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:
The United States is not in a recession. But the crew of the "Today" show does not care about the facts. On the July 11 edition, the NBC morning program focused on McCain adviser Phil Gramm’s "mental recession" and "nation of whiners" comment.
Instead of actually examining the facts behind Senator Gramm’s opinion, "Today" instead chose to focus on the "damage" to the McCain campaign. Lauer opened the show with the cliche phrase "with friends like these," and noting McCain is "distancing himself from his friend" and proceded to ask "has the damage been done?" Lauer then introduced the story claiming the remarks "could spell problems for Senator John McCain’s campaign."
Perhaps a fair story would examine whether Senator Gramm’s statements ring true or not. While the "nation of whiners" comment is Mr. Gramm’s opinion, his remark that we are not in a recession is a fact.
The economic definition of a recession is "a period of economic decline; specifically a decline in GDP for two or more consecutive quarters."
On Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith introduced a segment on comments by John McCain economic adviser Phil Gramm: "Let's talk about the economy now. Number one on voters' minds. Senator John McCain has been backed into a corner by a key economic adviser and forced to disavow some controversial statements." A report by correspondent Bill Plante followed in which he declared: "After spending the past week trying to convince voters that he does feel their pain, McCain was forced into full damage control after his economic adviser appeared to mock the troubles faced by many Americans."
Plante went on to quote Gramm’s "controversial" comments: "Gramm questioned the true extent of the country's economic downturn, saying, 'you've heard of mental depression. This is a mental recession. We have sort of become a nation of whiners, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline.'" In reality, Gramm’s assertion that America is not in a real recession is completely accurate, as a recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth and there has yet to be even one quarter of negative growth.
As far as Gramm’s "nation of whiners" comment, the "Early Show" would certainly know about that given its own recent whining about the economy. On June 30 Smith talked to economic analyst Mark Zandi and the two of them declared a recession. On June 24, co-host Julie Chen proclaimed a "perfect storm of economic woes" afflicting the nation.
Meanwhile on Friday’s show, Plante concluded his report by explaining: "Gramm said that he'd only been talking about the nation's leaders. But the comment played right into the Democrats charge that Republicans are a bunch of plutocrats who don't care about the average voter." Following Plante’s report, Smith talked to political analyst Jeff Greenfield, who made a similar observation about "plutocratic" Republicans:
Yes, it's unscientific and it is a Web poll, so it should be taken with a grain of salt, but a Time.com survey today finds 61 percent of respondents think that, yes, America is a nation of whiners.
The screen grab at right was taken shortly before 12:45 p.m. EDT. Around 12:30, when I first saw the poll, the numbers were similar: 60-40.
Here's how the question was worded: "As Phil Gramm suggests, is America a 'nation of whiners'?"
I'd suggest a follow up Web poll: "Is the mainstream media collectively a profession of whiners?" For more on that, see my colleague Scott Whitlock's post on how the media refuse to take responsibility for their role in hyping doom and gloom to make America's economic woes seem worse than they objectively are.
Various media outlets have jumped on the comments of Phil Gramm, an advisor to John McCain's presidential campaign, that when it comes to the economy, "we've sort of become a nation of whiners." However, these same organizations, such as ABC News, have done their part to promote such things as fretting over no more Christmas presents. For instance, on the November 12, 2007 "Good Morning America," reporter Bianna Golodryga hyperbolically warned that "some people are foregoing routine visits to the doctor and are opting for cheaper foods, like pasta and peanut butter, as opposed to protein, fruits and vegetables, in order that they can save as much money as possible." She added that for certain individuals, "Even holiday gift shopping won't be the same."
Now, this is the same program that on Friday's show observed that "conservative icon" Phil Gramm's "words have been damaging at a time when McCain is trying to convince voters he feels their pain." Certainly, GMA has done everything possible to assure viewers that the economic situation, which isn't a recession, is destroying their lives. On April 22, 2008, Ms. Golodryga (see file photo above) showcased a man who had been forced to skip church because of gas prices.She then intoned, "Some people even say that they are changing their diets, cutting down on costly prescription drugs or walking instead of driving to the local grocery store."
I hate to say I told you so, but what the heck. We did. The Business & Media Institute warned that Fannie Mae was a looming taxpayer-backed disaster - in 2005. Only the network news shows didn't like to tell you about it. An op-ed I wrote appeared in The New York Post under the headline: "The $30B Scandal That TV Forgot." I think $30 billion is small potatoes now. $100 billion is the number being used now.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are Government-Sponsored Entities, which means they are publicly listed yet still backed by taxpayers. They have also been mismanaged and embroiled in accounting fiascos. Fannie was run by prominent Democrats like former Chief Executive Officer Franklin Raines and former Vice Chairman Jamie Gorelick - both instrumental figures in the Clinton administration.
A Dec. 23, 2004, Washington Post article explained that Franklin Raines "was a director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Clinton administration, and his name was mentioned as a possible Treasury Secretary had Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) been elected president."
When it comes to illustrating high gas prices, the liberal media sure love San Mateo, California. What with its gorgeous, sunny weather and consistently above-average gas prices, it makes for a shocking image of "pain at the pump."
In the top headlines feature for ABCNews.com, editors included a tease for a story on oil prices heading towards $147-a-barrel, and chose a photo of a gas marquee showing regular unleaded at $5.219. That's a whopping 27 percent above the nationwide average as recorded at AAA's FuelGaugeReport.com.
The photo was taken by yesterday by AP photographer Paul Sakuma in San Mateo, and the caption that came with it noted that the the price was way above "the average roadside price for gasoline" which on July 10 "stood at $4.104 a gallon _ just a hair below the record $4.108 hit Monday, according to auto club AAA, the Oil Price Information Service and Wright Express."
Proving the old saw that a “gaffe” is when a politician stumbles into the truth, ABC's World News, which has showcased Americans whining about the inability to afford “joy rides” or breakfast, on Thursday night led with former Senator Phil Gramm's observation that “this is a mental recession”and “we've sort of become a nation of whiners.” In relaying the comments from the economic adviser to the McCain campaign, anchor Charles Gibson conceded “the fundamentals of the economy may be sound, as Gramm argues,” but: “There are a lot of people suffering right now. So, Barack Obama was quick to pounce, and John McCain was quick to renounce.”
Reporter David Wright featured a soundbite of Obama asserting “we need somebody to actually solve the economy. It's not just a figment of your imagination. It's not all in your head,” and then backed him up: “That certainly's what voters seem to think.” A man on the street insisted: “I think it's way more than just our imagination. It's in our face. And we need help.” Wright concluded with how Gramm's “point seems to be that while consumer confidence has been at record lows, other economic indicators are pretty good -- that the fundamentals are sound.” Wright, naturally, countered: “That's no consolation to folks who worry about their mortgages and who are paying these high prices at the pump.”
Meanwhile, on the CBS Evening News after a look at Gramm/McCain, Jeff Greenfield suggested that Jesse Jackson's violent intentions toward Barack Obama -- “I want to cut his nuts off” -- will benefit Obama:
The Associated Press's disgraceful coverage of last week's Employment Situation Report from Uncle Sam's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) got left behind in the holiday weekend hubbub, but calls out for comment nonetheless.
The AP's Jeannine Aversa reached into her Thesaurus as she began her report with what has become the wire service's standard monthly error of treating reported seasonally adjusted job reductions as reflecting real people thrown out on the streets by mean old employers (as you will see after the jump, reality, as usual, differed):
On Wednesday's CBS "Early Show," co-host Russ Mitchell declared: "The high cost of gas is hurting everyone these days. Families, businesses, and even charities. Many organizations that deliver food to the sick and elderly are being hit extra hard." In the report that followed, correspondent Kelly Wallace went even further: "In one rural California case, according to the president of Meals on Wheels nationwide, cutting back from daily deliveries to one every 14 days proved fatal. Two seniors were found dead."
The Meals on Wheels president, Enid Borden, explained that: "We have people who are literally dying in their homes waiting for a meal. That's a crisis." Wallace also played a clip of Maryland Meals on Wheels executive director, Tom Grazio, who worried: "Some day in the not too distant future, unless things get better, we'll be telling people they can't eat today and that's disheartening."
Wallace then described " a dire situation in New York City," where Meals on Wheels director Marcia Stein continued the melodramatic theme: "For the first time in our 25-year history, we are having to ration food. We're having to make tough choices about who gets a meal, who does not get a meal, what days somebody might be without food." From this report, one is under the impression that people are literally starving to death across the country due to high gas prices. In May, the "Early Show" described how one woman "...pumps out her own blood, making $40 a pop so she has enough money to pump gas."
As Congress takes new aim at speculators for the high price of gasoline, some media reports seem to be following suit. But as The Biz Flog explains this week, there is considerable debate over whether speculators should be blamed for the high cost of oil.
June 23, the same day Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee condemned oil speculators, the "CBS Evening News" and ABC's "World News" blamed oil speculation for a large chunk of the spike in prices.
"There's no doubt speculation plays a role in the skyrocketing price, but how much?" ABC correspondent Ryan Owens said June 23. "Experts say if it were just simple supply and demand a barrel would cost $75. Today it closed north of $135."
Scott Horsley explained oil speculation on June 29 for National Public Radio's "All Things Considered," where he pointed out that there have always been financial players in the oil market and there is still a debate over what influence they really have.
Although the collapse of Bear Stearns happened back in March, the debate still rages as to what led to the failure of the 85-year old investment bank that had survived years of previous turmoil, including the Great Depression.
"Well, you know, he [Dimon] said one thing that I'm just - listen, I didn't watch it," CNBC's Charlie Gasparino said, "I'm just going by what appears to be a transcript here: ‘Where there's smoke, there's fire.' Oh really? Sometimes where there's smoke, there's no fire, Jamie. I've got news for you."
Although the term isn't used, it's clear that the Obama campaign sees itself and their candidate as victims of a vast conspiracy of right-wingers.
Going all the way back to the 1988 presidential election, Obama's "Fight the Smears" chart (featuring the campaign's new sort-of "presidential seal," replacing the one that was "dropped," at the top left) purports to tell us "Who's Behind These Lies."
If the page's historical starting points are any indication, to paraphrase Jerry Lee Lewis, there may not be "a whole lotta smearin' goin' on" among the current "smearing" parties it identifies:
A report on the economic policies of John McCain and Barack Obama by correspondent Chip Reid on Monday’s CBS "Evening News" suggested that Obama’s supposed middle class tax cut would be more beneficial for American families: "Obama's plan is to roll back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and use the savings for a middle-class tax cut...A recent study by the non-partisan Tax Policy Center says Obama's plan would give a cut of more than a thousand dollars to families making between $37,000 and $66,000 a year. Under McCain's plan, they'd get just $319."
The "non-partisan" Tax Policy Center is actually a product of the left-leaning Brookings Institution and Urban Institute. Reid went on to explain that: "On spending, Obama wants to jump start the economy with another round of stimulus checks for taxpayers to the tune of $50 billion." After outlining McCain’s policies on taxes and spending, Reid observed: "McCain also now supports extending the Bush income tax cuts, even though he once opposed them as too generous to the wealthy. Barack Obama says McCain's switch is more evidence that a McCain presidency would be more of the same. "
At the end of the segment, Reid mentioned the candidates’ proposals on gas prices: "As for the price of gas, both candidates have elaborate plans for bringing it down in the long run but neither one offers much in the way of short-term relief." Apparently Reid forgot about McCain’s support for a temporary gas tax holiday. While the effectiveness of that policy can be debated, it certainly would qualify as "short-term relief."
During the roundtable discussion on Sunday's This Week on ABC, when host George Stephanopoulos asked why Barack Obama had not talked about the economy more in his campaign ads, ABC political analyst Mark Halperin argued that taxing the wealthy should be a strong issue for Democrats this year, although he conceded it failed when tried by Al Gore and John Kerry. Without making any mention of the case that lower taxes on all Americans is beneficial to the overall economy, Halperin merely talked about President Bush's tax cuts that "disproportionately benefitted the wealthy," and seemed to suggest that eliminating those tax cuts may help the economy. Halperin: "That's one issue, again, Gore and Kerry went up against George Bush whose tax cuts disproportionately benefitted the wealthy, one of the best issues the Democrats could have. Neither of them made it stick. I think Obama, again, compared to the last two Democrats to run, has a real chance to make that case on taxes and fairness and how to grow the economy in a way that, I think, could be one of the decisive issues in this race."
Below is a transcript of the relevant exchange between Stephanopoulos and Halperin from the Sunday, July 6, This Week on ABC:
During the weekend's coverage of President Bush's trip to the G-8 Summit in Japan, ABC correspondents Martha Raddatz and John Cochran both reminded viewers of faux pas by the President from past G-8 Summits. On World News Saturday, while downplaying expectations of any significant accomplishments at the summit, Raddatz relayed: "In fairness, the G-8 rarely has created any breakthrough announcements. The most memorable moments had little to do with real news. There was the famous shoulder rub with Germany's Angela Merkel, and the live microphone that caught the President talking in less-than-diplomatic terms while he lunched with Tony Blair." (Transcript follows)
ABC showed the clip of Bush startling German Chancellor Angela Merkel by grabbing her shoulders from behind, and a censored clip from 2006 of him using profanity while talking about the terror group Hezbollah with then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Bush: "What they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this [BLEEP]-"
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith talked to John McCain supporter Carly Fiorina and Barack Obama supporter Senator Claire McCaskill about the respective economic plans of the presidential candidates: "Bear market blues. Wall Street returns from the holiday as gas prices set another new record. Can either candidate calm America's fears?" At one point, Smith asked Fiorina: "How do we do all of this stuff? And we're not making more money, the tax rolls are not growing, the coffers are not full. We're just talking about deficit -- if nobody's going to get taxed, isn't this just going to be deficit city?" (audio available here)
While Smith did not feel the "coffers" were "full," at least not full enough for him, in reality, government tax revenue has tripled since 1965 and since the Bush tax cuts took effect in 2003, corporate income tax revenue has reached its highest level in over 20 years.
Smith began the segment by touting a new CBS poll: "The economy remains a major issue for voters as we head into the fall elections. In fact, a recent CBS News poll shows 78% of Americans think the economy is in bad shape." Considering the "Early Show’s" declaration of a recession last week it’s easy to understand such poll results.
Ho no, here we go again. Gas price hysteria from the MSM.
"Here's a troubling look at what some people are doing for gas. A 34-year-old Kentucky woman was arrested for prostitution after she was allegedly trading sex for $100 gas cards."
So began a video story at ABCNews.com, which made today's top headlines roundup with the teaser headline: "Sign of the Times: Sex for Gas." While the short video report included a prosecutor calling it a "sign of the times" that someone would trade sex for gasoline, failing to put the phrase in quotes in the headline implies that ABCNews.com agrees with the prosecutor's personal opinion on gas prices and the criminal desperation supposedly caused by them.
Of course, there's also more to the story that we don't learn from ABCNews.com. Alleged hooker Angela Eversole may be a cheating hussy, but she's no whore, says her jilted boyfriend, according to WCPO-TV.: