Remember all those media claims that race was a factor in the federal government’s “slow” response to Hurricane Katrina? Well, according to information released by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, whites died as a result of the devastating hurricane at the highest rate of any race living in New Orleans when measured as a function of population percentages.
As reported by Nathan Burchfiel of Cybercast News Service (hat tip to Drudge):
“According to the 2000 census, whites make up 28 percent of the city's population, but the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals indicates that whites constitute 36.6 percent of the storm's fatalities in the city.
This morning, it was the New York Times publishing a positive story about tomorrow’s historic elections in Iraq. ABC News has been doing a lot of optimistic segments on this subject since Sunday. Tonight, it was the “NBC Nightly News’” turn (video link to follow). Brian Williams introduced the segment by first suggesting that the “American media often cannot report the good news in Iraq because travel is still so dangerous.” He continued: “But tonight, we do have some extraordinary pictures of life there, and there are signs you'll see of progress.”
Richard Engel then showed young boys playing soccer on a street, a fashion show that occurred a month ago, along with a film festival. Then, on to the bastion of capitalism, the Baghdad stock exchange, where “without computers, traders take orders by phone and execute them by hand, an average of $3 million in shares trades here a day, 10 times the amount under Saddam.”
In this week’s edition of the New York Observer (hat tip to the Huffington Post), famed actor, writer, and movie director, Woody Allen, cast aspersions on President Bush, while gushing over former President Clinton. At the end of a piece by Suzy Hansen covering a range of topics from his past movies, his current one, and his life at the age of 70, the article concluded with Hansen asking Allen’s opinion of a number of people. When asked about George W. Bush, Allen responded:
CBS’s Hannah Storm interviewed long-time Bush ally and current ambassador Karen Hughes on this morning’s “The Early Show,” and appeared rather testy and ready for a fight (video link to follow). Storm began by painting an incredibly negative view of Iraq leading up to tomorrow’s elections, and then hammered Hughes on why the ambassador thinks things will get better after Iraqis go to the polls for the third time this year:
“What makes you think that the elections will be a turning point? What makes you think they will make Iraq a more secure place for its citizens and the U.S. troops there?”
In a potential sign of the changing tide in the media, the New York Times published an article at its website late this evening entitled “Sunni Bastion Now Turning to Ballot Box.” In it, Edward Wong depicted pre-Election Day Iraq as being almost a shining example of democracy in action.
Wong began optimistically: “Along the main boulevard here in Saddam Hussein's hometown, hundreds of campaign posters have flowered where insurgents once tossed homemade bombs at American troops.” By the third paragraph, he was almost exultant: “But turnout in the parliamentary elections on Thursday is expected to be high, reflecting the shift in attitude of many Sunni Arabs toward the American-engineered political process.” By the fourth paragraph:
As Election Day approaches in Iraq, the “CBS Evening News” tonight chose to lead with an al Qaeda video (video link to follow) that showed masked gunmen executing Iraqi police recruits in the middle of the day, as well as two Iraqi women pleading for their lives before being shot. Correspondent Lara Logan interviewed Michael Ware, a western journalist who is so well connected in this part of the world that he is regularly given such videos. During the interview, Ware suggested that this particular tape was “an inspirational video” that aids “recruitment” and acts as a “fund-raising device.”
Ware then interviewed a Ba’athist “insurgent” who used to be a top-ranking military official under Saddam. At the conclusion of this interview, Logan chided the Bush administration for not using this man’s services: “Ironically, this insurgent commander is exactly the type of military leader that the U.S. once turned away, but is now reaching out to, hoping to lure them back into the Iraqi army that's desperately short of experienced leaders.”
Lara Logan, a correspondent for CBS News who, according to the CBS website, lives in London with her husband, filed a report this morning on the CBS “Early Show” from Baghdad as featured at NewsBusters. The text of her report shows tremendous similarities to an article by Patrick Cockburn published this morning in the British daily The Independent.
To begin with, Cockburn’s article is entitled “Iraq: 1000 Days of War,” with a subheading “From Shock and Awe to a country torn between insurrection and democracy.” Logan’s segment this morning began: “Well, it wasn't long after U.S. Forces unleashed their shock and awe campaign that the Iraq war seemed to be over. But it's now a thousand days since it all began in March 2003 and we're still here.”
Despite some of the optimism that has been expressed in a number of recent media reports leading up to Thursday’s historic elections in Iraq – in particular, the great job that ABC News has been doing the past few days with its “Iraq: Where Things Stand” series – CBS’s “The Early Show” stayed quite glum this morning (video link to follow). Julie Chen introduced the segment stating, “President Bush says progress is being made, but many Iraqis have other ideas.” Lara Logan reporting from Baghdad then played a numbers game that created the appearance that there have been more American deaths in Iraq than is the case:
“Some 18,000 Americans have been killed and injured since the start of this war. But 94% of those casualties occurred after the fall of Baghdad.”
Arianna Huffington went on quite a rant at her blog today over the president’s speech in Philadelphia. In fact, she pulled no punches. Early on, she stated that “the president’s fanaticism is a scary prospect for the country.” But, that was just the beginning:
“The latest issues of both Time and Newsweek paint a portrait of an isolated president detached from the reality of all that is going on around him. Nothing seems to be penetrating -- not the rising death toll, not his depressed poll numbers, not the continuing revelations about the deceptions his administration used to lead us to war. Not even the growing skepticism about the war being expressed within his own party.”
As reported yesterday by NewsBusters, a brand new ABC News/TIME poll depicted Iraqis as being very optimistic about themselves and the future of their country. The Associated Press via USA Today is sharing this information with its readers by focusing attention on the negatives first. The article, entitled “Most Iraqis Oppose U.S. Troops, Poll Says,” began:
“Most Iraqis disapprove of the presence of U.S. forces in their country, yet they are optimistic about Iraq's future and their own personal lives, according to a new poll.
“More than two-thirds of those surveyed oppose the presence of troops from the United States and its coalition partners and less than half, 44%, say their country is better off now than it was before the war, according to an ABC News poll conducted with Time magazine and other media partners.”
There’s a new poll out, done by Oxford Research International for ABC News and TIME magazine. Unfortunately, unless you were watching “This Week” on ABC this morning, or this evening’s “World News Tonight,” you likely missed it.
George Stephanopoulos referred to this poll on “This Week” this morning as he was speaking with American ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad (taken from closed captioning):
“And I want to begin by showing you and our viewers some results from a new poll, conducted by ABC news and 'Time' magazine, and other international partners. It's part of our 'Iraq: Where Things Stand' series. It shows some good news. More than 70% of Iraqis think things are going well for them right now. But it also shows there's a growing gap between the Shiites and Sunnis in the country, as we've seen before. Over 80% of Shiites feel safe. They approve of the constitution. They have confidence in the Iraqi army.”
The latest issue of Newsweek featured an almost 4,000 word article – written by Evan Thomas and Richard Wolffe, with assistance from Holly Bailey, Daniel Klaidman, Eleanor Clift, Michael Hirsh and John Barry – that painted a pretty bleak picture of President Bush as possibly being “the most isolated president in modern history.” The authors referred to Bush as being in a “bubble” that blocks out thoughts, policy suggestions, and ideas that he is either unwilling or intellectually incapable of absorbing. Some of the lowlights:
“Yet his inattention to Murtha, a coal-country Pennsylvanian and rock-solid patriot, suggests a level of indifference, if not denial, that is dangerous for a president who seeks to transform the world.”
“What Bush actually hears and takes in, however, is not clear. And whether his advisers are quite as frank as they claim to be with the president is also questionable.”
At the Huffington Post yesterday, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell stated that President Bush, who is rumored to watch reruns of the television program O’Donnell is the executive producer for, should be watching recent episodes of NBC's “The West Wing” to learn how to deal with problems in his own administration:
“In episode four this season, Toby confessed to the chief of staff that he did it. In episode five, Toby offered his letter of resignation to the president, who refused to accept it and fired Toby on the spot. Toby marched out of the White House on his way to being indicted. By flipping over to ‘The West Wing’ after ‘60 Minutes,’ Bush could have learned that the right thing for West Wing staffers to do is quit/get fired before getting indicted -- that the violation of the president's trust and the public trust is more than enough reason to leave the White House. That is something Karl Rove is never going to tell him.”
A front page New York Times story on the global warming talks in Montreal chose to place all the blame for America’s refusal to move forward with the highly controversial Kyoto Protocol on the Bush administration. In doing so, the Times didn’t inform its readers about the history of this accord, and, in particular, that the Senate in July 1997 voted 95-0 against it. In addition, the Times completely ignored any of the obvious economic consequences to America if it entered into a global warming treaty that did not include China.
Yet, that didn’t deter the Times from identifying a culprit: “In a sign of its growing isolation on climate issues, the Bush administration had come under sharp criticism for walking out of informal discussions on finding new ways to reduce emissions under the United Nations' 1992 treaty on climate change.”
The Associated Press/Ipsos released results of a new poll concerning the public’s opinion of political corruption. In its report about this survey, the AP categorized the public’s negative view as being almost exclusively a Republican problem. In fact, not one Democrat is specifically named in this article, while seven Republicans are. Yet, buried very deep in one of the final paragraphs is the finding that, within the poll’s margin of error, Democrats and Republicans are considered equally ethical.
With a hat tip to the Drudge Report, in what could be an advancement of media protestations that air marshals on American Airlines flight 924 overreacted when they shot and killed distraught passenger Rigoberto Alpizar, TIME magazine reported last night that another passenger on the plane is claiming he never heard the word “bomb”:
“‘I don't think they needed to use deadly force with the guy,’ says John McAlhany, a 44-year-old construction worker from Sebastian, Fla. "He was getting off the plane." McAlhany also maintains that Alpizar never mentioned having a bomb.
With a hat tip to the Drudge Report, here is a November 28, 2005 posting by Barbra Streisand at her blog. It is a letter to Andres Martinez, the editorial page editor of the Los Angeles Times, informing him of her decision to cancel her subscription. Babs' beef? Well, the Times, in an effort to stem declining subscription rates, has replaced liberal op-ed columnist Robert Scheer with conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg. Babs isn’t happy:
“In light of the obvious step away from the principals of journalistic integrity, which would dictate that journalists be journalists, editors be editors and accountants be accountants, I am now forced to carefully reconsider which sources can be trusted to provide me with accurate, unbiased news and forthright opinions. Your new columnist, Jonah Goldberg, will not be one of those sources.
A recent report published by the Gallup Organization stated:
“a majority of U.S. investors continue to describe the current economy as being ‘in a slowdown’ or ‘recession’ as opposed to being ‘in a recovery’ or ‘sustained expansion.’”
Regardless of continuously strong economic reports, such bearish assessments have been regularly portrayed by public opinion polls for several years. During this period, economists and politicians – including the Bush administration – have wondered what is responsible for this disconnect between perception and reality.
A detailed look at how unemployment numbers are shared with the public by mainstream media outlets gives us some clues. The Labor Department on Friday announced very strong employment gains for the month of November. In fact, this was the largest number of job creations since April. However, this news was reported to the public in a fashion that largely downplayed its significance. A 3.2 percent annual increase in wages was characterized as employees “basically treading water.” Although energy prices have been steadily declining since September, jobs market stories included references of this still being a “huge concern.” Other news accounts referred to the unemployment rate being “stuck at 5 percent,” as if a 5 percent unemployment rate is a bad thing, while one cable news outlet told viewers to take the numbers “with a grain of salt.”
Vaughn Ververs of the CBS News blog “Public Eye” critiqued a NewsBusters post today concerning a report made by the “CBS Evening News” last night about the former 9/11 commission’s newly released report card on the government’s response to homeland security issues. Ververs apparently asked correspondent Robert Orr and producer Ward Sloane for their opinions on the NewsBusters analysis: “The ‘news’ in the former 9/11 Commission's briefing was not that the U.S. is doing a very few things right, but rather that four years after the attacks, the U.S. government is largely failing in its very expensive $100 billion attempt to prevent another one.”
Although this might indeed be what the mainstream media perceived as the “news” in this briefing, the reality is that there were a total of 41 categories that the former commission graded the government on, and this CBS News report only shared some of the the “D’s” and the “F’s,” while totally ignoring all of the “C’s,” “B’s,” and “A’s” that the government received. Aren’t these grades “news” as well? Shouldn’t the public be informed as to what the government is doing properly to protect them from terrorist attacks, or are only the failures “news?”
On Friday, NewsBusters reported the results of a new Rasmussen poll indicating that the public’s view of the War on Terrorism has dramatically improved in the past couple of months, but none of the mainstream media were opting to share this information with the citizenry. Well, another polling agency has just done a survey confirming this increase in American optimism concerning this subject. Yet, in this case, the very media outlet that paid for the survey is the one not including the results in its own published report.
On Sunday, TIME magazine posted an article at its website concerning a recent poll done for it by Schulman, Ronca & Bucuvalas (SRBI). This survey covered the typical analysis found in most polls these days including the president's job approval rating, how the public feels things are going in Iraq, etc. Yet, TIME curiously chose not to share with its readers an entire section from this SRBI survey concerning how the public feels the War on Terrorism is going.
The folks at PollingReport.com have the results that TIME didn’t share with its readers. For instance, 49 percent of those surveyed felt that the president is doing a good job handling the War on Terrorism. This is up from 46 percent in their poll taken after Katrina hit.
The three broadcast networks all did segments this evening on the former 9/11 commission’s report card released today. Though all three focused on the negatives, only the "CBS Evening News” ignored the good grades given by the commission, while also failing to mention that a key problem highlighted in this report is already being addressed by legislation pending in Congress (video link to follow).
Bob Orr quickly gave a rundown of the “F’s” and the “D’s” given by former commission members for the government achieving a set of priorities they deemed necessary to avert another terrorist attack. However, as can be seen in the full report card, Orr chose not to mention any of the 12 “B’s” given by the commission, or the “A-” obtained for “Terrorist Financing.” Orr also reported:
Yesterday, I posted an article here concerning a piece by Jonathan Alter of Newsweek. The inherent hypocrisy of Alter's column generated the following op-ed from me that I wanted to share for those that might be interested:
America’s mainstream media are in high dudgeon over efforts by our military to get its story out in Iraq, where winning hearts and minds is an important component of victory. Typical is Newsweek’s senior editor Jonathan Alter, who wrote an article for this week’s issue entitled “The Real Price of Propaganda.” In it, Alter came down strongly against the behavior alleged last week by the Los Angeles Times - that the Pentagon is buying placement of articles in Iraqi newspapers.
Newsweek’s senior editor Jonathan Alter wrote an article for this week’s issue entitled “The Real Price of Propaganda” wherein he came down strongly against recent revelations that the Pentagon might be “buying” articles to be placed in Iraqi newspapers. On the one hand, there is some delicious irony in seeing an anti-propaganda column in an American periodical that is periodically so full of it. Yet, maybe more curious is how Alter seemed mostly disgusted by the amount of money the Pentagon might be paying for such an exercise without recognizing how inexpensive this is compared to the cost of waging a war measured in both dollars and lives. This is made even more hypocritical given Newsweek’s antagonism to this war. However, none of these glaring holes seemed to deter Alter from making his argument.
It is interesting that one of Alter’s major sources for this piece is that venerable bastion of geopolitical opinion, Rolling Stone magazine:
As reported by NewsBusters here, the New York Times’ William Safire made some statements on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on October 30 concerning his view of a changing tide in the media’s opinion of the president. This morning’s panel on NBC’s “The Chris Matthews Show” proved Safire as being rather prophetic.
To refresh everyone’s memory, Safire said that day: “Now, the wonderful thing about American attention and media coverage, is the narrative has to change. It can't stay the same, or else it's not newsworthy. And so the story will be the comeback.”
Newsweek’s Susannah Meadows, with help from Howard Fineman and John Barry, wrote what appeared to be a 2008 presidential advertisement presenting Sen. Hillary Clinton to readers as a pro-military hawk. In doing so, Meadows unintentionally exposed an interesting hypocrisy in the senator’s stance that she, like others in Congress, was misled by President Bush prior to her October 11, 2002 vote to authorize the use of force to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.
First, Meadows went to great lengths to present Sen. Clinton as not being a dove:
As has been reported by NewsBusters before, the mainstream media largely ignore the polling work of Scott Rasmussen. Certainly, it is quite unlikely they will report polling data that he just released concerning how Americans feel the War on Terror is going:
“December 2, 2005--Confidence in the War on Terror is up sharply compared to a month ago. Forty-eight percent (48%) Americans now believe the U.S. and its Allies are winning. That's up nine points from 39% a month ago and represents the highest level of confidence measured in 2005.
“Just 28% now believe the terrorists are winning, down six points from 34% a month ago. The survey was conducted on Wednesday and Thursday night following the President's speech outlining his strategy in Iraq.”
As is typical, these sentiments are much different depending on party affiliation:
The media’s pessimistic holiday shopping forecasts fail to register with reality.
Don't miss my latest at the Free Market Project: Contrary to the media’s pessimistic forecasts for the Christmas shopping season reported by the Free Market Project in late October, strong retail sales this Thanksgiving weekend got the annual end-of-the-year buying bonanza off to a bang. In fact, the economic data available prior to this weekend looked so strong that the National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, actually raised its sales forecast for 2005 holiday shopping from a 5 percent year-over-year increase to 6 percent.
Regardless of this upgrade in expectations by retailers themselves, and the fabulous start to the shopping season, the media continued to rain on everybody’s parade.
Don't miss my latest writing for the Free Market Project: Media claims about a “housing bubble” are nothing new. Since before the 9/11 terror attacks, the media have been calling the housing market a “bubble” while predicting an imminent, devastating decline. Not only have they been wrong in forecasting such a top, they have thoroughly mischaracterized what an investment bubble is. Now that the market for homes has finally slowed a bit, the media are declaring the bubble has burst.
A Bubble?: Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan has denied the existence of a national housing bubble for several years, but the media have used the term repeatedly.
Strong Gains: The increase in real estate values the past five years has not resembled the rapid rise typically seen in a bubble. In 2000, the national median existing-home value was $139,000. This grew to $215,900 by the third quarter of 2005 – a 55-percent nominal increase but a 34-percent inflation-adjusted gain.
Home Sales Still Going Up: New home sales jumped another 13 percent in October. While sales of existing homes were down 2.7 percent from September, the median national price rose to $218,000, a 16.6 percent increase since October 2004.
It’s probably not the first time it has happened, but with the exception of ABC’s George Will – who, of course, has been a regular on that network’s “This Week” for many years – the networks’ Sunday political talk shows had no established conservative guests to participate in their weekly panel discussions. Joining George Stephanopoulos and George Will this morning were Democratic political strategist Donna Brazile, TIME magazine’s Jay Carney, and ABC’s Claire Shipman. NBC’s “The Chris Matthews Show” featured Katy Kay of the BBC, Michael Duffy of TIME magazine, Norah O’Donnell of MSNBC, and Terry Neal of the Washington Post. CBS’s “Face the Nation” did its annual Thanksgiving “historians” program.
The most left-leaning of the panels was on NBC’s “Meet the Press” where Tim Russert invited Judy Woodruff, formerly of CNN’s “Inside Politics,” David Broder of the Washington Post, Eugene Robinson also of the Washington Post, and David Gregory of NBC News. While the “This Week” and “Matthews” panels actually engaged in a comparatively well-rounded discussion, the “Meet the Press” group spent the bulk of its half-hour talking about the “disaster” in Iraq. For instance, Robinson said, “I think that there's general agreement now that there will be a mess in Iraq when U.S. troops finally withdraw and it certainly won't be an Athenian democracy, as the administration said it was out to create.” Gregory agreed, “And unfortunately, perhaps the only outcome is a kind of low-level civil war that's akin to the Arab- Israeli situation with U.S. soldiers in the way.”
Woodruff then joined in by paraphrasing a recent article in the Atlantic Monthly:
Reuters reported a few hours ago that the government of North Korea has accused CNN of airing a fabricated video of a public execution in that country (hat tip to Drudge): “CNN earlier this month broadcast a documentary, ‘Undercover in the Secret State,’ which among other images showed a grainy clip of what it called a public execution by firing squad of a man accused of helping a refugee cross into neighboring China.”
Kim Jong Il’s government is not happy: “‘The video tape is full of sheer lies negating the popular and class nature and the democratic principle of the DPRK's laws and tarnishing its image from A to Z,’ the North's official KCNA news agency said in a commentary.”
On November 14, a Korean website, The Chosun Ilbo, published an article on this documentary along with the picture to the right:
"According to the cable broadcaster, dissidents used small digital cameras and camcorder phones as weapons in their fight to show the outside world what is really happening in the secretive country. Footage also showed a dissident defacing a Kim Jong-il poster to draw attention to growing internal opposition to the country's leader."
This past Tuesday, the Korea Times reported that the man who took these video images is a North Korean defector currently being held by the South Korean government: