Neglecting any thought about cutting spending anywhere within the federal budget, for instance some of the soaring entitlement spending, CBS's Katie Couric on Thursday night wondered if taxpayers are “ready to spend” the “trillions” needed to repair the nation's infrastructure. Just the night before, Couric's newscast illustrated why entitlement spending keeps rising faster than inflation and population growth, as she aired a sympathetic look at “getting medical coverage for the millions of American children who don't have it,” a relatively (compared to total entitlement spending) small plan which would hike spending by $50 billion over five years.
Couric's assumption about higher taxes came as she introduced an August 2 CBS Evening News story from Nancy Cordes on the estimate by the American Society of Civil Engineers, a group obviously in favor of additional public works project spending, that it will cost $1.6 trillion to address infrastructure needs. Live from Minneapolis, Couric asked: “Experts have been warning for years that this country's infrastructure is crumbling. But are taxpayers ready to spend the billions, maybe trillions, it would take to fix all the pipelines, tunnels and bridges?” (Comparative budget numbers below)
In one of her one-minute "Katie Couric’s Notebook" speeches on her Katie & Co. blog, CBS anchor Katie Couric came lecturing to Hillary Clinton’s defense on August 1 over Robin Givhan’s Washington Post fashion review of her cleavage on C-SPAN2, but she never mentioned the Post, just how the story "dominated cable news for days, and it’s disgraceful." She sounded the feminist alarm: "By focusing on this display of decolletage, it seems we’ve plunged to a new low. What’s next? Studying a candidate’s too-tight jeans?" She said this election was too important for trivia: "If we focus on the issues, we could judge the candidates not on the color of their clothes, but on the content of their character." She acknowledged some fashion issues were "fair game," when the targets were men: the John Edwards $400 haircuts and how "Dick Cheney was slammed for wearing a parka when he visited a concentration camp."
Wednesday's CBS Evening News trumpeted two liberal efforts to expand government power, leading by heralding “landmark legislation” to have the FDA regulate cigarettes followed by a story slanted in favor of, as reporter Thalia Assuras described it, an “historic expansion of health care coverage for children” of the “working poor.” Assuras, however, ignored such inconvenient facts as how a family of four with an income as high as $82,600 could get on the taxpayers' dole. Katie Couric had teased her top story: “Tonight, landmark legislation that supporters say could save millions of lives. Congress takes a step toward regulating everything about cigarettes for the first time ever.”
Next, Couric introduced a look at “getting medical coverage for the millions of American children who don't have it.” Assuras touted how a proposed expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) “boosts funding by $50 billion over five years, almost doubling the number of uninsured kids covered from the current six million children to about 11 million.” Sinking to the all too common media technique of exploiting a victim to push a liberal policy, Assuras cited “children like seven-year-old Pilar Edwards whose ear ache was so severe her mother brought her to this mobile medical clinic where she could get help even though Pilar is uninsured.” Assuras did pass along how critics contend “the legislation is a slippery slope toward a universal health care plan,” but against two negative soundbites, viewers heard from four advocates as Assuras concluded with a Senator's charge that “it would be a travesty if the President vetoed this legislation,” followed by these final words from Assuras: “With kids caught in the middle.” More like taxpayers.
Though many journalists impose their views regularly in biased political coverage, and last year the New York Times publisher made clear his left-wing world view, on Tuesday night the broadcast networks framed Rupert Murdoch's acquisition of the Wall Street Journal around what agenda the “controversial” Murdoch will “impose.” That matches the “fear” expressed in online journalism forums and media magazines about Murdoch's “conservative” agenda. Leading into pro and con soundbites, CBS's Kelly Wallace described Murdoch as “a conservative who put his imprint on the New York Post and brought topless women to the Sun in London. His critics say he may not impose tabloid on the Journal, but will impose his point of view.”
NBC's Andrea Mitchell called Murdoch “a controversial press lord” and declared Murdoch “deeply conservative,” but noted he's also a “pragmatic” man who has been “a supporter of liberal politicians.” Mitchell relayed how Murdoch insists he “does not mix politics and business,” but, she cautioned, “still, some are skeptical.” The liberal Ken Auletta of The New Yorker contended Murdoch “often” uses “his publications and his media to advance either his business or his political interests.” Over on ABC, David Muir warned that Murdoch “already wields great power over much of what we watch and read” and asserted that “critics caution being a brilliant businessman does not guarantee brilliant journalism.” After a soundbite from Auletta about how Murdoch's politics influence his publications, Muir worried: “For that reason, this has turned into a painful decision for members of the Bancroft family, who controlled the Wall Street Journal for more than 100 years. Sell for $5 billion? Or is that selling out? There were tears within the Bancroft family and fears in the newsroom.” On screen, a WSJ headline: “Fear, Mixed with Some Loathing; Many Reporters at Wall Street Journal Fret Over Murdoch's Arrival.”
“News that gasoline prices are falling usually comes with a warning – don’t get used to it,” said “CBS Evening News” anchor Katie Couric. “So consider yourself warned as we tell you gas has fallen 17 cents the past two weeks to a nationwide average tonight of $2.88 a gallon. That is the lowest price in three months.”
That’s right, Katie. When it comes to gasoline prices and the CBS “Evening News,” they’re either high or probably going to get higher.
"Evening News" ignored the initial drop in gasoline prices last week.
“Don’t let that scenic [Aquafina] logo fool you, this water is not bottled from a mountain stream,” said Rob Marciano CNN’s “American Morning.”
Aquafina, the country's best-selling brand of bottled water, was portrayed as shamefully dishonest by "CBS Evening News," "NBC Nightly News," ABC "World News with Charles Gibson" on July 27. And by the July 30 "American Morning."
PepsiCo, the bottler of Aquafina, was under attack the day it announced labeling changes for the product from "P.W.S." to "Public Water Source."
Nets Barely Notice Surge in GDP as They Focus on Dow Plunge
The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts on Friday all devoted full stories to the fall in the stock market, touted as "the worst two-day point drop for the Dow in five years," but barely had time for a sentence about the 3.4 percent second quarter jump in the GDP, the biggest in over a year. In fact, neither ABC nor NBC cited the specific 3.4 percent rise in the Gross Domestic Product, the measure which the AP on Friday described as the "best barometer of the country's economic fitness." Not one of the three evening newscasts mentioned how the Dow is still well above the 13,000 level it broke through in April and none noted fresh good news on inflation.
Not even reporting what second quarter GDP growth actually was (repeat: 3.4%) is flat-out negligence.
On Sunday's CBS Evening News, correspondent Kelly Cobiella filed a report about American medical students who are receiving the "gift" of a free education from the Latin American School of Medicine, established by former Cuban president Fidel Castro to train doctors for poor communities. But, while entertaining suggestions from one student who thought that Michael Moore's trip to Cuba for health care "proposed a really good question about looking at our medical system and seeing what things we need to change," the CBS correspondent also found that "Cuba is no health care paradise," as she reported on "crumbling" hospitals, doctors making $20 a month, and "shortages of just about everything from drugs to high-tech equipment." (Transcript follows)
ABC's World News Sunday featured a report about the upcoming meeting between President Bush and recently elected British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, which included speculation about how Bush's relationship with Brown will compare to that with Tony Blair. Between anchor Dan Harris and correspondent John Cochran, the derogatory charge by Blair critics that he was Bush's "poodle" was mentioned three times. While Cochran described the label as "perhaps unfair," when the report concluded, Harris, after having already mentioned the "poodle" insult once as he introduced the story, followed up by remarking, "Potentially no more poodle." (Transcript follows)
In the New York Post, gossip columnist Liz Smith previewed some of the charges in Ed Klein’s book on CBS anchor Katie Couric, due at the end of August. It seems the Katie camp is already trying to do damage control and insist that the scoops that are leaking out are not really scoops, they’re all yawners. (See what happens when you hire a Hillary publicist like Matthew Hiltzik? Your media strategy suddenly sounds exactly like Hillary’s.) The only scooplet that Smith thought had power: "‘But the majority of people at 60 Minutes, including the correspondents, dislike her intensely. They think she's a lightweight.’ Well, that probably hurts, but Katie has to ignore it."
The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts on Friday all devoted full stories to the fall in the stock market, touted as “the worst two-day point drop for the Dow in five years,” but barely had time for a sentence about the 3.4 percent second quarter jump in the GDP, the biggest in over a year. In fact, neither ABC nor NBC cited the specific 3.4 percent rise in the Gross Domestic Product, the measure which the AP on Friday described as the “best barometer of the country's economic fitness.” Not one of the three evening newscasts mentioned how the Dow is still well above the 13,000 level it broke through in April and none noted fresh good news on inflation.
ABC was the most negative. “Stock slide,” World News anchor Charles Gibson teased, “Wall Street finishes the worst week of the year down nearly 600 points.” Gibson soon highlighted that news, as he only alluded to the good GDP number, when he reported “the worst week for the Dow in five years. Even positive news on economic growth wasn't enough to keep investors from selling. Among other things, they had to contend with a battered housing market.” Reporter Betsy Stark agreed as she too only made a passing reference to the GDP: “It sure is, Charlie. In fact, buried inside that positive report on Gross Domestic Product today was more evidence of what economists now describe as an outright recession in the housing sector.” ABC didn't even put the GDP number on screen as Stark devoted her entire story to the impact of the declining housing market before concluding that “it increases the odds of a downturn in the overall economy since housing now accounts for roughly one in ten American jobs.”
On a day when the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported a rise in the price of homes so the average median price is above where it was a year ago, Wednesday's CBS Evening News featured a soundbite claiming “home price depreciation” unprecedented since the Great Depression. Apparently, reality wasn't negative enough for CBS, so they felt a need to add some embellishment.
“The housing market is going deeper in the dumper,” anchor Katie Couric rhymed, as “America's Realtors reported today that used homes were selling in June at the slowest pace in four and a half years.” She acknowledged “a bright note for homeowners,” but added a caveat in relaying that “house prices went up for the first time in nearly a year, but just barely.” The headline for the NAR press release from which CBS cribbed gave equal weight to two developments -- “Prices Rise, Existing-Home Sales Decline” -- but Anthony Mason's story explored only the negative, as he focused on rising foreclosures and declining sales, and even managed to spin the climbing home prices into a dire situation. “In a Wall Street conference call, Countrywide's CEO, Angelo Mozilo, had this warning,” Mason stressed. Then, with matching text on screen, viewers heard audio of Mozilo from a day before NAR's numbers were released on the higher median home price: “We are experiencing home price depreciation almost like never before, with the exception of the Great Depression.”
In May, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted an above average hurricane season, the media reported the announcement with a vigor.
Two months later, with no serious hurricanes yet hitting the mainland, a private forecaster has reduced its tropical storm expectations.
Less hurricanes should be good news, especially for folks along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, right? Shouldn't this get aggressively disseminated by media outlets that certainly have a public service responsibility?
Before we get there, the following was reported by Reuters Tuesday evening (emphasis added):
On Tuesday's CBS Evening News, correspondent Byron Pitts filed a report on the causes of and potential solutions for Philadelphia's high murder rate in which the correspondent heard from several people who approached the problem from a liberal point-of-view while the NRA's Wayne LaPierre voiced a conservative point-of-view on the issue. While LaPierre stressed the need for more prosecutions of criminals, other activists blamed the crime problem on such issues as income "disparity," "availability of guns," and "inherent racism." (Transcript follows)
The list of media-approved drinks in dwindling. Bottled water is out for its contribution to global warming, we're not supposed to chuckle at beer ads and energy drinks make kids sick according to the news media.
Soda "may be bad for our hearts," worried CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric.
The CBS report focused on a woman "hooked" on soda, consuming eight glasses of soda a day according to CBS Medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook.
What CBS left out was an industry response, although the network had the opportunity. The American Beverage Association told Business & Media Institute that "Evening News" interviewed ABA president Susan Neely, but left it out of the broadcast.
As CBS and NBC evening newscasts ignored dropping gas prices on July 23, ABC's Charles Gibson found a way to provide negative spin.
"News today in this country, that gas guzzling is getting cheaper while coffee guzzling gets more expensive. The price of gas took a dive in the past week. The government says it was down nine cents a gallon, to an average of $2.96," Gibson said on "World News with Charles Gibson."
But the cost of an optional Starbucks latte has nothing to do with gasoline. Still, Gibson oddly correlated the nine-cent price drop per gallon of gas since last week with the nine-cent price increase at the popular coffee joint.
Ex-CBS anchor Dan Rather is stepping up his sour grapes routine against Katie Couric, telling TVWeek magazine that it's only a matter of time before his former employer cancels the "Evening News" entirely:
Dan Rather, who last month accused broadcast networks of dumbing down and tarting up their newscasts [a story which you heard here first], said he can foresee a time when media company executives retreat from evening news production.
“I think we’ll see the time when someone at the top says, ‘We can give this time back to affiliates,’” Mr. Rather said Monday in a discussion with TelevisionWeek Publisher and Editorial Director Chuck Ross at the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing convention in Washington.
Of the three broadcast network evening newscasts on Thursday, only the CBS Evening News reported how a federal judge threw out Valerie Plame's lawsuit and how a Pentagon official berated Senator Hillary Clinton, but anchor Katie Couric quickly moved on to “more positive news” for her in how most believe she will be elected President. Couric relayed how “the Pentagon is lashing out tonight at Hillary Clinton. A letter written by a senior Pentagon official accuses Clinton of reinforcing enemy propaganda by demanding the military start planning for a withdrawal from Iraq. A spokesman for the Senator calls the letter 'outrageous.' In more positive news for her campaign, a CBS News/New York Times poll shows 63 percent of voters believe she's likely to win the presidency if she gets the nomination.”
Enraged by the letter from Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann opened Thursday's Countdown with a “Special Comment” on how President George W. Bush will go down in history for his “infamy” as a President who has “sold this country out.” To get the U.S. out of Iraq, Olbermann suggested Bush must be impeached “sooner rather than later.” Olbermann snidely concluded his lengthy rant: “Go to Baghdad now and fulfill, finally, your military service obligations. Go there and fight your war, yourself.” (MSNBC.com's transcript)
Eleven companies announced on July 18 to self-regulate and stop advertising to children under 12 in order to "help curb the child obesity problem."
But that wasn't enough for ABC "World News with Charles Gibson" or CBS "Evening News." Both shows supplied food fascists to complain that even this change isn't going to be enough.
"Today’s changes are getting a lot of attention, but as American children face an epidemic of obesity, will these changes really make a difference?” wondered “World News with Charles Gibson” anchor Elizabeth Vargas on July 18.
NBC proved to be a media anomaly on July 17, leading its “Nightly News” broadcast with the record-high close on Wall Street and admitting that the stock market does benefit “a majority of Americans.” This historic bull run by the stock market was virtually ignored by other media. Katie Couric briefly mentioned it on the CBS “Evening News,” and ABC “World News” ignored it on July 17.
The CBS Evening News led Wednesday night by framing the failed Senate vote, on setting a timetable to start withdrawing troops from Iraq within 120 days, as evidence of how out of step the Senators are with the American public, while just as Katie Couric did in February, CBS ignored how a piddling 8 percent favor the left-wing activist position of blocking all funding. Citing the measure which earned 52 votes, eight short of the necessary 60 to move the bill forward, Couric related that even after “a rare, all-night debate” Democrats “couldn't come up with the votes today to bring the latest troop withdrawal measure to the floor. And that is in spite of pressure from the voters themselves. In a CBS News/New York Times poll out tonight, nearly three out of four Americans say the troop surge is not working, that it's having no impact, or actually making matters worse.” Reporter Sharyl Attkisson also saw the vote through the prism of public opinion, noting the result came “despite the latest CBS News poll showing 61 percent of Americans want the war funded with a timetable for withdrawal.”
As Couric pointed out how “nearly three out of four Americans say the troop surge is not working, that it's having no impact, or actually making matters worse,” the on-screen graphic showed “No Impact or Worse” at 73 percent. But “not working” was not an option in the survey and only 22 percent said the surge is making the situation “worse.” The majority, 51 percent, answered “no impact.”
“Private” must be the new cuss word, because “CBS Evening News” sure made it sound dirty on July 16.
“It was the winter of 2003, when Congress, in the dead of night, overhauled Medicare … [Medicare Advantage] and it put a large part of a government-run program into the hands of private insurance companies,” said investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian.
Appearing on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe,' Disgraced former CBS producer Mary Mapes said she is “uncomfortable” watching Katie Couric anchor the network's evening news. Mapes came to this conclusion not because she is a woman as Katie would like you to believe, instead because she looks “drugged” and “kidnapped.” Video available here
Mapes on Couric: She is "...someone who looks like they've been kidnapped and drugged and are making a hostage tape. It has nothing to do with her being a male or female, it's just not comfortable to watch."
“In stock market terms alone, this is now the longest consecutive uninterrupted stock market rally,” said Lawrence Kudlow on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on July 13.
“It started in early 2003, so that’s four and a half years. And it’s incredible how much wealth is being created out there and it’s unfortunate, really – almost tragic – that the president just doesn’t get any credit for it at all because he’s got a lot to say on the economy.”
While Kudlow found the record worth cheering, the three major networks supplied "some worries" and "some dark clouds" to viewers on July 12. Each one offered its own spin of gloomy news following the record high closings of the Dow and S&P 500.
"There are still some dark clouds looming over this market," said correspondent Dan Harris on ABC’s "World News with Charles Gibson." "The housing market is in a slump, interest rates are rising and gas prices are ticking back up."
The segment, called "Hidden Charges," did not include comment from the banking industry and it also ignored the risk taken by banks by offering overdraft protection service – which can be a benefit to consumers. Bouncing a check is costly too from what I've heard.
Not all news insiders believe Katie Couric's disastrous stint as anchor for the CBS Evening News has anything to do with sexism or people having a thing against Couric. Steve Adubato of MSNBC simply believes Couric was the wrong person for the job. He tries to sweeten the criticism by making sure he compliments Couric on her strengths:
While I respect Katie Couric tremendously as a broadcaster who has had an impressive career doing personal profiles and engaging interviews, this CBS experiment was a really long shot right from the beginning. Simply put, Katie Couric is not a great news anchor or an even particularly good news anchor, at least not a network evening news anchor. That's not a crime. A lot of great football players can't play baseball or basketball, but they are still great athletes. That's how different Katie Couric's job on "The Today Show” was from what she was expected to do for CBS News.