The Big Three networks of ABC, CBS and NBC already pay for lobbyists on Capitol Hill, although they usually spend their time trying to influence communications legislation. But ABC sent lobbyists to push a different issue: a multicultural national anthem.
"The Star Spangled Banner" — our national anthem — is under attack. Or so you would think by the rush to defend it on Capitol Hill last week.
As millions marched for immigration rights, the U.S. Senate introduced a resolution to ensure that the national anthem would be sung only in English. A day later a similar measure was introduced in the House of Representatives.
Good, progressive journalists are naturally alarmed by such legislation. CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer has already denounced having the anthem only in one language.
The worst possible 'solution' to the high cost of gasoline would be price controls, since they would simultaneously discourage production while driving up demand. But running a close second and third in the bad-idea sweepstakes would be a windfall-profits tax on oil companies and a cap on the amount oil companies can pay their executives. Two out of three ain't bad, so let's give GMA's Charlie Gibson an A- for his attempt to demagogue the gas-price issue this morning.
His guest was the soft-spoken James Mulva, Chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips, the nation's third-largest oil company.
Gibson opening shot was to suggest that "consumers have a right to be angry" in light of the estimated $135 billion the six largest oil companies are expected to make in 2006. Gibson didn't attempt to suggest why high profits justify consumer anger. Remember, market economics dictate that sellers price their products at the level yielding the highest profits, not necessarily at the highest possible price. Consider Wal-Mart, for example, which has reaped huge profits by consistently offering prices lower than those of competitors.
Left-wing author and columnist Eric Alterman (likely best known to NewsBusters readers for his book What Liberal Media?) blogs at MSNBC’s web site. There, Alterman frequently, intemperately, and sometimes bizarrely blasts the current president of the United States. Last summer, for example, he stated that “no person in the world, save Osama bin Laden, has done as much damage to New York City as George W. Bush.” In parts of Blogville, of course, that qualifies as a moderate viewpoint.
This past week, Alterman hosted several guest bloggers, at least one of whom, Eric Boehlert, shares Alterman’s distaste for the idea that the MSM lean left. (Boehlert’s new book is called Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush.) This past Friday on Alterman’s blog, Boehlert sniped at Bush more subtly, but with no greater sense of perspective or proportion, than Alterman usually does, claiming that a certain recent
Let's imagine it was, oh, Karl Rove who had been involved in a car accident under circumstances identical to those surrounding Patrick Kennedy. Think the Today show would be focusing on his 'courage' and largely taking at face value his claim that prescription medicines caused the crash? Or would they, rather, be demanding to know whether he was telling the truth in claiming no alcohol was involved?
That 'Today' was in a decidedly forgiving mood was clear from the show's very opening. Note the graphic Today attached to Kennedy's image. Not "Telling the Truth?" or "Drinking & Driving?", but "Seeking Treatment".
In his subsequent report, NBC reporter Chip Reid placed his MSM imprimatur upon Kennedy's version of events. We first were treated to a clip of Kennedy's statement about his addiction to painkillers, concluding with his observation that "I struggle every day with this disease as do millions of Americans."
Via FishbowlNY, we learn that actor Richard Dreyfuss is currently studying civics and democracy at the University of Oxford (following in the footsteps of Bill Clinton?), and he's grown hopping mad at media bias: the pro-Bush kind. It has been "sacrificing accuracy and impartiality for sensationalism and instant gratification."
He "expressed alarm that a few big media corporations control most of the news the general public has access to. Dreyfuss, who is a longtime political activist, has also campaigned for peace in the Middle East and lent his support to a campaign calling for the impeachment of US President George W. Bush." Dreyfuss is then quoted at length, or perhaps in short bursts:
'Today' had two 9/11 family members on as guests this morning to react to yesterday's jury determination of life in prison rather than the death penalty for Zacarias Moussaoui. That the family member who expressed general support for the process was relatively unknown, whereas the bitter Bush-administration critic, Kristin Breitweiser, is a household commodity, is indicative of MSM coverage in the years since 9/11.
Ironically, it was the family member that was disappointed in the verdict who expressed pride in America and the process, whereas Breitweiser, who got the verdict she preferred, remained bitter.
First to speak was Hamilton Peterson, who lost his father and step-mother on United 93. Katie Couric opened by asking him why he believes Moussaoui should have received the death penalty. Consider Peterson's response:
Reuters reports that in a survey of ten countries, citizens of the U.S. and England have a low regard for the media.
Britain may have a sophisticated media industry but it also has some of the most sceptical consumers, with nearly two-thirds (64 percent) believing the media does not report all sides of the story.
A 10-country opinion poll for Reuters, the BBC and the Media Centre found British and U.S. consumers out on a limb when it comes to public levels of trust in the media.
Overall trust in the media in Britain has bounced back over the past four years, from a low of 29 percent trusting in 2002 to 47 percent today. But this is still below the 10-country average of 63 percent.
Exxon-Mobil: private-for-profit corporation or social service agency? The question arises in the wake of Matt Lauer's wide-ranging interview this morning with Rex Tillerson, Chairman and CEO of Exxon/Mobil. Lauer's tone was not antagonistic; for that matter he was manifestly grateful to Tillerson for being the lone CEO among the Big Oil companies to accept an invite from "Today." Still, there was some bad economics on display, along with a notable attempt by Lauer to make the GOP look like ingrates to an industry with which they've been cozy. Tillerson put in a solid, undefensive performance.
Here are highlights:
Lauer: "Critics say the big oil companies crushed the competition and they are manipulating the prices. What is the truth?"
Fox News Channel was bound to succeed and did so even faster than its founding president Roger Ailes imagined.
just one of several interesting statements made in a recent interview
by Roger Ailes, president and founder of FNC with WorldScreen.com:
WS: When the channel first launched, did you expect it would overtake the competition as quickly as it did?
I try not to get into any race or any fight that I don’t think can be
won. I don’t expect it to be easy, however, and that’s the difference.
I don’t do suicide missions, but I don’t mind difficult assignments.
This was a difficult assignment, because we were taking on G.E. and
Microsoft [MSNBC] and Time Warner [CNN] with about 30 percent of the
resources and staff. So it was a pretty tough hill to climb. I thought
we would tie them in five to six years.
Columnists Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts write in the Washington Post that the "the consensus is that President Bush and Bush impersonator Steve Bridges stole Saturday's show -- and Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert's cutting satire fell flat." The problem with Colbert, they say, was that he "ignored the cardinal rule of Washington humor: Make fun of yourself, not the other guy."
"You have to have a great deal of confidence to do self-deprecating humor, especially when you're being attacked day in and day out," said Landon Parvin, who helped Bush and Bridges write the jokes contrasting Bush's public voice with his supposed inner thoughts. Parvin, a former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, is responsible for most of the president's intentional humor, as well as the famous parody song "Secondhand Clothes" for Nancy Reagan's 1982 Gridiron appearance, and Laura Bush's deadpan triumph at last year's correspondents' dinner.
Via Romenesko, we learn that long-time "NBC Nightly News" anchor Tom Brokaw was making some wild claims Monday night at a speech in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The local newspaper reported he "begged the audience to put partisanship aside while the nation is at war," which the media certainly haven't. He "defended his profession against those who suggest journalists have not been balanced in covering the war and have ignored certain stories." He claimed there's mutual respect between journalists and soldiers, and while they may not always see the world "through the same prism," they have other similarities:
"We (both) live unconventional lives, we like to live off the land," he said. "Most of all, we like to get the bad guys and point out where evil is," Brokaw said.
Jennifer Harper reports in the Washington Times about an Arizona State University study of 300 al Qaeda statements, letters and other papers. The study was conducted by the university's Consortium for Strategic Communication and a Defense Department .
Says the director of the consortium, Steven Corman, "People are surprised the jihadis think of the media as a weapon."
His study analyzed almost 300 al Qaeda statements, letters and other documents, many of them captured during U.S. military actions in the Middle East and recently declassified by the Pentagon.
Katie Couric took industrial-strength umbrage this morning when Bill Frist suggested to the soon-to-be CBS anchor that she opposes drilling in ANWR.
Yesterday, Matt Lauer gave respectful treatment to Rush Limbaugh's suggestion that Frist's proposal of a $100 rebate amounted to treating taxpayers like ladies of the night. So the Majority Leader surely knew he was walking into the lion's den this morning.
At one point, Katie hit Frist with excerpts from two letters to the editor of her apparent paper of choice - the NY Times.
"Let's see, $100 rebate checks to all taxpayers to offset rising gas prices. That's money out of my tax dollars back to me to give back to gas companies. The way I figure it that rebate won't even cover my gas one way to Washington to complain."
The Washington Postreports that new White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten is considering removing cameras for most of news conferences. The thinking is this will discourage reporters from grandstanding and being heroes for their favorite liberal causes in the press room.
Bolten tipped his hand in only one area, suggesting that the White House might stop allowing its daily news briefing to be televised in full in hopes of discouraging posturing for the cameras and toning down the confrontational atmosphere. Television cameras were permitted only for the opening minutes of the briefing until Clinton White House press secretary Michael McCurry allowed them to air the entire session beginning in 1995.
Blogads commissioned a study on the demographics of those who read political blogs. Reports the Washington Post:
Think the people who while away their hours reading and commenting on political blogs are slovenly twenty-somethings with nothing better to do?
Think again, said a survey last week by Blogads, a company that many leading political blogs have used for ad placements.
In an unscientific Web survey of 36,000 people, Blogads reported that political blog readers tend to be age 41 to 50, male (72 percent), and earn $60,000 to $90,000 per year. Two in five have college degrees, while just a tad less have graduate degrees.
"These are not people who are politically idealistic and born yesterday," said Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, who runs the popular liberal site DailyKos.
Since we had snow - Tony Snow - in April, why not another unseasonable event - Matt Lauer citing Rush Limbaugh as a respectable source for purposes of making a point?
The issue was high gas prices, and the pandering band-aid some in Congress have proposed by way of a $100 tax rebate. Today displayed this quote from El Rushbo, from his show of this past Friday:
"Instead of buying us off and treating us like we're a bunch of w----s, just solve the problem."
If Lauer did not explicitly endorse Rush's take, he came close, certainly recognizing that Rush's point merited a response. Lauer filled in the blanks when he read the quote out loud, then posed this question to guest Pat Buchanan: "Pat, has anyone put forth any solution that can solve this problem?"
At the annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, President Bush first appeared with Steve Bridges, who's made a name for himself impersonating Bush on national television. Bush would say something and the impersonator would say what he "really" thought. RightWinged has a video of the routine.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Members of the White House Correspondents' Association, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen --
BUSH IMPERSONATOR: Here I am.
Here I am at another one of these dang press dinners. Could be home asleep, little Barney curled up at my feet. But no, I've got to pretend I like being here.
The media really ticks me off. The way they try to embarrass me by not editing what I say.
NBC White House correspondent David Gregory got into a sparring match with President Bush during a press conference today. Asked David Gregory:
"Mr. President, we're seeing some turnover and some change within your administration, and I wonder what it says about what you think is necessary to turn your presidency around at this point?"
The president responded with: "I think it's necessary to continue doing -- to achieving results for the American people. We've got big challenges for this country and I've got a strategy to deal with them."
Bush then cited off a laundry list of current issues to deal with, ending with, "So there's a lot to do today, but we'll continue to be results-oriented."
Washington Post reporter Jim VandeHei told current press secretary Scott McClellan that "requests – this is a serious question – to turn these TVs on to a station other than Fox" have been denied. He wanted to know if there was "a White House policy that all government TVs have to be tuned to Fox?”
As oft-documented by MRC - NewsBusters' parent organization - the MSM is quick to label people 'conservative', 'right-wing' and various 'ultra' variations thereon. But the MSM typically turn shy when it comes to the 'liberal' label. In a surprising twist, not only did Katie Couric speak of George Clooney as a liberal this morning, but the Hollywood star didn't hesitate to pin himself as a liberal, and an old one at that. What's more, Katie even suggested that Clooney's advocacy of countless liberal causes might be diluting the brand.
The topic was Clooney's advocacy of international involvement to end the humanitarian disaster in Darfur in the Sudan. Wikipedia entry on the Darfur conflict here. It is notable that although the conflict largely pits Arabs against non-Arabs, the populations on both sides are Muslim. This seems, by the way, to have been something of Celebrity Advocacy Week at Today. As noted here, yesterday it was Angelina Jolie's opportunity to tout her support for universal childhood education [courtesy the American taxpayer].
During yesterday's press briefing Scott McClellan was asked about his soon-to-be replacement, Tony Snow. Perhaps the most interesting exchange was when a reporter asked McClellan what his "unique style" was. He responded, "Putting up with you."
Q Nancy Pelosi says that having Tony Snow now behind the podium there is not going to make much difference. What would you say to that?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think Tony Snow is going to do a great job for the President. I saw him earlier today, and looked up at him and told him, "I used to be your height before I started in this position." (Laughter.)
Max Boot, a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, writes in the LA Times that this year's Pulitzer prizes "reflect a startling degree of animus toward the commander in chief in wartime."
On June 7, 1942, shortly after the Battle of Midway, the Chicago Tribune carried a scoop: "Navy Had Word of Jap Plan to Strike at Sea." The story, written by a correspondent who had seen intelligence reports left in an officer's cabin, reported that the U.S. knew in advance the composition of the Japanese fleet. It didn't say where this information came from, but senior officers privy to the U.S. success in breaking Japanese codes were apoplectic at this security breach. The Justice Department convened a grand jury to consider whether to charge the Tribune and its flamboyant owner, editor and publisher, Col. Robert McCormick, with a violation of the Espionage Act of 1917.
The New York Sun has blown a little sunshine up the back end of the St. Petersburg Times with an editorial praising the Times for admitting when they are wrong, in this case about Sami Al-Arian:
One of the hallmarks of integrity is the willingness, when one is wrong, to admit it. An admirable example was set by the St. Petersburg Times, a Florida newspaper that had reacted defensively... on the news that a terrorist cell had been operating out of the University of South Florida. The St. Petersburg Times's coverage and editorial line had tilted more sympathetic to a professor, Sami Al-Arian, who had claimed his case was a matter of academic freedom. But after a federal judge accepted a guilty plea from Al-Arian to the federal charge of conspiring to assist Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a terrorist organization that specializes in targeting Israeli and American civilians, the St. Petersburg Times uncorked a whale of an editorial.
The truth is that the St. Petersburg Times never admitted it was wrong in that "whale of an editorial." All they did was finally lay out the truth; that Sami Al-Arian was a bad character. If there is some admission to being on the wrong side of history in their "whale of an editorial," I'm missing it. Maybe the New York Sun could point that part out to us. I've yet to read anything in the St. Petersburg Times about how they probably shouldn't have allowed their reporter to act as a media coach to Al-Arian. How sad is this anyway, that newspapers have to praise other newspapers for finally telling the truth about a subject?
Every St. Petersburg Times editorial is a whale of a tale, they shouldn't be praised for finally being forced into admit the truth, especially when they fail to admit their shortcomings and biases.
Fired CIA leaker Mary McCarthy gave money to Joe Sestak, the Democrat in the race for a Pennsylvania U.S. House seat. The Republican incumbent, Congressman Curt Weldon, says Sestak should return the money.
U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon called yesterday for Democratic opponent Joe Sestak to return $350 in campaign contributions from Mary O. McCarthy, the CIA investigator fired last week for allegedly leaking classified information to the news media.
Sestak's spokeswoman noted, in reply, that the CIA employee had not been charged with any crime and said she saw no reason for the money to be returned "at this time."
McCarthy, who worked at the National Security Council when Sestak worked there in the 1990s, donated $100 to Sestak on March 1 and $250 on March 11, according to a campaign finance report the Seventh Congressional District candidate filed with the Federal Election Commission.
On Friday, the rather liberal AlterNet published responses to a series of 20 questions asked of John Moody, a senior vice president at Fox News, concerning issues of media bias and the “fair and balanced” approach of his network. His answers were quite interesting. When asked if the media are biased, and, if so, are they too liberal or conservative, Moody answered:
“‘Because of the qualities it takes to succeed in the media, we have bright and responsible people in this business -- and bright people have opinions about everything. These opinions stay with them when they put on a reporter's hat,’ he continued. ‘The challenge is not to let those opinions cross the line into their reporting. So there are biases -- not at the corporate level -- but biases that can creep in to become part of the mindset of a news organization.’"
Moody then addressed the belief in some circles that Fox News employees must have a certain political ideology to get hired:
TV Newser reports on some of Dan Rather's remarks at a panel discussion of the National Association of Broadcasters.
Dan Rather, the Former Anchor and Managing Editor of the CBS Evening News, issued a clarion call on the broadcast networks to prioritize international coverage during his appearance at NAB.
Arguing that "American journalism needs a spine transplant," Rather told the RTNDA/NAB Super Session on "The Shape of Things to Come" that "at a time when the United States needs more foreign coverage than ever, there's less of it."
Rather said broadcast network coverage of sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America is "awful." For this, he said, there is "no excuse."
Have a look at the two screen captures from this morning's shows. Same issue, different takes. Good Morning America is apparently sure that gas price gouging exists, and wants to stop it. 'Today' is agnostic, simply posing the question whether gouging is going on.
But when you turn to the substance of the two segments, there was one consistency: neither show adduced any evidence of gouging. Not a scintilla to show that oil companies are in fact colluding. And without collusion there can be no sustained gouging, since any company that pushed prices higher than market levels would immediately lose its sales to competitors.
Over at GMA, the guest was Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, for all the world looking like a politician wanting to give the appearance of doing something about a problem over which he in fact has little control.
Sawyer opened by raising the gouging issue: "You are targeting gouging, which is the guy at the pump, the middle guy. How is this going to help and how soon, specifically, the person paying $2.91 on average right now?"
A seemingly sympathetic Frist replied:"Diane, you're exactly right. This $2.91, over $3 in some areas right now, cannot be sustained by the person driving their kids to school or filling up their tractor with fuel."
Much as this column is quick to point out the prevalent liberal bias of the MSM, fairness compels us to acknowledge those occasions, rare as they might be, when the MSM plays it down the middle.
NBC's handling of the recent spike in gasoline prices could be shaping up to be one of those flying-pig moments of 'fair & balanced' coverage. At the very least, there are indications that the conventional wisdom within NBC News is that the Bush administration is not to blame for the high prices, and/or that there is little government can do to stem the price rise.
As noted here earlier today, Katie Couric and David Gregory both expressed skepticism on this morning's Today show as to the government's ability to do much in the circumstances. Gregory was back at it this evening, guest-hosting for Chris Matthews on 'Hardball.'