The "revolving door" is a
term reporters often cynically use to talk about the close
relationships that political and lobbying people have with each
other. It's certainly true that in American politics, many people do
move readily between working in government posts to lobbying
But what many journos won't tell you is
that there's another revolving door that politicos use, from politics
to media. They also won't tell you that only Democrats seem to have
the key. The number of Republicans moving into positions of influence
inside the media is small enough you can almost count it on one hand.
And in many cases, the sheer audacity of a former Republican politico
daring to set foot in the press has caused left-wingers, journalist
and blogger alike. The recent Ben
Domenech fiasco or the disgraceful hounding that Susan
Molinari experienced after being hired as an anchor at CBS are
potent examples of this.
Before starting her new job as anchor of the CBS Evening News, Katie Couric is going on a "listening tour" of the country. As Kathleen Parker writes in the Orlando Sentinel, this looks very similar to the "listening tour" that Hillary Clinton did in New York state in preparation for her Senate run.
The decision to send Couric around the country on a "listening tour," scheduled to wrap up Monday, was a poor calculation. First off, the free-associative mind goes straight to that other trailblazing female, Hillary Clinton, who launched a listening tour before running for U.S. Senate.
Katie, Hillary, Katie, Hillary -- two liberal peas in a pod? The question burrows in the mind and wants to stay.
Quiz time: When is a political ad that features pictures of deceased, flag-draped American heroes controversial? Apparently, the answer is only when Republicans produce such a commercial. The Democratic Campaign Committee has posted a 60 second spot on their Web site, and it shows images of the coffins of American military personnel, as well as a soldier standing in front of a makeshift grave marker. (Update, 5:40pm EDT July 14: The ad has now disappeared from the DCCC Web site, replaced by one calling for a hike in the minimum wage.)
Unsurprisingly, ABC, NBC and CBS expressed no outrage over the Democrats attempt to politically exploit America's fallen. NBC'sToday show,ABC's Good Morning America, and CBS's The Early Show this morning all completely ignored the issue.
Now look what we've done! The global warming we've caused will ruin Napa Valley wine!
That's what CBS would have you believe as it picked up on a new study arguing pretty much that global warming will wipe out 80 percent of America's vineyards. But other global warming believers doubt the study's conclusions and vintners argue they can keep producing wine in warmer climes with improved technology.
may doom the Napa
Valley, CBS News warned
its July 12 “Evening News” audience. Yet correspondent John Blackstone excluded
any scientists, including those who otherwise believe in man-made global
warming, who warn that new computer models are conclusive or don’t match up
against recorded climate patterns.
President Bush announced some great news about the economy Tuesday, but the media weren't in any mood to celebrate. Though the budget deficit for 2006 looks to be significantly lower than forecast just five months ago, TV news outlets were quick to rain on the president's parade.
CNN's Ed Henry cynically compared this announcement to the president declaring an end to major combat operations in Iraq in 2003. Meanwhile, NBC's Brian Williams downplayed the good news by stating “administration critics say the White House has deliberately inflated its own deficit projections in the past few years to score political points when the actual numbers came in lower.”
Let's imagine an American World Cup team member 'of pallor' had head-butted, oh, an Arab or African player. Would the MSM be quick to excuse, even to make the incident the object of humor? Or would we have been treated to mind-numbing disquisitions on racism in sport as a microcosm of society at large?
But when a French player of Arab ancestry head-butts an Italian? Well, CBS tells us, boys will be boys. CBS's Elizabeth Palmer, who narrated a segment on the incident on this morning's Early Show, informed us that "it's a male thing understood around the world." To prove her point, CBS ran a clip from an Adam Sandler flick showing the comedian, as a football player, taking a flying foot leap into another player who had insulted his mother. We were also treated to images of video spoofs and video games that the incident has generated.
Katie Couric is set to become the new anchor of the CBS Evening News. Before she starts her job, she is going on a "listening tour" of the country. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune says that her entourage visited a city library.
The local Minneapolis CBS affiliate, WCCO, was tasked with finding a venue when Ms. Couric came to town. WCCO also served as the enforcers of the anti-blog policy.
Matt Bartel, owner of the popular MNSpeak blog also was issued an invitation by WCCO, although the station apparently didn't recognize the name Bartel (ubiquitous in Twin Cities publishing circles) or his business, until the event was about to start.
"They pulled me out of the auditorium and told me that they'd become aware of the fact that I had a blog," Bartel said. "They said, 'We don't want you to participate,' " then offered him a choice: surrender his notebook or leave the event.
For the second day in a row, Harry Smith, co-host of CBS’s "The Early Show" interviewed a guest about North Korea and its missile tests. Today’s analysis came from frequent guest Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution. And while Smith once again referred to Kim Jong-Il as a nutcase and even inferred that he is a despot, he was easily amazed at O’Hanlon’s suggestion that he is crafty.
As noted, Harry Smith’s first question to O’Hanlon in essence described who Kim Jong-Il truly is:
"Before we talk about missiles I want to talk about Kim Jong-Il for a minute. It's not too extreme, I don't think, to say this guy is nuts. He has nukes. He runs a ruthless regime in North Korea where people routinely don't have enough to eat. This guy is the wild card of all wild cards. What else can we know about this guy?"
CBS "Early Show" host Harry Smith performed two interview segments on North Korea's failed missile test. While he showed noticeable restraint from the usual isn't-Bush-bumbling line of questioning, even showing concern at America's adversary here -- asking Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns "Is Kim Jong Il just nuts?" -- he didn't press former Clinton diplomat Bill Richardson on the Clinton administration's policy of appeasement and arms-control agreements that the North Koreans egregiously violated.
The Burns interview came first. In addition to the "just nuts" question (Burns demurred diplomatically, "let's just say he's unpredictable"), Smith asked: "The Chinese as recently as last week were reaching out to the North Koreans, saying please don't do this. They seem to do whatever they want. How do you deal with a country that is so willful and disregards the pleas of even its friends in the neighborhood?"
On the "Saturday Early Show" this past weekend on CBS, co-host Tracy Smith interviewed CBS terrorism analyst Michael Scheuer. Scheuer, who once attempted to spin the death of the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab Zarqawi, as being good for al Qaeda, used this occassion to claim that we are losing the global war on terror:
"There's an element of desperation, and it wouldn't matter if the Democrats or the Republicans were in power. We really are losing the war on terrorism overseas and probably within North America and Europe also. Bin Laden has inspired a whole generation of Muslims--young Muslim men, especially--to hate our foreign policies. They're very comfortable with our society and with the tools of modernity, whether it's communications equipment or anything else, but our foreign policies are driving people to attack us, and I think that's what we saw in Florida."
Yesterday on CBS's "Face the Nation", host Bob Schieffer claimed Congress is failing in its job to improve the lives of their constituents, and it wasting time and resources debating trivial conservative matters like Constitutional Amendments banning gay marriage and flag burning:
"It's been so long since Congress did anything, I have to stop and think to remember what it is they're supposed to do. Oh, I remember now, improve the lives of the people who elected them. I can't think of another reason; can you?
Don't misunderstand me. Congress does stay busy. The debate on the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage took a lot of time. Of course, all sides knew there was no chance it would pass. Did the debate improve your life?"
The MRC Business & Media Institute's latest study is getting notice in the media.
The Washington Post's Frank Ahrens did a write-up below-the-fold in the business section today.
"Bad Company," the first of a three-part study series on media coverage of the American businessman is available here.
Here's a bit of what Ahrens wrote:
On the heels of last month's conviction of top Enron Corp.
executives comes this nugget from the Media Research Center, a
conservative television watchdog group that examines programming to
determine how certain groups are portrayed. In this study, the group
claims that Hollywood unfairly and overwhelmingly casts businessmen and
women as "criminal CEOs and murdering MBAs."
Reality often is stranger than fiction, the saying goes. An author writing the story of former anchor partners Dan Rather and Connie Chung's lives would never have had the temerity to have them both get canned within a week of each other. Not after the two's well-known history of bickering and fighting with each other. Yet that's exactly what happened. Seattle Post-Intelligencer TV critic Melanie McFarland looks back at the twighlight of both discarded anchors (Diskussionsleitersdämmerung?), realizing that between Rather's delusions and Chung's bizarre singing debut, the former duo provide another lesson in how not to behave:
More than a decade has passed since Dan Rather and Connie Chung had us shaking our heads at the obvious tension when they briefly shared an anchor desk between 1993 and 1995.
Rather won in the end, using a nasty behind-the-scenes campaign to force out his co-anchor. He remained at CBS; she jumped to ABC and later to cable.
Nobody would have guessed their separate and drastically declined careers would share headlines again -- and in the same week. [...]
Many are the lessons of how to begin a journalism career. These two showed us how not to end one. Different as their career trajectories may have been for a time, Chung and Rather's respective undoings are, in the end, the same. They held on for too long. And you know what happens when you overstay your welcome: You get cast out with a rough push instead of a friendly wave.
This is truer of Rather's departure, of course. Given his inglorious step down from CBS's anchor chair, a muffled exit was inevitable. The 74-year-old newscaster insists he's not done and has announced his intention to host a weekly interview program on Mark Cuban's high-definition channel, HDNet, where he will be watched by a few thousand, if he's lucky. He told The New York Times that he's contemplating a blog.
Mark Twain once said, "It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native criminal class except Congress."
Today's Hollywood TV executives would beg to differ. To them there's no distinctly native criminal class except American businessmen.
The Media Research Center's Business & Media Institute is out with our latest study, the first of a three-part series looking at the media's bias against businessmen.
Almost 10 years ago, the Media Research Center’s
Business & Media Institute published “Businessmen Behaving Badly,”
which found that businessmen on TV committed more crimes than any
other demographic. In this new study, BMI looked at 129 episodes
from 12 top-rated dramas on the four networks: ABC, CBS, FOX and
NBC. These broadcasts were picked from two “sweeps” months in 2005 –
May and November – when networks try to attract the largest
audiences to maximize ad dollars.
In this look at primetime, BMI found:
Negative toward Business: Negative plots about business and
businessmen outnumbered positive ones by almost 4-to-1. Of the 39
episodes that included business-related plots or characters, 30
(77 percent) cast businessmen and commerce in a negative light.
You know the media are overreaching when they start to portray teenagers hunkered over schoolbooks while downing iced lattes at a coffee shop as an alarming thing:
For my full story, click here. For a similar item on the biased coverage ABC brewed up just two days earlier, click here.
The kids aren’t alright. An epidemic is sweeping the nation as teenagers down the addictive brew by the pint. Underage alcohol consumption? No, coffee.
As anti-food industry advocacy groups like Center for Science in the Public Interest sharpen their legal knives against Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX), the media are brewing up alarmist reports on teenage caffeine consumption.
With Katie Couric lounging in the wings, Dan Rather is now expendable, and the suits at CBS News are squeezing him out of his last remaining gig on "60 Minutes." This has caused great distress for those who like their news to look like a long commercial for MoveOn.org, which is to say, the Dan Rather fan club.
CBS smiled politely as they pushed him away, but the Philadelphia Inquirer quoted an anonymous former CBS executive, who denounced the shove-off as "disgraceful. He's a legend. He gave his life to that company. Even though he made a big mistake, he did 43 years and 11 months' great work."
If Rather’s that great, why didn’t the executive have the courage to go on the record?
Rather had a Nixonian ending, resigning from the anchor chair in disgrace after being in complete denial about his own political corruption. It’s not surprising that some will now try to rehabilitate his reputation, but they won’t have much more luck than Nixon did. Dan Rather does not have a sterling record of journalism. He is a grand example of the anchorman as a powerful and partisan national politician who never had to be elected, yet had a lot more visibility and wielded a lot more influence than most elected officials.
CBS has made the final announcement: Dan Rather is no longer at the network. CBSNews.com has the details, as well as a tribute to the former anchor's career. The moments they are most proud of are his two interviews with Saddam Hussein.
Dan Rather is leaving CBS after 44 years with the Tiffany Network.
Sean McManus, president of CBS News and Sports, made the announcement.
"Of all the famous names associated with CBS News, the biggest and brightest on the marquee are Murrow, Cronkite and Rather," McManus said. "With the utmost respect, we mark the extraordinary and singular role Dan has played in writing the script of not only CBS News, but of broadcast journalism."
In the second hour of "The Early Show" on CBS Monday, co-host Harry Smith promoted one of Ted Kennedy's two new books this year: this one is a children's book called "My Senator and Me," written from the perspective of Kennedy's dog: "Splash." If you thought for one second that anyone at CBS was going to ask about the dog's name and er, Chappaquiddick, you might think "Captain Kangaroo" was still on the air.
MRC's Mike Rule reported that Smith asked vaguely about Kennedy's son Patrick and how his rehab is going, and then very gently asked Kennedy about "your feelings as we move forward" considering recent progress in Iraq. (A better question might have been: "So, Ted, still the best vote you ever cast?") I think the whole transcript is the best way to digest this interview:
MRC intern Eugene Gibilaro found that on CBS’s Sunday Morning yesterday, movie critic David Edelstein politicized his movie review of "The Lake House." Edelstein discusses time travel movies and describes the plot of "The Lake House," as:
"I even loved the incredibly dumb time travel romance "The Lake House," where Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock send letters back and forth between 2004 and 2006."
Seems Edelstein couldn’t resist the opportunity to interject his political philosophy into the review as he alluded to the 2004 election and the fact that he believes George Bush and the Republican Party stole Ohio:
The three broadcast networks have focused growing attention on inflation recently – 42 stories since early May. CBS anchor Bob Schieffer declared on June 14 “Well, it is back, inflation, that is.” The following day, ABC’s Bill Ritter cautioned, “everything from mowing the lawn to joining a gym could cost you more money.”
Yet, when positive inflation news was announced just hours later by the new chairman of the Federal Reserve, ABC didn’t even bother reporting it on its evening news program. Meanwhile, the other two broadcast networks paid inflation relatively little notice compared to their other stories that night.
On June 15, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke told Chicago’s Economic Club that higher energy costs haven’t had a big impact on other prices, and there are even signs that such pressures may be waning. The stock market exploded on the announcement with the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising by almost 200 points, or 1.83 percent – its best one day showing since April 2005.
Rather than welcome the news after focusing on the evils of inflation, the networks paid little attention. ABC’s “World News Tonight” didn’t even report Bernanke’s statement about inflation. This was particularly odd as “Good Morning America” just hours a few earlier did a rather lengthy segment on the issue.
On this morning’s "Early Show" CBS terrorism analyst and former FBI agent Christopher Whitcomb told co-host Hannah Storm that he believes the seized al Qaeda documents are believable, i.e. the ones where al Qaeda admits it’s losing in Iraq, and that the United States is making significant progress in the overall war on terrorism.
Ms. Storm began her interview of Mr Whitcomb inquiring about the authenticity of these al Qaeda memos:
"The Iraqi government has released a document it said was found at the site of the bombing when al Zarqawi was killed. Actually, the U.S. government says it was found a few weeks before on a hard drive. But the bottom line is this document says that al Qaeda's weakening. It's an al Qaeda document, supposedly. Do you buy it? Can we take it at face value?"
Dan Bobkoff, who covers Massachusetts for Albany, N.Y.-based WAMC/Northeast Public Radio, has written a piece for CBS News's Public Eye blog in which he offers ideas for reform of the broadcast networks' evening newscasts. (Hat tip: Romenesko.) Bobkoff, a former intern for ABC's World News Tonight, opines:
...I think the shows should try to become as different from one another as possible.
The first step toward originality would be to turn off all the TV's in the newsroom. Producers love watching the "competition" on a row of monitors while they work, and will note with glee if they air an important story five minutes before another network. But watching each other doesn't create a better product; it creates sameness.
After they turn off the TV’s, they should cancel their subscriptions to The New York Times. The paper's great, but it shouldn't be TV's job to read the paper and then steal the feature stories for that evening’s newscast (unusual baby names, ABC?)
With nothing to copy off the TV or from the papers, the newscasts then could think about broadening what they cover...
Yesterday Lee Cowan, of CBS News, may have exaggerated the size of the protests in Baghdad by people loyal to cleric Muqtada al Sadr, in response to President Bush’s surprise visit. But today, he made up for it. Cowan, reporting from Baghdad for "The Early Show" on CBS, was the only reporter on the 3 major network morning shows to quote from al Qaeda documents found after the death of terrorist leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi.
While "Good Morning America" on ABC and "Today" on NBC gave only cursory mention of the documents, "The Early Show" led the program with the story. Co-host Julie Chen noted the significance of the documents and what they could mean when she introduced Cowan’s piece:
Once again, the alternative media broke news before the MSM. Last May, NewsBusters reported that CBS and Dan Rather were about to part company. Today, the Philadelphia Inquirer's Gail Shister and the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz confirmed it. From Shister's story:
Barring a miracle, CBS will not renew the legendary newsman's contract when it expires in late November. All signs point to it.
Still, like Sisyphus, Rather keeps pushing the rock at Black Rock.
"I don't quit. It's not in me," Rather, 74, said yesterday in a rare
interview about his future at CBS. "As long as there's any chance I can
stay and do meaningful work, that's what I want to do. Not every day
can be bliss."
Bliss? The McCarthy hearings would be bliss compared to Rather's last 18 months at CBS.
Following Memogate, he was forced to step down as CBS Evening News anchor in March '05 after a record 24 years. Mike Wallace, among several other marquee colleagues, said he should have been fired.
Here's a lovely example of liberal media bias: A CBS poll finds that 60% of Americans say it's likely "that the United States will ultimately find success in Iraq," and more than 50% say "Iraq will eventually become a stable democracy."
So is the headline, "Majority of Americans Foresee Success in Iraq"? Nope, it's "Poll: Zarqawi Death Has Little Impact." [Subhead: "Despite Zarqawi Death, Most Americans Say War's Going Badly."] CBS chose to play up this finding:
After being off the last two days, Harry Smith returned to CBS’s "Early Show" this morning and apparently he didn’t forget the bias. Today Smith interviewed Dan Bartlett, a counselor to President Bush. While Smith set up Senator Joe Biden on June 5 to go on the offensive against the war, he tried his best to keep Bartlett on the defensive while downplaying President Bush’s surprise visit to Iraq yesterday.
Smith began the questioning:
"Well, the Iraqis now have a constitution. Now they actually have a government as well. What they don't have in Baghdad is day-to-day security or even electricity. How does the president's visit change that?"
Earlier this week, the Media Research Center released a new study documenting the fairly heavy coverage ABC, CBS and NBC have provided of yet-unproved claims that U.S. Marines engaged in a “massacre” in Haditha, Iraq last year. The study found those same networks have provided relatively paltry coverage of the select group of American heroes who’ve been given the military’s highest honors: the Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross, the Air Force and the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Today’s Washington Times (Jennifer Harper) has a nice summary of our study’s key findings, plus some reaction from the multi-national force in Iraq. Excerpts from her article, “‘Bad News’ Rife in military coverage”:
Outgoing CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer is a man who's never been ashamed to portray himself as not always the first guy to get the news -- or stay with the news as it happens. (Remember how he took a nap as Trent Lott destroyed his career? It's the last quote here.) MRC's Brian Boyd reports it happened again this morning on the Imus simulcast on MSNBC at 7:42 AM EDT:
Don Imus: “Hey, how about Hillary Clinton getting booed at this liberal gathering in New York for her stance on Iraq. Did you hear about that?”
After the indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney’s former Chief of Staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, on perjury charges, rumors have circulated that President Bush’s top political adviser Karl Rove would soon be indicted as well. Today, we found out that would not be the case.
On April 27, when Karl Rove was set to testify before the grand jury for the fifth time, CBS News Senior White House Correspondent Bill Plante, appearing on "The Early Show" noted:
"Sources close to the case say they think that it’s almost at an end. If it is cleared up in Rove’s favor, that will be a big lift to this White House."
A big lift for the White House? You wouldn’t have known that watching "The Early Show" this morning. All that was said on the subject amounted to about 25 seconds and came from 2 anchor reads from co-host Julie Chen. In fact, the story wasn't big enough news to earn a tease or a mention at the top of the show, but at about 7:06 Chen mentioned:
On this Sunday’s "Face the Nation" on CBS, Bob Schieffer once again turned to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman for analysis on developments in Iraq, the overall war on terrorism, and the Israel/Palestinian peace process.
Among the claims Friedman made were claiming that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay was the "anti-Statue of Liberty." That America is alone in Iraq, discounting the contributions by the British and other coalition partners. And that he doesn’t "really want to blame America" for the inability of the Israelis and Palestinians to come to a workable peace agreement.
Friedman began by seemingly eulogizing Zarqawi. He focused on how effective Zarqawi was as a terrorist, but doesn’t offer praise to our troops or thanks that he has been removed from the equation in Iraq: