After a summer swoon, you would think that the evening newscasts of the Big 3 networks would start to recover a bit now that many Americans are back from vacations, kids are back in school, and fall routines are getting established or re-established.
So far, you would be wrong.
It's early, and there's still plenty of time this fall to recover, but during the time period after Labor Day, the broadcasts primarily anchored by Brian Williams at NBC, Charles Gibson at ABC, and Katie Couric at CBS:
Are down a combined 28.5% from their peak in late January during the first full week of Barack Obama's presidency.
Have lost a combined 37.7% of their audience in the 25-54 demographic during the same time period.
Are down year-over-year compared to September 1, 2008, the week after Labor a year ago, by 8.9% overall and 18.1% in the 25-54 demographic.
At 19.55 million, are basically drawing audiences no larger than they were during this past (for them) miserable summer.
This morning, co-host Don Wade of 890 WLS radio's Wade and Roma show in Chicago threw a question at ABC World News Tonight anchor Charles Gibson that I suspect was on many listeners' minds:
Don: Okay, here’s my news question. A Senate bill yesterday passes, cutting off funds to this group called ACORN. Now, we got that bill passed and we have the embarrassing video of ACORN staffers giving tax advice on how to set up a brothel with 13-year-old hookers. It has everything you could want – corruption and sleazy action at tax-funded organizations and it’s got government ties. But nobody’s covering that story. Why?
Keep in mind that James O'Keefe's and Hannah Giles's first pair of videos at BigGovernment.com showing an ACORN office engaged in the activity described appeared in the early morning on September 10. That was five days ago.
But until that moment, the topic apparently wasn't on Gibson's mind. Here's Gibson's jaw-dropping answer, with additional follow-up banter (HT to Rush on the air; transcribed by Michelle Malkin, who also has audio):
A bipartisan consensus of senators in Washington is newsworthy in these fiercely partisan times, but when the matter of agreement is something that leaves egg on the faces of the left-wing community organizers, eh, not so much.
Yesterday, in an 83-7 vote -- 50 Democrats and 33 Republicans for; 6 Democrats and 1 independent against -- the Senate passed an amendment to an appropriations bill that would bar the use of federal funds to the scandal-ridden Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). [related item on media ignoring the ACORN story by my colleague Dan Gainor here]
This morning, neither ABC's "Good Morning America" nor CBS's "Early Show" nor NBC's "Today" reported on the vote and the underlying controversy surrounding the liberal community organizing group.
Somebody really needs to find the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger some OCD therapy. It seems that he has a not-magnificent obsession with the two major theaters of the War on Terror (yeah, I still call it that), and that he seemingly won't be able to conquer it without outside intervention.
In his report on August's federal budget deficit, the AP reporter continued to cite the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as contributors to the increase in the federal budget deficit, when they are in fact virtually if not totally irrelevant. Additionally, he betrayed a critical misunderstanding of how the government has decided to account for "investments" the Treasury Department has made in many financial entities, General Motors, and Chrysler.
This is the third consecutive month for Crutsinger's war-connected crud:
Video of Baltimore ACORN activists willing to help a pimp and prostitute work out a tax shelter for a brothel is a "devastating" indictment of the liberal activist group, Media Research Center President Brent Bozell pronounced on the September 11 "Hannity." [MP3 audio available here]
"It shows the power of the Internet. It doesn't matter anymore that [Big Three broadcast networks] ABC and NBC and CBS aren't covering it. The world now knows about it because people go in there and show them the truth," Bozell noted, adding that it proves what conservatives have been saying that ACORN "is a suspect organization [subsidized] with millions of taxpayer dollars."
Bozell also discussed the controversy involving Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), who yelled "You lie!" at President Obama during last Wednesday's speech before Congress:
Aside from protesters taking on CNN reporter Lisa Desjardins, as NewsBusters Matt Sheffield pointed out, there were also other pockets of backlash against media evident at the march, which were captured on video (pardon my shoddy camera work).
The march that preceded the rally in front of the U.S. Capitol took place on Pennsylvania Avenue, from Freedom Plaza to the West Lawn of the Capitol went directly in front of the Newseum, a building erected that supposedly honors those deemed the most important practitioners of the First Amendment - the news media. Marchers chanted, "Shame on the press," as they passed the colossal 250,000-square-foot building dedicated to the press situated between the White House and the U.S. Capitol on Pennsylvania Avenue. (0:17)
Not that any of this will surprise anyone, but it should go on the record nonetheless. The New York Times's home page as of its 10:15 a.m. update looked like this (click to enlarge in a separate window):
You'll note no mention of the D.C. rally yesterday that drew an estimated 1-2 million people.
Early this morning (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I posted on the Associated Press's treatment of the firing of two employees at ACORN's Baltimore office. These employees were successfully stung by undercover filmmaker James O'Keefe, who posed as a pimp (one who said he has plans to use the money from his "enterprise" to run for Congress), and Hannah Giles, who posed as a prostitute.
In a pair of videos (full script here) released on Thursday, viewers saw the two helpful ACORN Baltimore employees tell O'Keefe and Giles, among many jaw-dropping things, that:
Giles should call herself a “freelance performing artist” for tax purposes.
That they should claim three of 13 underage girls the pair planned to bring in from El Salvador to work as prostitutes as dependents.
That the prostitute should also claim child tax credits for those declared as "dependents."
O'Keefe and Giles piled on Friday morning by releasing a second pair of videos showing that they had pulled off a similar sting at ACORN's DC office.
But if we're to believe the Associated Press's Hope Yen, Friday's out of the blue decision by the Census Bureau to sever its ties with ACORN in connection with the 2010 census had nothing or at most very little to do with what O'Keefe and Giles pulled off. Instead, Yen portrayed the decision as a cave-in to the minority party in Washington known as Republicans. Uh-huh.
If your blood pressure can stand it, you can learn a lot about how the Apparatachik Press -- er, the Associated Press -- operates as you watch a news story evolve, or I should say devolve. The wire service often reworks adequately-written stories with no new developments for no apparent reason other than to add bias and/or remove inconvenient truths.
A classic example of this occurred in the situation involving Barack Obama, Henry Louis Gates, and Cambridge, Massachusetts police in late July (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog). AP reporter Nancy Benac's headline went from "Obama Rushes to Quell Racial Uproar He Helped Fire" on a Friday evening to "Obama Moves to Dampen Uproar on Comment Over Race" on a Saturday morning, even though there had been no new developments in the story. The later story's text was heavily revised, totally deleting an accurate opening paragraph about the president being "knocked off stride" and trying to "tamp down the controversy," leaving readers of that version with the impression that Obama had become the conciliator in the controversy instead of the being its fueler.
Another AP devolution took place between Thursday afternoon and early this morning. An already pretty weak story that bordered on being a PR piece about a two-month new vehicle refund offer by Government Motors -- er, General Motors -- only got worse in subsequent revisions.
CNN’s Rick Sanchez conducted a softball interview of Senator Bernie Sanders on Thursday’s Newsroom, during which the two railed against the influence of the wealthy in politics. Sanchez omitted the large donations Sanders has received from unions while taking other senators to task for receiving corporate money, and seemed to endorse the senator’s push for the public financing of elections.
The CNN anchor began the segment by lamenting how $375 million has apparently been spent “mostly by the health and insurance industry...to influence this important debate” on health care “reform,” barely mentioning the spending by “those who back the President.” He then introduced Senator Sanders as an “an independent from Vermont who is convinced that politics has become way too corporatized, if not controlled.” Sanchez did not mention how the Vermont Senator self-identifies as “democratic socialist” and has almost consistently supported left-wing causes throughout his political career.
While none of the other cable networks experienced any technical delays leading into Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., CNBC - the business arm of NBC Universal's cable empire didn't quite get there on time.
Boustany was cheated out of a little over a minute and a half giving his response on CNBC. However, its sister network - MSNBC, and the major cable networks caught up with the Republican response to President Barack Obama's Sept. 9 speech to a joint session of Congress.
Instead, viewers were treated to "The Kudlow Report" host Larry Kudlow and CNBC Washington correspondent John Harwood, reflecting on the president's speech. It is worth noting that Harwood earlier this week called parents that were opponents of the president's Sept. 8 school address weren't "smart enough" to raise their kids.
Leon H. Wolf of RedState.com makes a great comparison today, calling out the Associated Press for their labeling bias. This post, found here, is hilariously entitled “AP Discovers GOP Republican Conservative Republican Member of the GOP (R) Involved In Scandal.”
Wolf pointed out the difference between this story and the AP’s coverage of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick:
Dan Gainor, the Vice-President of Business and Culture for the MRC, appeared on the September 8 edition of Fox Business Live to discuss the media's failure to report on President Obama's green jobs czar Van Jones, who resigned late Saturday night.
Gainor stated that the mainstream media "absolutely ignored" the Jones stories. He detailed:
Since the 1940s, an appearance on The New York Times Best Sellers List has been the mark of commercial success for any book. Authors with titles on the list can count on media attention to help sell even more copies. Unless they are conservatives.
Conservative books and authors have been very successful recently, as evidenced by their showing on the best sellers list. Since January 2009, conservatives enjoyed 95 total weeks on the list, compared to just 80 weeks for liberal books and authors. At this writing Michelle Malkin’s “Culture of Corruption” is at No.1, and several other conservative titles have prominent berths on the list.
But as the Culture & Media Institute discovered, viewers of ABC, CBS and NBC might never know of the popularity and commercial success of conservative books.
You might think a major metropolitan newspaper that boasts "The Midwest's largest reporting team" on its front page would report on a suburban demonstration attracting thousands of people. In the case of the Chicago Tribune, you'd be wrong.
Today's Tribune print edition makes no mention of yesterday's Tea Party Express protest in New Lenox, Illinois, located only 36 miles from Chicago's Loop. The Southtown Star did cover the event on its Web site, noting:
About 6,000 people packed the hillside venue at The Commons Performing Arts Pavilion for the protest, part of a nationwide Tea Party Express tour that includes speeches, musical performances and updates from a traveling Fox News correspondent.
Monday's audience was the largest yet, organizers said.
Today's Tribune devotes two stories, six pictures, and two maps to Oprah Winfrey's "takeover of downtown Chicago Monday." And there are stories on disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's media blitz to hawk his new book, Chicago students getting free haircuts with which to start the new school year, and how more stores are now accepting food stamps.
By Friday, after White House Secretary Robert Gibbs would only say that he still was a part of the administration, it was obvious that Jones's resignation was only a matter of time. The 9/11 truther and other evidence accumulated by Glenn Beck, Gateway Pundit, WorldNetDaily, and others was simply overwhelming.
But it seems to me that it would have been more convenient had the White House waited until early Sunday afternoon to announce Jones's resignation. Given the establishment media's near blackout of his past statements and actions, it's likely that the Sunday morning network talk shows would have avoided Jones completely, or would have given the topic very short shrift. A Sunday afternoon resignation would have been much more invisible -- except for something that came out on Saturday evening.
I believe that Jones's resignation may have been moved up by 12 hours or so. That's because on Saturday evening, Scott Johnson at Powerline presented proof that roughly 40 hours after the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred, avowed Communist Jones publicly declared that the U.S. deserved what happened. I'm not kidding.
In yesterday's Chicago Sun-Times, columnist Mary Mitchell lauds Fred Hampton, a Black Panther leader killed 40 years ago by police. In "Hampton's forgotten legacy: Today's youth can learn something from Black Panther leader's humanitarian deeds," Mitchell soft-pedals the Panthers' extensive history of violence and radical politics in favor of citing some of Hampton's alleged good works:
He stood up for disadvantaged People in Chicago are still so divided over Hampton that, a couple of years ago, efforts to erect a street sign in his honor caused an uproar. Hampton will always be remembered by some for advocating violence. But for many others -- those who benefitted from his courage -- he will always be remembered for giving hungry children a hot breakfast. Or for opening a free walk-in health clinic on the West Side. Or for trying to open a swimming pool, so poor black children could get relief from the heat. Or for being a bold advocate for justice.
The Panthers' breakfast program for children has long been applauded, even by some conservatives, as a worthwhile endeavor. Ignored are the severe problems associated with that program across the country. Chicago was hardly an exception.
Give Sharon Silke Carty of USA Today credit for unearthing important information about the serious back-office problems with Uncle Sam's Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) program, popularly known as "Cash for Clunkers."
But Carty didn't do nearly as much as she could have with the information she learned. Her most grievous oversights were her failures to compare the government's newly promised payment timetable to the 10 days dealers were told to expect, and to explain to her readers the extra unreimbursed costs dealers will have incurred as a result of the program even if (emphasis if) dealers receive full payment for their Clunker transactions.
A long lead editorial in Friday's New York Times, "Once and Future Taxes," called on Barack Obama to accept the inevitable and raise taxes to fight the $9 trillion budget deficit. Does this mean Times editors and reporters will now apologize to John McCain for claiming that Obama would only raise taxes on "the rich"?
The Times made a full-throated call for a broad tax hike:
So far, the Obama administration's plan for dealing with the budget deficit -- an estimated $9 trillion over a decade -- is to not dig the hole any deeper. That's an important first step. President Obama deserves credit for proposing ways to pay for his two big initiatives to date: health care reform and energy legislation. Reducing the growth in health care costs, in particular, is vital to curbing future deficits....But, sooner than he may prefer, Mr. Obama will have to face up to what he has so far avoided: the need to raise taxes broadly to rein in deficits....Neither economic growth nor spending cuts will be enough to fix the projected shortfalls. Nor is there enough to be gained by confining tax increases only to families making more than $250,000 a year, a campaign promise that Mr. Obama still says he will keep.
During the campaign the Times consistently guarded Obama's vulnerable left flank on taxes, insisting Obama would not raise taxes on the middle-class, only "the wealthy," -- the wealthy as determined by the liberal New York Times, anyway.
Avowed Communist and Barack Obama Administration "Green Jobs Czar" Van Jones late yesterday released via the White House press office a statement apologizing for offending anyone with any of a series of inflammatory and indeed ridiculous things he has said in the (very recent) past.
The latest bit of Jones inanity news was in fact not something he said, but rather something on to which he signed. That would be an October 26, 2004 "Truth Statement" that asserts amongst other things that President George W. Bush had a hand in the September 11th terrorist attacks.
Making Jones a 9-11 "Truther" (sort of like a "Birther," but with a lot less media coverage), i.e. a conspiracy-addled doofus. (He is addled by other conspiracy theories as well, but for now this will do.)
There's a reason Matt Drudge just got done celebrating an all-time record August traffic count. His visitors know that he constantly links to newsworthy stories they likely won't find reported prominently in establishment U.S. media outlets, if they're reported at all.
Such will likely be the case with a blockbuster story coming out of Great Britain tonight, courtesy of the U.K. Telegraph. It seems that there's this treatment protocol called the "Liverpool Care Pathway." Under the Pathway's guidelines, according to the Telegraph, "Under the guidelines the decision to diagnose that a patient is close to death is made by the entire medical team treating them, including a senior doctor."
Why, if I didn't know any better, that sounds like a d-d-d-d-death panel, complete with top-down ("senior doctor") supervision.
Here are just a few excerpts from Telegraph Medical Correspondent Kate Devlin's must-read report. Especially note the chilling statistic in the second-last paragraph of the excerpt:
Conservatives are resuming their historically dominant position atop the New York Times and Amazon.com bestsellers lists after a short hiatus that coincided, not coincidentally, with George W. Bush's tenure in the White House.
While the mainstream media raved about a new era of leftist intellectual supremacy during the liberal ascendance on the bestsellers lists, the return of conservative books to the tops of those lists seems to be going unnoticed.
Amazon, which, unlike the New York Times, ranks books according to the number of actual copies sold, shows Glenn Beck's Common Sense rounding out the top, with Michelle Malkin's Culture of Corruption coming in a close second. Ron Paul's End the Fed comes in at number seven, Mark Levin's Liberty and Tyranny is at number nine, and at number 22 is Dick Morris and Eileen Mcgann's Catastrophe, which carries the blunt sub-heading, "How Obama, Congress, and the special interests are transforming... a slump into a crash, freedom into socialism, and a disaster into a catastrophe... and how to fight back."
Ford and the United Auto Workers are set to begin new contract talks under a set of circumstances radically different from any previously faced by either party. There is the "minor" matter of the union's ownership stakes in General Motors and Chrysler that arose in the wake of those two companies' government-engineered bankruptcy filings, accomplished with more than a little rule-bending by the Obama administration and its car czars.
But you wouldn't learn about any of this, let alone its potential effect on negotiations, from reading coverage of the situation by the Associated Press's Kimberly Johnson. Additionally, there's quite a bit of emphasis on the idea that Ford can supposedly afford to be more generous with pay and benefits than its two major Detroit rivals. How convenient -- for the union and the the other two companies.
Dan Barry, who pens the "This Land" column for the New York Times, filed an ostensibly straight news story for Sunday's front page from the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's funeral at Arlington National Cemetery, "Kennedy Mourners Memorialize 'Soul of the Democratic Party." Instead, Barry got caught up in strained poeticism positioning Kennedy for secular sainthood.
The nation said final farewell on Saturday to Edward M. Kennedy, who used his privileged life to give consistent, passionate voice to the underprivileged for nearly a half-century as a United States senator from Massachusetts. He was the only one of four fabled Kennedy brothers to reach late adulthood, and he was remembered for making the most of it.
Along the rain-dappled roadways of Boston in the late morning, and then in the sweltering humidity of Washington in early evening, people waited for the fleeting moment of a passing hearse so that they could pay respects to the man known simply as Ted. At the United States Capitol, where Mr. Kennedy had served for so long, his wife, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, stepped out of a limousine to receive hugs, bow her head during prayers, and to hear the singing of "America the Beautiful."
Some of us have been wondering how viable the Voluntary Employee Benefit Arrangements (VEBAs) set up by the United Auto Workers for its auto industry employees really are. This is of particular concern at the VEBAs tied in to General Motors and Chrysler. What happens to the employer stock these VEBAs own will heavily influence whether they have the money to pay promised benefits.
The answer to the viability question must be "not very," because the House version of health care that has made it out of committee has a $10 billion provision tucked into it that would largely work to back the VEBAs up in case GM and Chrysler are never able to stand on their own -- or in case other high-wage, high-benefit companies, many of which are unionized, follow them into serious financial difficulty.
Maybe it's because $10 billion doesn't mean much any more in an era of trillion-dollar deficits, but media coverage of this "little" provision has been very, very light. A Google News search on "retiree health care UAW" (not typed in quotes) came back with only about 25 relevant items of roughly 100 total results earlier this afternoon. Many of those results are outraged editorials and op-eds. There is precious little original news coverage of the topic.
One of the few examples of original coverage is an August 24 report by Justin Hyde and Todd Spangler of the Detroit Free Press that explains the provision and provides background:
Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the results of a study entitled "2009 Pandemic Influenza A (H1N1) Virus Infections: Chicago, Illinois, April-July 2009."
In a report Rush Limbaugh criticized on the air, Mike Stobbe of the Associated Press ("Swine flu sends more blacks, Hispanics to hospital") irresponsibly framed CDC's results in racial terms, and then used them as evidence of health care system "inequities."
By contrast, Julie Steenhuysen of Reuters ("In Chicago, swine flu hit children hardest") went right to the study's key finding, namely that H1N1 appears to be more likely to affect children compared to other flu viruses, which have tended to hit the elderly harder.
The opening paragraphs of Steenhuysen's work makes you wonder how the AP and Stobbe could have looked at the same CDC study and not have done anything with its critical age-based finding: