South Park's resident juvenile coffee addict would find little solace in today's "Early Show" where CBS's Rene Syler trumpeted a "shocking" report that found decaf coffee contains <gasp> caffeine.
Well, duh. Decaffeination removes most, not all the caffeine that naturally occurs in a drink such as coffee. And medical experts have known it for years. But that didn't stop Syler and correspondent Randall Pinkston from hyping the University of Florida study or to play up caffeine's health risks.
“Thousands of people do drink decaf because of health issues,” for medical reasons “but if you drink decaffeinated coffee because you think you’re eliminating” the stimulant, “think again,” cautioned Pinkston, pointing to a recently published study from the University of Florida.
A phalanx of Democrats, led by Hillary Clinton, claims the Bush administration is to blame for the N. Korean nuclear test. John McCain responds, pointing out that it was the Clinton administration's failed "agreed framework" that let Kim Jong Il merrily go about his bomb-and-missile-making ways.
So how does Hannah Storm of CBS' Early Show frame the state of play?
"Sen. John Kerry said that you must be trying to burnish your credentials for the nomination process, he's referring of course to your presidential aspirations. I mean, what do you say to those who say that you're [her voice breaking into a horrifed squeak] politicizing this issue?"
It takes a lot of effort to miss 810,000 new jobs. The Labor Department managed it, but at least they corrected the problem. The networks have over-reported job losses and now this huge piece of good news got lost in the shuffle.
The October 8 Washington Post highlighted the incredible revision. “Unemployment is down to 4.6 percent, the lowest in five years, the Labor Department reported, adding with some embarrassment that it had suddenly discovered an estimated 810,000 net new jobs that it had somehow overlooked in the year ended in March,” wrote Steven Pearlstein.
TVNewser notes "Dan Rather Reports will still be coming soon to Mark Cuban's HDNet. Just not as soon," Ed Bark reports. The program was to launch in October. But in an e-mail, Cuban now says: "We are moving Dan back to after the elections so there won't be as much going on." Perhaps it's because the last weeks of an election season, he looks a little like Captain Ahab, "reckless, arrogant, and ideologically blind in his pursuit of Moby Bush."
At the CBS Public Eye site, Vaughn Ververs reported that a CBS employee (a tape archivist they claim somehow doesn't count as a news gatherer, just a tape gatherer) sent a nasty Foley-related note to the RNC:
Harry Smith continued to pounce on the Foley scandal on this morning’s "Early Show." Smith talked with former Secretary of State James Baker in the 7:00 half hour, and immediately focused on the Foley e-mail scandal and whether Speaker Hastert ought to resign his position over it. Unlike Bay Buchanan on Thursday’s "Early Show," Baker disputed that Hastert should be turned into a sacrificial lamb by Republicans, and refuted Smith's assertions that if Hastert would just resign, that the story would go away.
Smith began by asking Baker what he would do if he were in charge to help Republicans get passed the Foley scandal:
"First off, you know, you were known, one of your nicknames along the line was 'The Velvet Hammer.' You had a lot of responsibility for cleaning up messes from time to time. If you were in charge right now, what would you do?"
What did Speaker Hastert know about former Congressman Foley’s lurid communications with a former page, and when did he know it? This is an open question that will be resolved through investigations by the House Ethics Committee and the FBI. Yet before all the facts are known, "The Early Show" continued to clamor for Hastert’s resignation. The "Early Show" has raised the subject of Speaker Hastert resigning in at least two stories in each of the last four days. On Thursday’s program, Hannah Storm spoke with CBS’s idea of a balanced panel-- a Republican and a Democrat who agree that Hastert should resign his position.
In the 7:00 half hour of today’s program, Hannah Storm spoke with Republican strategist Bay Buchanan and Democratic strategist Kiki McLean. Storm focused her first questions to each of her guests on whether Hastert should resign:
Wednesday’s ‘Early Show" continued to hype the Mark Foley scandal. In a segment with Bob Schieffer, called "Capitol Bob," co-host Julie Chen wondered if Speaker Hastert should resign his position over the scandal, while Schieffer cited conservative sources such as "The Washington Times" to emphasize the trouble Hastert is in and conveyed to viewers his conviction that the Mark Foley scandal will cost the Republicans control of the House of Representatives.
"If I were a betting man, I would now bet that the Republicans are going to lose the House. Not by very much. But I think this may be just the thing to give the Democrats control of the House. This is really serious business for the Republicans right now."
All three broadcast networks last night reported on the Dow record high, pointing to falling oil prices as a reason for the latest market rally.
But the market's been heading on an upward trend for years, throughout climbing oil prices and the media's persistent pessimism on the economy.
Of the three networks, I found CBS had the most negatively-slanted coverage, and NONE of the big three gave any thought to the Bush tax cuts being a catalyst for economic growth.
For my full story, check out the MRC's BusinessandMedia.org.
Here's an excerpt:
While CBS’s Anthony Mason offered qualified praise for the market’s recent rally, he sowed seeds of doubt about the market’s strength. Mason highlighted a retiree who “doesn’t trust this new rally” and then warned that “some Wall Street analysts see another bubble in the economy” with real estate.
Network morning shows stayed on the Mark Foley scandal on Tuesday. ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN all harped on the "conservative" Washington Times editorial calling for Speaker Dennis Hastert to resign. (The Times is conservative, but no one expects the networks to describe the liberal newspapers -- or themselves -- with an ideological label.) ABC's Brian Ross came on strong, suggesting the Republican problem was "one of hypocrisy, talking tough about going after pedophiles on the Internet but not doing much about it when it comes to one of their own." CBS's Hannah Storm wondered if the scandal would "take down the Republican leadership in the House." NBC's Tim Russert used a rare P-word quoting a panicked Republican: "If there's a perception that we overlooked perversion in order to hold on to power we are finished." And CNN brought on a braying Paul Begala and found Democrats were "particularly enjoying the fact" that House campaign chairman Thomas Reynolds was ensnared in the controversy.
In the wake of Rep. Mark Foley's sudden resignation over ABC finding his sexually charged electronic messages to teenage male House pages, Monday's broadcast network morning shows all began with Foley, and the networks presented doom-laden scenarios of a crumbling Republican majority and some demands for Speaker Dennis Hastert and other Republican House leaders to resign. "But this is more than just one man's downfall," insisted Matt Lauer on NBC. "It could be a major blow to the Republican Party, desperately trying to hold on to control of Congress in the coming midterm elections." ABC's Robin Roberts wondered, "this morning, newly revealed e-mails, the denials, dealings of a Congress in chaos. Could the Foley scandal cost the Republicans the House? "
ABC's Chris Cuomo and CBS's Julie Chen each pushed Tony Snow to suggest Hastert and others should resign. Chen also asked if Republican leaders should be questioned "under oath." ABC's George Stephanopoulos dramatically called the scandal "a Category Three hurricane and it's picking up steam." When CNN's Soledad O'Brien then tried to suggest she was "certainly not rushing for anybody's resignation," Snow protested: "Sure you are." None made historical comparisons with Democrats caught in sexual relationships with House pages or other teenagers.
Making his 16th appearance of the year on the "Early Show" on Monday, Brookings Institution senior fellow Michael O’Hanlon promoted his new book, "Hard Power: The New Politics of National Security," criticized Democrats for not having a National Security plan, and, unlike his 15 previous appearances, was labeled a Democrat. Yet, regardless of O’Hanlon’s criticisms of the Democrats, or observations of what Republicans are doing well, this is yet another example of the "Early Show" allowing a Democrat to offer election year advice to the Democratic party with no balance on the other side.
Storm began by inquiring about accusations made by Bob Woodward in his book, but soon changed the subject to the Democrats lack of a national security plan, while mentioning O’Hanlon’s party affiliation:
Being a regular Fox News Watch viewer, there was nothing surprising, tuning into last evening's discussion of the Clinton-Chris Wallace dust-up, in hearing lefty panelist Neal Gabler take his employer and colleagues to task.
Among his moves, Gabler:
Claimed "this network's reputation [presumably as right-leaning] precedes it."
Asserted that Chris Wallace "did not frame the question properly. He asked 'why didn't you do more?' Which is like asking 'will you stop beating your wife?'"
Defended Wallace only at the expense of other Fox colleagues: "He is not a Hannity, he's not an O'Reilly he's not a Brit Hume, Cavuto, Gibson." Hume of course is not merely an on-air personality but also the powerful FNC managing editor.
Spurned host Eric Burns' entreaty to add someone from another network to his list of partisan TV personalities.
Later, amiable liberal Jane Hall chimed in - after smilingly mentioning that she was glad she had recently re-signed with FNC [and thus presumably was not vulerable to recriminations]. Claimed Jane: "this network's commentary beat up on him, beat up on Clinton, and did not beat up on Bush."
The latest "Media Myth" study from the MRC's Business & Media Institute is out. BMI deputy editor Amy Menefee and researcher Julia Seymour found that the media were quick to hype rising gas prices but slow to recognize the ground-rocketing they've been taking lately.
In 35 straight business days of falling gas prices, evening news shows emphasized “high” or “rising” gas prices more often than falling prices.
In half the stories where journalists mentioned falling gas prices, they undermined the news with warnings of future price increases.
It took NBC three weeks to report falling prices on the "Nightly News." By that time, the average price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline had fallen 24 cents.
On CBS's racially-segregated "Survivor" reality show Thursday night, an Asian man named "Cao Boi" (pronounced Cowboy) went on a rant against the Iraq war and insisted American teenagers are going to be drafted and sent to Iraq en masse -- unless you're privileged, "unless you're Mr. Bush children." He was telling a story about a conversation he had at a restaurant:
“This old man he said, 'I come to United States, I’m so lonely, all my friends are in Vietnam.' He’s like fifty-something. And he just missed the old days. 'But I come to United States for my children’s future.' I go, ‘how old are your children?’ 'Fifteen and sixteen.' HA HA HA HA! Fifteen and sixteen! They trick you. They trick you. He go ‘what’? Fifteen and sixteen, you think in a couple of more years they’ll be in Iraq? ‘I’m sorry. For what?’ You’re Vietnamese. You should know better about war. You should know all about war.”
Thursday's CBS Evening News pondered the new technology used by political campaigns at YouTube, but national political correspondent Gloria Borger dwelled on the videos embarrassing to Republicans -- Sen. George Allen's "Macaca" remarks, a Florida House candidate's blacks-can't-swim comment, and Sen. Conrad Burns snoozing. (There was fleeting attention on the George W. Bush-Joe Lieberman "kiss" and its clearly Bush-loathing flavor.)
At least when CBS's The Early Show had Bill Plante study the phenomenon on Tuesday morning, he balanced Allen with a Democrat, Sen. Joe Biden joking about needing an Indian accent to walk into a 7-Eleven. Borger underlined Allen as an idiot: "Virginia Senator George Allen has become a poster child for what can go wrong when a candidate gets caught saying something stupid...the controversy paved the way for new charges this week that Allen has a racist past."
Last night all three network newscasts did story's on a proposed ban on trans fats in New York City restaurants. Katie Couric practically made out trans fat to be a lethal lipid stalking the stainless steel kitchens of the Big Apple's finest eateries
“New York, New York is getting ready to lead the nation in evicting a killer from restaurants,” teased Katie Couric at the intro to the “Evening News.”
Yet oddly enough, it was her correspondent's report that was the most balanced of the three networks, as correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi reported the price tag accompanying the ban for any restaurants holding on to offending cooking oils: $2,000 per violation.
The Dow Jones had its second-best closing average ever and
consumer confidence shot up, but CBS and NBC undercut the good news with
speculation on hurricanes and “echoes” of corporate scandals.
“With gas prices dropping by the day, Americans are suddenly
feeling a whole lot more confident” about the economy, CBS anchor Katie Couric
noted during the September 26 broadcast, before introducing an Anthony Mason
story on the dropping price of natural gas.
Even so, Mason warned viewers, “don’t count your savings
just yet. Even though the forecast is for a milder energy bill this winter,
your meter will still be at the mercy of weather and world events.” Using the
backdrop of video clips of hurricane devastation and war, Mason then posited
that “another Katrina whipping through the Gulf or an escalation of tensions”
could send crude oil and natural gas prices up again.
"Good morning, this is Harry Smith reporting from London today, June 10th, 1940. With Luftwaffe pilots now brazenly carrying out daylight bombing raids on London, it's clear that the war against Nazism is a failure."
Judging by his take on Iraq, that's presumably how Harry would have reported matters had he been around during the dark days of WWII. Fortunately, Churchill was there:
"Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age."
James Carville and Paul Begala were not the only Democrats on morning televison offering advice for Democrats as the midterm elections approach. On the "Early Show,"former Senator and presidential candidate Gary Hart, another democrat who got into trouble for extramarital affairs, discussed his new book, "The Courage of our Convictions: A Manifesto for Democrats." Like Carville and Begalia, Hart maintains the Democratic Party needs to grow a spine. During the segment with Hart, "Early Show" co-host Harry Smith allowed his populist beliefs to shine through, even has he noted the Democratic party is "adrift" and bemoaned the fact that the Democrats don’t really stand for anything:
Despite Bill Clinton's angry protestations, the bulk of the blame for America's failure to catch or kill Osama bin Laden lies squarely on the Clinton administration, at least according to terrorism analyst Michael Scheuer.
Scheuer's words, delivered on today's edition of CBS's "Early Show," must have come as a shock for co-host Harry Smith since the liberal media's usual refrain on bin Laden is to blame Bush for the failure to kill him back in the early days of the Afghanistan campaign.
That just isn't the case, Scheuer argued, implicitly criticizing the press.
"The former president seems to be able to deny facts with impugnity. Bin Laden is alive today because Mr. Clinton, Mr. Sandy Berger, and Mr. Richard Clarke refused to kill him," he said.
Video clip (1:34): Real (2.5 MB at 225 kbps) or Windows Media (2.9 MB at 256 kbps), plus MP3 audio (443 KB). Read on for transcript of the segment.
What’s politically toxic in Campaign 2006? On the CBS Evening News Friday night, Katie Couric covered the U.S. Senate race in New Jersey, and the danger was apparently a Republican standing anywhere near Team Bush. Couric pressed Republican candidate Tom Kean Jr. about President Bush: "Would you like him to come?" The second time she asked, she giggled. She weirdly compared the Kean family to the fictional mob family in The Sopranos. (Would she ever do that to the Kennedys?)
Couric ever-so-barely revealed "scandal has wracked the Democratic Party here," but gave no specifics. Newly appointed Sen. Bob Menendez is facing a federal probe for renting out his property to a community group, and then securing millions in federal grants for that community group. At the very least, liberal groups the networks often use as expert sources, like Public Citizen and the Center for Public Integrity, say Menendez is guilty of a conflict of interest. But CBS viewers would have no idea. They just heard Menendez say it’s "smear tactics to hide a right-wing agenda."
Today's the last full day of astronomical summer, and so in a sidebar on the Metro page of the September 22 Washington Post, the paper gives its readers a few handy stats about the weather this meteorological summer (June 1-August 31).
[Meteorological summer is a convention commonly used to examine data that provides consistency from year to year rather than adhering to the slightly different dates for seasonal changes on the solstices and equinoxes.]
Anyway, in D.C. at least, it was only the 19th warmest on record, as recorded since 1871. What's more, the average temperature in summer was 78.5 degrees. Toasty, but not exactly scalding, except for the late July-early August heat wave, where 101 was the hottest temperature achieved in Washington on August 3.
Of course, it's the spikes in temperature, the heat waves, that the media latched on to to in order to mount the soap box on global warming.
Two days after CNN founder Ted Turner told journalists at the Reuters office in Manhattan that the war in Iraq was one of the “dumbest” decisions in history, that only women should be allowed to run for office -- though he simultaneously touted the male Al Gore, a “great leader,” for President -- and argued Iran should be able to have nuclear weapons since “we have 28,000. Why can't they have ten?”, he appeared Thursday night on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman where he spouted fresh silliness.
Recalling for Letterman his activities in the 1980s, Turner implied that he ended the Cold War: “I was trying to bring the Cold War, help bring it to and end with the Goodwill Games and a bunch of our initiatives that we worked on with the Russians and it worked.” Turner described Cuba as “a wonderful place” and fretted: “I think it's crazy that we don't have relations with Cuba when we made normalized relations with Vietnam after the Vietnam war.” He argued: “If we wanted democracy to function and capitalism in Cuba, what we need to do is send a whole lot of tourists down there to get everybody materialistic like we are up here. And then we would have already, I'm sure, I believe, that communism would have been gone from there if we'd have just been friends with them.”
A couple of snippets from this morning's "news" segments on ABC and CBS...
On The Early Show, Rene Syler interviewed the President of the Council on Foreign Relations, and former Bush administration official, Richard Haass. After having played the video of Chavez calling Bush "the devil," of crossing himself and saying that he could still smell the sulfur in the air, Syler's first question for Haass, her first question on this head-of-state behaving that way on the world's primary diplomatic stage?
"Let's start with those comments by Hugo Chavez yesterday. He makes this personal attack on the president calls him the devil a number of times. Is that appropriate?"
What, Rene -- you couldn't figure that one out for yourself?
Well sports fans, the plot is getting so thick you can drive a truck over it. TV Newser is reporting that Bill Maher, host of HBO’s “Real Time” who went on quite a rant Friday night about being denied his free speech rights by CBS, might be mistaken. According to the New York Daily News (emphasis mine): “‘If I or my representatives got it wrong about how the 'Free Speech' segment of the 'CBS Evening News' is, sorry, our bad,’ Maher said yesterday in a statement. ‘I'm ready, willing and able to speak about the topic I originally suggested.’"
Isn’t that special? In fact, according to Vaughn Ververs at CBS’s “The Public Eye,” the “Evening News” is in no way opposed to addressing religion:
Remember last year at this time when you couldn’t turn on your television set without coming across a story on rising gasoline prices? Well, a year later, gas is now $2.50 a gallon, down 50 cents in just one month, twenty-nine cents lower than last year, and the broadcast network news programs couldn’t care less. As reported by Reuters Monday:
The freefall in U.S. gasoline prices continued as the average pump price dropped 12 cents over the last week to $2.50 a gallon, the government said on Monday.
The fall comes on the heels of an 11-cent drop the previous week.
The national price for regular unleaded gasoline is down 29 cents from a year ago and the lowest since late March, according to the federal Energy Information Administration's weekly survey of service stations.
Last September, after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast, the media regularly warned of rising natural gas prices and exploding heating bills. Yet, when these same energy costs plummeted a year later – and utility companies announced large reductions in charges to consumers – the networks paid little attention to the news.
On September 14, natural gas prices declined to their lowest point in two years. As reported by the Associated Press: “October natural gas futures fell 55.7 cents to settle at $4.892 per 1,000 cubic feet on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The last time front-month natural gas futures settled below $5 was Sept. 16, 2004.”
Well sports fans, the plot is still thickening. TVNewser reported on Monday that a fellow comedian has responded to Bill Maher’s “free speech” rant reported by NewsBusters here and here.
To refresh memories, Maher said on his Friday evening “Real Time” program “if CBS News doesn’t understand what free speech is, what am I supposed to expect of Fox News?” Deliciously, someone who has worked for both HBO and FNC had an answer for Maher:
Often, the warmth of media memories toward a politician hinge on where they stood, or where they ended up standing. In Monday's Washington Post, TV critic Tom Shales reviewed the HBO debut of the documentary "Goldwater on Goldwater," made by C.C. Goldwater, the granddaughter of the late Sen. Barry Goldwater, loaded with liberal experts who lauded his resistance to the religious right. Shales sermonized:
Goldwater, who died in 1998, was the man who defined conservatism for more than one generation and who essentially split with the conservative movement when it became allied with pseudo-religious extremists. To Goldwater, the essence of conservatism was that government should stay out of people's lives as much as possible, and he was "appalled," his granddaughter says, by the "social agenda" of the far-right-wingers who seek to control the Republican Party now.