ABC's Sam Donaldson let a little of his inner-conspiracy theorist out this morning on This Week with George Stephanopoulos.
In a discussion of President Barack Obama's lessening the sanctions on Fidel Castro's Cuba, Donaldson began his analysis with one of a number a Kennedy-Truther notions that have been knocking around ever since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963.
Ever since Lee Harvey Oswald first squeezed the trigger, there have been numerous others for whom he was the alleged fall guy. The Grassy Knoll, the Zapruder films, etc.
Then-Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson has been mentioned, as has the Mafia, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, Howard Hunt and the Eastern Bloc of Soviet States, or some cabal of some or all of the above.
Another wild card in this crazy deck was Cuba's El Presidente, Castro. The theory being that Castro was upset with JFK's woefully planned and executed Bay of Pigs attempt at ending his nascent dictatorship, and therefore exacted his revenge by executing the 35th President.
Donaldson's buy-in for this house-of-cards game is apparently the Castro connection.
I could of course be commenting on the poor quality of the alleged journalism. But in this case I'm talking about their ratings, which is of course largely caused by said poor journalism.
Three weeks ago (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that the Big 3 networks' evening newscasts' combined ratings had dropped about 17% since the collective high they achieved during the week of January 26, the first full week after Barack Obama's nomination.
Make that 21%. In the 25-54 demographic, the drop has been 30%. And it's not just a seasonality thing. The collective drop compared to last year is over 4%, continuing a long-term decline the nets surely hoped they might prevent if they could just get their guy elected to the White House. No dice, guys.
Here is an updated week-by-week graph for each network since the first of the year, followed by some demographic and overall info (based on info found at the Evening News Ratings Category at Media Bistro's TV Newser):
All that cheerleading for Obama-Biden, and all they got was a continuation of their lousy long-term ratings drop.
Perhaps one reason why Big 3 network coverage of the 2008 presidential election was so heavy on fawning favoritism towards Barack Obama and Joe Biden combined with all-out attacks on John McCain and Sarah Palin was that the belief that an Obama presidency might revive interest in their declining evening newscasts.
If so, that strategy has spectacularly failed. Nine weeks into Obama's presidency, it's clear that after a short-lived revival, the audiences for NBC's Brian Williams, ABC's Charles Gibson, and especially CBS's Katie Couric are smaller than ever, and that (with the exception of NBC's Williams) the remainder who are still tuning in are older than ever.
After a significant post-election rise that peaked during the first full week after Obama's inauguration, the viewership drop at all three networks has been steep, to the point where all three have fewer people tuning in than they did a year ago at this time (source: the Evening News Ratings page at Media Bistro):
The Hollywood Reporter's (THR.com) James Hibberd is reporting that the TV networks are "reluctantly" shuffling their on air schedules to fulfill their "responsibility" to air President Obama's important campaign speech... er, I mean address to the nation next week. The Nets are solemnly claiming the mantle of the patriotic American fulfilling their civic duty to air presidential addresses, it appears.
It is all well and good that they should do this, of course. Keeping the nation informed is one of those long-held, self-proclaimed charges of TV news organizations, of course. But, curiously enough, that same attention to a patriotic, civic duty to air presidential speeches didn't seem so compelling to them while Bush was in office because they often refused to air his speeches to the nation. Or, as in at least one instance, they left the speech early to go on to primetime programing.
Prominent hurricane forecaster Dr. William M. Gray, a professor at Colorado State University, appeared at The Heartland Institute's 2009 International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC) in New York on March 11 to elaborate on his theory that a natural cycle of ocean water temperatures related to the salinity (the amount of salt) in ocean water was responsible for some global warming that has taken place.
Los Angeles's NBC television affiliate must not have gotten the memo telling them that they should not utter the name of ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), lest anyone reach the "wrong" conclusions.
NBC Los Angeles is the only media outlet I have found thus far to identify ACORN's presence in a story about a "disruptive display of disobedience" by members the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) at a school board meeting Tuesday (the story credit is to "Associated Press/NBC Los Angeles," but as you will see later, I found no AP story containing an ACORN reference).
Here is the story headline that the Google News crawler apparently originally found:
The math-challenged Biden, who infamously said during the presidential campaign that the word "jobs" has three letters (maybe you don't know about that one either), made this false claim Wednesday morning, and almost no one noticed.
One exception was TV station KSLA, which filed this report (related but not identically scripted video can be found at link; direct link to vid is here). Reporter Fred Childress's "Fact Check" told us that Biden isn't merely wrong; the Bayou State actually gained seasonally adjusted jobs in December:
"What’s worse than the liberal media’s sycophantic coverage of President Barack Obama? ABC’s George Stephanopoulos actively helping design and deliver the Administration’s strategy and message - which he is then charged with reporting."
That was MRC President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell's reaction to Tuesday's report by Politico that the "This Week" anchor has daily strategy and message chats with former Clinton administration alumni: Rahm Emanuel -- Obama's White House chief of staff -- and CNN pundits Paul Begala and James Carville.
“For Stephanopoulos, the line between journalist and liberal strategist would be completely obliterated were it not for the fact that it apparently never existed at all. He didn’t fail in his attempt at transformation from liberal operative to journalist – he never made the effort," Bozell concluded.
Correction (Feb. 10, 2009): Corrected from original reporting attributing AP and Getty with the photo editing. In fact it was ABCNews.com, not AP or Getty Images that overlaid the Bush photo on the Gaza rubble photo. AP and Getty Images supplied the respective photos. Thanks to the folks at StinkyJournalism.org for pointing out the error.
I guess, since flat-out fauxtography as practiced in 2006 in the Middle East has become so difficult, and has been shown as likely to be detected, that the press has decided to go with "creative" image placement to do the dirty work that must be done to create sympathy for Hamas and antipathy towards President Bush and the United States.
For "some reason," the editors at ABCNews.com placed President Bush's image at its bottom right. The photo compilation (shown above) accompanied a report by Miguel Marquez and Simon McGregor-Wood that appears to have also run on the network's "World News" program.
The wreckage in the photo purports to be "the destroyed house of Hamas leader of Nizar Rayan following an Israeli air strike the day before in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip" (given the state of reporting out of the region, one never knows for sure).
There is no good reason for Mr. Bush's picture to be included, since:
The video purports to show the death and hasty burial of a cameraman's 12 year-old younger brother, one of two children allegedly killed on the roof of their home in rocket fire from an Israeli drone.
A seemingly pretty knowledgeable LGF commenter spotted what many inexpert readers who see the video will also catch (bolds are mine):
I’m no military expert, but I am a doctor, and this video is bullsh-t. The chest compressions that were being performed at the beginning of this video were absolutely, positively fake. The large man in the white coat was NOT performing CPR on that child. He was just sort of tapping on the child’s sternum a little bit with his fingers. You can’t make blood flow like that. Furthermore, there’s no point in doing chest compressions if you’re not also ventilating the patient somehow.
Here is some much-needed sanity from Business & Media Institute commentator Dan Kennedy: The first sprouts of the new American economy are already breaking through the snow.
Some associates and I have recently invested capital in forming a new bank. I’m not allowed to give out its name or location here, in this column, as commercial promotion is forbidden thanks to the non-profit status of the publisher – an annoying little oddity, given that I’m writing in defense of capitalism.
But, to the point. A Business Week article from Dec. 22 was headlined "This May Be the Ideal Time to Start A Bank." We agree, or they agree with us. Specific to banking, a start-up with no toxic assets and sufficient capital can borrow cheaply, and can be well-positioned to be acquired at a nifty gain when the recession dissipates and recovery takes over. That’s our strategy and we’re stickin’ to it.
Why can't everyone just settle down, get out of the way, get rid of the "distractions," and let Barack Obama do his magic? That seems to be a recurring media meme during this presidential transition period.
Here are just a few examples in just the past 30 days:
In a December 12 "analysis" piece at Reuters, Steve Holland opened by telling readers that "A political scandal that led to the arrest of Illinois' governor has become an unwelcome distraction for President-elect Barack Obama as he tries to keep his focus on preparing to run the country."
Amanda Paulson's Christian Science Monitor report on December 23 about Obama's internal investigation of contacts between his team and Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich fretted that "As the saga of Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his alleged “political corruption crime spree” has played out over the past two weeks, it’s been an unwelcome distraction for another politician from Illinois: President-elect Obama."
And yesterday, Brent Baker of NewsBusters caught ABC World News Tonight anchor Dan Harris worrying that Bill Richardson's unexpected withdrawal as Commerce Secretary nominee might be "a distraction in the key early days."
For at least ten seconds there, it appeared Margaret Warner thought PBS stood for the Palestinian Broadcast Service.
On last night's NewsHour Ms. Warner, whilst interviewing Israel's Ambassador to the United States Sallai Meridor, posed one of the dumbest questions in the long, dumb history of broadcast journalism.
So banal was her query that there was for nearly five seconds the most pregnant of pauses, broken finally by Ambassador Meridor's bemused and chagrined response. Which Ms. Warner followed with another question of nearly equal asinine force.
Ms. Warner was fairly addled throughout (transcript below the fold), but nothing else she said rose quite to the heights of foolishness as did this. We have edited in after the exchange an earlier statement from Ambassador Meridor that we think pretty much sums it all up.
The three broadcast networks started their evening newscasts on Tuesday with stories on Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's arrest and corruption charges. All of the newscasts mentioned Blagojevich's Democratic affiliation, but only in passing. And, only ABC's World News questioned the details about the Illinois Governor's relationship with President-elect Barack Obama, while NBC and CBS brushed over the President-elect's connections with Blagojevich and seemed content to end their investigation of this relationship by reporting on Obama's statement that he was not aware of what was going on.
ABC and NBC both identified Blagojevich as a Democrat early in their reports. NBC "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams's introduction to the report by Lee Cowan described the charge as "that the two-term Democratic governor tried to sell a seat in the US Senate to the highest bidder." Brian Ross, reporting for ABC's "World News," identified the Illinois governor as "the boyish looking Democrat branded a greedy, foul mouth politician who tried to sell a US Senate seat to the highest bidder."
The CBS "Evening News," however, did not identify Blagojevich as a Democrat until the very end of Dean Reynolds's report when an on-screen graphic identified the governor as "(D) Illinois" and Reynolds claimed that "fellow Democrats worry that whoever he might pick could wind up tainted politically and could ultimately cost the party a valuable seat in Congress."
More Than Mere Shouting Distance From ObjectivityTom Brokaw's last performance as fill-in moderator of NBC's premier news show, Meet the Press, included a pretty blatant Leftist query. Interviewing President-elect Barack Obama, southpaw Brokaw uncorked a wild one on energy:
"Let's talk for a moment about consumer responsibility when it comes to the auto industry. As soon as gas prices began to drop, consumers moved back to the larger cars once again, the SUVs and the big gas consumers. Why not take this opportunity to put a tax on gasoline, bump it back up to $4.00 a gallon -where people are prepared to pay for that - and use that revenue for alternative energy and as a signal to consumers that these days are gone. We're not going to have gasoline that you can just fill-up for $20 anymore."
Brokaw's last stand as MTP host served as the perfect lead-in to his final official MTP duty -- introducing his permanent successor, longtime NBC and MSNBC White House reporter David Gregory.
"The View" co-host Joy Behar is well on her way to unhinged, if not already there.
Earlier today, NB's Justin McCarthy noted that Behar, in mentioning GOP Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, said that "we all know that the woman is an airhead."
Michelle Malkin noted this evening that Behar also took an uncalled-for cheap shot at those who are involved in an important and growing alternative not only to the public schools, but also to traditional brick-and-mortar classroom education (video is at link):
Behar show(ed) .... her contempt for both homeschooled students and parents: “A lot of them are demented when they’re homeschooled.”
McCain/Palin supporters are idiots. So said the scribes of ABC's Boston Legal who scripted a show that went out of its way to trash Sarah Palin and elevate the election of Barack Obama to mythical status.
Oh. And bloggers are "entry level life forms that intellectually have yet to emerge from the primordial ooze."
The thrust of the storyline was a lawsuit brought by a woman who claimed she was fired from her job because she voted for McCain. As it turns out her Republican boss fired her because he thought she was stupid and based his conclusion on the fact that the woman was an ardent Hillary supporter who voted for McCain because of Sarah Palin. A double slam from the left-loving writers of Boston Legal.
The Obama-supporting characters "Alan Shore" and "Shirley Schmidt" played by James Spader and Candice Bergen represented the Hillary/Palin-supporting woman even though they did think she was stupid...for supporting the McCain ticket. "Schmidt" tells the character "Martha" as much in a conference.
"SHIRLEY SCHMIDT:" Honey, the sexist in all this is you. ... You claim to be a staunch Hillary Clinton supporter. You--you walked into that booth and voted against everything Hillary stands for, and why? Because the republicans added to their ticket someone they referred to at the convention as "the hot chick."
My 14-year-old daughter informed me that the many of the young teens in her school are dressing up as Sarah Palin for Halloween. Given that she attends school in very blue Northern Virginia, I asked her if the girls were dressing up as Governor Palin because they thought she was "scary."
"Oh, yes," she replied.
Well, at least they'll be dressed conservatively. A few less skankily-clad kids parading through the neighborhood.
Yes, Cruella, it's Halloween, the time for costume makers to make their annual contribution to the premature sexualization of young children.
"I hear that they were originally going to do an hour of just glowing media clips from major talking heads, but they couldn't pare it down to a half hour," MRC Director of Communications Seton Motley quipped to Fox News Channel's Steve Doocy about Sen. Barack Obama's Oct. 29 half hour-long paid advertisement that ran on NBC, CBS, and Fox network stations.
"I didn't see anything new that really needed to be told last night.... To see if it's effective, let's see what the 'Pushing Daisies' ratings were," Motley added, referring to the program in the 8 p.m. Wednesday time slot on ABC, the one broadcast network which didn't carry the Obama informercial.
Here's a video contrast for you: Joe Biden being grilled by a professional news anchor vs. Biden being tossed a softball by a charming fifth-grader who said after his interview that the Democratic vice-presidential candidate "is now my homeboy."
Biden has refused any further interviews with Barbara West of WFTV in Orlando, Fla., or anyone else at the station, but the odds are good that he would chat at length with fifth-grader Damon Weaver any time.
Prohibitions against profane and obscene language in television broadcasts will be at issue on November 4th when the U.S. Supreme Court reviews a legal challenge to the enforcement practices of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The Parents Television Council (PTC) has filed an amicus brief in the case of FCC vs. Fox Television Stations asking the justices to reject a lower court ruling that concluded government enforcement standards have been "arbitrary and capricious."
Fox Broadcasting filed suit after the FCC reprimanded the network for allowing vulgarities to be aired during live broadcasts of music award shows in 2002 and 2003. One incident involved a singer used a four letter word to rebuke her critics.
In 1978 the Supreme Court did rule in favor of allowing the FCC to police radio and television broadcasts during time slots when children were most likely to be in the audience. FCC v. Pacific Foundation involved broadcasts of the late George Carlin's "seven dirty words" monologue.
MRC Director of Communications Seton Motley appeared on Fox News Channel on October 26 to discuss the Obama campaign's pushback against the little media scrutiny it does receive:
MOTLEY: You had the American Issues Project in Houston run an ad about Obama's connection to Bill Ayers and they wrote a letter to the Justice Department asking that the American Issues Project and their contributors be investigated. So it makes you worry going forward if they're writing letters to ask the Justice [Department] now, what will an Obama administration do when they are in control of the Justice Department with people who ask questions they don't like?
Fox News anchor Eric Shawn asked Motley about the Obama campaign's pushback against a Florida TV station for an interview conducted by WFTV's Barbara West, whom Shawn noted once worked under Peter Jennings.
Matt Drudge, with some apparent glee, given the black and white picture he used, reported something yours truly has followed for some time: The Big Three networks' evening newscasts continue to lose viewers.
Three weeks out from Election Day, surely more Americans are tuning into the Big 3 networks' evening newscasts, right?
In the past two weeks, Big 3 evening newscast viewership has actually declined by 360,000, or 1.6%. What's more, in percentage terms, viewership among "The Demo" of ages 25-54 has declined even further (220,000, down 3.1%).
There's a theory floating around the right side of the blogosphere that NBC removed a "Saturday Night Live" skit from the Internet because the network had second thoughts about making fun of liberals or caught too much heat for doing so.
But a new theory has surfaced in the mainstream media. Advertising Age is reporting that the skit may have been pulled for apolitical reasons. "A good guess: The clip, a fake C-SPAN news report, identifies [former bank owners Herb and Marion Sandler] ... as 'people who should be shot' in a graphic."
A story on the San Franciso Chronicle Web site seems to buttress that view. It is headlined "Herb Sandler Takes On SNL After Snark Attack" and quotes Sandler as saying, "We are being unfairly tarred" for problems in the mortage industry.
The Media Research Center's Director of Communications and NewsBusters.org Contributing Editor Seton Motley appeared on Friday afternoon on the Fox News Channel's American Election HQ to discuss how Bill O'Reilly handled his interview of Rep. Barney Frank, as well as how ABC's The View routinely abuses Gov. Sarah Palin.
Motley expressed thanks and gratitude that FINALLY someone in the media was asking Rep. Frank about his extensive history of blockading, stonewalling and grandstanding against attempts to reform Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, O'Reilly's righteously indignant questioning notwithstanding.
Motley also cautioned that "there is no diving in The View's thought pool," and pointed out that their panel make-up is biased in typical media fashion: three liberals and one conservative.
Update's Update: I have been assured by IT that we are FINALLY ready to go with this.
The American people in poll after poll and in greater and growing numbers are railing against the egregious liberal bias of the press. And nowhere are the media more horrendously slanted than in their coverage of the presidential campaign of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. They are (to say the least) very, very sweet on him.
The MRC has put together this college basketball tournament-style bracket event, the Sweet-On-Obama Sixteen Media Bias Tournament, so that you, the angered members of the media’s audience can vote for who gives Sen. Obama the most loving and fawning coverage of all.