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.
Tuesday's CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News blamed Republican presidential candidate John McCain's reduced fundraising and low rank in the polls, which led two top advisers to leave the campaign, on McCain's view that U.S. troops must stay in Iraq -- not on how out of step he is with conservatives on the immigration bill he crafted with Ted Kennedy. CBS anchor Katie Couric declared: “No public figure has supported the President's Iraq policy more than Senator John McCain, and he's paid a heavy price for that. His presidential campaign is struggling and today, Jeff Greenfield reports, there was a big shakeup.” Greenfield, at least, paired Couric's spin with the immigration issue: “Money woes are only part of the problem. His Iraq views are at odds with more and more in his own party and McCain's a sponsor of the dead for now immigration reform bill that has incensed many conservatives.”
Over on NBC, in a story about the political fight over whether to withdraw troops from Iraq, David Gregory framed McCain's Tuesday morning Senate floor comments around how his stance on Iraq is what has “undermined” his campaign: “Just back from Iraq, Senator John McCain, whose presidential campaign has been undermined by his support for the war, gave the President a big boost.”
At the end of the 7 PM Eastern hour of CNN’s The Situation Room on Monday night, reporter Jeanne Moos did one of her light "Moost Unusual" stories on Katie Couric’s producer-slapping incident – which prominently included a screen shot of Tim Graham’s Monday morning NewsBusters blog post on "Slap Happy Katie." (No mention of Tim or the blog.) Brian Stelter at TV Newser reported the third most popular video this afternoon on the CNN Video website. It unfolded like this:
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): First we couldn't stop calling her perky. And now, we're perking up our ears because Katie Couric supposedly slapped someone?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow, that is so unlike Katie Couric.
MOOS: It's more like what Zsa Zsa Gabor might do to a cop or what one Czech politician did to another. Politicians are one thing, but Slap Happy Katie? [NB screen shot]
That's less than 20 million (19,940,000) for all three combined, and a 5.4% drop from the low-water mark of a year ago. The 25-54 demo for all three nets was under 6 million (5,920,000), and their combined 25-54 demo ratings of 4.9/21 are down 14% and 19% from last year's 5.7/26. Ouch.
You don't suppose that almost 20 years of Media Research Center truth-telling about the relentless bias in the nets' evening news shows might have something to do with the ongoing decline? Nah, can't be (/sarcasm).
Previous related posts are here (NB), here (NB), and here (BizzyBlog).
Dan Rather might have left CBS under a cloud, but his star still shines brightly -- at least among some on the distaff side of the NBC networks.
Rather was a scheduled guest on today's "Morning Joe," and neither Erin Burnett, reporting in from CNBC, nor MSNBC newsreader Mika Brzezinski, could curb her enthusiasm.
Burnett was first to confess.
CNBC'S ERIN BURNETT: You know who I had a crush on? . . . Don't you have Dan Rather coming on in a couple of minutes? Alright, so, when I was little, I thought I was going to marry Dan Rather. I watched the news every night, I blew him a kiss every night.
Rebecca Traister at left-wing Salon.com (yes, endure the leftists' commercial) brings the feminist scolding to Katie Couric for granting a whiny, bitter interview to New York magazine, including the odd detail that she slaps male producers for using medical terms for lung mucus. Traister wants to see a "mofo" in action:
Suddenly, the woman who used to refuse to talk to reporters about her astronomical salary and hard-bargaining skills, who unapologetically drove the high rate of turnover among "Today" show producers, and who radiated a steely self-confidence, cannot shut up about everything that's gone wrong since she left NBC for CBS! Oh, girlfriend: Get a grip....
Slam a table; grow a pair; be the mean motherf---er we know you can be.
Katie Couric’s downward publicity spiral has gone from her typical poor-me-America’s-sexist pleading to tales of male beatings. A new profile in New York magazine by Joe Hagan recounts the Woody Allen-esque tale of Couric slapping a producer named Jerry Cipriano repeatedly on the arm in a fight over the word sputum. I kid you not. But not before she plays the diva and whines about all the people that fervently hate her and want her to go eat worms:
"I think that bugs people even more," she says, "that I’m not a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. It’s probably disappointing to some people. Because in the arc of the story, that’s what they want to see."