of wealthy families would get 45 percent of the Bush tax cut and they call it overall an unwise rush to judgment for the economy. This comes as the fine print now shows that to help bankroll the Bush tax cuts, ten federal programs, at least, will face spending cuts, including some engaged in high-tech research. On the loser's list: the Environmental Protection Agency, plus the Interior, Energy, Transportation and Agriculture Departments."

Roberts then checked in on President Bush's "road show" in Atlanta where Bush labeled his plan as "the people's budget." Roberts suggested Bush has a "divide and conquer" strategy to peel off Democratic Congressmen and Senators. Robert moved on to the unveiling of the Democratic plan to "slash only the lowest bracket from 15 to 12 percent," expand the Earned Income Tax Credit and reduce the marriage penalty. "Democrats boasted more benefits for middle and low income earners than the Bush plan, and no special breaks for the rich," Roberts compliantly announced in relaying the Democratic spin.

Following a clip of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, Roberts noted how Republicans called the plan the "same old Democratic line." Viewers then heard House Majority Whip Tom DeLay assert: "Their bill, from what I've been able to ascertain, is nothing more than redistribution of wealth."

Roberts then concluded his report by citing a poll which put DeLay in the minority: "New polls, however, show voters leaning slightly in favor of the Democratic plan. And with the Senate narrowly opposed to Mr. Bush there's bound to be a compromise, but it appears almost certain that Americans will get some kind of tax cut and soon."

Roberts did not say which of any "new polls" in particular he was citing, but in checking at I could find only one such survey: The ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Monday night which ABC News touted that night as well as on Tuesday morning and which NBC's Today also highlighted on Wednesday morning. This is the poll in which only 22 percent listed a tax cut at the "top priority" for the surplus. See the February 27 CyberAlert Extra:

Roberts on Thursday night was apparently picking up on this ABC question: "Which of these would you prefer: a large tax-cut plan that provides an across-the-board tax cut for everyone, or a smaller tax cut plan that provides targeted tax cuts mainly for lower and middle-income people?" Fifty-three percent responded "smaller tax cut" while 43 percent preferred a "large tax cut."

[WEB UPDATE: Roberts may also have been referring to a new Reuters/Zogby poll conducted Tuesday night after Bush's speech and on Wednesday. In a March 1 story Alan Elsner of Reuters reported it found: "Some 38 percent backed Bush's proposal for a $1.6 trillion cut over 10 years but 40 percent preferred the Democratic Party's smaller $800 billion package." Elsner added, however, that "eight percent wanted the $2.5 trillion cut proposed by some Republicans." So, by 46 to 40 percent the public actually wants a tax cut as large as Bush's or larger.]


The Fox News Channel's Brit Hume picked up on CBS's avoidance of its own poll as reported in Thursday's CyberAlert. On the March 1 Special Report with Brit Hume, during the "Grapevine" segment, Hume informed FNC viewers:
"Remember that CBS News poll we mentioned here last time, the one that said that 88 percent of those who had heard President Bush's Tuesday night speech approved of his proposals? That same poll also found that 67 percent of the public, whether they watched the speech or not, favored the President's tax cut plan. That poll, according to the Media Research Center, went unmentioned on Wednesday night's edition of the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather. CBS did air a report from its White House correspondent featuring an interview with a woman who said the Bush tax cut is too big."

For those who skipped item #2 above, check it for details on how the CBS Evening News on Thursday night again ignored its own network's poll and chose instead to highlight how a competitor's survey found "voters leaning slightly in favor" of the Democratic tax cut plan.


President Bush has lost Tom Daschle's support for his tax cut plan? That seemed to be the odd implication of ABC's Terry Moran insisting, before a soundbite from Tom Daschle, that Bush's budget may have "cost" him votes since Democrats were "attacking the President's proposals as stingy to the point of meanness." MRC analyst Jessica Anderson caught the juxtaposition aired on Thursday's Good Morning America.

On the March 1 broadcast Moran announced: "Mr. Bush has embarked on a two-day, five-state swing to sell his $1.6 trillion tax cut, as well as his blueprint for the federal budget unveiled yesterday. But the budget blueprint the White House has released may already have cost the President votes in Congress. Democrats lost no time in attacking the President's proposals as stingy to the point of meanness."
ABC then played this clip of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle: "The administration also proposes to cut $17 billion from programs that provide health coverage to the poor."


Geraldo Rivera has realized he's among the very few remaining Clinton defenders. On Wednesday's Rivera Live on CNBC, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, Rivera lamented how a New York City weekly has take on Senator Hillary Clinton as he worried to guest Lanny Davis on the February 28 show:
"But Lanny, things have gotten pretty grim for the President's legacy in the last week or so. You even have The New York Observer, the weekly newspaper here in town, staunch Clinton supporter, calling for Senator Hillary Clinton to resign from the United States Senate, adapting former Carter administration official Ham Jordan's label of 'grifters' for both the Clintons. If, if the Observer is lost what's left? Besides me and you?"

Clinton may have lost most of his defenders in the media now that he's no longer in a position to block evil conservatives, but how many media defenders has Dan Burton ever had or have now?


Even Tom Brokaw is making Hugh Rodham jokes. Appearing Wednesday night on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman, the NBC News anchor cracked: "I should point out that my appearance here tonight was arranged by Hugh Rodham. He's no longer taking money for these kinds of favors, however, but I did have to arrange for $2,000 worth of Big Macs and a car load of fries."

Just like all of Clinton's defenders in the political ranks, not until after he's left office and it doesn't matter any more does Brokaw dare to make light of ethics in Clinton's orbit of friends, family and associates. --Brent Baker

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