"Good Morning America" correspondent Claire Shipman on Tuesday actually suggested that Americans "pitch in" $2000 to help pay off the deficit or even give up their lattes. Reporting on the news that the U.S. federal deficit is projected to rise to $482 billion in 2009, Shipman seriously proposed: "Now, we came up with a few GMA solutions to try to put this in perspective. If every American were to pitch in $2,000, we could pay off this year's deficit."
Continuing the absurd "solutions," Shipman elaborated, "Or, if we handed over, each of us, 500 gallons of gasoline or, in terms we could all really understand, if every American gave up 666 lattes for a year, we could pay off this year's deficit." Leaving aside the slightly demonic 666 suggestion, there was one piece of advice left out of the ABC reporter's piece: At no point did she talk about wasteful government spending or the possibility of cutting back on entitlement programs. Shipman also took a shot at President Bush, calling the deficit "a parting gift from one president to the next of the most unwelcome sort." Conservatives may have complained about some of Bush's spending, but he certainly didn't act without the help of many Democrats in Congress.
The Associated Press injected an editorial comment into the news... again. A few days ago, the AP issued a piece headlined Senate Republicans block heating aid bill, in which the AP made it seem as if Republicans don't care about "the poor" and are only interested in mere political partisanship. This report featured quotes showing how wonderful and caring the Democrats are but not a single quote from any Republican to explain their stance. It also clearly discounted the GOP position while positively spinning the Democratic position.
The story concerns the GOP's blocking of a Senate Democrat bill to double the Federal aid to "the poor" to subsidize their heating and air-conditioning bills. First of all, I wasn't aware that it was Constitutionally mandated that "the poor" get free air-conditioning, but that is another story. The editorializing comes in with the second paragraph.
The media have been barking up the wrong tree for while, insisting the economy is in recession when we’ve yet to have even one quarter of negative GDP growth.
But of course the mainstream media keep digging around for more reasons to say the economy has gone to the dogs. NBC’s “Nightly News” recently claimed that pets are the “silent victims of this whole economic downturn” because they were given up by their owners whose homes were foreclosed.
Now, a July 28 article on MSNBC.com claims that the economy is to blame for a rise in pet thefts.
Interestingly, the article by MSNBC contributor Kim Campbell Thornton also notes that “Police reports don't make a distinction between pet theft and other property theft, so there's no way to pinpoint the exact number of stolen pets each year, but anecdotally, officers say that pet theft is increasing this year.”
For months, NewsBusters has been reporting media's desire to depict the economy as being significantly worse than it really is in order to assist the Democrats in taking back the White House this November.
In fact, it's been rather common for press members to talk about the economy as being absolutely Hooveresque.
Well, it appears the fashion industry might be aiding and abetting this deplorable effort.
The New York Post reported Monday a rather dreary clothing concept being introduced just in time for the upcoming elections (emphasis added):
I do believe that liberals in this country have their tin foils hats on way too tight these days. At least, it's easy to think that over the new national conspiracy theory that lefties are all balled up over lately. You see, it is being imagined in the dim, dark recesses of the left's collective consciousness that cable company Comcast is out to silence them.
Apparently, Comcast has come down from their circling black helicopters and decided to target the left by moving MSNBC from their basic cable package to their more expensive premium services. This will, you see, "marginalize outspoken liberal voices" like Keith Olbermann.
Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, while waffling, has wanted to appear to many of his constituents as being opposed to free trade agreements, or at least wanting to renegotiate the terms of many of them.
On Wednesday, the Department of Commerce issued a press release, the kind of thing you would hope business journalists get in their e-mail boxes. But I found no coverage of this news in a Google News Search on [commerce "free trade'] (typed as indicated inside brackets).
Perhaps it's because the news would be inconvenient for Obama, who is in the midst of an Excellent Overseas Adventure, speaking to fawning crowds who fortunately will have no say at the ballot box in November.
The media were quick to jump on the story of an emergency airplane landing in Manila, Philippines due to a hole in the fuselage of a Qantas flight. And they were quick to sensationalize the story without mentioning Qantas' impressive safety record.
"Well, nobody's saying that we should be covering up a huge hole in the side of an airplane. But it's important for the media to not sensationalize cases like this, which they are already doing," Business & Media Institute Assistant Editor Nathan Burchfiel told Fox Business Network host Stuart Varney on the July 25 "Fox Business."
Burchfiel noted that British tabloids have already speculated that a bomb in the cargo hold may have blown a hole in the fuselage, even though there was no indication that's the case.
"This morning in the American media on ABC, David Muir said that the plane ‘instantly plummeted' 20,000 feet, which is not true," Burchfiel said. "The pilot descended 20,000 feet, rather sharply, but that was his decision, he did it under full control to normalize cabin pressure."
Don't blame Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., member of two influential banking committees - the Senate Finance Committee and the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs - for IndyMac's collapse, says CNBC's Erin Burnett.
Burnett, host of CNBC "Street Signs," disagreed with a claim by MSNBC "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough that a letter to regulators from Schumer caused a run on the beleaguered bank IndyMac, which eventually led to its failure and takeover by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
"I don't think Chuck Schumer caused a run on the bank," Burnett said on MSNBC's July 24 "Morning Joe." "This is the new world of banking. Companies, banks come out and they say, and they say, ‘Oh my gosh - our stock's down 20 percent. It's being manipulated. Please come in and help us government. Oh my gosh, there's a run on our bank - let's blame it on a senator.'"
Earlier this month, former senator and John McCain economic advisor Phil Gramm was widely excoriated for his remarks about America being a "nation of whiners," discouraged by negative media reports fueling fears of recession.
As my colleague Nathan Burchfiel noted, the context of Gramm's remarks were the media's role in accentuating the negative in economic news and hence ginning up the public's economic fears and complaints.
Of course, the media has done little to prove Gramm wrong. Take, for instance MSNBC.com's "My Miserable Summer" series, which, among other things, takes tales of woe from readers and publishes them on the Web site (h/t NewsBusters tipster Jeff Williams).
The massive housing bailout bill, meant to prop up beleaguered government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM) and Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE) and help homeowners refinance adjustable rate mortgages, was praised in a segment on the CBS broadcast. It passed in the House July 23 and won't face resistance from President Bush.
"This afternoon, the House passed a bill that throws an estimated $25-billion lifeline to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae - the backbone of the home mortgage industry," CBS chief White House correspondent Jim Axelrod said. "The bill makes it easier for both to raise unlimited capital from the government if needed and would allow hundreds of thousands of homeowners to refinance rather than face foreclosure."
To CNN's "Lou Dobbs Tonight" host, we live in a world of absolutes - because the potential of a government bailout of two publicly traded government-sponsored enterprises condemns the entire concept of free market capitalism.
On the July 22 broadcast of Dobbs' show, he attacked proponents of free-market capitalism because of the potential trouble of the two government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM) and Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE).
"Well the - it's a, it's quite a mess, quite a mess indeed," Dobbs said. "And I love the idea that all these free traders, free marketeers now got to have the government to, to bail them out. If I hear one of these ignorant, hypocritical, sanctimonious free traders ever talk about free markets again, they should be pilloried. I mean they are absolutely - this is an administration of jerks and cowards and fools. I mean it's unbelievable."
Democrats in Congress may not have acted on Sen. John McCain's proposal for a summer gas tax holiday, but that hasn't stopped the Democratic National Convention from getting tax-free gas courtesy of the citizens of the Mile High City, reports the Denver Post this morning.
Filed as breaking news and published at 8:13 EDT on July 23, the Post's Allison Sherry has the scoop here. Below is an excerpt:
Since March, staffers working on the Democratic National Convention have been using the city of Denver's tax-free gas pumps to fill up their cars - and using its carwashes.
A dispute about this prompted city officials Tuesday to promise that the local host committee will reimburse the city at a market rate for gas - and pay state and federal taxes on the fuel.
Brian Wesbury, whose writings I have quoted often, is at it again, puncturing the economic gloom with reality-based analysis. Since his job is to provide useful info for the investor-clients at First Trust, creating unrealized hype is not in his best interest.
Washington Post's Marc Fisher devoted his July 22 column, "Law Reinforces Montgomery as a Nanny State" to pooh-poohing a recently-passed bill by the affluent, liberal Maryland county that borders the District of Columbia on its northwest side. Fisher leveled a charge that free-market advocates and conservative Marylanders would cheer regarding the new ordinance mandating that employers of nannies provide a written contract.
"This is a classic MoCo decision to make law as a political statement rather than as a remedy to a burning social need," Fisher complained, noting that "conditions for domestic workers in Montgomery are considerably better than in many other places."
What's more, if nannies don't like their work environment, "the proper remedy" would be "to quit and find other work," Fisher argued.
Sounds pretty conservative for a WaPo columnist, so what's the catch? Well, one of Fisher's qualms with the law's development was how it might make Montgomery County seem hostile to illegal immigrants:
More than three times as many Americans see a media tilt in favor of Democrat Barack Obama than toward Republican John McCain. A Rasmussen Reports telephone survey released Monday, of 1,000 likely voters, “found that 49 percent of voters believe most reporters will try to help Obama with their coverage, up from 44 percent a month ago,” compared to a piddling 14 percent who “believe most reporters will try to help John McCain win” while “just one voter in four (24%) believes that most reporters will try to offer unbiased coverage.”
Exactly half, 50 percent, “believe the media makes economic conditions appear worse than they really are,” a separate Rasmussen Reports telephone survey posted on Monday determined. That poll discovered “a plurality of Americans (41%) similarly believe that the media has tried to make the war in Iraq appear worse that it really is, while 26 percent say reporters have made it look better than reality and 25 percent think they’ve portrayed it accurately.”
Gas prices and an alleged recession have many in the media thinking the economy is going to the dogs. Little do they know exactly how much is going to the dogs - and cats, hamsters, and goldfish.
The Dallas Morning News ran an interesting article on the perseverance of pet owners ‘despite an economic downturn.' In fact, according to the article, owners are expected to spend a record $43 billion on their pets this year.
But how can this be? Surely these owners can skip their doggy wellness exam and save for a tank or two of gas instead.
Free market capitalism is a much-despised bogeyman to the mainstream media, as our friends at MRC's Business & Media Institute can attest.
So it's somewhat refreshing to find one article in a major media publication -- okay, it's actually Newsweek -- that seems to lament the entrepreneur-choking nature of government regulation.
Of course, the regulatory state in question happens to be the highly undemocratic Communist China, but in the July 28 edition article, "Taking Away Olympic Fun," Mary Hennock and Manuela Zoninsein lament that "Visitors to the Games will find the newly spruced-up Beijing cleaner -- and blander.":
Calling for tax cuts to stimulate the economy is just a call from the presidential election’s "silly season" and those who do (McCain) are "going to say anything to get elected" according to CNN financial analyst Gerri Willis. Appearing on July 21 edition of "The View,"Willis discussed many of the current economic troubles from high oil prices to the mortgage crisis. [audio available here]
Reliable liberal and Democratic partisan Joy Behar asked "how can the Republican party then say that they’re going to cut taxes in this election? How can they say that when the whole country will fall apart?" Gerri Willis changed her financial analyst cap to political analyst adding "it’s the silly season."
Earlier in the broadcast, Joy Behar brought up some past McCain jokes she finds offensive, such as the "bomb, bomb, Iran," remark. Behar felt such jokes are "inappropriate" but seemed to forget her own inappropriate jokes such as belittling the role of the saints to simply crazies and labeling men "idiots" who "think with Mr. Happy." Elisabeth Hasselbeck , for her part, added McCain does not have a monopoly on such jokes and alluded to Obama’s recent joke mocking the American people.
Even though the United States is still technically not in a recession, NBC's Meredith Vieira doubted John McCain's ability "to lead us out of a recession," on Monday's "Today" show. Vieira pointed to McCain's former economic adviser Phil Gramm's "mental recession" comment as a reason to "question" McCain's "judgment," when the Republican presidential candidate appeared on the July 21 "Today" show:
MEREDITH VIEIRA: You know you said, "In a time of war a commander-in-chief's job doesn't get a learning curve," but we are facing a crisis here, domestically, that a lot of people consider more significant in their lives right now, than the war, and that is the economic crisis. You have admitted that your economic policy is a weakness for you, so do you deserve a learning curve, to get up to speed?
That's it. NPR has declared Ohio a disaster area. Things are so bad. NPR gravely warns, that folks in the Buckeye state can't even afford to buy meat for their dinner tables anymore. It's the end of civilization as we know it. Doom and gloom. Oh the humanity. It's the end of the world as we know it... at least for one Ohio family that NPR found to act as stand in for the rest of the state. To NPR all of Ohio is the Nunez family. And what is NPR' solution? Government aid, of course.
In a segment of All Things Considered (well, all things but common sense, anyway), NPR gives us Gloria Nunez whose family, we are told, was "built on cars." NPR gives us all sorts of sobbing, rending of clothes, wearing of sackcloth and gnashing of teeth for the Nunez', of course. But even NPR can't hide some of the glaring problems that Gloria and her family have surely brought upon themselves.
Time magazine Managing Editor Richard Stengel told the hosts of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on July 17 that "there's incredible despair out there and there's a sense that, that something needs to be done and people have kind of an appetite for big government in a way" in America.
Stengel was citing a new poll, but the interview did not discuss the fact that the poll also found 80 percent of respondents said they should be responsible for carrying their own financial burdens.
The poll was a joint effort of Time magazine and the Rockefeller Foundation, an organization Stengel characterized as "on a mission themselves to help the American worker and find out about the economy."
Could that be political?
"If you say that favors Barack Obama, maybe it does, I don't know," Stengel said.
Last seen cheerleading for Barack Obama, NBC's Lee Cowan was in a less cheerful mood when he talked about the economy on Thursday's "Today" show. Before co-host Matt Lauer turned to self-help guru Tony Robbins to help viewers get through the "tough times," Cowan delivered a particularly depressing set-up piece that featured mostly pessimistic talking heads, including one that claimed: "The American dream is, is dying on the vine."
Opening the "Today" show Lauer did point out there was some "sweet relief" in the form of declining oil prices and a rising stock market but didn't let that bit of breaking good economic news get in the way of the pre-planned line of the day of, as Ann Curry put it, "doom and gloom."
The following are the anchor teasers followed by the full Cowan set-up piece and then Tony Robbins interview as they occurred on the July 17, "Today" show:
In an amusing twist, the morning media have reported two completely contrasting stories in the span of one week. NBC reported an 18-percent drop off in divorce filings in one region thanks to the bad economy on July 11. Six days later on July 17, ABC reported a 20-percent increase in divorce filings thanks to the bad economy.
Perhaps you could the say the story was the same, the economy is bad. But can both be true?
A night after ABC anchor Charles Gibson hit full panic mode by leading with how “markets are gyrating, inflation is rising, banks are closing” and suggesting money is only safe “under the mattress,” on Wednesday night he actually began with how “Wall Street posts its best day in months. Financial stocks rise. The price of oil falls.” But he couldn't be completely upbeat as he proceeded to note that “consumer prices also rose sharply.”
Katie Couric, however, was one hundred percent negative. After teasing Wednesday's CBS Evening News by asserting “the economic vise tightens,” Couric intoned over a matching graphic (see above):
Good evening, everyone. We wish we didn't sound like a broken record, but once again tonight there is troubling economic news. Americans are getting it from all sides. From inflation. Today the government reported the second-biggest monthly increase since 1982. To the mortgage mess where a tight market has sent prices tumbling 29 percent in one year in southern California. And the banking crisis. The FBI is now investigating the failed bank IndyMac for fraud. We have a team of correspondents covering these economic developments tonight...
So much of the liberal bias on cable networks is visual. It can impact the casual viwer on the treadmill at the gym watching with the audio off. Case in point is the video embedded at right from the July 15 edition of "The Situation Room" on CNN. [audio available here]
In it, anchor Wolf Blitzer tries to put a substantial wedge between House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and presumptive GOP nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) over drilling for oil in ANWR. Notice that while Boehner defends opening up a small patch of the national Arctic wilderness for oil exploration, CNN producers make Boehner share a split-screen with footage of frolicking wildlife. The caption on screen reads, "Republicans at Odds Over Oil: McCain Against ANWR Drilling."
The message is clear: the GOP is the party that wants to shed [animal] blood for oil.
On Sunday's "Good Morning America," after 14 "Recession Rescue" segments or teases in less than a month, weekend co-host Kate Snow asked an economic psychologist if "part of [the negative financial outlook of Americans is] our fault, the media's fault, for constantly talking about how bad things are?" Snow and psychologist Kit Yarrow were discussing how much of the nation's current financial state is emotional, in light of comments last week by John McCain advisor Phil Gramm that when it comes to the economy, "we've sort of become a nation of whiners." [audio available here]
Yarrow responded to Snow's query by saying the media are to blame and that when journalists cover the subject, "Everything is described as a crisis." She added, "And it's described in anecdotal terms as well, which causes consumers, I think, to feel especially fearful." This is certainly true of "Good Morning America." The program has featured frightening graphics such as "No More Retirement? Economy Holds Couple Back," a June 24 story on whether the elderly will still be able to retire. On June 25, a graphic screamed, "Paying the Bills: How to Survive Economic Crisis."
We can debate the propriety of mentioning the name of banks that might be in financial trouble. But one thing appears clear to Chris Cuomo [file photo]: it would be wrong to mention the name of a Democrat who could be in hot water. Wouldn't want to cause a run on the Dem's political capital, after all. Cuomo's discretion was on display during today's Good Morning America. Anchoring in the absence of Diane Sawyer and Robin Roberts, Cuomo was discussing the run on Indymac and the advisability of publicizing the names of other banks that might be in trouble with ABC financial consultant Mellody Hobson.
CHRIS CUOMO: People are so desperate in markets right now that negative information that allows them to short-sell or bet on banks not doing well is very popular.
MELLODY HOBSON: So I'm suspect about where the lists are coming from; the motives of some of the people putting the lists out here.
CUOMO: We saw the impact of panic not just on people but even in Congress, right? A senator gets up and says "I've heard something about a certain bank." It's in trouble the next day.
Today on Neil Cavuto, Monica Showalter of Investor's Business Daily was on, speaking about their editorial on Nanny Pelosi called "Feckless to Reckless." It's about Nancy Pelosi's recent reckless call to drain the strategic oil reserves in an attempt to answer our problems and pains at the gas pumps, short term. Needless to say, IBD was not impressed; in fact, the article calls for her resignation. You can read about it and watch the video interview at MsUnderestimated's site here.
Hitting full panic mode on Tuesday night, ABC anchor Charles Gibson teased World News: “Markets are gyrating, inflation is rising, banks are closing. Consumer pessimism is at an all-time high.” Actually, only one bank. Gibson explained “we are going to devote a large part of our broadcast tonight to the economy because the news each day seems unrelentingly bad.”
It certainly is on television news where Gibson brought aboard a group of three experts “to help us separate fact from fear,” but they and Gibson spread fear as he put himself in the place of a viewer and wondered: “My house is falling apart, the real estate mortgage companies may be in trouble, and now I hear about possible bank failures. And the stock market is tanking. So how do I be thoughtful about what I do with my money?” An exasperated Gibson soon pleaded:
Tell me where people go now to make sure their money is safe. With stocks down, you think the safest place to do is in the bank, and now we're told that there could be a lot of bank failures. So where do you put your money that you know it's safe? Under the mattress?