Yesterday, CBS Early Show co-host Hannah Storm asked White House aide Dan Bartlett about how most Americans think the economy is tanking: "Finally Dan, quickly, I know you came on to talk about the economy today, the President is going to address this today, there are some positive numbers but we have Americans shopping at discounters, they spent their money on gas this summer, they're worried about heating costs. What can you tell the majority of Americans who actually feel that the economy is getting worse?"
Is Wal-Mart good for America or destroying its families? Two new documentaries show opposing views on the world’s largest retailer, but the media didn’t.
The anti-Wal-Mart film “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price” has received most of the attention. The movie on the benefits of Wal-Mart, “Why Wal-Mart Works & Why That Makes Some People Crazy” was slighted. When both did get attention on “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” with the anti-Wal-Mart film getting more airtime from an agreeable Dobbs according to a report by the Free Market Project.
NBC began a November 1 “Today” segment with “A media blitz is under way about Wal-Mart and from Wal-Mart.” Text then appeared on the screen that read “Wal-Mart drives down retail wages $3 billion every year.” Despite mentioning the “media blitz” from Wal-Mart, the only official representation of the store was two lines from an ad. Reporter Dawn Fratangelo mentioned Wal-Mart’s new environmental programs and new health care plan. She then added “But critics call it a publicity stunt,” and interviewed a man from union-backed wakeupwalmart.com about it. Only anti-Wal-Mart people were featured in the story, and nothing positive about the company was included.
Lou Dobbs and the Merry Men and Women of CNN promoted a “windfall profits tax” on oil companies that Dobbs nicknamed a “Robin Hood Tax.” Dobbs set up a November 7 story asking if oil companies should have to give back some of those “giant profits to American citizens.”
Reporter Louise Schiavone’s story told viewers that “Energy prices have gone through the roof and somehow taken a route through your wallet to get there.” Schiavone didn’t stop there. Her broadcast featured complaints about “A long simmering post-hurricane resentment about rising gas prices erupted into out-and-out charges of price gouging after Exxon Mobil posted third-quarter profits of almost $10 billion.”
Oil companies profited from price spikes, but they didn’t arbitrarily set their prices extra-high. Market forces determined prices. But Schiavone didn’t explain that, and she didn’t bother to mention that gas prices have dropped 68 cents per gallon since their post-Katrina highs, declining every business day since October 6.
Even in a free market democracy, policy makers are to blame for all of society’s ills.
According to “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” America is a nation in trouble, and the blame can be placed squarely on the shoulders of policy makers.
CNN’s Christine Romans began her October 28 report: “Lou, while policy makers wring their hands over this latest Washington scandal, as important as it is, the truth is there are fundamental problems in this country that are eating away the foundations of America and the numbers don't lie. Policy makers, this is what you've achieved.”
Romans’ sweeping attack on the nation, called “America’s Negative Numbers,” cited a variety of national “problems,” and literally blamed them all on “policy makers.” And though she claimed, “the numbers don’t lie” -- her data was at times faulty, incomplete or misleading -- Romans and the experts she interviewed never indicated what government policies were specifically the cause of such societal ills, or offered any policy suggestions to correct them.
Former chairman of the Federal Reserve Paul Volcker released a list today of 2,200 companies that apparently bribed Saddam Hussein for access to contracts related to the United Nations oil-for-food program. Topping the list were such household names as Germany’s Siemens Corporation, Germany’s Daimler Chrysler, and Sweden’s Volvo. Yet, Richard Roth, reporting on CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” began his piece on this story by focusing on Oscar Wyatt, Jr., an oil trader from Texas:
“More than 2,000 companies were accused of doing illegal business with Saddam Hussein feasting on the oil-for-food program. One prominent American businessman was Texas oil trader Oscar Wyatt, Jr., who in a case of bad timing for him, was also arraigned last week in federal court charged by the government with paying millions of dollars of kickbacks to win oil contracts with Iraq.”
The way to the media’s heart is to take jabs at Wal-Mart – JibJabs, that is. JibJab.com, the maker of several popular political videos, unleashed an assault on the nation’s biggest retailer that one CNN journalist called “priceless” and another called “hilarious.”
CNN was especially friendly to the team of Evan and Gregg Spiridellis, dwelling on the video in two separate programs. CNN’s Money.com Managing Editor Alan Wastler even called the video company “our friends at JibJab” during the October 22 “In the Money” show. Not to be outdone, anchor Jack Cafferty said, “I love those guys.”
That was how CNN led into a clip of the anti-Wal-Mart attack that features a potbellied shopper filling first a cart and then a house with mountains of retail “crap.” CNN pointed viewers to the video by naming JibJab one of its recommended “Funsites.”
For the media, Hurricane Katrina has been a story of zeroes – the more, the better. While reports before the hurricane’s landing incorrectly warned of tens of thousands of deaths, one prediction that has panned out is the gargantuan cost of the storm. Katrina wrought tens of billions of dollars in destruction and set in motion a $250-billion rebuilding effort.
While not as visible of a step, freeing the market of government intrusion is almost as important as the endless zeroes in the relief budget. One broadcaster who has given these new policies serious attention is CNN’s Lou Dobbs. Unfortunately, he disregards free market solutions on a regular basis. Even raising the minimum payments for credit cards is a “mindless” step engineered by “idiots at the U.S. Treasury Department.”
On CNN tonight, Lou Dobbs declared his deep admiration for New York Times reporter Judith Miller and her well-chronicled 85-day stay in the pokey near the MRC headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. She said it was an "eternity." Dobbs was all about giving special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald the Ken Starr treatment.
DOBBS: This investigation by Fitzgerald has now taken longer than Watergate. I won't ask you to construct or construe the value of your testimony in this case. But the fact that it has taken so long, with the principals all known, with the case sitting before, this -- and the cost of millions and millions of dollars, and frankly I will not forgive Fitzgerald for what he did to you. I think it is an onerous, disgusting abuse of government power, and that of Judge Hogan, straightforwardly. But I am also dismayed that this investigation has taken this long without result. And the only person who's paid a penalty to this point is you.
MILLER: Well, let's wait and see what Mr. Fitzgerald has. If he brings indictments, if he has a very serious case, then I might have to say that perhaps his zealousness with respect to this mission was justified. I don't know what Mr. Fitzgerald has. I'm waiting to see like everybody else what he produces. But if he doesn't have anything, I will wonder about why I had to spend 85 days in jail, and why I may be the only one to spend time in jail. But we don't know yet, Lou. It's interesting to me, nobody has been able to crack the case yet. Nobody knows what he's working on.
Last week, Brent Baker reported here that Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” joked about Hurricane Katrina being George Bush’s Monica Lewinsky. Today, CNN’s political analyst Bill Schneider said virtually the same thing on “Lou Dobbs Tonight”…but HE wasn’t kidding (video to follow):
“Sooner or later, every leader gets in trouble. President Reagan had Iran-Contra, President Clinton had Monica Lewinsky. Like Bush they had a base that helped them get through it.”
As for that base, Schneider strongly suggested that the people in the country who are still supporting the president after this natural disaster are doing so on blind faith totally devoid of logic or common sense:
Call him a protectionist or just call him “the Dan Rather of financial journalism,” as one conservative critic referred to CNN’s Lou Dobbs. No matter what you call him, the truth is he’s one of the biggest opponents of free trade anywhere. Dobbs, who anchors “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” is a veteran business reporter who spends his time these days giving industry the business. The worst part of it is that viewers are missing the real story. Ninety-four percent of the show’s reports about trade over a four-month period blamed free trade for horrors ranging from “destroying” the U.S. middle class to leaving a “legacy of environmental degradation, lost jobs, and increased illegal immigration.” A defense of free trade never received a fair hearing. CNN has promoted the show as “news, debate and opinion.” But it’s hard to tell the difference between the three the way Dobbs delivers them. This is all part of a new analysis by The Media Research Center’s Free Market Project.
Clay Waters of MRC's TimesWatch caught a CNN employee calling Rove's version of the Valerie Plame story "bullshit" as Dobbs introduced a report from Dana Bash. The last reporter seen sitting next to Dobbs at the anchor desk was Kitty Pilgrim, and the unidentified voice is similar to Pilgrim's. The following occurred on Friday night's Lou Dobbs Tonight:
Lou Dobbs: "Tonight, a surprising new development in the CIA leak investigation. Karl Rove's testimony to a federal grand jury is being reported. The testimony suggests that President Bush's political adviser may not have been the original source for the Valerie Plame leak. Rove testifying that he first learned about Plame from columnist Robert Novak, a CNN contributor. Dana Bash reports."
Unidentified Voice: "That's bullshit."