As the stock market has continued to regularly make new highs in 2007, how many times have you heard or read a media report carping about how the rich are getting richer?
Quite a bit, right?
If you feel bombarded with such inanities, consider that a completely unaudited LexisNexis search of major American media outlets identified 234 reports which included phrases like “rich get richer,” “income inequality,” “wealth disparity,” etc., since January 1.
Add it all up, and that’s almost two a day.
A fine example of this nauseating mantra was demonstrated by CBS’s Charles Osgood on “Sunday Morning” April 15:
Answer: When the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) keeps on issuing monthly reports, such as the one yesterday covering April, telling us that manufacturing is in expansion mode.
On February 28 (second item at link), Times Business writer David Leonhardt wrote the following:
For Manufacturing, a Recession Has Arrived
The nation’s manufacturing sector managed to slip into a recession with almost nobody seeming to notice. Well, until yesterday.
To this day, Leonhardt appears to be the only person to "notice" the recession in manufacturing -- because it doesn't exist.
The TimesSelect current tease for Leonhardt's article, which is now behind the Times' subscription firewall, is even worse, leading one to think that it tells us that the whole economy is in recession (bolds are mine):
In an unusual move last Friday, Ford decided that it couldn't wait for the month to end before it told us how bad it was going to be -- for the whole industry:
Ford Motor Co. said on Friday that U.S. auto industry sales to date in April were "terrible" as consumer confidence was hit by a slow housing market and rising gas prices.
..... Pipas said industry volume appeared to be down 10 percent to date before seasonal adjustment, but expected Ford's U.S. retail share to hold steady around 13 percent.
After an entire weekend where Pipas's message was spread virtually without criticism, the April vehicle-sales reality turned out to be quite different (the first figure is adjusted for the two-day difference in the number of "selling days" in April 2007  vs. April 2006 ; the second figure in parens is not adjusted for that difference):
Geopolitical instability and inefficient allocation of resources from state-run oil enterprises in Venezuela and other oil-producing countries are one factor in the rising cost of petroleum products. Unfortunately the way Chavez's May Day oil grab is being reported, it's little more than a footnote.
Producer of an MSM morning news show? Got a few minutes to fill at the end of your first half-hour? Why not resort to a tried-and-true winner: a bit of good old class warfare?
That was the "Today" formula this morning. Matt Lauer introduced the segment, enviously entitled "Share the Wealth?: The Rich Get Richer," fanning the flames of envy and resentment with this opener:
TODAY CO-HOST MATT LAUER: Do you feel like you're working harder and harder nowadays just to stay financially afloat while fat cats get richer and richer? It's not just a feeling, and you're not alone. The story now from from CNBC's Scott Cohn.
Fanning the flames of class warfare, ABC "World News with Charles Gibson" focused on hedge fund managers' pay on April 24.
"Some of them made a lot, I mean really a lot," said anchor Charles Gibson.
While the report by John Berman focused on the high pay -- the top fund manager James Simons made $1.7 billion last year -- but left out reasons for high compensation as well as the high taxes that certainly accompany such incomes.
Together the top 25 hedge fund managers earned a combined $14 billion last year according to Alpha magazine. Berman compared the figure to teachers pay saying it was "enough to pay New York City's 80,000 teachers for 3 years." Sure, at a tax rate of 100 percent.
Following the tragedy at Virginia Tech, the media found someone other than Seing-Hui Cho to blame -- legal businesses like Roanoke Firearms, Glock and eBay.
Roanoke Firearms' owner John Markell was treated as an accomplice to the horrific crime by ABC's Brian Ross:
“The Roanoke Firearms store where Seing-Hui Cho bought his murder weapon has a history of selling guns involved in murders. It is the fifth time a gun sold in this store has been used in a homicide, according to gun shop owner, John Markell,” said Ross on the April 18 “Good Morning America.”
Brian Wesbury, whose previous writings have been blogged on many times by yours truly (including here, here, here, and here), is very tired of the dissing the current economy is taking, and especially how it is unfavorably compared to the economy of the 1990s:
No one forced you at gunpoint to use Google today, but you probably have. The trouble is you don't know how evil that tech company with a "gusher of profits" is.
Fortunately for you, Washington Post's Steven Pearlstein does, and he thinks Big Government -- awash in a gusher of tax revenues it collects from you involuntarily -- has just the remedy. More regulation.
Accompanying a cartoon in the print edition depicting Google as a many-tentacled sea monster, Pearlstein devotes four paragraphs to asking "How Much More Should It Be Allowed to Grab?"
Pearlstein started off by noting that "Google is the quintessential business success story" and that its meteoric rise is standing the company in good stead on Wall Street while its chief rival, Yahoo, is faltering.
Is The Ford Motor Company committing an Old-Media-assisted suicide?
On Wednesday, One News Now had a story about how the Formerly Mainstream Media has largely ignored the negative impact the the American Family Association's boycott of Ford has had on the company (an audio version of the report is also at the link):
News media ignoring Ford boycott, media analyst says
Soon it’s going to cost you more to mow your lawn, and the Christian Science Monitor doesn’t mind because it’s all in the name of a cleaner planet.
“[H]elp is on the way. Thanks to a new rule unveiled by the Environmental Protection Agency this week, homeowners will finally be able to buy mowers that give their lawn a truly clean cut,” wrote Mark Clayton of the Monitor.
But it was not homeowners who pressured mower manufacturers to lower emissions, but a mandate from the EPA. According to the new rule, beginning in 2011 small engines like those used in lawn tractors must filter out “an additional 35 pollutants … in addition to the 60 percent reduction mandated last year.”
"There's many simple, even money-saving ways that we can actually give our little bit of help in our own lives and in our own homes and make a little bit of a difference," said weatherman Sam Champion on April 19 "Good Morning America."
But when it came to cost, the April 19 USA Today contradicted Champion:
“Products that help people use less energy – or leave a smaller ‘environmental footprint,’ as green advocates say – often are more costly than their alternatives, causing some to argue that going green is only for those who can afford it,” said USA Today.
Champion's segment focused on a special energy-efficient home built by BASF The Chemical Company that is 80 percent more energy efficient than other houses.
BusinessWeek praised "savvier media" for helping discredit global warming skeptics in an article focused on corporate support for carbon cap legislation, which will cost businesses and consumers.
"In addition, contrarians have taken a hit from a savvier media. Instead of just quoting a scientist on both sides of the debate, journalists increasingly have assessed the weight of the evidence and explained who was behind the opposing views," explained BusinessWeek in the April 23 issue.
The result was listed in the subhead of the story: "with the skeptics almost silenced." Note, it does not say silent. The skeptics still exist, and are still talking, but the media has "silenced" them.
Your tax dollars at work, paying public radio hosts to ask if "black folks" are into iPods.
NPR's taxpayer-funded "News & Notes" program for April 17 tried to introduce a story on demographic advertising by awkwardly asking in a caption on their website, "Do national technology trends play the same way in the Black community?"
Or as host Farai Chideya asked, "Do black folks really use stuff like iPods as much?"
CNN reporter Christine Romans agreed, but then took the conversation a step further smearing drug companies in the process.
“And when you look at sort of the business plan, you look at what some of the allegations are in this – in this industry scandal, you see that these sound like drug companies. ‘Let’s get our representatives into the financial aid office, let’s give gifts, let’s get people owning stock, let’s get them on our boards, so that our student loan can be right up there, preferred student loan for students, whether or not it may be the best fit for students,’” said Romans.
Starbucks. Many Americans may think the Seattle-based coffee chain is generally well-liked by its employees and generally well-liked by liberals, but to some left-wing organizers, it's the new Wal-Mart. Sooner or later the Washington Post was going to notice.
And so today's paper splashed its Style section cover page with a David Segal story about Daniel Gross, a "scruffy college grad" that became the "Norma Rea of the Caramel Macchiato."
But the thing is that organizer Gross doesn't work for a liberal-but-mainstream labor union like any number of unions that report to the AFL-CIO. No, Gross is a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), a self-described radical organization that thinks the AFL-CIO is too soft on corporate America.
Never ever blame the victim, isn't that what people say about crime victims?
Apparently no one told CNN, because this morning on "American Morning" Soledad O'Brien and Stephanie Elam attacked TJX Cos., the parent of T.J. Maxx and Marshalls among other stores, accusing the company of dishonesty after the company suffered massive data theft by hackers.
"None of these companies are ever forthcoming about it," O'Brien said in a huge generalization. "You always have to uncover it, investigate it, dig and dig and dig and then eventually they come up with a number which is probably a little on the low side."
"Minding Your Business" reporter Stephanie Elam agreed, complaining about the length of time it took TJX to disclose that 45.7 million credit and debit card numbers had been stolen affecting nearly 500,000 customers.
Eating up calls for more regulation, CBS "Evening News" attacked kid's cereal makers for television advertising in last night's broadcast.
The nanny-staters were at it again, warning on March 28 that children who like sugary cereals are "setting off alarms." Really? Is it any sort of surprise that children prefer sweet cereals to bran flakes? It doesn't surprise me, I still hate bran flakes.
Bill Whitaker's brought on Susan Linn "one of a chorus of critics calling for the government to ban the ads," but Whitaker didn't mention that Linn is the co-founder of the liberal Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. Linn declared that "self-regulation has failed."
"Low-nitrosamine smokeless tobacco poses 10% or less of the health risks of cigarettes, according to various studies, including a 2004 National Cancer Institute-funded article," the Journal wrote.
The Journal quoted Michael Thun of the American Cancer Society who said, "There's no question that switching to spit tobacco and quitting tobacco altogether are both far less lethal than continuing to smoke."
Something rather extraordinary occurred last December which had extremely ominous implications for stock investors around the world, but got totally ignored by the media.
In fact, if not for a recent video posting at YouTube, and a March 20 article in the New York Post, these spectacular revelations would still be well under the radar.
On December 22, CNBC’s James Cramer did a web interview for TheStreet.com TV. In it, he told TSC’s executive editor Aaron Task about how he used to manipulate stocks and the market when he was a hedge fund manager, and explained how such people today can’t “do anything remotely truthful” if they want to make money (video available here).
As TSC reported in a recap at its website the same day (emphasis added throughout):
Friday, Wal-Mart dropped its bid to establish a federally insured bank. It's ridiculous that they had so much trouble getting approved, because as the linked article noted:
Industrial banks have been proliferating in recent years — Target Corp., UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Harley-Davidson Inc. are among the nearly 60 that now exist. Critics say their growth dangerously blurs the line between banking and commerce, concentrating assets in the hands of a few big companies, stifling competition and hurting consumers.
I don't see where "critics," which I believe in this case really means "the unbylined author of the Associated Press article," have produced even the tiniest bit of evidence the current crop of industrial banks has stifled competition in any way, shape, or form. It's also pretty funny to see an AP writer worrying about "little guys" like Bank of America, Chase, and Citicorp, who are in an industry that itself is getting more and more concentrated (click on the "click to view data" box; the top 10 credit-card companies in 2005 had 92.4% of the business, up from 81.3% in 2004) getting some nontraditional competition.
That said, Wal-Mart's Plan B isn't going to make critics feel any better, and I don't see any "legal" or protest-driven basis on which it can be stopped:
Citing the investigator and one student who "says he trusted NYU, but now he wonders if his trust may have been misplaced," ABC's "World News" on March 18 attacked universities and lending companies and did not include representatives from either.
Anchor Dan Harris only presented New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's view that students are being taken advantage with the practice of preferred lending. Cuomo faulted schools and lenders for "illegal, deceptive business practices."
Harris did not include an on-air interview with any college, university, loan company or industry expert, rather he only said several major lenders "all denied wrongdoing."
Before I started as NewsBusters managing editor, I finished up a study of the media's bias when it comes to reporting on prescription drugs. The study was released on March 14.
After the page break are some findings from the executive summary. Here's a link to the PDF version of the study.
Even when one new drug was hailed as a “major advance in combating
breast cancer” and a “major medical breakthrough,” its manufacturer was
given only a passing mention on one network. BMI looked at 132 stories
on prescription or over-the-counter drugs from the ABC, CBS, and NBC
evening newscasts between January 1 and Sept. 30, 2006.
How many networks does it take to change a lightbulb? Two.
CBS "Evening News" and ABC "World News with Charles Gibson" both ran segments on a coalition supporting a ban on incandescent light bulbs in order to save money and save the planet through decreased energy consumption.
“Brian Castelli is part of a growing coalition that wants to ban your standard bulb and replace it with compact fluorescents (CFLs). Advocates say it’ll cut greenhouse gases, save electricity and money,” said CBS technology correspondent Daniel Sieberg.
Both networks left out the anti-regulation perspective that if compact fluorescent bulbs are really more efficient and will save consumers money in the long run there is no need for a mandate from the government.
"A new drug that proved to be so effective so quickly, the approval process was sped up," lauded CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric on March 13.
Couric and other reporters had reason to praise the newly FDA-approved drug Tykerb. The drug is approved for treatment of a specific kind of breast cancer, called HER-2 positive, and is showing tremendous promise.
Cancer patient Marsha Brekke told ABC "World News with Charles Gibson" that the drug was her last chance. Brekke has been cancer free for more than a year.
But what all three networks, ABC, CBS and NBC, left out of the evening newscasts on March 13 was any mention of the company that developed this breakthrough drug.
With the Democrats now in charge of Congress the media is joining them in bringing back some favorite of their favorite boogeymen and on this morning's Today show that boogeyman took the form of the credit card companies and their "abusive" practices. Teasing a Lisa Myers report NBC's Ann Curry charged that credit card companies are "...accused of making it difficult for the average person to pay off that bill. We're gonna show you some of the tactics they allegedly use to keep the dollars flowing in." To which Today host Meredith Vieira piped in: "It's pretty awful."
Throughout the segment the credit card companies were portrayed in almost loan shark terms that had them taking "advantage" of unwitting customers. In her report NBC's Lisa Myers told the story of mild-mannered Charlie Bassham's struggle against the credit card companies and then brought on Democratic Senator Carl Levin as the proverbial hero to the all the Charlie Bassham's across America.