A year and a half after the CBS Evening News celebrated the then-upcoming Massachusetts mandate requiring everyone to buy health insurance and the state subsidizing it for those with lower incomes -- “Imagine this: Virtually everyone guaranteed health insurance coverage. It's happening in one state, and it could be a model for the rest” -- Friday's newscast found it has come up short. Anchor Katie Couric teased the upcoming story on how the law didn't go far enough in providing subsidies, “Universal health insurance: It is supposed to mean everyone is covered. But in the only state that has it, hundreds of thousands are not. That story next.” Introducing the subsequent story, Couric touted how former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney “signed a landmark law mandating universal health insurance, the only state so far to do so. So you would think everyone in Massachusetts is now covered. But it is not working out that way.”
Reporter Wyatt Andrews highlighted how state-subsidized coverage saved one man's life, trumpeting that as “the state's achievement. Out of 400,000 uninsured residents last year, around 170,000 now have insurance.” But, he continued, “the gap that remains is huge. It includes some 130,000 young adults, most of them middle income men who have to pay their own premiums. They either don't want insurance or can't afford it.” For expert advocacy, Andrews turned to the head of a liberal group, Health Care for All: “Health care advocate John McDonough praises the state for a good start but says that gap in affordability has to be filled.”
A family in Clovis, California, which is near Fresno, has sadly become the modern day version of the Ryans, real-life brothers depicted in Steven Spielberg's acclaimed film "Saving Private Ryan" wherein all but one died serving his country in World War II.
For the Hubbards, Nathan, the second of three brothers serving in Iraq, died Wednesday in a helicopter accident in the northern part of that embattled nation. This came two years, nine months, and eighteen days after the death of brother Jared there.
The sole surviving brother, Jason, the eldest, returned home Friday, and according to the Associated Press, may not be going back to Iraq:
Republican Senator John Warner's call for the withdrawal of 5,000 troops from Iraq by Christmas was trumpeted by the broadcast network evening shows Thursday night: CBS's Katie Couric touted a “major blow tonight to President Bush's Iraq policy” and ABC's Martha Raddatz saw a “stunning announcement that could have a powerful effect on the war” as the NBC Nightly News, for the fifth time in two years, heralded a “turning point” against the war. NBC anchor Brian Williams introduced “another major story we're covering this evening that could amount to a turning point in the debate over America's involvement in Iraq. Tonight, there has been a major defection from President Bush's camp.” (This wasn't the first time Williams has hailed the prescience of the very same Senator. When Warner warned last October that Iraq was drifting “side-wise,” Williams teased: “Is this a new turning point?”)
After a report from Andrea Mitchell, which began with “Turning Point?” on screen, Williams compared Warner to Walter Cronkite, reminding Tim Russert about how during Vietnam President Johnson “famously said, 'If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle America.' Well, if George W. Bush has lost John Warner, how big is this, Tim?” Russert affirmed: “In a word: Very big.” Similarly, on the CBS Evening News, Bob Scheiffer declared that “John Warner is the single most influential Republican voice on Capitol Hill” and so his recommendation will “have a major impact.”
The broadcast network evening news shows on Wednesday night pounced on President Bush's reminder that the U.S. pullout from Vietnam led to millions being killed, as all three shows featured historians to discredit Bush's parallel to what may happen if the U.S. withdraws from Iraq, and NBC portrayed Bush as hypocritical for raising Vietnam after earlier rejecting comparisons to Iraq as a Vietnam-like quagmire. Only ABC, leading into Bush recalling “killing fields,” showed a picture of stacks of skulls and ABC also uniquely featured two Vietnam vets who backed Bush's case.
NBC anchor Brian Williams asserted that “after years of rejecting any comparisons to Vietnam, today President Bush invoked the Vietnam War as a way of saying the U.S. must stay the course and not pull out.” Reporter Kelly O'Donnell noted that “after years of pushback rejecting the Vietnam-Iraq comparison, today in Kansas City, before the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the President made a turn and embraced his own Vietnam analogy.” O'Donnell insisted: “Mr. Bush's comments to the VFW today contrast with what he said last year when asked if he saw an Iraq-Vietnam connection.” Viewers then got just this very short soundbite from Bush at a June 14, 2006 press conference: “I don't see the parallels.” Contrary to NBC's implication, there is no conflict between scorning of a liberal comparison of Iraq to a Vietnam-like quagmire and suggesting other lesson about Vietnam.
If George W. Bush's approval rating hit a low point for any president in 33 years, do you think the network evening news programs would have reported it?
Maybe as the lead story, right?
Well, a new Gallup poll was released on Tuesday stating that the approval rating for Congress tied the lowest point since Gallup began tracking such a thing, and none of the broadcasts networks thought it was newsworthy last night.
The likely reason for the boycott, beyond the obvious fact that the Democrats are now in control, is that much of the recent decline in this favorability has come from Democrats and Independents (emphasis added):
The Los Angeles Times reported a run of Countrywide Bank by its customers as more and more are panicked about the potential of the nation’s largest home lender to go bankruptcy – something fueled by many of the reports in the media.
“[S]ales of existing homes fell in 41 states from April through June,” said CBS correspondent Susan McGinnis on the August 16 “The Early Show.” “Meanwhile, foreclosures continue to soar. And there are growing worries about the nation's biggest mortgage lender; Countrywide Financial could be forced into bankruptcy.”
But some experts seem to think this scare from the media over Countrywide’s bankruptcy is a little premature.
Katie Couric found it newsworthy Wednesday night that former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's resignation letter from nine months ago did not include the words “war” or “Iraq.” Picking up on a story from the Associated Press on how “the deadly and much-criticized conflict that eventually drummed him out of office comes up only in vague references” in the November 6, 2006 letter the AP obtained by filing Freedom of Information Act requests, Couric failed to credit the AP as she relayed this brief item on the CBS Evening News:
“There's news tonight involving the former Pentagon chief. Donald Rumsfeld's resignation letter has surfaced and it's notable for what it doesn't contain. Rumsfeld refers to 'a critical time in our history' and a 'challenging time for our country,' but the two words he doesn't use? 'War' or 'Iraq.'”
Reporting on the resignation of presidential political adviser Karl Rove, ABC's World News on Monday night absurdly blamed Karl Rove for the ads from Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and featured John Kerry's condemnation of Rove as all three broadcast network evening shows castigated Rove for his criticism of how Democrats want to coddle terrorists and highlighted his “leaking” of Valerie Plame's name. ABC's David Wright cited Rove's “political ju-jitzu” in “turning opponents' strengths against them.” With a Swift Boat ad clip on screen, Wright described a “sustained attack on John Kerry's war record, an audacious move considering Bush's Vietnam War record was weak.” Wright contended that Rove sometimes went “too far,” such as when “he accused the Democrats of offering therapy and understanding to our attackers. 9/11 families asked him to stop.” Rounding out Rove's offenses, Wright asserted that “he's been on the defensive over the leaking of a CIA agent's name as political payback against her husband, and for his part in the fired U.S. attorneys scandal.” Following Wright's report, anchor Charles Gibson showcased how Kerry “said he orchestrated a political strategy 'that promised to unite Americans but instead left us more divided than [ever] before.'”
On the CBS Evening News, which found the oldest video of Rove -- from 1972 -- Jim Axelrod stressed how “Rove survived five grand jury appearances during the Valerie Plame CIA leak case without being indicted. He's currently defying congressional subpoenas to testify about the fired U.S. attorneys.” Axelrod maintained Rove “lost some of his luster last year when painting the Democrats weak on terror and the Iraq war backfired, and the GOP lost the House and Senate.” NBC's Kelly O'Donnell recalled how “he enraged Democrats” by “accusing them of weakness after 9/11.”
When a CBS News poll in July found 73 percent believed the surge of troops in Iraq was making the situation “worse” or having “no impact,” the CBS Evening News led with that number. But on Monday, when a new CBS poll discovered that percent had fallen 12 points to 61 percent, as the percent who think the surge is making the situation “better” jumped ten points from 19 to 29 percent, CBS gave it 12 seconds 20 minutes into the newscast. “Major attacks decline in Iraq: Military credits troop increase, civilian tipsters,” declared the headline at the top of Monday's USA Today front page. Katie Couric, however, ignored that report and, after briefly relaying the new poll number, couldn't resist highlighting “one thing that hasn't changed, two-thirds say that, overall, things are still going badly in Iraq.”
Couric had led the July 18 CBS Evening News: “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.” On Monday, she acknowledged: “Americans are starting to come around on that troop surge in Iraq. In our CBS News poll out tonight, 29 percent say the surge is making things better. That's a ten point increase since July.” It's doubtful the ten percent who have come around are consumers of CBS or other mainstream media outlets which concentrate on the negative.
Don’t the airlines have plenty of money for extra food and passenger perks? Oh wait, they’ve been in bankruptcy.
Reporter Randall Pinkston’s “CBS Evening News” story August 12 charged that airlines should be providing better service to passengers, citing “torturous delays” and “forcing passengers to board when they know the plane will be sitting on the tarmac,” both problems rooted in an out-of-date air traffic control system.
Aviation reporter and analyst Jim Tilmon suggested that airlines should provide passengers with a “designated parking area” with water and food served until the airline knows that the plane will be ready to take off.
Friday's CBS Evening News managed to link former President George H.W. Bush to the plight of the trapped miners in Utah as correspondent Nancy Cordes used archive video to show how Bush, when Vice President back in 1984, toured an Illinois mine with many safety violations that's owned by the same man who owns the Utah mine. Anchor Katie Couric introduced a story on how the mines owned by Bob Murray of Murray Energy have “been cited over and over for safety violations.” Cordes undermined Couric's implication by relaying how the “Crandall Canyon Mine in Utah has a better-than-average safety rate.” But, she added, over 1984 video of Bush wearing a hard hat as he rode in an underground truck, “the same cannot be said of this Illinois mine owned by the same man, Robert Murray, and toured by then-Vice President Bush senior in 1984. This mine has racked up $1.4 million in proposed fines so far this year.” Cordes noted how new mine safety laws are being phased in, but fretted that “new legislation being considered in Congress that calls for even tougher safety standards has been attacked by the industry.”
Two nights after NBC blamed hot summer temperatures on global warming, and on the very day a new scientific report cast doubt on a key assumption behind global warming forecasts, CBS on Thursday evening held global warming culpable for “oppressive August heat” that killed a man in East St. Louis. For an expert assessment, CBS reporter Kelly Cobiella turned only to the Weather Channel climatologist who last year suggested the American Meteorological Society should withhold credentials from any member who dares doubt the man-made global warming mantra: “Dr. Heidi Cullen is a climatologist for the Weather Channel, and sees a definite connection to global warming.” Cullen maintained: “The heat wave that we're seeing now is completely consistent with what we expect in a warmer world because all of our models show us that heat waves will become intense, more frequent, and they'll last longer.”
The CBS Evening News skipped, as Rush Limbuagh predicted the media would, a new study in which, as outlined in a press release, “the widely accepted (albeit unproven) theory that manmade global warming will accelerate itself by creating more heat-trapping clouds is challenged this month in new research from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.” The posting on the university's site summarized the study published in a scientific journal: “Instead of creating more clouds, individual tropical warming cycles that served as proxies for global warming saw a decrease in the coverage of heat-trapping cirrus clouds, says Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist in UAHuntsville's Earth System Science Center.”
Tremendously exaggerating the number of Americans who lack access to health insurance, CBS on Wednesday night trumpeted the cause of an AFL-CIO member who denounced the United States for not providing health insurance coverage for his wife and endorsed the John Edwards plan for universal health care. Anchor Katie Couric previewed the upcoming story: “Presidential candidates hear a dramatic plea for help from one of the millions of Americans with no health insurance and no way to pay for it.” Setting up the tribute to the retiree, Couric asserted that “45 million Americans have no coverage. That includes more than 13 million between the ages of 19 and 29. Many of them don't get coverage from their jobs, and cannot afford to buy it on their own.” Of course, many can afford it and in that age range feel comfortable without insurance. In fact, 17 million of the uninsured earn more than $50,000. Removing those, plus people who are not U.S. citizens, leaves fewer than ten million chronically uninsured.
Reporter Michelle Miller began her CBS Evening News piece by championing how “every once in a while, a moment of truth breaks through a political campaign event. That happened last night when a 60-year-old retired steel worker from Union Township, Indiana, asked a question.” Viewers then saw a clip of Steve Skvara from the AFL-CIO debate shown Tuesday night on MSNBC: “Every day of my life, I sit at the kitchen table across from the woman who devoted 36 years of her life to my family, and I can't afford to pay for her health care. What's wrong with America? And what will you do to change it?” Miller explained that “Skvara says he got the answer he was looking for from his favorite candidate, John Edwards,” who proclaimed: “And we ought to have universal health care in this country!” Skvara agreed: “We need a national health care plan.” Miller wondered: “Now the question is whether a moment in a debate will be the moment that motivates reform.”
Inflation? Forget about it. Let the economists and policy wonks worry about it.
The Federal Reserve’s decision not to drop interest rates drew the ire of “CBS Evening News” correspondent Kelly Wallace on August 7. Wallace’s story about the “credit crunch” centered on Amanda Michalko, a 26-year old Michigan resident, who would not benefit from lower monthly payments on her pending mortgage because of the Fed.
When Nancy Pelosi rose to be the House Democrats’ leader in 2002, Katie Couric said to NBC colleague Ann Curry: "Is it okay to say, ‘You go girl!’?" That cheerleading spirit continued in her Monday "Katie Couric’s Notebook" commentary (featured at her blog Couric & Co.) lauding the new Democratic Congress: "this new crop worked much harder than the last. A big accomplishment was in challenging executive power with oversight hearings on Iraq, Medicare, the Department of Justice, and global warming." She concluded: "Promises, promises. Sometimes they are kept – even in Washington."
That was certainly not the tone of CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather took toward Speaker Gingrich and the new Republican Congress in 1995: "The new Republican majority in Congress took a big step today on its legislative agenda to demolish or damage government aid programs, many of them designed to help children and the poor." Their attempts at oversight were part of a "political carpet-bombing attack."
A pronounced example of how bad news is news and good news is much less newsworthy: On Friday night, ABC and NBC teased full stories on the 281 point plunge that day in the Dow Jones average, but on Monday, after the Dow rebounded by five points greater than Friday's loss in the biggest one-day gain in five years, the networks limited coverage to a few seconds. “The stock market stumbles again today exposing fault lines in the nation's housing market,” ABC's Charles Gibson teased a full story Friday night on the stock market and troubles in the mortgage industry which he introduced by emphasizing how “the gains of the past couple of days were more than wiped out by a dramatic late-day sell-off.” But on Monday night, Gibson didn't tease the rebound news and held coverage to barely 20 seconds.
Brian Williams teased Friday's NBC Nightly News: “Stocks slide again on Wall Street. What is spooking the market tonight as we head into the weekend?” Williams spent a minute-and-half with CNBC's Jim Cramer discussing reasons for the plunge, but on Monday fill-in anchor Ann Curry gave the good news just 20 seconds, not counting time for more bad news: The bankruptcy filing by American Home Mortgage. CBS's Katie Couric on Friday only devoted 25 seconds to how “investors headed for the exits, and the Dow plunged 281 points. So, since hitting a record high 14,000 two weeks ago, the Dow has now given up more than 800 points.” On Monday, however, she squeezed in a piddling eight seconds on the rebound, not counting unemployment news and a note about American Home Mortgage.
A night after CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric, without any consideration for cutting other spending, presumed taxes must be hiked to pay for infrastructure repair, CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson ludicrously described federal and state governments as “cash-starved” as she relayed the expert view of just one person, a Democratic Congressman, whom she said blames the lack of courage to “collect” more taxes. A nice euphemism for raising taxes. On Thursday night, Couric had asked: “Are taxpayers ready to spend the billions, maybe trillions, it would take to fix all the pipelines, tunnels and bridges?” (My NB item)
On Friday night, Attkisson noted that out “of the $2.7 trillion federal budget, it's estimated only around $50 billion a year goes for infrastructure” while “experts say what's needed is $210 billion a year for five years.” After citing a couple of examples of misguided pork barrel spending for road projects when repair work goes wanting, Attkisson pointed out how “Congress only funds about 25 percent of the nation's infrastructure.” She then absurdly asserted that states and local governments which “pick up the rest of the tab” are “cash-starved too.” For her only expert assessment, Attkisson turned to Democratic Congressman Jim Oberstar, Chairman of the very committee which funnels the pork spending, described as “Congress's leading authority on infrastructure” who “says both Congress and the White House have traditionally had trouble making the tough decision to collect and spend more tax dollars on infrastructure.”
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):