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Not Exactly Must-See TV

Michael Tackett writes in the Chicago Tribune: "President Bush on Thursday used a format he does not like to discuss issues he cannot resolve in hopes that he can sell the American people on policies most say they don't want."

The Documents in the Case

Here is the transcript of the news conference. Here's the video . And here's the accompanying White House handout .

The handout provides a few more details, i.e. that "low-income workers should receive benefits that grow faster than inflation. In order to return the system to solvency, the benefit increases for wealthier seniors should grow no faster than the rate of inflation. This would be accomplished by adopting a sliding-scale benefit formula, similar to the Pozen approach." That's an explicit reference to the "progressive indexing" plan championed by Robert C. Pozen, an investment company executive from Boston.

Here are two analyses of the Pozen plan, one from Social Security's chief actuary, Stephen C. Goss and one from Jason Furman, Robert Greenstein, and Gene Sperling of the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Doctrine of Preemption

Washington Post TV columnist Lisa de Moraes has the blow by blow of yesterday's battle over network airtime.

"One by one the broadcast networks caved yesterday and agreed to preempt the first night of the May ratings race to make way for President Bush's non-news conference, after 'Sopranos-style arm-twisting' by the White House, as one network suit described it."

It was, after all, the first night of the May ratings sweeps, and a Thursday to boot.

ABC, de Moraes writes, "as a rule, can't get arrested on Thursday nights," so they caved first. The other networks balked until the White House blinked -- and moved the start time back from 8:30 to 8. Then they fell, one by one.

De Moraes writes: "Press Secretary Scott McClellan said, 'We were in touch with some networks and starting on the hour was more accommodating, so we decided to move to 8.'

"We told McClellan that we thought it was extremely brave of the White House to risk incurring the wrath of 'Survivor,' 'C.S.I.' and 'The Apprentice' fans, not to mention 'The O.C.' fans,' to hold a news conference that's an attempt to increase the president's approval rating. McClellan laughed and said he didn't know what shows were on, but he also said, 'We want to reach the largest audience.'"

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