At the top of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen teased an upcoming segment on how the Wall Street financial crisis is affecting the presidential race: "Game-changer, as Wall Street falters, Barack Obama surges ahead in our latest CBS News poll." During the segment, correspondent Chip Reid declared: "...the new CBS News/New York Times poll suggests that momentum has switched back to Senator Obama after McCain's post-convention bounce. McCain led nationally by two points just one week ago, but the latest numbers show Obama holding a five-point lead over his Republican rival." However, Reid failed to mention the 3% margin of error in the poll, which could have only been briefly seen on the on-screen graphic.
Reid also cited poll data on McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin: "The new poll also suggests enthusiasm for Senator McCain's running mate Sarah Palin has softened. 33% of voters think she's qualified to be president, 62% voicing concern." While Reid spoke of ‘softened’ enthusiasm for Palin, he cited no previous poll date to demonstrate a loss of support. Instead, he criticized Palin’s performance at her first town hall meeting Wednesday night: "And she was not asked, nor did she offer, any specifics on foreign policy. Now the questions at that town hall last night and in a Fox interview last night were friendly and open-ended but the campaign understands that that will change and fast." Reid never showed any footage of FNC’s Sean Hannity interviewing Palin. Early Show co-host Harry Smith has interviewed Barack Obama eight times and only asked two questions on foreign policy.
Writing Sen. Joe Biden's (D-Del.) recent suggestion that it's "patriotic" to pay higher taxes, Associated Press reporter Douglass K. Daniel provided a bit of cover for the Obama running mate by citing a left-leaning tax group and ignoring Obama's plans to hike capital gains taxes.:
Although Republican John McCain claims that Obama would raise taxes, the independent Tax Policy Center and other groups conclude that four out of five U.S. households would receive tax cuts under Obama's proposals.
"We want to take money and put it back in the pocket of middle-class people," Biden said in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America."
The Tax Policy Center may be independent of a political party apparatus, but it is decidedly liberal in orientation, a joint venture of two liberal think tanks, the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution.
Beginning on September 15 and continuing through the 19th, "Good Morning America" has been touring America via train and finding economic misery and despair along the way. During the three special shows that have aired so far, which ABC has dubbed the "Whistle-Stop Tour '08," the program traveled to struggling towns in Massachusetts, Ohio and New York. On Monday, while talking with an elderly man who had lived through he Great Depression, co-host Diane Sawyer described him as someone who had survived "another time of economic crisis." (As a comparison, a quarter of the population was unemployed during the Great Depression. Unemployment today stands at just over six percent.)
On Tuesday, co-host Robin Roberts mentioned the people of Rome, New York and their "tough times." "...Some of them are feeling hard times," she added. On Wednesday, near Gustavus, Ohio, Roberts reported from a small town that "is not booming." While visiting the "suffering town" of Niagara New York on Tuesday, Sawyer talked to parents at a high school hockey game and lamented, "There were moms up in the bleachers, who say they have to look across the river [to Canada] too and wonder about American leadership."
New York Times-MSNBC contributor John Harwood took his usual Tuesday afternoon slot on the cable network to interview Elisabeth Bumiller, the Times's lead reporter on the McCain campaign beat.
Bumiller has a history of hostile coverage of McCain and Republicans, and did nothing to shake that perception on Tuesday, passing along as fact Barack Obama's out-of-context assault on the comment McCain made on Monday (as the crisis on Wall Street unfolded) about the strong fundamentals of the U.S. economy.
Bumiller: "On the other hand, McCain has had a very rough 24 hours, when he said on Monday that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. The Obama campaign will never let him forget that comment. He then came out a few hours later and said, well, the economy is in crisis. This morning he had revised his comments yet again, and now it is that the American worker is strong, but the economy is still in crisis. And now as we see, he's calling for a commission to study the problems on Wall Street, which is a tried-and-true Washington solution to, when there's little else you can do right away."
Harwood then played the full clip from McCain in Florida, putting in context what he said about the economy:
Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, Ariz., has acknowledged his technological shortcomings, but some in the media continue to portray him as a techno-phobe with no meaningful contributions to that sector of the economy.
The September 16 "NBC Nightly News" examined McCain's rhetoric on the campaign trail in the wake of a serious banking crisis. Correspondent Kelly O'Donnell reported one campaign advisor cited McCain's legislative effort opening the door to technological advancements as evidence of his ability to steer Americans through the turbulent time.
"And Brian, when an adviser today was stressing John McCain's economic credentials, he told reporters that McCain quote ‘helped make this little miracle happen' - the Blackberry or cell phone - citing his work on the Commerce Committee," O'Donnell said.
Of course we all know that it's absolutely wrong and mean-spirited to suggest that anyone on the left could conceivably be unpatriotic [though an exception might be made for unrepentant terrorist friends of Barack Obama who accept from Vietnamese communists rings made from downed US planes.] So while we won't be using the u-word here, two recent MSNBC shows offer a remarkable contrast. Let's compare Chris Matthews' giddy reaction to news of difficulties in the markets with Mika Brzezinski's gloom in begrudgingly discussing the Iraq surge's success.
The first portion of the video is from the opening of Hardball of September 15th, the day when news was breaking of Lehman and Merrill Lynch's travails, and the DJIA had sunk over 500 points. Matthews could hardly contain his glee, comparing McCain to Hoover, and declaring that because of the "terrible news" about the economy, "as of today, this is no longer an election about lipstick on pigs, misleading ads or how many houses a candidate owns. This is serious. The economy is a real issue. With real consequences." Then there was today's discussion on Morning Joe of the surge's success. Mika's pout—on view in the screencap—epitomizes her reaction. I commend the entire video clip to your attention, but would focus on these exchanges.
In the midst of declaring the present economic troubles as comparable to the Great Depression, NBC's Today interviewed both John McCain and Joe Biden on Tuesday morning. Matt Lauer pressed against McCain's recent line that the economic fundamentals are strong: "But fundamentally speaking, isn't there something wrong with the fundamentals, right now, that's causing these nightmares that we're seeing?" Meredith Vieira asked Biden a tax question from the right: "You and Senator Obama are calling for tax increases on the wealthy and there are many economists who say that, that would hurt the economy even more." Biden objected as if the world never met a free-market economist: "I don't know any economist who is saying that." Vieira also asked why the Democrats aren't much further ahead with this gloomy economic outlook.
After the show's introductory sequence, Lauer declared himself the paperboy for a moment, relaying the New York newspaper headlines including: "The Daily News likes shorter and snappier. They simply say: ‘Shock Market.' They're calling this the biggest shakeup in financial markets since The Great Depression." Did they already forget "Black Monday" from October 1987?
When Andrea Mitchell says "all of us" thought a certain way, whom does she have in mind?
On her MSBNC show this afternoon, Mitchell stated that "all of us" originally thought John McCain had made a political mistake when he changed positions and came out of in favor of expanded oil drilling.
Mitchell was chatting with former Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Myers and Republican strategist Doug MacKinnon. The subject was the just-announced Dem energy plan, that claims to make some limited provision for expanded offshore drilling. Mitchell made no bones of the fact that the politics now favor the advocates of expanded drilling, and that Dems were caught off guard.
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith interviewed John McCain about the recent collapse of Wall Street investment banks: " I want to make sure I have this straight now. Yesterday, on the campaign trail, you reiterated that you believe the fundamentals of the economy are strong. At the same time, we understand your campaign is issuing an ad that says the economy is in crisis. Which is it?" After McCain explained that he was referring to American workers, and that there is a crisis, Smith asked: "And the answer for which is what? Because throughout your campaign, you have said you are anti-regulation. Would not oversight have helped avert this crisis?"
Later, Smith asked: "Let me ask you this. Earlier this year on the campaign trail, you said -- or you admitted that you didn't know a lot about the economy. Why should voters trust you in these perilous times with the economy of the United States?" McCain responded: "You know, that's one of the interesting things about having long conversations. The point is, I was chairman of the Commerce Committee. Every part of America's economy, I oversighted. I have a long record, certainly far more extensive of being involved in our economy than Senator Obama does. I understand the economy. I know the issues-" At that point Smith interrupted: "Well, if that's the case, wouldn't you bear more responsibility for some of the crisis we're in then?"
Chris Matthews spent most of Monday night's "Hardball," laying out a blueprint for how Barack Obama can hit John McCain on the economy, as he compared the GOP presidential nominee to Herbert Hoover.
Opening the September 15 show, Matthews greeted viewers with the following teaser:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Why is John McCain talking like Herbert Hoover? Depression or just depressing? Let's play "Hardball."...Did John McCain really mean to say the "fundamentals of the economy are strong?" Herbert Hoover, who presided over The Great Depression, said quote, "the economy is fundamentally sound." So is it fundamentally good politics to say, with the stock market plunging, that things are hunky-dory?
Then, in the first segment, Matthews kept pressing Sen. Charles Schumer about why Obama wasn't being more aggressive against McCain on the economy:
On a day when markets are in turmoil, you might think that the role of an American president, current or aspiring, would be to assure his fellow citizens—and the world—that our economy is fundamentally strong.
That's what John McCain did. In contrast, Barack Obama suggested that the American economy is fundamentally weak. WaPo's Jonathan Capehart has declared Obama the winner of the exchange, for doing a better job in channeling the country's anxiety.
Click on image for video of McCain and Obama addressing the state of the economy on the stump today, and Capehart's commentary.
On day one of "Good Morning America's" five day train trip across America, host Diane Sawyer announced a slate of guests filled almost entirely of liberals. At the top of Monday's program, Sawyer touted a schedule that included Barack Obama on the 15th, Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, John and Cindy McCain together on Wednesday, Joe Biden on Thursday and Michelle Obama on Friday. For those keeping track, that's four liberal guests and one conservative duo. (Notice that Barack and Michelle Obama each get their own day, while the McCains appear jointly.)
The journey on the rails, which GMA has dubbed the "Whistle-Stop Tour '08," began in several towns in Massachusetts. Three segments revolved around Sawyer and fellow co-hosts Chris Cuomo and Robin Roberts talking with either residents or patrons of various restaurants. And while many of the Americans highlighted expressed concerns that no one would disagree, the ABC program also included a number of liberal perspectives and only one that could be called vaguely conservative. (Massachusetts resident Richard Bonito mentioned security and the need for a strong defense.) Resident Frank Algerio called for a "cap" on high gas prices. One Nicky Vaughn hoped the next president would pull troops from Iraq. No anchor or host pointed out the extremely left-wing make-up of the state either.
In Charles Gibson's third interview session with Sarah Palin, conducted at her home in Wasilla and featured on Friday's World News, Gibson asserted “we've got a very sick economy,” pressed her to list how she'd change Bush economic policy, insisted she concede “it's now pretty clearly documented you supported that bridge before you opposed it” (and to defend Alaska's continued earmark requests), all before he ran through several social issues -- from abortion to guns -- forcing her to state positions Gibson certainly realized would cement her to ideologically conservative positions seen as extreme by many of his viewers.
On the economy, with the Palin's airplane visible lakeside in the background, Gibson proposed: “John McCain and you are now talking about the GOP as a party of change. We've got a very sick economy. Tell me the three principal things you would do to change the Bush economic policies.” Amongst his follow-ups: “Summarize the three things that you'd change in the Bush economic plans.” Gibson soon ran through a list of social issue topics:
> Roe v. Wade, do you think it should be reversed?...John McCain would allow abortion in cases of rape and incest. Do you believe in it only in the case where the life of the mother is in danger?...Would you change and accept it in rape and incest?
> Embryonic stem cell research, John McCain has been supportive of it.
> Homosexuality, genetic or learned?
> Guns: 70 percent of this country supports a ban on semiautomatic assault weapons. Do you?
On CNBC's "Squawk Box," reporter Charlie Gasparino told co-host Joe Kernen, "I will say this about the Bear Stearns thing when you compare that [Lehman] with this. I think our reporting was incredibly responsible. It was so responsible ... and you know we went out of our way with Bear Stearns ... We just report on how feckless management is and I can't help that Bear Stearns was feckless. [Lehman] was feckless too and that is the scary part."
"They're going to parse every ‘is' that a journalist said," said Kernen. "We don't hammer the stock. We watch the stock get hammered and then we talk about it."
CNN’s “best political team on television” is proving itself to be the best at closing its eyes, plugging its ears and repeating “la, la, la, we can’t hear you” when it comes to Republicans addressing economic concerns.
In its coverage of the Republican National Convention September 3 and 4, the cable network accused the GOP of ignoring the economy at least 27 times. The criticism originated from Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign, and CNN picked it up and ran, according to analysis from the Business & Media Institute.
Nevermind that five of the Republican convention’s headline speakers –President George W. Bush, former Sen. Fred Thompson, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin and presidential nominee Sen. John McCain – all addressed some aspect of the economy. That’s not including other speeches that were not broadcast.
On MSNBC's "Morning Joe" September 8, Jim Cramer took a shot at owner of The Wall Street Journal, Rupert Murdoch, in the midst of talking about the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac takeover:
I read The Wall Street Journal, sorry, The Fox Street Journal. When is Murdoch going to put his positive right wing implant on left wing journalists? ... When is Murdoch going to broom the Spartacus workers union?
As for Fannie and Freddie, Cramer told the hosts of the September 8 broadcast that "We had a laissez-faire attitude. Now we are going to have the greatest bureaucracy in history created by Republicans. I'm an agent of change," Cramer said sarcastically.
Later in the segment, Cramer joked that the Democratic Party were "Bolsheviks" quipping, "There. How's that for biased media?"
"Good Morning America" on Monday featured liberal New York Times columnist Tom Friedman as an energy expert to "fact check" John McCain's policies on the subject and advocate for higher taxes. GMA co-host Diane Sawyer never referred to Friedman's economic policies as liberal, despite the fact that he repeatedly made assertions such as this: "But, you know, there's really no effective plan to make us energy independent without what I call a price signal, without either a carbon tax or a gasoline tax that's really going to shape the market in a different way."
Sawyer began the segment by noting both candidates have plans for energy independence. She then asked, "Are they going to achieve it? Do they mean it?" However, the ABC host didn't ask Friedman to "fact check" Obama's plan. Instead she simply recited the Democrat's plans for eliminating Mid East Oil. And while Friedman freely attacked McCain's policies, he responded to a clip of Obama talking about investing more money into alternative energy by, again, complaining about a lack of gasoline tax: "Unless we have a floor onto the price of gasoline that really keeps that behavior going, you can't throw enough money at this problem."
On Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer interviewed Republican presidential candidate John McCain and wondered why Americans weren’t sacrificing more during a time of war: "But we have one half of one percent of the American people who are making all of the sacrifice in this war. If the rest of us didn't watch television or looked at the newspaper, we might not know there's a war going on. Our taxes didn't go up, there's no rationing. If you didn't look for it, you wouldn't know the war was going on. Shouldn't there be some way, in a democracy, that we share this burden?"
Earlier in the interview, Schieffer asked McCain about the Republican convention and the delegates represented:
Thanks to Sarah Palin, the culture war has become a civil war—on the left. Mika Brzezinski bravely opened a new front in the conflict during today's "Morning Joe," repeatedly going after two female MSMers for suggesting Palin is taking the working-mom thing too far.
And, mirabile dictu, Mika even admitted to sensing MSM unfairness to Republicans.
"This is an argument Joe and I have about fairness and whether or not there are some sort of underlying unfairness when it comes to Republicans. And I just, you know, I feel it here," Brzezinski said referring to a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. Full text and commentary after the jump. View video here.
The media and the Obama campaign (but I repeat myself) are comparing the "experience" of'the Democrats' presidential nominee to that of the GOP's vice-presidential pick -- meaning, one must assume, that the debate over his experience vs. John McCain's is over, in McCain's resounding favor.
Let's look back a couple of months at a post I put up on July 14 (with minor revisions) that gives a, uh, concrete example of one of Barack Obama's management "experiences" -- one that the national media has (of course) totally ignored.
“The government reported today that 15,000 more Americans joined the line for unemployment benefits. And despite back-to-school bargains, consumers were not in a spending mood in August. Major retailers reported sales were up just over 1 percent from last year.”
Minutes after Republican vice-presidential pick Sarah Palin finished her speech on Wednesday night, CNN’s Roland Martin and Jeffrey Toobin went on the offensive against the Alaska governor. Co-host Anderson Cooper first asked Martin for his reaction. He first stated that "she gave a solid speech" and then focused on Palin’s dig at Barack Obama being a community organizer in Chicago: "...[S]he mocked community organizers, and this audience laughed at them. Don't be surprised if Obama and Biden says, you know what, it's community organizers who are keeping people from losing their homes in [the] subprime crisis.... It's community organizers who are the ones trying to save your job. They're going to say the GOP does not give a flip about community organizers -- it means they don't care about you...."
Two minutes later, co-host Wolf Blitzer went to Toobin for his reaction. The senior legal analyst for CNN first complimented Palin: "Well, let's just start with an obvious point that I don't think anyone has made yet. This speech was a heck of a lot better than Joe Biden's speech. I mean, it just was much more dramatic, much more interesting, much more entertaining." He then continued with a more blunt analysis of the speech: "But it was also, I thought, very smug, very sarcastic, very cutting. And you know what? The Republicans had been trying to portray her as a victim for the last couple days. Well, she's not going to be a victim anymore. She's going to be a target..." As if she hasn’t been a target since John McCain announced her as his running mate?
Mercantilism [emphasis added]: An economic doctrine that flourished in Europe from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Mercantilists held that a nation's wealth consisted primarily in the amount of gold and silver in its treasury. Accordingly, mercantilist governments imposed extensive restrictions on their economies to ensure a surplus of exports over imports. In the eighteenth century, mercantilism was challenged by the doctrine of laissez-faire.
When Barack Obama talks—and talks—about the future, does he really mean "back to the future"? You have to wonder after reading the column by one of his economic advisors in today's LA Times. In Renewing America's 'contract with the middle class, Leo Hindery Jr. explicitly calls for a return to mercantilism, the discredited theory of economics popular during the 17th and 18th centuries. Hindery [emphasis added]:
It is imperative -- way past time, in fact -- for America to be as mercantilist as are our trading partners.
Anecdotal evidence is pretty much useless in science, a discipline steeped in empirical data. But that's no matter to the Associated Press or the Washington Post, which published an August 31 AP article about how "Scientists See Fewer Fireflies." The subheading quickly qualified that the "[e]vidence is anecdotal, but experts fault sprawl, pollution."
Of course some of the quoted experts in Casey's article aren't really experts, they're amateur scientists at best, with sprawl and pollution serving as coded language for faulting capitalism for allegedly raping the environment.
AP writer Michael Casey waited until the fifth paragraph of his Thailand-bylined article to confess that "[t]he evidence is entirely anecdotal but anecdotes abound" about a mass worldwide holocaust of the flying luminous bugs.
This after quoting one Preecha Jiabyu, a tour guide on Thailand's Mae Klong River, who dropped an unsubstantiated statistic for readers. "The firefly populations have dropped 70 percent in the past three years," insisted Preecha, whose entomological credentials Casey failed to establish for readers.
Reuters gets the award for the most misleading headline of the day with its Aug 28 story making it seem as if unemployment has wildly increased in New York State -- even calling it a "crisis" -- when there was really only a small increase. The headline would cause the casual reader to assume that the world is falling apart concerning employment rates and on top of that the badly worded headline also feeds into the Bush-ruined-the-economy meme. And we know how Reuters is always looking to smear President Bush whenever it can. Further, Reuters cites the work of the Fiscal Policy Institute without identifying it as a left leaning think tank.
Reuters headlines its New York employment piece Unemployment leaps over 20 percent in 25 New York counties. It is a shocking headline, to be sure, screaming that unemployment "leaps 20 percent." Such a wild headline would certainly cause a casual reader to assume that overall unemployment has risen by 20 to 25 percent. Contrary to the scaremongering of the headline, New York's unemployment did not "leap 20 percent" in over all numbers at all. In fact, the over all unemployment of the state has only gone up by .2 percent, from 5.2 in June to 5.4 in July. That is hardly a number to spark a "Crisis."
The department announced August 28 the economy grew at 3.3 percent in the second quarter of 2008, up from initial reports of 1.9 percent. The revised number exceeded expectations for growth, which economists had put at around 2.3 percent.
But to announce the good economic news - the growth was well above the 1.9-percent average quarterly growth over the last two years - would have undercut one of the main themes of Sen. Barack Obama's speech accepting the Democrats' presidential nominations: an economy in turmoil.
"We meet at one of those defining moments - a moment when our nation is at war, our economy in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more," Obama told the crowd of more than 80,000 Democrats at Invesco Field in the Denver.
The second quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was revised upward Thursday by the Commerce Department from the initially estimated 1.9 percent to a robust 3.3 percent, but neither the CBS Evening News nor NBC Nightly News mentioned the good news, while on ABC's World News anchor Charles Gibson, at Invesco Field, allocated 13 seconds to what he considered “surprisingly strong” economic news:
Other news, a surprisingly strong reading on the economy. The Gross Domestic Product grew at a rate of 3.3 percent in the second quarter, helped by those government stimulus checks and a jump in exports because the dollar is so weak.
NBC News veteran Tom Brokaw, however, was still presuming economic disaster hours after the new GDP number was released in the morning. Just past 2 PM MDT/4PM EDT on MSNBC, Brokaw asserted from Denver:
Beyond this arena, and this city, the American people are facing some of the greatest problems that they have faced, certainly in our lifetimes. Financial crisis, greatest since the Depression; energy crisis; two wars in two different countries; the Russian bear is crashing around in the woods again.
Sometimes the qualities that make a strong candidate in one pool make them a weak candidate in another pool.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney would hurt Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain as a running mate because of "vulnerability" stemming from his successful businesses and support for free trade, according to a reporter for The Washington Post.
"On the whole subject of trade deals and free trade agreements is that a vulnerability, a potential vulnerability on the side of Mitt Romney?" Andrea Mitchell asked Post reporter Chris Cillizza on the August 28 broadcast of "MSNBC Live".
"It absolutely is," said Cillizza, who writes "The Fix" blog at WashingtonPost.com. "And that's a calculation I think the McCain campaign has to make. Yes, Mitt Romney has great business bona fides. Built a business, he used that line many times in the primary: ‘I know why jobs come and I know why they go.'"
"The other side of that, however, is he worked for a company called Bingham Capital that occasionally engaged in leverage buyouts, that means shipping jobs overseas. That's not the kind of thing that's going to go over well in these rust belt states where McCain needs to perform well, most notably Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania," Cillizza said.