The Dow dropped 5,585 points since its high a year ago, banks have been afraid to lend and the government bought billions in toxic mortgage-backed securities. So CBS's "The Early Show" went to some top finance experts to explain what was happening to viewers, right? Nope, they went to kids, Oct. 10.
Weatherman Dave Price talked to fifth graders in Arlington, Va., about the credit crisis, exclaiming, "You wouldn't believe how much they know, sometimes we ought to listen to them and their solutions."
"What one thing does your mom waste money on?" Price asked one student.
"Mmm, smokes, I guess," a fifth grade girl from Glebe Elementary School replied.
The Securities and Exchange Commission ended the 16-day ban on short selling Oct. 9, which has left many journalists asking if the ban actually worked to keep more banks from failing.
The staff at the Business & Media Institute's video blog, "The Biz Flog," could have told you the ban wasn't a good idea when they put together "Who's Afraid of a Big Bad Short Seller?"But, it's nice to see some members of the media questioning if the ban worked:
"While the ban was in place, other market forces pushed key indices into a rapid decline. We are going to see if that ban actually slowed the freefall or perhaps made it worse," Fox Business Network host Alexis Glick said on "Money for Breakfast," Oct. 9.
Glick went on to point out that the ban also affected companies that weren't banks:
One of Barack Obama's biggest lines, which he repeats at every campaign event and delivered in Tuesday night's Town Hall Debate in Nashville, is that the Wall Street financial crisis was created by deregulation - deregulation, he hastens to add, is the policy of George W. Bush, John McCain and the Republicans.
He made the charge in response to the first question in the debate (transcript) last night:
And I believe this is a final verdict on the failed economic policies of the last eight years, strongly promoted by President Bush and supported by Sen. McCain, that essentially said that we should strip away regulations, consumer protections, let the market run wild, and prosperity would rain down on all of us.
When Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld testified before the House Oversight Committee Oct. 6, the media criticized his wealth and spending amidst financial turmoil in his company and on Wall Street. But conspicuously missing was the story of Fuld's political contributions.
The Media Research Center's Director of Communications and NewsBusters.org Contributing Editor Seton Motley appeared on Friday afternoon on the Fox News Channel's American Election HQ to discuss how Bill O'Reilly handled his interview of Rep. Barney Frank, as well as how ABC's The View routinely abuses Gov. Sarah Palin.
Motley expressed thanks and gratitude that FINALLY someone in the media was asking Rep. Frank about his extensive history of blockading, stonewalling and grandstanding against attempts to reform Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, O'Reilly's righteously indignant questioning notwithstanding.
Motley also cautioned that "there is no diving in The View's thought pool," and pointed out that their panel make-up is biased in typical media fashion: three liberals and one conservative.
"They're safe if they're used properly, but so often they're not and so I consider them to be dangerous," said Dr. Alanna Levine, a pediatrician based in Englewood Hospital in New York.
The CBS segment focused on new regulations of over-the-counter cough and cold medicines for children by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but left out any representation by pharmaceutical companies or trade organizations.
Levine stressed problems with use of the product telling viewers that emergency rooms see up to 7,000 children a year, but she focused on the medicines, not on the caregivers improperly administering them to children.
Conservative opposition to a federal bailout of financial institutions is over campaign donations, not a desire to uphold sound market principles, according to CNBC.
CNBC's chief Washington correspondent John Harwood said Sept. 25 on "Squawk Box" that he had a conversation with "a top Republican member of congress last night" who told him the resistance among conservatives to the $700 billion bailout plan is in part due to Wall Street donations to Democrats.
"‘A lot of our guys have decided that we hate Wall Street ... because they're giving a lot of money to Democrats right now,'" Harwood said he was told by an unnamed source.
"We've talked about how nice the bi-partisan coming together of the far left and the far right to oppose this plan. It was heartwarming, right? That finally brought the fringe elements of both sides together on this," co-host Joe Kernen joked.
Nationalization has its consequences. Just note the rhetoric coming from some prominent voices on the left.
The government's foray into offering services normally provided by the private sector by bailing out aging mortgage giants gives it the power to implement "green" building requirements, according to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman.
He suggested Sept. 23 that any construction financed by government-funded mortgages should be certified "green" according to the standards of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System.
Borrowing from the nickname for a federal earmark that would have built a multi-million dollar bridge for an Alaska town of 50 people, Newsweek's Mark Hosenball offers readers of the September 29 print magazine a look at "[Gov. Sarah] Palin's Pipeline to Nowhere."
Hosenball suggests that Palin's $500-million "principal achievement" as governor "might never be built after all." But while the headline evokes images of the "Bridge to Nowhere," this isn't a case of government waste as much as it is of the endless red tape of lawsuits.:
Approximately half of the proposed pipeline would run through Canada; native tribes who live along its route complain they haven't been consulted about it and are threatening to sue unless they are compensated. Representatives of the canadian tribes, known as First Nations, say Palin and other pipeline proponents are treating them with disrespect. The tribes' lawyers warn that the courts are on their side and say the Indians have the power to delay the pipeline for years-or even kill it entirely by filing endless lawsuits.
On Monday’s American Morning, CNN correspondent Jim Acosta tried to throw a bit of cold water on the news that tens of thousands showed up in central Florida for a Sarah Palin camapign rally on Sunday. When co-host John Roberts asked about the high turnout, Acosta replied, "[T]his was an enormous crowd out here in Florida. She is still very much on script, John -- still very much on that teleprompter, talking mainly in generalities."
Roberts, besides asking about the Palin rally, asked if the Alaska governor had mentioned the proposed financial bailout during her speech, since the two of them had discussed Barack Obama and John McCain’s responses to the proposal and how it may affect how the two will campaign on the issue of the economy. Besides mentioning the "enormous crowd," he referenced how the campaign stop was located in "that central Florida -- critical I-4 corridor area," and how Palin played up McCain’s credentials with economic issues.
In a September 19 "Good Morning America" preview of a report scheduled to appear on the same day's edition of ABC's "20/20," chief investigative reporter Brian Ross took a few jabs at the rich who had fallen.
Ross called it "the end of a shameful chapter of American history," and although top executives on Wall Street had been hit hard in a way "they never thought was possible ... it's hardly the soup kitchen."
There was also much indignation in the report over the assets of Richard S. Fuld Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of now fallen Lehman Brothers Inc., and Alan Schwartz, the CEO of now "busted" Bear Stearns.
Comparisons to the current Wall Street financial situation to the Great Depression have not been unusual in the media, but Thursday's NBC Nightly News went a step further into inducing panic. Delivering a healthy dose of hyperbole, Steve Liesman of CNBC prompted a “wow” from anchor Brian Williams when he raised the spectre that the credit troubles could lead, “some” would say, to the “U.S. becoming a banana republic” while those in favor of federal action to take over bad debt “would say by losing our banking system, and maybe even Wall Street the way we're going, we would be that much closer to being a banana republic.” Leisman's warning:
I think there are some people who would say that this is, creates a danger, taking on all this bad debt of the U.S. becoming a banana republic. I think those, the proponents of this plan would say by losing our banking system, and maybe even Wall Street the way we're going, we would be that much closer to being a banana republic.
In the midst of declaring the present economic troubles as comparable to the Great Depression, NBC's Today interviewed both John McCain and Joe Biden on Tuesday morning. Matt Lauer pressed against McCain's recent line that the economic fundamentals are strong: "But fundamentally speaking, isn't there something wrong with the fundamentals, right now, that's causing these nightmares that we're seeing?" Meredith Vieira asked Biden a tax question from the right: "You and Senator Obama are calling for tax increases on the wealthy and there are many economists who say that, that would hurt the economy even more." Biden objected as if the world never met a free-market economist: "I don't know any economist who is saying that." Vieira also asked why the Democrats aren't much further ahead with this gloomy economic outlook.
After the show's introductory sequence, Lauer declared himself the paperboy for a moment, relaying the New York newspaper headlines including: "The Daily News likes shorter and snappier. They simply say: ‘Shock Market.' They're calling this the biggest shakeup in financial markets since The Great Depression." Did they already forget "Black Monday" from October 1987?
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith interviewed John McCain about the recent collapse of Wall Street investment banks: " I want to make sure I have this straight now. Yesterday, on the campaign trail, you reiterated that you believe the fundamentals of the economy are strong. At the same time, we understand your campaign is issuing an ad that says the economy is in crisis. Which is it?" After McCain explained that he was referring to American workers, and that there is a crisis, Smith asked: "And the answer for which is what? Because throughout your campaign, you have said you are anti-regulation. Would not oversight have helped avert this crisis?"
Later, Smith asked: "Let me ask you this. Earlier this year on the campaign trail, you said -- or you admitted that you didn't know a lot about the economy. Why should voters trust you in these perilous times with the economy of the United States?" McCain responded: "You know, that's one of the interesting things about having long conversations. The point is, I was chairman of the Commerce Committee. Every part of America's economy, I oversighted. I have a long record, certainly far more extensive of being involved in our economy than Senator Obama does. I understand the economy. I know the issues-" At that point Smith interrupted: "Well, if that's the case, wouldn't you bear more responsibility for some of the crisis we're in then?"
New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff's "Reflections: New Orleans and China" showed that he shared the same affliction as Times foreign affairs columnist Tom Friedman -- gauging the success of the strong central power of Communist China by looking at its shining and efficient surface, without questioning its effect on the nation's unseen citizenry. For good measure, he even held Ronald Reagan responsible for both the devastation from Hurricane Katrina and last year's deadly Minneapolis bridge collapse.
For Americans watching events unfold on television late last month, the arduous evacuation of New Orleans and the grandeur of the Olympic Games couldn't have made for a starker contrast.
However one feels about its other policies, the Chinese government is clearly not afraid to invest in the future of its cities. The array of architecture it created for the Beijing Olympics was only part of a mosaic of roads, bridges, tunnels, canals, subway lines and other projects that have transformed a medieval city of wood and brick into a modern metropolis overnight.
On MSNBC's "Morning Joe" September 8, Jim Cramer took a shot at owner of The Wall Street Journal, Rupert Murdoch, in the midst of talking about the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac takeover:
I read The Wall Street Journal, sorry, The Fox Street Journal. When is Murdoch going to put his positive right wing implant on left wing journalists? ... When is Murdoch going to broom the Spartacus workers union?
As for Fannie and Freddie, Cramer told the hosts of the September 8 broadcast that "We had a laissez-faire attitude. Now we are going to have the greatest bureaucracy in history created by Republicans. I'm an agent of change," Cramer said sarcastically.
Later in the segment, Cramer joked that the Democratic Party were "Bolsheviks" quipping, "There. How's that for biased media?"
On Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer interviewed Republican presidential candidate John McCain and wondered why Americans weren’t sacrificing more during a time of war: "But we have one half of one percent of the American people who are making all of the sacrifice in this war. If the rest of us didn't watch television or looked at the newspaper, we might not know there's a war going on. Our taxes didn't go up, there's no rationing. If you didn't look for it, you wouldn't know the war was going on. Shouldn't there be some way, in a democracy, that we share this burden?"
Earlier in the interview, Schieffer asked McCain about the Republican convention and the delegates represented:
Mercantilism [emphasis added]: An economic doctrine that flourished in Europe from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Mercantilists held that a nation's wealth consisted primarily in the amount of gold and silver in its treasury. Accordingly, mercantilist governments imposed extensive restrictions on their economies to ensure a surplus of exports over imports. In the eighteenth century, mercantilism was challenged by the doctrine of laissez-faire.
When Barack Obama talks—and talks—about the future, does he really mean "back to the future"? You have to wonder after reading the column by one of his economic advisors in today's LA Times. In Renewing America's 'contract with the middle class, Leo Hindery Jr. explicitly calls for a return to mercantilism, the discredited theory of economics popular during the 17th and 18th centuries. Hindery [emphasis added]:
It is imperative -- way past time, in fact -- for America to be as mercantilist as are our trading partners.
Anecdotal evidence is pretty much useless in science, a discipline steeped in empirical data. But that's no matter to the Associated Press or the Washington Post, which published an August 31 AP article about how "Scientists See Fewer Fireflies." The subheading quickly qualified that the "[e]vidence is anecdotal, but experts fault sprawl, pollution."
Of course some of the quoted experts in Casey's article aren't really experts, they're amateur scientists at best, with sprawl and pollution serving as coded language for faulting capitalism for allegedly raping the environment.
AP writer Michael Casey waited until the fifth paragraph of his Thailand-bylined article to confess that "[t]he evidence is entirely anecdotal but anecdotes abound" about a mass worldwide holocaust of the flying luminous bugs.
This after quoting one Preecha Jiabyu, a tour guide on Thailand's Mae Klong River, who dropped an unsubstantiated statistic for readers. "The firefly populations have dropped 70 percent in the past three years," insisted Preecha, whose entomological credentials Casey failed to establish for readers.
"Good Morning America" criticized fees charged to customers who return rental cars without a full tank of gas - part of a standard car rental agreement.
"The only thing more expensive than gassing up your car these days is not gassing up your rental car," reporter Elisabeth Leamy explained to viewers on August 29. She said companies across the nation charge as much as $8 per gallon for cars returned unfilled.
Sometimes the qualities that make a strong candidate in one pool make them a weak candidate in another pool.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney would hurt Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain as a running mate because of "vulnerability" stemming from his successful businesses and support for free trade, according to a reporter for The Washington Post.
"On the whole subject of trade deals and free trade agreements is that a vulnerability, a potential vulnerability on the side of Mitt Romney?" Andrea Mitchell asked Post reporter Chris Cillizza on the August 28 broadcast of "MSNBC Live".
"It absolutely is," said Cillizza, who writes "The Fix" blog at WashingtonPost.com. "And that's a calculation I think the McCain campaign has to make. Yes, Mitt Romney has great business bona fides. Built a business, he used that line many times in the primary: ‘I know why jobs come and I know why they go.'"
"The other side of that, however, is he worked for a company called Bingham Capital that occasionally engaged in leverage buyouts, that means shipping jobs overseas. That's not the kind of thing that's going to go over well in these rust belt states where McCain needs to perform well, most notably Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania," Cillizza said.
Thursday's edition of CNN's "American Morning" featured a "fact checking" segment on the claims former President Bill Clinton made about his accomplishments as president during his speech to the Democratic National Convention. The segment wasn't much of a "fact check" as CNN Business Correspondent Christine Romans mostly reminisced about the "glory days" of the '90's. But what she did find was that the worst part of Clinton's presidency was one of his more conservative actions: "He also signed into law a historic deregulation of the financial system,dismantling laws from the Great Depression that many say would have protected us against the current mortgage crisis."
Other problems the correspondent found with Clinton's presidency include: "the go-go days of the '90s also gave us the dotcom boom. And when that went bust, Allan Greenspan and the Federal Reserve lowered the interest rates to ease the pain. Dropping them so low, many now see the roots of the current housing mess way back in the dotcom boom. Plus, the '90s gave us this obsession with record home ownership with Clinton as a principal cheerleader."
Partly because this story doesn't fit preconceived liberal storylines and partly because the Democratic Convention is taking up all the oxygen in the mainstream media, you can expect this story to remain buried in your newspaper and be given little if any attention on cable news networks.
From page 17 of today's Financial Times, "US drillers to get $1bn court award" comes news of how federal government red tape often holds up oil companies for drilling on leases they've already sunk billions of dollars into (emphasis mine):
A US federal appeals court ruled yesterday that 11 oil and gas companies should receive more than $1bn awarded to them in 2006 after the government effectively changed the terms of leases to drill off the California coast.
The US Court of Appeals was upholding a 2006 ruling that the government had breached the leases when changes in federal law materially interfered with the companies' efforts to develop the oil and gas reserves off California.
The case points to the difficulties US oil and gas companies have developing oil and gas resources in the US.
So if a government program has been failing for decades, should you A) Privatize it, B) Get rid of it altogether, or C) Throw millions of dollars at it and hope that Americas somehow feel compelled to reenact scenes from "Some Like it Hot."
The answer is C if you were watching CNN this morning.
"American Morning" pointed out that high gas prices were the reason ridership on Amtrak was up 14 percent and then pushed for more funding for the government-sponsored program through a recent Senate proposal.
"The problem for Amtrak of course though is that they haven't had a single new passenger car since 1990," said personal finance editor Gerri Willis on the August 21 broadcast. "Their cars, even the locomotives are old and aging; they're asking Congress for help. Dick Durbin has introduced legislation into the Senate to try and do something about that. Interestingly he says that Thanksgiving is going to be a wake up call for Americans as we all try to go visit relatives for the holidays."
"What they need is new track, because every Sunday it's like this all the way up," said co-host John Roberts simulating a bumpy train ride with his anchor chair.
Chris Matthews: Back With an Obamania Vengeance . . .
If Barack Obama makes it to the White House, perhaps he should appoint Chris Matthews Commissar of Gosplan, the Commission charged with developing the economy's Five Year Plans. The Hardball host, back from vacation, displayed the enthusiasm of a dutiful apparatchik in praising an Obama ad that in turn amounted to a pitch for central planning.
During the "ad wars" segment on this evening's Hardball, Matthews first played a McCain ad that hit Obama over his plans to raise taxes and his lack of readiness to lead. After Andrea Mitchell suggested that the ad is "the wrong tone for the [NBC] Olympics," during which it's playing, Matthews wondered whether McCain is "the Grinch that stole the Olympics," and suggested a "taste test," comparing Obama's ad. Here's the ad's text:
VOICEOVER: The hands that built this nation can build a new economy. The hands that harvest crops can also harvest the wind [images of electricity-generating wind turbines.] The hands that install roofs can also install solar panels. The hands that build today's cars can also build the next generation of fuel-efficient vehicles. Barack Obama: a new vision for our economy. Fast-track alternative fuels. Create five million jobs developing home-grown energy technologies. Because America's future is in our hands.
In a bizarre rant against President Bush at the end of Sunday’s "Face the Nation," CBS host Bob Schieffer made an odd analogy between the president and the fairy tale villain in reaction to the Bush Administration’s opposition to providing the Food and Drug Administration with more regulatory power over the tobacco industry: "The administration, incredibly, in my opinion, opposes it for a reason that would make the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland proud."
Schieffer began his commentary by declaring: "I'm delighted the House will vote this week on legislation that for the first time will give the Food and Drug Administration real power to regulate tobacco products. I hope it passes." He then decried the Bush Administration’s reason for opposing the measure:
Their reason: That the FDA already has such a huge job monitoring food safety, that it just doesn't have the resources to take on the additional job of regulating tobacco. If it did, the administration argues, regulating food and drugs might suffer. I couldn't be more serious. That really is their main reason. By that logic, we shouldn't have asked the military or our intelligence agencies to get involved in fighting terrorism after 9/11. For sure, they already had plenty to do before Osama Bin Laden came along.
Considering how long it has taken for the FDA to find the source of a recent nationwide salmonella outbreak, it seems the administration’s concerns are well-grounded.
Breaking ABC news: things get hot in the sun. "Good Morning America's" Elisabeth Leamy reported on July 24 that playground equipment gets so hot in the sun, it could harm your children.
ABC's Diane Sawyer grabbed the attention of parents saying, "Well as the temperatures rise for the summer, we decided to go out and test some of the equipment in playgrounds. It's a safety alert for all parents out there because some of it is truly scalding."
That enlightening news was followed by Leamy's suggestion of government regulations of playground equipment. "Diane, this is one of those stories that pits people who want the government to do more to make the playground safe against people who say parents should know better," said Leamy.
Don't blame Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., member of two influential banking committees - the Senate Finance Committee and the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs - for IndyMac's collapse, says CNBC's Erin Burnett.
Burnett, host of CNBC "Street Signs," disagreed with a claim by MSNBC "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough that a letter to regulators from Schumer caused a run on the beleaguered bank IndyMac, which eventually led to its failure and takeover by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
"I don't think Chuck Schumer caused a run on the bank," Burnett said on MSNBC's July 24 "Morning Joe." "This is the new world of banking. Companies, banks come out and they say, and they say, ‘Oh my gosh - our stock's down 20 percent. It's being manipulated. Please come in and help us government. Oh my gosh, there's a run on our bank - let's blame it on a senator.'"
The Biz Flog, the video blog over at the Business and Media Institute, takes at look at the effect the high cost of oil has had on the airline industry, and the effect that has had on passengers seeing higher ticket prices and fees.
Instead of focusing on and explaining the real causes of higher ticket prices, the media have accused the airline industry of trying to “nickel-and-dime” passengers.
On “MSNBC Live” July 9 host Tamron Hall gave a report on the quality of commercial airline travel, calling price increases “nickel-and-dime fees.”
“Passengers think they’re getting nickel-and-dimed,” host of the Today show, Matt Lauer said July 9 on the morning program. “All the things that were free on planes are now costing us.”
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: