ABC's World News on Wednesday and Good Morning America on Thursday offered confusing, incomplete and brief explanations for why Rand Paul filibustered John Brennan, Barack Obama's Central Intelligence Agency nominee. According to GMA news reader Josh Elliott, "Paul was protesting the Obama administration's use of drone strikes against Americans." [Video of the terse explanations can be found below.]
World News anchor Diane Sawyer insisted the "Tea party firebrand" was opposing "the use of drones against U.S. citizens." This is hardly a full explanation for ABC's viewers. On the Today show, Chuck Todd produced a more accurate description: "[Paul] decided to filibuster the confirmation of CIA director John Brennan in an attempt to get the White House to once and for all promise to never target Americans with drones on U.S. soil." The "on U.S. soil" part is key. ABC allowed only news briefs on the filibuster. CBS and NBC offered full reports.
President Obama's sequester-related press briefing on March 1 contained the usual fibs. Examples include but are certainly not limited to the following: "We've already cut $2.5 trillion in our deficit," when the entire amount involved is something which might happen in the future; his claim that his State of the Union laundry list "is the agenda that the American people voted for," when many of the items involved were never mentioned during the 2012 campaign; and that the sequester is "happening because of a choice that Republicans in Congress have made," despite the fact that his advisers with his personal approval originated the idea in 2011 and the reality that he was under no compulsion when he signed the bill setting it in place last week.
Since then, while the establishment press has largely ignored it, the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler has twice honed in on a relatively small but clearly refutable statement Obama uttered that day: "Starting tomorrow, everybody here, all the folks who are cleaning the floors at the Capitol ... they're going to have less pay. The janitors, the security guards, they just got a pay cut, and they've got to figure out how to manage that. That’s real." No it's not.
CNN, which if I recall correctly severed formal ties with the Associated Press some time ago, quoted former congressman Joseph Kennedy II's reaction to the death of Venezuela's authoritarian leader Hugo Chavez as follows: "President Chavez cared deeply about the poor of Venezuela and other nations around the world and their abject lack of even basic necessities, while some of the wealthiest people on our planet have more money than they can ever reasonably expect to spend" ... There are close to 2 million people in the United States who received free heating assistance, thanks to President Chavez's leadership. Our prayers go out to President Chavez's family, the people of Venezuela, and all who were warmed by his generosity."
Here is how Christine Armario at the AP, with the help of Steve LeBlanc in Boston, sanitized Kennedy's remarks:
The Chicago Tribune has less of a problem with a politician being a crook while in office than an ex-con running decades later for office, just so long as the former is a Democrat and the latter a Republican.
Take a look at what Bill Ruthhart of the Chicago Tribune did to Paul McKinley, who could be the possible GOP challenger to Democratic Illinois State House Rep. Robin Kelly. The Tribune focused more on McKinley's decades-old rap sheet than what he would do if elected to former Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr’s old congressional seat:
According to the first paragraph of Alicia's Caldwell's report today at the Associated Press, aka the Adminstration's Press, Homeland Security Secretary Janey Napolitano told attendees at a Politico breakfast this morning (Politico's coverage is here) that, in Caldwell's words, "U.S. airports, including Los Angeles International and O'Hare International in Chicago, are already experiencing delays as a result of automatic federal spending cuts." Additionally, again in Caldwell's words, "she expects a cascading effect during the week, with wait times expected to double in worst cases."
Well, either someone forgot to tell airport spokesperson and the travel industry to fall in line, or said officials are refusing, according to follow-up stories at the Politico and the UK Telegraph. Notably, the AP had no such follow-up story at its national site as of 10 p.m. ET tonight, but did have a story by Pauline Jelinek ("HOW BUDGET CUTS COULD AFFECT YOU") published at the about the same time as the two follow-ups just noted dutifully echoing Napolitano's talking points. Excerpts from both follow-up stories are after the jump.
The perils and victims of the round of the mandatory federal spending cuts known as sequestration led the New York Times' weekend coverage, with the 2.4% cut in annual federal spending that went into effect starting Friday labeled "austerity" and ushered in with headlines warning that "Poor May Be Hit Particularly Hard." Also: those who still approve of Congress tend to be "Obama haters," according to a news story.
"The Obama administration couldn’t have made its cheerleaders at ABC, CBS, and NBC look any more foolish," NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell noted earlier today in reaction to a new study by the Media Research Center's (MRC) Geoff Dickens showing that 66 percent of the broadcast network news coverage of the budget sequestration that took effect on Friday advanced Obama White House talking points but failed to include any rebuttals from skeptics.
"Thanks to the bogus sequestration panic pushed by the administration and the liberal media, the American people recognize that the networks are nothing more than an adjunct of the Obama White House press office," the MRC founder added in a March 4 statement. “Like squawking parrots, ABC, CBS, and NBC mindlessly repeated the administration’s phony, over-hyped doomsday talking points during the two weeks leading up to sequestration. That a full two thirds of their stories didn’t include a shred of skepticism is an abomination." Below are just some of the most outlandish claims made on the networks:
For weeks, ABC has been hyping sequestration as a "fiscal emergency" that could "cripple" much of America and "vaporize" jobs. Yet, Monday's Good Morning America featured no stories on what the network had been calling "massive cuts." On Friday's GMA, as sequester was about to occur, Josh Elliott hyperventilated, "Jobs vaporizing, flights delayed, even criminals walking free."
Day after day, the morning show conducted a "grim countdown" to sequester. On February 27, Jon Karl parroted, "...The White House's list of terrible things caused by the cuts grows longer, including flight delays, kids losing vaccines, and meat shortages." On another program, the February 24World News, David Kerley warned, "Child care canceled for tens of thousands of kids. Long airport security lines." According to a new study by the Media Research Center, 89 percent of ABC's stories on sequester pushed "budget panic."
“Deadline day. Hours, now, until massive government cuts go into effect that could impact every American. Jobs vaporizing. Flights delayed. Even criminals walking free.” That’s the call to panic with which ABC’s Josh Elliot greeted viewers on the March 1 Good Morning America. Elliot’s frenzied tone, on the day sequestration was going into effect, was typical of the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) network coverage of Washington’s most recent fiscal debate.
MRC analysts reviewed all of the 88 sequestration stories, from when coverage began on February 14 through March 1 when the “cuts” took effect, and found 58 (66 percent) of them advanced the most horrific Obama administration talking points. Another 10 offered the same scary forecasts but at least included the skeptical view that the sequestration reductions weren’t that big and their effects were being overhyped. (Videos after the jump)
On Thursday, the government reported that the economy didn't contract by a tiny annualized 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 as originally reported. Instead, the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by an equally tiny 0.1 percent. Expectations had been that the revision would go positive by an annualized 0.5 percent.
According to Martin Crutsinger at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, "the only impediment" to the economy resuming annualized growth of 2 percent or so (which is actually unimpressive in historical context) "may be the across-the-board government spending cuts that kick in Friday - especially if those cuts remain in place for months." In Crutsinger's world, the payroll tax increase which kicked in on January 1, gas prices which have risen nationally to about $3.70 per gallon from $3.25 in the past 45 days, and troubling January and early-February sales results at Wal-Mart don't matter. There's also an obvious problem seen in his third and fourth paragraphs (bolds are mine):
Did you know that the mortgage interest deduction was a major contributor to families' distressed circumstances leading to the housing bubble? Or that George W. Bush's (really modest) tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, not the Internet bubble of the late-1990s led the nation from fiscal surplus to deficits?
The reason you don't "know" these things is that they're not true. But the Associated Press's Tom Raum thinks they are, and said so as if they are indisputable facts in an AP analysis piece (or at least I hope it was meant to be that) yesterday. In over 850 words, he also failed to note, while barely acknowleding their existence, that Republicans in the House already acquiesced to $620 billion in tax increases in return for a "whopping" $15 billion in spending cuts during the fiscal cliff deal at the end of last year. Excerpts from Raum's risible writeup follow the jump.
On CNN’s Situation Room today, anchor Wolf Blitzer spoke of the 1995-1996 Federal government shutdown:
BLITZER: Yes, I would be shocked if there were a government shutdown. The Republicans lived through that back in the '90s and it didn't exactly work out well for them. I would be shocked if they went down that road and the president went down that road right now. I'm sure they will work that out.
So how bad was the political fallout for Republicans? That year the GOP nominated the uninspiring Sen. Bob Dole as their presidential nominee. Despite such a lackluster top of the ticket, House losses were only in the single digits. As former Speaker Newt Gingrich has noted “it was the first time in 68 years that Republicans were reelected to a House majority - and the first time that had ever happened with a Democrat winning the presidency.” On the Senate side, the GOP picked up two seats.
Bob Woodward is a legend in modern journalism, especially for fellow liberal reporters. But that all is for naught now that Woodward has committed the cardinal sin of criticizing the White House for an operative's use of what apparently is a fairly common tactic: a harsh bullying of the press in order to demand even more favorable coverage than the Obama-friendly press already lavishes on Team Obama. It centers on Woodward reporting that sequestration was the White House's idea. This morning Matt Lauer, on the Today Show, questioned Woodward's judgement, saying "I'm a little surprised you've gone public with this." Even, the New York Times offered no refuge for Woodward.
He isn’t the only one. Clinton operative and op-ed columnist Lanny Davis has received similar treatment, and veteran White House reporter Ron Fournier at National Journal also reported threatening emails and calls. But in today’s broadcast of Morning Joe, co-host Mika Brzezinski decided to give deference to Obama acolyte David Axelrod’s days as a journalist for the Chicago Tribune in order to portray Woodward as going over the line in his reporting on Gene Sperling's harassment:
Reacting to the contentious exchange between the Obama White House and the Washington Post's Bob Woodward, on Friday's NBC Today, Meet the Press moderator David Gregory saw the conflict as part of a "larger issue": "...the President does not particularly like the Washington press corps. And I think that feeling is mutual in a lot of respects....there's not a great relationship between that Washington establishment and the President." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Gregory began by explaining: "All administrations push back hard, especially when they're dealing with a high-octane reporter and a top-notch reporter like Bob Woodward....and that's not a tension that's bad, okay? People should want that out of a press corps..." He then sympathized with White House: "...a lot of the President's advisers are frustrated that they feel they don't get the credit they deserve for the willingness to compromise they see on the President's end, that they do not see reciprocated on the part of Republicans."
"We have two kinds of people in Washington in the press, we have the reporters and the repeaters," NewsBusters senior editor Tim Graham told Fox News's Neil Cavuto on Thursday's edition of his Your World program. "We've had the repeaters all week of panic, you know, big scoops of sequester panic ripple" from the media who were busy parroting fallacious Obama administration talking points. [watch the segment below the page break]
"Part of the problem with this whole thing is" that the liberal media have been "instructed to go out and build panic, and they're very willing to go and do that" for the Obama administration, the Media Research Center director of media analysis added. "Our news media is so statist that they always think that the withdrawal of government from anything is a disaster" while they:
Hold the presses! The far-left blog Daily Kos is insisting that liberal reporter Bob Woodard, in doing his job as a journalist, has gone “full Breitbart” with his coverage of sequestration. Just a few short years ago, the Kossacks loved when reporters "spoke truth to power" in confronting Republicans in the White House. But now that Woodward has gone on record saying that he received threatening emails from senior Obama administration officials, well, that's a far different story.
On the February 27 broadcast of The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer on CNN, Woodward said:
The Today show on Thursday allowed a scant 16 seconds, out of a possible four hours, to the claim by veteran journalist Bob Woodward that the Obama White House is trying to intimidate him and attack his coverage of the sequester cuts. The NBC program also avoided using the word "threat."
ABC's Good Morning America gave the most coverage to the battle, offering a full report and a news brief. [See video below. MP3 audio here.] CBS This Morning covered the story as part of a bigger report on the looming cuts. On Today, reporter Kristen Welker blandly explained, "As a backdrop to all of this, veteran reporter Bob Woodward is telling reporters that the White House is lashing out at him for writing an article which claimed that the sequester was all President Obama's idea." She then helpfully presented the President's case: "The White House has made the point that Republicans overwhelmingly supported the plan as well." This was the extent of Today's coverage.
On Saturday, Washington Post reporters Lori Montgomery and Paul Kane fretted, with the help of several leftists they quoted, that sequestration might not cause enough pain. Given that the so-called "cuts" under discussion are really "reductions in projected spending growth," that is a legitimate fear if your perspective is that government shouldn't ever shrink under any circumstances.
Rush Limbaugh was correct on Tuesday when he noted that the Post let the "sky is falling" mask slip in it report. Several paragraphs, followed by a bit of Rush's reaction, follow the jump.
Knock me over with a feather. A well-known local pro-gun control official, helped by an overwhelming $2 million in funding from a Michale Bloomberg-backed group, won last night's splintered Democratic congressional primary in the Illinois district (IL-02) formerly represented by Jesse Jackson Jr., which includes much of the South Side of Chicago, with 52% of the vote. A "whopping" 30,872 people pulled the lever for winner Robin Kelly.
Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit noted how little this really means: "It's setting the bar pretty low to say that electing an anti-gunner to Congress in Chicago would be proof of Bloomberg's strength." That of course is not how Alex Isenstadt at Politico reported it, virtually giving the platform to Bloomberg:
Senior Editorial Writer of the Washington Examiner Sean Higgins published an informative column Tuesday night giving some background for a case that appeared before the Supreme Court on Wednesday morning. Shelby County, Ala. v. Eric Holder has liberals in a panic apparently, because of its challenge to a key portion of the Voting Rights Act that requires many states and some counties to get "pre-clearance" for voting law changes by a federal court. Curiously enough, major media outlets have neglected to mention the context and true history behind the law in question.
Ironically, the Voting Rights Act has completely changed the political landscape of the South ever since it was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965, and in ways that have poorly served African-American voters specifically and the Democratic Party generally. Higgins explained:
I presume everyone remembers how when the New York Times published information about a classified program designed to track the movement of alleged terrorist funding through the international banking system Bush administration officials threatened to prosecute Times reporters and management over what they had done? No you don't, because although some conservatives and Republicans thought it might be a worth considering it didn't happen. You can guarantee that if it had, it would have become a TV-radio-newspaper-Internet establishment press obsession for days on end.
Tonight, Washington Post's Bob Woodward alleged that because he is sticking to his guns in insisting that sequestration was the brainchild of the Obama White House, that it was personally approved by Obama, and that bringing up tax increases now to try to resolve the current sequestration impasse is "moving the goalposts," he has been threatened by "a very senior person" in the White House. Woodward said so on CNN's Situation Room earlier today. What's even more troubling is that Woodward told two Politico reporters the same thing yesterday, and that they appear to have sat on the revelation until this evening when the CNN interview forced their hand. Relevant portions of the CNN transcript and Politico column follow the jump.
Scott Pelley chided House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday's CBS Evening News, indicating the Republican leader was largely to blame for the imminent sequester: "You said that the President didn't have the guts to do what needed to be done on the budget. Today, you said the Senate has to get off its ass. Those don't sound like the words of a man seeking to bring people together to compromise."
Pelley had already pointed the finger at Boehner for the impasse over the federal budget back on the February 12, 2013 edition of the evening newscast, mere hours before the State of the Union:
The reporters of Good Morning America, who on Monday briefly questioned Barack Obama's hyperbolic talk about the sequester cuts, have returned to promoting dire warnings of meat shortages and children losing vaccines. Guest co-host Elizabeth Vargas on Wednesday hyped "the grim countdown to the massive spending cuts that will kick in on Friday."
To underline the point, an ABC graphic proclaimed, "Countdown to Massive Cuts: Will Illegal Immigrants Be Released From Jail?" Correspondent Jon Karl parroted Obama: "Each day, the White House's list of terrible things caused by the cuts grows longer, including flight delays, kids losing vaccines, and meat shortages." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Two days ago, in a moment of clarity, Karl acknowledged, "But those cuts, five to seven percent for most government departments, will be phased in over the next seven months."
The Washington Post has been around for more than 150 years and is the largest newspaper in the nation's capital. So there's absolutely no excuse why the paper recently commissioned and published a poll related to the looming sequester which failed to account for the Democrats controlling the upper chamber, even though Republicans were noted as controlling the House.
During a panel discussion on Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer urged the liberal Today's Professionals pundits to assign blame for the upcoming budget sequester: "I want you to complete the following sentence, 'And the blame goes to...' Almost by every analysis people agree this will hurt the economy, hurt the recovery, might even damage national security. And the blame goes to?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman ranted: "The American public for not being invested enough in the terms of what it means and firing every one of these SOBs the next time it comes around." Advertising executive Donny Deutsch agreed, arguing: "We are a country now of complete non-self sacrifice. You can't blame the politicians. Blame us, because nobody wants to give on anything."
At the Hill on Monday, Pete Kasperowicz, employing the establishment press's usual "mean Republicans attack" spin, is packaging something first aggregated on Friday at Michelle Malkin's Twitchy.com exclusively as an accusation coming from GOP Congressman Steve Stockman of Texas.
Malkin's credit-denied crew, with the help of citizen activists who did much of the dirty work, detected what I will call "Astro-Tweets," a Twitter-driven variant of the campaign tactic known as "astroturfing," which aims, using a variety of means, to create the illusion of public support for a cause where little or none exists (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Doing the kind of reporting the establishment press would be doing if it were something other than the collection of presidential supplicants it has become, an Investor's Business Daily editorial Monday evening completely refuted outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's claim that a $600 million "cut" (really "a reduction in projected spending") would hurt the Federal Aviation Administration so badly that flight delays would be an inevitable result. One suspects that similar analyses of other agencies would also reveal that the fears expressed by "President Armageddon" (the Wall Street Journal's recent nickname for President Obama) have little if any basis in fact -- if one bravely assumes that the administration isn't hell-bent on inflicting the maximum amount of visible pain if sequestration indeed comes to pass.
As I've said often, there's far more of what really amounts to legitimate fact-based reporting (as opposed to White House stenography) in IBD and Wall Street Journal editorials than you'll find in most of the establishment press's so-called "straight news reporting" on the same topics. As far as the FAA is concerned, IBD shows that all the agency would have to do is redeploy its existing resources -- something which obviously should have been done long ago -- and should ultimately privatize the entire operation, as Canada has successfully done (bolds are mine):
Faux conservative David Brooks of the New York Times used his Friday appearance with Mark Shields on the PBS NewsHour to bash Republicans over sequestration, comparing GOP tactics in dealing with spending to a trite circus act. Either Mr. Brooks forgot that sequestration was the president’s idea or doesn't care about facts getting in the way of cozying up to his liberal media buddies. Even liberal Democratic Sen. Max Baucus (Montana) admitted to that, and it’s explicitly mentioned that sequestration was the White House’s idea in Bob Woodward’s new book about the 2011 debt ceiling fiasco.
Shields piggybacked off of Brooks’ remarks, and said that the GOP’s fallback position is blaming the president, as if Obama is blameless in this dismal situation.
Acting like an extension of the White House press office on Monday's NBC Today, correspondent Peter Alexander promoted Obama administration talking points on the upcoming budget sequester: "This morning, the White House is picking up the pace of its PR offensive, they are rolling out reports for each of the country's states and how they will be affected by these automatic budget cuts." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Alexander listed the "dire warnings" coming from the executive branch: "In California, 9,600 low-income students could lose their college financial aid. In Florida, nearly $4 million could be slashed to provide meals for needy seniors. And in Texas, nearly 10,000 fewer children will receive vaccines for diseases like whooping cough and the flu."