It's one of the few times one can wish the reporting by NBC News was right and CNBC was wrong.
A segment on the July 21 "NBC Nightly News" pointed out some of the key points of a budget deal reached between California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and leaders of the state legislature. The deal means some service cuts - but also includes the possibility of exploration and drilling for oil off the California coast.
"California is our biggest state in terms of population and it long ago ran out of money," "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams said. "They got nothing to pay the vendors they owe and now they have struck a deal for more cuts, and these are going to hurt. They're going to allow offshore drilling for the money it will bring in. The LA Times reports tens of thousands of seniors and children would lose access to health care. Prisoners will spend less time in prison. And the governor is going to sell cars and furniture and office supplies and autograph some of it, he says, to raise more money. It's an unbelievable turn of events."
Sooner or later, liberals will learn to not provoke Liz Cheney on issues of national security.
Those who watch the news for information other than the tragic death (and subsequent funeral circus) of Michael Jackson have most likely heard of the most recent round of accusations made by congressional liberals against the Central Intelligence Agency. On the July 14 “Morning Joe,” the former vice president's daughter issued a thrashing of Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, who (one would guess) did not adequately prepare to argue about the laws concerning when the CIA is required to brief Congress.
Robinson first submits the following:
EUGENE ROBINSON, Washington Post columnist: Hi, Liz, how are you? I have a question. I actually have a question for Liz in a minute, but you know, look, it's inconvenient that there is a law, there is a 1947 law that requires that Congress be briefed on significant intelligence operations or activities or anticipated significant intelligent activity, so it seems to be clear that they should have been briefed. And if the Vice President told the CIA not to brief Congress then that was wrong.
That certainly sounds correct, at least on the surface – if that’s the law, that’s the law.
If you listened to any top-of-the-hour radio newscast yesterday, you probably heard that General Motors has exited from bankruptcy, with the company promising to really, really do better this time around.
You more than likely didn't hear anything about how much government money it has taken to enable GM to survive and reemerge. That's because original story sources like the Associated Press put off such troublesome disclosures until later in their reports.
In the AP's case, even when writers Tom Krisher and Ken Thomas, assisted by three other contributors, finally got around to discussing taxpayer funding in the 25th paragraph of their 29-paragraph report, they understated the amount of government money expended. The pair also seemed to imply that creditors of the "old GM," consisting of the parts the emerging company left behind, would be made whole, which is of course far from the case.
Here are the paragraphs from the story that relate to my observations:
No matter how much money any government - federal, state or local - puts into public education, it's never enough in some people's eyes.
A July 1 "NBC Nightly News" segment detailed a new use of tax payer dollars in one of the worst performing, financially struggling school systems in the country - the Washington, D.C. public school system. They are paying school children with taxpayer funds, part of a social experiment to improve school participation at the middle school level.
"Keeping the exuberant sixth graders of Shaw Middle School at Garnet-Patterson in line on a sunny Friday is a challenge for principal Brian Betts," former "Nightly News" anchor-turned-correspondent Tom Brokaw explained. "But this is not an assembly, it's payday. It's called Capital Gains - paying students for good grades, behavior and attendance, part of the massive restructuring of the D.C. schools by a 38-year-old Korean-American woman, who as chancellor, wants to transform what is by many measures the worst-performing public school system in the U.S."
It's basic economics - when the economy contracts and the flow of money slows, so do tax receipts to local governments, barring maneuvering by the government to impose higher taxes. And that has been a focus of news stories, most notably the state budget woes that have recently hit California.
A June 22 "CBS Evening News" segment showed how, during this sluggish economy, the demand for state government social programs, like welfare, have increased across the county, even as cash-strapped states are in fiscal crisis. But the report didn't point to one of the biggest reasons for state deficits: irresponsible government growth.
"For the first time in 15 years, welfare numbers are up in at least 26 states," CBS correspondent Cynthia Bowers said. "In Illinois, it's 3 percent, but in South Carolina the number is 23 percent, Florida 14 percent and California 10."
It’s small wonder the fawning media continue to note how “confident” and “cool” the new president is in office. The Sun King has assumed the throne and found it to his liking. Barack “L’État c’est Moi” Obama is a company man in a company town – a statist in a place where he needs only to stretch a hand to stretch the state. The federal apparatus in Washington, D.C. is vast, and designed to do one thing: grow and assume power. Obama is large. He contains multitudes.
Small wonder too that the GOP lost its identity after 12 years controlling Congress. No matter how strong your small-government credentials, or how “in-touch” you are with the folks back home, living and working at the heart of a sprawling, powerful government apparatus “dulls the edge of husbandry,” as Shakespeare might have put it. Conservatives can end up captive to Beltway norms and mores, and end up conservative no more. It’s Stockholm Syndrome for conservatives.
This is particularly so because the inherently liberal news media doesn’t question whether government should expand. So when the party of small government strays, who’s going to call them on it? Not the party of big government, and not the press. So government grows.
Even if they ultimately lose their last-minute court battle, the Indiana pension funds defending their rights as secured first-lien creditors of Chrysler have done a valuable deed.
We have learned, among many other things, how at least one government lawyer characterized the funds' lawyer, Thomas Lauria.
A $10,000 Democratic Party donor, Lauria, despite clear evidence of intimidation of his originally larger pool of clients by Barack Obama himself (in his April 30 speech announcing the company's bankruptcy filing) and his car guys, has nonetheless bravely pursued the important contract law and fiduciary duty issues involved in the shortchanging of his clients for several weeks.
Wait until you see the word the government lawyer used to describe Lauria.
However, conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh theorized that President Obama may have another method to restrict content over the airwaves in mind. In an interview on Sean Hannity's June 4 Fox News Channel program, Limbaugh explained how Obama could do this - by exercising the influence the government has over the banking sector.
"I want to say one other thing, even if I go over time here," Limbaugh said. "People ask me about the Fairness Doctrine all the time and I've been watching something here - newspapers are losing money. Advertising revenue is down, circulation. But radio companies, too, Sean. Television companies - their advertising revenues are down."
Every time voters face a ballot initiative of some sort that would raise their taxes, proponents of such measures will trot out any of the following components to champion the cause - school children, policemen, firemen or the release of criminals from jails.
But this time, the June 3 "NBC Nightly News" waited until after California voters denied passage of initiatives that would raise their taxes to say, "I told you so." NBC correspondent George Lewis followed up a dire, one-sided June 3 "Today Show" report with a "Nightly News" segment that blamed the budget cuts for one supposed hardship story - a California school district forced to cancel summer school, which in turn made it impossible for one child's mother to look for a job.
Anchor Anderson Cooper grilled Dick Cheney’s daughter Liz Cheney on his CNN program on Thursday evening about her father’s defense of the Bush administration’s anti-terror tactics. At one point, he asked, “Is it appropriate, though, for your father, who has had access to high-level intelligence for -- for eight years, to be very publicly waving a flag, saying, we’re much weaker now than ever before? Isn’t that, in fact, emboldening our enemies? Couldn’t you make that argument?”
Cooper later asked the former State Department official, “If a Democrat was doing this in a Republican administration, wouldn’t be the Republicans be saying, this is traitorous?” The anchor also questioned whether the CIA actually took care in implementing its enhanced interrogations: “But -- more than 100 people are known to have died in U.S. custody. Twenty -- I think about 20 of those have been ruled a homicide. I mean, if -- if these were just tightly-controlled things, how come so many people are being murdered in U.S. custody?”
As Californians go to the ballot box to vote whether or not to increase their taxes, government leaders in Sacramento are trotting out "the usual human shields" - kindergarteners, firefighters, policemen and nurses to frighten people into voting.
The ballot initiative, promoted by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, has little to no chance of passing according to the Los Angeles Times. But that did stop the governor from using fear tactics, as Fox News Channel's Glenn Beck pointed out on his May 19 program.
"What's their plan to turn the state around? They have one?" Beck said. "Yes - the Governator, he proposed $15 billion in cuts. Wow. And he warned that if his, if his propositions failed, California will need to release 40,000 prisoners out on the streets."
You know the era of big government is alive and well when you see a mainstream news outlet praise the growth of the public sector as a "bright spot."
Leading up to and throughout the 2008 national election cycle, CBS News was generally downbeat on the economy, even when times were much better than they are currently. However, now that government has taken a much larger role in the private economy, the "CBS Evening News" has now been running a so-called "Economic Bright Spot" segment. And on the May 18 broadcast, "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric explained how government was going to save us all.
"Back here on earth, government agencies like NASA seem to be the only places hiring during this recession," Couric said. "Last month, there were 72,000 new government jobs - 66,000 federal. That's up more than 2 percent from the month before. As Kelly Wallace reports, for thousands of graduates who need jobs this hiring boom is one of the economic bright spots."
On the face of it, the idea of the government being able to regulate how much carbon dioxide (CO2) is emitted into the atmosphere seems absurd. After all, it's a gas emitted by, among other things, human breathing.
That's the point Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, was making when he criticized the new policy that requires the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate CO2 - much to the chagrin of MSNBC "The ED Show" anchor Ed Schultz.
"The Republican from Texas, Barton has already made it clear he's one of Congress' biggest deniers on man-made climate change," Schultz said during his "Psycho Talk" segment on his May 13 broadcast. "Now he's got a new one. The Congressman spoke with Newsmax - there's a news source - on Monday. Now, based on his interview, if you were a runner, I'd be a little bit of nervous about your favorite sport."
Call it an ominous warning, but Fox News Channel afternoon host and ratings sensation Glenn Beck on Wednesday cautioned viewers that government is strengthening its grip of power and is not going to stop at the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Beck declared on his May 6 broadcast the government is out of control, noting that Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests were a weekly occurrence, including efforts to make the TARP bailout more transparent earlier this year from the Treasury Department.
"We've got a government out of control and I'm telling you, it is up to you to control it," Beck said. "These stories of corruption and abuse of power, I'm going to continue to bring them to you as long as I possibly can, and everybody else on this network is dedicated. But it seems like every week this network is filing another Freedom of Information Act request. Even with all the resources of Fox, the truth still can't be fully exposed without you. I ask you, please - help us. Meet us here every day. Tell all of your friends what you learn here. Spread it. E-mail me. Tell me what I'm missing. We will do the best we can to provide you with the information, but it is a little overwhelming."
CNBC's Steve Liesman has always gone after tea party inspiration and network floor reporter Rick Santelli for his views, but this time it was Santelli playing offense.
The CNBC "Power Lunch" crew was discussing Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) CEO Ken Lewis and disclosure of details surrounding his bank's acquisition of Merrill Lynch May 5. Santelli accused Liesman, CNBC's senior economics reporter of saying "dumb things" and acting like Nixon, when he suggested there could be a compelling reason for Lewis was not forthcoming about the acquisition.
"Ask the question in a more compelling way which is - I want you to save the world and not disclose," Liesman said.
Nothing in American politics is quite so intriguing as the Central Intelligence Agency. There is a certain mystique surrounding this agency, almost wholly because it has proven to be quite good at keeping secrets.
Thus, whenever the actions of the CIA are widely reported in the media, the story typically becomes a fixation for many news outlets - and any former agent who is able to shed light on these actions are usually well-received. But even here, the media has limits.
But while Scheuer is an equal-opportunity critic of missteps by Democratic and Republican administrations, the broadcast news media seem to draw the line at allowing him on air to find fault with President Obama.
Scheuer wrote a column in Sunday’s Washington Post, daring to claim that the president’s actions in publishing the so-called CIA torture memos were morally reprehensible:
Say you're the editor of a major U.S. city's newspaper and that sources in the national security community have informed your reporters that waterboarding was a crucial tactic in making a terrorist detainee spill his guts with information that, when followed up by authorities, thwarted a planned terrorist attack on same major U.S. city.
You would probably run the story on the front page with a banner headline to that effect, but at the very least you'd make sure that fact was reported in your paper's coverage.
That is, of course, unless you're the ideologically leftward, politically correct editors at the Los Angeles Times. Patterico has details in an April 27 post at his blog:
The swine flu story has captured the news cycle for three days and counting now and that's perpetuating the hysteria, according to Fox News Channel's Brit Hume.
Hume appeared on the FNC's "The Live Desk with Trace Gallagher" April 27 and blasted the media in general for hyping the swine flu story 24/7.
"I realize it's been a slow weekend in terms of news," Hume said. "The president went out and played golf on Sunday. The White House reporters don't have much to work with today, so they're trying to get a piece of this swine flu story, which you know, all the cable news channels are agog about, bug-eyed about. But so far, it doesn't amount to much in the United States of America."
The economy is already in rough shape, but some think we should let it go to pot - literally. Pro-legalization advocacy groups are promoting the possibility that legalizing marijuana could provide some economic relief, and the media has eagerly explored the idea.
On April 20, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) aired TV ads calling for marijuana legalization. They ran on CNN, Fox News Channel and were covered by CBS News.
"In the spot, Americans say of the drug, ‘you can tax it, you can regulate it, apply age restrictions...create millions of new jobs ... save our economy,'" Brian Montopoli wrote for CBSNews.com on April 20.
With chatter that this could be a campaign issue in 2010, the new Obama Administration's relaxed policies toward the drug and some people's desperate, try-anything approach to solving the government spending deficits and economic woes, the idea of marijuana legalization is gaining traction with the media.
The New York Times's "Visual op-ed" columnist Charles Blow issued his latest conservative-baiting column on Saturday, "The Enemies Within." Blow actually defended the infamous report from the Department of Homeland Security that vaguely tarred anyone active in conservative causes like abortion or immigration as potential extremists.
Blow focused on what the report said about U.S. veterans, who are apparently not smart enough to avoid getting involved in hate groups after returning home. The text box read: "Hate groups want our veterans." Blow's piece came with a helpful visual aid showing the number of "Veterans in White Supremacist Groups." The total confirmed or claimed over the last seven years? A less than overwhelming 203 out of a group numbering millions.
Back in the fall, you would have thought from the media coverage of the TARP debate and its eventual passage that some sort of crime had been committed when the House didn't pass it the first time around.
"CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric demanded to know from House Minority Leader John Boehner, "What in the world are you people doing?" on her Sept. 29 broadcast. However, there was a side to this that people never were allowed to realize behind closed doors during the debate, as Fox News host Glenn Beck explained.
The "Glenn Beck Show" host on his April 20 program told viewers he had inside knowledge of how the Bush administration strong-armed the banks into agreeing to the terms of the TARP bailout.
Recycling the mid-1990s liberal smear campaign against grassroots conservatism, CNN has posted an article on the new DHS threat report complete with a Getty Images photo (shown at right) of neo-Nazi and white supremacist flags.
If the report were about Nazi extremists, that picture would be warranted. However, the DHS report warns against an amorphous “right-wing extremism,” failing to mention by name any particular threatening group or intelligence of any planned attacks.
The DHS report did cite returning war veterans as at-risk for recruitment by right-wing extremist groups. It seems strange to think that those men and women who risked their lives to protect this country and their government could be or become Nazis, but that seems to be the implication.
Moreover, one wonders where exactly the CNN report on the other extremism report was.
A report from the Department of Homeland Security warning that the recession as well as the current political environment could lead to acts of violence from "domestic rightwing terrorists" became a hot topic Tuesday despite it being listed as "For Official Use Only."
The document, which specifically cited April 4's Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, cop killings as a "recent example of the potential violence associated with a rise in rightwing extremism," enraged conservatives questioning not only the timing of this report's release within days of liberal media representatives blaming the shootings on rightwing talkers, but also just before Wednesday's tax protesting Tea Parties.
As Reuters reported Tuesday, the DHS tried to quell such concerns by claiming this analysis was nothing out of the ordinary:
It's no secret the Bush administration used fear tactics to push the $700-billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) through Congress last fall. Both members of the House and the Senate have come out after the fact and disclosed the details.
However, the method the Treasury Department employed to get banks to go along with the TARP bailout breached legal boundaries to the point of "extortion," according to Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Andrew Napolitano, a former Superior Court Judge for the state of New Jersey.
Napolitano told viewers on FNC's April 1 "Studio B" that he had a conversation with a head of $250-billion bank that explained the federal government, under the threat of an audit, forced him to accept TARP funds.
Remember all those TV segments and magazine articles that had a list of 10 things you can do to save the planet from the perils of global warming? More likely than not, one of things you were urged to do was to switch all you incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs).
And, if you didn't heed their advice, the government's forcing you to through the legislative process. Congress banned the incandescent light bulbs in the energy bill signed into law by former President George W. Bush on Dec. 19, 2007. The bill increases efficiency standards and effectively bans traditional bulbs by 2014.
However, a segment by Washington, D.C. CBS affiliated WUSA on March 30 reported these CFLs were responsible for a fire at the home of Rick Jenkins, a resident of Cumberland, Md.
Fox News Channel host Glenn Beck has already shown he's a rating success and is leaving a mark in cable news. However, he may have pulled one of his most successful performances yet.
Beck interviewed Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal on his March 30 broadcast. But, the radio and TV host took the opportunity to tell Blumenthal what he thought of his investigation into the bonuses received by American International Group (AIG) executives - whose company received federal bailout money.
"Look, you know what you have done, know what you have done?" Beck said. "You have - you are an insult to George Washington, sir. George Washington made it very clear that we are a respecter of laws, not of men. For your own political gain, you have decided to go after these people at AIG because it is a popular thing."
Has the federal government exceeded, or is it on the verge of exceeding its constitutional authority with the recent series of events connected to rescuing an ailing banking system?
Although Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., was ridiculed for raising that question in a congressional hearing on March 24, conservative talk show host, constitutional lawyer and legal commentator Mark Levin, told Fox News Channel's "Your World with Neil Cavuto" on March 24 that government was indeed exceeding the constitution. According to Levin, there is nothing in the Constitution that would allow the Obama administration to expand the government's ability to seize non-banking financial institutions as Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has proposed.
"It's unbelievable," Levin said. "There is no constitutional authority for this. I thought the American people like capitalism. I mean look, we luxuriated in this society as a result of the market system."
Is President Barack Obama's administration showing hints it is losing confidence in Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner? CNBC's Larry Kudlow said the signs are suggesting as much.
The host of "The Kudlow Report" said in an appearance with CNBC On-Air Editor Charlie Gasparino on his March 17 broadcast that a statement put out earlier today by the administration, and placed at the top of the Drudge Report, hinted this was the beginning of the end for Geithner.
"You know, statements out of the blue - statements like this are what I call a real bad leading indicator that Geithner's time, days may be numbered," Kudlow said. "It may not happen in the next week, but it may happen."
The statement was made in relation to the Treasury Department's handling of the brouhaha surrounding the $165 million in bonuses paid out to American International Group (AIG) executives, even though they were recipients of bailout money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).
All the current outrage and attention to bonuses paid out to employees of institutions that received federal bailout money is misplaced, according to an analyst that appeared on CNBC Asia on March 16.
The media is making much of the news that American International Group (AIG) executives are receiving compensation in the form of bonuses. But Kirby Daley, senior strategist at the Newedge Group explained how the focus was in the wrong place. Although some say allowing Lehman Brothers to fail in September 2008 was a mistake, it prevented the problem of taxpayer money being used for executive compensation.
"I'm not so sure that was a mistake," Daley said. "And what I mean by that is, look I had dozens of friends there. It's very painful and to see an institution like that go down, one that I have followed for years - it hurts."
The lesson according to Daley - either allow the institutions to have the same fate as Lehman Brothers, or just outright nationalize them.