"We know you think Democrats are gonna raise taxes, but before they do, they'll cut yours."
That's essentially what CBS's Sharyl Attkisson was selling viewers of the November 14 "Evening News" with her story on Rep. Charlie Rangel's plan to reform the alternative minimum tax (AMT).
Attkisson showed Rangel complaining that the AMT soaks the middle class, so it should be reformed and taxes on "the rich" raised. She didn't ask him if that was a bad idea seeing as the AMT began in 1969 as a, well, soak-the-rich tax scheme. Over time it's crept into soaking the middle class, a much more politically unpalatable result of the law of unintended consequences.
Nowhere in her story did Attkisson suggest that Congress needs to rein in spending, nor did she include conservative critics who would remind audiences that Rangel voted for the Clinton tax hikes of 1993, but against the Bush tax cuts of 2001.
It was yet another overblown fear that the media latched onto but have not revisited since Democrats won last week's election.
At the MRC's Business & Media Institute, we don't forget so easily.
Check out the story by my colleague Julia Seymour over at businessandmedia.org.
Now that the votes have been cast and counted, Republicans
lost, and the silence of the national media has been deafening.
The idea was that somehow the company Diebold had programmed the machines to let Republicans win. The theory, perpetuated by left-wingers posting on Daily Kos and The Huffington Post and Bev Harris’ book, “Black Box Voting,” was embraced by all three broadcast networks, as well as CNN and MSNBC.
“Victory is mine,” he seemed to gloat to viewers as with smug delight CNN populist gadfly and resident protectionist applauded the passage of six minimum wage increases in states ballot booths across the country.
Before the election, Dobbs was quite active in pushing such an increase both on his show and in his book, “War on the Middle Class.” Dobbs had a pre-election one-hour special by the same title, biased in favor of more taxation and regulation of the economy.
Following Christine Romans’ report on the initiatives, Dobbs chose to lecture the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and The Heritage Foundation for what he sees as their wrong-headed opinion on the matter.
If your morning coffee isn't strong enough to jolt you awake, just watch the Today show. The scaremongering should get your heart skipping a few beats.
On today's edition, reporter Tom Costello picked up on a new study that urges seat belts be added to school buses. Among the findings of the study, 17,000 children a year are injured in school bus accidents.
Nevermind that statistically, school buses are safer for ferrying your kids to school than the family SUV or that seat belts on school buses do more harm than good, as studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have shown.
Oh, did I mention Costello left out that t he American Academy of Pediatrics study also calls for kids to not squirrel around on the bus so as to lessen injuries and for better supervision of kids on buses to prevent injury?
ABC's "Good Morning America" picked up a new complaint by union organizers against Wal-Mart. The company actually wants its employees to show up on time for work.
GMA stacked the deck against the company with 3 of 4 man-on-the-street interviewees scoffing at the company's policy. Employees are allowed three late arrivals before being assigned a "demerit" and risk being fired for racking up demerits in a short period of time.
At the MRC's Business & Media Institute (BMI), we've tracked CNN's war on the economy. Today, Fox News's Brenda Buttner took on the media's negative slant with some cold hard facts:
“If you listen to the Democrats or listen to much of our media, our economy is in dire straights, but pay attention just to the numbers, well they tell a very different story... Number one, Americans employed, there's essentially full employment in the U.S..."
Buttner added that despite media talk of the housing slowdown, the "bottom line [is that] more and more of us today are fortunate enough to enjoy a piece of the American Dream" as 70 percent of Americans own their home.
Can't be because this is 6 days before an election, right?
At any rate, it seems even a liberal pundit cited in the cover story isn't falling for the Lou Dobbs lament that the halcyon days of the middle class are behind us:
“Looking back” with nostalgia “to a golden age of the middle class doesn’t wash,” the USA Today reporter wrote, citing Jason Furman of the liberal Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. “Overall health care is better now, for example, and far fewer people a generation ago expected to go to college,” Waggoner conceded.
CNN might well prove a one-network full employment plan for myself and my colleagues at the MRC's Business & Media Institute, with its ongoing attacks against the strong economy.
You might even say CNN has gone to war against it.
That's the conclusion my colleagues Amy Menefee and Julia Seymour arrived at with their October 25 article.
CNN is no “CSI,” but its reporters and anchors keep declaring things dead. They’ve called the American dream “impossible” and “a lost cause” and said the middle class is “in crisis” or going “out of business” – all in the month of October.
“We hear every day on CNN that the middle class is getting beaten up and that it’s eroding,” said author Barbara Ehrenreich on the October 21 “In the Money.”
As my colleague Matt Sheffield noted yesterday, Newsweek has finally admitted they were wrong about global cooling in the 1970s.
The admission comes after Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) cited on the Senate floor, among other things, "Fire and Ice," a study by the MRC's Business & Media Institute about the media's 100+ year history of hyping climate change.
Here's a sample of the May 17 study pertaining to Newsweek's coverage from the 1970s.
Newsweek was equally downbeat in its article “The Cooling World.” “There are ominous signs that the earth’s weather patterns have begun to change dramatically,” which would lead to drastically decreased food production, it said.
Er, I mean Katie Couric. I guess the legendary perkiness doesn't extend to her reporting on the economy in this election season when pessimism is all the rage in the networks. Somehow I doubt it's because she's still a morning person struggling to deal with a later work shift:
Gas prices hit their lowest point since January and the Dow Jones closed on yet another record high, but on the October 24 evening newscast CBS’s Katie Couric colored her business briefing in red, focusing on Ford Motor Company’s (NYSE: F) quarterly loss and the five-year-old Enron scandal. Competitors ABC and NBC also noted the bleak news from Detroit, but tossed in positive business news items.
Couric set the tone announcing that Ford was “battling red ink and losing badly.”
Last Wednesday, CNN aired Lou Dobbs's special "War on the Middle Class." Three days later, CNN's "In the Money" continued the network's pitched battle for more government regulation of the economy with the program's uncritical treatment of guest Barbara Ehrenreich.
Here's a bit of what my colleague Julia Seymour noticed from her review of the October 21 program. Her full article can be found here.
The financial program devoted just under five minutes to what amounted to a free advertisement for United Professionals (UP), a new organization co-founded by “Nickel and Dimed” author Barbara Ehrenreich. Ehrenreich is also author of “Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream.” She said the organization’s current function is “providing a way for people to come together, share their experiences and talk about what they’ve been going through” at a cost of $36.50 in annual dues.
Two weeks ago, The Washington Post's Steven Mufson reported a story the front page of the Business section about conspiracy theories floating around the Internet about "Big Oil" lowering gas prices to help the GOP in midterm elections. If that's news to you, you don't know Jack. Cafferty, that is.
Well now a real and open international conspiracy, OPEC, the international oil cartel comprised of mostly shady authoritarian countries, is working hard to raise oil prices by working in concert to limit oil supply.
Mufson wrote up the story for the Post, but it was shoved down to page D3 in today's paper.
CBS's Katie Couric led her October 19 "Evening News" with salacious, but non-political developments in Foleygate pertaining to the ex-Congressman and his relationship as a teenager with a Roman Catholic priest.
But while her rivals at ABC and NBC also covered the Foley news, they also gave full reports on the Dow's record close above 12,000. Couric only briefly mentioned the news, and followed it with a brief item about how former NYSE chairman Richard Grasso was ordered to return millions from a retirement package.
Of course Grasso's overcompensation, while newsworthy, has no bearing on the actual health of the economy or the stock exchange. But including it without explanation as a complement to the Dow story is a way to negatively spin an otherwise positive development to a general news audience.
I will shortly post an article to the MRC's BusinessandMedia.org Web site and post an update when that article is available online.
Last night Lou Dobbs hosted a one hour-long "War on the Middle Class" special on CNN. The biased town hall forum shares a title with Dobbs's big-government-friendly book that bears the same title.
Dobbs is part of CNN's ramped-up pre-election coverage that, surprise, surprise, has been gloomy and pessimistic about the economy, the war in Iraq, and pretty much everything else touching on the Bush administration or Republican Congress.
Dobbs has two more evening specials before the election and CNN's Jack"X-Files"Cafferty has a special tonight which, I'm sure is also a must-TiVo.
Here's an excerpt of the take my colleague Julia Seymour and I had on Dobb's program after reviewing it. You can find the full article here:
Over at the MRC's BusinessandMedia.org Web site, I wrote today about how CNN's Bill Schneider and Miles O'Brien admit that the economy is doing just fine, although polls show people think it isn't all that hot.
But rather than analyze economic trends in historical context, CNN used the opportunity to plug Lou Dobbs's special "War on the Middle Class."
At no point, however, did O’Brien or Schneider tell viewers that Dobbs’s special, and his book by the same title, represent Dobbs’s opinion, not objective reporting.
Indeed, one of the sponsors of Dobbs’s special, the American Association of Retired Persons is a liberal public policy advocate that lobbies the government to spend more taxpayer dollars on Medicare and other social programs. The AARP also played a key role in opposing President Bush’s plans to partially privatize Social Security in 2005.
So you thought the media only griped about profits when they went to Big Oil amid "record" energy prices? You'd be wrong.
On the October 12 “World News with Charles Gibson,” reporter David Muir took on businesses such as the makers of Campbell’s Soup or Yoplait yogurt that engage in breast cancer fundraising efforts. Their crime? Daring to have a profit motive tied to the PR campaign.
“These pink ribbon campaigns often mean much more to the corporate bottom line than they do to people living with or at risk for breast cancer,” scoffed Barbara Brenner, the executive director of Breast Cancer Action.
South Park's resident juvenile coffee addict would find little solace in today's "Early Show" where CBS's Rene Syler trumpeted a "shocking" report that found decaf coffee contains <gasp> caffeine.
Well, duh. Decaffeination removes most, not all the caffeine that naturally occurs in a drink such as coffee. And medical experts have known it for years. But that didn't stop Syler and correspondent Randall Pinkston from hyping the University of Florida study or to play up caffeine's health risks.
“Thousands of people do drink decaf because of health issues,” for medical reasons “but if you drink decaffeinated coffee because you think you’re eliminating” the stimulant, “think again,” cautioned Pinkston, pointing to a recently published study from the University of Florida.
According to the Times, American houses of worship aren't rendering what is due Caesar.
The New York Times has put an ironic twist on the 8th Commandment: “Thou shalt not steal.” It’s accused churches nationwide of fleecing taxpayers and local governments using the First Amendment.
The Times devoted more than 17,000 words and a four-day series indicting religious groups for what it argued was essentially cheating taxpayers across the country. The pro-government, pro-regulation treatise by business reporter Diana B. Henriques was titled “In God's Name.”
On the heels of the Google purchase of YouTube, NBC warned of another dot-com bubble on the horizon. [See here for more on NBC's fixation on the "housing bubble."]
Of course, some experts will warn that's the worst-case scenario while others tend to think that the billions spent on YouTube will not lead to an escalating arms race for its less popular competitors like MetaCafe.
Meta what, you just said? Yeah, thought so. Here's a taste of my article. You can find the complete story here:
Over an onscreen graphic that read “Internet Insanity: Is the Dot.Com Boom Back,” Quintanilla suggested the Google purchase of YouTube may presage another “dot-com bubble” like the one that bedeviled the stock market, and the economy, in 2000.
"Pope set to bring Back Latin Mass that divided Church," reads the headline for an October 11 story in the Times of London.
Yeah, that's right. According to the Times of London, Pope Benedict is a divider, not a uniter, because he wants Catholics worldwide to be able to attend Latin Mass without having to jump through hoops to find a parish that celebrates it.
The Catholic Church is catholic, that is, universal. It's all over the world spanning virtually every race, tribe, and tongue. Having a universal prayer language for such a diverse worldwide communion makes sense.
And aside from its historical nature as the language of Catholic prayer, Latin, a dead language, is equally accessible to worshipers from all over the world, regardless of native tongue. In other words, it's equally difficult (and simple) to learn regardless of your background.
So where's the divisiveness, exactly? Well, writes Ruth Gledhill, Times religion correspondent:
It's 27 days to the election and persistent Bush critic Lou Dobbs has a new book out detailing what he sees as the "War on the Middle Class." While Dobbs faults both the GOP and Democrats for policies he disagrees with, the lion's share of his criticism has fallen to President Bush and the Republicans, particularly for tax cuts and free trade policies.
So perhaps it's no surprise that CNN is ramping up Dobb's TV time. Not only will the business reporter/commentator have a role in election night coverage, but:
Associated Press television writer David Bauder noted in an October 10 article that anchor “Dobbs’ weeknight news show will expand to seven days a week, with the two weekend editions presenting highlights of the week’s reporting beginning Oct. 28.”
The Disney movie ‘102 Dalmatians’ should be R-rated instead of G, two anti-smoking activists insist. Not because they antagonist was a demented woman bent on turning cute puppies into a fur coat. Nope. Cruella De Vil’s real crime was smoking.
“Movies that depict smoking are the single greatest media threat to children say two prominent doctors,” ABC’s Heather Nauert warned her “Good Morning America” audience.
Nauert’s October 10 story focused on two activists who call for the Motion Picture Association of America to automatically assign an R-rating to movies with any smoking in it. Yet in her story, Nauert left out how biased her sources were as well as failed to balance her story with any criticism of the doctors’ claims.
The Washington Post has gotten around to noticing the popularity of baseless conspiracy theories about gas prices.
After all, a recent USA Today poll found 42 percent of respondents believe gas prices are being deliberately rigged for the GOP's political advantage.
But even as he sought to dismiss the theories' plausibility, reporter Steven Mufson relied on liberal activist Tyson Slocum of Public Citizen to argue a kernel of truth to the notion that politics plays a role in oil and gas prices.
"I don't think the influence is as explicit as some people out there are alleging. But all markets are susceptible to politics, and oil is no exception," Slocum told the Post.
USA Today took another swipe at the produce packaging industry in today's Money section.
Reporter Julie Schmit buried an expert in her story who called the industry "superb" at processing vegetables to be safe and germ-free for consumers.
“The industry does a superb job of washing,” said Christine Bruhn of the Center for Consumer
Research at the University of California, Davis.
In fact, said Bruhn, “the bagged product is safer” than washing produce at home that has been purchased unpackaged at the grocery store.
Yet rather than put this point of view near the top of her article, Schimt buried these quotes at the end, long after sounding an alarming tone about the safety of pre-packaged produce.
The law, sponsored by freshmen senators Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) provides for an online database of federal appropriations. The bill passed through Congress with relative ease, but had been blocked for a bit by long-time pork barrel spending champions Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) and Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska).
Among the panelists was veteran Cox Newspapers Washington reporter Rebecca Carr who marveled that she "couldn't get over how effective" the coalition of left- and right-wing bloggers had been in providing the political pressure and alternative media coverage of the legislation's progress.
Heritage's Mark Tapscott was not as surprised, pointing out that blogs bring to bear "the wisdom of crowds" to news gathering and political activism.