Several MRC employees have encountered a new pamphlet on the subway system in the Washington D.C. area called the "CBS Evening News Report" with a big picture of Katie Couric on the cover. (It also promotes the local CBS news on Channel 9.) Inside the 14-page pamphlet are articles by Dr. Jonathan LaPook, Armen Keteyian, Byron Pitts, Steve Hartman, and Jim Axelrod.
But it's mostly promoting Katie. In the front, "A Word From Katie" carries the usual messages with exclamation points selling the magazine. "Hi everyone!...We hope it'll serve as an appetizer, and maybe entice you to try out the main course!...We'll do our best to keep you on track. Meantime, thanks for taking us along for the ride!" Showing the pamphlet's age, though, is a two-page article with Katie recounting her "remarkable conversation with a remarkable man," embryo-destruction spokesman Michael J. Fox -- in October.
On Monday’s "Evening News" on CBS, anchor Katie Couric asserted a common talking point among feminists and that is that women make 76 cents for every dollar a man does, which is a misleading statistic. In a series entitled "The American Spirit," Couric profiled Janet Hanson, the founder of a women’s networking group called 85 Broads, which is dedicated to helping women get ahead, as Hanson doesn't seem to believe a woman can make it on her own:
Katie Couric: "Women earn only 76 cents for every dollar a man earns, and that really hasn’t changed much over the last 30 years. Why?"
Janet Hanson: "Women have to learn how to become better negotiators for themselves, which is hard to do. So they need to see other women doing that successfully, and the whole mission behind this network is that women cannot succeed if they don’t leverage each other’s intellectual firepower."
Yet, an article on CNN Money, written by a woman, argues why the 76 cent statistic is misleading:
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney formally announced today that he would seek the Republican nomination for President, but one would hardly know this from watching CBS’s "Early Show." Romney’s candidacy received exactly ten seconds worth of coverage, following stories on a Utah mall shooting, winter storms, and the ongoing soap opera of Anna Nicole Smith’s demise. However, on Saturday, when Illinois Senator Barack Obama announced his candidacy as a Democrat, CBS’s "Saturday Early Show" devoted 9 minutes and 9 seconds, (549 seconds) to this story, a greater than 54:1 bias.
On the "Saturday Early Show," CBS aired at least one story on Barack Obama in each of the first three half hours. Yet, the ten seconds they allotted to Governor Romney on Tuesday’s program, was buried in the 7:30 half hour at 7:37. Unlike CBS, both ABC and NBC on Tuesday devoted a full story to Governor Romney’s announcement, and NBC added an additional anchor brief, roughly comparable to the coverage they gave Obama on Saturday.
In her latest "Couric & Co." blog entry to support quotas (oops, "affirmative action") and whisper "Hillary for President" between the lines, Couric cheered Drew Gilpin Faust, the new female president of Harvard and jeered outgoing Lawrence Summers. She also mourned the loss of feminist Harriett Woods, best known to political junkies as the Democrat who almost beat Sen. John Danforth in 1982:
Harvard, the nation's first university, is NOT the first to put a woman at the head of the class. Princeton, Brown, and Penn all beat Harvard to the punch. But nationwide, less than a quarter of colleges and universities are run by women.
Harriett Woods, head of the National Women's Political Caucus, died last week. She pushed to elect women and to name them to powerful positions. Bill Clinton once called her a "bean counter." But sometimes, bean counting really counts.
Is America ready for a black president? This was how CBS’s Steve Kroft portrayed the presidential candidacy of Illinois Senator Barack Obama in a piece on the February 11th "60 Minutes." In an interview that touched on Mr. Obama’s personal life story, his lack of experience and his past drug use, Mr. Kroft seemed most interested in discussing race, and by implication the notion that America is racist. Kroft seemed shocked when Senator Obama asserted that his race would not be a factor in the race, and that America is ready for a black president:
Steve Kroft: "Do you think the country is ready for a black president?"
Rock radio listeners in the Washington DC area noticed when CBS's classic-rock FM station WARW mixed recent songs in with the oldies and started calling itself "The Globe." It's not just a moniker, it's a marketing strategy. CBS is going to power the station with slightly more expensive wind-generated power. In The Washington Post business section Monday, reporter Frank Ahrens says radio always tries to capitalize on the "cultural trends of the moment," and that Al Gore-style eco-panic is firmly in the "mainstream" now:
The WARW format switch also demonstrates how environmentalism has moved to the political center. Thirty years ago, it was considered fringe. Even five years ago, it would have been highly unlikely for a mainstream commercial radio station to align itself with concerns over global warming -- too crunchy for most listeners. Now, WARW thinks such branding might increase its ratings, as environmentalism -- like recycling -- carries a positive and widely popular connotation. Even Wal-Mart buys wind power.
After more than a week of ignoring the controversy over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s request for access to an extravagant plane, the three network morning shows finally covered the subject on Thursday, albeit briefly. CBS and ABC both offered full reports during the 7AM hour of the February 8 shows, while only CBS included a quote from a Republican lawmaker who criticized the possible ethical issues raised by having the opportunity to fly friends home in a posh C-32 jet. NBC’s "Today" show mentioned the story only in a news brief and then co-host Matt Lauer briefly asked correspondent David Gregory about the plane controversy.
All three networks included snarky reports on this "hot controversy." Lauer wondered if the incident would make Pelosi "look bad from a PR standpoint," while Cuomo used the pithy term, "turbulence." One wonders why it took a week for the media to jump on such a "hot controversy." At 7:06am, "Good Morning America’s" Cuomo introduced Jake Tapper with a few quips about "plane envy:"
Chris Cuomo: "We begin with the turbulence over Speaker Nancy Pelosi request for a new plane. A request that has been quickly turned down. Senior national correspondent Jake Tapper has the latest on the controversy from Capitol Hill. Jake, is this about security or ego? Sounds like a case of jet envy."
CBS’s Bob Schieffer utilized Democratic Party spin in discussing Monday evening’s procedural vote in the Senate that blocked a vote on a non-binding Iraq resolution. Schieffer, appearing in his weekly "Capitol Bob" segment on Wednesday’s "Early Show," blamed Republicans for blocking the vote and dismissed their arguments:
"...So they did the only thing that they could do, they used the Senate rules to block the vote. Now that group will give you another version of all this, but basically that's what happened."
Schieffer failed to mention the reason Republicans blocked the vote and that is because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will not allow votes on two Republican alternatives. As the Washington Times noted on Wednesday:
Sometimes media bias can be found in what the networks don’t say. On Tuesday, Wal-Mart suffered a major blow when the liberal 9th Circuit Court in California ruled that a class action lawsuit claiming sex discrimination could proceed against the company. All three evening newscasts reported the story, with ABC and CBS noting that a "federal appeals court" had sided with the female plaintiffs. Over on NBC, "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams simply used the phrase "federal court."
However, the 9th circuit isn’t just any court. This is the group of judges that ruled the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional. And, according to a report by the Center for Individual Freedoms, 32 percent of the reversals by the United States Supreme Court in 2003 came from the 9th Circuit. And yet, none of the network anchors thought this a pertinent point. "World News" anchor Charlie Gibson instead chose to hype the enormity of the case:
Charles Gibson: "It is a lawsuit so large in scope and size, that it staggers the imagination.A federal appeals court ruled today that a gender bias suit against Wal-Mart can proceed in what is known as a class-action suit. That means a million and a half to two million women would-be plaintiffs arguing, as a group or class, that Wal-Mart discriminated against them in providing promotions and in paying them less than male employees. Here's our senior law and justice correspondent, Jim Avila."
For TV news watchers, the most interesting Super Bowl ads were CBS promoting itself. Not the ads for its sleazy sitcoms like "Two and a Half Men," or its dark, gory dramas like "Criminal Minds," but more incessant ads for Katie's Evening News. Earth to CBS: the last $10 million didn't work either. I didn't see a single plug for Super Bowl coverage on "The Early Show,' but lots of Katie talking about what's great about America: "We hear a lot about what’s wrong with America. But there are so many examples of America’s can-do spirit. Good people doing great things on the CBS Evening News."
Katie's promoting the newest ratings gambit for the Katie-cast: a segment on "The American Spirit." This could be flagged as false advertising. They might try a feel-good story pandering to patriotism in a sweeps period, but on most nights, CBS will tell you America is ruining Iraq and hurtling the planet toward a global-warming catastrophe. And they'll consider anyone with an opposing opinion as hopelessly delusional or certainly bribed.
The Laura Ingraham Show this morning had a big discussion about the odd part of Prince's performance of "Purple Rain" during the Super Bowl halftime show last night. Prince is obviously self-impressed with the symbol he used for a name for a few years (the TAFKAP Era, for The Artist Formerly Known As Prince). Not only was there a huge symbol on the stage, it was also the shape of his guitar.
So many people thought putting Prince behind a flapping curtain with a spotlight so you could see him in silhouette playing his odd guitar sent an obvious er, male-genitalia message last night. Was this just a dramatic flourish gone awry? Some sort of Austin Powers hommage? And why would CBS let it slip through their censors after the Janet Jackson Wardrobe Malfunction of 2004? Anyone else think of old Prince lyrics about the "lion in his pocket"?
Victorious Colts coach Tony Dungy said to CBS sports anchor Jim Nantz on the post-game show last night that he and Bears coach Lovie Smith were proud to be successful black coaches, but more proud of being Christian coaches. How many media outlets will use the first half, and snip away the second?
I tell you what. I'm proud to be representing African-American coaches, to be the first African-American to win this. It means an awful lot to our country. [SNIP!] But again, more than anything, I've said it before, Lovie Smith and I, not only the first two African-Americans, but Christian coaches, showing that you can win doing it the Lord's way. We're more proud of that.
The interview aired right around 10:13 Sunday night.
"Global warming is for real and we are to blame." This was the sentiment presented on CBS’s "Early Show" on Friday morning while discussing a report released from "leading climate experts." During the segment, CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips classified the climate document as "not so much a report as a call to action." Mr. Phillips’ piece also contained comments from Achim Steiner who claimed that people who "risk inaction" will be judged by history to be "irresponsible." Steiner was identified on screen as head of the UN Environment Project. However, a look into his background reveals him to be somewhat of an environmental activist. And while CBS presented the views of an environmentalist, it continued it’s pattern of ignoring scientists that are skeptical that human activity is the cause of global climate change.
How can Katie Couric claim to keep her politics our of her work when she offers up her own editorial positions on a variety of subjects? She does so in the course of her "Katie Couric's Notebook" segments. It's true that Katie normally avoids the controversial. On January 16th, for example, she took a bold stand against procrastination. And when she did address abortion on January 22nd, she played it largely down the middle -- though pro-lifers might argue that her mention of the way the issue has sparked violence ignores the daily violence of abortion itself.
But at times Couric takes positions on hot issues of the day, such as on January 12th when she expressed the hope that the Gitmo prison "is closed down soon." On January 26th, Couric came out for "breaking our addiction to oil." Or how about this one, in which, incredibly, Couric argued in favor of congressional earmarks!
Most media storylines on the economy are predictable. Tax cuts "cost" the government money. The wealthy don't pay their fair share, and, socialized medicine is the only comprehensive way to address health care problems.
That last one's been in vogue lately as Democrats have raised health care as part of their "100 Hours" agenda. So our very own Julia Seymour took a look at the media's push for Big Brother to play doctor to 300 million Americans.
But then there's the ones that are just patently laughable. Like where the media pick the interests of say fish, over people. Look to none other than our friends at The Washington Post for that one. You can find our writeup on that here.:
CBS News correspondent Cynthia Bowers reported that Hillary Clinton’s campaign trip to Iowa this past weekend "marked the first time any Clinton has ever campaigned in Iowa." Ms. Bowers, reporting in the 7:00 half hour of Monday’s "Early Show," should have researched the facts before making such a blanket assertion. According to a Nexis search, CNN reported on February 11, 1996 that then President Clinton was campaigning in Iowa, even though he had no primary opponent, to "solidify his support." And, a Nexis search on Hillary Clinton revealed that the New York Senator was the key note speaker at a Democratic Party Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner to raise funds for Iowa Democrats on November 15, 2003.
Ms. Bower’s report, while not necessarily biased, raises the question, is anyone at CBS doing research? One would think that in the wake of the Dan Rather "memogate" scandal in 2004, CBS journalists would be more cautious about what they report and would take the time to verify the accuracy of their claims.
So, here is a question: Why is CBS using propaganda film originally posted on an al Qaeda website and claiming it is merely "CBS obtained" with no mention of the actual source for Lara Logan's report on The "Battle of Haifa Street"?
The anti-Iraq website called Iraqslogger posted a story about how CBS reporter Lara Logan is crying that CBS seems to have spiked her "Haifa Street" story. Logan has sent out a mass email to all her friends and colleagues in the world of journalism in hopes that they will pressure CBS to show her report that has not yet made it to TV. It has, though, appeared on the internet.
As NewsBusters has been reporting for the past couple of weeks, a battle is being waged between liberal bloggers and a conservative radio station in San Francisco. Those that are unfamiliar with this issue should read articles covering both sides of the matter here and here.
On a long drive home from a Indianapolis this weekend, I had the dubious pleasure of listening to a CBS news break at the top of the hour on a talk station and in one of their reports on Saturday's anti-War protests the verbiage used to report the gatherings was so slanted that it was startling and was so obviously intended to make it seem much greater than it really was that it wasn't even funny.
Reporter Jim Taylor started his report saying "A nation says no to war ..." as an introduction to the story of the goings on in Washington.
A "nation" says no? A few protests equates the the whole nation, CBS?
As the 2008 campaign heats up, members of the mainstream media are having trouble deciding between their old favorite (Hillary) and the new flame (Obama). Both CNN and ABC leapt to the defense of Senator Barack Obama after he was accused of attending an Islamic madrassah as a child. (Of course, ABC once devoted an entire episode of "Nightline" to murky allegations that George W. Bush did coke as a younger man.)
But perhaps Obama should be a little worried. The "Early Show" demonstrated exactly why Hillary is still the media’s favorite. Over on MSNBC, Chris Matthews told Hillary Clinton that "ideologues on the right" were responsible for the death of her famous health care plan.
ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos asked another 2008 candidate, Bill Richardson, if, as president, he would please just raise taxes.
In discussing the resolution passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee expressing disagreement with President Bush, CBS’s "Early Show" only featured sound clips from senators who voted for the measure, including from Senator Chuck Hagel, the lone Republican on the panel to vote for it. There was no video of any of the nine Republicans who voted against the proposal. Though many of these nine oppose President Bush’s troop surge, they view a non-binding resolution to be the wrong tool to express this.
CNN’s "American Morning," however, recognized the differences of opinion on the panel. They aired footage of Indiana Senator and ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee Richard Lugar, who opined:
On Wednesday’s "Early Show" co-host Harry Smith pressed Republican Senator and presidential candidate John McCain on the war in Iraq and the president’s handling of it, but in a subsequent interview with Democratic presidential hopeful and Illinois Senator Barack Obama, Smith only had softball questions. For instance, Smith wondered what Obama was thinking while he was listening to the president’s speech and what running for president has taught the Illinois Senator. Smith also neglected to question Obama regarding his inexperience.
Mr. Smith first talked with Senator McCain, and Smith spent much of the interview discussing Iraq. Given the tone of the interview, it seems unlikely that McCain will be the media sensation he was in 2000. During today’s segment, Smith first wondered if President Bush even deserved another chance on Iraq:
On January 18, CBSNews.com posted an interview that "Public Eye" blogger Brian Montopoli conducted with business correspondent Anthony Mason. In the interview, Mason explained how he wound up reporting the business beat and why he thinks the media have a tendency to be critical of business, as well as admitting that the media in general have a liberal bias in story selection. You can find the full blog post with a link to the interview audio here.
I also took the liberty of clipping a few sound bites from his interview. It runs almost two minutes and can be found here.
In January 2006, Mason made similar comments about the media's coverage of American business:
CBS’s live coverage of the State of the Union speech was dominated by gloom for President Bush Tuesday night. Anchor Katie Couric described Bush as "resolute, yet resigned." In the very first seconds after Bush concluded, Couric jumped in with the fact that CBS News polls showed President Bush had an 82 percent approval rating at State of the Union time in 2002, just months after 9/11, and now "reverse it," CBS’s approval rating number for Bush was 28 percent, an "all-time low." CBS has traditionally held the lowest poll number of the media outlets. The other polls in the current time period aren't great either, but found numbers between 31 percent (Newsweek, also traditionally low) and 39 percent (LA Times-Bloomberg).
Couric then turned to Bob Schieffer, and stressed it was odd that Bush went from opposing nation-building in the 2000 campaign to now favoring the spread of democracy. (It could be argued you can support democracy-building without doing the tougher work of nation-building.) With a pessimistic tone, Couric asked "Has he changed any minds tonight?"
CORRECTION: An earlier post incorrectly said none of the
evening newscasts carried a mention of the falling gas prices. I apologize for
Gasoline costs nearly 20 cents less than it did the same
time last year, but the good news merited only a passing mention on the night
before President Bush’s State of the Union address. By contrast, the networks
spent more than 10 minutes combined interviewing 2008 presidential candidate
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.).
"The price of gasoline fell by 6 cents last week to an
average of about $2.16 a gallon nationwide – a 14-cent decline over three
weeks,” the Associated Press reported January 22. AAA's Fuelgaugereport.com,
which displays data from the Oil Price Information Service, shows similar data.
"Retail gasoline prices have fallen 17 cents from this time
last year," and the price of crude oil has also been on a downward track, "down 86 cents at $51.13 a barrel Monday on the New York Mercantile
Exchange," the AP reported.
ABC's Charles Gibson mentioned the drop in a 15-second bit
on "World News," while CBS and NBC had no time for that good news. Each
network, however, gave the junior senator considerable air time on its January
ABC anchor Gibson gave the former first lady the most face
time with 5 minutes and 9 seconds in a satellite interview on "World News." NBC’s Brian Williams and CBS’s Katie Couric gave Clinton about the same time as a full-length
news report. Clinton’s
taped sit-down with Couric lasted 2 minutes and 40 seconds, while Williams’
taped in-studio chat was 2 minutes and 20 seconds.
In perhaps an ominous sign of the fawning media coverage Senator Hillary Clinton will receive as she runs for president, CBS News correspondent Joie Chen proclaimed that "it may be easier to get an audience with the Wizard of Oz than steal Clinton’s thunder right now." Yet isn’t it the media that is creating this thunder? Monday’s "Early Show" ran four stories pertaining to Hillary Clinton entering the Democratic race for president, including an interview with her top advisor, Howard Wolfson, and to be fair, "Early Show" co-host Hannah Storm did ask him some tough questions. Yet, when top tier Republican candidates have announced their intentions, as Arizona Senator John McCain, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney have all formed exploratory committees, the "Early Show" has not provided any coverage at all.
So when are the Big Three Networks going to do something about their hopelessly outmoded and out-of-touch evening-news dinosaurs?
The 2006 report on The State of the News Media from Journalism.org, which covered 2005 results, showed that the Big 3 Networks' evening news audience that year averaged 27 million (the exact number is not noted, but inferred from reading the graph at the link; if anything, the actual number may have been slightly higher).
Rounding up slightly, that's a total of 24.3 million -- not exactly the disaster yours truly thought might occur this summer after a particularly bad week for evening news viewership, but a pretty steep decline nonetheless. On average during 2006, over 200,000 fewer people each month tuned in to see NBC's Nightly News (currently anchored by Brian Williams), ABC's World News Tonight (currently with Charles Gibson), or the CBS Evening News (with Katie Couric).
Eyeballing the following graph from last year and looking at the 2006 numbers above, it looks like NBC was down about 14%, ABC about 11%, and CBS about 6%:
On January 4, 2007, Consumer Reports released what the media considered a damning report that found that many infant car seats are unsafe at 38 mph side-impact crashes. In other words, small children were a car crash away from a grave injury or fatality.
The next morning, ABC, NBC, and CBS's morning programs played up the report, featuring the story prominently. CBS's Hannah Storm even used a newborn baby in a car seat as a prop during an interview.
Well, two weeks and a federal government study later, Consumer Reports issued a retraction. Turns out the laboratory they hired basically performed crash tests that simulated a side impact at 70 mph, a speed at which you are very lucky to come out alive regardless of your age or whether or not you're restrained in a car seat.
Of course, industry insiders felt this was coming, and one even said so on the January 5 "American Morning." But you didn't hear any of that two weeks ago on "Today," "Good Morning America," or "The Early Show." [full story here]
ABC’s Dr. Timothy Johnson leveled the harshest criticism,
telling anchor Charles Gibson that President Bush was "misleading" about his
government medical research, which he lamented had actually been "cut" last
Johnson’s liberal complaint about inadequate spending isn’t
surprising. The Business & Media Institute (BMI) has previously documented
Johnson’s advocacy of government-run health care and higher tobacco taxes.
She practically blamed Mel Gibson* for why diet supplements are not regulated as drugs by the FDA and attempted to scare viewers with the extreme case of a woman's nose falling off, but Sharyn Alfonsi's hit pieces on nutrition supplement makers weren't biased enough for CBS's in-house blogger-cum-media critic Brian Montopoli.:
"The real problem is that any topical product such as the one described in this section of Mr. Hurley's book is not a dietary supplement, and cannot be legally sold as one in the United States. By law such products are drugs. If either Mr. Hurley or his editors had bothered to look at the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act, they could have avoided this fundamental mistake," wrote Marc S.Ullman, a New York attorney who represents clients "in the dietary supplement/natural products industry."