While the prevailing argument on Capitol Hill right now is not whether to cut federal spending but rather what programs to cut, CNNMoney is fretting over the very concept of spending cuts. You read that right, while both political parties hash out spending cuts to chip away at the growing deficit, CNN is arguing for more government spending to stimulate the economy. Apparently, President Obama's economic policies weren't carried far enough.
"If the debt ceiling goes up, government spending is most likely going down. And with the economy grinding to a halt, the timing couldn't be worse," CNNMoney's Charles Riley begins his column.
The one I expected came from CNNMoney.com, which read: "Initial unemployment claims fall below 400,000 for the first time in more than 3 months, dropping 24,000 to 398,000 in latest week." The other one came from USAToday.com, which does not ordinarily issue alerts when this report appears, took the opportunity to relay the same message, followed by an assertion that today's report is "a sign the job market may be healing after a recent slump."
Once again, Tea Party-critic John Avlon took aim at "hyper-partisanship" in Congress but focused the blame squarely on House Republicans while saving a tiny bit of blame for Democrats. In a July 25 op-ed for CNN.com, he hit Republicans for walking away from a generous deal by President Obama to settle the debt ceiling debate.
"We are learning that activists and ideologues pushing anti-tax pledges have nothing to do with the responsibility of governing," Avlon berated Tea Party members of Congress, while accusing them of opposing the bipartisan plan set forth by the "Gang of Six" simply because Obama approved of it.
The only mention of that fact on air is when guests bring it up and today the CNN.com website is casting the poll's results as evidence that while Obama is losing enthusiasm among liberal voters, that the public at large is skeptical of congressional Republicans.
As soon as the Senate rejected the "Cut, Cap and Balance" plan, CNN.com shot out a biased Breaking News alert to e-mail subscribers that labeled the measure as one "favored by hard-line conservative [sic]" (screen capture attached below page break):
The CNN Belief Blog's latest hit-job on Republicans involved Boston University religion scholar Stephen Prothero pronouncing that Republican politicians taking conservative pledges is "unbiblical" and "unchristian." Republicans have made news recently for taking pledges that are anti-tax, pro-life, and opposing same-sex marriage.
According to Prothero, the Bible argues that the "recent orgy of oath taking" by Republicans entails that they "have literally made a pact with the devil." Of course, what passes for "biblical interpretation" these days on the CNN Belief Blog is more like an affirmation of liberal creeds.
Dan Savage hates bullying. Make that some bullying. Admirably, Savage hates it when gay teens get bullied. Less admirably, Savage doesn't hesitate to bully, smear and malign those who disagree with him.
Savage, a gay sex columnist, has never been shy about expressing his hatred for social conservatives. In his latest attack, appearing on HBO's "Real Time" with Bill Maher July 15, Savage wished Republicans were "all f**king dead" and admitted that he has contemplated how he'd like to "f**k the s**t out of [conservative presidential candidate] Rick Santorum."
In a USA Today email I received 20 minutes after Tuesday's closing bell, I was informed that the exceptionally good day occurred because the stock markets were "buoyed by strong earnings reports by IBM, Coke and others." A visit to the email's linked article also partially attributed the rise to "renewed hopes that U.S. lawmakers would be able to break their stalemate and strike a deficit-reduction deal in time to avert a catastrophic government default."
That's strange, because the CNN Headline email I had received 20 minutes earlier struck a totally different and completely absurd pose, as seen after the jump:
David Frum is bashing conservative Republicans again – this time for playing hardball with President Obama and using the debt ceiling deadline as blackmail to get what they want. Frum writes in a CNN.com op-ed that the GOP demand for "total surrender" by the president on the debt ceiling debate gives him "horrible flashbacks" to the party's staunch opposition to the health care bill – which failed – in what he deemed the conservatives' "Waterloo."
What details are jumping out at Frum to make him believe that the president is so utterly reasonable and Republicans are reckless in this debate?
First, he seems to bend over backwards to extol Obama's munificence, listing the president's "startling moves" in making concessions on Medicare and Social Security, and large spending cuts to boot.
Stephen Prothero, a regular contributor to CNN.com's Belief Blog, bizarrely read the hearts of American Catholics, based on a recent poll which found that the majority of them believe abortion should stay legal. Prothero, writing in a Thursday item about 20th century leftist Catholic activist Dorothy Day and her self-admitted abortion, concluded that U.S. Catholics "will forgive Day's sin...because, in their heart of hearts, many of them don't consider it all that much of a sin in the first place."
The blogger, who, according to his bio line, is a "Boston University religion scholar and author of 'God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World,'" began his op-ed, "My Take: Catholics will accept a saint who had an abortion," with a question that he answered with his claim about American Catholics: "Can Catholics abide a saint who had an abortion?" After noting Day's life as an "anarchist, a pacifist, and the co-founder of the Catholic Worker, a movement devoted to helping the poor and the homeless" and her open cause for canonization in the Catholic Church, Prothero described the activist's personal experience with abortion:
CNN foreign affairs analyst Fareed Zakaria – who has recently had off-the-record conversations with President Obama on foreign issues – noted the president's "restraint" in his dealing with the "Arab Spring" and the conflict in Libya Wednesday. Zakaria previously gave a thumbs-up for Obama's Mideast speech in May and later defended the president's plan for removing American troops from Afghanistan.
The point-of-note is that this is the same analyst whom, according to the New York Times, President Obama "sounded out" while shaping his foreign policy. The two simply had "off-the-record" conversations on foreign issues, according to Zakaria, and the CNN host claimed he was not an advisor to the President.
CNN's Belief Blog might seem more like the Unbelief Blog at times. CNN's Katie Glaeser not only publicized, but seemed to take sides with American Atheists and their campaign to fly their Godless message on airplane banners on the Fourth of July. "It's a battle of belief -- and the right not to believe -- in a country founded on freedom," she began. That's a bit of a straw man -- even President Bush repeatedly talked of the right to faith -- and no faith at all. But the latest stunt from these beleaguered anti-evangelists can get a boost from CNN:
Planes with banners that read "God-LESS America" or "Atheism is Patriotic" will be flying over 27 states on Monday. While people might be leery to see the messages overhead, the $23,000 campaign has had a struggle with those who are supposed to bring it to life.
CNN asked Wednesday if a person can follow "both Ayn Rand and Jesus," pulling quotes from both a Democrat and a fellow at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights to answer that Christianity and Rand's philosophy oppose each other. Buried deep within the post on CNN's Belief Blog was the contrary view that Christians can adopt certain tenants of Rand's philosophy while rejecting others contrary to their faith.
The question is popular among Christians at odds with the Republican budget authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), a Catholic, who is a fan of Rand and her defense of capitalism and individualism. The American Values Network (AVN) in particular has tried to make known his endorsement of Rand and pitch it side-by-side with her anti-religious beliefs.
CNN's Belief Blog contributor Jonathan Dudley offered the same tired liberal arguments against a Biblical defense of traditional marriage in a June 21 piece. The same writer who satirically argued that heterosexuals should not be allowed to raise children grilled the Biblical argument as being "riddled with self-serving double-standards."
"I also don't doubt that those who advocate gay marriage are advocating a revision of the Christian tradition," Dudley boldly asserted.
Weighed in the balance and found lacking. That biblical admonition could well describe CNN.com's shoddy "breaking news" take on today's Supreme Court ruling in Wal-Mart Stores v. Dukes.
Simply put, CNN.com gave readers a woefully inaccurate and incomplete story on the case, chalking up the Court's ruling as holding that a "sweeping class-action status that could potentially involve hundreds of thousands of current and former female workers was simply too large."
Promoted in the top left of CNN's Belief blog is an article by openly gay CNN anchor Don Lemon on "How I Learned to Stop 'Praying Away the Gay.'" Lemon spent this childhood praying for God to change his sexuality, but then he went to college and "common sense began to take hold and I realized that no amount of prayer would change me into something that wasn't natural to me." He "learned" that the Bible should never be taken literally:
As I got older I began to realize that all these people and institutions interpreted the Bible somewhat differently. I had a sort of epiphany: the Bible was about the lessons you learned, not about the events or words.
Early Tuesday morning, David Shepardson and Christina Rogers at the Detroit News ("GM's Akerson pushing for higher gas taxes") reported that General/Multi-Government Motors CEO Dan Akerson "wants the federal gas tax boosted as much as $1 a gallon to nudge consumers toward more fuel-efficient cars."
Later in the interview, Akerson was much more emphatic about what he would like to see done immediately:
"You know what I'd rather have them do — this will make my Republican friends puke — as gas is going to go down here now, we ought to just slap a 50-cent or a dollar tax on a gallon of gas," Akerson said.
In his newest CNN.com op-ed titled "Don't Doom GOP's Chance to Win in 2012," David Frum clearly outlines the Republican Party's best chance for victory – if they don't come off as "Medicare-annihilating racist maniacs." He then goes about making the case that Republicans are doing just that.
"It is Tea Party conservatism itself that is Obama's last, best hope for a second term," Frum boldly concludes in a stinging indictment of the Tea Party.
He claims that the Republicans' refusal to raise the debt ceiling unless President Obama agrees to the Ryan budget plan is akin to the "militant wing" of the party mounting a coup and dragging the GOP to defeat in 2012.
NPR host Brooke Gladstone admits that journalists are generally more liberal than regular Americans, but she thinks they overcompensate for their bias by giving too much of a voice to conservatives. For instance, Gladstone believes conservatives do not deserve an equal voice with liberals in the global warming debate.
Gladstone, whose interview appeared on the blog of CNN's In the Arena, has voiced in the past that the media have a "tendency to bend over backwards to prove they aren't liberal." In the interview she clarified the media's over-reaction as "fairness bias."
CNN's Jack Cafferty reverted back to his Palin derangement syndrome Wednesday afternoon. He touted two new books that heavily criticize Palin – labeling one as "required reading" for any potential supporters of a Palin presidential run – as an antidote of sorts to what he deemed "Palin propaganda."
Cafferty's question of the hour was "With the GOP field so weak, should Sarah Palin run for president?" He spent the majority of his brief time slot bashing Palin and assembling the case against the former governor. "Just when we thought that maybe she had decided to just go away and leave us alone comes news of Sarah Palin, the movie," he bemoaned.
In a post time-stamped on Saturday at 12:16 p.m., CNNMoney.com has a story (HT Ed Driscoll via the PJ Tatler) headlined "Florida and Texas in jobs p*ssing match" (except that there's an "i" where I typed an asterisk).
Since the story has been up for at least 12 hours (maybe longer, given that the its URL is dated May 20; Update, May 22, 5 p.m.: The comments at a cached CNN Political Ticker tease for the story go back to May 20 at 4:21 p.m.), it's hard not to conclude that CNN and writer Tami Luhby like its title just the way it is.
A screen cap of the top section of the item is after the jump, so you don't have to go there if you're offended by CNN's language:
CNN continued its rehabilitation of Eliot Spitzer's political career in leaving his name out of a lengthy list of recent political sex scandals Tuesday. As MediaBistro and my colleague Tom Blumer reported yesterday, the network shied away from disclosing the checkered past of one of its prime-time anchors.
In the wake of former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's revelations that he fathered a child with a mistress, CNN ran a segment during the 2 p.m. EDT hour covering recent political sex scandals. Correspondent Suzanne Malveaux mentioned six by name and CNN ran old news clips of even more – but failed to disclose that the current host of a CNN prime-time show was once embroiled in an infamous scandal.
UPDATE, May 18: NewsBusters commenter "dreamsincolor" has pointed out that CNN "somehow" forgot Democratic New York Congressman Eric Massa, who resigned in 2009 to avoid "an ethics investigation into alleged misconduct toward a male staff member."
(Begin original post)
Chris Ariens filed a report today at MediaBistro's TVNewser that opened with a reader's Tweet, which plaintively asked: "Did CNN really exclude Spitzer from Malveaux package on Sex Scandals & Politics? Hmm.."
Shortly after 8:30 this morning, I began thinking that my CNNMoney.com e-mail alerts had stopped arriving. So I went to the Census Bureau's web site and learned that its monthly report on housing starts, building permits, and other construction-related news had indeed been released. The news for the already moribund industry was awful: Building permits in April fell by a seasonally adjusted 4% from March and by 12.0% from April 2010, while the comparable tumbles in housing starts were 10.6% and 23.9%, respectively.
Well, my opening and closing bell e-mails arrived as expected. So unless there was a technical glitch, this means that CNNMoney decided not to issue a post-8:30 alert for the bad housing news.
Let's take a look at the two e-mails which did arrive. First, just after the opening bell:
The "erosion" of progressive policies in the U.S. has led to a "dramatic" rise of economic inequality in the past few decades, writes Princeton historian Julian Zelizer in a CNN.com op-ed. The incline has been so steep that Zelizer's headline asks "Are we heading for royal weddings in the U.S.?"
According to Zelizer, the upcoming British royal wedding "reminds some Americans of what America has never been," because America has never cherished an aristocratic tradition. But that could change due to a "dangerous accretion of power by wealthy interests and a dramatic rise of inequality...that weakens the health of our democracy."
CNNMoney.com ran a provocative piece Friday listing what it determined to be the top "meanest budget cuts." The website laid out seven government programs that are victims of the recent budget compromise – programs that provide assistance to the poor and support humanitarian causes overseas.
Most of the individual cuts make up a small fraction of each program's annual budget, and a Democratic source is quoted multiple times downplaying the significance of the cuts. Don't tell CNN, however, as these cuts are apparently "mean."
CNN has, for years, touted itself as “The Most Trusted Name in News,” and yet time and again it belies its own claim to unique (among cable news networks) political neutrality. CNN.com editor Dan Gilgoff has once again undercut the channel’s gimmicky self-identification.
Gilgoff recently discussed Californian Roger Stockham, who drove across the country to Detroit, Michigan, planning to wreak inferno-laden havoc on an area mosque. Thankfully, he was arrested by Detroit police in front of the Dearborn, Michigan Islamic Centers of America before having a chance to do so.
In an astounding omission, Gilgoff attempted to paint Stockham as a radicalized redneck driven to violence by anti-Muslim rhetoric of some sort. But not once did he mention that Stockham is apparently a devout Muslim!
Trashing Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) as "Dr. Kevorkian," CNN political contributor Paul Begala condemns the congressman's bold proposal to revamp Medicare in his latest op-ed for CNN.com. If the GOP follows Ryan's plan, "like lemmings," Begala writes that their agenda will end in disaster.
He interprets the plan as nothing less than an attempt "to deny ill and infirm seniors the health care they deserve – while giving oil companies billions in taxpayer subsidies." The "lives and health" of the elderly are now in the hands of the "tender mercies" of the insurance companies. Is this a hint at death panels?
Ryan's plan involves transforming Medicare, which he sees as a fiscally unsustainable program in the long run, into a voluntary system where the elderly are covered by private insurance companies and their premiums are subsidized by the government.
UPDATE, April 1: Joshua Shapiro, who is "quoted" in the AP article covered in this post, has emailed me and informed me of the following --
Christopher Rugaber did not speak with him, but instead used text from "a written note that I (Shapiro) produced after the jobless claims report was released."
Shapiro is unhappy at my making it appear that he is fooled by establishment press reports. Although I framed my assertions in "if" and "might" to make it clear that I really didn't know, I regret implying that possibility, though of course I had no idea that Rugaber didn't even speak to him.
By using the word "said" without contextualizing it, Rugaber gave readers every reason to believe he spoke with Shapiro. Per Shapiro, he didn't. Rugaber used information that Shapiro framed in a much longer-term context to make current news appear better than it really is. Rugaber's AP report is even more risible than indicated in the post which follows.
This morning, the Associated Press's Christopher Rugaber, in his 9:14 a.m. coverage (saved here at my web host in case it's revised, as well as for fair use and discussion purposes) of today's weekly unemployment claims release by the Department of Labor, found an economist whose reaction was to get all pumped up about the job market:
"The downtrend ... is undeniable," Joshua Shapiro, chief economist at MFR Financial Inc., said. "We believe that this improvement will continue in the weeks and months ahead."
While one of course hopes for improvement in the coming weeks and months, the existence of an "undeniable" downward trend is questionable, as seen below: