The media gave President Obama credit during the campaign for promising not to raise taxes on the middle class. He was on the trail in New Hampshire when he made a "firm pledge" not to raise taxes on any family "making less than $250,000 a year."
Obama is doing his best to break that promise, but the network news media haven't bothered to report it. On Nov. 6 when he endorsed the tax increase-laden health care reform bill that the House of Representatives passed on Nov. 7, Obama violated his pledge.
While Obama had offered broad generalities supporting various health care reform bills under consideration in the House and Senate, the Nov. 6 statement was the first time he threw his weight fully behind one piece of legislation.
Perhaps it was an early Christmas wish, but "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer and chief medical editor Tim Johnson shared some overly optimistic thoughts about the health care bill that narrowly passed the House of Representatives Nov. 7.
Sawyer kicked off the one-sided conversation with Johnson by asking him, "Well, if the president gets his wish and a bill either by the end of the year or the beginning of next year we had a simple question: What changes first in the lives of ordinary Americans?"
Sawyer's timetable is purely imaginary. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on Nov. 8 that the bill is "dead on arrival to the Senate." Graham elaborated saying, "I hope and pray it doesn't [pass] because it would be a disaster for the economy and health care."
President Obama lobbied for government stimulus almost as soon as he took office. In order to gain passage of that $787 billion spending spree, Obama warned of economic "catastrophe" including double-digit unemployment.
Roughly 9 months later, we now have proof that those billions of taxpayer dollars spent didn't stop the unemployment rate from soaring to 10.2 percent. Still, that failure didn't prevent one CNN anchor from asking if a second stimulus might be needed.
CNN business correspondent Christine Romans announced the latest jobs numbers on Nov. 6 during "American Morning. She said, "The unemployment rate is 10.2 percent. It is worse than economists had been expecting - 10.2 percent - we have hit double-digits on the unemployment rate now and this is the highest since the early 1980s. The number of jobs lost: 190,000 jobs lost in the month. That is a little worse than we had thought."
Following Romans' report, CNN anchors John Roberts and Kiran Chetry consulted author William Cohan, a contributor to The DailyBeast.com and Bloomberg, and Diane Brady, senior editor of BusinessWeek magazine. Both guests were concerned about the rising rate of unemployment and Cohan said he didn't see "anything optimistic about these numbers."
Many industries rely on migrant labor, but that is no excuse for news networks to advocate a path to legalization for illegal aliens, or - worse - to excuse employers who simply look the other way.
Yet, CNN's Jason Carroll did both in a segment for "American Morning" Nov. 5.
"You hear it, not just in the farming industry, but in the restaurant industry as well and so many of these industries - the garment industry - you know, this is what these people are looking for," Carroll said after delivering his pro-immigrant report. "They're looking for immigration reform. They feel like their businesses will go under if someone does not find a way to make some of these people who are here working, who are undocumented, and get them into some sort of legal status."
Carroll had interviewed Rob Valicoff, an apple farmer in Yakima, Wash., who owes thousands in fines because his workers' papers weren't in order. Valicoff said he checks their paperwork, but it's not a "guarantee."
Ford Motor Company took everyone by "surprise" Nov. 2, when it announced nearly a billion dollars in profit for the third quarter of 2009. The company also said it would be "solidly profitable" by 2011.
CNN repeated the announcement on Nov. 3 "American Morning," saying, "Turning now to the Big Three in Detroit, Chrysler extends its buyout offer to more than 20,000 employees while General Motors is still trying to restructure spending billions of bailout dollars, but Ford - which didn't take any cash from Uncle Sam - is back in the green again, posting a profit of nearly $1 billion for the third quarter."
The announcement was big news, but what should have caught more journalists' attention was the fact that Ford managed to turn things around without the help of a federal bailout - the very bailout reporters promoted in 2008 and 2009.
The Obama administration continues to push its "jobs created and saved" theme, taking credit for up to a million jobs on account of its $787 billion economic stimulus package (roughly a quarter of which has been spent). But some in the media remain skeptical.
Politico.com announced on Oct. 30 that White House officials planned a Friday afternoon announcement for the same day claiming "at least 1 million jobs" had been saved or created.
Other news outlets, including NPR and CNN, focused on a lower White House claim the same day saying that "more than 650,000 jobs have been saved or created" under the stimulus.
The higher claim of 1 million was based on extrapolation - the White House report examined the first $150 billion of $339 billion stimulus funds spent so far.
Apparently all it takes for CNN to realize the greatness of capitalism is to reminisce about childhood trick-or-treating.
CNN's "American Morning" condemned socialism and praised capitalism on Oct. 30. No, they weren't discussing big bailouts or entrepreneurs. They were talking about Halloween candy.
"Okay. This is the most, this is the most capitalist of holi- this holiday is so capitalist. It's about getting the most for the least amount of work right," exclaimed business correspondent Christine Romans.
Romans was telling anchors John Roberts and Kiran Chetry that Zillo.com tracks the best neighborhoods for trick-or-treating based on "how rich the neighborhood is, how drivable it is, its crime rate - so that you can teach your children to make sure they can get the most, best candy with the least amount of effort. I love that."
Remember the Cash for Clunkers (CARS) program the network media liked so much? Well, according to analysis from Edmunds.com the government spent $24,000 per car when you subtract cars that would have been sold even without the program.
CNNMoney.com reported Oct. 29 that only 125,000 vehicles sold under the program (out of 690,000) "would not have been sold anyway," according to Edmunds.
The government allotted $3 billion for the CARS program, but Edmunds' said that more than 80 percent of those cars would have been purchased anyway.
Despite misgivings from Anwyl and others, the network news media embraced the government giveaway. All three networks described it as a "victim of its own success" AFTER it ran out of taxpayer funding in its first week.
"Good Morning America" is at it again. The ABC program waged another battle against food companies Oct. 26 by focusing on an "eye-popping report" about cereal marketed to children.
Dan Harris introduced the segment saying, "This really is a scathing report. Not only does it accuse the food companies of pushing the least nutritious cereals to kids, but it also says the companies' promises to police themselves are hollow. What's more the study authors say they have proof for parents that kids will eat unsweetened cereals if they're offered."
But his two minute 58 second segment devoted a meager 21 seconds to defending cereal makers, and never mentioned the role of parental responsibility.
Harris complained that the Yale study from Kelly Brownell found the "average preschooler sees 642 cereal ads a year, the vast majority of them for sugary cereals: a marketing tsunami that is exacerbating the nation's childhood obesity epidemic."
When a UFO shaped helium balloon took off from Colorado, possibly harboring a 6-year-old boy, the broadcast and cable news organizations were transfixed. But when it turned out to be a possible "publicity stunt" the networks continued to give it enormous amounts of coverage.
That's exactly the opposite of the way the networks covered made-up quotes attributed to conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh that had portrayed him as racist.
ABC's "Good Morning America," CBS's "The Early Show," and NBC's "Today" devoted 80 minutes and 55 seconds to the story of "balloon boy" Falcon Heene on Oct. 16, when it was clear the boy had not been in the balloon and even after the boy told CNN's Larry King that he was hiding because "we did this for the show."
But since the fictional Limbaugh quotes were exposed, the networks spent only 47 seconds discussing it. Only ABC addressed it at all - on "World News with Charles Gibson" Oct. 12 and re-airing David Muir's brief on "Good Morning America," the next day.
That included a comment from Limbaugh defending himself saying, "They have to go somewhere to find concocted quotes, which are now bordering on slander, libel, whatever it is."
National Public Radio is making a change and has sent out a "guidance" email to member stations on the issue.
NPR'S deputy senior supervising editor Joe Neel drafted an e-mail that was sent out Oct. 14 to member stations addressing the number of uninsured. The e-mail clarified proper use of Census Bureau statistics and advised staff to "avoid the construction '46 million Americans.'" That number has been a flashpoint throughout the health care debate.
The NPR e-mail said, "We are sticking with the 46 million number issued by the Census Bureau in September (for 2008). It's the number of people in the U.S. who lack insurance coverage at any point during the prior 12 months. It includes citizens, legal residents and undocumented immigrants."
Michael Moore makes propaganda movies and many in the news media embraced his latest screed against the free markets: "Capitalism: A Love Story." To NBC, hating capitalism makes Moore a go-to expert for Wall Street bashing.
"Today" interviewed Moore, along with MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan on Oct. 15, in a hit piece on Wall Street bankers and bonuses.
Moore reacted to the bonuses with condemnation of the capitalist system saying, "And I mean, I mean, Matt, these people, they burned down our economy. They completely crashed it. And now they're getting rewarded for it. It'd be like if I burned down your house today and then tomorrow you send me a check for it thanking me. I mean, it's, it's absolutely insane that we allow this to happen. But not surprising, because that's our capitalist system. They can get away with it because it's legal."
Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, is a media darling now that she was the only Republican to break ranks and vote a health care reform bill out of the Senate Finance Committee Oct. 13. "Good Morning America" interviewed Snowe about health care reform on Oct. 14 and didn't challenge a misleading statistic about the number of medical-caused bankruptcies.
Snowe, who backed the $829-billion bill, claimed that "62 percent of all bankruptcies are a result of medical debt. I can't imagine that kind of anxiety. It's one thing to deal with an illness, quite another to deal with the fact you don't have the insurance to cover for it."
The senator did not mention the source of her claim or point out that respondents to the study she cited didn't even agree with that result. CNN.com reported on June 5 that the 62 percent figure came from a Harvard Medical School study that would be published in The American Journal of Medicine.
CNN attacked the practice of earmarking and criticized a few senators for doing it on Oct. 9, but the segment from Dana Bash didn't mention President Obama's campaign promises on the issue or his failure (thus far) to fulfill them.
"Earmarks," John Roberts teased as he introduced congressional correspondent Bash's segment. "We heard that word a lot during the presidential campaign last year. While they're perfectly legal, critics see them as conflicts for members of Congress and a troubling way to get deals done."
After an introduction like that it would have been natural to include what Obama said on the campaign trail about earmarks.
Unemployment rose again in September, to 9.8 percent, with 263,000 jobs lost according to Bureau of Labor Statistics release. That followed months of positive economic coverage from the networks and begs the question: how with the network news spin that tonight?
The network news media have been manipulating bad jobs reports in Obama's favor since March as the unemployment rate rose from 8.1 percent in February to 9.7 percent in August. Reporters have found rehired people "doing backflips," in 2009, but the last time unemployment was that high network journalists found people living under bridges and plenty of "hopelessness." That was under President Ronald Reagan in 1982. But when Reagan was facing a similar rising unemployment rate the networks attacked him with it, month after month.
ABC anchor Charles Gibson illustrated how dramatically different the network coverage of Reagan and Obama really were by covering the exact same numbers in totally opposite fashion.(Watch video)
Unemployment is currently at a 26-year-high of 9.7 percent and expected to continue rising. The last president to govern with such high unemployment was President Ronald Reagan.
But in 1982, when unemployment was rising similarly to the way it has in 2009 the network news media were merciless quoting attacks from Democrats, union leaders and the unemployed to attack Reagan's "sadistic" fiscal policies.
2009 was a different story, for a different president. Even though unemployment has shot up from 8.1 percent since February, network reporters looked for "hopeful signs" of an economic turnaround in their jobs report.
The Business & Media Institute just released a Special Report: Networks Flip Flop on Jobs that exposes that double-standard of unemployment coverage from 1982 and 2009 (See video below). The full report is available here, but here are some of our major findings:
Millionaire Michael Moore says capitalism is evil and that the entire system should be thrown out for one that is "democratic" and "fair."
That's the overarching message of Moore's new documentary, "Capitalism: A Love Story," which will be widely released Oct. 2. The film won two prizes at the Venice Film Festival and was lauded by critics there and at the Toronto Film Festival. Now Moore is being warmly greeting in softball interviews by television anchors and reporters - particularly on ABC.
ABC's "Nightline" ran an 8-minute long segment Sept. 22 interviewing Moore and showing clips of his film, an it received an additional five minutes on "Good Morning America" Sept. 23. ABC didn't include a single critic of Moore in those 13 minutes, and neither segment rebuked Moore for past lies in his movies.
The film has generated uncritical buzz among many other news outlets including MSNBC, The New York Times, Associated Press and "The Jay Leno Show." He is also scheduled to be a guest of "Larry King Live," "The Situation Room," and "The View" Sept. 23 and 24. Four networks, a wire service and three out of five major newspapers will have covered the movie in the span of a week.
The Labor Day holiday is almost upon us and the networks are likely to spend it talking about vacation, barbequing and holiday sales instead of examining the 2009 victories of the labor unions. In fact, all year they avoided talking about the many recent blessings organized labor has enjoyed.
The United Auto Workers (UAW), which donated more than 99 percent of its $25.4 million to Democratic federal candidates in the past 20 years, had a particularly good year, at least compared to other stakeholders as General Motors and Chrysler struggled and were forced into a government-managed bankruptcy by the White House.
Those auto company bailouts and bankruptcies were major stories this year, yet the network news media rarely discussed union causes of the car companies' inability to compete, and the high cost of union labor compared to non-union labor. In fact, in some cases the UAW was portrayed to evoke sympathy from viewers.
NBC's Lester Holt said that the UAW had "made major concessions," on May 29 which would save GM $1.3 billion a year. CBS described it as "swallowing a bitter pill." That's a surprising choice of words since, when all was said and done, the UAW's health fund ended up with 17.5 percent of GM shares and 55 percent of Chrysler shares.
What is it about consequences that the liberal media and government simply cannot grasp?
CNN "Newsroom" admitted Aug. 27 that new car prices are "expected" to go up as a result of the government Cash for Clunkers giveaway.
Heidi Collins told viewers, "The success of the Cash for Clunkers program may be pushing new car prices higher. Dealerships are expected to have lower inventory over the next few months, meaning higher prices for consumers. Around 700,000 people took advantage of the Cash for Clunkers program."
Collins' use of the word "success" to describe the program was consistent with the media's advocacy of the program. All three broadcast networks called it a "victim of its own success," after the initial $1 billion in funding ran out after just a week - instead of the 14 weeks projected.
The threat of a government-run public option plan in health care legislation was frightening enough to spur thousands of people to attend town hall meetings across the country and voice their dissent, sometimes angrily.
Now legislators and the national media are talking about a possible "compromise" that could replace the public option with health care co-ops. Conservatives are concerned that such an attempt will just be "government health care in yet another set of clothes," but national broadcast or print media have practically omitted that perspective.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., stirred up those concerns July 9 when he said, "We're going to have some type of public option, call it 'co-op,' call it what you want."
According to Nexis, ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN, as well as the five major newspapers, ignored this admission from Reid. In fact, on the three broadcast networks Reid wasn't even mentioned in any of the 21 health care co-op stories. More than half of those stories (12) used the word "compromise" to discuss the co-ops and only 2 conservatives critical of co-ops were included.
CNN went searching for an example of health care reform without a public option on Aug. 20. Correspondent Jim Acosta found such a “model” in Massachusetts, but downplayed the state program’s flaws.
“What do you get when you take the public option out of health care reform? Well, according to some experts you get Romney Care,” Acosta said. “Three years after enacting its own version of reform, Massachusetts now has near universal coverage. Taxpayer watchdogs say it’s affordable … health care experts say it’s popular.”
Acosta included former Gov. Mitt Romney, Michael Widmer of the Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation and Robert Blendon of the Harvard School of Public Health in his segment -- all supporting Romney Care.
The Senate stepped in to save Cash for Clunkers Aug. 6, giving it a $2 billion extension. But on Aug. 7, CNN.com found a big difference between independent analysis and government claims of which cars were most popular buys.
"The discrepancy is a result of the methods used. Edmunds.com uses traditional sales measurements, tallying sales by make and model. The government uses a more arcane measurement method that subdivides models according to engine and transmission types, counting them as separate models," Valdes-Dapena wrote.
CNN's Jim Acosta devoted a three-minute segment to the Scheiner's left-wing criticism of the president's health care plan, but excluded any other voices, even after the doctor took a shot at the insurance industry.
"Chicago doctor David Scheiner has taken a hard look at Obama's prescription for health care reform and sees bad medicine," Acosta said before explaining why the doctor is "so special."
In fact, Scheiner was Obama's personal doctor for 22 years, but he blasted the president's plan for not going "far enough." Scheiner advocated a single-payer system like in Canada and Europe.
"If I had to say the single one thing that's the worst part of it is that private insurance companies continue to be a part of the health scheme. Everybody keeps saying we don't want the government getting involved in health care - the government is involved in health care and Medicare and it works!" Scheiner said.
In a balanced report, Scheiner's attack on private insurers would have been a followed by a statement or representative from the insurance industry. Acosta didn't produce one. Nor did he point out that since 1970, the cost of Medicare has risen 34 percent more per patient "than the combined costs of all health care in America apart from Medicare and Medicaid." He also didn't question Scheiner about the problems Medicare has created for patients when doctors decide to opt out of Medicare (because of lower reimbursements and "too much" hassle).
MRC's Vice President for Business and Culture, Dan Gainor, appeared on Fox News Channel today to discuss a GOP Congressional Report that accused ACORN of political corruption and fraud.
"Happening Now" host Jane Skinner asked: "Dan, boil it down into the simplest terms: what the main accusation is here."
"Well, the main accusation is that they're breaking both election laws and tax laws while using – they've got $53 million from the federal government over the last – since 1994. And they've also got $2 million from Bank of America so we've actually bailed out ACORN. You and me and everybody watching. And so what the House is charging them, you know, the House Republicans are saying that they're using this money to boost the campaigns of Democratic officials – whether it's Blagojevich or Obama or others," Gainor said.
ABC found itself in hot water this week after it announced on June 15 it would be airing a primetime special, "Questions for the President: Prescription for America," on June 24 from the White House. ABC also said "Good Morning America" and "World News" would also be broadcast from the White House that day.
ABC News' senior vice president Kerry Smith defended the network against critics saying in a letter the hour-long special from the White House will be "devoted to exploring and probing the President's position and the giving voice to questions and criticisms of that position."
Smith also claimed the network has "had many critics of the President's health care proposals on the air - and that's before a real plan has even been put before the country. In the end, no one watching, listening to, or reading ABC News will lack for an understanding of all sides of these important questions."
MRC's Business & Media Institute fact checked that claim and found that from January 20 to June 16 those quoted in health care stories on ABC's morning and evening news shows favored ObamaCare by a 3-to-1 margin (55 supporters to 18 critics).
Actor, director and screenwriter Liev Schreiber thinks America needs a replay of propagandist filmmaker Michael Moore's "Sicko."
According to Schreiber's June 5 remarks on The Daily Beast's Buzz Board, Moore's movie would be "worthwhile" as the health care debate begins.
"As the health-care debate gets under way, a replay of Sicko is worthwhile. It's preposterous that there still isn't affordable health care in this country," wrote Schreiber.
Schreiber admitted that "Moore's approach to filmmaking is the theatrical equivalent of Artaud; he just wants to shock people into action, and he does a damn good job of it. I don't have a problem with that style if the intention is good, and in this case, the intention is good."
Are you gonna eat that? According to CNN host Rick Sanchez and one of his May 7 guests, your answer is being decided for you by food industry "manipulation."
"Here's a question that you've probably never thought of when reaching for that next bag of chips or that can of soda. Is it you who's actually deciding what to eat or how much to eat? Or is someone really deciding for you?" Sanchez asked before introducing Dr. David Kessler, former chief of the Food and Drug Administration and author of The End of Overeating.
Sanchez summarized Kessler's argument saying "you and I are being programmed, kind of like manipulated like Pavlov's dog" for profit. No representative from the food industry was brought on to rebut Kessler's claims.
"You suggest the nation's food industry is intentionally creating adult baby food. What does that mean," Sanchez asked Kessler.
Kessler replied, "Much of our food that we are eating is predigested. It's pre-fried, it's bathed in sugar and fat ... Today the food goes down in one or two chews. It's a woosh, you get that a sensory hit and you just reach for more."
Neil Cavuto had some harsh criticism of President Obama during his end-of-show monologue on May 5.
The Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network anchor blasted Obama for creating villains of businesses and for presenting an inconsistent message that is keeping businesspeople "anxious."
"I think every administration has its villains. Remember Ronald Reagan had the evil Soviet Empire. President Bush his own axis of evil. That was three countries there. This president - in a word: business. Alright, not all businesses but it seems most businesses, big business at least."
Pointing to Obama's May 4 call to change corporate taxation rules to prevent the use of tax havens, as well as the recent government involvement in Chrysler, Cavuto said: "Huge multinationals that hire workers abroad and get tax breaks here - they're villains. Sick companies like Chrysler being pushed into a foreign automakers hands on taxpayers' dime no less - they're not villains."
After days of media alarm regarding the H1N1 virus, or "swine flu," ABC "World News with Charles Gibson" provided a calmer analysis on April 30.
Medical editor Dr. Timothy Johnson told anchor Charles Gibson the "good news" about this flu virus and admitted that "sometimes we as the media" "do overreact."
"In an amazing feat of modern science Charlie, they've been able to send out this sequence for scientists to study and they've found a couple of interesting things. One - there's an amino acid that's missing in this virus that is found in more lethal viruses suggesting that this may not be, at least in its current form, as lethal as some had feared," Johnson told ABC viewers.
"There's also a suggestion that its enough like past flu viruses, particularly the 1957 virus, that is may have produced immunity over the years especially in older people. Which may, and I stress the word may explain why older people do not seem to be getting it yet," Johnson continued.