Mark Twain once said, "It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native criminal class except Congress."
Today's Hollywood TV executives would beg to differ. To them there's no distinctly native criminal class except American businessmen.
The Media Research Center's Business & Media Institute is out with our latest study, the first of a three-part series looking at the media's bias against businessmen.
Almost 10 years ago, the Media Research Center’s
Business & Media Institute published “Businessmen Behaving Badly,”
which found that businessmen on TV committed more crimes than any
other demographic. In this new study, BMI looked at 129 episodes
from 12 top-rated dramas on the four networks: ABC, CBS, FOX and
NBC. These broadcasts were picked from two “sweeps” months in 2005 –
May and November – when networks try to attract the largest
audiences to maximize ad dollars.
In this look at primetime, BMI found:
Negative toward Business: Negative plots about business and
businessmen outnumbered positive ones by almost 4-to-1. Of the 39
episodes that included business-related plots or characters, 30
(77 percent) cast businessmen and commerce in a negative light.
You know the media are overreaching when they start to portray teenagers hunkered over schoolbooks while downing iced lattes at a coffee shop as an alarming thing:
For my full story, click here. For a similar item on the biased coverage ABC brewed up just two days earlier, click here.
The kids aren’t alright. An epidemic is sweeping the nation as teenagers down the addictive brew by the pint. Underage alcohol consumption? No, coffee.
As anti-food industry advocacy groups like Center for Science in the Public Interest sharpen their legal knives against Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX), the media are brewing up alarmist reports on teenage caffeine consumption.
The media reporting on Enron was aggressive from day one. As well it should be. But another huge corporate scandal rife with political connections has been virtually ignored by the media: the $40 billion Fannie Mae fiasco, presided over by Clinton alumni like Franklin Raines and Jamie Gorelick. Today the Washington Times ran an op-ed by the MRC's Business & Media Institute Director Dan Gainor about the media's double standard. Dan's piece is on page A18 of the print edition, and available on the Web here.
Here's a taste:
When most people hear the word "Enron," they mentally complete the phrase by adding the word "scandal." As reporter Lester Holt of NBC's "Today" put it in a Jan. 1 story, "Enron has been the poster child, if you will, of corporate scandals."
Here's what BMI's Dan Gainor posted Thursday about Lauer's Tuesday night foray into documentary-making (click here for the full article):
“We are the problem,” declared NBC’s “Today” co-anchor Matt Lauer doing a stint as host for the SciFi network. Lauer was referring to mankind’s alleged misuse of planet Earth, but his comment better suits the media and his apocalyptic documentary.
Lauer’s program, “Countdown to Doomsday,” merged nearly every science-fiction disaster flick ever made – “The Terminator,” “Deep Impact,” “I, Robot” and, of course, the SciFi Channel’s own “Battlestar Gallactica.” Lauer’s news background gave an air of respectability to the documentary and the show was filled with news footage from Hurricane Katrina, 9/11 and more to reinforce that impression.
Well, maybe they aren't rooting for a recession, but the mainstream media sure are anticipating one coming around the bend any time now, and have for quite a while.
That's the finding in the Business & Media Institute's latest newsletter story, available online here.
Here's a taste:
No matter how the economy is doing, the word “recession”
never seems too far away. CBS began the year with talk of a recession and
similar discussion has cropped on up ABC and CNN throughout 2006 and even going
back to Hurricane Rita last fall.
ABC delivered two separate warnings of the latest recession
fears on June 7. Starting with “Good Morning America,” the network ran counter
to recent news that first-quarter growth had been revised upward. The new
number was even stronger: 5.3 percent. Despite that excellent performance,
reporter Robin Roberts warned that a recession was possible. “The two-day sell
off was sparked by concerns that the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates
too much, cooling the economy to the point of recession,” she claimed.
In March, I blogged about how some journalists who live in Chevy Chase, Maryland, were taking legal action to force their neighbors, Marc and Marianne Duffy, to tear down their home for violating zoning laws.
Washington Post editor William Hamilton, his wife Jane Mayer of The New Yorker, and former ABC correspondent Jackie Judd had complained about the Duffy renovations, which were erroneously approved by county bureaucrats.
Well, the Duffy's plight is back in the news as they lost another fight in their struggle to save their home.
On June 7, an appeals board affirmed the order issued in March to the Duffys. Buried in Miranda Spivack's article in the June 8 Washington Post is a factoid that goes to show how petty the complaint by Hamilton, Mayer, and Judd was:
The Washington Post's Alan Cooperman reported on protesters who staged a silent demonstration during Mass at a Catholic service in St. Paul, Minnesota. The group of gay activists wore rainbow-colored sashes as they went to receive Communion in protest of Church teachings on homosexuality.
Cooperman's description of a subsequent mishandling of the Eucharist refused to condemn the act as objectively disrespectful of the sacrament:
In an act that some witnesses called a "sacrilege" and others called a sign of "solidarity," a man who was not wearing a sash received a Communion wafer from a priest, broke it into pieces and handed it to some of the sash wearers, who consumed it on the spot.
The Media Research Center's Business & Media Institute (formerly the Free Market Project) is co-hosting a symposium on June 6 with TCSDaily.com at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on Hollywood's treatment of capitalism on the silver screen. The panelists include Fox News Watch's James Pinkerton, film critic Michael Medved, Clinton acolyte Lanny Davis, and BMI director Dan Gainor.
The free event lasts from 6-9 p.m. and includes free cocktails. Bloggers are particularly welcome.
Seats are still available. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Washington Post's Michelle Boorstein gave readers of the Sunday paper a peek into the beauty of the traditional Latin Mass held every Sunday at St. Mary Mother of God Catholic Church in Washington, D.C.
The ringing of bells. Latin wafting high into the church rafters. Women's heads draped in lace.
is a solemn aura to 9 a.m. Sunday Mass at Saint Mary Mother of God, a
D.C. parish on Fifth Street NW where hundreds of Catholics who long for
ancient ritual gather each week to celebrate what is among the most
traditional and complex of Roman Catholic rites: the Tridentine Mass.
But mostly there is a powerful silence, a seriousness created by the
absence of contemporary church: no responsive readings, no guitars, no
congregants walking to a microphone to read from Scripture or to make
bingo announcements. There is just a centuries-old script, which
dictates the near-constant, intricate movements of the altar servers --
circling the altar, kneeling, pressing hands together, bowing -- as
well as the position of the priest, whose back is to parishioners.
Together, everyone faces East, acknowledging that Jesus is the true
A new study by BMI analysts Warren Anderson and Rachel Waters details how the broadcast media use "B-roll" (background video clips) showing pictures of higher-than-average station marquees to present a more dire picture of gas prices than reality:
Pictures of gas station prices on NBC averaged 36 cents higher than the national average between March 21 and May 24. For the typical American driver with a 20 mpg vehicle, the 36 cents extra would equal more than $200 a year.
Six of the stories in this study showed gas that was more than a dollar above the national average. ABC had four such stories and NBC two. CBS never ran a story that depicted gas at or below average.
According to experts, there are many reasons why gas prices have risen. Those include: political problems in places such as Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, and Venezuela, lingering effects from Katrina, increased demand from China and India, new ethanol requirements, and the typical summer increase. While explaining these reasons to viewers, the networks often displayed prices that were national extremes rather than those encountered by the average American consumer.
As other postings to NewsBusters of late can attest, the media love Al Gore.
The Business & Media Institute yesterday released our recap of the drumbeat the media have given Gore on the lead-up to his movie An Inconvenient Truth.
It's a perfect companion read to our latest special report, "Fire and Ice" which examines over 100 years of hyped reporting in the media of climate catastrophe, either from global warming or global cooling.
Another cool link to check out is this video from our friends at CEI. Just how much is Al Gore contributing to global warming by his frequently flying the friendly skies?
On May 22, the Federal Trade Commission released a report finding no systemic price gouging resulting from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The following day, USA Today -- which has carried a "nation's gas gauge" item in its front page sidebar for a few weeks now -- assigned the story below-the-fold treatment in the Money section.
Another story, on how average gas prices have dropped 6.4 cents in the past week, was relegated to the sidebar of the Money section page as well.
For my article on televised coverage of the story, click here.
It's no secret that the media has a bias when it comes to "climate change" that's friendly to environmentalists who blame human activity, essentially modern economic growth, for global warming. But what may surprise you is just how long the media's fixation with global warming/cooling goes back.
The MRC's Business & Media Institute (formerly the Free Market Project) just released a study that found that The New York Times has led the way in predicting global catastrophe from climate change as early as 1895.
The BMI study "found that many publications now claiming the world is on
the brink of a global warming disaster said the same about an impending ice age
– just 30 years ago. Several major ones, including The New York Times, Time
magazine and Newsweek, have reported on three or even four different climate
shifts since 1895."
Co-opting liberal rhetoric in the immigration debate, ABC's Dan Harris asked viewers, "What is the higher biblical priority, being a Good Samaritan, or upholding the law," while heading out to commercial on the May 14 "World News Tonight."
Aside from displaying a simplistic liberal agenda-friendly interpretation of Christian Scripture, the rhetoric Harris borrowed came straight from the mouth of woman featured in his story.
"Anyone who believes" Jesus's parables "should be
outraged that … the government is making it a crime to be a Good
Samaritan," activist Maryada Vallet was quoted in a January 20 Religion News Service article.
Vallet's work for "No More Deaths"-- a group which refuses to alert the Border Patrol to the location of illegal immigrants -- has been documented elsewhere in print, including the Scottsdale Times.
Liberal nanny-state advocate Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is at it again: suing the makers of 7-Up for false advertising by tagging its new incarnation of the lemon-lime flavored drink as "7-Up Natural."
Picking up on the story, ABC's "World News Tonight" on May 11 presented CSPI as merely a non-profit group concerned with truth-in-advertising. But the group is far more concerned with what you eat and drink than what is printed on the label:
Recently, CSPI pulled an anti-soda lawsuit filed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts only after a settlement with soft drink manufacturers brokered by former President Bill Clinton.
Among other areas where the media slant coverage in an anti-business direction, the MRC's Business & Media Institute (formerly the Free Market Project) has doggedly tracked the media's biases against "Big Oil" and in favor of Big Government.
Now we've decided to engage bloggers and the media on the issue with a panel discussion on "Oil, Markets, and the Media" on Wednesday, May 10 from 9:30 to 11. The discussion will be followed by a free breakfast during which time panelists including Cato's Jerry Taylor and Congressman Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), will be able to field questions from attendees.
Continuing her “Eye on the Road” series, CBS’s Sharyn Alfonsi showcased a Washington, D.C.-area teacher who she says can’t afford her commute due to rising gas prices.
But Alfonsi didn’t do her homework. Her featured teacher is a retired Navy lawyer who said in 2003 that she could only afford working as a Catholic school teacher because of her military pension. What Alfonsi didn’t say was that teacher Bonnie McGann made a conscious choice to earn less so she could give back to her church.
“This was the area where I could afford a home,” McGann informed Alfonsi’s viewers on the May 4 “Evening News.” The CBS correspondent added that McGann’s problem was the cost of the commute. “It’s a burden for me now. It’s something that I am unable to absorb,” McGann added. The picture Alfonsi painted was incomplete. McGann is a retired Navy Judge Advocate who says she went into teaching in Catholic schools for the emotional and spiritual reward of the experience....
"Killer of Teen, Fetus Sentenced" read a May 5 Washington Post headline on a man sentenced in Virginia for the brutal beating and subsequent death of his girlfriend and her unborn child. "Although there was evidence that Williams wanted to terminate" girlfriend Cheri Washington's pregnancy, "there was no proof that he intended to kill Washington," staff writer Theresa Vargas noted.
Nowhere in her story is the term "unborn baby" or "unborn child" used.
The Washington Post is hardly alone in using clinical language to describe the murder of unborn children. NewsBusters.org has documented other instances where the media have preferred the term "fetus" for an unborn child.
If there's any online media that would be free from infantile whining about corporate greed, it'd be investor Web sites, right? For the most part perhaps, but Motley Fool's Rick Munarriz found a corporate giant to attack for making money: Netflix, the online DVD rental service.
"How much money do you need when your largest competitor is
against the creditors' ropes? Or when a digitally delivered future may mean
thinner moats but without the same kind of capital intensive structure," whined Munarriz, who owns stock in the company. "There's never enough money, apparently, if you happen to be
Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX). In a baffling move, the company is looking to initiate
a secondary offering next month that will dilute investors by an additional 3.5
million shares while raising about $100 million."
On the April 27 "World News Tonight," anchor Elizabeth Vargas coined President Bush's call for more regulation of fuel standards a "bold" move:
We turn, now, to ABC's chief Washington correspondent, George
Stephanopoulos. And George, we had a bold move by the President a short time
ago. He wants the ability to change the miles per gallon standards, the so
called CAFÉ standards, on his own, something he currently does not have the
authority to do.
So let's see, the President's move to wiretap incoming phone calls from terror suspects has been roundly criticized as illegal and in reckless disregard to civil liberties. The call to drill for oil in ANWR to increase oil supply and lower gasoline prices has been called "controversial," but seldom if ever bold. But the call to put more regulatory power over industry in the hands of the President, and grow the scope and size of government, that's "bold."
Perhaps it's not surprising from a network that once spun $2.15/gallon of gas as "averaging under $3." The April 26 "CBS Evening News" overestimated ExxonMobil's forthcoming profit margin.
Jumping the gun on the other networks, "CBS Evening News" reported on the April 26 broadcast that ExxonMobil would report a $9.4 billion profit for the first quarter of 2006. The actual figure, released the morning of April 27, is an $8.4 billion profit, a $1,000,000,000 difference. This isn't CBS News's first time being sloppy with numbers.
The Free Market Project previously reported how CBS exaggerated the rise in natural gas prices heading into the winter of 2005-6:
Miles O'Brien may be CNN's resident NASA expert. But that doesn't make him a rocket scientist, and it sure doesn't make him an economist.
Maybe that's why he thinks raising taxes will help alleviate high gas prices.
There “could be a good argument for a gas tax in all of this to help pay for these alternative fuels,” the “American Morning” co-host suggested on the April 25 program.
“We have enough gas taxes, don’t you think,” reporter Carol Costello fired back.
Every American motorist already pays 18 cents on the gallon to Uncle Sam and anywhere from 8 to 45 cents per gallon to state governments, according to figures compiled by the American Petroleum Institute. In fact, the Energy Department estimates taxes account for 19 percent of the price of a gallon of gasoline, nearly as much as the 22 percent of the price that goes to refining costs.
While ABC and NBC presented viewers last night with many of the reasons for the rising cost of gasoline, CBS ignored the link between Iran’s push for nuclear power and rising oil prices. Instead, the network cheered on a “corporate catfight” between automakers and oil companies.
“I won’t be able to afford either rent or gas,” CBS News’s Anthony Mason showed a woman complain on the April 11 “CBS Evening News.” Warning of $3-a-gallon gas this summer, the CBS correspondent sought a culprit in American business, and highlighted a war of words between corporate executives.
Mason pointed to a blog posting by a DaimlerChysler executive blaming oil companies for high prices, and an ExxonMobil advertisement blaming SUV makers for fuel inefficiency.
A New York Times reporter who called recent corporate layoffs “worse than the Great Depression” was the paper’s choice to write about the positive job growth in the economy.
Reporter Louis Uchitelle authored somewhat critical view of the latest unemployment report by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That report showed a 211,000-job gain in March 2006 and a low jobless rate of 4.7 percent. By comparison, nearly one in four Americans was without work in the early 1930s.
Despite low unemployment and 31 straight months of job gains, economics writer and author Louis Uchitelle calls for federal laws to restrict corporate layoffs, a policy even a liberal Berkeley economist questions.
USA Today omitted any reference to incoming Today host Meredith Vieira's anti-war activism in Peter Johnson's April 7 Life section article, even as a brief, indirect allusion to NewsBusters.org coverage of the controversy was included in an online filing posted the evening of April 6:
Conservative bloggers pounced on NBC's choice, saying Vieira has a long record on The View as an anti-war liberal. But Vieira said that on The View,
which she expects to leave in May, she was paid to express her
opinions. "There is nothing I have ever said that I am ashamed of," she
said, but on Today, her opinions "have no place. It's a different animal."
While good conservatives and libertarians can agree to disagree amongst ourselves on just how to reform immigration, there's at least a consensus that more taxes and redistributionary spending are NOT part of the solution.
Which is why, I suppose, we need the infinite wisdom of The Washington Post editorial board to tell us otherwise:
Even a small impact on low-wage workers is alarming, given the rise of inequality over the past 25 years. But the question is whether to address that inequality by trying to
stop immigration or to go at it via progressive taxation, larger public
investments designed to prevent poor kids from dropping out of high
school, or some other policy tool. Given the expense and doubtful
effectiveness of border walls and employer crackdowns, progressive tax
and social policies seem preferable. After all, to the extent that
immigrants drive down wages at the bottom, they are driving up the
inflation-adjusted wages of other Americans who get cheaper goods and
services. Taxing the "immigration windfall" that flows to better-off
Americans and passing it on to the less fortunate may be the best way
The Post finance columnist extracted a sinister motive for credit card companies marketing pre-paid debit cards for parents to issue their children in lieu of cash allowances or birthday presents. "They are
not the same as gift cards because the intent is to emulate the
credit-using experience," Singletary wrote.
But rather than seeing pre-paid debit cards as a money management tool, Singletary likened the "plastice devil" to gateway drugs.
In my latest article up at FreeMarketProject.org, I take a look at some movie reviews which praise Ice Age 2: The Meltdown for raising the concept of global warming to kids. You can find it here.
My colleague Geoff Dickens recorded Gene Shalit's similar take on NBC's Today show.
Doing some research for the story, I also found some far-left Canadian review which thought that the new cartoon feature was too conservative. For your amusement:
What could have been an interesting opportunity to educate kiddies about the sorry state of our planet and the dire need for all of us to preserve it is instead, incredibly, a fatalistic reaffirmation that, somehow, God will prevail.
To you and me, it's a funny beer ad. To the New York Times, it's cause for a 25-paragraph story slamming Big Beer.
The New York Times's Melanie Warner penned a two-column article today on the complaints of several liberal "advocacy" groups about a Bud Light commercial featuring men on the roof enjoying a beer while pretending to do their wives a favor.
Warner stacked the deck with four liberal critics of the alcohol industry against one representative from The Beer Institute.
So what's the story really about? Turning Big Beer into the next Big Tobacco:
For the last two years, a committee of 28 state attorneys
general has been investigating alcohol advertising as part of an effort to
reduce underage drinking. While the group says it has no plans to sue the companies,
many of the states represented in group were involved in lawsuits that led to a
landmark $256 billion settlement in 1998 against the tobacco companies.