On Friday’s World News on ABC, correspondent Jonathan Karl took a moment to go beyond the budget debate between House Republicans and President Obama with the GOP unwilling to support a tax increase, and noted that House Democrats have also been just as resistant to voting for cutting the growth of Medicare spending. But the same night's CBS Evening News focused on Republican reluctance to support some of the budget proposals and even gave the impression at one point that congressional Democrats were willing to curtail Medicare growth.
On ABC, after recounting some of the Republicans who have resisted voting for budget plans that have been brought up, Karl continued:
[Update, 11:10 am Monday July 18: Jenn Theis was identified on-screen by CBS as a "laid-off government worker." She wrote us to clarify that she was actually employed by a private business that is regulated by the Minnesota racing commission. Another guest from that segment, Chris Lapakko, wrote the author on Twitter on Saturday to call him a "dick."]
CBS turned to three Minnesota residents on Friday's Early Show for their take on the recent state government shutdown there, but their panel had a definite slant, as two out of three were state government workers, with one of them calling for "taxes on millionaires...to help the rest of us out." The third Minnesotan called on both sides to work it out. None of the three were clear conservatives.
Anchor Erica Hill interviewed Jenn Theis, Chris Lapakko, and Harley Reed during a segment 40 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour, as they were sitting in a diner in Minneapolis. Hill first turned to Ms. Theis, who was identified on-screen as a "laid-off government worker," and asked her some softball questions about whether she was getting her job back and her feelings about the tentative resolution of the state budget impasse. The journalist also mentioned that the state employee has "gone through two weeks of no pay" and has a 13-month-old child.
Charles Krauthammer on Friday marvelously demonstrated just how in the pockets of Barack Obama America's news media are.
After claiming on PBS's "Inside Washington" that we now have a "completely compliant, pliant, supine press accepting every leak out of the White House," he silenced the entire panel by asking them to name one specific cut to entitlements the President has proposed (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Here are a couple of examples, caught by the eagle-eyed Brent Baker, of MSNBC's supposedly more-restrained "news" anchors mouthing the kind of left-wing rhetoric that's a staple of their prime time hosts.
Immediately after President Obama's press conference earlier today, 11am ET anchor Thomas Roberts framed a question about tax policy thusly: "Why do you think the top 2 percent of America has a chokehold on the other 98 percent?"
A few minutes later, after the top of the hour, 12pm ET anchor Contessa Brewer disparaged the Republican position against raising tax rates:
Timothy Egan, liberal New York Times reporter turned left-wing, Rush Limbaugh-despising online columnist for nytimes.com, tried to smear fiscal conservatives in Congress as akin to the violent anarchists (actually leftists) who rampaged through Seattle in 1999 in a “protest” against the World Trade Organization, using hammers to smash windows of retail chain stores.
Amid shattered glass and the black smoke of urban pyres, I found myself in a riot some years ago -- the anarchists-led assault on the World Trade Organization meetings of 1999. At the height of what became known as The Battle of Seattle, I bumped into an otherwise mild-mannered, libertarian-leaning friend on the streets, gasping at the bitter taste of tear gas. He was ecstatic.
Calmes’s reporting is often weighted toward Democrats, and she has expressed her sympathies for Obama in his dealings with Republicans the last few years, complaining the G.O.P. had not sufficiently “accomodated” the president by passing Obama-care and financial regulation. She wrote for Friday’s lead:
"You know, in Journalism 101, if you're going to ask a question of someone like the president, what you do is, you take, respectfully, you take the opposition's best argument and you play devil's advocate," NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell argued on the July 14 edition of "Hannity."
But instead of taking that approach -- which, Bozell noted, the famous liberal reporter Sam Donaldson took both with Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton -- the media have been actively working with Obama to forward the Democratic narrative regarding the debt ceiling negotiations.
On Thursday’s All Things Considered, NPR profiled conservative activist Grover Norquist, the head of Americans for Tax Reform. Michele Norris began: “In the debate over the debt ceiling, one person who has outsized influence is not actually at the negotiating table.” That might sound good to Norquist’s donors, but when liberal reporters accuse someone of “outsized influence,” it means “too much power for the good of the country.”
Reporter Ari Shapiro signaled hostility by strangely noting that Norquist’s “donor list is not public,” when that is true for almost every tax-exempt political group in Washington (not to mention NPR!):
On Thursday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Nancy Cordes filed a report on House Majority Leader Eric Cantor as a "lightning rod" for sharp criticism from Democrats because of his role in budget negotiations with President Obama. After beginning the report with a clip of Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer asserting that Cantor "has yet to make a constructive contribution," and after recounting that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had called the Republican leader "childish," Cordes seemed to legitimize the insults as she asserted that Cantor had provided "plenty of ammunition":
On Wednesday's CBS Evening News, Dean Reynolds highlighted sob stories surrounding the current shutdown of the Minnesota state government, providing a possible template of how the mainstream media would cover a potential federal government shutdown if the debt ceiling issue isn't resolved by August 2.
Before getting to Reynolds's report, substitute anchor Russ Mitchell played a clip from his colleague Scott Pelley's interview of President Obama, where the Democrat stated that "some courage and some tough choices" were needed to resolve the stalemate over the federal budget. Mitchell then used the President's own phrase as he introduced the situation in Minnesota: "They did not make those tough choices in Minnesota. As a result, the state government shut down two weeks ago. Like Washington, it's a budget deadlock between a Democratic chief executive and a Republican-controlled legislature. Dean Reynolds shows us what it looks like when lawmakers can't figure out how to keep a state running."
It has been widely reported that President Barack Obama walked out of Wednesday night's debt limit meeting, but MSNBC's Martin Bashir on Thursday was in complete denial that the Democratic president, who's merely "exasperated by Republicans playing this dangerous game," would conduct himself in such a way.
During his daily "Clear the Air" segment, Bashir offered mounds of incredulity but not a shred of evidence to contradict numerous reports of Obama abruptly and prematurely terminating the meeting:
Hmm, I'm not so sure about that...The president losing his temper, abruptly, and rudely cutting short the conversation? Running from a room inside the White House? Does that sound the like president that we've gotten to know during the last two and a half years? Or is that the kind of behavior we've now come to expect from Eric Cantor over the last few weeks?
Last night (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that the State of Minnesota, where the government is shut down but spokesman for the Department of Public Safety Doug Neville is somehow still working, is demanding that MillerCoors pull its products from Gopher State store shelves within days, and identified a number of questions non-inquisitive Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter Eric Roper should have asked and didn't.
One of the questions which didn't make my list, which wasn't intended to be comprehensive, is: "How much money is involved?" As seen in the headline, the answer is so trivial that it almost costs more to think about it than to say what it is. The potential embarrassment over this matter may partially explain why Democratic Farm Labor Governor Mark Dayton appears to have sued for peace this morning (covered later in this post). Readers will also have a hard time believing the penny-ante amount over which retailers whose "buyer's cards" have expired will from all appearances be prevented from buying alcoholic beverages for resale.
Joe Scarborough took Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski to task Thursday over the ongoing debt negotiations. "[Republicans] already have given specifics on the Paul Ryan Medicare plan which was political suicide for a lot of Republicans. They took that hard vote. What hard vote have Democrats made on the debt over the past year? Name one. Name one vote" said Scarborough.
Also yesterday came a stern reminder from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi that the president has repeatedly listened to the concerns of Congress but that "nobody can out debate him." Check out a video of Pelosi's remarks after the break, and let us know what you think of Obama's actions in the comments.
On Wednesday’s The Ed Show, MSNBC analyst and Bloomberg View columnist Jonathan Alter claimed that the "massive tax cuts" of the Bush administration did not create jobs, and went on to credit former President Clinton for the low unemployment rate that existed during the Bush years. He ended up lecturing fellow panel member Judson Phillips of Tea Party Nation that Tea Party activists would support President Obama’s budget plan if polled and that they are "not as obsessed with tax cuts as you are."
America's only admittedly socialist member of Congress said Wednesday that he disagreed with President Obama's comments concerning Social Security checks possibly not going out on August 3rd if the debt ceiling isn't raised.
When Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said he felt checks to seniors and disabled vets would be issued no matter what, the host of MSNBC's "The Ed Show" responded, "So you would take issue with the President on that statement, that he may have been fear-mongering in essence?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
At the Associated Press, the task of reporting on the official results of Uncle Sam's June Monthly Treasury Statement fell to Christopher Rugaber instead Marty Crutsinger.
Next time, Chris, tell us what happened in the month you're covering instead of going almost exclusively with the federal government's year-to-date results.
If Rugaber had looked more closely at June, he would have had to relay not particularly pleasant news -- or maybe he did look at June, and decided that we didn't need to know anything more than what the deficit was (possible motivation will be identified later). Although the deficit came in lower ($43 billion vs. $68 billion), the AP reporter "somehow" forgot to tell readers that receipts trailed June of 2010, indicating that whatever economic recovery has occurred is well on its way towards fizzling.
Well, I guess it's getting serious now in the melodrama known as the Minnesota state government shutdown.
If the Gopher State shutdown goes on much longer, hundreds of bars and restaurants will lose their ability to serve alcohol because they can't renew their liquor licenses. Worse, as reported by Eric Roper at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, MillerCoors, whose "brand license" somehow expired, will, be forced to "pull its beer from Minnesota liquor stores, bars and restaurants." The economic ripple effect will have a lot of Minnesotans crying in their beer, if they can find any.
If there's a less curious reporter than Eric Roper, I don't want to meet him. I've seen pet rocks with more curiosity than the Strib reporter demonstrated in the linked report. Consider the following paragraphs which Roper relayed without any hint of an attempt at follow-up:
Chris Matthews on Wednesday gave a lesson on utterly shameless fear-mongering.
In the final segment of MSNBC's "Hardball," the host said, "Failure to act on the debt ceiling will create a horror for our country, a horror we’ve never seen before" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
The New York Times's chief economics writer David Leonhardt proposed his usual solution – tax hikes – to the ongoing budget and debt-ceiling battles between congressional Republicans and President Obama in his confidently titled Wednesday column “Why Taxes Will Rise In the End.” Leonhardt struggled to ponder why his fellow citizens stubbornly refuse to raise the debt ceiling.
Polls show that most Americans are opposed to raising the federal debt ceiling. Even when the Pew Research Center included the consequences in its question -- a national default that would damage the economy -- slightly more people were against raising the ceiling than were for it.
How could this be? Above all, I think it reflects a desire to return to the good old days. Not so long ago, nobody was talking about tax increases or Medicare cuts, and the federal budget seemed to be in fine shape. If only we could get back to the past -- get spending under control, as the cliché goes -- we’d be O.K. The debt ceiling, with its harsh finality, offers the chance.
Unfortunately, this nostalgic view depends on a misunderstanding of the budget. It imagines a budget in which the United States indefinitely has the world’s highest medical costs, its largest military, an aging population and, nonetheless, taxes that are among the world’s lowest. Economists have a name for that combination: a free lunch.
New York Times reporter Jackie Calmes’s latest front-page story on the budget battle displayed typical Times’s labeling bias, with “angry conservatives” but no liberals. Calmes also paid the Republican leadership a backhanded compliment for trying to stop their conservative base from provoking a financial crisis.
On Tuesday, Calmes claimed on the front page that Obama was “repositioning” himself as a centrist (after years of the Times insisting he already was one).
As a result of Scott Pelley's interview with President Obama on the "CBS Evening News" Tuesday, the media are once again scaring seniors with the absurd notion Social Security checks won't go out in August if the debt ceiling isn't raised.
An examination of the video and transcript of the relevant sections of this exchange bring into question whether or not that's actually what the President said (video follows with transcript and commentary):
President Barack Obama told CBS News today that there may not be enough money in the U.S. Treasury to cover Social Security checks after Aug. 3 if Congress does not agree to lift the legal limit on the federal debt and allow his administration to borrow more money.
"I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd if we haven't resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it," Obama told CBS News anchor Scott Pelley in an interview.
Some people can spot a slight in every compliment, whereas others — the happy ones — find a compliment in every slight. So last week, as a free-market, low-taxes, constitutional conservative, I happily found an apparently unintended compliment from the liberal New Republic.
It is not often that I agree with the central attack line of my sometimes media sparring partner, The New Republic's Ed Kilgore. But in his effort at a hit piece last week on Michele Bachmann and her stand for "constitutional conservatism," what he thinks is an effective attack on us constitutional conservatives, I take as a badge of honor.
In a relatively inoffensive interview with President Barack Obama for Tuesday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Scott Pelley implied the Tea Party (and maybe congressional liberals too) should be blamed for blocking a debt ceiling deal (“Isn't the problem that a large number of the Members of Congress will not follow your leadership or the Republican leadership?”) and fondly recalled how “it wasn't that long ago when compromise in Washington was considered a virtue, not a vice.”
Pelley touted how “Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill were on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but they respected each other, they liked each other and they got things done.” That allowed Obama to use Reagan to scold conservatives: “If Ronald Reagan could compromise, why wouldn't folks who idolize Ronald Reagan be willing to engage in those same kinds of compromises?”
On Tuesday's Morning Joe on MSNBC. co-host Mika Brzezinski harshly criticized Republicans for not caving on tax increases to make a debt-limit deal.
"I think the Republicans look stupid and mean. I'm sorry, this is stupid. This is a no-brainer in terms of a deal. This is a no brainer and they look mean and they look difficult and they're going to lose this," she said. Video is below...
For the last three years we’ve been told by the Times and the rest of the media Obama was in fact a “pragmatic” centrist, unlike the conservative George W. Bush. Why would Obama have to "reposition" himself to ground he already occupied?
President Obama made no apparent headway on Monday in his attempt to forge a crisis-averting budget deal, but he put on full display his effort to position himself as a pragmatic centrist willing to confront both parties and address intractable problems.
Wannabe liberal reporters in J-school could use Alex Altman's July 11 Swampland blog post at Time.com as a template for biased coverage of the federal budget battle.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is a "hard-line" conservative aligned with House Republican freshmen "who would rather risk economic catastrophe than give ideological ground" by agreeing to tax increases, Altman informed readers yesterday.
Of course Altman worked hard to avoid the T-word, latching on to the euphemism "revenue increases" to refer to tax hikes and not once examined if there are hard-liners in the White House or on the Democratic side of the aisle when it comes to reaching a debt ceiling deal.