In a Thursday night update on the CBS Evening News on the condition of Kimberly Dozier, the CBS News correspondent seriously injured Monday in Baghdad, Sheila MacVicar reported that a soldier at the U.S. military hospital in Germany, where Dozier is recovering, gave her his Purple Heart. From Landstuhl, MacVicar related:
“Something happened that surprised and moved all of us this afternoon. A young American soldier came up to Kimberly's brother, Michael, and told him that he'd met Kimberly in Iraq two years ago after he'd been wounded with shrapnel in his arm. The soldier had his Purple Heart with him, and he told Michael that he'd now like Kimberly to have it because, he said, she suffered as much as any soldiers. That Purple Heart is now beside Kimberly's bed.”
"The roadside blast in Baghdad on Monday that killed two CBS News crew members and seriously wounded a third has deepened concerns among television network executives about the risks their crews face trying to cover the Iraq war, some arguing that television reporters may be even more exposed than those in print journalism."
Near the end, Carter lets two news executives take some timely blasts at conservatives, and radio host Laura Ingraham in particular:
On Wednesday’s CBS Evening News, Anthony Mason trumpeted how North Carolina Treasurer Richard Moore, who got four soundbites, withheld that state’s pension fund votes from the ExxonMobil directors who he thinks gave too great a compensation package to the retired CEO, but Mason failed to identify his Democratic affiliation (not even on-screen) or let viewers in how CBS was delivering publicity benefitting a likely 2008 Democratic candidate for Governor of the Tar Heel state. The North Carolina Democratic Party was so excited by Moore’s move that they sent out a press release: “NC State Treasurer Richard Moore Takes on Oil Company.”
"Outside its annual shareholders meeting, ExxonMobil was under fire today from protesters frustrated with soaring gas prices and the company's former CEO," Mason touted before a woman protester outside the Dallas meeting charged: "He's one of the worst examples of corporate greed." After reciting ex-CEO Lee Raymond’s large compensation package, Mason noted that “ExxonMobil is the most profitable company in the country,” but “it's even starting to feel the heat here on Wall Street." For his evidence from “Wall Street,” Mason turned to Democrat Moore of Raleigh who declared: "I think the sentiment of disgust and outrage is very wide." Mason explained Moore’s power: “Richard Moore is North Carolina's state treasurer. The state's pension fund owns 11 million shares of ExxonMobil, worth more than $660 million. Today Moore, on behalf of the state, withheld all those share votes from the Exxon directors who backed Raymond's pay." Moore called the compensation package “un-American.” (Transcript follows)
In reporting on President Bush’s nomination of Henry Paulson as his new Secretary of the Treasury, CBS’s Jim Axelrod on Tuesday night suggested that "the administration needs a salesman,” citing how “no matter how much they trumpet 5.3 percent economic growth in the first quarter, 5.2 million more jobs since August 2003, or unemployment down to 4.7 percent, there's another number to contend with. In the most recent CBS News poll, just 34 percent approved of the President's handling of the economy.” But might not part of the problem lie in lack of media attention to the booming economy? For instance, Axelrod’s citation of the 5.3 percent GDP growth in the first quarter, the fastest rate in two-and-a-half years, was the first on the CBS Evening News which ignored it when the number was announced last Thursday.
Earlier is in his story, Axelrod snidely marveled at why anyone would want to join the declining Bush administration: “Leaving a job that paid him $38.3 million last year in salary, stock, and options, to take one that pays 175 grand, and to join the last two and a half years of a struggling administration, the question isn't why the White House would want him, but why he would want the job?" (Transcript follows)
The Friday morning and evening broadcast networks shows pounced on how when asked, at the joint Thursday night Bush/Blair press conference, whether he had any regrets about the conduct of the war in Iraq, President Bush responded: “Saying, ‘bring it on.' Kind of tough talk you know that sent the wrong signal to people” and “some lessons about expressing myself maybe in a little more sophisticated manner. You know, ‘wanted dead or alive.'”
CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer suggested Bush isn’t always so honest as he described it as “an unusual burst of candor from President Bush.” Schieffer soon called it an “extraordinary statement” and reporter Jim Axelrod agreed it was “startling.” NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams found Bush’s answer so important that he played a stand-alone clip of the “most interesting moment” and brought aboard Tim Russert who saw a “remarkable, remarkable admission." On her last night as anchor of World News Tonight, ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas asserted that “some of the bold talk we once heard from them is gone. Now they are voicing regrets and admitting mistakes.” Jake Tapper framed a story around how Bush and Blair “came together to project confidence in the new Iraqi government, but perhaps what came across strongest was regret." (Transcripts, and a brief look at the mornings shows, such as how NBC’s Today opened with “Admitting Mistakes” on screen, follow.)
On tonight's CBS Evening News, David Martin reported on a story about Specialist Kendell Frederick and his quest for citizenship. Martin interviewed Specialist Frederick's mother, Michelle Murphy, about the red tape that delayed the approval of his citizenship application. The delay was due to a lack of a signature on his fingerprint form. Specialist Frederick was serving in Iraq and went to Camp Anaconda to have another fingerprint form completed. On the way back to his base, the convoy was hit by an IED. Specialist Frederick died on October 19, 2005.
Mrs. Murphy showed Martin a letter from Specialist Frederick's Commander explaining that her son was in the convoy solely to get his fingerprint form completed. At this point in the report Martin was shown speaking with a representative of USCIS. David Martin actually claimed that Specialist Frederick was "killed by red tape". Martin went on to say Specialist Frederick "had to die to get his citizenship".
Gloria Borger concluded her Monday CBS Evening News story on the FBI’s weekend confiscation of cash from a freezer in Louisiana Democratic Congressman William Jefferson’s home by declaring a pox on both parties: “At a time when 77 percent of the American public believes that all members of Congress take bribes, Congressman Jefferson's troubles help no one in either party.” Unlike ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas and NBC anchor Campbell Brown who noted Jefferson’s party affiliation in their story introductions, CBS’s Bob Schieffer managed to set up Borger’s report without identifying Jefferson’s party: "The government says FBI agents videotaped Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson taking $100,000 in cash from an informant and later found $90,000 in his home freezer.” Borger did subsequently identify Jefferson as a Democrat. (Partial transcript follows)
Bob Schieffer on Friday decided to use the uprising at Guantanamo as an opportunity to express his disdain for the detention facility. Schieffer opened the CBS Evening News by asking: “Has the U.S. prison for terror suspects at Guantanamo become more trouble than it's worth?” He then presumed: “Even those who created it have to be asking that question tonight.” Schieffer listed a litany of reasons it should be closed, “It has generated reams of bad publicity for the United States, today a UN committee said it ought to be shut down because it violates the Geneva Convention, and now the latest: Prisoners wielding improvised weapons lured ten guards into an ambush and a riot broke out.” (Uninterrupted transcript follows)
Networks fixate on tax cuts ‘for the rich’ while ignoring exploding tax revenues.
While Congress hammered out a $70 billion tax-relief bill last week, the media wasted no time spinning it. After the House approved its version on May 10, the “NBC Nightly News” cited “Democratic critics [who said] the overall bill is heavily tilted in favor of the very wealthy.” At roughly the same time, the “CBS Evening News” presented a graphic to its viewers showing “for incomes of $50,000 or less, you’ll average no more than $46 in savings.”
The following day, ABC’s “Good Morning America” team offered a $20 bill to shoppers at a New Jersey mall as a cynical demonstration of how little this tax cut would help some Americans.
All totaled, the broadcast networks did 16 reports on this issue in their three-day blitzkrieg, largely with the same predictable mantra: tax cuts favor the rich. Conspicuously absent was an honest assessment of just how much lower wage earners in America have benefited from the most recent income tax changes, as well as how much the government has benefited from higher tax revenues.
The Truth Hurts Without question, the best thing government can do for low-income families is not burden them with income taxes. Toward that goal, according to a March 30 report by the Tax Foundation’s Scott Hodge, the percentage of Americans not paying any federal income taxes has exploded in the past few years as a result of recent tax changes:
Matching the agenda of the morning shows, Thursday's network evening newscasts led with USA Today's front page story, “NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls," with none noting how the New York Times reported the same information back on December 24. Unlike CBS, however, both ABC and NBC at least pointed out how many Members of Congress were aware of how Verizon, AT&T and Bell South were providing the NSA with the numbers called by their customers, but didn't complain. Didn't complain, that is, until the news media decided to make it a big issue on which they could rail, thus providing the news media with material for further coverage.
CBS anchor Bob Schieffer demanded: “Does the government need to know who you've been talking to on the phone? Then why is it collecting millions of our phone records?” Schieffer led with how the phone companies “have been turning over the telephone records of tens of millions of their customers to a government spy agency. The overriding question is why and who has access to them. And it set off a storm on Capitol Hill where Republicans and Democrats alike are demanding answers.” Well, one liberal Republican, Senator Arlen Specter, who Schieffer interviewed. ABC's Elizabeth Vargas announced: "We begin with a revelation that may change the way Americans think about phone calls” because “the government has been collecting tens of millions of phone records. This includes phone calls to and from citizens who are not suspects in any crimes.” (Partial transcripts follow)
New White House pressec Tony Snow is taking a more aggressive line with the press corps, sending out emails critical of the elite media's coverage. The DC Examiner's Bill Sammon reports:
New White House Press Secretary Tony Snow is starting off in a combative mode against the press by issuing detailed rebuttals to what he considers unfair coverage of Bush.
“The New York Times continues to ignore America’s economic progress,” blared the headline of an e-mail sent to reporters Wednesday by the White House press office.
Minutes earlier, another e-mail blasted CBS News, which has had an unusually rocky relationship with the White House since 2004, when CBS aired what turned out to be forged documents in a failed effort to question the president’s military service.
“CBS News misleadingly reports that only 8 million seniors have signed up for Medicare prescription drug coverage,” Wednesday’s missive said. “But 37 million seniors have coverage.”
In another example of journalists saying whatever they want whenever they want without regard to accuracy, CBS’s Anthony Mason on Wednesday’s “Evening News” declared erroneously that America’s debt declined during the Clinton years (video link to follow). Certainly, this is a myth that has been purported by the media since Clinton left office…but nothing could be further from the truth.
Before we get to the facts of the matter, here’s the context. In an obvious effort to explain why the tax cuts accepted by the House on Wednesday were a terrible thing, the “Evening News” followed its report concerning this issue with a discussion of the federal debt. Anchor Bob Schieffer passed the baton to business correspondent Anthony Mason who began with an interview with the real estate developer that created the national debt clock near Times Square in New York. After discussing the debt with this gentleman, and an economist, Mason stated: “In the Clinton years, when our debt actually began to shrink the clock was turned off and covered up.”
Well, Anthony, the clock may have been covered up during this period, but the gross federal debt never declined during the Clinton years. Not once. According to the debt statistics at the Office of Management and Budget, the national debt
Bob Schieffer opened the May 9 edition of the CBS Evening News by trumpeting a new poll that suggested disaster for the Republicans in November. As usual, any information that didn’t support the liberal talking points was ignored or minimized. The network anchor made sure to point out that "President Bush's ratings have hit another all-time low."
A few of the results, however, somehow escaped mention. According to the poll, 39 percent of Americans supported drilling in ANWR in November 2002. A separate survey, conducted in February of 2005 found a similar 38 percent approval for the idea. CBS puts the current level of support at 48 percent. Now what could be the cause of this 9 point increase? Perhaps the media’s relentless pounding of the "gas crisis," 183 stories in three weeks, had unintended consequences? Schieffer omitted any reference to ANWR in his report.
Bob Schieffer led Tuesday's CBS Evening News by heralding “bad news for the Republicans”in a new CBS News/New York Times poll and suggesting the new poll portends “a dramatic shift in the political landscape” with approval of Congress at only 23 percent, its lowest since 20 percent in 1994. But reporting on that low number 12 years ago, just six days before Republicans took control of the House and Senate, Bob Schieffer didn't see disaster ahead for Democrats. Back then he maintained: “It's hard to gauge who'll be helped or hurt by all this gloom come Election Day.”
This year, Schieffer led with the bad news for the GOP poll: "Well, are we about to see a dramatic shift in the political landscape? If the findings of a new CBS News/New York Times poll are accurate, the answer may well be yes. President Bush's ratings have hit another all-time low” at “only 31 percent” approval “and the Republican-controlled Congress gets even lower marks, an approval rating of only 23 percent. That's just a little better than 1994 when dissatisfaction was running so high that Republicans wrested control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years from Democrats.” Gloria Borger chimed in with how “our new poll shows just why Democrats are starting to believe, as opposed to simply hope, that change is in the air. By wide margins, the public says Democrats would do a better job of handling most all issues” and, “overall, Democrats are viewed favorably by 55 percent of Americans. Just 37 percent favor Republicans. That's a complete turnaround from 1994 when Republicans dominated public opinion just before taking control of the Congress."
Reporting the survey back in 1994, however, Schieffer did not inform viewers of how the GOP "dominated" issues, never referred to the Congress as “Democrat-controlled” and didn't bother to mention how 54 percent viewed Republicans favorably, ten points above the 44 percent who viewed Democrats favorably. (Transcripts from Tuesday and 1994 follow.)
For months, the media have blamed virtually anything but free market forces for the rise in oil and gas prices. NBC’s Lisa Myers attributed these increases to greed on a recent Nightly News report stating almost disgustedly “Exxon earned 9.5 cents on every dollar of gasoline and oil sold, cashing in at every stage of the process.”
Imagine the nerve of ExxonMobil actually making a profit. Oh the humanity.
A few days earlier, CBS’s Russ Mitchell, clearly concerned about price gouging, asked one of his guests on the Evening News, “How easy is it for a gas station, for an oil company to just jack up the price of gas?"
I bet you can’t guess the response.
Yet, in the midst of all this hysteria, a highly unlikely source – National Public Radio’s Internet website – published an article entitled “Q&A: What’s Behind High Gas Prices?” In it, author Scott Horsley adroitly cut through the hype, and
Continuing her “Eye on the Road” series, CBS’s Sharyn Alfonsi showcased a Washington, D.C.-area teacher who she says can’t afford her commute due to rising gas prices.
But Alfonsi didn’t do her homework. Her featured teacher is a retired Navy lawyer who said in 2003 that she could only afford working as a Catholic school teacher because of her military pension. What Alfonsi didn’t say was that teacher Bonnie McGann made a conscious choice to earn less so she could give back to her church.
“This was the area where I could afford a home,” McGann informed Alfonsi’s viewers on the May 4 “Evening News.” The CBS correspondent added that McGann’s problem was the cost of the commute. “It’s a burden for me now. It’s something that I am unable to absorb,” McGann added. The picture Alfonsi painted was incomplete. McGann is a retired Navy Judge Advocate who says she went into teaching in Catholic schools for the emotional and spiritual reward of the experience....
Anyone with a working TV set knows that the broadcast networks have hyped the high gas price story (“Pain at the Pump”) to ridiculous levels. A new MRC study of the ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news shows found a whopping 183 stories in just three weeks, an avalanche of TV coverage that (helpfully to Democrats planning their midterm election strategy) has buried far more important good economic news, like robust economic growth, low unemployment and a booming stock market.
One device the networks have used to maintain an outraged tone in all of their coverage has been to plant themselves next to gas pumps and find motorists who aren’t embarrassed about whining on camera. The MRC analysts who went through all of the coverage — Geoff Dickens, Brian Boyd, Mike Rule and Scott Whitlock — counted 151 sound bites from gas buyers during the period we studied, April 12 to May 2.
Matching cable news networks interest during the day, two of the three broadcast networks (CBS and NBC, as well as MSNBC's Countdown) led Thursday night with how, at an event in Atlanta, a handful of protesters confronted Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and accused him of “war crimes” and “lying” about Iraq. ABC also aired a story, but put the Moussaoui sentencing first. All three featured former CIA analyst Ray McGovern who demanded: "Why did you lie to get us into a war that was not necessary?”But all failed to note McGovern's long record of hostility to the Bush administration. As McGovern boasted when he first got to the mike (video not shown by ABC, CBS or NBC), he's a co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity and if you Google “Ray McGovern of CIA” you get a plethora of returns from far-left sites (DemocracyNow.org, antiwar.com, truthout.org, alternet.org, TomPaine.com and CommonDreams.org).
CBS anchor Bob Schieffer trumpeted: “Not since the Vietnam War has a Secretary of Defense been under the kind of criticism that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has been getting lately. A group of retired generals has called on him to resign, and today he caught it from another front when he went to what has been Bush country -- Georgia -- and ran head on into hecklers that included a former CIA analyst.” Of course, Atlanta is hardly “Bush country” and CBS offered no proof the protesters were locals. David Martin concluded by admiring the guts of the protesters: "This is not the first time a former CIA officer has accused the Bush administration of misusing intelligence. But, Bob, it's never been done in such an in-your-face way." NBC's Brian Williams saw a greater meaning: “Today the Secretary of Defense received a blunt and personal reminder of the split in this country over the war in Iraq.” He then showcased a woman shouting in the audience: “You lied to the American people!...You lied! You lied that Iraq's oil would pay for the war! You lied about everything the CIA told you was lies!..You're a liar!" Jim Miklaszewski next touted how “today's protests join a growing chorus of criticism against the Secretary and follow the calls from at least six retired Generals for Rumsfeld's resignation.” (Transcripts follow)
The wholesale price of oil and gasoline took a huge drop on the commodities markets Wednesday. But, you never would have known it from watching the broadcast networks’ evening news programs. In fact, the pain at the pump mantra continued in earnest at CBS and NBC without even the slightest mention of a greater than $2 decline in oil prices and an almost 9 cent decline in gasoline prices on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Instead, the NBC “Nightly News” did two pieces dealing with rising energy prices, including one about the politics of the problem. Brian Williams began the report: “Also in Washington tonight, these days, as we know, a lot of high anxiety over gas prices, and more political fighting over what to do about it.” Williams handed it off to David Gregory who concluded: “Amid all the anxiety tonight, some hope. Oil industry sources and administration officials say, given a recent boost in the supply of gas, that prices could actually come down, at least a bit, this summer.” Might have been a nice time to tell the viewers that they already have. In fact, after reaching a wholesale price high of $2.23 per gallon a few weeks, yesterday’s close of $2.09 represents a six percent decline in about eleven trading days. I guess energy prices are only newsworthy when they go up.
Of course, the CBS “Evening News” didn’t do much better, as it decided to report on how rising gas prices are harming a minor league baseball team. Bob Schieffer set up the segment:
Monday’s CBS Evening News inaugurated a new series, “Eye on the Road,” the network’s latest gimmick to keep people outraged at the high cost of gasoline. Reporter Sharyn Alfonsi is driving from Florida to Boston to find people to complain about the high prices, and last night she highlighted senior citizens who are ostensibly sacrificing food and medicine because of Big Oil’s greediness.
Alfonsi highlighted a poll taken by the liberal lobbying group AARP to supposedly prove the hardship gas prices are having on the elderly. “They’re used to living on fixed incomes,” Alfonsi reported, “but now skyrocketing gas prices are forcing seniors to make difficult choices. Some are cutting back on medicine, others say they’re eating less.”
As she spoke, the screen showed the words “AARP Survey” plus the words “Cutting Back,” followed by “Medicine 6%,” then “Food 13%.”
But the poll wasn’t taken “now,” during the wave of network stories wailing about high gas prices. It was actually conducted for the AARP newsletter AARP Bulletin nearly eight months ago, in early September 2005, in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and fairly extensive supply disruptions in the eastern U.S.
All three broadcast network evening newscasts led Monday night with multiple favorable stories about the day of protests to promote the cause of illegal aliens. Bob Schieffer opened the CBS Evening News by trumpeting: “From coast to coast, from north to south, they wanted us to know what America would be like without them and so millions of immigrants missed work, skipped school and marched in the streets. They want America to find a place for those who came here illegally and it's too soon to know if they changed any minds in Congress. But what we do know is that construction sites shut down, hundreds of restaurants and many small businesses closed across the country...”
ABC's Elizabeth Vargas touted how “altogether, close to a million people took to the streets in more than 30 cities. And that number could still rise. It was the newest wave of protests against legislation that would increase the penalties for being in the U.S. illegally. Tonight, we have reports from around the country,” including a piece on a “man in San Antonio, Texas, who broke decades of tradition” -- for 29 years never missing a day of work -- “to make his own statement." Over on the NBC Nightly News, which put six reporters on the story, Brian Williams heralded how “we've been covering a major story unfolding all day,” showcasing video of “solid people for blocks.” Williams concluded that “the protests worked in many cases. Stores closed as workers headed out the door, and live television covered it all, all day long. We have comprehensive coverage tonight from coast to coast...” (Partial transcripts follow)
CBS and NBC on Monday night couldn't resist reminding their viewers of President Bush's “Mission Accomplished” speech. CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer announced: "Today marks the third anniversary of what many thought at the time was one of the cleverest photo-ops ever, even opponents of the Iraq invasion were impressed when the President flew on to an aircraft carrier decked out in a dashing flight suit and then spoke beneath a banner that said 'Mission Accomplished.' But it turned out not to be.” Citing another CBS News poll which surveyed significantly more Democrats than Republicans, Schieffer proposed to Jim Axelrod: "With the President's approval down to another new low, 33 percent, I take it this is one anniversary the White House did not want to talk about today." Axelrod highlighted how “three years ago when the President appeared on the deck of the USS Lincoln, 74 percent of those polled approved of the way the President was handling Iraq. But contrast that to the latest CBS News poll, just 30 percent now approve of the way the President is handling Iraq. That's 44 percent, Bob, in three years."
"Today marks the third anniversary of President Bush's so-called 'Mission Accomplished' speech aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln," NBC anchor Brian Williams intoned. "On that day he declared, 'the tyrant has fallen and Iraq is free.' Today the message was less upbeat." Williams gratuitously added: "By the way, the U.S. death toll in the war is nearing 2,400." (More on the poll and partial transcripts, follow)
The broadcast network evening newscasts on Thursday night hyperventilated over “record” profits for ExxonMobil, but failed to point out how government taxes exceed oil company earnings. ABC even fretted about how much ExxonMobil “spent rewarding shareholders,” though it was less than the federal government took in taxes, and NBC excoriated the company for “cashing in” at 9.5 cents per dollar.
“Today, ExxonMobil reported profits of $8.4 billion for the first three months of this year, its best first quarter ever,” ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas asserted at the top of World News Tonight before Betsy Stark complained: “The company says that's a record level of investment in new supplies. Maybe so, but it's less than it spent rewarding shareholders. 15 percent of profits went directly to shareholders in the form of cash dividends, and the biggest chunk, 40 percent, was used to repurchase Exxon's own stock." But ExxonMobil paid 83 percent as much as the $8.4 billion it earned, $7 billion, $2 billion more than a year earlier, in just federal income tax -- and a lot more in other taxes.
Over on the NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams promised, in his tease, “a reality check on sky-high oil company profits,” but all Lisa Myers delivered was demagoguery. Myers began by charging that “for outraged consumers, the staggering profit numbers boil down to this: Exxon earned 9.5 cents on every dollar of gasoline and oil sold, cashing in at every stage of the process." Yes, ExxonMobil cashed in by investing and working to get their product to the retail customer while the federal government collected 18.4 cents per gallon in tax for doing nothing. Federal, state and local taxes total an average of 46 cents per gallon -- significantly more than the 28 cents Exxon earned on a $3 gallon of gas. (Transcripts follow.)
Perhaps it's not surprising from a network that once spun $2.15/gallon of gas as "averaging under $3." The April 26 "CBS Evening News" overestimated ExxonMobil's forthcoming profit margin.
Jumping the gun on the other networks, "CBS Evening News" reported on the April 26 broadcast that ExxonMobil would report a $9.4 billion profit for the first quarter of 2006. The actual figure, released the morning of April 27, is an $8.4 billion profit, a $1,000,000,000 difference. This isn't CBS News's first time being sloppy with numbers.
The Free Market Project previously reported how CBS exaggerated the rise in natural gas prices heading into the winter of 2005-6:
Leading with Karl Rove's grand jury session, on Wednesday's CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer painted CBS's coverage through a set of facts forwarded by Bush enemies as he justified his news judgment, “It is the story that is keeping Washington on edge: Who outed one of the CIA's secret agents whose husband happened to be a critic of the President and his war policy?” Jim Axelrod framed his story around how Rove being “called back in front of the grand jury yet again makes it crystal clear” that he's “still very much under a cloud of suspicion.” Axelrod seemed almost sorry for the Bush team as he concluded: "The President's poll numbers are at an all-time low, gas prices are through the roof, he's got an unpopular war and a divisive immigration debate to handle, and his chief political advisor is under this cloud. It just couldn't come at a worse time for the President.” Then, as if the media's news judgment has nothing to do with it, Schieffer observed: "I would agree that this White House just can't seem to talk about what it wants to talk about. I think today probably what they wanted to talk about was the naming of a new Press Secretary."
On the NBC Nightly News, which also led with Rove, anchor Brian Williams similarly marveled at how “the White House today was hoping for favorable coverage of one story in particular: The naming of the President's new Press Secretary, Tony Snow. And it was the story of the day from the White House right up until Karl Rove became the story.” Williams also highlighted “a new record the President may not be so proud of," an "all-time low" approval number for Bush in “our polling.” But the 36 percent approval in NBC's new poll is three points higher than a Fox News poll last week and four points above what CNN found this week. (Transcripts follow.)
Gas price rage has blended with executive pay rage recently, since the media have been bashing ExxonMobil’s departing CEO, Lee Raymond, for his pay and pension package.
“Runaway pay,” said NBC’s Brian Williams on April 20, calling executive salaries and benefits “stratospheric” and “staggering.” CBS’s Bob Schieffer compared Raymond’s “golden” retirement to the “average American” on April 13. “How much is too much?” asked NBC’s Matt Lauer on April 11. And ABC’s “Good Morning America” said, “You Must Be Kidding!” referring to Raymond’s package as “stunning” on April 14.
Criticizing highly-paid executives has been in vogue at the news networks lately, but there’s something the anchors aren’t telling you: their colleagues’ top wages could soon be disclosed to the world, and Big Media are fighting it.
Large media companies have been doing everything within their power to hide the compensation plans of their own highest-paid employees from public disclosure. As reported by the Associated Press on April 11:
The broadcast network evening shows delivered a variety of spins Tuesday night on the price of gas, with CBS raising a “windfall tax on big oil” and featuring an in-studio segment with left-wing busybody Eliot Spitzer, the Attorney General of New York, about price gouging and NBC's Brian Williams worried about the concerns of those want a “greener America.” ABC's Betsy Stark rejected the price-gouging charge and while CBS insisted that eliminating environmental regulations would have little effect, Stark reported such a suspension would have an immediate impact.
CBS Evening News anchor Russ Mitchell asked White House reporter Jim Axelrod about the idea of "slapping a windfall tax on big oil companies for these record profits that they're making?" Mitchell then turned to Spitzer: "As a consumer, it seems like it's the wild West. How easy is it for a gas station, for an oil company to just jack up the price of gas?" NBC's Williams set up a story on President Bush's proposals by citing how “advocates for a greener America” are “seeing red over what they see as a quickly degrading environment." Williams soon asked David Gergen "what are the chances” that the high prices will lead the U.S. to now move from a “carbon based society to one that's more green?" Gergen replied: "Well, one hopes that's the case...” (Transcripts follow.)
As they did all week, on Friday night the three broadcast network evening newscasts again hyperventilated over the “record” high price for a barrel of oil, though adjusted for inflation, the only competent way to measure any price over time, current $75 per barrel oil is $12 short of the real record high set in January of 1981. ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas falsely cited how “a week of skyrocketing oil prices ends with another record today,” erroneously claiming that “records were set on four out of five days, and today the price for a barrel of crude topped $75 for the first time ever.” CBS's Bob Schieffer announced that “we end the week as we began it, and that is not good news because we began this week by reporting that the price of crude oil had reached a record high.” Over on the NBC Nightly News, fill-in anchor Lester Holt had as little regard for accuracy as had Brian Williams the rest of the week. "Pain at the pump,” Holt teased, “Yet another record high for oil.”
Friday's World News Tonight also featured a preview of a taped session with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger set to air on Sunday's This Week. Vargas passed along how the liberal Republican “warned that price-gouging on oil and gas will not be tolerated. He told ABC's George Stephanopoulos he would not rule out taxing oil companies on their enormous profits." In the brief excerpt then shown, Stephanopoulos cued up Schwarzenegger: "So do we need a windfall profits tax?" (Transcripts follow)
At least one leading mainstream journalists isn't too happy about the revelation Friday that on Thursday the CIA fired an official who admitted being the leaker of top secret information about CIA prisons overseas used to hold al-Qaeda suspects. Bob Schieffer didn't withhold his personal opinion from his newscast as he introduced a CBS Evening News story by asserting that “it is no secret that the current administration does not like its people hanging out with news reporters without permission” and he described the firing as “a first -- a dubious first, to be sure.”
Citing the Washington Post story on the then-secret prisons and the New York Times article disclosing terrorist surveillance efforts, both of which won Pulitzer Prizes on Monday, NPR's Nina Totenberg declared on Inside Washington that nefarious Bush administration practices justified the decision to reward the two newspapers: "It's a good thing that they won for those intelligence stories because the Bush administration is investigating now and is threatening to subpoena and conceivably jail those reporters. So I think it's important that those stories be rewarded as something important to have done." (Transcripts follow.)
Though the Red Chinese regime was so embarrassed by a woman interrupting the White House welcoming ceremony for Chinese President Hu Jintao to denounce him, that it censored the incident from news coverage back in China, CBS on Thursday night framed coverage around worries about offending China over Taiwan and how some incident made the White House look bad while NBC focused on the “embarrassment” the protester caused to the Bush team. CBS's Bob Schieffer led with how “this was not the best day the White House ever had,” citing how “a government announcer introduced China's national anthem by calling it the national anthem of the Republic of China.” Schieffer adopted Red China's spin, er, I mean that of the People's Republic of China, as he explained how Republic of China is “the formal name of the island of Taiwan,” which “claims to be an independent nation, a claim that China fiercely disputes.” Plus, “a heckler got into the White House grounds and caused a commotion.” ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas echoed Schieffer's concern about the announced name of the country: "There was another awkward moment during the White House ceremony. An announcer referred to China as the 'Republic of China,' which is the formal name for Taiwan, which China considers to be a rebellious province."
NBC's David Gregory declared that "this was considered to the President a major embarrassment" and fretted about how "the outburst was a major irritant to the Chinese leader since the White House gave her a day pass to attend the event." Anchor Brian Williams asked "about the lasting significance" of the incident? Gregory relayed how "one veteran diplomat that was on hand today said there's no way that the Chinese won't think that this was an intentional move by the administration." (Transcripts follow)