On Friday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Jeff Glor reported on the role of Joe the Plumber, a.k.a. Joe Wurzelbacher, in the presidential campaign: "The McCain campaign is using Wurzelbacher to say their opponent would raise taxes. Though it turns out, Wurzelbacher himself owes nearly $1,200 in back taxes and his annual tax bill would actually go down under Obama's plan." Glor then added: "Obama mocked the McCain strategy."
At the end of Glor’s report, co-host Harry Smith asked: "Yeah Jeff, we're starting to learn a little bit more about Joe/Steven, the Plumber?" Smith mistakenly referred to Wurzelbacher’s first name being Steven, when in fact it is Samuel, and he corrected himself: "Samuel." Glor responded: "A couple of more things about Joe the Plumber -- Samuel, indeed. He is registered to vote. There were some questions about that. He does not have a plumber's license, though. And it turns out his real first name is Samuel. Joe is his middle name." At that moment, an on screen Graphic appeared with the headline: "The Real Joe the Plumber" and listed the details Glor mentioned. On Thursday, co-host Maggie Rodriguez claimed that Wurzelbacher: "...feels like he is being used by the Republican Party as a pawn to make their point..." but offered no direct quote of any such comment.
With 15minutesoffame comes 15 hours of “gotcha” scrutiny -- especially if you’re a voter who has daredto criticize Barack Obama, the liberal media’s Chosen One for president.
Ohio plumber Joe Wurzelbacher has had his 15 minutes of fame, capping it off with an unplanned appearance as the poster boy of populist tax policy in last night’s presidential debate. So now it’s time for the press to turn its sights on him not as a human-interest story but as an investigative subject.
Jonathan Martin of The Politico was among the first out of the gate, with blog posts noting that Wurzelbacher, affectionately known by most of America as “Joe The Plumber,” has a tax lien against him and doesn’t have a plumber’s license. Martin conveniently forgot to mention that the law doesn’t require one.) Bloomberg also has a story on the tax lien, and AP and The Washington Post did their part to make a story out of the “unlicensed” non-story.
It may not have been "huge" when CNBC's Joe Kernen said it but the dude has been on practically every news station by now.
Kernen told chief Washington correspondent John Harwood that the "Joe the plumber" story "would be huge" and even a "bombshell," in any other election year. Kernen said voters "don't care" because they are buying into Sen. Obama's assertion that the Bush tax policies have led to the financial crisis.
"Obviously not everyone out there knows how to connect the dots between the [financial crisis] and tax policy. For some reason the Bush tax policies are being cited by Obama as the reason that we're in this position right now, again and again and again," said "Squawk Box" co-host Kernen Oct. 16.
ABC's "View" co-host Joy Behar dismissively called Joe Wurzelbacher's [Joe the Plumber] dream of owning a plumbing company a "fantasy" on the October 16 program. Co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck called her out on it (audio available here):
JOY BEHAR, co-host: Joe the Plumber doesn't have a business yet, he's fantasizing about a business he's going to have.
ELISABETH HASSELBECK, co-host: Fantasizing?! This is a man who's trying to realize his hard work.
BEHAR: Excuse me! Fantasizing is a very legitimate term to describe somebody who's predicting the future for themselves. Creative visualization, okay.
HASSELBECK: Fantasizing is a dangerous thing to say because it assumes that it is not attainable.
Joe the Plumber, the ordinary guy who audaciously asked Obama a question about taxes, is caught in the fierce spotlight of media disapproval.
The New York Times Politics Blog "The Caucus" shined a bright, interrogation light into the background of Samuel J.Wurzelbacher (Joe the Plumber) on Oct. 16.
The post by Larry Rohter and Liz Robbins rushed to point out that Joe "is not a licensed plumber." Armed with the statement from Local 50 plumber's union, Rohter and Robbins attacked Joe for "playing games with the world."
But the bloggers were playing games by burying one easy explanation for that fact.
"Unlike some other states, Ohio does not have a formal statewide licensing system for plumbers. But the city of Toledo and other municipalities do," the blog post said 10 paragraphs later.
The Times bloggers also dismissed Joe's question about Obama's tax plan saying, "The premise of his question to Mr. Obama about taxes may also be flawed, according to tax analysts."
Wurzelbacher has become the focal point of the presidential election because of his objections to Obama's plan to boost taxes on people who earn more than $250,000. Ironically, the plumber currently has an income level that would make him eligible for Obama's proposed tax cut rather than the tax increase.
But that doesn't address what impact Obama's tax hikes might have on Wurzelbacher's boss and how new taxes might adversely impact the plumbing company's payroll under an Obama administration.
After noting that Wurzelbacher admitted the company he's hoping to buy doesn't cross the quarter-million threshold, Ibanga seemed perplexed at his anger at the notion of taxing "rich" people for their success:
At the top of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez claimed that Joe Wurzelbacher, the Ohio plumber who criticized Obama’s tax policy, was upset that McCain mentioned him in Wednesday’s debate: "This is the small businessman first mentioned by John McCain, but then referenced repeatedly by both candidates. I had a chance to speak with Joe after the debate and he told me he did not like being mentioned, he feels like he is being used by the Republican Party as a pawn to make their point..." Despite that assertion, Rodriguez never offered any audio, video, or even a direct quote of Wurzelbacher saying any such thing.
However, in the same sentence, Rodriguez did admit: "...at the same time, he said since he has been thrust into this, he wants America to know that he absolutely disagrees with Senator Obama's tax plan. He says it punishes him for making more money and he even called it Marxist." In the report by correspondent Jeff Glor that followed, such criticism of Obama was backed up as audio of Wurzelbacher talking to Evening News anchor Katie Couric was played: "You know, I've always wanted to ask one of these guys a question and really corner them and get them to answer a question for once, instead of tap dancing around it. And unfortunately I asked the question but I still got a tap dance. He [Barack Obama] was almost as good as Sammy Davis Jr."
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith talked to former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and asked about negative attacks in the campaign: "Alright, one of the things that's happened in the McCain campaign over the last couple of days is the personal attacks seem to have at least subsided or quieted down a little bit. Do you think, in the long run, this might actually have been a fatal wound to the McCain-Palin campaign?" Giuliani responded: "I think there's a tendency on the media to blame it more on John McCain and Sarah Palin than on Barack Obama and his campaign but, to me, it's -- you know it's been coming from both sides." To that, Smith sarcastically replied: "Yeah, it's got to be the media's fault." Giuliani laughed and added: "Don't be defensive, Harry."
This is the not the first time Smith has denied Giuliani’s charges of media bias. On September 12, Giuliani criticized the media for attacking Sarah Palin’s experience but not applying similar scrutiny to Barack Obama: "The whole issue of whether she knows world affairs or not, these are questions that were never asked of Barack Obama, never asked of him to this day." Smith angrily denied any such bias: "That's not true. That's not true...That's not true. That is absolutely not true...That is absolutely not true. Those -- all those questions have been asked over the last 19 months." However, Smith himself conducted eight interviews with Obama and only asked two foreign policy questions of the inexperienced Senator.
The stock market is casting a vote of "no confidence" in Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and his Republican opponent is missing an opportunity to slam the freshman senator for an economic agenda that is a rehash of the worst of Presidents Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter.
So argued on-air editor Charles Gasparino in an October 13 op-ed in the New York Post, where the CNBC talent mentioned that even Obama's Wall Street backers are nervously telling him to change course on his economic plans (emphases mine):
Overall, his [Obama's] plan includes some of the most lethal tax increases imaginable, including a jump in the capital-gains rate. He'd expand government spending massively, with everything from new public-works projects to increases in foreign aid to a surge in Afghanistan - plus hand out a token $500 welfare check that he calls a tax cut to everyone else.
This is clearly the wrong way to go in the wake of an economic meltdown- yet Obama, for all his talk of how willing he is to compromise, of how he'd bring people together, is sticking to his tax guns.
I know at least one top Wall Street executive, an Obama supporter from the start of his campaign, who has recently urged Obama to rethink his tax plan - and that was before last week's record losses on the Dow.
There has been an unreality in the reports on the falling stock markets for at least the past 10 days. Each day's plunge seems to have been exclusively due to the "global economic crisis" and/or the supposed "freeze on credit."
Oddly enough, the admittedly small bank where I have my business accounts is having absolutely no problem funding mortgage, home-equity, and other loan applications from qualified borrowers -- a fact I confirmed just before posting this entry. With all due respect to the global business press, if there's truly a "freeze," how can that be?
I've put forth an alternative explanation to the media meme a couple of times this week myself, but an editorial at IBDeditorials.com yesterday brought out a major element of what I have been saying much more forcefully and articulately. Remarkably, though the possibility seems pretty obvious to me, and I suspect many others, I have seen no one in the business press covering daily market events even mention the obvious and quite likely alternative that follows.
The editorial, "Investors' Real Fear: A Socialist Tsunami," teases with the plaintive question, "What is it about the specter of our first socialist president and the end of capitalism as we know it that they don't understand?"
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.
Old Media's coverage of the recently-lifted executive and congressional bans on offshore exploration and drilling for oil and natural gas largely overlooked an important element that should have been very relevant to the discussion.
Supporters of lifting the bans surely share much of the blame for only rarely citing it. Though they have frequently noted the hundreds of billions of dollars a years annually sent overseas to pay for oil that could have been extracted here, they have mostly missed a golden opportunity to tell the American people what over a quarter-century of drilling bans has cost the government and taxpayers. They also generally failed to tell us about the windfall that awaits if the end of the offshore and other bans finally leads to appropriately aggressive use of this country's God-given resources.
But if we had inquisitive financial reporters in the business press who were interested in information relevant to the "Drill Baby Drill" debate instead of merely repackaging the press releases they received from those on both sides (the sole exception I found was this Wall Street Journal editorial), many more Americans would have long ago learned about what follows.
Sen. Barack Obama's campaign has put out three new ads in the last few days attacking Sen. John McCain's health care plan, two of which focus on the proposal of a tax credit.
The Obama campaign is telling viewers McCain will tax their health benefits. Sen. Joe Biden, Obama's running mate, told viewers of the October 2 debate the same thing. The mainstream media aren't correcting them.
The accusations are wrong. McCain is replacing one tax break with another - one that is much more generous and will be especially helpful to people who are uninsured.
Here's how McCain's plan works:
If you're insured through your employer: You already are getting a tax break - worth about $4,200 to the average American family. You don't see it because your health insurance - which is part of your compensation package - is tax-free.
McCain's tax credit of $5,000 for a family would replace this $4,200 break you're currently getting - and then some.
Ever since liberal media types felt robbed by the Bush-Quayle campaign’s "lies" about Michael Dukakis in 1988, we’ve been suffering through the media elite’s attempts to "police" the facts in advertisements. "Correction" squads are insisting that John McCain can’t say Barack Obama will raise taxes, no matter how much that announcing Democrats will raise taxes is like announcing the sun will rise.
In 1992, Vice President Dan Quayle suggested Bill Clinton would raise taxes on the middle class. Quayle said in the vice presidential debate that everyone over $36,000 could face a tax hike. Media "experts" accused the GOP of mangling "facts." President Clinton was elected – and passed the largest tax increase in American history, right down to the middle class.
"It was Quayle who repeatedly twisted and misstated the facts," CNN reporter Brooks Jackson had pronounced after the vice presidential debate. On ABC, Jeff Greenfield proclaimed: "Independent examination of this charge by, for example, press organizations, has found it, to say the least, misleading."
"The View" co-hosts, who seemingly have difficulty understanding the Constitution, have demonstrated their lack of understanding in economics. Recapping Friday’s presidential debate on the September 29 edition of "The View," co-host Sherri Shepherd wondered how we can raise taxes. Whoopi Goldberg replied "it’s not going to happen. We are in too much financial trouble. We can’t."
A very brief lesson in economics will explain to the co-hosts that financial crisis may be the time to reduce taxes. It certainly is not the time to raise taxes as Herbert Hoover demonstrated possibly aggravating and prolonging the Great Depression. According to economist Art Laffer, in his theory "The Laffer Curve," sometimes reducing taxes can in fact generate more revenue. While the other "View" co-hosts fretted about taxes, Elisabeth Hasselbeck cited Barack Obama in possibly scaling back on extravagant spending promises.
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.
Channeling Chris Matthews’ "thrill up my leg" remarks, "View" co-host Joy Behar described acquiring "a little tingle" when former President Bill Clinton appeared on Monday’s show. On the September 22 edition of "Larry King Live" Joy Behar described the former president as "charming," "charismatic," "he touched me a little," and "I got a little tingle."
When questioning why Barack Obama holds the elitist label and Bill Clinton does not, despite a perceptively similar background, Behar concluded that it must be racism. "The View" co-host seemed to forget that the elitist label primarily stems from Obama’s recorded conversation, at a posh San Francisco fundraiser, describing small town Pennsylvanians and midwesterners as "bitter" "clinging to guns and religion."
Hyping Obama’s background Behar declared Obama "has no sleaze." (Has she also forgotten about Obama’s relationship to Tony Rezko?) Echoing a "what’s the matter with Kansas" talking point, Joy hoped those racists voters would "come to their sense" and vote "their needs."
Notes on Friday night coverage of the Wall Street bail out:
On the NBC Nightly News, the always hyperbolic Jim Cramer saw “Great Depression II” avoided by the rescue effort, anchor Brian Williams raised 9/11 as he contended “this was the kind of jittery week in New York a lot of people had to go back to 9/11 to remember how they felt then,” prompting an “oh, wow” from CNBC's Maria Bartiromo, and Williams passed along how “a Democratic politico said to me this week, if the Democrats do their job, they'll make this 'fundamentals of the economy' quote to McCain what 'mission accomplished' was to President Bush.”
ABC's World News brought up Iraq as David Muir referred to how a man in Manhattan “asked today what about the more than $600 billion already spent on Iraq?” Muir also read an e-mail: “Why make the little people bail out these companies?” Of course, the “little people” won't since they barely or don't pay any income tax. One-third of those who file pay nothing or get money back while the bottom 50 percent ($32,000 down), who earn 12 percent of the total income, pay less than 3 percent of taxes collected. The top 25 percent ($65,000 up) pay 86 percent and the top 1 percent ($389,000) pay 40 percent, so maybe the wealthier will get something for all they put in.
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.
Writing Sen. Joe Biden's (D-Del.) recent suggestion that it's "patriotic" to pay higher taxes, Associated Press reporter Douglass K. Daniel provided a bit of cover for the Obama running mate by citing a left-leaning tax group and ignoring Obama's plans to hike capital gains taxes.:
Although Republican John McCain claims that Obama would raise taxes, the independent Tax Policy Center and other groups conclude that four out of five U.S. households would receive tax cuts under Obama's proposals.
"We want to take money and put it back in the pocket of middle-class people," Biden said in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America."
The Tax Policy Center may be independent of a political party apparatus, but it is decidedly liberal in orientation, a joint venture of two liberal think tanks, the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution.
ABC reporter David Wright on Tuesday night, forced to summarize the tax plans of John McCain and Barack Obama in 30 seconds, described them through a distorted liberal prism. Though McCain wishes to continue all the income tax rates from the Bush tax cuts, with no hike or decrease for any income level, Wright asserted: “He'd make permanent the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.” No, for all Americans.
Obama, Wright proceeded to report, “would raise taxes on the wealthy, people who make more than $250,000 a year, but cut them for most households.” The text on screen, however, stated an impossibility: “Cut taxes on most households (95%).” That 95 percent is impossible since one-third of those who file with the IRS are “non-payers,” people who end up paying no tax or get money back which exceeds their payments. Obama plans to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and create other credits. For those for whom the credits surpass their tax obligation, those are not tax cuts, but spending hikes or federal giveaways akin to welfare.
CNN pressed Senators John McCain and Joe Biden about their campaigns’ respective tax plans on Tuesday’s American Morning during back-to-back interviews. Co-host Kiran Chetry questioned McCain from the left, citing the supposedly "non-partisan" Tax Policy Center run by two liberal organizations, the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, while her colleague John Roberts asked Biden about the "income redistribution" that is part of the Obama/Biden campaign’s tax proposal.
Chetry interviewed McCain first, starting 24 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour of the CNN program, and first asked the Arizona senator to explain what he meant by saying that "the fundamentals of the economy are strong" and about regulation of businesses. She then brought up the issue of taxes: "I want to ask you about this, though, when it comes to tax policy -- the non-partisan Tax Policy Center calculated the middle class would actually save significantly more under Barack Obama's tax plan than yours. How will your tax cuts, as it breaks down on income level, benefit the working class and the middle class?"
On day one of "Good Morning America's" five day train trip across America, host Diane Sawyer announced a slate of guests filled almost entirely of liberals. At the top of Monday's program, Sawyer touted a schedule that included Barack Obama on the 15th, Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, John and Cindy McCain together on Wednesday, Joe Biden on Thursday and Michelle Obama on Friday. For those keeping track, that's four liberal guests and one conservative duo. (Notice that Barack and Michelle Obama each get their own day, while the McCains appear jointly.)
The journey on the rails, which GMA has dubbed the "Whistle-Stop Tour '08," began in several towns in Massachusetts. Three segments revolved around Sawyer and fellow co-hosts Chris Cuomo and Robin Roberts talking with either residents or patrons of various restaurants. And while many of the Americans highlighted expressed concerns that no one would disagree, the ABC program also included a number of liberal perspectives and only one that could be called vaguely conservative. (Massachusetts resident Richard Bonito mentioned security and the need for a strong defense.) Resident Frank Algerio called for a "cap" on high gas prices. One Nicky Vaughn hoped the next president would pull troops from Iraq. No anchor or host pointed out the extremely left-wing make-up of the state either.
Speaking of “dishonesty” in McCain's TV ads, on Fox News Sunday Brit Hume pointed out Barack “Obama goes around claiming he's going to cut the taxes of 95 percent of the public, which is literally impossible” since “40 percent of American taxpayers don't pay any income tax,” but that hasn't stopped ABC (directly) and CBS (implicitly) in recent days from advancing that Obama claim as fact. Charles Gibson, in his third interview session with Sarah Palin excerpted on Friday's 20/20 and Nightline (see earlier NB item), stated that Obama will extend the “Bush tax cuts on everything but people who own or earn more than $250,000 a year -- cuts taxes on over 91 percent of the country.”
On Tuesday's CBS Evening News, Anthony Mason looked at how the Obama and McCain tax plans would impact three Ohio families, including Charles and Joi Beacham who earn $32,000. Mason asked them: “In terms of taxes, what do you want from the next President?” Joi, a school teacher with an astounding level of chutzpah, replied: “Relief.” Chutzpah because, as Mason only noted later (and deserves credit for doing so unlike many of his colleagues over the years), the Beachams “paid no taxes in 2007.” Nonetheless, Mason proceeded to report how the Beachams would benefit more from Obama than McCain since they “would see no change in their taxes under McCain, but the Obama plan would help them” because they would get refundable credits and thus “receive a check from the government for more than $2,200.”
In portions of Charles Gibson's third interview with Sarah Palin aired on Friday's 20/20 and Nightline, but not earlier on World News, Gibson demanded to know why she and John McCain “keep saying” Barack Obama will raise taxes when he says he won't, followed up her wish that Roe v Wade be overturned by -- in a question left out of the ABCNews.com transcript -- contending “it's a critical issue for so many women. You believe women should not have that choice?” and after Palin expressed support for gun rights, he asserted “we spend billions of dollars a year every year treating people who are victims of gun violence” and pleaded, as if more gun control is the only solution: “Nothing we can do about that?”
As the two sat in Palin's Wasilla home, Gibson scolded her and McCain:
Why do you both keep saying that Obama is going to raise people's taxes? It's been pretty clear what he intends. He's talked about middle-class tax cuts, extending Bush tax cuts on everything but people who own or earn more than $250,000 a year -- cuts taxes on over 91 percent of the country. Why do you keep saying he's going to raise people's taxes?
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?"
"Good Morning America" on Monday featured liberal New York Times columnist Tom Friedman as an energy expert to "fact check" John McCain's policies on the subject and advocate for higher taxes. GMA co-host Diane Sawyer never referred to Friedman's economic policies as liberal, despite the fact that he repeatedly made assertions such as this: "But, you know, there's really no effective plan to make us energy independent without what I call a price signal, without either a carbon tax or a gasoline tax that's really going to shape the market in a different way."
Sawyer began the segment by noting both candidates have plans for energy independence. She then asked, "Are they going to achieve it? Do they mean it?" However, the ABC host didn't ask Friedman to "fact check" Obama's plan. Instead she simply recited the Democrat's plans for eliminating Mid East Oil. And while Friedman freely attacked McCain's policies, he responded to a clip of Obama talking about investing more money into alternative energy by, again, complaining about a lack of gasoline tax: "Unless we have a floor onto the price of gasoline that really keeps that behavior going, you can't throw enough money at this problem."
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: