CyberAlert -- 09/07/2000 -- Gore's "Message of Fiscal Responsibility"

Gore's "Message of Fiscal Responsibility"; Firestone Tires: Reagan's Fault; Geraldo's Loss of News Zeal

1) NBC's Claire Shipman relayed how Al Gore hopes his economic goals "will send a message of fiscal responsibility to the key voters." Of the broadcast networks, only ABC's Terry Moran pointed out how the Senate Budget Committee determined Gore's spending proposals will consume all of the surplus and more.

2) Dan Rather refuses to use the word "debate." Wednesday night: "Bush insists he'll show up for his own proposed joint appearance, not an actual debate, but a joint appearance with Gore."

3) Bryant Gumbel actually pressed Al Gore from the right Wednesday morning, asking how he can "justify limiting" his tax cut to a few. Today's Matt Lauer was baffled by George Bush's refusal to apologize to Adam Clymer: "You don't regret the comment at all?"

4) Firestone tire blowouts: Reagan's fault. Federal regulators were on top of bad tires in the late 1970s but, ABC's John Martin rued Wednesday night, "then came the Reagan administration" and the NHTSA "budget was cut 49 percent."

5) On the high seas Geraldo Rivera lost his zeal for news: "I've been a driven newsman for the last thirty years....Now something else is driving me. These beautiful children, my friends and family, this wonderful vessel....Now my vow is to savor the tastes of life, not just gulp them down."

6) Schools are so underfunded that teachers are forced to buy school supplies for their students, an ABC News story contended last week. But in fact, as pointed out by Stephen Moore, declining school funding is a canard exacerbated by an Office Depot TV ad.

7) Letterman's "Top Ten Good Things About Dating the President's Daughter."

>>> Liberal media bias-inspired editorial cartoons are rare, but Chuck Asay of the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph is one of the few cartoonists to delve into that angle and he did so last week in contrasting media coverage of Bush and Gore. To see this media bias cartoon, go to where has posted it:


Al Gore's "fiscally conservative" spending plans? Undecided voters "tend to be fiscally conservative," NBC's Claire Shipman asserted Wednesday night as she relayed how Gore hopes his outline of economic goals "will send a message of fiscal responsibility to the key voters."

ABC's Terry Moran avoided such preposterous reporting as he was the only broadcast network reporter to point out how the Senate Budget Committee determined Gore's spending proposals will consume all of the surplus and more. CBS's John Roberts failed to add up the costs of Gore's ideas, but he uniquely noted how "Gore even used Republican surplus projections" to find enough money to cover a $300 billion rainy day fund.

Network correspondents outlined Gore's economic achievement goals for the nation, but none informed viewers of how he intends to reach them. ABC, CBS and NBC all dedicated full stories to Gore's presentation, but Bush's address to the American Legion only garnered a few seconds in briefs read by the anchors on ABC and CBS while NBC didn't even mention it.

Here's a rundown of Wednesday night, September 6, coverage of Gore's plan:

-- ABC's World News Tonight. Terry Moran reported how Gore released a 191 page book featuring a "litany of campaign promises, or goals as Gore called them." Moran listed three: Raising after tax median income from $48,000 to $67,000 by 2010; increasing home ownership from 67 to 70 percent; and reducing poverty from 12 to below ten percent.

Moran cautioned: "Some economists say Gore's plan is based on rosy and dubious predictions of continued economic growth." Following a soundbite from Jeremy Siegel of the Wharton School Moran gave time to Gore's operative: "But former Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin, who introduced Gore today, says a President can make a difference, up to a point."
Rubin: "There are always uncertainties with respect to economic conditions. What you can do in the role of the President is to have an economic policy, and I think that needs to focus on fiscal responsibility and debt reduction, that will create the highest likelihood of strong economic conditions."

Concluding his piece, Moran uniquely cited a new Senate analysis: "But that raises another question about Gore's plan: Can he pay for it? The Vice President today said yes, with money to spare, $300 billion. But Senate Republicans say the Gore plan would create a $900 billion deficit, setting up a battle over numbers the candidates can thrash out when, or if, they debate."

Jennings then showed a clip of Bush's reaction followed by a sentence about his address to the American Legion.

-- CBS Evening News. Anchor Dan Rather announced: "In the presidential campaign, a new chapter today in the competing claims of Al Gore and George Bush over who has the better plan to keep the American economy healthy. In fact, Gore weighed in with twelve chapters, his detailed blueprint, while Bush ridiculed it. CBS's John Roberts has been sorting the facts on their figures."

Roberts, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth, began: "Al Gore took a swipe today at what he called George Bush's cross-your-fingers economics, and laid out in exhaustive detail his economic plan for America."
Gore: "You don't have to guess at what the specifics are. You can read my plan."
Roberts: "Two hundred pages, twelve chapters long, the plan outlines tax cuts and legislation to achieve ten specific goals." Roberts cited four: Eliminate the national debt by 2012; raise incomes by a third; reduce poverty to ten percent; and shrink the gender gap in wages.

Roberts added: "The strategy was meant to make George W. Bush look vague by comparison, but the Texas Governor today had a few details of his own."
After a Bush soundbite, Roberts got excited: "On the campaign trail, the rhetoric has turned white hot. At every stop today Bush appeared with middle income families he claimed would benefit from his proposal, but not Gore's."

Following battling clips from Bush and Gore, Roberts relayed:
"Gore wants to paint the Texas Governor as a threat to prosperity. Bush is tarring the Vice President as a big spender of historic proportions. Whomever voters believe, experts caution, both sides are making plans based on economists' best guesses." Financial analyst Todd Buchholz argued you can't trust budget projections, before Roberts concluded:
"But they certainly let candidates promise the moon. Gore even used Republican surplus projections when he proposed today a $300 billion rainy day fund in case there's a downturn. It's money his own budget office had said isn't there."

-- NBC Nightly News. CBS saw twelve chapters, but NBC saw two fewer as Claire Shipman declared: "Gore put out essentially what's a ten chapter economic manifesto. It outlines how he'll pay for all of his campaign promises. And he's hoping it will send a message of fiscal responsibility to the key voters."

Shipman proceeded to list some of Gore's "ten ambitious economic goals." She decided to highlight his goals of ten million new high tech jobs, closing the income gap between women and men and eliminating the national debt by 2012.

After playing clips of a waitress and a cigar store owner pleased with Gore's priorities, she ran a clip of Bush: "My plan has been endorsed by these Nobel Prize winners and leading economists. His plan has been endorsed by Bill Clinton."

Without having considered the price tag of Gore's lofty goals, Shipman then returned to the idea of "fiscal responsibility." She concluded her story: "Now both campaigns are well aware that polls show that undecided voters, whether they're low income or high income, tend to be fiscally conservative. So look for a lot of fighting over the next few weeks about which candidate best fits that bill."

How about neither as both plan to accommodate huge spending hikes every year and have no plans to cut spending for any program. But of the two, it's Gore who plans to spend the most so linking Gore to "fiscal conservatism" is quite a stretch. And since when have low income people been generally known to want to limit spending? I thought Gore and Bush were creating a new prescription drug benefit just to satisfy them.

To read the Senate Budget Committee report cited by ABC's Terry Moran, and also quoted by CNN and FNC, go to the committee's Majority page:

Be warned: The report link is not labeled as an Adobe Acrobat file, but it is and it's 59-pages long. Direct address:


Dan "Joint Appearance" Rather. The CBS anchor just can't accept the idea that presidential candidates might actually "debate." Wednesday night he reported how "the Bush campaign also pumped out a new ad attacking Gore for allegedly not delivering on a promise to debate, quote, 'anywhere, anytime.'"

But that was Rather's last use of the word "debate." He continued: "Gore says Bush is afraid to agree to the usual joint appearances carried by all major broadcast television networks at once, saying in effect, what Bush wants are basically talk show appearances."
Gore from The Early Show: "What's wrong with those commission debates? Is it that too many people will be watching? Is that what the problem is?"
Rather insisted: "Bush insists he'll show up for his own proposed joint appearance, not an actual debate, but a joint appearance with Gore on NBC next week whether Gore is there or not, but NBC says it will not give Bush a solo prime time platform."


Bryant Gumbel actually pressed Al Gore from the right Wednesday morning, asking how he can "justify limiting" his tax cut to a few when the surplus is so large. But he also tossed Gore a softball, pitching Gore with his own spin about how Bush is "afraid" of a real debate with "too many people...watching."

George Bush made a rare morning show appearance, coming aboard NBC's Today where Matt Lauer grilled him about the debate debate, details of his prescription plan, how he can "pay" for both that plan and a tax cut. On his Adam Clymer "asshole" remark Lauer was incredulous: "You don't regret the comment at all?"

-- CBS's The Early Show, September 6. MRC analyst Brian Boyd noticed that Bryant Gumbel posed this unusual question to Gore:

"Let me talk about those tax cuts. Your plan calls for $480 billion in tax cuts, how do you justify limiting those cuts to only certain taxpayers when we're looking at a surplus that is so substantial?"

But Gumbel soon returned to usual liberal form, asking Gore to comment on his anti-Bush spin: "What's wrong with those commission debates? Is it that too many people will be watching? Is that what the problem is?" He followed up: "Do you think that's what it is? Do you think the Governor's afraid?"

-- NBC's Today, September 6. George Bush made his first Today appearance since May. Matt Lauer quizzed him about the debates, and then raised the Adam Clymer remark, pressing for an apology:
"You said something the other day Governor Bush that's gotten a lot of attention. You used a disparaging remark to describe a veteran New York Times reporter. I've heard you say you're sorry, that, that comment was picked up on a microphone. Have you apologized to the reporter? Do you think it's necessary?"
Bush maintained he's only sorry he was overheard, prompting a dumbfounded Lauer to wonder: "You don't regret the comment at all?"

Later, after quizzing Bush about his prescription plan, Lauer posed the usual liberal questions, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed: "Alright, most importantly. How are you going to pay for this? On the one hand you say this is gonna cost about $198 billion, on the other hand you are promising a $1.3 trillion tax cut. How do both of those things happen at the same time?"

And: "Up until this point Governor Bush, you've made the tax cut the cornerstone of your campaign. And I know you've been reading the reviews. They've been lukewarm. Why do you think, you even said that you hadn't done a good enough job at explaining this to the American people. Have you done a better job at that now and what kind of response are you hearing?"


Firestone tire blowouts: It's Reagan's fault. You knew someone in the media would eventually get around to blaming the Ford Explorer-mounted Firestone tire blowouts on supposed Reagan budget cuts and deregulation. Mark Wednesday night, September 6, as when that blame shifting arrived on network news.

The perpetrator: ABC's World News Tonight. The House hearings on Firestone's tires led all three broadcast network evening shows, but only ABC blamed the fiasco on Reagan. ABC offered "A Closer Look" at why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) didn't do as well this time as they had in 1978 when Firestone tires were last recalled.

John Martin reminded viewers of how back then the NHTSA, directed in the late 1970s by Joan Claybrook, proposed new rules to label and track tires in order to make future identification of bad tires easier and to speed recalls.

Martin reported: "The agency fined Firestone $800,000, the most allowed under the law. It looked like it meant business. Then came the Reagan administration. They had a very different philosophy. The reforms that grew from the 1978 recall were scrapped, the agency budget was cut 49 percent. The staff of the defects office has remained the same over the last 20 years."

Martin asked: Michael Brownlee, NHTSA's former Safety Assurance Director: "Fifteen to twenty investigators to seek out defects from 140 million vehicles?"
Brownlee answered: "Yes that's true and the number of vehicles recalled in the last several years has run between 15 and 20 million vehicles."
Martin warned: "Equally important is what has not happened. The government system for discovering and reporting defects remains completely dependent on the auto industry."

Brownlee confirmed that regulators are dependent on industry answering inquiries truthfully, leading Martin to again target Reagan but also to cite another villain: "So after all the Reagan era cuts, the agency is also hobbled at times by Congress, some say Capitol Hill meddles too much..."

Martin noted that Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Richard Shelby "defends congressional attention, but blames the companies for the current crisis."

A 49 percent "cut"? I don't have any counter facts on this subject yet, but I'd doubt any such large reduction ever occurred. That number probably came from the same people who called seven percent annual hikes in Medicare a "cut." And if all these awful cuts actually occurred in the 1980s and hobbled the agency, why didn't ABC address how in seven years Clinton has failed to correct the shortfall.


Geraldo Rivera's quest for a new challenge in life seems to have come to him during his cross-Pacific sail in January, at least judging from a comment he made in the Travel Channel's videography recounting of his voyage. Last week Rivera revealed he is seriously considering a 2001 run for Mayor of New York City.

On Thursday, August 31 the Travel Channel ran the third of four planned one-hour programs showing, via hand-held video cameras, Geraldo's quest to sail around the world on a motorized sailboat. Shows aired in December and March brought viewers from Massachusetts to New Years Day 2000 in Tahiti. The August 31 installment, Geraldo Voyager: On the High Seas, reviewed his January 2000 trek from Tahiti to the Galapagos Islands off Ecuador.

After recounting his time in Bora Bora, Geraldo observed:
"I've been off television now since before the holidays. What is stunning is how little I miss the action. Of all the things I've seen and done on this trip around the world no experience has been as memorable as this inner odyssey. It's given me a whole new perspective on life, a whole new set of priorities. I've been a driven newsman for the last thirty years. [over shots of fight on his old daytime show] Reckless with my life, reckless with my energy in the relentless pursuit of the story. Now something else is driving me. These beautiful children [his two 6 to 8 year-old daughters], my friends and family, this wonderful vessel, this awesome journey. It has changed me. Now my vow is to savor the tastes of life, not just gulp them down."

If he doesn't miss the "action" of journalism maybe he'll soon leave the field. We can only hope.

At least Geraldo kept his clothes on in this portion of his trip. As described in the December 20, 1999 CyberAlert, he didn't do that in part one:
Without warning as the boat hit a calm spot on its way across the Atlantic to the Azores, barely, shall we say, five minutes into the show, a long-haired and unshaven Geraldo doffed his clothes for a swim, forcing viewers to see his buttocks and, as he turned sideways to jump off the boat (with front side toward the camera), a bit more than even NYPD Blue has shown. Fortunately, Travel Channel editors put some of those blurry blocks over key parts of his body. Other highlights of the program included Geraldo leading on-deck dancing and exercising.

To view a RealPlayer clip of Geraldo dancing on deck and getting naked, go to:


Schools are so underfunded that teachers are forced to buy school supplies for their students, an ABC News story contended last week. But in fact, as pointed out by Stephen Moore of the Cato Institute and the Club for Growth, declining school funding is a canard, a canard exacerbated by an Office Depot TV ad featured in ABC's report.

Anchor Charles Gibson set up the August 31 World News Tonight back-to-school story, as transcribed by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson:
"A non-profit trade group said today that teachers each spend, on average, $450 a year of their own money on classroom items. That's a lot of cash for anyone trying to get by on a teacher's salary, but if schools won't pick up the bill, it seems the cash-strapped teachers can't resist."

John Martin began with an anecdote: "Joan Smith has taught little kids in kindergarten for 29 years here in San Diego. For the new term, she buys them supplies the school does not provide and the children cannot afford. By year's end, she figures it will cost her $3,000 to $5,000 out of her $63,000 salary."
Smith claimed: "It seems as if every year there's less and less money for supplies that the school can afford."

Martin continued: "By one estimate, half a million teachers take money out of their own pockets every year to cover costs school budgets don't cover. Lori Place is a first year teacher spending $1,000 to $3,000 for supplies out of a salary of only $34,000."

Martin moved on to a wealthy area: "It's not any different in this affluent area around Tampa."
Susannah Willis, a ninth grade teacher, insisted: "There are resources available to the school, from the school, but most teachers choose to go above and beyond what the school can offer."

Martin then segued into the Office Depot ad: "Last year, teachers in San Francisco got so fed up they staged a protest to get schools to spend more money. The practice of teachers paying for school supplies is now so widespread, companies are looking for their business, and yours, too."
Clip of an Office Depot TV ad: "Office Depot is crediting five percent of your back to school purchase to the school of your choice."

Martin tied-in the presidential campaign: "Governor Bush promises to let teachers deduct up to $400 a year for supplies. Vice President Gore promises pay raises. The teachers' union favors better pay, and if the money doesn't show up?"
Sandra Feldman, President of the American Federation of Teachers, worried: "Teachers love children. That's why they go into teaching, and they can't bear to see the children without their needs met."
Martin concluded: "So if neither the legislatures nor cities nor counties nor candidates deliver, you can bet those teachers will come up with the hard-earned cash. It's only money, right?"

Martin didn't check to see if his anecdotes matched actual data, as did Stephen Moore. In a piece on National Review Online two days earlier, "Office Depot Dumbos," Moore recounted his frustration:

Every time I see the new ad with the two janitors walking down the hall of a rickety old school building, it makes me want to throw a rock through my TV screen. The old janitor says to the young one that "there just isn't the money that there once was for the schools."

That's a lie.

Then he says that the class sizes are more crowded these days.

That, too is a lie.

Then he angrily chastises his young colleague for criticizing our wonderful education system.

When I first heard this nauseating left-wing propaganda, I thought it must be paid for by the teachers' unions or some other functionaries of the education blob. But it isn't: It's paid for by Office Depot. Office Depot now says that 5 percent of its profits of up to $10 million will go to helping our "underfunded" schools. It's a touchy-feely spot, meant to reinforce the liberal notion that we need to be spending more for our neglected schools.

None of it is even remotely true. Per-pupil funding of the schools, according to the Education Digest figures, has more than doubled since the late 1960s. This is after adjusting for inflation. We will spend almost $400 billion a year on schools. Class sizes have getting steadily smaller with each passing year, according to education scholar Eric Hanushek. There are now typically around 20 kids per class. When I was in grade school, there were 35 in my class. We somehow survived....

END Excerpt

To read the entire piece, go to:


From the September 6 Late Show with David Letterman, prompted by the news that Chelsea Clinton is dating a former White House intern who is a fellow Stanford student, the "Top Ten Good Things About Dating the President's Daughter." Copyright 2000 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. When President says, "Don't do anything I wouldn't do," you can pretty much go nuts
9. Biweekly Gallup poll tells you how you're doing as a boyfriend
8. Can relive date by watching surveillance tapes of two of you making out
7. Any professor who fails you is looking at one mother of an IRS audit
6. Someone says, "My dad can beat up you dad," you respond, "My girlfriend's dad can send your dad's ass to Bosnia"
5. Every Christmas you get newest model stovepipe hat (President Lincoln's daughter only)
4. You're one call away from having your term paper on Castro written by Castro
3. Can watch news to see if she really was "home with mom and dad" that night
2. Get to hear first hand which reporters are major-league ass*****
1. Surprise her with flowers, next morning your face is on Mt. Rushmore -- Brent Baker

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