Leave it to NBC's Today show to find the downside of a booming stock market. Playing the class envy card Today co-host Matt Lauer teased a story on a widening gap between rich and poor as he incredulously asked the audience: "Do you feel like you're working harder and harder these days just to stay financially afloat while fat cats get richer and richer?" Lauer, not exactly a pauper himself, then threw it to CNBC's Scott Cohn who claimed: "Not only are the rich getting richer they're leaving everyone else behind. In fact the last time the rich were this much richer than everyone else was the Great Depression."
Cohn did mention the wealthy are giving more to charity but only highlighted liberal billionaire Bill Gates' good deeds.
Producer of an MSM morning news show? Got a few minutes to fill at the end of your first half-hour? Why not resort to a tried-and-true winner: a bit of good old class warfare?
That was the "Today" formula this morning. Matt Lauer introduced the segment, enviously entitled "Share the Wealth?: The Rich Get Richer," fanning the flames of envy and resentment with this opener:
TODAY CO-HOST MATT LAUER: Do you feel like you're working harder and harder nowadays just to stay financially afloat while fat cats get richer and richer? It's not just a feeling, and you're not alone. The story now from from CNBC's Scott Cohn.
In the wake of yesterday's announcement that Rosie O'Donnell will be departing "The View," the folks at "Today" had some fun this morning with the notion that Meredith Vieira, the "View" regular who Rosie replaced there, might return to the ABC gabfest.
As Vieira began a tease, in "Today's" opening, for an upcoming segment on the parting of ways at "The View," weatherman Al Roker shouted from off-camera "are you going to go back?"
Vieira went with the flow, announcing tongue-in-cheek: "So yes, I'll be leaving the 'Today' show to rejoin my friends at 'The View.' Sayanora." That's when co-host Matt Lauer, in the image shown here, picked up the phone, said "Barbara, hold on a second," handed it to Meredith, who continued "Barbara, I'm back there."
Following the tragedy at Virginia Tech, the media found someone other than Seing-Hui Cho to blame -- legal businesses like Roanoke Firearms, Glock and eBay.
Roanoke Firearms' owner John Markell was treated as an accomplice to the horrific crime by ABC's Brian Ross:
“The Roanoke Firearms store where Seing-Hui Cho bought his murder weapon has a history of selling guns involved in murders. It is the fifth time a gun sold in this store has been used in a homicide, according to gun shop owner, John Markell,” said Ross on the April 18 “Good Morning America.”
-- So, you think NBC shouldn’t have aired that Cho Seung-Hui video, do you?
-- NBC has a new definition for its initials: the Narcissism Broadcasting Company. How fitting it is that their logo is a peacock. It’s bad enough that this monster gunned down 32 students and teachers at Virginia Tech. But in between murder sprees this vicious, calculating killer calmly went to the post office and sent an Express Mail package of his self-glorifying pictures and videos to NBC News in between killings – and NBC News rushed this killer’s propaganda on NBC and MSNBC within hours of receiving this bundle of psychosis.
-- So what’s your complaint? The timing – airing the video when nerves were at their most raw – or airing it at all?
-- Let’s start with the timing. Usually, after a school shooting, network news divisions mourn with the families, and comfort them on their shocking losses. In this case, NBC took their wounds and shoveled salt into them. Outraged families canceled their planned NBC interviews because their pain in no way balanced out NBC’s naked desire to stick it to their competitors. NBC News President Steve Capus implausibly claimed they were handling the exploitation with "great sensitivity" to the grieving, but the idea that they have any corporate compassion was completely lost to anyone who watched their frenzied programming.
Q. How can embrace of a given policy "stall" a candidate's campaign if it helps him with the voters?
A. If the policy in question is the Bush administration's Iraq war plan, and the MSM finds it difficult to admit that support for it can be an electoral plus.
As NewsBuster Geoffrey Dickens and I have noted here and here, NBC reporters, notably including Andrea Mitchell and David Gregory, have repeatedly explained McCain's weak standing in the GOP primary polls by his support of the Iraq war.
The truth, of course, is just the opposite. Republicans are less than enthusiastic about McCain because of his embrace of non-conservative positions on everything from campaign finance to taxes to immigration. It is only McCain's support of the Iraq war that is keeping him afloat in the GOP primaries. Ditch that, and McCain would soon find himself in Chuck Hagel territory -- out of the race altogether.
On this morning's "Today," NBC's Norah O'Donnell impossibly played things both ways, claiming:
McCain's candidacy has stalled with his embrace of President Bush's Iraq war strategy. But one plus for McCain's support of the increased troop surge is that it does play well among Republican voters.
Former CBS reporter Bernard Goldberg appeared on this morning's Today show to promote his new book and in the process took several jabs at wimpy Republicans who don't stand by conservative principles and the "Rosie O'Donnells of the world," that suffer from "Bush Derangement Syndrome." While Goldberg wasn't a 100 percent conservative -- he criticized the Iraq war and supports embryonic stem cell research -- it was still refreshing to hear a former member of the liberal media criticize libs on their own airwaves.
First up, NBC's Matt Lauer opened the segment by deriding Goldberg's new gig at Fox News as out of the mainstream:
Matt Lauer: "In the world of the media Bernard Goldberg used to bat lefty now he bats righty. He sold millions of books taking swings at liberals in the press. Now a regular on the Fox News Channel, Goldberg used to be a card-carrying member of the mainstream media establishment."
NBC's environmental correspondent Anne Thompson cited global warming as a primary reason to implement a new commuter tax or as she euphemistically called it, "congestion pricing," on drivers. As incoming traffic passed by her on the Holland Tunnel the Today show's Thompson began her report this way: "Good morning, Meredith. Look behind me and you'll see this is what congestion pricing seeks to reduce. The 50,000 cars a day that rumble into Manhattan through the Holland Tunnel contributing to global warming. Now global warming has long been on the environmentalist radar but today its taking center stage in our political debate."
After that eye-grabbing video Thompson went on to highlight proposals from RINO Republicans Senator John McCain and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to cut down on greenhouse gasses and even ran a portion of an ad from Robert Redford as he challenged Americans: "Our moment is now and our challenge is to solve global warming."
Does it give the Dem leaders of Congress pause to realize that the enemies of the United States in Iraq, the people killing our troops, are banking on their political success? Reid and Pelosi might be tempted to dismiss this as the raving of a right-wing blogger. They shouldn't. It is in fact the considered view of someone they surely see as a respected, nay, an authoritative source: no less than the Baghdad bureau chief of the New York Times, John Burns.
Burns was a guest on this morning's "Today." In the set-up piece, NBC White House correspondent Kelly O'Donnell rolled a clip of precisely the kind of politics to which Burns later alluded, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D-NV] fumed: "No more will the Congress turn a blind eye to the Bush administration's incompetence and dishonesty." When's the last time Reid spoke with such vitriol about al-Qaeda? Just wondering.
Moments later, Matt Lauer asked Burns: "By its very nature a surge is a temporary dynamic. What is the biggest factor in your opinion as to whether they can have success in the near term and the longer term?"
NYT BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF JOHN BURNS: Well, the number of troops, that's finite. The amount of time they can stay, we think that's probably finite, too. And the calculations of the insurgents, who, as one military officer said to me, will always trade territory for time. That's to say, they will move out, they will wait. Because they know the political dynamic in the United States is moving in a direction that is probably going to be favorable to them.
On the Friday edition of ABC’s “20/20,” Diane Sawyer stood in front of an ABC generated visual aid: A gigantic mound of plastic bags and paper towels.
With no sense of irony, the ABC host then proceeded to lecture viewers on waste and the need to use cloth bags at the supermarket. Referring to plastic bags as “plastic flowers,” Sawyer intoned, “They can take up to 1,000 years to degrade in landfills. So tomorrow, use a cloth bag at the grocery store, and let the trees have some real flowers.”
Of course, the ABC host offered this helpful advice right after another segment on inefficient Americans and the amount of paper towels and plastic bags they dispose of:
CBS ombuds-blogger Brian Montopoli advises "Taking a Step Back In the Cho Debate" in an April 23 post, as he takes issue with conservatives like Hugh Hewitt who objected to NBC News (and other media outlets) airing the videotaped "manifesto" of the Virginia Tech mass murderer. Montopoli concludes on this note:
If, as a culture, we want to suppress the Cho manifesto, than we have
to ask ourselves what else we are willing to suppress. After all, the
Cho materials at least had some value beyond entertainment; it's harder
to say the same for cultural products like "Grand Theft Auto" or "300."
It seems to me that anyone criticizing NBC News for releasing the
materials – and CBS News and its counterparts for airing them – should
be thinking long and hard about how far down that path they are willing
“Saturday Night Live” on April 21 introduced a new cartoon character named “Torboto: The Robot That Tortures People” (video available here, h/t Ian).
In the animated segment, Torboto is a creation of Vice President Dick Cheney’s. In order to get around Geneva Convention regulations preventing humans from torturing humans, Cheney’s scientists created a robot that does it for them.
As the scene moved to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Cheney brought President George W. Bush to the detention center to demonstrate how his new toy works. Bush asked, “I thought we were earmarking this money for body armor?”
ABC’s weatherman, Sam Champion, continued his crusade to get every American to adopt liberal environmental polices. While standing in front of a massive bank of televisions, he lectured viewers on their contribution to global warming: "If you think you have nothing to do with global warming, think again. From the car you drive, to the house you live in, it all contributes to the problem."
New York Times columnist Tom Friedman appeared on the "Today" show to announce that America’s best shot at winning the war on terrorism is by going green. NBC, of course, promoted the segment as "save energy, save the world."
Al Gore has complained that the media are biased against the inconvenient truth of global warming. "I believe that is one of the principal reasons why political leaders around the world have not yet taken action," Gore told a "Media Ethics Summit" at Middle Tennessee State University back in February. Gore lectured journalists that any coverage of views opposed to his own was irresponsible, calling it "balance as bias."
It's impossible to imagine the big TV networks actually accepting an edict from a conservative politician to report only their side of a major public policy issue, but a new Media Research Center study of ABC, CBS and NBC's global warming coverage finds the networks are giving Gore practically everything he demanded. Not only does nearly every global warming story exclude any contrary voices, but the coverage of Al Gore personally has been exceptionally positive as well.
When is something clearly newsworthy clearly not newsworthy?
Interesting question, wouldn’t you agree?
Like millions of Americans, I watched the Virginia Tech killer’s videotape yesterday with shock and horror. (Please be advised: I refuse to use his real name, or publish pictures of him, for reasons that should be obvious, and wish all members of the media would adopt the same anonymity strategy when referring to this animal.)
I was at my athletic club when clips of it were making the rounds on the various networks after originally being broadcast on the NBC “Nightly News.” Groups of half-dressed men, some with only towels around their waists, stood staring at the television sets throughout the locker room gazing mesmerized at the screens like moribund ghosts.
I imagine like many Americans, when the shock wore off, it was quickly replaced by anger.
Michael Welner, an ABC News consultant and a forensic psychiatrist, appeared on Thursday’s "Good Morning America" to slam the media for gratuitously airing videos sent by deceased mass killer Seung-Hui Cho. Welner even referenced the network frenzy over fired radio host Don Imus by saying, "Just listen, if you can take Imus off the air, you can certainly keep [Cho] from having his own morning show."
Earlier in the segment, Welner gave an impassioned plea for the networks to stop airing the killer’s footage:
Michael Welner: "If anybody cares about the victims in Blacksburg and if anybody cares about their children, stop showing this video now. Take it off the internet. Let it be relegated to YouTube. This is a social catastrophe. Showing the video is a social catastrophe. I promise you the disaffected will watch him the way they watched 'Natural Born Killers.' I know. I examine these people. I've examined mass shooters who have told me they've watched 'Natural Born Killers' 20 times. You cannot saturate the American public with this kind of message."
The first half hour of this morning's "Today" offered an unusual window into NBC's decision to air some of the materials that the Virginia Tech killer, Cho Seung-Hui, had mailed to the network.
Matt Lauer introduced the topic.
MATT LAUER: It puts us in an unusual position, because obviously at NBC News we always want to cover the important stories of the day and the massacre at Virginia Tech is one of the most disturbing and tragic stories any of us will ever cover. But we're not used to becoming part of the story, and with this package that he sent us, Cho has made us in some way part of the story
MEREDITH VIEIRA: The decision to air some of the images he sent to us: the video clips and the photos and to discuss what was contained in that rambling and hate-filled manifesto was not taken lightly, it was not made quickly, and we understand that this is going to be seen as devastating to many people who lost loved ones in the shooting. In fact I will tell you that we had planned to speak to some family members of victims this morning but they cancelled their appearances because they were very upset with NBCfor airing the images.
If one were to contemplate all the horrible results of the actions of this murderous psychopath in Virginia, if one were to wonder how hard and emotional have become the lives of the survivors of those whom this sick individual killed, it would seem axiomatic that the Mainstream Media would be the last group such a reflection would see as a recipient of the "tough decisions" resulting from the murders . We would naturally feel pain at the loss of the families of the VT victims. Our hearts would go out to the turmoil that surviving students would face upon trying to resume their education schedules after this monumental outrage. We would even feel bad for residents of the surrounding Virginia communities as they attempt to cope with the crime. Yes, there are a lot of people to empathize with and to feel sorry for.
As noted by Matthew Sheffield and Tim Graham, elements of the left run a massive campaign to destroy major media figures that do not ideologically march lockstep with them. This story appeared on the April 16 edition of "The O’Reilly Factor" when former Los Angeles area NOW president, and self proclaimed liberal Tammy Bruce appeared to expose that agenda.
Host Bill O’Reilly noted that he is investigating with Sean Hannity how leftist distortions and smears find their way into the mainstream media. Tammy Bruce noted that elements of the left take phrases out of context to demonize not only conservatives, but anyone who is not a complete liberal ideologue and they started with a test case on Dr. Laura Schlessinger.
Before this is over, I predict that Virginia Tech President Charles Steger will apologize for errors that he and his administration made in dealing with yesterday's massacre. But as of this morning, Steger was still seeking to defend the failure to alert students for two hours after the initial murders. As Matt Lauer politely pointed out, his explanation would seem to fail a simple test of logic.
"Today" host Lauer interviewed Steger during the show's first half-hour.
LAUER: As you continue to mourn here at Virginia Tech University, you're also facing some very difficult questions from students and from parents and from law enforcement people who are saying we had a shooting take place at 7:15 in the dormitory in this part of the campus, and yet an email didn't go out warning students even to be cautious until two hours later.
Has the Imus-inspired national conversation on race and sex jumped the shark? I'm starting to suspect so after hearing Pat Schroeder this morning. Her most notable contribution to the collective dialogue was to suggest that there's something inherently masculine about verbal meanness.
The former Democratic congresswoman from Colorado was a member of a panel moderated by NBC's Lester Holt on this morning's "Today."
Give Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira credit. On this morning's "Today," Lauer suggested to his boss's face that in firing Don Imus he had caved to pressure from advertisers and people like Al Sharpton. And Vieira held Al Sharpton's feet to the fire, now that he had Imus' scalp, about going after rappers and others who use similar language every day.
Here's part of the exchange, which came at 7:05 AM EDT, between Lauer and NBC News President Steve Capus:
CAPUS: This one went so far over the line, Matt, that it was time.
LAUER: But the timing, the timing. You really don't have to try too hard to think that NBC News caved to the pressure from advertisers like Proctor & Gamble and GM and others and perhaps caved to pressure from people like Reverend Sharpton, who we'll talk to in just a second.
On the April 10 "Tonight Show," host Jay Leno joked about Democrats boycotting the Fox News Channel/Congressional Black Caucus Institute debate. Wondered Leno, "How are you going to stand up to terrorists when you're afraid of Fox News?"
Maybe Jay should ask Time magazine's Joe Klein, who called the Fox News debate a "sordid event" that was a clever ploy to "pander" to a Democratic interest group.
Whatever Andrea Mitchell has it seems to be catching. Repeatedly, NBC's Mitchell has claimed John McCain's declining support in the polls has to do with his pro-war stance, a stance that quite frankly isn't unpopular within the GOP base. Well on this morning's 'Today' show her colleague David Gregory, in a piece about low Republican morale, claimed the very same thing. Gregory claimed: "John McCain has lost ground in the polls because of his support for the Iraq war."
Now any GOP insider could tell them McCain's support for the war is one of the key stances that is keeping McCain afloat with the base of the party. One has to wonder if Mitchell and Gregory are just having the same conversation with themselves and coming to the same inaccurate conclusions.
Members of the media are working environmental bias into the oddest segments. "Good Morning America" weatherman Sam Champion reported this week on the trendy new concept of "green weddings." According to Mr. Champion, "more and more Americans" are embracing ideas such as not using electricity during their wedding and holding the reception in a barn. Sounds great, right ladies?
On the same topic, the "Today" show’s Martin Savidge worried that climate change could have a negative effect on the nation’s pets. (Presumably, this includes Savidge’s dog "Girlfriend.") On Friday, the aforementioned Mr. Champion plugged a global warming study that predicted overly warm spring temperatures. This was right after his early April forecast of brutal cold for the Northeast.
The last story of Holy Thursday’s Nightly News broadcast featured anchor Brian Williams acknowledging “we are a very religious nation.” The lead-in was for a story on workplace chaplains, a growing trend being offered by companies seeking to provide amenities that are meaningful to their employees.
The story featured the nondenominational Corporate Chaplains of America which serves 450 firms in 26 states. Corporate chaplains offer on-site opportunities for employees to talk with a person of faith about any issues that are bothering them.
Imagine if you will that in September 1996, just days after America launched a missile strike on Baghdad to expand the “no fly zone,” Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich met with Saddam Hussein to discuss foreign policy matters without the permission of President Clinton.
Would the media have vociferously discussed the possibility that Gingrich had violated federal law in doing so?
If the answer is a resounding “Yes,” then why have extremely few press outlets broached this issue as it pertains to current Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s (D-California) recent potentially law-breaking trip to Syria?
To best understand the issue, a little history is necessary. The Logan Act was created in 1799, and reads as follows:
A new report from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press finds the public has relatively little confidence in what the military and the media are telling them about the war in Iraq, although the press has less credibility than the Pentagon.
Interestingly, a majority of self-described Democrats say they are putting their confidence in the media, while Republicans have generally opted to trust the military. In 2005, a major study by the Media Research Center found the vast majority of network news reports highlighted the bad news coming out of Iraq, with few reports detailing the accomplishments or personal bravery of U.S. troops.