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Daily Howler: Rather tries to destroy all Republicans--until you run a quick Nexis search
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HOW RATHER GAVE GEORGE BUSH HIS GROOVE BACK! Rather tries to destroy all Republicans—until you run a quick Nexis search: // link // print // previous // next //
FRIDAY, MARCH 11, 2005

WHAT FOLLOWS: We’re heading off to Hurricane, West Virginia to examine red-state humor preferences. With that obligation before us, we will postpone Part 4 of our current series until Monday. But how inept are your “liberal spokesmen?” Keep reading, people. Keep reading.

SLOWLY THEY TURN: You have to drag them kicking and screaming—modern scribes hate reporting key facts— but reporters are slowly improving their accounts of how much those private accounts would cost. On page one of this morning’s Post, Charles Babington limns it like this:

BABINGTON (3/11/05): [A] Post survey of the Senate's 44 Democrats and one Democratic-leaning independent indicates there are at least 42—and perhaps 44—who firmly oppose personal investment accounts, particularly if they are financed with borrowed money.

Vice President Cheney has said the Bush accounts would cost "trillions of dollars." Democrats put the price tag at $5 trillion over 20 years.

For the record, note the ongoing oddness of Babington’s sourcing. He tells us what the two parties say—while making no effort to derive accurate facts from other, non-partisan sources. But at least he slightly upgrades the range to which Post readers have been exposed on this question. Democrats say that Bush’s plan would require borrowing “$5 trillion over 20 years,” the Post reporter tells us today. Just last week, Babington’s cowering colleague, Jim VandeHei, was battering Harry Reid as a fake for offering this very same number (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/28/05). This morning, Babington reports the number straight, omitting VandeHei’s fear-driven fakery.

Of course, this plainly isn’t what “Democrats say,” if you go by Democrats’ actual statements. Just last Sunday, for example, Democrats went on the Sunday shows and produced a wild array of conflicting statements about those crucial costs (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/7/05). What do “Democrats” actually say? On Face the Nation, Barbara Boxer did in fact say that the transition cost would be $5 trillion over twenty years. But on Meet the Press, Dick Durbin said the borrowing would total “$2 trillion to $5 trillion” (no time span cited), and a DNC ad played on the same program placed the figure at $4.5 trillion. Meanwhile, on Fox News Sunday, Nancy Pelosi seemed to say that the borrowing would total fifteen trillion dollars over a span of forty-five years! And what other things do “Democrats say?” Just a few weeks ago, Barack Obama haplessly said that the transition cost would be one trillion dollars! In fact, Democrats say the darnedest things—and rarely say the same thing twice. Babington glosses this obvious fact, even as he fails to report what non-partisan experts are saying.

Yes, Babington’s report is a slight improvement over Jim VandeHei’s clowning work last week. But as we watch the hapless Post avoid real reporting on this critical matter, let’s make sure we understand the full depth of Democratic ineptitude.

Do Democrats “put the price tag at $5 trillion over 20 years?” One Dem did just that last Sunday. Here’s what she actually said:

BOXER (3/6/05): We [Democrats] are not going to borrow more...And this theme of privatization would add, over 20 years, another $5 trillion. Talk about destroying this country! That's a plan that will bring us down.
Boxer was fighting hard this day. But uh-oh! What was wrong with her presentation? She clearly implied that the borrowing ends after twenty years—that $5 trillion is the grand total. But that is almost certainly wrong. Remember what Krugman said in January, citing the CBO as his source:
KRUGMAN (1/11/05): Advocates of privatization almost always pretend that all we have to do is borrow a bit of money up front, and then the system will become self-sustaining...

But that's just the borrowing over the next decade. Privatization would cost an additional $3 trillion in its second decade, $5 trillion in the decade after that and another $5 trillion in the decade after that. By the time privatization started to save money, if it ever did, the federal government would have run up around $15 trillion in extra debt.

You’d never know it from the things “Democrats say,” but the borrowing wouldn’t stop after just twenty years! Citing a CBO study, Krugman said it would total $15 trillion in the next four decades. That seems to be the figure to which Pelosi alluded this Sunday on Fox. Her figure, of course, bore little resemblance to the ones her colleagues were citing.

So the Washington Post, kicking and screaming, did upgrade its treatment of this matter today. But alas! Anyone reading Babington’s account would think the borrowing ends after twenty years, and that $5 trillion must be the top of available estimates. This is almost certainly wrong. But the Democrats have been inept to the point of malfeasance, and the Post seems to flee from reporting key facts the same way 9-year-old boys flee bath water. For reasons only they can explain, your “press corps” hates reporting factual matters, no matter how salient. These transition costs are hugely significant, but the Post refuses to devote a story to explaining how large they may be. In fact, we haven’t seen any news org report this key, central matter.

Meanwhile, E. J. Dionne further deceived the Post’s misused readers on this key matter (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/9/05). Try to believe that the fiery “liberal pundit” typed this absurd account:

DIONNE (3/9/05):As for personal accounts, their more forthright advocates acknowledge that paying for them will require either substantial tax increases or borrowing on the order of $2 trillion. Bush has finessed this nasty detail, hoping that such brave Republican legislators as Sens. Lindsey Graham and Chuck Hagel would take the hit for delivering the bad news.
That is complete, total horsesh*t. In fact, Dionne achieves a twofer with this account. First, he grossly misleads the Post’s misused readers about the likely cost of transition. Second, he implies that Republicans who put the cost at two trillion dollars deserve high praise for being so “brave” and “forthright!” In fact, such Republicans are baldly misinforming the public, just like the Democrats who enable them. But so what? All around the liberal web, lackeys let this nonsense continue. No, they won’t criticize those wonderful Dems; after all, some bloggers work for the Democrats now. And no, they won’t challenge Saint Dionne. Some of them want to work for the Post (some publish op-eds for the paper right now), and they want to attend those insider parties, where fiery Washington liberals like Dionne swill wine and develop their swill. Who gets royally screwed in the process? You do, along with the rest of the public. So do your critical interests.

As polls have indicated, the actual size of those transition costs could drive a stake through the heart of this plan. But how is the public supposed to learn about the probable costs? Plainly, the Democrats are wholly inept, and the big news orgs refuse to report. And liberal bloggers? They refuse to complain! Go ahead, folks—have a good weekend.

TRAINING BOXER: We love Barbara Boxer, but she needs a good trainer. If she worked with Morgan Freeman a while, she might end up punching like this:

BOXER AMENDED: We Democrats are not going to borrow more. Bob, this theme of privatization would add, over 20 years, another $5 trillion—and that’s just in the first two decades alone! Talk about destroying this country! That's a plan that will bring us down.
It’s hard to believe that Dems are so dumb that they don’t “add-on” that bold-faced phrase. But yes, that’s how dumb our Dems really are! Republicans laugh at our “liberal spokesmen.” As we said yesterday, you’d laugh too if you had opponents like this.

HOW RATHER GAVE GEORGE BUSH HIS GROOVE BACK: Yes, it’s amazing to think that pseudo-con hacks can still go out and yell liberal bias, even after the mainstream press spent ten years trashing Clinton, then Gore. But alas! We live at a time when our “liberal spokesmen” are almost preternaturally inept. Flavia Colgan knows what to say, but somehow, the rest of them stare into space. This allows kooky-con pundits to go on TV and shout any damn thing they like.

How inane do the Scripted Ones get? On Wednesday night, Bernie Goldberg was boo-hoo-hooing on Hannity & Colmes, just like always. Discussing Rather, he kept yelling “elitist:”

GOLDBERG (3/9/05): Well, they're certainly elitist. I mean, you know, I've written about bias in the news. But the underlying problem here is that these people really don't have a great deal of respect for people who aren't of their type. You know, people who didn't go to the schools they went to, people who don't make the money they made.

It is an incredibly elitist group who live in this very elitist liberal kind of bubble in the northeast. And anybody who isn't part of that is sort of—you know, they're different. Those other people, of course, are called “Americans,” who live between Manhattan and Malibu.

Boo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo! The people who work at CBS are “certainly,” “”incredibly” and “very” elitist, the sad-sack pundit weepily said. But uh-oh! Rather is a poor boy from Texas; he got his degree at Sam Houston State, a school whose application to the Ivy League gets turned down every year. And he’s being replaced by Bob Schieffer, another Texan who went to TCU and spends his spare time attending spring training with his good friend from the northeast, George Bush. Indeed, the more we learn about CBS, the kookier Goldberg’s “analysis” seems. For example, here was former CBS correspondent Bill O’Reilly, speaking with super-kooky-con pundit Liz Trotta, another former CBS correspondent:
O'REILLY (3/8/05): Now you believe—you believe that CBS News has been skewed to the left for a while, right?

TROTTA: Oh, I don't think there's any question about it. I was there. I mean, I know it was.

So let’s see. Goldberg was at CBS, working alongside Rather. And O’Reilly was at CBS with Dan—and the kooky-con Trotta was too! And Schieffer was there, except for the times when he was off at spring training with his best buddy, Bush. Do you get the feeling that there may have been a bit more diversity than Goldberg lets on? But so what? There’s nothing so dumb that these people can’t say it, because your “liberal spokesmen” will go on TV and stare into space when they do so. Routinely, your “liberal spokesmen” have nothing to say. But so what? They just say it anyhoo.

Indeed, pseudo-con screamers can make any statement because “liberal spokesmen” are such complete losers. Has CBS beaten up on Republicans down through the years, as all good kooky-cons know they should say? We decided to run a little test; we decided to see how CBS handled the Texas Air National Guard story during Campaign 2000. By May of that year, it was perfectly clear that this was an embarrassing, unexplained topic for Bush. Surely, Dan Rather went after it hard. As every good kooky-con pundit knows, it’s all that he does on his program.

Using Nexis, we conducted a simple search: “Bush AND guard.” And yes, we saw references to Bush and the Coast Guard. We saw references to Bush and the Republican Party’s old guard. But from May 1, 2000 right through Election Day, what follows is the only time CBS News—on any broadcast—discussed Bush’s problem with the Texas Air Guard. Bill Whitaker was doing a biographical profile from the GOP Convention:

WHITAKER (8/3/00): [Bush] finally scored business success as part owner of the Texas Rangers. Yet the governor with the easy style has faced questions he's had it too easy. Did his father pull strings to get him a coveted spot with the Texas National Guard while less fortunate sons of Texas went off to Vietnam? Did his fathers' cronies bail him out when the oil business floundered? Bush insists no. Still, he knows what some people think. They're thinking, “You're a son of privilege. You got where you were because of your name and your status.”

BUSH (videotape): People will say, “He can't do anything. He's just running on his daddy's name.” Or you can extend it a step further. “How can he have a heart?” A man can come to compassion not necessarily through hardship, but through a religion.

That was it! According to the Nexis archives, that represents the entire CBS News discussion of Bush’s problem with the Guard. According to Nexis, the matter was never mentioned on the CBS Evening News, where Rather tries to destroy all Republicans. Nor was it mentioned on 60 Minutes—or on any other CBS program.

Some will think this can’t be true; such people should rethink their conceptions. In fact, the Guard story was almost completely ignored by all three networks during Campaign 2000 (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/7/03, for an analysis of CNN’s lack of coverage). According to Nexis, ABC News never mentioned the problem, and NBC viewers only heard it mentioned during several discussions on Meet the Press. Of course, it wasn’t mentioned on the CBS counterpart, Face the Nation. The liberal net had Schieffer in charge of that show—and Scheiffer was a close friend of the candidate, although he absent-mindedly never remembered to say so when he covered his buddy’s campaign. So it went as the liberal network worked to stop Candidate Bush.

During Campaign 2000, Rather never mentioned Bush’s problem with the Texas Air Guard. Nor did Jennings. Nor did Brokaw. And one more thing—none of your “liberal spokesmen” have cited this record when they’ve debated the Rathergate flap. That would have taken a bit of research—and in today’s world, “liberal spokesmen” don’t go there. Of course, if you provide the research for them, they ignore it and stare into air.

They’re almost preternaturally stupid. How long do you plan to accept it?

MONDAY: Bungling Rather, Part 4.