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FOX Host & Guests: 35 Million Seniors Represented by AARP Are Left-Wing Vultures, Out to Drain the National Treasury

Reported by Marie Therese - January 11, 2006

This morning FOX & Friends' resident "perky blonde" hostess E. D. Hill (who is definitely under 50 years of age) interviewed two guests on the topic of the "hidden agenda" behind the AARP. She started the interview segment by bitch-slapping Harry Belafonte, AARP's 2005 Impact Award Winner, for his recent remark during a trip to Venezuela, in which he referred to President Bush as the world's greatest terrorist. After noting that the AARP issued a statement yesterday repudiating Mr. Belafonte's words, Hill then set the tone for the interview to follow: "Does the AARP have an agenda?"

Her guests were boyish Rich Lowry (under 50), editor of the National Review, a young man at the top of the heap in the landscape of reactionary (conservative) thought and Terence Scanlon (well over age 50) who represented Capital Research Center a group the chipper Ms. Hill described as "a non-profit, non-partisan think tank."

Well, right away I knew we were in for a snow job. The Capital Research Center or CRC is anything BUT a non-partisan think tank. Just to cite one example, this group was paid by the tobacco companies to come up with information that could be used to discredit anti-smoking groups like the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society [Sourcewatch]. While demanding that other non-profits be forthcoming with their financial profiles, CRC is notoriously unwilling to reveal where it gets its own funding sources. In fact, since 2001 they have deleted from their site any mention of who is on their Board of Advisors. Mr. Scanlon is paid in the neighborhood of $211,000 a year for his services.

Additionally, the CRC is not above selling itself as a lobbying organization.

While CRC state they are a research organisation, they undertake lobbying work as well. In December 1995 Scanlon wrote a three-page letter to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, David Kessler, opposing the FDA proposal to restrict the advertising and promotion of cigarettes. "The FDA's emphasis on restricting cigarette advertising is unwarranted, since research has shown that such restrictions have no significant effect on consumption. The main goal of advertising is to encourage smokers to switch brands," he wrote.

Proposals to ban outdoor advertising within 1,000 feet of a school he wrote, would 'violate the First Amendment". The same argument, he wrote, applied to restricting the advertising to black text only, the giveway of free items of clothing sporting tobacco brand names. "The FDA fails to recognize that discouraging children from smoking is a parental responsibility," he wrote.

In January 1996 Scanlon sent Philip Morris advance copies of CRC's February edition of Alternatives in Philanthropy, which featured articles by Bennett criticizing the American Stop Smoking Intervention Study program - otherwise known as Project ASSIST - that was funded by the National Cancer Institute. It also carried an article by DiLorenzo criticising the Center for Disease Control and the American Lung Association.

In August 1996 Scanlon met with R.J Reynolds executive, John Fish. At the meeting Fish expressed concerns the company had with ASSIST. "I promised to send you some information about their use of federal money for lobbying," Fish wrote in a follow up note. "As I indicated, this is a program that has given our state folks a lot of heartburn. It is supposed to expire after this fiscal year. My efforts have focussed on making sure it does not continue. If you have any further questions, or would like more information, please call," he wrote.

In May 1998 Phillip Morris convened a planning meeting of its public policy advisory committee at its Park Avenue headquarters in New York. At issue was the rationalisation the tobacco company's financial support to public policy groups. Under the ranking system adopted by the PM staff CRC only scored a "low" priority classification for the proposed 1999 budget, which translated into the continuation of its $10,000 contribution.

In 1998 Philip Morris was canvassing possible organisations that might be an ally in its Youth Smoking Prevention programs. A memo from Roy Marden described Capital Research Center as a "DC policy group focused on evaluating philanthropic efforts of corporations & foundations. Long-time friend of PM (& recipient of policy group support); has been active on analysis of antis & govt anti-tobacco programs, e.g. ASSIST. Could be helpful on the concept of effective spending of YSP funds”. (from Sourcewatch)

Capital Research Center has stated that one of its goals is to strip federal funding away from the AARP and any other Foundation it deems to be radical.

This self-righteous "bought-and-paid-for" trio proceeded to smear the good name of the AARP, which represents the interests of and provides affordable health care and other benefits to over 35 million seniors. During the initial portion, FOX News aired clips of various older citizens, among them, a man eating with a faraway look in his eyes, a woman in a winter coat slowly negotiating her way (with cane) across a city street, a thin woman with a humped back probably a result of osteoporosis, elderly folks eating in a community room, a white-haired woman playing the piano, spry men and women exercising. FOX may have goofed with this montage - it was very hard to visualize such people as noxious far-left radicals out to bring down the American way of life!

After Lowry referred to Belafonte a a "totally old-style unreconstructed left-winger," he went on to describe the AARP as a "center-left organization" because "they take positions, first of all, on things that don't have to do necessarily with senior citizens, whether it's gun control or progressive tax policy. And then if you just look at their core mission, which is representing what they consider the interests of the elderly, it's always liberal social policy and what they would say is: 'Look. We worked with President Bush to pass a prescription drug benefit.' But that was one instance where President Bush was endorsing a center-left strategy, a big-government give-away of prescription drugs and then if you look at the AARP's advocacy on social security accounts, I think it was dishonest and totally towed the Democratic line."

Terence Scanlon added to this, saying: "... Not in the middle at all and it goes back to the beginning of AARP. They opposed Judge Clarence Thomas' nomination for the Supreme Court in 1991. They've opposed various tax reforms measures of both the Bush and Reagan administrations. We know where they are on the Social Security reform measures - they're adamantly opposed to those and started ads opposing the administration's plan before it was even unveiled."

Hill asked: "But is that because they believe that these are not in the best interests of senior citizens or is there something else going on?"

SCANLON: "No. No. They tend to lean toward the left, as Rich said. They have a liberal agenda. They don't like the free market."

LOWRY: "Yeah, E. D., it's not as though they sit down and think: 'How can we promote liberalism and let's not care about the elderly.' The view of what helps the elderly is a center-left view, which is government give-aways. They basically want to funnel as much of the federal treasury to the elderly as possible."

HILL: "What about those savings accounts where people would be able to make their own investments in the savings account? They were against that, weren't they?"

SCANLON: "Absolutely. Absolutely. And they were running ads against it before the legislation was even sent to Capitol hHll."

LOWRY: "But the problem with complaining about the AARP - and I say this as someone who's been a critic for a long time - they're really like a battleship and maybe Terry can get on this. They're very hard to sink. They're very hard to make a dent in them because they do have such excellent branding among the elderly."

COMMENT: Wow! For Lowry the AARP's success is their "branding." He can't begin to fathom that the organization MEETS THE NEEDS OF ITS MEMBERS!!! That's why we (I am a member) are a battleship and can't be sunk. The AARP knows that, if you keep the customers happy, they come back again and again. It ain't marketing, Richie baby. It's customer satisfaction!

HILL: "35 million members. You don't have to be an American, by the way, to be a member of this organization and they make a lot of money, correct?"

COMMENT: What is Hill implying here with that comment about citizenship? Does she think the next great terrorist attack will be carried out by some foreign-born septuagenarian who flashes an AARP Membership card as I.D.?

SCANLON: "Oh, no question about it. They have revenues - the latest figure that they give out is about $878 million in revenues. That was in 2004. They're really a small Fortune 500 corporation."

HILL: "Hmm. Well, interesting. Thank you very much for helping us shed light on it."

COMMENT

It really angered me to watch these three replete individuals - who obviously don't believe they themselves will ever have a problem paying for medical care, dentistry or living quarters - taking pot shots at an organization that has advocated zealously for a better way of life for people like me. Hill, Lowry & Scanlon clearly believe that those of us over the age of 50 are a bunch of stupid bumbling incompetents who should be seen and not heard. Thank heaven there's an AARP to hound the Congress and lobby on behalf of people who aren't riding the wave of financial success.

As for Lowry's comments about the national treasury, most of the people I know (elderly or not) say they'd rather that their tax dollars go to the care and maintenance of their grandmothers, grandathers, aunts, uncles and friends and not to a useless, elective treasury-draining, endless war on terror.

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