"We should have went to the mob for a loan," said Bronx homeowner Ana Rosado on CNN's March 27 "American Morning."
Her statement, extreme as it was, rivaled network reporting in March about subprime loans and foreclosures.
Reporters called the situation a “meltdown,” an “epidemic” and a “crisis” that could potentially lead to recession, and blamed lenders while almost entirely ignoring personal responsibility for borrowers. Instead, media accounts portrayed borrowers as victims, many of whom seemed shocked when their adjustable-rate mortgages adjusted upward.
While lenders were painted as the bad guys, they were rarely allowed to give any perspective. The networks, ABC, CBS and NBC, have done at least 26 stories on subprime loans just in the month of March, but only six of those included a lender’s voice. That meant an overwhelming 77 percent of stories didn’t even try to explain the lenders’ position.
From the moment she participated in an anti-war march in NYC at the time of the 2004 GOP convention, there's been little doubt as to where Meredith Vieira stands on Iraq. Even so, it was something of a shock to hear the "Today" co-host express her opposition in the first person plural this morning.
Discussing the war with Sen. John McCain [R-AZ] at about 7:05 AM ET this morning, she said:
"Six out of ten Americans don't agree [with you]. They want a pull-out from Iraq. So what are we missing? When you say we are succeeding, based on what?"
"We?" Give Meredith credit for candor; but one more reason for NBC to stop pretending it doesn't lean left.
There’s been no shortage of flattering network stories about Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. “You are the equivalent of a rock star in politics,” NBC Today co-host Meredith Vieira told Obama in October. “You can see it in the crowds. The thrill, the hope. How they surge toward him. You’re looking at an American political phenomenon,” ABC’s Terry Moran gushed on Nightline a few weeks later.
“Barack Obama, with his fairy tale family, has personal charisma to spare,” ABC’s Claire Shipman enthused in January. “He does draw on something deeply good about this country. And we will have to see whether he can really deliver,” MSNBC’s Chris Matthews announced on Hardball in February.
This weekend, the Chicago Tribune published a long investigative story about Obama’s youth, discovering that the story of his own life that Obama presented in his memoir is sometimes at odds with the facts. “Several of his oft-recited stories may not have happened in the way he has recounted them,” the Tribune’s Kirsten Scharnberg and Kim Barker reported in Sunday’s article, “The not-so-simple story of Barack Obama’s youth.”
After grilling White House spokesman Tony Snow, the March 22 edition of CBS’s "The Early Show," followed with a fawning story on former Vice President Al Gore and his testimony on Capitol Hill. Anchor Russ Mitchell kicked it off calling Gore "a big celebrity with a message about global warming."
Correspondent Gloria Borger exclaimed the former vice president "looked like a winner." CBS then played a sound bite of Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) offering praise to Mr. Gore calling him "a role model for us all." After briefly playing a clip of Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX) grilling Al Gore, Borger called him a "professor" and reminding the audience that "he could still run for president." The transcript is below.
UPDATES added at end of post with video link (11:08 EDT) and full transcript (12:17 EDT) as recorded by MRC/NB's Justin McCarthy.
Who needs Chuck Schumer, so long as you have Harry Smith [file photo]? Dems might well be asking themselves that this morning, after the Early Show host went after Tony Snow on the attorney firings in a manner that might have made the senior senator from New York look statesmanlike in contrast.
Things got so bad that at one point, the eminently affable Snow accused Smith of badgering him, and later suggested the CBS anchor was acting like a partisan, not a reporter. Things ended on the worst possible note, as Smith accused Snow of hiding the truth from him. See transcript below, which while complete can't convey the rancor of Smith's tone or his manifestly angry body language.
HARRY SMITH: The man out in front answering questions from the press
about this is White House spokesman Tony Snow. He's with us this
morning. Good morning, sir.
Perhaps channeling her youthful experience as a cheerleader, CBS's Katie Couric pumped her rhetorical pom poms for Al Gore in a "Couric & Co." blog today.
Below you can see how she lauded his "triumphant" return to Congress on her "Couric & Co." blog at CBSNews.com, all the while insisting "scientific consensus" is on Gore's side and that Congress should "act boldly" on the issue.
“Sixty bucks! That’s ridiculous,” said one woman filling up her gas tank, on ABC’s “World News with Charles Gibson” March 12.
Consumer complaints and frequent mentions of "the most expensive gasoline" in the country are used by the media to hype rising gas prices. And what state has the most expensive gasoline? California.
“Let me show you what is the most expensive gasoline location in the country. A gallon of unleaded in California right now going for $3.08 a gallon,” said NBC reporter Tom Costello during the March 12 “Nightly News.”
Costello's report, like many others on NBC, CBS and ABC left out the explanation for exorbitant prices at California pumps: higher taxes and excessive environmental regulation.
"The Early Show" continued its double standard treatment of Democrats and Republicans. "Capitol Bob" Schieffer added some analysis to the Alberto Gonzales situation. On the March 20 edition, Schieffer editorialized that Gonzales, who is not under any criminal investigation, "may not be a dead man walking right now, but he’s certainly a wounded man limping" and "there’s (sic) some very serious questions here to be answered."
In 1993, however, Schieffer interviewed then Democratic Congressman Dan Rostenkowski, who was under criminal investigation at the time, and later convicted. Schieffer only raised the concern in passing at the end of a long interview.
First, Congress should relent and allow these sessions to take place in private. Sure, I would love to see Rove grilled in public— who wouldn’t? I mean, watching Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, question Rove could be a pay-per-view event in many parts of the country. A long, savory public hearing would be good for my career, I suspect, and sure would beat talking more about the paternity hearing for Anna Nicole Smith’s baby. But I am willing to get behind private sessions if it gives the President a measure of comfort about releasing his subordinates to talk candidly about who did what to whom and why when it came to firing those eight federal prosecutors. So, Point One of my Plan is: Private Hearings.
READ UPDATE AT FOOT: Bill O'Reilly and guests discuss how "conservative bloggers" impacted the story.
To mark yesterday's fourth-anniversary of the war in Iraq, CBS News requested an interview with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad. The ambassador took time from a hectic war-time schedule to speak from Baghdad with Katie Couric, and in the course of the interview provided a first-hand view of how the new surge strategy is working.
But when last night's Evening News aired, lo and behold, the interview never ran. It was instead relegated to an obscure corner of Katie's online blog. CBS apparently determined that Ambassador Khalilzad's comments weren't "newsworthy."
Katie & Co. did find time for Bob Woodward [who to my knowledge has never been to Iraq], to opine that the violence in Iraq wouldn't persuade President Bush to change course.
Looks like "Couric & Co." are looking for summer interns for CBS's "Springboard" program. And college journalism students are in luck, they can write up an original story on global warming to get the job:
Here is how it works. First, create an original story based on one of three topics: climate change; the American Spirit; or Iraq war veterans. These are issues that have all received extensive coverage on the CBS Evening News and at CBSNews.com – but we want to hear YOUR take.
But wait, there's more. The "best submissions will be posted online." I'm curious just how balanced those "best submissions" will be. I for one am relishing the possibility of MRC summer interns dissecting the bias of CBS summer interns. [continued...]
CBS took the occasion of the four year anniversary for Operation Iraqi Freedom to report on nearly everything negative related to the war's outcome and reconstruction.
Despite word from the troops that the media do not report the whole picture, reporter Allen Pizzey accentuated the negatives.
On the March 19 edition of "The Early Show," Pizzey insisted that "Iraqis have little to be thankful for." He briefly mentioned that an Iraqi general is declaring some success, but quickly countered with reports of recent attacks. With all of the negative coverage, Allen Pizzey did not bother to mention reports that insurgent attacks dropped 80 percent since President Bush announced the surge. The transcript is below.
After his comments this morning, if Don Imus ever gets invited to a party on the terrace of Katie Couric's midtown apartment overlooking Central Park, he would be well advised not to get too close to the ledge.
Chatting with Imus on MSNBC at 8:45 ET this morning about the travails of the CBS Evening News and the advent of Rick Kaplan as its executive producer, media maven Howard Kurtz observed: "I don't know if this is attributable to Rick, but it seems to me that in the last week the show has a little bit of a harder edge, a little bit of a faster pace."
That set Imus off on an anti-Couric tirade: "It's unwatchable. And it's unwatchable because she's unwatchable. I'm sure she's a nice lady, but I mean . . ."
CBS continues to pound away the US attorney firings story. On the March 16th edition of "The Early Show," reporter Bill Plante lead his story stating "the hole just keeps getting deeper." Plante then played a sound bite from Democratic hyper partisan Senators Chuck Schumer at Patrick Leahy. After playing a few clips of White House staffers Karl Rove and Tony Snow, they hyped Republicans calling for their resignation, touting Senator Gordon Smith and playing a sound bite of Representative Dana Rohrabacher implying Gonzales should go.
Anchor Harry Smith sought some expert opinion from Republican strategist Ed Rollins and Democratic strategist Mike Feldman. Fair and balanced debate? Not from what Mr. Rollins said from the start.
HARRY SMITH: Ed, let me start with you. Alberto Gonzales, two questions, should he stay or should he go?
Before I started as NewsBusters managing editor, I finished up a study of the media's bias when it comes to reporting on prescription drugs. The study was released on March 14.
After the page break are some findings from the executive summary. Here's a link to the PDF version of the study.
Even when one new drug was hailed as a “major advance in combating
breast cancer” and a “major medical breakthrough,” its manufacturer was
given only a passing mention on one network. BMI looked at 132 stories
on prescription or over-the-counter drugs from the ABC, CBS, and NBC
evening newscasts between January 1 and Sept. 30, 2006.
How many networks does it take to change a lightbulb? Two.
CBS "Evening News" and ABC "World News with Charles Gibson" both ran segments on a coalition supporting a ban on incandescent light bulbs in order to save money and save the planet through decreased energy consumption.
“Brian Castelli is part of a growing coalition that wants to ban your standard bulb and replace it with compact fluorescents (CFLs). Advocates say it’ll cut greenhouse gases, save electricity and money,” said CBS technology correspondent Daniel Sieberg.
Both networks left out the anti-regulation perspective that if compact fluorescent bulbs are really more efficient and will save consumers money in the long run there is no need for a mandate from the government.
CBS legal analyst Andrew Cohen seems to indirectly respond to my March 14 blog post with a March 15 salvo over at CBS's "Couric & Co." blog. [Scroll below for a NYT story from March 1993 that noted that it was unusual for the AG to be involved in the holdover resignation process]
Some cyber folks, trying to attack the credibility of eminent
professors Stanley Katz and Stanley Kutler, took the time to research
their campaign contributions. I do not know, and don’t necessarily
care, where the two professors I interviewed choose to spend their
Cohen may not care what their political leanings are, but the point is that he was citing these "eminent professors" to give an air of scholarly detachment to a decidedly antagonistic view of the attorney general. As such, it's legitimate to see if those sources are relatively non-partisan scholars dedicated solely to integrity and excellence in the legal profession, or if their political leanings might color their analysis. [continued...]
CBS finally picked up the Clinton administration’s record of firing 93 federal prosecutors, but they still rushed to Clinton’s defense with false assertions. On the March 15 edition of "The Early Show," reporter Bill Plante sought to make this distinction between the Bush and Clinton firings.
"Mr. Bush isn't the first president to fire US attorneys and replace them with his own appointments. At the beginning of his first term, President Clinton cleaned house, ousting all 93 US attorneys. Not unusual, they serve at the pleasure of the president. The difference this time, the charge that politics played a role in their dismissal."
"A new drug that proved to be so effective so quickly, the approval process was sped up," lauded CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric on March 13.
Couric and other reporters had reason to praise the newly FDA-approved drug Tykerb. The drug is approved for treatment of a specific kind of breast cancer, called HER-2 positive, and is showing tremendous promise.
Cancer patient Marsha Brekke told ABC "World News with Charles Gibson" that the drug was her last chance. Brekke has been cancer free for more than a year.
But what all three networks, ABC, CBS and NBC, left out of the evening newscasts on March 13 was any mention of the company that developed this breakthrough drug.
Last night, ABC "World News with Charles Gibson," and CBS "Evening News" both blamed increased foreclosures on lending companies and mentioned tightened regulation instead of discussing the issue of personal choice. NBC "Nightly News" was the only network to bring individual choice into the story on March 13.
"Mortgage companies were lending to people with questionable credit," said ABC's David Muir.
But it is not as if lending companies run around just handing out money to bad credit risks, people actually have to apply for home loans because they want to buy a home. Both ABC and CBS missed that.
Instead Muir's "World News" report pitied one couple "fighting to hold on."
On the March 14 edition of "Imus in the Morning" guest and "60 Minutes" commentator Andy Rooney discussed the possibility of a draft with Don Imus. In that exchange Rooney, like Senator Kerry and Congressman Rangel, implied that those who volunteer to serve do so out of desperation rather than patriotism.
DON IMUS: Tell me about your thoughts on re-instituting the draft.
ANDY ROONEY: Well, I think a draft produces a better army than the one we would have with all volunteers. Because I think you get average Americans if you, if you have a draft. And if it’s an all volunteer army, you get people who join up because of some problem in their own lives. They don’t have anything else to do, they don’t have a job, or they can’t find what they want to do, so they join the Army. And it doesn’t produce the best army.
Newsbusters reported several times that the mainstream media is pounding the Bush administration for firing eight US attorneys, but ignored the Clinton administration firing 93 US attorneys early in its term. CBS’s Harry Smith was no exception, but also of note was his interview style of partisan Democrat Joe Wilson versus Republican Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
Tim Graham reported that after the "Scooter" Libby verdict, Smith gave a very soft interview to Ambassador Joe Wilson. One week later, on the March 14 edition of "The Early Show," Smith put Attorney General Gonzales in the hot seat interrupting the attorney general several times, and coming close to echoing Democratic talking points. The CBS anchor seemed concerned about the "perception" the attorneys were fired for political reasons. He was also outraged that Carol Lam, who prosecuted "Duke" Cunningham, was among those eight, as if one case guarantees job security. The transcript is below.
...among other format changes under the new Rick Kaplan era.
PublicEye editor Brian Montopoli passed along the usual talking points senior management in broadcast news outlets always give when they are trying to save a sinking ship. You know the drill. "This time, more hard news. We swear!"
Unfortunately Montopoli left out some hard news in his own March 12 blog post:
NewsBusters previously reported that the AP, NBC's "Today," and ABC's "Good Morning America" reported as a curiosity some Mayan priests who complain that President Bush brought evil spirits with him to Guatemala.
Well, CBS's Peter Maer didn't want to be left out apparently. He wrote up a little something at "Couric & Co.," Katie Couric's e-sandbox on CBS's Web site.
Maer's account, like the others mentioned, seems to leave out two key facts for their readers.
Over at TVNewser, Brian Stelter has posted an MP3 of a song that is apparently being played today on WPLJ in New York City, ridiculing the poor ratings performance of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, with lyrics offering several suggestions for Ms. Couric and her producers. Safe to say it's a bit on the cruel side, especially the line about "if you want big success....find Dan Rather's home address."
Here’s a link to the audio file, and what follows is my transcription of the song’s lyrics (although you need to hear the tune to get the full effect):
As noted Thursday morning on NewsBusters, CBS News has hired Rick Kaplan, a former Executive Producer of ABC's World News Tonight and Nightline who later ran both CNN and MSNBC, to serve as Executive Producer of the ratings-challenged CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.
As documented in a Thursday MRC CyberAlert posting reprinted here, Kaplan has had a long record of friendly relations with former President Bill Clinton, advising Clinton on how to respond to the Gennifer Flowers scandal in 1992 and blocking anti-Clinton stories from appearing on Nightline. Kaplan has also been hostile to conservatives and once even declared that disgraced CBS anchor Dan Rather's "legacy" was "the gold standard journalists today have struggled to live up to."
My headings over excerpts, see below, from a 1998 Vanity Fair magazine profile of Kaplan: "Clinton Cries on Kaplan's Shoulder/Kaplan Hired Hillary," "Helped Clinton Play Media to Overcome Flowers," "Donaldson Says Kaplan's Pro-Clinton Bias Showed" and "Kaplan Called Hillary the Night Foster Died."
NBC had some "horror stories" to share with its audience on March 7, according to "Nightly News" anchor Campbell Brown. Brown introduced the report by Lisa Myers that told the story of Wesley Wannemacher, a man who's $3,200 credit card debt ballooned to $10,700 after interest and penalties.
Wannemacher's plight also featured prominently in similar segments on ABC "World News with Charles Gibson" and CBS "Evening News" for the same day. [continued after jump]
On CBS's The Early Show, anchor Harry Smith tossed softballs at Joe Wilson on Wednesday about how he and his wife greeted the Libby verdict, what the trial showed, whether Libby was protecting Vice President Cheney, and what the Wilsons' civil suit will accomplish. He asked no questions about Wilson lying about his wife lobbying for his Niger trip, or anything else Wilson's critics would want asked. Anchor Hannah Storm asked Bob Schieffer about how much the verdict will help Democrats, and they tied it to Hurricane Katrina and the Walter Reed scandal. "This really is sort of Christmas in February for Democrats," said Schieffer, even though the verdict arrived on March 6.
The Wilson interview was soft as a baby's bottom all the way through:
Like the Tuesday evening shows, Wednesday’s network morning shows leaned heavily on the Democratic narrative toward the Scooter Libby convictions, highlighting the high dudgeon against the Bush administration by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, Joe Wilson, and former reporter/juror Denis Collins, while ignoring any angle that would balance the story with any critique of Fitzgerald, the Wilsons, or State Department official Richard Armitage, who withheld the fact that he leaked to Robert Novak, which started the whole scandal train.
Reporters made no reference to how Fitzgerald, knowing Armitage was the leaker, could have cut his investigation short; or how the Wilsons, far from victims, have made two book deals and a movie deal, and how Joe Wilson shamelessly campaigned for a job with President-to-be John Kerry; or how the trial made the media look bad, since the memories of reporters were as bad or worse than Libby’s memory. Here’s how the three networks summed it all up: