With Starbucks’ announcement that it will closing 600 of its locations nationwide, the network morning shows on Wednesday heralded this news as another sign of a bad economy. ABC’s Bianna Golodryga on "Good Morning America" lamented that "Americans are struggling just to pay for a cup of Starbucks coffee." NBC’s Matt Lauer’s clever headline: "Trouble brewing -- Starbucks announces its closing 600 stores in the next year. Is the demand for $4 lattes dying in a tough economy?"
But CBS’s "The Early Show" took the puns and the "doom and gloom" to a new level. Host Maggie Rodriguez teased the headline news: "Starbucks shutting its doors on hundreds of stores. Tough economic times or just a grande letdown?" Correspondent Ben Tracy, in his report on the closings, quipped, "The economic slowdown has been a real grind for Starbucks' profits. After filling up their gas tanks, some coffee lovers don't have enough left to fill up their cups."
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith talked to economic analyst Mark Zandi about the state of the economy and asked: "Oil's up, gasoline's up, food prices up, stocks, way, way, way, way down. Home owner -- home values are down. Is there an end in sight to all of this bad news?" Zandi replied: "You just made me depressed. No. It's just bad news. It really is...It's just a really tough time for many Americans."
Later, Smith commented on how all the bad economic news seems to contribute to bad economic events: "It just seems like we're in this cumulative cycle that, you know, once one threshold of bad news gets reached, we reach to yet another one." That comment sparked this exchange with Zandi:
ZANDI: Yeah, it's a self re-enforcing negative cycle. You know, that's what happens during recessions, and that's what we're in the middle of right now.
SMITH: Whoa, is this a recession?
ZANDI: You know that -- that's a debate among economists and policy makers. But in the minds of the average American household I think there's no debate, this is a recession. I mean they're worth less today than they were a year ago, they're purchasing power is lower. I mean, for most people that's the definition of recession. So, economists can debate it but I think most people think this is a recession.
Expensive gas isn't so bad to the "CBS Evening News," as long as it promotes an agenda that caters to left-of-center sensibilities and makes Americans behave more like Europeans.
Economists from Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) (NYSE:CM) forecasted $7-a-gallon gas prices by 2010, which according to some analysts would force 10 million vehicles off U.S. roads over four years. CIBC based its prediction on $200-per-barrel oil by 2010.
"In fact, by 2012, higher prices could send an additional 10 million vehicles off the road," CBS correspondent Priya David said June 26. Although $7 gas would do the most harm to low-income Americans, David praised the effects it would have in easing congestion.
On Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show, " co-host Julie Chen lead the show with a depressing segment on the economy: "...with the economic woes hitting the nation, we have your complete guide to surviving the big squeeze." Chen proceeded to highlight high gas prices, then explain how "...the crisis in the housing market is also a drag on the economy," and finally, "Completing this perfect storm of economic woes, the devastating floods in the Midwest and how they will directly impact food prices."
When discussing the housing crisis with correspondent Thalia Assuras, Chen asked in desperation: "Thalia can you tell us anything good? Is there any relief in sight?" Assuras then offered a small glimmer of hope: "Well, the Senate toady is actually going to consider a foreclosure prevention plan or rescue plan of looking at the numbers here. It's going to provide $300 billion in new cheaper mortgages for high risk homeowners." However she then made it clear that Bush Administration would soon crush such hope: "But you know Julie, there's going to be a lot of squabbling and the White House has threatened a veto."
Following Chen’s report, co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to financial advisor Dave Ramsey and took the same pessimistic tone: "So with all this economic volatility, what are we supposed to do?...if there was ever a time to panic, is this it? It sounds pretty gloomy." In contrast, Ramsey was having none of it: "Absolutely not. I'm sorry I'm not with Chicken Little and we're not handing out helmets. There -- it is not a time to panic, there's lots of good things going on in our economy and for most people this may represent opportunity."
It certainly wasn't surprising how press outlets desperately trying to depict the economy as depression-like in order to get Barack Obama in the White House were practically giddy following the dour jobs report released by the Labor Department last Friday.
What was shocking given the portion of May's unemployment rate rise attributed to high school and college students looking for summer jobs was that virtually no press outlets considered the impact last year's minimum wage hike might have had on young Americans finding temporary positions between school years.
Consider this op-ed published in Monday's Washington Examiner authored by Kristen Lopez Eastlick, the senior economic analyst at the Employment Policies Institute (emphasis added throughout):
You've got to give the media credit for continuing to find new and innovative ways to make the U.S. economy look bad.
This time an increase in Spam sales are being touted as a sign that people are suffering as they are being forced to trade in their fancy meats and poultries for something less expensive - a sign of "our times," according to "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams.
"And in what may be a huge economic indicator, this may say more about our times than we realize," Williams said on the May 29 broadcast. "Spam, the canned luncheon meat product, not the junk e-mail but, Spam sales have surged, lifting profits for the maker Hormel by 14 percent in just the first quarter of this year."
"As the U.S. economy slows, the story is often told through broad statistics," the "about" section of the blog stated. "In this blog, BusinessWeek reporter Tim Catts travels the country to uncover the stories of how individuals are coping with the downturn."
The editorial page of the Wall Street Journal has long been an indispensable voice of conservatism. As President Bush said in 2003 in awarding the Medal of Freedom to editorial page editor Robert L. Bartley shortly before his death, he—and by extension his editorial page—has been "a champion of free markets, individual liberty and the values necessary for a free society."
But there is one area in which the editorial page's policy diverges strikingly from conservative orthodoxy, and that is on the matter of immigration. To varying degrees, the paper's editorialists have argued in favor of a more flexible attitude toward immigration. That tendency reaches its apotheosis in the recently-released book by WSJ editorial board member Jason Riley: Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders.
Riley appeared on this weekend's Journal Editorial Report on FNC to discuss his book with host Paul Gigot and make the case that borders should indeed be opened. Riley seemed surprisingly passive in the defense of his controversial proposal, and I personally came away unpersuaded. Here was the exchange.
Hasn't the MSM learned anything from the unfortunate episodes of John "stuck in Iraq" Kerry and Stephen "if you don't read you've got the Army" King? Apparently not. Once again, the liberal media, this time in the form of the AFP, has perpetrated the canard that the our military is the last resort of the poor and uneducated. An AFP article of May 16 reported the story of Army sergeant Matthis Chiroux, who has refused deployment to Iraq, claiming he considers it "an illegal war."
Chiroux has said that he was "from a poor, white family from the south, and I did badly in school."
And how did AFP describe such young people? As:
[T]he kind of young American US military recruiters love.
BS, I'd say, based on everything I know about military recruiting. But let's let Bill Carr—the Dep. Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel Policy [pictured here]—respond, as he has in a NewsBusters exclusive.
For several weeks, NewsBusters has been reporting the changing media tide concerning ethanol.
On Thursday, PBS's "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" joined the growing chorus of press outlets pointing fingers at biofuels as being partially responsible for the growing international food crisis:
The cost of food has soared as more and more corn is being produced for fuel, not food...[I]t is the government's mandate for ethanol that has doubled the demand for corn and sent prices soaring.
Sadly, the segment ignored Nobel Laureate Al Gore's involvement in this matter, as well as his biofuel investments, but still went where few mainstream media outlets would have gone just two months ago (video available here):
"Of course, real life never matches up exactly with the theory's assumptions. But they represent, economists say, a useful way of making sense of a complex world," Lynch wrote.
"To Soros, the conventional approach is rubbish. Instead of a world of near-identical actors, coolly assessing their economic interests and acting with clear-eyed precision, he sees a world (and markets) governed by passion, bias and self-reinforcing errors," Lynch wrote. "Because fallible human beings are both involved in, and trying to make sense of, this world, they inevitably make mistakes. Those mistakes then feed on themselves in ‘reflexive' ways that, when taken to extremes, result in situations such as the now-deflating U.S. housing bubble."
Since media began recognizing the international food crisis and its ties to biofuels, NewsBusters has been wondering when press members will expose how intricately linked Nobel Laureate Al Gore is to this controversial issue.
On Sunday, Fox News's Sean Hannity finally did just that.
In a segment on "Hannity's America," the host addressed much of what NewsBusters has been reporting for the past several months about this matter, and established a template that hopefully others in the media will emulate if they are indeed interested in helping to solve this growing problem (video embedded right):
Four days after NBC centered a story around an elderly couple forced to move “into their van, sleeping on a mattress in the back” while “high food costs have meant” they've “gone hungry,” ABC's World News caught up Tuesday night with a nearly as silly anecdotal report on how families in Minnesota can no longer afford electricity. In the first of two families she showcased, reporter Gigi Stone relayed Julie Tkachuk's plight: “After paying for more expensive gas and groceries, Julie had no money for the heating bills left over from the winter.” Then Stone described the predicament of a family whose father “says business at his moving company is down 35 percent this year. There just wasn't enough money for the power bill.”
Referring to the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Stone acknowledged that “there's federal assistance for people who can't afford their utility bills,” but she ominously intoned, “the number of applicants reached the highest point in 16 years.” ABC then aired a soundbite from Mark Wolfe of the National Energy Assistance Director's Association, an advocacy group for LIHEAP spending. The group's April 25 press release (PDF) hyping “the number of households receiving LIHEAP funds this year is the highest in 16 years” also, however, disclosed a fact ABC didn't mention -- that increase is merely 3.8 percent over fiscal year 2007 with the number of households on the dole in Minnesota rising from 120,765 to 126,500, hardly a huge jump.
For the rest of the campaign, the Media Research Center will each Tuesday announce its picks for the “Worst of the Week,” meaning the most egregious, horrendous and stupefying liberal bias of Campaign 2008. This week, the spotlight shines on those journalists who rushed to the side of Barack Obama after his minister’s radical comments, and NBC’s ridiculous effort to hype bad economic news [audio/video links below fold]:
Feeling Obama’s Pain. After Barack Obama’s former pastor’s radical remarks at the National Press Club, liberal journalists rallied around the Democratic candidate. Hours after Jeremiah Wright spoke on April 28, NBC’s Brian Williams emphasized those who deemed it a "circus" and a "sideshow," as his NBC Nightly News highlighted the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart: "Unfortunately, the victim in all of this is going to be Senator Obama’s campaign."
On the day the government reported a tenth of a point drop in the unemployment rate and two days after news of a second straight quarter of 0.6 percent GDP growth proved the nation is not in a recession, Friday's NBC Nightly News delivered a ridiculously shallow story, based on two anecdotes and a couple of advocates, to prove rising prices are forcing the elderly out of their homes and into vans and soup kitchens. Anchor Brian Williams promised “an interesting look...at the toll that rising prices, of things like gas and food, is taking on Americans living on fixed incomes.” [audio available here]
Chris Jansing [that's her by the van] traveled to Northridge, California, just north of Los Angeles, where she found 82-year-old Betty Weinstein, stunned by a water bill, turning to a second reverse mortgage to stay in her home. But she at least still has a home. Jansing then highlighted an even sadder case:
Rising rents forced Scott and Kate Bishop to move out of this blue house and into their van, sleeping on a mattress in the back.
But it got worse: “And now high food costs have meant, for first time in their lives, the Bishops have gone hungry.” Jansing cited no source for her claims as she asserted: “Soup kitchens and food banks are seeing record numbers of seniors asking for help for the first time in their lives,” but “now donations here are down as middle class donors struggle to feed their own families.”
Although the economy is showing only a slow rate of growth, consumer spending actually showed an increase for the month of March. But, don't be fooled - that's a bad sign, according to "CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric.
"[T]he government reported today that consumer spending in March shot up twice as much as economists were expecting, and it's not because we're buying more - it's because the prices are so much higher, especially food," Couric said on the May 1 broadcast.
High food prices may be affecting middle-income families, but an anecdotal report on CBS's "The Early Show" April 28 made the situation seem as if one family's use of a food bank was "the new face of hunger."
CBS reporter Priya David highlighted Pablo and Ada Melecio, a couple who recently lost their jobs and have elected to use a food bank to make ends meet. Ada Melecio said their "mortgage payments started falling behind and all the interest on that plus all the credit cards" were making their situation even worse.
Friday's 20/20 aired a piece on liberal columnist Arianna Huffington in which ABC host John Stossel got to challenge Huffington's views on issues like welfare, OSHA regulations, and the "lunatic fringe" of the Republican party. When Stossel took her to task for living in a $7 million home that is "burning more carbon than 100 people in the Third World" even while she is part of the "war on global warming," Huffington responded: "There is no question that the fact that I'm living in a big house, I occasionally travel on private planes, all those things are a contradiction. I'm not setting myself up as some paragon who only goes around on a bicycle and lives by candlelight." (Transcript follows)
Regardless, the good news is that press outlets continue to recognize this unholy connection, and that someone, even at the conservative New York Sun, would deign to report it (emphasis added throughout):
“Tonight, $3.51 – that’s the average price nationwide of a single gallon of regular unleaded gasoline. That means a 15-gallon tank now costs more than $50 to fill. As a little reference point, the week George W. Bush was sworn in as president, the price of a gallon of gas was $1.47.”
Update at end of post: did ABC get these numbers from the DNC?
For months, NewsBusters has been warning readers of the likelihood that media will adopt the 1992 Clinton playbook of regularly depicting the economy as being far worse than it really is.
On Sunday, the Democratic National Committee released a new television advertisement attacking GOP presidential candidate John McCain with economic statistics that don't measure up to even the slightest scrutiny.
With this in mind, will press outlets this campaign season investigate the economic claims being made by the candidates and their supporters, or allow inaccuracies present in this ad (embedded video to the right), and likely others in the months to come, to go completely unchallenged?
Consider the following written statement in this ad supposedly answering the question "Are Americans better off than they were 8 years ago?":
Understanding every nuance of economics, especially as it pertains to the airline industry, can be a daunting task.
However, you would think that NBC's "Today" co-host Meredith Vieira - who has elevated herself to the point where she's worth $10 million a year, according to Parade magazine - would have risen to the task at this point in her career.
In an interview with Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) CEO Richard Anderson on the April 15 "Today," Vieira asked a question that showed she didn't quite get it.
"I was just going to ask if you could guarantee your consumers that you would not reduce their service or raise their fares?" Vieira asked.
Do we all get free wooden shoes? Barack Obama didn't say. But he does have an Impossible Dream to cut poverty that would make Don Quixote proud. Put people to work . . . building windmills. His idea came in response to a question at last night's Compassion Forum on CNN from Jim Wallis, a leading member of the religious left whose focus is "social justice." Wallis wanted Obama to commit to a new War on Poverty.
JIM WALLIS: As you reminded us a week or two ago, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed 40 years ago, he wasn't just speaking about civil rights. He was fighting for economic justice. Was about to launch a poor people's campaign. Yet, four decades after the anniversary of his death, the poverty rate in America is virtually unchanged and 1 in 6 of our children are poor in the richest nation in the world. So in the faith community, we are wanting a new commitment around a measurable goal, something like cutting poverty in half in ten years. Would you commit -- would you at this historic compassion forum, commit to such a goal tonight and if elected, tell us how you would mobilize the nation, mobilize us to achieve that goal?
Surely, you'd think, the candidate wouldn't fall into that big-government trap. Think again . . .
"Meet the Press" host Tim Russert asked Bartiromo and CNBC's Erin Burnett if Bernanke was "up to the task" to take on problems with the U.S. economy. Bartiromo didn't blame the Fed chief for the current economic environment, but defended Bernanke and said the foundation of the housing problems was in place prior to his tenure.
"I really don't think you can blame Ben Bernanke for this, Tim," Bartiromo said. "You know, I think that he is, as Erin said, throwing the kitchen sink, doing a lot at this point. And remember, he's a new chairman. You know, so what was put in place before he was actually in this role has set us up for this."
There's a new entry next to Mika Brzezinski's name in the annals of MSM elitism. The Morning Joe panelist today lamented blue-collar whites who "can't hear" the message Barack Obama propounded. Poor benighted souls. Joe Scarborough called Mika on it.
Brzezinski's comment came in response to Scarborough's exposition of why he didn't think Obama's speech would work with many blue-collar whites.
During a story suggesting that Angelo Mozilo, the former CEO of the mortgage company Countrywide, is unworthy of his millions of dollars and perhaps enjoys too much time lying in the sun, ABC's Dan Harris, possibly not picking up on the former CEO's Italian ethnicity which could be the source of his skin's dark complexion, remarked that Mozilo's "deeply tanned face" could become the "face of the mortgage mess." The story ran on Friday's World News with Charles Gibson, substitute hosted by George Stephanopoulos, with Harris beginning his report: "This may well become the deeply tanned face of the mortgage mess. The face belongs to Angelo Mozilo, the once-celebrated CEO of Countrywide, now facing allegations of predatory lending and rapacious greed." Harris also ended the report seeming to lament that Mozilo is not facing foreclosure on any of his homes: "If the sale [of Countrywide] goes through, Mozilo will walk away with about $40 million. And with not one of his homes in foreclosure." (Transcript follows)
"More than a dozen lenders have pulled out of the federal student loan program, unable to raise enough money to make loans," NBC correspondent Tom Costello said. "Now - Pennsylvania, Missouri, Michigan, New Hampshire and Iowa have suspended parts or all of their student loan programs - unprecedented."
They're starting to get it. The media are figuring out government meddling in U.S. energy policy is taking a toll on the American economy.
On February 20, the Labor Department reported that the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a key inflation reading, rose 0.4 percent in January, matching December's rise. Why? Increased food costs because corn is being used for ethanol.
"Farmers are replacing wheat fields with corn to meet the demand for alternative fuel, but that means higher flour prices - and in one Pennsylvania pizza shop, more expensive pies," NBC News correspondent Chris Jansing said on the February 27 "NBC Nightly News."