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?
Update (13:40 EDT): You can see in bold some of the questions I thought particularly biased. I've clipped Mark Smith's first question about turning the thermostat down and driving less and posted that video on EyeBlast.tv. You can find it embedded at right. [Official White House transcript available here.]
10:17 EDT: President Bush will hold a press conference in a few minutes, I'll be watching and live-blogging questions from the press corps. I'll update the blog post after the fact (assuming President Bush takes questions) with a link to the official White House transcript. If warranted, we may also post video of the most biased questions.
11:09 | President thanks reporters for their time, closes conference.
11:06 | Olivier (sp?): "Is President Karzai correct and do you think the new government in Pakistan is willing to combat terrorism?"
11:02 | Ryan: Do you think it [the economy] changes before you leave office?
10:59 | April Ryan, American Urban Radio Networks: "When in your guestimation will this country see a turnaround on the soft economy?" Also asks about what's happening in Sudan.
10:57 | Compton presses again on oil company question.
10:55 | Ann Compton, ABC Radio: "You never mention oil companies. Are you confident that American oil producers are tapping all the sources they have out there, including offshore?" Compton also asks about Iraq and what Bush will leave his successor.
10:53 | Smith of AP Radio asks if President Bush sees the "value" of a campaign to push for conservation.
10:52 | Mark Smith, AP Radio: "Mr. President, understanding what you say about energy supplies being tight and the debate over energy, which has gone on for years and will continue long through the campaign and into the next administration -- one thing nobody debates is that if Americans use less energy the current supply/demand equation would improve. Why have you not sort of called on Americans to drive less and to turn down the thermostat?"
10:50 | Roger Runningen, Bloomberg News on a second stimulus: "Is it too late to consider a second one?"
That must be some crystal ball Reuters reporters Jeremy Pelofsky and Tom Doggett have.
They somehow know that George W. Bush's Executive Order lifting an Executive Branch ban on offshore drilling will work out to be "largely symbolic" -- even though Congress's ban will expire on September 30 unless it's proactively renewed.
Further, Pelofsky and Doggett seem to almost know that since Barack Obama opposes any additional offshore drilling, not enough of his fellow party members will defect from that position between now and the Congressional ban's expiration, regardless of whether he remains competitive or sinks in the polls in the meantime.
Mika Brzezinski might be an Obama backer, but she really should sit down with Hillary Clinton. The woman who turned $1,000 into $100,000 could clue her in to the workings of the commodities markets. Be it cattle or crude oil, the concept's the same: these are "futures" markets in which prices are set on traders' expectations of what conditions will be some time down the road.
Mika's need for urgent remedial help on the matter became evident during the first minutes of today's Morning Joe. Ostensibly fulfilling her news-reading function, Mika veered from the prepared text to inject her own editorializing to the effect that lifting the offshore drilling ban today wouldn't lower gas prices for ten years.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Time for a look at some of today's top stories. President Bush is calling on congress to lift its ban on offshore oil drilling. On Monday the president ended a long-standing moratorium on the practice, saying new drilling would ease pressure on fuel prices [going off-script to inject her own views] -- in about ten years. Critics argue the production of gas from the offshore --
Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, has remained largely unhurt by the controversy over his "sweetheart" deal with mortgage lender Countrywide. But CNBC's "Squawk Box" co-host Carl Quintanilla finally bucked the media trend of ignoring the scandal and brought the loan up in an interview July 14.
Specifically, Cheney's 2000 statement was that "we may well be on the front edge of a recession here," while Bush's 2001 claim was a milder "You know better than me that our economy is slowing down."
So what will be the reaction be to the Sunday assertion by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama that there's "little doubt" the country is in a recession, when no negative growth has occurred?
In the wake of former Sen. Phil Gramm's statements earlier this week about this being a nation full of whiners, the good folks at ABC's "Good Morning America" brought on a consumer psychologist Sunday to discuss whether or not the McCain advisor had a point.
Shockingly, not only did Kit Yarrow tell host Kate Snow that "the way consumers feel about things is very emotional," but also these "emotions are trumping reality" thereby creating a snowball which makes the economy worse.
Yarrow not only believes that things are "not as bad as consumers feel like it is," but also that the media are at fault because "everything is described as a crisis."
What follows is a partial transcript of this rather shocking and refreshing exchange (video available here, photo courtesy ABCNews.com):
On Saturday, Ben Stein accused the media of whipping the nation into a frenzy concerning how the economy is doing. On Sunday, ABC's George Stephanopoulos proved his point.
While talking to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on "This Week," Stephanopoulos actually said of the economy, with a straight face no less, "In the last four years it's gone more down than up."
Days after former Sen. Phil Gramm told the Washington Times that "We have sort of become a nation of whiners" when it comes to the economy, Ben Stein claimed, "It's the media that is whipping us into this frenzy."
Deliciously, this came just minutes after a Democrat strategist actually said, "We are in the toughest economic time we have ever been in this country."
As such, I would make the case that it is media AND Democrats doing the whipping.
But before we get there, here's what Stein said Saturday on Fox News's "Cavuto on Business" (photo courtesy BenStein.com)
MSNBC has recently taken their negativity to a whole new level of fear mongering with a promotional ad peddling their election coverage. The ad features reporter Andrea Mitchell narrating the voiceover:
People really care because our kids are falling behind in school. Because health care is no longer affordable, we’re at war, the American economy is in trouble.
While MSNBC had a bullpen of biased reporters to pitch the promo, Andrea Mitchell was the natural closer.
The Associated Press's Jeannine Aversa "creatively" and selectively rounded figures presented in today's Monthly Treasury Statement from Uncle Sam. That Treasury report, released this afternoon, covered monthly and year-to-date receipts and spending in the federal government.
By doing what she did, Aversa made sure we know that year-to-date receipts are down, but at the same time made Congress's overspending look less serious than it really is.
Spending of $2.2 trillion so far this year is up from $2.1 trillion reported for the corresponding period last year. Meanwhile, revenues of $1.93 trillion are down from $1.945 trillion a year ago.
Because Aversa rounded off the spending numbers to the nearest $.1 trillion while not supplying percentage changes, the average reader will think that spending is up a bit less than 5% so far this year.
Appearing as a guest during the 10 a.m. hour of the July 11 “MSNBC News Live,” Chicago Tribune managing editor James Warren compared McCain adviser Phil Gramm’s recent comments on the economy’s health to those of Henry Ford during the Great Depression:
But I think in the annals of a not particularly sensitive remarks this will rank up there with a bunch of things. Somebody, a historian reminded me yesterday, the auto manufacturing pioneer Henry Ford during the Depression said something to the effect that “these really are good times, it’s just that few know it.”
Warren then went on to suggest that Gramm needs to be reminded of the current economy’s impact on average Americans: