CNN amped up the alarmism about swine flu April 30 when co-host John Roberts interviewed Dr. Martin Blaser of NYU without rounding out the segment with other opinions.
Roberts asked Blaser to put the virus, which had already sickened 109 people in ten states, "in perspective."
Blaser responded, "This is a pandemic. It's all over the world. Right now it's early and it's mild so everybody's at risk. But right now the risk is low."
On April 29, the World Health Organization raised its alert level to stage 5, which "is characterized by human-to-human spread of the virus into at least two countries," according to WHO Web site. Phase 6 is "the pandemic phase."
Roberts also asked Blaser to respond to a prediction by John Barry, author of a book about the worst flu epidemic in history, that this virus would act in the same manner.
"John Barry, who wrote a fabulous book on the 1918 flu pandemic called ‘The Great Influenza', thinks this is just the opening act of a very long play. That this virus is probably going to go away for a little while and then maybe next winter or early next year come back with a vengeance. What do you think?" Roberts asked.
CNN is finally covering the tea parties - by attacking the participants. After anchor Anderson Cooper made an obscene sexual joke about attendees, CNN correspondent Susan Roesgen rudely interrupted one of the protestors and slammed the event for being "anti-government," "anti-CNN," and "not really family viewing."
Roesgen asked a man holding his toddler, "Why are you here today?" The man started to respond saying, "Because I hear a president say that he believed in what Lincoln stood for. Lincoln's primary thing was he believed people had the right to liberty and they had the right..."
But Roesgen cut him off, saying, "But sir, what does that have to do with taxes? What does this have to do with your taxes?" She continued asking questions over him as he asked her to "let me finish my point." One crowd member was heard to yell "shut up" to Roesgen.
When the man finished his statement about people having the "right to the fruits of their own labor" and "government should not take it," Roesgen began arguing with him again and other protesters began to get upset.
Maybe he just doesn't know that there are people who disagree with his massive tax and spend agenda. That would explain a lot. Perhaps the network media's near silence on the "tea party" phenomenon has kept President Obama from realizing that hundreds of tax day protests will happen today?
"The White House says the president is unaware of the tea parties and will hold his own event today," ABC's Dan Harris said on "Good Morning America" on April 15.
NBC - one of the networks that has virtually ignored the Tax Day Tea Party protests against taxation and government spending - finally mentioned it on "Today" April 15.
The network's chief White House correspondent, Chuck Todd tacked his criticism on to the end of a glowing report about President Obama's economic speech from April 14. He cited "White House aides" who called Obama's speech "a modern-day fireside chat," but Todd said "it also had the feel of an economics class."
After such positive remarks about Obama, Todd dismissed the grassroots movement as "so-called tea parties."
Is pessimism about the economy really the new porn?
ABC's Dan Harris inquired about that possibility in an April 9 "Quick Fix" video for ABCNews.com. But he didn't examine ABC's role in promoting pessimistic or apocalyptic news which has been happening for years.
"Here's something I'm fixated on this week," Harris teased. "A little something called pessimism porn. That is a term coined by the good folks over at New York Magazine and it refers to the fact that there are a lot of people who've become addicted to reading apocalyptic news about the economy online."
According to Harris, "People are logging on to read all sorts of dire predictions about a new Great Depression, bread lines, riots. You name it."
Socialist International President George Papandreou has a lot in common with President Barack Obama.
Both the world leaders have called for nations to come together to solve the global recession and both claim it is necessary to focus on a green economy. Papandreou, who is likely to become Greece's next Prime Minister, was encouraged by Obama's "very new signal" about global goals for economic recovery.
"The United States under Barack Obama is giving out a very new signal which is, ‘We need to collaborate.' And I think that is very important for our planet today. We need to collaborate," Papandreou told Nicole Petallides of the Fox Business Network April 1. "The issues are global and if we do collaborate we can actually say that we can change the economy. We can change some of the structures that created this crisis and we can make sure that we uh, that we create the jobs for people - and jobs for workers in the United States."
Just a few short months ago, New York Times' liberal economics columnist Paul Krugman had high hopes for new President Obama and urged him to act like "Franklin Delano" Roosevelt.
But even the billions of dollars in government spending to fix the financial crisis, efforts to limit executive compensation and the recent ouster of General Motors CEO haven't pacified Krugman.
According to Newsweek's cover story for April 6, "Paul Krugman has emerged as Obama's toughest liberal critic." Evan Thomas' story glorified Krugman and asked "why the establishment worries that he may be right."
Thomas kindly described Krugman as "an unusual mix, at once nervous, shy, sweet and fiercely sure of himself." He also pinpointed Krugman's ideology as that of a "European Social Democrat."
This week I took on Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner for capitalizing on the A.I.G. crisis he helped foment by trying to seize even more regulatory authority. Stephen Moore described the plan as handing Geithner "judge, jury and execution" authority.
One Fox News Channel anchor said Vladimir Putin is probably "smiling," at the thought of Geithner's new plan. But since the networks have had Geithner's back for some time they are unlike to challenge him the way one Congressman did this week.
Culture and Media Institute staff writer Colleen Raezler was in studio with Cam Edwards of NRA News on March 26 to discuss media coverage of the Mexican drug wars.
Responding to Paul Helmke's, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, claim that the U.S. should adopt Mexican gun laws Raezler told Edwards: "The really funny thing is that Mexico has very strict gun laws but that's not apparently stopping these, these drug runners and drug dealers from obtaining these weapons."
Edwards said he was "stunned" that the media barely reported Helmke's remark and specifically criticized one Associated Press reporter for not mentioning it in her story. "There weren't a ton of media in attendance there [at the Brady press conference], but The Associated Press was there."
The U.S. is at war with the failing economy, according to Warren Buffett, who told CNBC viewers that it had "fallen off a cliff."
In September 2008, Buffett compared the market turmoil to "an economic Pearl Harbor," and on March 9 he returned to that metaphor in a "Squawk Box" interview that began at 6 a.m. and continued through the 7 and 8 a.m. program hours. Buffett also criticized the Democratic majority for losing focus and trying to move on "pet projects."
"If you're in a war, and we really are in an economic war, there's a obligation to the majority to behave in ways to not go around inflaming the minority. If on Dec. 8, or maybe it was Dec. 7, when Roosevelt convened Congress to vote on the war. He didn't say, ‘I'm throwing in about ten of my pet projects,'" Buffett said.
Taking aim at one such issue, interviewer Joe Kernen replied: "You might not have fixed global warming the day after - the day after D-Day, Warren."
One of the issues Obama was taking action on was health care, according to Chip Reid's "Evening News" report.
Chip Reid told viewers: "Hoping to take advantage of any momentum from last night's speech to Congress, the president, today, forged ahead with a flurry of activity on his economic plan. On health care, the White House said the president's budget, to be released Thursday, will include $634 billion to expand health coverage. To be paid for by taxing the wealthy and trimming payments to insurance companies, hospitals and doctors."
Later in the segment, Reid misled viewers as to the number of uninsured. He said the White House was calling that enormous package "a big first step in getting health insurance to America's 48 million uninsured."
The problem is, "America's 48 million uninsured" is an overstatement. The Census Bureau puts the figure at 45.6 million, but that statistic includes non-citizens and people who choose not to have insurance because of age or income.
With so much populist outrage at bankers and other corporate types these days, Hollywood is predictably trying to capitalize on it (TNT's "Leverage" is just one example.) "The International," from Relativity Media was just the latest to hit theaters with its Feb. 13 opening.
In the slow-moving thriller "The International," the executives of the fictional International Bank of Business and Credit (IBBC) aren't just crooked, they willingly hire assassins - the executives call them "consultants" - to get rid of anyone about to expose their crimes. The protagonists are Louis Salinger, an Interpol agent played by Clive Owen, and Eleanor Whitman, a Manhattan District Attorney played by Naomi Watts.
Owen made the morning talk show rounds hitting CBS "Early Show" Feb. 11 and ABC's "The View" on Feb. 13. In both cases, the hosts sought to find out if this story was grounded in reality.
"This is based roughly on a true story," CBS's Harry Smith queried. Owen replied that the script was "well-researched" and "well-informed." Owen's comments on "The View" were similar, but at least on ABC the actor admitted that the script was in fact "fictional."
"Now this movie, it really shows you that banks are terrorists in many ways, you know. I mean they do the same things to people in this movie that real terrorists groups like al-Qaida would do. Is this based on fact?" Joy Behar asked Owen.
Just one night after CEO Donald Trump told "Larry King Live" viewers that the U.S. is in a "Depression," Suze Orman, personal finance expert and host of her own show, started talking about people in bread lines - but she wasn't making a historical reference.
According to Orman there are people in bread lines right now, some of them white collar workers:
"There are some people who can't find a job, they're trying to do anything and everything in their power to get by. They've lost their home, lost their car. They don't have any money in retirement, they don't have a penny - and what are they doing?" Orman said on the Feb. 5 CNN broadcast.
Conservatives, including the Business & Media Institute, have criticized President Barack Obama's mathematics and language regarding job creation. CNN's Ed Henry brought up that same criticism on Feb. 2 during "Anderson Cooper 360°."
"[T]here are now questions about how many jobs Mr. Obama is promising to create," Ed Henry told viewers of the broadcast. Henry used three separate video clips of Obama talking about jobs to illustrate the way the President "seemed to move the goal post" for job creation.
Henry began with a clip of Obama's remarks on Nov. 22, 2008 when he said his team would be working on a plan to create 2.5 million more jobs in two years (by January 2011).
ABC's "World News Sunday" found a new twist on the obesity crisis Feb. 1. Apparently, recession can "lead to a spike in obesity."
Anchor Dan Harris introduced the "counterintuitive" report saying, "Americans are cutting back on food spending which could actually lead to a spike in obesity." Why? Because "eating healthy can cost more," ABC's Stephanie Sy reported.
Sy worried about "cheap treats" "that many public health experts fear may cause obesity rates to rise in the recession."
Interviewing shoppers in Aldi, a discount food chain, Sy said "most folks are stocking up on processed foods high in fat and sugar." Acting as the food police, Sy teased one customer about cinnamon Danishes in his cart saying, "What are these about? Very high in fat, very high in sugar."
But like many other media reports about obesity, Sy did not present the argument that ultimately every person is responsible for his or her own food choices.
Allison cited a "religious belief in affordable housing" that led the government to institute the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 (CRA) and later, during the Clinton years, to a huge expansion of Fannie and Freddie.
"In my opinion, I'm certain without Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae we could not have had the magnitude of misinvestment - we'd a had misinvestment but nothing like what we've had today," Allison said.
Is America in need of a little Mary-J? Not Blige … marijuana.
Mad Money's senior writer Cliff Mason (Jim Cramer's nephew) thinks so. Here's what he wrote on Jan. 15, 2009:
"This may be apocryphal, but when FDR was running for President for the first time in 1932, he said something along the lines of "What America needs now is a good, stiff drink.
Then he won and went on to help end prohibition.
Well, now we've got a new Democratic President coming into office, we're in similarly dire economic straits, and maybe what America needs is a nice toke?"
There was no maybe about it, according to Mason who declared that "It's time to legalize, or at least decriminalize, drugs."
Mason used the familiar argument that decriminalization of drugs would be profitable - read: taxable - and would "keep people from shooting each other." He omitted any reference to the morality of legalization or societal harm that could result.
Weighing the pros and cons of a plan, particularly one that could cost $1 trillion taxpayer dollars, should mean all perspectives were considered. But that wasn't what it meant to CNN in one Jan. 9 segment in the 8 a.m. hour.
Viewers were right to expect balance as "Pros and Cons of Obama's Stimulus" flashed on the screen and John Roberts said, "President-elect Barack Obama is warning of a dire economic situation and how much worse it could get if there is not bipartisan support for, and quickly for his stimulus plan. But will his proposals work?"
Instead, "American Morning" viewers didn't even hear an economist's perspective. They were fed a left-wing nationally syndicated columnist's perspective. That columnist was David Sirota, who was once called a "new-generation populist" by columnist Molly Ivins. Sirota has worked for Democrats on Capitol Hill and for the Center for American Progress, a "progressive" think tank.
Sirota's criticism of Obama's plan came entirely from the left arguing that "the bad" thing about his stimulus proposal are the tax cuts.
Last week the Business & Media Institute released its annual Top 10 list of the worst economic myths the media spread in 2008. The list was broad, ranging from “killer tomatoes,” to the collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to the death of capitalism.
But it was myth number 2 “Welcome to 1929: Great Depression II” that touched a nerve with Cliff Mason, senior writer for Mad Money, because of its criticism of CNBC’s Jim Cramer. By the way, Mason is also Cramer’s nephew according to the disclosure at the end of his bio.
Superhero economist and top-notch investor John Maynard Keynes famously told one of his critics, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"
On Mad Money we happen to share that same philosophy. And unfortunately, it's still something of a radical position.
On Thursday, the Business and Media Institute released its list of "The Media's Top 10 Worst Economic Myths of 2008." Jim is mentioned in three of them, but it's myth number 2, "the news media drew hundreds of parallels to the Depression, despite economic data that is not even close," that reminded me of that Keynes quotation.
The glacier on Mt. Kilimanjaro is melting. If you were watching NBC "Nightly News" Nov. 19 you probably would think that ice is declining because of "climate change."
After all, "Today's" Ann Curry said it: "Mt. Kilimanjaro has become a kind of poster-child for climate change. Eighty-four percent of the ice has disappeared in less than 100 years and by 2020, scientists expect as early as that it could all be gone."
Joe the Plumber, the ordinary guy who audaciously asked Obama a question about taxes, is caught in the fierce spotlight of media disapproval.
The New York Times Politics Blog "The Caucus" shined a bright, interrogation light into the background of Samuel J.Wurzelbacher (Joe the Plumber) on Oct. 16.
The post by Larry Rohter and Liz Robbins rushed to point out that Joe "is not a licensed plumber." Armed with the statement from Local 50 plumber's union, Rohter and Robbins attacked Joe for "playing games with the world."
But the bloggers were playing games by burying one easy explanation for that fact.
"Unlike some other states, Ohio does not have a formal statewide licensing system for plumbers. But the city of Toledo and other municipalities do," the blog post said 10 paragraphs later.
The Times bloggers also dismissed Joe's question about Obama's tax plan saying, "The premise of his question to Mr. Obama about taxes may also be flawed, according to tax analysts."
Faiola’s article said, “But the hands-off brand of capitalism in the United States is now being blamed for the easy credit that sickened the housing market and allowed a freewheeling Wall Street to create a pool of toxic investments that has infected the global financial system.” The Post story had no rebuttal from free market economists who say this was not market failure after all.
“The government reported today that 15,000 more Americans joined the line for unemployment benefits. And despite back-to-school bargains, consumers were not in a spending mood in August. Major retailers reported sales were up just over 1 percent from last year.”
Amity Shlaes, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, penned an August 18 Washington Post column examining five of the government's Depression-era mistakes that made financial matters worse. Shlaes, author of "The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression" cautioned today's lawmakers against following in those footsteps.
The media were quick to jump on the story of an emergency airplane landing in Manila, Philippines due to a hole in the fuselage of a Qantas flight. And they were quick to sensationalize the story without mentioning Qantas' impressive safety record.
"Well, nobody's saying that we should be covering up a huge hole in the side of an airplane. But it's important for the media to not sensationalize cases like this, which they are already doing," Business & Media Institute Assistant Editor Nathan Burchfiel told Fox Business Network host Stuart Varney on the July 25 "Fox Business."
Burchfiel noted that British tabloids have already speculated that a bomb in the cargo hold may have blown a hole in the fuselage, even though there was no indication that's the case.
"This morning in the American media on ABC, David Muir said that the plane ‘instantly plummeted' 20,000 feet, which is not true," Burchfiel said. "The pilot descended 20,000 feet, rather sharply, but that was his decision, he did it under full control to normalize cabin pressure."
"They [poor people] could not give a damn about climate change because they want 24 hours a day light," said Luft. He cited the example of people living in slums outside Bangalore, India. (Audio is available here)
"In India alone, 600 million people are not connected even to the [power] grid," said Luft. "When you talk to these people all you ahve to do is drive 10 minutes from the center of Bangalore to the slums there and ask them about climate change. And they'll tell you: 'We want electricity, we want it today, we want it cheap, we don't care how you make it.'"