Harry Smith, co-host of CBS’s "The Early Show," has spent the last few days reporting from Baghdad. On Friday, he reported the security situation was such that he couldn’t go out and get ice cream. But today, he decided to look for a success story. He found one, but he proved that while he can report a bad news story without mentioning any good news, he can’t report a success story without finding negative items to talk about. Reporting from Baghdad, Harry Smith began his piece, which profiled the work of the U.S. Army 4th Infantry Division’s work in the town of Sababor, talking about the violence in Iraq: "Yeah, good morning. I'll tell you what, just an illustration of how much bad news there is here. A friend of mine here in Iraq told me the other day 'the busiest people in this town are the terrorists.'" Later, he talked of a bombing in Sababor which occurred a month ago: "It hasn't been easy. Just a month ago, a bomb here killed 15 people."
And at one point, "The Early Show" co-host appeared surprised to learn that people in Sababor view Americans positively. And Smith seemed even more shocked when one of the boys told him his name was "Bush" after Smith had an apparent James Bond like moment in introducing himself to the boy.
Video clip of exchange between Iraqi kid who called himself "Bush" and Smith (21 seconds): Real (700 KB) or Windows Media (825 KB), plus MP3 audio (125 KB)
In the aftermath of Memogate, Rather's relationship with his fellow CBSers completely disintegrated. Years of pent-up frustration at Rather's autocratic management style and personnel control of CBS News came to an abrupt end as remnants of the old Cronkite guard and new-school suits coalesced to throw Rather from the anchor's chair and cast him as an occasional reporter on "60 Minutes."
It seems now that Dan may have had enough of the demotion, and that CBS is just fine with cutting the cord. Rumors are starting to spread that Rather, whose contract with CBS expires in November, is not coming back to the network. And that it's a mutual decision. CBS head Les Moonves, having succeeded in revamping his entertainment division long wanted to turn his attentions to news, only to be stymied by the prickly pear Rather, who loudly and publicly declaimed any attempts to rein him in as "destroying hard news."
On CBS’s "The Early Show" this morning, co-host Harry Smith reported from Baghdad. However, unlike Dave Price, the "Early Show weatherman who reported on high morale and security progress in Iraq -- his reporting can be seen here and here -- Smith focused on the negative, and even complained that the security situation is so bad that he couldn’t go out and get ice cream.
Harry Smith: "Now the one other example I can give you of what the security situation is like here, just around our hotel, it's very, very secure. But when I asked our folks if I could go down to the corner and out of the secure zone to get an ice cream last night they said it's a risk just simply not worth taking. Hannah."
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:
Speaking in the Headlines and Biographies lecture series at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto, Dan Rather says today's journalists have an "urge to be so polite, this mandate not to offend anyone - anywhere."
Journalists afraid to bash President Bush? That's unlikely. Of course, the president's low approval ratings have more to do with conservatives hating Bush than liberals, and Rather could not possibly understand criticisms of Bush that did not originate from left-wing MSM initiatives.
The veteran U.S. television journalist lamented a trend in today's news that sees reporters rely on euphemisms and tact as though they were conducting international diplomacy instead of telling people exactly what is happening in places like Washington or Ottawa.
"I don't know where this urge to be so polite, this mandate not to offend anyone - anywhere, anytime - came from, but in a journalistic sense, I wish it would go away," he said.
As Rich Noyes pointed out yesterday, the morning shows jumped on the "USA Today" story about the NSA having phone records of ordinary Americans. This morning, CBS’s "The Early Show" continued with the coverage, and used the story to revive one of their favorite terms, "Domestic Spying." In covering this story this morning, co-host Harry Smith interviewed Delaware Senator Joe Biden, a critic of the NSA program, and asked softball questions. With the exception of 2 short clips of President Bush and 1 clip of General Michael Hayden, the President’s nominee to be CIA Director, viewers did not hear from any supporters of the NSA’s actions.
Harry Smith opened the broadcast with the following tease:
"Good morning I’m Harry Smith. The heat turns up again on the domestic spy scandal as members of Congress call for an investigation into a report that the government collected the phone records of millions of Americans. We'll have the latest."
Just to get things started on a Friday, "The Early Show" on CBS had a segment on Milwaukee's missing Alexis Patterson, who was something of a cause celebre a few years back for being the barely known black girl that proved the Only Missing White Girls Matter rule. But CBS used graphics for the story with the words "Without A Trace." Repeatedly.
While that may describe the Patterson case, they also ape the title of a hit CBS Thursday night program. What next? What CBS shows lend themselves most easily to cross-promotional graphic word play?
The easy list: Close to Home, Cold Case, Criminal Minds, Out of Practice, Still Standing, Yes Dear.
The would-never-work list: Numb3rs, The New Adventures of Old Christine.
Okay, now I'm not a regular CBS entertainment watcher, but Hillary Profita on the CBS News "Public Eye" website explains how the "Without A Trace" feature is a follow-up from the Thursday night drama:
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.”
It was reported on this morning’s "Early Show" on CBS that the Dow Jones Industrial average is on the verge of reaching record highs. CBS correspondent Susan McGinnis went so far as to mention that was are "In a three-year bull market that has some experts predicting a new record could come any day." That raises the question, where has the media been the last three years? It appears that CBS wants to ignore positive economic news because maybe it will help President Bush and Republicans.
Despite the news that the Dow is on the verge of a record high, reporters were shocked that the blue chips are doing so well due to the facts, that they reminded viewers of of high gas prices and that real estate is down. Co-host Julie Chen offered the following story tease at the top of the program:
Since Dan Rather left the "CBS Evening News" just over a year ago, the ratings for the show have increased. After years of being a distant third in the ratings race, CBS's nightly program is now battling it out for second place with ABC's "World News Tonight," Matt Drudge reports:
The CBS EVENING NEWS WITH BOB SCHIEFFER finished the week of May 1 only
310,000 viewers behind ABC’s “World News Tonight,” narrowing the gap
with ABC by 1.64 million viewers and with NBC’s “Nightly News” by 1.03
million viewers compared to the same week last year. In households, the
CBS EVENING NEWS has cut the gap with ABC’s “World News Tonight” more
than 75% to -0.3 of a ratings point compared to a -1.3 rating point
differential for the same week last year. The CBS EVENING NEWS also
halved the gap with NBC’s “Nightly News” to -0.8 rating point compared
to -1.6 for the same period last year. The CBS EVENING NEWS is also the
only network-evening newscast to post year-to-year and season-to-date
gains in total viewers and households compared to the same period last
You may want to look fast, but the Democratic National Committee’s website still has a “Republican Culture of Corruption” page, implying that by installing the Democrats back in the congressional majority, we’ll have a virtual monastery of ethical restraint in Washington – with leaders like Patrick Kennedy setting the example.
The Democratic “culture of corruption” charge is taking more of a beating than the traffic barricade that introduced itself to Congressman Kennedy’s car last week. ABC, CBS, and NBC all devoted some serious air time to the story, and the fact that Capitol Police supervisors waved off a sobriety test and protectively took the son of Ted Kennedy home.
It could be argued that by Friday, May 5, the network attention to young Mr. Kennedy was historic. Pundits and academics have spent the last twenty years lamenting that the networks can’t seem to give presidential candidates more than about seven seconds a clip in soundbites. Now ABC gave Kennedy an amazing 60 seconds to read his statement announcing he was returning to the Mayo Clinic for rehabilitation. Even that wasn’t enough for NBC. This network gave him a two-minute soundbite.
Fishbowl NY reports that Katie Couric has already displayed one apparently required tendency of a CBS anchor. You must genuflect and pay great homage to the CBS anchor-god named Edward R. Murrow. Her appearance at the Time 100 dinner last night went as follows:
Latecomer Katie Couric skipped cocktails and arrived at 10:00 p.m. just before accepting her inclusion on the Time 100. She prefaced her remarks by saying "I'm worthless without a TelePrompter" before toasting Edward R. Murrow as having the greatest influence on her. "We were all reminded [this year of how] he was such a journalistic giant."
Every week Bob Schieffer ends his Sunday political talk show "Face the Nation" with commentary. Yesterday he praised the virtues of putting America's national anthem "in a hundred languages."
Finally today in the ongoing effort to make our national debate about all the wrong things, we may have reached a milestone with a controversy whether over it is all right for the national anthem to be sung in Spanish. The blogs went nuts about it, of course. Going nuts is their natural state. Talk radio saw danger ahead, `Cover the children's ears.'
Now I'm with them on insisting that everyone who wants to be a citizen should learn English, and in an increasingly diverse country, common experiences have become rarer and rarer, and our language is one of the few things we all share. There is strength in that. But the anthem in English only? I don't get it.
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.
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:
On this morning’s Early Show, co-host Hannah Storm implied to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist that the Congress ought to pay attention to the immigrant boycott and protests from yesterday and pass "immigration reform," a euphemism for "amnesty." That if one million immigrants rallying across the country isn’t enough, what more is it going to take:
"Wanna change gears here for a second because Monday over one million immigrants skipped work and skipped school and marched in streets across America. What is it going to take, Senator, for Congress to come together and institute some meaningful immigrant reform, and how long is that going to take?"
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.
On this morning’s Early Show, in the 7:00 half hour, co-host Harry Smith interviewed Democrat Governor Bill Richardson and Republican Senator Lamar Alexander regarding the immigration debate. While Smith asked Richardson weak "how do you feel" questions, he grilled Senator Alexander over the issue. He began by asking about the protests: "Senator, let me ask you first, is this protest today a good idea?"
Senator Alexander, in his response tried to remind viewers what the protests were really about:
"Well, free speech is a part of living in this country. Unexcused absences from work or from school have consequences. And protests about legal immigration, I think most people in the Congress would welcome. Protests in favor of illegal immigration have very little sympathy here."
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:
All three network morning shows played the envy card Thursday morning, as they hyped the “record high profits” and “corporate greed” of American oil companies. High on their agenda: ExxonMobil’s announcement of $8.4 billion in profits, which the networks implied was scandalous given the high price of oil.
But unstated in the network coverage was the fact that the U.S. government took in more than $7 billion from ExxonMobil during the first quarter of 2006, a jump of more than $2 billion from the same time period in 2005. And that doesn’t count the more than $7.6 billion in excise taxes — the gas tax — that ExxonMobil collected for the government during the same quarter. Plus another $11 billion in "other taxes" and ExxonMobil sent the government more than $25 billion in the first quarter of 2006 -- three times more than the amount network reporters seem to feel is obscene.
Big Government is making more off of high gas prices than Big Oil.
Having unintentionally (and unwillingly) elevated blogging as a media form, former CBS anchorman Dan Rather made some noises recently that he may be interested in joining the new media if he leaves CBS, which he says tells employees not to blog.
Of course what I wanted to talk about is Rather becoming a blogger.
He said that his employer discourages it. I was surprised, more news
organizations are encouraging their reporters to blog, it makes
economic sense to do so. I thought that CBS especially would be
thinking this way because they were so rocked by bloggers in 2004. He
said that large companies like to control what’s said about them, and
that CBS is part of a large company (Viacom) [sic].
The subject of Iraq was once again discussed on this morning’s "Early Show" as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice both made unannounced visits to Baghdad to show support for the new government.
CBS News Correspondent Kimberly Dozier, reporting from Baghdad, mentioned that the formation of a unity government in Iraq will eventually allow US troops to draw down, though she made clear that it was unclear when this could happen. She also noted that Rumsfeld was visibly tired when he got off the plane, but it couldn’t just have been because he flew all night, no, Dozier implied it also had something to do with the criticism of some retired generals.
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:
As reported last week, Dave Price, the weatherman on CBS’s "The Early Show" went to Iraq along with country music artist Charlie Daniels to entertain American troops. This morning, Price gave the first part of a two part series detailing his travels and interaction with the troops.
Once again, Price reassured viewers that troop morale is high, and showed some comments from men and women in uniform, for instance Price made the following statements:
"I went to cheer up the soldiers, but in most cases, they didn't need it."
"Of course morale was sky high during the shows, but what surprised me was what I heard after the music and the laughter faded."
On Sunday’s “60 Minutes,” Andy Rooney didn’t come right out and say that Americans should vote for Hillary Clinton in 2008…but you didn’t have to be telepathic to figure it out (hat tip to Expose the Left with video link to follow).
In his regular closing arguments – in which he has had free reign for decades to say whatever he feels with total impunity – Rooney suggested that women are smarter, nicer, more disciplined voters, and more honest than men. This makes one wonder how many men were still watching the broadcast when Rooney got around to actually making his point. After all, it's not often that one runs across such an unashamedly proud and outspoken male misandrist during prime time, is it?
MRC's Mike Rule noticed CBS's "Early Show" on Friday was going to extremes to play up the drama of recent gas price increases. People are now suddenly pawning items for gas money?
Julie Chen: “Oil prices reached a new record this morning, at one point they topped $73 a barrel. That's not helping high gas prices; some are going to extremes to pay for gas, pawning their belongings.”
Not even Harry Smith’s day off from the "Early Show" on CBS could spare viewers from his liberal agenda. In a previously taped segment, Smith interviewed actress Eva Longoria about her new movie "The Sentinel." While most of the interview revolved around the movie, Smith couldn’t resist asking the Latin actress about her views on immigration:
"Let me ask you a serious question. All the stuff that's happened over the last couple of weeks with immigration, and what's happening in Washington, what has your own heart been feeling about it?"
Longoria’s response was full of cliche and support for immigrants. However, like Harry Smith, she doesn’t distinguish between legal and illegal immigration. She even went on to infer that Mexicans have a right to be in America:
Harry Smith was at it again on CBS’s "The Early Show" this morning. He had two segments of note today. In the first notable segment, during the 7:00 half hour, he interviewed former Bush Administration aide Mary Matalin about the staff shakeups at the White House. And in the 8:30 half hour, he interviewed Jane Fonda about her memoirs, My Life So Far, which are being released in paperback.
In his interview with Mary Matalin, Smith wasted no time in getting to the bias. His first question to her was:
"What does it mean to the Republican faithful, these changes? What does it mean to these people who want to see the President succeed?"