PBS's Bonnie Erbe hosts that network's weekly news analysis program, "To the Contrary with Bonnie Erbe," is a weekly columnist for Scripps Howard Newspapers, and blogs at USNews.com.
Erbe called for the impeachment of George Bush in February 2006. Anyone looking through her Scripps Howard archive will conclude that she can't possibly be labeled a conservative ideologue -- which is why her take on the attempt by CNN's John Lewis to make it appear as if both the Obama and McCain campaigns are equally hampered by flip-flops is so compelling.
Here's how "A battle of accused political 'flip-flops'," the CNN report at which Erbe takes umbrage, begins:
Days after both men reversed course on major issues, the presidential campaigns of Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain spent much of Sunday's talk-show circuit working to ensure accusations of "flip-flopping" don't stick.
NBC's "Today" show handed "New York Times" columnist Thomas Friedman a platform, on Tuesday's show, to rail against President Bush's "incoherent mess" of an energy policy, and demand a $1/gallon gas tax, as well as a $4.50 price floor on gas.
"Today" co-host Meredith Vieira spurred on Friedman as she recited the most inflammatory passages from his Sunday column:
MEREDITH VIEIRA: Well in this column on Sunday, you don't hold back. You refer to the President as our "addict-in-chief." You say his energy plan is, "Get more addicted to oil." You go on to say, "It is hard for me to find the words to express what a massive, fraudulent, pathetic excuse for an energy policy this is." What is it, Tom that, you find so offensive in his energy plan?
Mike Barnicle has some campaign advice for John McCain: don't say anything about Obama's questionable connections. The former Boston Globe columnist, with a heartfelt second from Mika Brzezinski, wants the world to know that he's heard enough about Reverends Wright and Pfleger, not to mention Bill Ayers, and thinks McCain would "win a few points" for staying away from all that stuff and concentrating on the important issues facing Americans—like better batteries.
Barnicle made his suggestion on today's Morning Joe in commenting on an audio clip of Obama warning a crowd this past Friday that the Republicans will, among other misdemeanors, play the race card against him and accuse him of having a "feisty wife."
From the Disney-owned Web site that brought you concerns that college co-eds were foregoing textbooks to pay for birth control comes the latest tale of high gas price-induced economic woes.
"Nevada Brothels Hit Hard by Gas Prices," ABCNews.com trumpets in a teaser headline in the top headlines slideshow on its front page. The editors showed a bit more leg in the photo caption: "Owners fight back: free $50 gas cards for high-spending customers."
Here's some of the tale of woe from the article itself:
As the Silver State's fuel prices hit all-time highs, Nevada's brothel employees find it harder to make a living these days, leaving some people wondering whether they should stay in the business.
At the Stardust Ranch in eastern Nevada, bartender Cindy Howe says they're "down to only two girls. They don't want to come here because business is down."
UPDATE: Hard to imagine, but it's even worse than originally thought. AP's go-to "historian" is, as Wikipedia shows, a shameless politically active far-leftist (HT Eric at Vocal Minority).
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Two Associated Press writers, with the help of accompanying photos at ABCnews.com, have dug down deep and reached a new low in dismal, depressive reporting.
You can be forgiven if, after reading the entire Saturday afternoon "report" by Alan Fram and Eileen Putman of the Associated Press, you worry that the two writers plan to jump from the nearest tall building -- and take their readers with them -- unless Barack Obama wins the White House.
This is how the pained pair's incredibly over-the-top report begins (note how the headline answers the question before the text begins; excerpted text is included here for fair use and discussion purposes, as are photos originally found at the ABC link that are included at the cross-post):
Everything seemingly is spinning out of control Out-of-control weather, gas prices, economy chip away at American self-confidence
As anyone aware of the concept of supply and demand could have foreseen, Americans are driving less now that gasoline prices have passed $4.00 per gallon. So on this morning’s Today show, NBC’s Tom Costello dutifully noted that Americans have driven 20 billion fewer miles so far this year, but then declared a “bad news” side effect of drivers buying less gasoline:
“We use federal tax money that comes from gasoline sales to maintain the nation’s roads and bridges. We’re looking at a billion-plus-dollar short fall right now, and the National Governors Association wants Congress to come in and fill the gap.”
I guess “filling the gap” could either mean hiking the tax on gasoline, or supplementing the highway fund with other tax dollars. Maybe the real “bad news” for consumers is that some politicians seem determined to collect all of the gasoline taxes they desire, whether drivers actually buy the gas or not.
Not a mere hell-freezes-over-moment. Call it–in honor of Chinese Olympic diving which made the NY Times today–a a triple-twisting forward three-and-a-half flying pig, pike position. An MSM reporter has condemned socialist big-government programs, adding a pitch for unrestrained free-market forces. Check the end of this item for a factoid making the moment even more remarkable.
CNBC's Michelle Caruso-Cabrera made the stunning statement on Morning Joe today while reporting on a change in Chinese policy that should lower the price of crude oil world-wide.
No wonder Barack Obama doesn't get challenged by the media on fundamentals -- y'know, things like how many states there are in the union (he says 57 or so), whether Illinois is closer to Kentucky than Arkansas (he says it's not), or whether Warren Buffett's income (!) is $56 billion (Obama seems to think that income and net worth are the same).
Apparently, some in the media have similar serious problems with basic economics and math.
Check out this from AFP about Americans' driving (bolds are mine):
ABC's World News and the NBC Nightly News gave plenty of time to left-wing environmentalists and Democrats opposed to President Bush's call to open up oil drilling off the shores of the continental U.S., but unlike the CBS Evening News the two newscasts provided equal time to supporters and experts who predicted it would lower gas prices. CBS reporter Bill Whitaker began with pro and con soundbites, but his story quickly deteriorated into a brief against the proposal with opponents and those saying it would do nothing to lower prices getting twice as many soundbites (4) as supporters (2).
Whitaker used California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to illustrate “bipartisan” opposition as he reminded viewers of a spill nearly 40 years ago: “In California, which suffered a devastating oil spill from a rig off Santa Barbara in 1969, opposition to offshore drilling is bipartisan.” Following a soundbite from Schwarzenegger, Whitaker hailed how “from Republican Governor Schwarzenegger to local environmentalists, California is largely green.” Whitaker next tried to undermine the proposal: “Drilling opponents say reserves off California wouldn't last long. In fact, at current consumption rates, 21 million barrels a day, Americans would use up the estimated 18 billion barrels off the coasts all around the country in less than two and a half years.”
Out: Suggestions that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has lost his bearings. In: Jokes about him being "liable to break a hip."
Opening his Campaign Sketch column today, Washington Post's Dana Milbank painted the Arizona senator as a political dancer shuffling left-and-right all over the campaign floor:
If John McCain keeps dancing like this, he's liable to break a hip.
Last month, he shimmied to the left on energy policy, infuriating conservatives with a plan to cap carbon emissions. Yesterday, he shuffled back to the right, demanding an end to quarter-century-old bans on offshore oil drilling.
Barack Obama’s press contingent has shrunk now that the primary campaign is over, but will we learn of everything he’s saying on the stump? On Monday in Flint, Michigan, Obama repeatedly declared that we’re funding terrorists when we buy foreign oil. In Tuesday’s Washington Post, Obama’s Flint speech drew one sentence at the very end of a story on page A-7. Doesn’t this passage stand out? (Courtesy of reporter Lynn Sweet's blog):
Oil money pays for the bombs going off from Baghdad to Beirut, and the bombast of dictators from Caracas to Tehran. Our nation will not be secure unless we take that leverage away, and our planet will not be safe unless we move decisively toward a clean energy future.
This is an odd passage for several reasons. First and foremost, far from taking "leverage" away from dictators in Caracas and Tehran, candidate Obama has explicitly promised to meet them without any troublesome diplomatic preconditions.
Second, Obama’s declaration that our oil purchases buy bombs on the Arab street doesn’t specify whether he means Iran, Saudi Arabia, or somehow al-Qaeda.
With oil prices approaching $150 a barrel, and gas now over $4 a gallon (approaching $5 where I live!), Newt Gingrich's American Solutions for Winning the Future has launched a campaign to force Congress to reconsider current policies that prevent our nation from drilling for oil within its borders and territorial waters:
As gas prices continue to increase, Congress continues to blame others while ignoring practical steps to stop the pain Americans are feeling at the pump. To lower gasoline prices and reduce our dependence on foreign oil, we need real solutions to our energy challenges.
With this in mind, AS has started an online petition, with almost 750,000 signatures collected already, with the following goal (video embedded right of actor Chuck Norris explaining the campaign):
The Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger got out the gloom-and-doom paint in his report on the Consumer Price Index on Friday morning.
Here are his opening paragraphs:
Inflation rate jumps by biggest amount in 6 months
Inflation shot up in May at the fastest pace in six months, pushed higher by soaring costs for gasoline and other types of energy.
The Labor Department reported Friday that consumer prices rose by 0.6 percent last month, the biggest one-month increase since last November, as gasoline costs surged by 5.7 percent. Food prices, which have also been rising sharply, were up 0.3 percent as the cost of beef and bakery products showed big gains.
Core inflation, which excludes energy and food, edged up a more moderate 0.2 percent in May. But even there, core prices are up 2.3 percent over the past 12 months, above the Federal Reserve's comfort zone.
Trouble is, the markets weren't buying into the negativity Crutsinger was selling, as SmartMoney.com reported after the closing bell:
On Thursday, ABC News took global warming hysteria to a new level.
After Chris Cuomo and Bob Woodruff previewed an upcoming environmental scare piece on "Good Morning America" as previously reported by my colleague Scott Whitlock, an article was posted at the network's website asking (emphasis added throughout):
Are we living in the last century of our civilization? Is it possible that all of our technology, knowledge and wealth cannot save us from ourselves? Could our society actually be heading towards collapse?
Following this irresponsibly alarmist opening paragraph, the article continued:
This September, in Earth 2100, a dramatic ABC News 2-hour broadcast, the greatest minds across the globe will join together in a countdown to the year 2100 to tell us what we must do to survive the next century … And what may happen if we don't.
As Whitlock transcribed for your review Thursday, here were some of the key moments of hysteria on that morning's "GMA" (video available here):
U.S. corn futures topped out at record highs on June 11 on the news that the impact of flooding in the Midwest would hurt this year's corn crop, but the June 11 "CBS Evening News" left out one significant detail in its reporting about the crisis.
"[A]gricultural disaster aid has been requested for Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan," CBS correspondent Cynthia Bowers said on the June 11 "Evening News." "The federal government estimates that this year's corn crop will be 10 percent lower than last year's. That's down 1.4 billion bushels, and it's too late to do much about it."
According to a Reuters story, corn prices on the Chicago Board of Trade have shot up 80 percent in the last 12 months, with almost 17 percent of that just this month. But Bowers didn't explain how the prices got so high before the floods, which put consumers of corn products in this vulnerable position. Corn futures were already priced high because of a heightened demand - artificially stimulated by federal government subsidies for ethanol produced from corn.
CNN continued to harp about "big oil’s" record profits and the Democrats’ proposed windfall taxes on companies like ExxonMobil on Wednesday. In an interview of Kansas Senator Sam Brownback on "American Morning," co-host John Roberts was amazed over the Republican’s opposition to the tax proposal. "There were a couple of other provisions in this bill. One of them were to roll back the $17 billion in annual tax breaks so that these five biggest oil companies get. Together, they made... $36 billion in profits in the first quarter this year. Why do they need $17 billion in tax breaks?" Later, during "The Situation Room," host Wolf Blitzer returned to his laser-beam focus on ExxonMobil as a particularly "guilty" part of "big oil." He asked former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, "Explain why it's appropriate at this time of rising gas prices, for ExxonMobil, for example, to get additional tax cuts."
Last week I noted how Time.com posted an unscientific poll on its Web site asking readers to vote whether "gas and heating oil [should] be rationed until prices come down." At the time I lamented that it "serves to further the MSM's fear-mongering about the economy while banging its left-wing drum beat about oil and gas prices."
Today the magazine's Web site is asking another gas price question, with two options that play to extremes. "Is $4-plus gas" either a "disaster for the economy" or a "boon for environmentalism" asks the poll.
What, no third option for "both"? After all, a disaster for the economy resulting in a steep recession would surely do wonders for reducing America's carbon footprint!
So far nearly 6-out-of-10 respondents have said it's a "disaster" for the economy, which must be bad news for global warming alarmists that our friends at the Business & Media Institute have documented.
What's more, as BMI archives show, media bias in favor of high gas prices isn't anything new.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer pressed McCain campaign adviser Carly Fiorina about oil companies "awash in record profits" on Tuesday’s "The Situation Room." The CNN host used ExxonMobil as an example five different times in his questioning. "...ExxonMobil has got these billions and billions of dollars in record profits. They can afford to not necessarily get additional tax cuts."
After Fiorina outlined McCain’s proposal to lower the federal business tax rate at the beginning of the segment, which began 14 minutes into the 5 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, Blitzer took a persistent stance in asking if the reduction in taxes included "big oil." First, the CNN host asked, "Would that reduction of the tax rate also include, as Obama says, ExxonMobil and the other big oil companies, who are awash in record profits?"
The three broadcast network evening newscasts on Tuesday framed coverage, of a Democratic Senate plan to somehow lower gas prices by imposing a “windfall profits” tax on oil companies which they would just pass on to consumers, around how Republicans “blocked” the effort. No one cast any doubt on the presumption the oil companies are earning “windfall” and/or “excessive” profits.
Fill-in NBC anchor Ann Curry's very short update: “Now to the high price of oil and gas. Senate Republicans today blocked a Democratic plan to impose a windfall profit tax on oil companies.” CBS's Katie Couric, who unlike Curry at least noted how “Republicans said it would have done nothing to lower the price of gas,” asserted: “Senate Republicans today blocked Democrats from slapping a tax on the windfall profits of oil companies.”
ABC twice displayed on screen text favorable to the liberal position: “Senate Republicans block Democratic plan to tax oil companies' windfall profits.” And: “Special tax for excessive oil profits.”
Blame do-nothing Republicans for high gas prices. That was the impression visitors to ABCNews.com got this afternoon.
Among the "top headlines" lineup Web site editors included a story on "Fueling Anger" with the teaser headline: "Rejected! Big Oil Tax Gets Shelved." [see related post about CBSNews.com's bias here]
The accompanying caption to the ABC photo illustration read, "With prices soaring, GOP halts Democrats' wide-ranging energy plan."
The article itself, by writer Z. Byron Wolf, was front-loaded with bias, slamming Republicans for their filibuster of a new windfall profits tax measure while dismissing the GOP's energy plan as ineffective in the short term (emphases mine):
"Republicans Block Taxes on Big Oil Profits" blares the teaser headline on the front page of CBSNews.com. Under a graphic of the Capitol dome and a fuel gauge nearing empty, the caption reads "Senate GOP Stops Dems' Effort To Rein In Profits Of Largest Oil Companies As Gas Prices Soar."
That's a lot of bias packed into 24 words, and that's before the reader gets to the actual article. Notice the lack of cynicism as to the motive of the Democrats, who are painted on the side of consumers against industry, although the primary beneficiary of a windfall tax would be, well, the Democratic Congress.
There are limits to what you can properly communicate in a headline, but a more neutral treatment might have been: "Republicans Block Advance of Oil Profit Tax: Democrats say tax will encourage alternative fuel research, Republicans argue it will worsen energy problems."
In the AP/CBS article itself, oil industry claims that a windfall tax is counterproductive were summarily dismissed with a populist soundbite by a Democratic politician:
Today's dramatic $6-a-barrel spike in oil has been blamed on a couple of factors - a forecast by Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) claiming oil would hit $150 a barrel by July and a weakening dollar off news unemployment increased half a percent for the month of May.
But CNBC contributor John Kilduff, who is also the vice president of risk management for MF Global (NYSE:MF), told viewers on the June 6 "Squawk on the Street" geopolitical factors, specifically remarks from an Israeli official about attacking a nuclear facility in Iran, is behind the spike.
"[W]hat's really lit up this market big time here is, which hasn't been really mentioned. I haven't heard too much and I'm surprised at, is deputy minister in Israel said this morning that an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities is quote, ‘unavoidable,'" said Kilduff on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street."
Today's Web poll on Time.com asks "Should gas and heating oil be rationed until prices come down?"
It's a non-scientific Web poll of course, so in some sense it's just mindless, fluffy filler. But on the other hand, including this only serves to further the MSM's fear-mongering about the economy while banging its left-wing drum beat about oil and gas prices.
Since taking that second screencap earlier today, more votes have been cast by readers, with the numbers shifting slightly in favor of gas rationing to 39 percent of respondents.
"It's not just here and it's not just GM. Since 2005, the big three - GM, Ford and Chrysler - have had 70 plants and supplier shutdowns with a total loss of 149,000 American jobs," CBS correspondent Cynthia Bowers said. "At the same time, foreign automakers selling more fuel-efficient vehicles are building five new U.S. plants that will employ 24,000 workers over the next three years."
In a hard economic times story by NBC's Kevin Tibbles on Monday's "Today" show there was a not-so-subliminal pro-Obama message on display as several times pro-Obama signs found their way into the background. Reporting on the increased traffic to pawn shops by the desperate to make ends meet in the "rocky economy," Tibbles, didn't mention Obama by name but the Illinois senator's name or image popped up in the background several times.
Tibbles, or at least his cameraman and/or producer, seemed to be sending the not-so-subtle message that the presumed Democratic presidential nominee could be the savior from these tough economic times.
The following is the full story as it occurred on the June 2, "Today" show:
The economy plodded ahead at a 0.9 percent pace in the first quarter - slightly better than first estimated - but still underscoring caution on the part of consumers and businesses walloped by housing, credit and financial problems.
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show" co-host Julie Chen introduced a segment on rising gas prices and what people are doing to ease the cost: "This morning in our series 'Running on Empty' the news gets worse about gas prices. They jumped 15 cents in one week to a national average of $3.94 a gallon, according to the Energy Department. That is a record price. And it's forcing some drivers to take extreme measures to save money on gas."
Correspondent Jeff Glor then reported on how, "...desperate times call for desperate measures. Some people are doing anything they can to save on gas, while others are trying to avoid buying gas altogether." As one example, Glor highlighted a woman from San Antonio, Texas named Jessica Busby: "Then there's Jessica Busby, using her bike to get to a blood donation center two times a week. She pumps out her own blood, making $40 a pop so she has enough money to pump gas."
In an April Fool’s edition of the Media Research Center’s Notable Quotables in 2005, the MRC’s Rich Noyes came very close to Glor’s report with this fictional quote from "Early Show" correspondent Thalia Assuras: "The evidence is all over the Internet: healthy young people are putting their own organs up for sale, desperate for money to deal with fast-rising gas prices. Grad student Julie Potts just sold her kidney on Ebay."
The media have been quick to paint the slow-growing economy as though it's in recession. Indeed, as our friends at the Business & Media Institute discovered, the MSM now is painting the economy much worse than the print media reported the 1929 stock market crash that marked the beginning of the Great Depression.
But kudos are due U.S. News & World Report's Rick Newman for staking out a contrarian stand.
In his May 27 piece, "Why Consumers Are Underconfident," Newman lists five reasons why consumers are overly pessimistic and hence consumer confidence numbers misleading as far as being an accurate barometer of the economy. Here's an excerpt including one of those reasons, "the freak-out factor":