If television news were covered the same way the media covered Iraq, Katie Couric would surely be out of a job by now. I can imagine the New York Times lede:
The news just keeps getting worse for the administration. After spending millions of dollars and manpower to sell a leadership transition, the situation continues to deteriorate. External critics are stepping up their attacks and cracks within the administration's iron-clad discipline are beginning to show as dissenters leak secrets, express discontent and demand an exit strategy to an eager press.
That, of course is not a lede you'll ever see in any American newspaper but it is dead-on accurate as far as the facts go. The "CBS Evening News" continues to sink in the ratings despite the fact that former "Today" star Katie Couric was brought in to save the show from oblivion. Here's the actual New York Times:
Years ago, my great-aunt Annie Goodman was named Mother of the Year in New Hampshire. She was the mother of 13 children, and despite the family's very limited financial resources, saw to it that 12 of them made it to college and went on to be productive members of society. That's the kind of story that, in the good old days, the CBS Evening News might have featured on Mothers Day.
But times have changed. A lot. So where did the Evening News send its video bouqets during the Mother's Day edition? To the draft-Al-Gore movement, and to growers of eco-friendly roses.
The May 11 edition of "The Early Show" ran a relatively fair piece on Rudy Giuliani and his stance on abortion. However, there were clear issues of a labeling double standards. In the set up story Jeff Greenfield noted Giuliani’s stance on social issues "moderate to liberal" despite the former mayor’s support of partial birth abortions.
During the course of Harry Smith’s interview with CBS News political analyst Nicolle Wallace, Smith used the term "religious conservatives" to describe the voters who express concern over Giuliani’s abortion rights support. Smith then described California, a state that Kerry defeated Bush by nine percent, as "more moderate" than Iowa and New Hampshire, two states that were decided by about one percent of the vote.
The CBSNews.com blog "Public Eye" reported today that a retired general who has appeared in anti-Bush TV ads has been dismissed as a CBS News military analyst due to his political activism. Yet the CBS executive who defended the move seemed to almost blame CBS's at-home audience for the personnel decision.
Maj. Gen. John Batiste (US Army, Retired) may still be quoted on CBS's newscasts, he just won't get paid for it.
"We might still go to the general to ask about things, but not as a consultant to CBS News," CBS News Senior Vice President for Standards Linda Mason was quoted by editor Brian Montopoli.
Montopoli quoted Mason's rationale for asking Batiste to leave (emphasis mine):
Anyone whose remote control wandered past an ABC, CBS, or NBC morning "news" show on May 5 probably found the "news" hounds barking enthusiastically over this supposed "news" scoop: Paris Hilton was sentenced to Los Angeles County jail for 45 days. She violated parole after repeated episodes of reckless driving. This was news of national concern.
The morning anchors interviewed legal experts and professional Hollywood celebrity-stalkers to lament this heiress being brought low, complete with bad jokes about the jail being a "one-star Hilton." But they all wondered out loud: Who is to blame for this human train wreck?
Paris, being the thoughtless egotist that she is, blamed her publicist for telling her she could drive to work. That’s baloney. You don’t assign the "help" to read your legal documents for you.
The three major networks covered news of British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s resignation with the left-wing "Bush’s poodle" line. On "Good Morning America," ABC’s David Wright demonstrated the most bias stating, "Bill Clinton’s sidekick became George Bush’s poodle, or so they see it here." On "Today" NBC’s Dawna Freisen noted, "he became, of course, America’s closest ally but that came at a price here at home. He was eventually derided here as America’s poodle."
The May 10 edition of "The Early Show" was no exception as CBS’s Sheila MacVicar stated: "But at home, Blair has been labeled Bush's poodle, at too willing ally who led his country into Iraq." In their generally negative story "The Early Show" relied on the expertise of Simon Hoggart of The Guardian, a left wing British publication and hardly an objective source.
Imagine for a moment that one of the leading Republican presidential candidates said that 10,000 people had been killed by the recent tornado that destroyed Greensburg, Kansas, Saturday.
Do you think this would have been easy fodder for the broadcast television news divisions that always seem fascinated with gaffes made by folks on the right?
If your answer is an unequivocal “Yes,” then why did ABC, CBS, and NBC completely ignore Sen. Barack Obama’s statement Tuesday wherein he accidentally exaggerated the death toll from the Greensburg tornado by 9,988?
While the liberal media tries to make over a Kansas tornado to resemble their perfect media bias storm over Hurricane Katrina, the floods in Missouri may be a more analogous comparison. But the CBS Evening News wasn't going to allow local residents to blame the federal government without a rebuttal -- if the president was Bill Clinton.
On Wednesday night's newscast, CBS reporter Cynthia Bowers reported that residents were upset the feds didn't shore up the levees, as they failed to do after "the historic flood of 1993, which killed 48 people and did nearly $20 billion worth of damage to nine waterlogged states." But that shouldn't be associated with Clinton, Bowers implied: "Actually, it's not the federal government's responsibility to maintain every levee. Most of the hundreds of levees along the Missouri and Mississippi River are built and kept up by the people who live next to them."
Back in 1993, CBS Evening News reporter Vicki Mabrey didn't use the words "Clinton" or "Democrats" when locals began complaining about the government response, but ended the story on a sad note: "But the government has no way of keeping towns from asking for federal assistance, just like there's no way to guarantee the Mississippi will never flood again."
The Katie Couric as “CBS Evening News” anchor experiment appears to be failing, and failing miserably.
As TV Week reported Tuesday (h/t TVNewser): “The news is not good for third-place ‘CBS Evening News With Katie Couric,’ which in the week of April 30 hit its lowest total viewership since at least 1987.”
According to TVNewser’s Brian Stelter, the “at least 1987” qualifier refers to Nielsen ratings not going back any further.
The news wasn’t any better for one of Couric’s competitors either:
With Rosie O’Donnell’s announced departure of "The View" other networks such as NBC and CBS are apparently interested in the very controversial comedienne. Broadcastingcable.com reports that Rosie may offer commentary on "The Early Show" in an effort to boost its third place ratings.
"Sources say O'Donnell will meet with CBS brass soon to discuss its offer, which could open the door to regular guest appearances on The Early Show. Her views have generated the type of buzz that could allow CBS to finally lift the perennial third-place program out of the morning-show cellar."
Last night, CBS "Evening News" and ABC "World News with Charles Gibson" hyped rising gas prices, saying that the national average price was "just two cents short of the record."
Too bad they were both wrong because they didn't factor in inflation. The national average on May 7 was actually 17 cents below the inflation adjusted record high price from March 1981: $3.22 per gallon.
Anthony Mason's CBS report also proved he needs a calculator and possibly a math tutor.
Mason interviewed Mike Gorgia of Staten Island who regularly tracks his area's gas prices for GasBuddy.com. Mason said Gorgia saves a whopping $500 a year by shopping around for his gasoline.
Hold on -- $500? That doesn't exactly sound like a representative example.
The average American uses 500 gallons of gas each year, according to the Energy Information Administration. So if Gorgia is an "average American" he must be saving a full dollar on every gallon of gasoline.
But when CBS and U.S. News & World Report’s Gloria Borger calls for a “moratorium on invoking the memory of Ronald Reagan” in a column about the recent Republican presidential debates held at a library named in his honor, this Gipper envy has clearly gotten way out of hand (emphasis added throughout):
Former CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer told Columbus Dispatch writer Tim Feran that the gossip was untrue that he was trashing Katie Couric in the press. "I was not the source for that story, period. I had nothing to do with it...and I don't know who did." Schieffer also took exception to the Bill Moyers theory that the national media were enablers to President Bush's runup to war in Iraq.
Q: In his recent PBS report about the run-up to the Iraq war, Bill Moyers said: "The press has yet to come to terms with its role in enabling the Bush administration to go to war on false pretenses." Do you agree?
A: I don't think we enabled them to go to war, although there's no question we should have asked harder questions. But I think the Democrats should have asked harder questions, the CIA should have asked harder questions, the people within the administration should have asked harder questions. Somewhere along the way, the decision to go into Iraq somehow became the fault of the press.
Now that Rosie O’Donnell has announced she’s leaving "The View," her left-wing rhetoric seems to have gotten even more extreme. This week, the liberal comedienne smeared U.S. troops by saying they only join the military because they’re mostly uneducated and poor. (This isn’t true, but why bring facts into the debate?)
This week, "Good Morning America’s" weatherman (and liberal environmentalist) Sam Champion touted the left-wing advocacy of actor Robert Redford. Oddly, he tried to persuade GMA viewers that Redford’s positions were somehow new.
One-third of Americans say
they have a negative view of Katie Couric, her personal popularity
lagging behind rivals Charles Gibson and Brian Williams just as her
evening news program trails in the ratings.
A “promising” new drug could save lives of people fighting osteoporosis, but neither ABC “World News with Charles Gibson,” nor CBS “Evening News” even mentioned the drug’s manufacturer - Novartis Pharmaceuticals (NYSE: NVS) - in May 2 broadcasts.
Zoledronic acid “may be just what the doctor ordered,” according to Katie Couric. The broadcasts cited a new study that found a 70-percent decline in spine fractures and a 41-percent decline in hip fractures among the patients studied.
It's commencement speech time again at colleges and universities across America. Goshen College is one of the few to have already graduated its class of 2007, and CBS producer Greg Kandra took notice. Kandra plugged a speech by the Rev. Joy Carroll Wallis* at Goshen College:
In the days to come, we'll be reading a lot of snippets from
commencement speeches. 'Tis the season. Some will be hilarious. Some
dreadful. A few will actually say something that make you put down your
morning coffee and think. This speech is one of those.
Print it. Save it. Share it. It's worth it.
So I'm following Kandra's advice. I printed it (should I buy a tree-offset too?) and I'm sharing it with you. Unfortunately it contains the usual liberal platitudes you hear in a college commencement speech. Here's a sample:
As the stock market has continued to regularly make new highs in 2007, how many times have you heard or read a media report carping about how the rich are getting richer?
Quite a bit, right?
If you feel bombarded with such inanities, consider that a completely unaudited LexisNexis search of major American media outlets identified 234 reports which included phrases like “rich get richer,” “income inequality,” “wealth disparity,” etc., since January 1.
Add it all up, and that’s almost two a day.
A fine example of this nauseating mantra was demonstrated by CBS’s Charles Osgood on “Sunday Morning” April 15:
On April 25, 2007 the Dow soared to another record close, this time above 13,000. As Newsbusters reported here, here and here, the networks did anything but cheer. In fact, network broadcast reporting of the Dow's recovery since 2003 has been marked by pessimism.
Katie Couric introduced the April 25, 2007 CBS "Evening News" report with this dismal statement:
"Even as investors are making money in the market, Anthony Mason reports there are concerns tonight about the rest of the U.S. economy."
Mason made good on Couric's tease, with a class warfare remark that "Wall Street and Main Street appear to be headed in different directions" because of housing and gas prices.
CBS’s Bob Schieffer offered commentary on Senator and presidential candidate Joe Biden, but one would think he was describing former President Bill Clinton. On the May 2 edition of "The Early Show" host Harry Smith and Schieffer were ironically discussing a recent gaffe by Senator Biden, when Schieffer stated the Delaware Senator "has a habit of making these boners." Presumably Schieffer meant to say "blunders." For the record, Senator Biden’s gaffe was video of him telling a prospective voter that Democrats were "going to shove [the president’s veto] down his throat."
In the wake of NBC's and MSNBC's embarrassment over the firing of Don Imus for his racial insensitivity to black women on the Rutgers basketball team, NBC News promoted Lyne Pitts, a member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), to be vice president of NBC News. Mrs. Pitts, the wife of CBS correspondent Byron Pitts, has ascended rapidly since she arrived to produce the Weekend Today programs in February 2006.
It's not hard to imagine this has a lot to do with assuaging the roiling internal rage over Imus that boiled over in that meeting NBC News President Steve Capus had with Al Roker and the gang before Imus was canned. Don't miss this sentence in her job description: "She also serves as the division's point person on diversity issues."
In an April 30 "Public Eye" entry, CBS ombudsblogger Brian Montopoli wrote about CBS's quandary over CIA director George Tenet has a faulty memory regarding an exchange with Richard Perle that supposedly happened the day after 9/11 at the White House. The problem, Perle was stuck in France. He returned to the country on Sept. 15, 2001. So what to do with Web site transcripts of the April 29 "60 Minutes" segment?
Harry Smith, who has a habit of double standards when conducting interviews, hammered returning White House press secretary Tony Snow on April 30's edition of The Early Show. After discussing Snow’s cancer treatment, Smith said "let’s go to work." Snow stated what many believe, that incorporated timetables are a stunt. An astonished Harry Smith interrupted and harshly inquired: "So the White House regards this, their, their insistence on troop withdrawals as a stunt?"
Snow, who previously accused Harry Smith of sounding like a partisan, immediately backpedaled, but pointed out that the current bill is "something [the Democrats] knew was never going to get passed." After Snow mentioned that Democrats "exhausted nearly three months doing this," Smith retorted "with the support of the American people by the way." Although it is true that, according to CBS’s own poll, 64 percent of Americans do support a timetable for withdrawal, they also found when they asked if Congress should allow continued troop funding without a timetable if it comes to that, 56 percent said yes. Harry never mentioned that polling result.
The Bush administration: a bigger threat to national security than a foreign spy. That was Tom Brokaw's implicit assumption in his interview with former CIA Director George Tenet on this morning's "Today." Along the way, Brokaw accused former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld of running a "rogue" intelligence operation.
BROKAW: In the opening passage you describe conversations in the Clinton administration between the Palestinians and the Israelis attempting to get some sort of a new peace arrangement. But the Israelis were demanding the release of Jonathan Pollard, a United States military intelligence analyst who had been selling them secrets, who's in jail for life. You said if you release Jonathan Pollard, I'll resign from the CIA. And yet when you were the head of the CIA, you had Condi Rice ignoring your warnings, Vice-President Cheney exaggerating the threats repeatedly, Don Rumsfeld in the Pentagon running what effectively was a rogue CIA, his own intelligence operation, and you didn't threaten to resign then.
However, one of Tenet’s former employees, Michael Scheuer, published an op-ed (h/t Captain Ed) in the Washington Post Sunday cautioning that “the former director of central intelligence is out to absolve himself of the failings of 9/11 and Iraq.”
As a result, in Scheuer's view, “we shouldn't buy his attempts to let himself off the hook.”
The former head of the CIA’s bin Laden unit, who I interviewed last September, wasn’t shy with his criticisms of his former boss, who apparently has quite a history of blaming others for his own failures (emphasis added throughout):
Although a quick search of the Web draws up the speech, available here (with video and audio links), rare is the online news service that links to President Bush's remarks on May 1, 2003, aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.
Since the media don't reprint excerpts of the speech nor give readers the links to the original source material, here are some comments from May 1, 2003, that point to President Bush warning Americans of an ongoing struggle to establish Iraqi democracy and counter the threat of terrorism (portions in bold are my emphasis):
Yet a review of the questions to Craig betrays Couric's leanings towards Helmke's pro-gun control position as well as some ignorance of the modern history of gun control (see her 10th question, for example).
Below are the questions to Craig with my comments/snark included in italics. Portions in bold are my emphasis:
We expect our political pundits to be masters of campaign history, but that isn't always the case. On The Early Show on CBS this morning, newly arrived political correspondent/analyst Jeff Greenfield ended his story on the Democratic debate by telling co-host Harry Smith, "this was, by far, the earliest presidential debate in the history of our political system. You want to know how early? A child conceived last night would be a month old before the people of South Carolina got to vote in their primary."
You don't have to know ancient history to know Greenfield's wrong. In the last election cycle, Democrats held a very early debate in South Carolina just like this one -- on Saturday, May 3, about a week after this one on the calendar. Greenfield analyzed it for CNN on the May 5, 2003 American Morning: