Two days after the National Alliance to End Homelessness released its survey which estimated that in January of 2005, “744,313 people experienced homelessness,” the CBS Evening News on Friday picked an earlier, more dire, guesstimate covering an entire year from the group with a self-interest in making homelessness seem as ominous as possible. Introducing an “Assignment America" piece from Steve Hartman on a homeless shelter in Gloucester, Massachusetts that “could be a museum, or at least a bed and breakfast” since it's “350 years old and beautifully restored,” fill-in anchor Russ Mitchell declared, “It's a sad truth: Too many Americans don't have a house to call their own. Over the course of any year, some 600,000 families find themselves homeless, and that includes more than 1.3 million children.” On screen, viewers saw matching numbers attributed to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, but in a study released on Wednesday, the group reported that its month-long survey located “98,452 homeless families."
For Chris Matthews, there is one constant to be considered in analyzing the prospects of the presidential contenders on both the GOP and Dem sides: the presumed bigotry of his fellow Americans.
Kibitzing about '08 on this afternoon's Hardball with a conservative-free panel composed of Chris Cizzilla of the Washington Post, Mike Allen of Time and Howard Fineman of time immemorial, Matthews first handicapped the Dem field in these terms:
"Is the low estimate of [Democrats'] belief in [Hillary's] electability low enough thatthey think that an African-American guy has a better shot than she does? I mean that's a statement, I think, of pessimism about her shot if you shift to him for electability reasons."
While Sylvester included one sound bite from USC's Dr. Joel Hay, she left out his chief complaint with the Democratic plan to institute de facto drug price controls in the guise of Medicare "negotiating" with drug companies to lower prices for seniors on Medicare.
What's more, Sylvester quickly dismissed Hay -- an expert in pharmacoeconomics, the study of the economics of
drug development and distribution -- saying that "common sense" dictates that government "negotiation" can lower drug prices.
NBC’s Brian Williams quickly breezed through news of a court ruling in Mississippi pertaining to Hurricane Katrina insurance claims. But unlike coverage of the case in the Associated Press and The New York Times, the “Nightly News” anchor cast the ruling only as a victory for storm damage victims, without looking at how it could harm the insurance industry or gum up courts by encouraging lawsuits.
Williams told viewers of the January 11 program about “A big legal victory today for a Biloxi, Miss., couple who sued State Farm Insurance for refusing to pay” their Hurricane Katrina damage claim. The ruling could prove helpful to “hundreds of other victims in that region” who could “benefit as a result,” the anchor insisted. All told, Norman and Genevieve Broussard walked out of court with nearly $3 million, Williams added.
The deficit through the first three months of the current fiscal year is almost $39 billion, or 32.7%, lower than last year's comparable figure. Receipts are up a bit over 8%, as the supply-side tax cuts continue their "magic." The real surprise is that outlays have barely budged, actually going up at a rate that is substantially lower than inflation (Psst -- Don't tell Congress that). Will the media notice?
All throughout last night's Hardball, MSNBC's Chris Matthews kept pressing the line the administration was headed for war with Iran, so much so, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow felt the need to calm down Matthews. When an agitated Matthews demanded: "Tony, will the President ask Congress' approval before any attack on Iran?,' Snow countered, "You're getting way ahead of yourself, Chris. Nobody here is talking about attacks on Iran." Snow even attempted to tone down the admitted film buff's active imagination as he warned the excitable Hardball host: "Well, you've been watching too many old movies featuring your old friend Slim Pickens is what you're doing now, come on."
Fishing around in the now widely-known Samoan exception to the recently passed Minimum Wage bill (where tuna industry workers there are apparently being paid $3.26 an hour), Andy's Angle cast a wide net and hauled in the following:
The interesting thing, however, is that the largest employer in American Samoa is Del Monte Foods' StarKist Tuna, home to over 75% of the island's workforce. Del Monte Foods, as it turns out, is headquartered in the District of the new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Smelling a whiff of impropriety, House Republicans have thrown up some serious questions about the exemption and who inserted it into the bill.
NewsBusters points out that few in the Mainstream Media will cover this story given their breathless love for the new Speaker. FoxNews has picked up the story, questioning the potential influence Del Monte may have as a major player in the Speaker's District. Doing my own research, however, I've discovered that the impropriety is much deeper. Speaker Pelosi's husband Paul, it turns out, owns something to the order of $17 million in Del Monte stock!
(Editor's Note -- The previous sentence is noted in Wikipedia and has not otherwise been verified.
Commenter #3 at the related BizzyBlog post, claiming to be Tom Elliott of FunkyPundit, says he was told that no one holds more than $14 mil worth of DLM stock [except Heinz]. BizzyBlog Commenter #4 Kevin says that this item was entered into Wiki at 3:04 PM Jan. 12 [GMT, it is believed]; that link is here. The link claiming $17 mil in Del Monte ownership by Paul Pelosi goes to Nancy Pelosi's Wiki page. The Del Monte ownership interest is not claimed at that page. Thus, there is reason to believe that the claim of such ownership interest on the part of Paul Pelosi is suspect.)
I wonder if he stands to benefit should StarKist avoid an additional $2 hike in hourly wages... (actually, for the Samoans, it would be a $3.99 hike from $3.26 to $7.25 -- Ed.)
John Kerry's notorious "stuck in Iraq" statement, echoed by actor Matt Damon, suggesting that the United States military is a last resort for those without the education or finances to pursue other options, has been roundly refuted by Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Bill Carr. Among other areas, Carr has responsibility for recruiting and retenton. Secretary Carr appeared on yesterday's edition of my "rightANGLE" TV show. In addition to commenting on a wide range of recruitment-related topics, Sec. Carr had this to say about the Kerry-Damon remarks:
"Two-thirds of those entering the military are drawn from the top half, so we have a clearly disproportionate, strongly educated, high-aptitude military. With regard to financial status of the parents, that's also misrepresented. The only group that is underrepresented in the military are the poorest. If you look at the zip
According to ex-CNN reporter Judy Woodruff, both her former network and PBS are "God-fearing, America loving" organizations. The veteran journalist, who is now promoting a documentary on young people for public television, appeared on the Thursday, January 11 edition of Stephen Colbert’s "Colbert Report." Before discussing Ms. Woodruff’s new investigative report, the Comedy Central host shifted into his faux-conservative mode and attacked CNN and PBS. This exchange followed at 11:50pm:
Stephen Colbert: "Now, you used to work for CNN. Now, you're doing this documentary, which sounds fascinating, for PBS. Is that– Is it– But, you've gone from, you know, an organization that clearly hates America to an organization that is proto, like, commie. Is it possible to go further left then PBS on television?"
Judy Woodruff: "Now, no. Absolutely not. You know that's not true."
Colbert: "I do not not know that’s true. I do not not know that’s true? Yes. Bill Moyers is, like, got his Mao’s little red book in his back pocket, right? You're wearing a pink outfit."
Woodruff: "PBS is a God-fearing, America-loving organization. Just like CNN."
There’s really no other way of putting this: Keith Olbermann is a disgrace, and the idea that any major media outlet would give him a daily platform to spew his vitriol from is similarly so.
Such an observation certainly comes as no great surprise to NewsBusters readers who have been regularly subjected to videos and transcripts of this man’s vapid and insipid rantings since this blog was first started. Though Thursday night’s “Special Comment” on MSNBC’s “Countdown” was not necessarily out of the ordinary for Olbermann, coming a day after President Bush’s speech to the nation concerning Iraq, its contents were all the more offensive (video available here).
Over at The Corner, Kathryn Jean Lopez reported GOP Reps. Eric Cantor and Patrick McHenry have found there's a loophole in the new minimum-wage increase: no hike for American Samoa. Why? Star-Kist Tuna is a major employer there, with its headquarters in Speaker Nancy Pelosi's district.
Will the media notice? FNC did. But so far, the rest of the political media have treated the minimum-wage as about as controversial as a post-office naming bill. But in 2005, we reported the media's Tom DeLay bashers had a fit about DeLay's Abramoff-lobbied coziness with low wages on the Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific. PBS's Bill Moyers show "Now" (handed off to the suitably smarmy David Brancaccio) devoted a show to how DeLay was supporting "virtual slavery" in the Pacific. The slavery charge came not only from Brancaccio, but from liberal Rep. George Miller -- Pelosi's across-the-bay neighbor. Where's the media asking: what about the children of Samoa? Will PBS and George Miller throw a fit about the "virtual slavery" left untouched in Tuna Land?
Here's an open thread for this Friday. As a starter, let me bring to everyone's attention our little "Editors' Picks" box in the sidebar. It's a place where NB's staff keep links that we think are of note on this blog and others around the web.
Associated Press reporter Martin Crutsinger reported this morning that retail sales in December came in better than expected:
Retail sales rose in December at the strongest pace in five months, indicating that the all-important holiday shopping season turned out better than original reports indicated.
The Commerce Department said Friday that retail sales increased 0.9 percent last month, the strongest showing since a 1.4 percent increase in July.
The increase was better than the 0.7 percent advance that economists had forecast and provided evidence that consumer spending was ending the year on a firmer footing than initially thought.
The government report presented a firmer tone to spending than initial reports from the nation's big chain retail stores. They complained that holiday sales had fallen below expectations as mild winter weather depressed sales of winter clothing.
Crutsinger then downplayed the year's strong retail results, and used it as an opportunity to get in a few licks about how supposedly tough the economy of 2006 was:
For all of 2006, retail sales rose by 6 percent, a solid showing but down from a 6.9 percent increase in 2005.
That slowdown reflected the fact that consumer spending, after a sizzling start to the year, slowed in the spring and remained at lower levels for the rest of the year as Americans were battered by soaring gasoline prices, rising interest rates and a cooling housing market.
Mr. Crutsinger portrayal of the full-year result as a "slowdown," which formed the linchpin of the rest of that sentence's negativity, overlooked one "minor" detail: Reported retail sales figures include inflation.
Last week saw the dawning of the new Democratic majority and members of the media seemed to be charmed by the event. ABC reporter Cokie Roberts described a photo-op of new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holding her grandchild as "fun" and "completely natural." CBS’s Bob Schieffer interviewed Pelosi and pressed her to raise taxes. And "60 Minutes" commentator Andy Rooney became nostalgic for Democrats of old, saying it’s "hard to dislike Jimmy Carter."
MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann continued his fevered attack on all things Republican and conservative. He’s now accused White House Press Secretary Tony Snow of "bald-faced lying" about a Bush speech. Olbermann’s cohort in liberalism, Chris Matthews, described the Vice President of the United States as someone "who always wants to kill." Later in the week, he told his "Hardball" audience that he was "terrified" of the President’s plans for Iran. Chris, calm down!
At his site Mullings.com, former Gingrich aide Rich Galen is mocking the tendency of the pundits to lack humility on their qualifications to pass judgment on the potential of the Bush surge strategy:
On Canadian television, yesterday, I was asked whether I thought the plan presented by President Bush would work in Iraq. I said (and this is pretty close):
"I am not an expert in military tactics or strategy - neither, by the way, is almost anyone else who has weighed in on this. Asking me whether 20,000 additional troops is enough, is like asking me how much more power we should add to an particle accelerator." [Laughter by the anchor]
I have been listening to people in elected office from US Senators down to who-knows-what; to people who were once in appointed office; people who were once in the military; people who have never been closer to a military unit than standing in front of the gate at a military base with their make-up on and their hair sprayed in place; reporters who evaded the draft (when there was a draft); reporters who are too young to have needed to evade the draft; and cable hosts pontificating on the status of the US military who wouldn't know an FM22-5 from the menu at McDonalds.
As NewsBuster Warner Todd Huston has noted, Sen. Barbara Boxer took an unseemly jab at Condi Rice yesterday.
Of all the members of the Senate, the one you might expect to be least likely to call attention to a woman's single, childless status for purposes of scoring political points would be Boxer. And yet it was the oh-so-broadminded senator from the Bay Area who did just that when Condi Rice appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday to defend President Bush's newly-announced Iraq plans.
In a segment narrated by ABC senior national correspondent Jake Tapper, today's Good Morning America highlighted Boxer's questionable comment, running a good-sized clip of the exchange.
The Washington Post wanted to send one message loud and clear today: almost nobody supports Bush's Iraq surge. The top front-page story was headlined "Bush's Iraq Plan Meets Skepticism On Capitol Hill." That's true. From there, the Post took the odd step of promoting columnist Dana Milbank (is he a reporter? or an editorial writer?) to the front page to joke that Team Bush "finally succeeded in uniting Congress on the war in Iraq. Unfortunately for Rice, the lawmakers were united in opposition to President Bush's new policy." Exhibit A was "a seething Sen. Chuck Hagel." Milbank, like other journalists, failed to note Hagel is a long-standing Bush-basher on Iraq, even before Saddam fell. Milbank did note Sen. Johnny Isakson said supportive things, as well as noting Barbara Boxer's dig at Condi the Spinster.
Is it not outrageous that Senator Barbara Boxer (Dem, Cal) verbally attacked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for not having children as Rice appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday to discuss the Administrations position on Bush's Iraq military "surge" plans? Is this an acceptable criticism of a political official? Is the fact that an official might not have children reason to doubt their capacity for policy making or ability to advise an administration?
Is this the Democrat's new era of niceness, their less rancorous way of governing?
I was shocked to see this intemperate verbal assault by Boxer in the New York Post, but I became curious to see how other MSM sources treated the outrageous comments of the unbalanced Boxer. So, I did a little search of the reactions of the press.
(Full excerpts of the sections in each story that detailed Boxer's outrageous behavior follows)
Coverage all day Thursday on the cable news networks, as well as on the ABC and NBC evening newscasts, emphasized negative reaction to President Bush's plan for a “surge” of troops into Iraq. But the CBS Evening News delivered a markedly more negative presentation, even managing to raise Watergate and Monica Lewinsky. Katie Couric led: “If the early reaction to President Bush's new Iraq strategy is any indication, selling the American public on it could be a mission impossible.” She soon added: “The reviews of the speech last night were largely negative from the American public and Congress.”
Gloria Borger checked in with how Bush “sparked a bipartisan rebellion on Capitol Hill" as “some of the harshest criticism came from his own party." Couric then went to Bob Schieffer who, citing a CBS News poll showing no move in the public attitude toward Bush on Iraq, suggested “you really have to go back to Vietnam and Watergate to find presidential speeches on television that didn't give the President at least a little bump in the polls.” Schieffer recalled how “in the middle of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Bill Clinton went on television to give his State of the Union address. Even in the midst of that scandal, Mr. Clinton went up 16 points in the polls. Going on prime time TV and nothing changes, that is fairly extraordinary, Katie." Next, Couric characterized as “out of the ordinary” the “response the President got today from a usually receptive audience,” soldiers at Fort Benning. Jim Axelrod offered a dour assessment of the mood of the troops: “Even rallying the troops is now a challenge. The mood here was polite but muted, more somber than usual for a President talking to soldiers.”