According to MasterCard SpendingPulse, retail sales were up 3.6 percent during the holiday season - 2.4 percent excluding gas prices. But because it's not as big an increase as recent years have produced, the media reported it as bad news.
On NBC's "Nightly News," reporter Savannah Guthrie announced a "dramatic" 2.4 percent decrease in women's clothing sales. She didn't think the same percentage increase was "dramatic," however. Instead, she referred to the overall sales increase as "disappointing."
Other media labeled the figures "dismal," "small," "weak," "bleak" and "a clear sign that the economy is slowing down." Most made sure to point out, like "Good Morning America's" Ryan Owens, that the increase is "the smallest in four years."
Business & Media Institute Director Dan Gainor appeared on the Fox Business Network December 21, 2007, to discuss the media's coverage of the economy. Full of Christmas spirit, Gainor had kind words for two mainstream reporters.
"Even in the mainstream media there are people who get it. Looking back this year one of the big stars whose improvement was surprising is CNN's Ali Velshi who delivers a much calmer look," Gainor said.
"It's nice to see somebody out there saying, ‘Oh, actually the markets aren't really doing that bad," he said, praising ABC's Bianna Golodryga. The "Good Morning America" reporter received high marks for balanced coverage of the stock market.
Hillary Clinton has no right to complain that her friends and flatterers in the media are rough on her. But when Clintons hit rough passages on the road to victory, this is what Clintons do: complain. That’s too meek. They whine.
But she obviously feels wronged by the news media when her polls begin to slip and she looks at her Barack Obama’s worshipful press clips. In fairy-tale terms, Obama is Snow White, and Hillary is the vain and wicked queen peering into the mirror and demanding to know "who is the fairest of them all?"
Nothing is deadlier to a campaign than a rumor that a candidate might be dropping out. But NBC has seen fit to suggest that Rudy Giuliani might be withdrawing from the presidential race based on what it itself calls "speculation" in the blogosphere.
NBC Nightly News weekend anchor Lester Holt interviewed John Harwood on this evening's edition.
LESTER HOLT: Let's turn to Rudy Giuliani. He's had a health scare, he's had a drop in the polls. You've seen it in the blogosphere: a lot of speculation as to whether he'll stay in this race. What do you think?
"Millions of older Americans are facing an important decision right now," anchor Charles Gibson said. "And some hard sell insurance agents see them as easy targets. Every December, seniors choose between Medicare or any of dozens of private plans that compete with the government. This year, almost 9 million opted for the private plans. And as ABC's David Muir reports, some now have serious regrets."
On the news of Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani’s hospitalization and release, ABC’s Jake Tapper spun it as a case of secrecy. On the December 21 edition of "Good Morning America," Tapper reported that after Giuliani and his wife claimed to be in "good health," his lack of details may harm him. "Experts on political crises say Giuliani is handling this the exact wrong way," Tapper suggested.
Tapper also stated, according to former Clinton aide Lanny Davis, 2000 long shot Democratic hopeful Bill Bradley’s lack of health disclosure was the "turning point"of his campaign.
Tapper finally played a sound bite of Giuliani promising a more open government. The ABC correspondent sniped back "apparently that pledge of transparency not applying to his current health crisis."
Do all those attacks against Hillary Clinton reduce the candidate to cowering in bed? "Nightline" co-anchor Cynthia McFadden posed this question to the former First Lady on Wednesday's program. She sympathetically asked, "There's never a night when you go back to whatever hotel room, whatever city you're in that night, and crawl in a ball and say, 'I just, this just hurts too much?"
As previously noted on NewsBusters, the ABC program also featured McFadden gushing that the presidential candidate's new campaign web site is "terribly sweet in so many ways" and yet it also shows the double standard that female politicians have to put up with. McFadden, who spent a day with Clinton in Iowa, protectively spun most of her questions. She observed that Barack Obama has been successful with "some people" at painting Clinton as an opportunist and then queried simply, "How do you fight back against that?"
Does "Good Morning America" mean "good morning all you racists"? Co-host Chris Cuomo seemed to suggest that on December 20. (Hat tip: Howard Mortman) Upon interviewing presidential candidate Barack Obama Cuomo inquired about Obama’s biggest obstacles.
"What do you think the bigger obstacle is for you in becoming president, the Clinton campaign machine or America's inherent racists, racism?"
Obama, though conceding he does not think "race has played a significant role in this campaign," went on to add that many people may vote for or against him because of his race.
I've noted previously that Old Media has developed a squeamishness towards describing this time of year in business stories as the "Christmas shopping season."
In the midst of media criticism of Mike Huckabee's Christmas ad, including the Whoopi Goldberg-Joy Behar exchange on "The View" noted earlier today by NewsBusters' Justin McCarthy, how interesting it is that one of Hillary Clinton's latest ads in Iowa joins in the C-word sqeamishness (HT Hot Air, whose Bryan Preston calls it "Hillary's Unintentionally Revealing Christmas Ad").
The ad shows Mrs. Clinton wrapping presents for the American people, including "Universal Health Care," "Alternative Energy," "Bring Troops Home," and "Middle Class Tax Breaks" (where have we heard that undelivered promise before?). In search of the final present to wrap, she asks, "Where's Universal Pre-K?" Finding it, she says, "Ah, there it is."
(Three of these "presents" to the American people would have to be paid for with money coming from the American people in the form of taxes -- but that's for another time.)
"The View"co-hosts discussed the Mike Huckabee Christmas ad when Joy Behar moved to quote Ron Paul, ideologically libertarian, whom Behar calls "a very staunch Republican," who quoted Sinclair Lewis: "When Fascism comes to the country, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross."When they played the advertisement, Behar moaned "we don’t have to listen to him do we?"
Whoopi Goldberg, who previously defended Georgia Governor Perdue for holding a prayer service, defended Huckabee’s ad claiming "if he wasn’t a Christian, I don’t think people would be as freaked out by it." Whoopi also defended those who wish to proclaim Merry Christmas.
KEYS: Do you think it matters? Well, well, do you think it matters?
Imagine for a moment that the FBI raided televangelist Pat Robertson's office for any reason whatsoever, much less say his 1988 presidential campaign. It'd be a story in the broadcast evening news programs, right?
So why the utter lack of interest in the December 12 federal probe into Al Sharpton's 2004 campaign? A review of Nexis for ABC, NBC, and CBS network news stories for December 12-18 yielded nothing on a December 13 FBI raid.
Here's an excerpt from the AP's reporting from December 13:
It is and it was showcased on the December 16 "World News Sunday" in a disturbing human interest segment about freeganism - a radical-left anti-capitalist movement.
Madeline Nelson, an executive-turned-freegan, was featured on "World News." The segment showed Nelson serving a four-course meal, which included a mixed green salad, stuffed peppers, and a tofu cheesecake with strawberries.
"The grocery bill for such an elaborate feast? Zero," said ABC correspondent Ryan Owens. "That's because this food doesn't come from inside a store, but outside of it."
According to ABC’s Kate Snow, support for the Iraq War automatically makes one a conservative, even if that individual is liberal on most other issues. In reporting on the increasingly tight race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, Snow briefly mentioned at the end that Joseph Lieberman endorsed John McCain. She dismissively referred to Lieberman as a "conservative Democrat."
"And he won over long-time Democrat, all be it a conservative one, Senator Joe Lieberman, who ran with Al Gore, will endorse McCain later today."
It's been a rough day for Hillary. First, as noted here, she was drummed from pillar to post on ABC's "This Week." NewsBuster Noel Sheppard then detailed here how Chris Matthews' crew raked her over the coals. Now, completing Hillary's troika of tribulation, the CBS Evening News has gotten into the act.
The development being reported was ostensibly positive for Hillary: the Des Moines Register today endorsed her. If CBS had stopped there, it would have been a plus for the Clinton campaign. But unfortunately for Hillary . . . the Evening News decided to play clips of Clinton on the stump in Iowa.
Worst job in America this morning: Clinton campaign staffer assigned to inform Hillary of her treatment at the hands of ABC's "This Week" panel.
From moderator George Stephanopoulos to former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile, to the husband-wife tandem of Jay Carney of Time and Claire Shipman of ABC, to conservative sage George Will, it was a decidedly downbeat take on Hillary's fortunes.
ABC’s Chris Cuomo, who previously tried to push John McCain to give a preference between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, asked Mike Huckabee, after citing Hillary Clinton, "can a woman be president?" Cuomo inquired this after mentioning that Huckabee signed an ad stating "a wife is to submit graciously to...her husband."
Huckabee appeared on the December 13 edition of "Good Morning America" to address his recent questioning of Mormon doctrine that "Jesus and the devil are brothers." Cuomo also asked Huckabee why he is "unwilling to say" that Mormons are Christians. Huckabee responded "it's not my place to start evaluating his faith, your faith, somebody else's."
It is also notable that GMA co-host Diane Sawyer previously attacked Huckabee for playing the "religion card."
ABC proved once again that they will use language to flavor reporting to promulgate their ideological position instead of just reporting the facts. After Wednesday's GOP debate in Iowa, ABC news posted a Political Radar blog entry calling attention to Fred Thompson's efforts to improve the depth of debate held that day. Calling Thompson's efforts a "Tantrum," ABC seeks to cast Thompson's sensible and adult desire to engage in real debate as a child's temper tantrum. Does ABC want real debate or do they want dumbed down, name calling or simple minded sound byte replies? I think you can easily decide which!
If you didn't see the debate and missed what it is that Thompson did, there is a video available that I'll post at the end of this piece so you can see for yourself. But, in essence, Thompson refused to do a "show of hands" answer to the question of whether or not the candidates agree with the theory of man-made global warming. He felt that this important issue needed an actual reply. The gall of him, eh?
As a global warming skeptic, when I saw the headline "The Pope Condemns the Climate Change Prophets of Doom," it goes without saying I was as pleased as a child on Christmas Day that had gotten everything he asked Santa for and then some.
My glee accelerated after reading the marvelous beginning of this Daily Mail article (paragraph break removed for space considerations):
Pope Benedict XVI has launched a surprise attack on climate change prophets of doom, warning them that any solutions to global warming must be based on firm evidence and not on dubious ideology. The leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics suggested that fears over man-made emissions melting the ice caps and causing a wave of unprecedented disasters were nothing more than scare-mongering.
See why I was so thrilled?
Unfortunately, as I reviewed the text of the Pontiff's message, defeat was stripped from the jaws of victory upon realizing the Mail's author had divined intent that might have been absent from the Pope's words:
According to ABC reporter Claire Shipman, dreary economic news and a slow Christmas could be a real plus for the Democrats. Filing a segment for Wednesday's "Good Morning America," Shipman lamented, "It may be that no amount of hall decking can convince Americans to be jolly about the economy this holiday season."
However, the GMA correspondent saw good news in this for the Democrats. She asserted, "Traditionally, of course, problems in the economy would help the Democrats." After allowing that GOP candidate Mike Huckabee's "populist message" could resonate, Shipman gushed, "Among the Democrats, John Edwards has the message that's most consistently appealing to people suffering from economic woes." Not wishing to leave any Democrat behind, she rhapsodized, "But at the same time, the Clinton brand has a strong economic reputation."
After speaking against the death tax last week, "View" co-host Whoopi Goldberg said "people are very annoyed" with her and reliably left Joy Behar attacked with her pro-tax liberal spin. The December 12 edition of "The View" featured country star and politically conservative guest co-host Sara Evans, who also spoke out against the death tax.
Similar to her previous statement on the issue, Goldberg said "I just feel like...I’ve worked very hard...this is something I want to give to my kid and she should be able to accept it." After Whoopi called it a "double tax" Sara Evans exclaimed "I totally agree with you!"
Joy Behar, in using the typical left wing class warfare propaganda claimed that "the very, very rich, not only don’t have to pay it, but get tax cuts." As she has donebefore, Behar gets her facts wrong. In 2005, the top one percent (those making $364,657 or more) paid 39.4 percent, but earned only 21.2 percent of the wealth.
Whoopi Goldberg did call out Joy Behar exclaiming that the wealthiest Americans are "pay ing 50 percent of their income. It’s not like they’re not paying."
ABC host Diane Sawyer used an exclusive interview with Oprah Winfrey and actor Denzel Washington to gossip about liberal politics, to ask whether the talk show host would support Hillary Clinton as a backup to Senator Barack Obama and also to prompt Washington on the subject of which Democrat he's supporting.
In the interview, which aired during Wednesday's edition of "Good Morning America," Sawyer demanded to know, "Have you heard from the Clintons? Have you talked to the Clintons?" "What would you say to Hillary," she asked.After Winfrey simply reiterated her support for Obama, Sawyer pressed on and asked if the talk show host had decided "if Senator Clinton is nominated whether you'll show up for her or not?"
Better stow all potables and sharp objects, for the ratings of America's top four broadcast networks are so bad that one is giving refunds to advertisers while the other three are offering what is known in the industry as "make-goods."
Even better, the problem began before the writers strike.
Honestly, you can't make this stuff up.
As deliciously reported by Reuters moments ago (emphasis added):
Joy Behar took up Media Matters talking points on her "View" forum and Whoopi Goldberg and Sherri Shepherd, whom Barbara Walters calls "very conservative," backed Behar up. On discussing Barack Obama and whether his African American race helps or hurts him, Joy Behar brought up the far left Media Matters smear of Bill O’Reilly.
JOY BEHAR: Well, remember the Bill O’Reilly thing when they went up to Sylvia’s and he was so astounded-
WHOOPI GOLDBERG: Yes he was astounded.
BEHAR: -that black people use forks or something when they eat?
GOLDBERG: Yeah, I mean, you know, what kind-
BEHAR: It’s Bill O’Reilly.
In reality, Bill O’Reilly was using his experience to note that African-American culture is not as profane and coarse as stereotyped by many white Americans. Barbara Walters very timidly defended O’Reilly before Sherri Shepherd and Whoopi Goldberg continued.
The world of entertainment is in a world of hurt. With the massive diversification of entertainment offerings these days, older forms of media -- like movies, TV and newspapers -- are finding a dwindling number of customers as NBC is finding out this month. NBC has found itself in the lamentable position of giving their advertisers refunds because of poor performance in its ratings. The promised number of eyes that NBC promised that advertisers would reach didn't materialize, so NBC has to refund their advertisers for the over estimate of viewers that might see the ads placed on their airwaves. Of course, NBC is trying to keep a lid on this damaging story, but the Genie is out of that bottle. We can surely say that the network's News arms ain't helpin' sales a whole lot, in any case!
According to veteran ABC journalist Sam Donaldson, evangelical voters are longing for a "Christian theocracy" to rule the United States. Donaldson, appearing on the December 9 edition of "This Week," made the comment while discussing GOP candidate Mitt Romney's speech about religious faith. He also labeled the address "very, very frightening."
Responding to host George Stephanopoulos's assertion that the speech was an inversion of John Kennedy's famous 1960 address, Donaldson asserted, "That's right and that's far we've come. [Romney] talks about the public square. Now, he would say, 'I'm don't mean a Christian theocracy in the White House.' But it's getting much, much closer." Returning to the subject several minutes later, the former ABC anchor, in a slightly horrified tone, remarked, "...Talk about a Christian theocracy in this country, many evangelical Christians believe... that's what we should have, that government should favor people who have the right and understand what God wants us to do."
Joy Behar still complains about Al Gore’s 2000 election loss. In discussing Gore’s Nobel Prize acceptance, Behar implied Gore lost an unfair election. When Whoopi Goldberg reminded Behar that Gore conceded. Behar retorted "that was a mistake" after the Supreme Court, which has final jurisdiction ruled against him.
Behar continued that Gore "should have let them count the votes legitimately...to keep our country the way it’s supposed to be instead of the Supreme Court making the decision." Behar essentially said Gore should have defied the Court to "let them count the votes legitimately."
Behar is forgetting that Gore exhausted the legal system and there were little or no avenues Gore could have pursued after the Supreme Court ruled against him. Also, Florida did have a full state recount, including court ordered hand recounts of Florida’s most liberal counties.
In the battle of Democratic "superstar campaigners," the reporters of "Good Morning America" couldn't decide whether they prefer Hillary Clinton's exciting surrogates or Barack Obama's. On Monday's edition of the ABC program, correspondent David Wright parroted talking points about Oprah Winfrey supporting Obama and the inspiring nature of the talk show host. He glowingly asserted, "She's urging her fans to vote the dream, not just to settle for the inevitable." Wright didn't bother to explain what, exactly, that means.
The GMA reporter also gushed that "...When it comes to connecting a crowd over shared hardships and shared hopes, nobody beats Oprah." According to Wright, she's "kind of like everybody's big sister." Kate Snow, filing a piece on the Clinton campaign, explained that operatives at "Hillaryland" sent Bill and Chelsea Clinton to Iowa in order to manipulate media coverage away from Obama. Snow shamelessly confessed, "And it worked. We're not just talking about Oprah this morning, are we?"
Why would Barbara Walters make Bill Clinton a Most Fascinating Person of 2007? She explained it on Thursday’s Good Morning America: “We didn't want a political candidate, but I mean he has had such a year. Wrote another best-selling book, Giving, traveled all over the place. And we talked to him about what it was like to be, you know, what he thinks it's going to be if she wins.”
But the ooziest, least credible part came when GMA co-host Robin Roberts asked Walters “What do you make of the partnership between Bill and Hillary Clinton?” Walters laid on the lovey-dovey-Clintons line, thick as an oil slick: “Well, you know, we asked him, for example if he does, you know, text messaging. And he said no, he calls her because he has to hear her voice. He knows from the moment she says hello what kind of a day it is for her. Well, that's the only kind of relationship you can have if you're very close and, you know, obviously, they are.”
The recent setback in Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez’s efforts to proclaim himself ruler for life were stunning to ABC News woman Barbara Walters. "I was amazed that he, that he didn’t get to be president for life."
Perhaps Barbara was shocked that the people would rise up against this charismatic man she’d already wrapped into her special on the Ten Most Fascinating People of 2007. When asked if Hugo’s setback made him less fascinating, Walters said no, that "we try to have people that do positive things." But her actual profile of Chavez (recycling a March interview) turned a bit dreary. Her enthusiasm cooled enough that she actually edited more emotional quotes (both from Walters and Chavez) out of the brief profile.