The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism has released its 2013 pity party -- er, annual report -- on the State of the News Media (home page; full overview).
Two things struck me in my initial scan-through: First, the whining about newsroom cutbacks, which are largely related to pervasive bias and misplaced priorities; second, the characterization of newsmakers' improved ability to take their cases directly to the public "without any filter by the traditional media" as some kind of automatically negative trend.
Concerning a Wednesday incident which would surely have received much wider play if it had involved former Vice President Dick Cheney during the George W. Bush administration, Capital News Service reported that one of its reporters was forced by an aide to Vice President Joe Biden to delete photos he had taken at an event in Rockville, Maryland. Based on a Google News search on "Biden Maryland" (not in quotes, sorted by date with duplicates), the Politico's Dylan Byers was the only person in the national establishment press to run an item on the incident -- lending additional credence to the theory that stories the rest of the press won't touch get deliberately buried there with the excuse that "Oh, the Politico dealt with that already, so we don't have to."
Several paragraphs from the Capital News Service report follow the jump (internal link was in original; bolds are mine):
There's a reason why Media Research Center sister site CNS News had to put out a story about how much the government has spent so far this year -- $1.505 tillion -- after Wednesday's release of the February Monthly Treasury Statement: Two of the three major wire services failed to report that obviously important number, and the third saved it for their writeup's final sentence.
What follows are excerpts from the respective Wednesday reports at Bloomberg, Reuters and the Associated Press.
The official Monthly Treasury Statement for February came out Wednesday showing a deficit for the month of $204 billion, basically the same as the Congressional Budget Office predicted several days earlier. The reported deficit through five months of the fiscal year is $494 billion, down from $580 billion a year earlier.
That February result was an "improvement" of $28 billion over the $232 billion deficit seen in February 2012. Unfortunately, the two main reasons for the difference demonstrate that the economy really isn't any better than it was a year ago. $20 billion of the difference occurred because the IRS was slower in sending out tax refunds than it was in 2012 because of the late passage of tax-related fiscal cliff measures in early January. The rest of the improvement can be traced to the repeal of the 2-point payroll tax cut which had been in place during calendar 2011 and 2012. Since February 2013 outlays were almost $9 billion lower than February 2012, one could argue that the economy actually did a worse job of generating taxes for the government than it did a year ago. Nevertheless, as would be expected, Christopher Rugaber at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, cited "an improving economy":
We should give credit to the Associated Press's Calvin Woodward, with help from AP Polling Director Jennifer Agiesta and writer Alan Fram, for calling out politicians and other gun-grabbers who have been abusing a two decades-old gun-related statistic and passing it off as if it's still factual.
That's nice, but Woodward could have saved many words, mountains of paper, and tons of bandwidth by telling readers in plain English that claims such as one made President Barack Obama that "as many as 40 percent of all gun purchases are conducted without a background check" have never, ever been true. Instead, the AP reporter used 13 paragraphs, at one point excusing researchers who came up with a 30-40 percent estimate even "with a clear picture eluding them." There was never any defensible basis for their "estimate." Excerpts from Woodward's Wednesday item following the jump:
Scott Prouty is the man behind the now infamous “47 percent” video that the media hyped to bring down Mitt Romney’s presidential bid. It’s unbearably stale news at this point, but MSNBC’s Ed Schultz found a fresh hook for resurrecting it recently on his soon-to-be-defunct weeknight program. Prouty insisted that Romney’s invitation to speak at CPAC prompted him to come out of hiding and in the Schultz interview, he insisted he was not really that political a guy when he tended bar at a Romney fundraiser last year, when he surreptitiously recorded the video.
But Schultz, who owns a Canadian fishing lodge, apparently let Prouty on air to tell a fish tale. Today's Washington Post highlighted information in Prouty's background that seems to offer another explanation for why Prouty never came out in the open during the campaign, including evidence from social media postings that he is a committed liberal Democrat.
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- President Obama won reelection in part because the liberal media insulated the chief executive from his horrible first-term record, conservative cartoonist Michael Ramirez told attendees at CPAC 2013.
Ramirez narrated instances of the media's bias by omission over images of editorial cartoons from the 2012 election season, eliciting chuckles from the crowd.
Liberal Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank appeared on MSNBC, Thursday, to report on the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Milbank's lapel prominently displayed a Media Research Center "Don't believe the liberal media" button. To the MSNBC crew, the idea of a left-wing press was a big joke. Martin Bashir could barely keep a straight face as he wondered, "Dana, I understand you're wearing a somewhat impressive badge today...Don't believe the liberal media."
Although Milbank insisted, "I picked it out myself," he likely got it from the MRC booth at CPAC. Over the years, Milbank and other journalists have visited the MRC presence at CPAC, seemingly amused at the concept of media bias. The Washington Post journalist joked, "I'm undercover here as you can see at CPAC."
In an interview with former Bill Clinton adviser George Stephanopoulos at ABC (transcript here), President Barack Obama claimed that “We don’t have an immediate crisis in terms of debt." Despite his claim, no one can know that for sure, but it's at least consistent with what he said during the 2012 presidential campaign ("we don't have to worry about it short term").
Obama's elaboration on the debt topic, however, was not consistent: "In fact, for the next ten years, it’s gonna be in a sustainable place." Ten years is long-term by any reasonable definition. His statement directoly contradicts what he said In October 2012: "... it is a problem long term and even medium term." Of course, ABC's subsequent coverage of that interview by Jonathan Karl didn't note the President's change of tune, and went further to assist Obama by presenting a misleading visual and by misstating the relative size of this year's officially projected deficit to that seen in fiscal 2009.
In Monday's New York Times, in a report which appeared online late Sunday, reporters Richard W. Stevenson and John Harwood devoted considerable space to the idea that President Obama's latest "outreach" effort is primarily an attempt to "salvage a big deficit-reduction deal," and not a political ploy to show voters in the 2014 congressional elections that he's really interested in achieving a compromise when no genuine desire exists.
Steven Hayes at the Weekly Standard believes it's the latter ("For Obama, It's All About 2014"), as should anyone, probably including the reporters just cited, who is on the mailing list of Obama's permanent campaign known as Organizing For Action. On Thursday, three days before the Times reporters tried to convince America that Obama is in deal-making mode, OFA, which self-evidently tailors its message to the White House's true desire went into over-the-top scaremongering mode in an email from proven prevaricator Stephanie Cutter (bolds are mine):
In what has become a common theme for the MSNBC conservative, Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough failed to live up to his self-titled conservative values on March 13. Following a ruling by a New York state court on March 11 invalidating New York City’s large soda ban, Scarborough and the rest of the Morning Joe crew sans Mika Brzezinski mocked Bloomberg’s failed efforts on March 12.
Despite Scarborough’s outright glee at the court’s decision, when given the opportunity to confront Mayor Bloomberg in person on March 13, Scarborough remained silent. Such a complete reversal is surprising, given the lengths Scarborough went to show his glee that Bloomberg’s latest nanny state overreach had been shot down. [See video after jump. MP3 audio here.]
Some in the media have reported on the Obama administration reneging on its promise to be transparent and open. The president’s drone policy is a testament to its commitment to secrecy. The creation of a secret kill list is also another instance where Obama has betrayed a campaign promise to his liberal base. So, why aren’t watchdog groups vociferously protesting the president’s 180-degree flip on this position?
Paul Thacker wrote on the left-leaning Slate website yesterday that Obama is no different from Bush in stonewalling FOIA requests, and skirting civil liberties – but gets away with it because of his party affiliation:
In a mild shock -- mild because it's mentioned before the elections, but probably won't be when it really matters after the polls close -- Frank Bajak and Jorge Rueda at the Associated Press, in a story about how the last opposition TV station in Venezuela is being sold to an insurance magnate who is reportedly "friendly with government," noted the extraordinary handicaps that Venezuela's opposition presidential candidate faces as he attempts to unseat the Chavista successor to the late dictator Hugo Chavez in April's upcoming elections.
It will be interesting to see how much national play this story gets. My guess is: "little."
Following up on a matter on which I initially posted last month, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported yesterday that the prosecutor for Hamilton County, Ohio, where the county seat is Cincinnati, is bringing charges related to improper voting against three people – including a longtime poll worker and a nun. In connection with the poll worker, reporter Sharon Coolidge notes something that should earn today's prize for inadvertent deadpan humor (in bold):
For decades, members of the elite media have told Americans to trust that their political coverage is objective and fair. A new poll released today indicates that most of the people simply do not believe that.
The good news is that 46 percent of Americans agree with the correct statement that the media are “excessively sympathetic” to President Obama and that only 17 percent believe the media are fair. The bad news is that 28 percent maintain the delusion that the press “deliberately tries to hurt Obama.”
In a New York Times op-ed which has been receiving deserved criticism from other quarters concerning other matters (e.g., here and here), Ta-Nehisi Coates ("The Good, Racist People") repeated one of those establishment press-induced "everybody knows" mantras which doesn't stand up to scrutiny after considering the available evidence: "New York is a city, like most in America, that bears the scars of redlining, blockbusting and urban renewal. The ghost of those policies haunts us in a wealth gap between blacks and whites that has actually gotten worse over the past 20 years." In Coates's fevered mind, it's largely due to racism.
In national context, the white-black wealth gap in the two decades since 1993 is not yet known, but in 2005, the 15th of the past 20 years for which information is available (1991-2010), it stayed the same. The multiple only went up significantly when the housing bubble burst and the recession took hold.
Crutsinger described the past four months as a "hiring spree," and the job market as "accelerating." Even sticking with the seasonally adjusted figures, that doesn't stand up well, given that there was a big revised dip in job additions in January. Second, he contended that "Hiring would be rising even faster if governments weren't shrinking their workforces, as they have been for nearly four years" -- as if government hiring and the higher taxes which would accompany it at the state and local levels or the higher amount of deficit financing required at the federal level would have no effect on private employers' rate of hiring. And no establishment press report would be complete without moaning about how goverment employment continues to contract ever so slightly and how impending spending "cuts" which aren't cuts at all threaten the current wondrous conditions. That's not all, of course.
On Thursday night, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow mocked Republican party chairman Reince Priebus for listing as a lesson from 2012 "controlling the debate process, getting involved in moderators and networks and all of these other issues so that we don`t have chaos."
Maddow found it odd that the GOP chair would (very sensibly) say "we just can`t have MSNBC, you know, hosting a debate at the Reagan Library only to have their network comment -- you know, make the commentary afterwards for three hours about the debate of the Republican Party. I mean, it’s ridiculous."
With all the talk of sequstration and its supposed "austerity on autopilot" (as characterized at Voice of America -- your tax dollars at work against you), it's useful to look at what has really been happening with federal spending over the past six years, something the establishment press is very reluctant to do.
On Thursday, the Congressional Budget Office released its February Monthly Budget Review ahead of the Treasury Department's official report which will arrive early next week. It estimates that the federal government ran a one-month deficit of $205 billion. It also shows that year-to-date spending through five months of the government's fiscal year is up by 2.7 percent, and is up even after adjustment for timing quirks:
This posts builds on another by Noel Sheppard which appeared earlier today at NewsBusters. At ShowBiz411.com, Roger Friedman, who worked at Fox News for a decade until he was fired in 2009 over alleged film piracy, claims that Brooke Shields is “Likely” to join “The View” as Joy Behar and Elisabeth Hasselbeck depart. "Likely"? Wow, Rog, way to put yourself on the line.
Friedman went heavy on praise for Shields and took shots at Hasselbeck. Commenters certainly aren't supportive, as will be seen after the jump.
Liberal bias in journalism is not just bad for the profession as an abstract concept, it's bad for the bottom line of media companies and their shareholders. That was the argument of one Justin Danhof of the conservative National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) when he attended a Disney shareholders meeting and confronted the entertainment company's CEO Bob Iger about liberal bias at the news division of ABC. "Liberal bias pervades Disney's media outlets" and "it's time to stop denying this bias and start doing something about it," Danhof argued, having cited former ESPN analyst Rob Parker's "cornball brother" crack about black quarterback and alleged Republican Robert Griffin III and ABC News's Brian Ross's infamous episode in which he hinted that Auroroa, Colorado theater shooter James Holmes might be a Tea Party member.
Danhof argued that Disney executives need to take seriously NCPPR's concerns and the concerns of other conservatives who happen to own Disney stock. Danhof appealed not so much to Iger's sense of journalistic integrity but rather the bottom line: Putting out a fairer, more balanced news product may help ABC attract more conservative viewers, and with them, higher ratings and more customers buying products from ABC News program sponsors, leading of course to higher profit margins for Disney. [h/t Huffington Post; Danhof's statement embedded below the page break]
Does New York Times columnist Al Hunt actually have the psychic ability to tell what Rep. Steve King REALLY meant by a comment the congressman made on immigration? Rep. King doesn't think so. And, if you watch this video, you won't either.
On Feb. 24, 2013, Al Hunt wrote a New York Times column entitled, "A Struggle for Control of the Republican Party" in which he accused King of being well-known for making anti-immigrant rants, citing comments King made last year referring to bird dogs.
Rejoice, people, it’s pledge drive week on PBS! All of your favorite PBS shows are being interrupted so that a couple of smiling faces can beg you to donate some of your hard-earned income to your local public station. Of course, those of us who pay federal taxes are already subsidizing PBS, albeit involuntarily and indirectly through the federally-chartered Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
It’s not always easy to get folks to part with their money, so PBS is doing more than simply offering a mug to anyone who gives $75 or an umbrella to those who donate $100. They are also aggressively touting their own programming, trying to remind viewers of how much they gain by watching. On Wednesday evening, the pledge drive during the NewsHour attempted to use liberal Mark Shields and quasi-conservative David Brooks as selling points for the network. [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
In the fortnight leading up to the sequester, the broadcast networks ABC, CBS, and NBC wrung their hands about "all the catastrophes that would happen if these cuts went through," NewsBusters senior editor Rich Noyes noted on the March 7 edition of Fox Business Network's Varney & Co. Since, then, however, "they've spent no time asking how is the White House going to decide where these cuts are, how is the administration going to parcel out these cuts?"
In short, "[t]hey're not doing their watchdog function at all," the Media Research Center's research director told FBN's Stuart Varney. What's more, for the most part, the same networks lack any skepticism about how the administration might be targeting their cuts in such as way as to deliberately inflict pain, when it's completely in the power of the Obama White House to structure cutbacks in a way that minimizes its impact on the taxpaying American (watch the full segment below the page break):
It's as if Associated Press reporter Paul Haven saw colleague Frank Bajak's pathetic obituary of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez earlier today (covered by Matthew Balan at NewsBusters) and said: "Oh yeah? I can outdo you."
That he did, in an execrable report excerpted after the jump which should be saved to the hard drive and shown as evidence that anyone who calls the wire service "the Authoritarian Press" is not at all out of line (bolds are mine):
President Obama's sequester-related press briefing on March 1 contained the usual fibs. Examples include but are certainly not limited to the following: "We've already cut $2.5 trillion in our deficit," when the entire amount involved is something which might happen in the future; his claim that his State of the Union laundry list "is the agenda that the American people voted for," when many of the items involved were never mentioned during the 2012 campaign; and that the sequester is "happening because of a choice that Republicans in Congress have made," despite the fact that his advisers with his personal approval originated the idea in 2011 and the reality that he was under no compulsion when he signed the bill setting it in place last week.
Since then, while the establishment press has largely ignored it, the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler has twice honed in on a relatively small but clearly refutable statement Obama uttered that day: "Starting tomorrow, everybody here, all the folks who are cleaning the floors at the Capitol ... they're going to have less pay. The janitors, the security guards, they just got a pay cut, and they've got to figure out how to manage that. That’s real." No it's not.
CNN, which if I recall correctly severed formal ties with the Associated Press some time ago, quoted former congressman Joseph Kennedy II's reaction to the death of Venezuela's authoritarian leader Hugo Chavez as follows: "President Chavez cared deeply about the poor of Venezuela and other nations around the world and their abject lack of even basic necessities, while some of the wealthiest people on our planet have more money than they can ever reasonably expect to spend" ... There are close to 2 million people in the United States who received free heating assistance, thanks to President Chavez's leadership. Our prayers go out to President Chavez's family, the people of Venezuela, and all who were warmed by his generosity."
Here is how Christine Armario at the AP, with the help of Steve LeBlanc in Boston, sanitized Kennedy's remarks:
The Washington Post editorial board today endorsed a plastic bag tax being considered in the Maryland General Assembly, insisting that the 5-cent excise tax will reduce plastic bag litter which clogs the state's streams and raise some "$7.3 million in revenue, a quarter of which would be retained by retail establishments like grocery stores." "It's a sensible measure that will help the environment -- if lawmakers have the spine to stand up to special interests," the paper huffed in its concluding line.
But what the Post failed to mention is that the bill, SB 576 -- entitled the Community Cleanup and Greening Act of 2013 -- specifically EXEMPTS plastic bags used to wrap newspapers, an exemption which obviously favors the Washington Post company:
Readers here can attempt to fill in the blank, and will get to the the correct answer after the jump.
In their coverage of U.S. vehicle sales in February, Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin at the Associated press, aka the Administration's Press, wrote the following in an item headlied "US AUTO SALES POWER AHEAD IN FEBRUARY": "Americans want new cars and trucks, and they're not letting higher gas prices or political dysfunction stand in their way. New car and truck sales were up ___ percent in February as rising home construction and cheap financing kept the U.S. auto recovery on track." So by how much did car sales in February 2013 exceed the level seen in February 2012?
According to the first paragraph of Alicia's Caldwell's report today at the Associated Press, aka the Adminstration's Press, Homeland Security Secretary Janey Napolitano told attendees at a Politico breakfast this morning (Politico's coverage is here) that, in Caldwell's words, "U.S. airports, including Los Angeles International and O'Hare International in Chicago, are already experiencing delays as a result of automatic federal spending cuts." Additionally, again in Caldwell's words, "she expects a cascading effect during the week, with wait times expected to double in worst cases."
Well, either someone forgot to tell airport spokesperson and the travel industry to fall in line, or said officials are refusing, according to follow-up stories at the Politico and the UK Telegraph. Notably, the AP had no such follow-up story at its national site as of 10 p.m. ET tonight, but did have a story by Pauline Jelinek ("HOW BUDGET CUTS COULD AFFECT YOU") published at the about the same time as the two follow-ups just noted dutifully echoing Napolitano's talking points. Excerpts from both follow-up stories are after the jump.