Last night, Jon Stewart addressed the fact check of his claim that Fox News viewers are consistently the most misinformed about politics compared to the audiences of other news networks and shows– in “every poll,” he said. Though much of the conservative blogosphere went to town on that bunk claim right away, the backlash against Stewart found a rallying point in an article by the normally left-leaning Politifact:
On Friday, Cass Sunstein, the White House's 56 year-old Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (pictured at right), attempted to disavow a 42-page paper he wrote called "Lives, Life-Years, and Willingness to Pay," which recommended that the government reduce resources directed at benefitting the elderly in favor of increasing what goes to young people, because young people have more years of life ahead of them. His statement, as carried at CNS News:
“I’m a lot older now than the author with my name was, and I’m not sure what I think about what that young man wrote,” he said. “Things written as an academic are not a legitimate part of what we do as a government official. So I am not focusing on sentences that a young Cass Sunstein wrote years ago.
So, dear readers, before you go to the rest of this post, guess how "young" Sunstein was when he engaged in his de facto "death panels" advocacy.
President Obama chided the news media Wednesday for continuing to focus national attention on the non-issue of his American citizenship. "Fascinating how many of Obama's birther remarks…were aimed at the media for stoking this," tweeted Howard Kurtz shortly after the speech.
The birth certificate issue was a distraction, Obama stated, and the White House decision to release his long-form birth certificate was an attempt to re-focus national attention on the important issues, specifically his budget proposal. But which media outlets were most guilty of sustaining attention on the issue? On cable news, at least, the answer runs contrary to the usual media narrative.
As it turns out, one was 35 times more likely to hear about the birther issue on CNN or MSNBC than on Fox News during the week of April 11 through 17, when Obama was touting his budget. The cable network most often railed against as the birther-enabler was least likely - by far - to even mention the issue.
On the surface, TLC's "Extreme Couponing" -- premiering tonight at 9:30 p.m. EDT -- may look to you and me like an innocently voyeuristic look into the lives of fellow Americans who take penny-pinching to the extreme, saving at times hundreds of dollars on grocery store runs.
But that's why we're not TV critics for a liberal metropolitan newspaper.
Washington Post's Hank Stuever worked in a healthy share of left-wing grousing about capitalism and insisted that the coupon-clippers highlighted by the program were insufferably selfish souls.
Demonstrating the ability to go unhinged without provocation, movie critic Roger Ebert looked at this Hollywood Reporter item discussing CNN's audience increase on Friday as an excuse to tweet the following at about midnight Eastern time last night:
Lisa Ling, a self-admitted "severe gay rights activist," was much tougher on Christians who hold fast to the traditional teachings against homosexual behavior on the Tuesday episode of her series on the Oprah Winfrey Network, "Our America." Ling wondered if ministering to homosexuals with this belief system "cause more harm than good." By contrast, she was sympathetic of a camp for teenage homosexuals where "they can feel accepted as both gay and Christian."
At the very beginning of her hour-long program, Ling featured the annual conference of Exodus International, an interdenominational ministry that preaches "freedom from homosexuality" for people who have same-sex attraction. As she headed into the conference, she stated that "I just want to go into this with the intention of trying to understand why people believe what they believe, and that's it." The journalist gave a similar line during a February 22, 2011 online interview, but then made the following admission:
The Fox News Channel absolutely dominated its cable news competition in February. In terms of overall viewers, the top 11 cable news shows were all on Fox. In the coveted 25-54 demographic - the group that advertisers pay particularly close attention to - Fox took 11 of the top 15 spots.
The Rachel Maddow Show earned the top spot for an MSNBC program. Despite her struggles with factual accuracy of late, it seems Maddow has assumed the role of leading prime time anchor left vacant by Keith Olbermann's departure.
CNN's AC360 led that channel, beating out Maddow in the demo with 304,000 viewers, but trailing MSNBC and Fox leaders in total viewership.
On Wednesday, the Hollywood Reporter tried to dissect cable news's strange fascination with Sarah Palin. For Fox it's more apparent: Palin is a paid contributor, after all. But for MSNBC, whose primetime hosts have mentioned her more than any other cable news personalities, it seems to be a case of mutual dependency. MSNBC needs Palin.
In a response to the THR article, filmmaker John Ziegler delved deeper into the lefty cable network's strange obsession with all things Palin. Ziegler made plain what THR only touched on: Palin fits perfectly the "bogeyman" role that MSNBC needs to keep its lefty viewers tuned in.
As for MSNBC programmer BIll Wolff's insistence that the channel simply "holds up a mirror" - tells it like it is, in other words, with no partisan spin - Ziegler callled the claim "laughable."
Earlier this morning, NewsBusters publisher and Media Research Center (MRC) president Brent Bozell sat down with C-SPAN's Libby Casey for an interview on "Washington Journal."
Among other topics, Bozell addressed media coverage of the Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona) shooting.
"Where's the harm in having this discussion about civil discourse?" Casey asked Bozell.
"I think it's a very good discussion, don't get me wrong.... But don't tie it to what happened [in Arizona]," Bozell answered. "Don't say it's because Sarah Palin and the crosshairs [on her PAC's targeted midterm race map]."
For the excerpt, check out the video embedded below the page break or click here for MP3 audio.
CNN's Roland Martin went on a tirade against Rush Limbaugh on his "Washington Watch" program on TV One on Sunday, labeling the conservative talker a "right-wing blowhard" and "absolute idiot" for pretending not to know anything about the black-oriented TV network. Martin claimed that he was "more fair and sensible" than Limbaugh, but his list of guests alone betrays a definite liberal bias.
The CNN contributor went after the talk show host in his "Call 'Em Out" segment, which lasted just under three minutes during the 11 am Eastern hour program. In a teaser for the segment, Martin trumpeted how "that right-wing blowhard Rush Limbaugh needs some schooling about this show, 'Washington Watch,' and TV One. Trust me, I'm gonna give it to him."
During the actual segment (video available here), the TV One host led with his "absolute idiot" label for Limbaugh and played a clip from the December 6, 2010 edition of the conservative's show, where he needled Martin and his network (audio of Limbaugh available here):
I'll admit it, like millions of other Americans, I'm a sucker for cheesy occupation-based reality shows. I love History Channel's Pawn Stars and American Pickers, as well as A&E's Billy the Exterminator and Dog the Bounty Hunter. I watch them because they're entertaining and full of colorful characters, not in the expectation of some insightful commentary on America's real or imagined economic and social woes.
But for some reason, Washington Post Style section contributor Hank Stuever is disappointed that A&E's new reality show "Storage Wars," which debuts tonight, doesn't explore those issues to his satisfaction:
Along with the cheerful news that Fox News trounced its cable news competitors on Election Night (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), those longing for more fairness and balance in television news coverage can take some comfort in the fact that the Big Three Networks' evening news shows came in with audiences almost 20% lower during the week before and the week of the 2010 midterm elections compared to the same two weeks in 2006.
As seen below, NBC took the smallest hit of the three networks, losing an average of "only" 1.2 million viewers in the two comparative weeks involved. ABC got hit harder, while CBS lost nearly 3 in 10 viewers (Sources: MediaBistro -- Nov. 1, 2010; Oct. 25, 2010; Nov. 6, 2006; Oct. 30, 2006):
Earlier today Fox Business Channel announced that it's hiring former CNN talker Lou Dobbs to host a new program on its schedule. Once again Fox has demonstrated that it is alone among cable networks in being willing to routinely offer conservative opinion.
Dobbs left CNN last year after CNN president Jonathan Klein gave him an ultimatum: "Mr. Dobbs could vent his opinions on radio and anchor an objective newscast on television, or he could leave CNN."
The politicians who received more votes than their opponents weren't the only winners on Election Night.
Fox News's dominance on Election Night was overwhelming. If the competition between Fox, CNN, and MSNBC had instead been an electoral contest, they would have called it 30 seconds after the polls closed.
The graphic that follows illustrates just how big Fox's gains were in 2010 compared to 2006, after a mediocre 2006 compared to 2002:
There's a cable news channel out there operating with a single partisan voice, and doing its best to scare the pants off of viewers as the new Congress approaches. Listening to much of the media, you might think that network was Fox.
But in fact Fox has a wealth of opinions on air, though most of its prime time hosts are consistently conservative. And while certainly a number of critics try to paint FNC as "fear-mongers," it's been MSNBC that has really gone full force with the doom-saying this week.
Baltimore Sun media critic David Zurawik is absolutely livid about it, and has devoted considerable space this week to bashing MSNBC for its apocalyptic tone.
Keith Olbermann has become very upset lately at people who claim MSNBC and Fox News are two sides of the same coin - ideological cable news counterparts. Olbermann is right to object to that characterization, but not for the reason he thinks.
Unlike his 8 pm Fox News competitor Bill O'Reilly, Olbermann prefers not to have dissenting voices on his show. According to Philadelphia Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky, Olbermann did not host a single conservative on "Countdown" last week. O'Reilly, meanwhile, brought 11 liberals on his show.
The folks at MSNBC are for some reason still under the impression that they are anything but a far less successful liberal alternative to Fox News.
The former channel's president, Phil Griffin, tried to perpetuate that delusion in a blog post by New York Times media blogger Brian Stelter on Sunday. Griffin claimed that MSNBC, unlike Fox News, does not help guests who are political candidates solicit funds on air.
In fact, MSNBC talker Ed Schultz has done just that on multiple occasions. “Show me an example of us fund-raising,” Stelter quotes Griffin as saying. Perhaps he should have reviewed his own channel's coverage before making that challenge.
When mainstream media folks like Harry Smith dismiss the Tea Party movement as merely voters venting their anger, NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell is reminded of the dismissive reaction of journalists back when Republicans won control of Congress 16 years ago.
Here's what he told viewers of the October 15 "Fox & Friends":
According to a recent poll, likely voters get their political news primarily from cable television. Among cable channels, 42 percent, a plurality, watch Fox News for its political coverage. Only 12 percent said they watched MSNBC. What's more, most likely voters don't like or have never heard of MSNBC's prime time talent.
The poll, conducted by Politico and George Washington University, used a sample split evenly between political parties - even slightly favoring Democrats in some areas: 41 percent of respondents identified as Republicans, while 42 percent said they were Democrats. Forty-four percent said they usually vote for Republicans, while 46 percent answered Democrats. Forty-eight percent voted for Obama, while only 45 percent voted for McCain.
Even among this group, Fox News is by far the most popular cable outlet. CNN comes in at second, with 30 percent. A sorry MSNBC brings up the rear.
At Media Bistro on Friday, Gail Shister transcribed Jonathan Klein's post-mortem spin on why he was let go from CNN/US. You see, Klein's problem was that he "was unable to stop the prime-time bleeding with non-partisan programming."
If there is an example of anyone who has overseen a bigger audience decline and loss of competitive position and survived so long, I don't know who he or she is. Fox News, which first passed CNN in total viewers in January 2002 (interesting how this basic factoid is not at Fox's Wiki entry), now routinely trounces CNN and CNN Headline combined by a factor of 1.5 to 1 or more. On Thursday, Fox's primetime audience of 574,000 was 75% greater than the CNN pair's combined total of 329,000.
But before he arrived at CNN to do his damage, Klein inadvertently did the nation a service.
In the current federal tax debate, the media are "really helping out the liberals" just by choosing certain words over others, according to the Business & Media Institute.
In an appearance on Fox Business Network Sept. 21, BMI's Julia Seymour told host Charles Payne that the mainstream media - "particularly the cable primetime shows that we looked at," had been framing "the debate as tax cuts, rather than tax increases."
Seymour was referring to BMI research showing that the media was using the language of the left and the Obama administration when reporting on the tax issue. MSNBC's Keith Olbermann said on Sept. 13 that "Democrats want to cut everybody's taxes," despite the president's stated intent to raise taxes on the rich. "It was 27 tax cut-framed stories, versus two tax increase stories," Seymour told Payne. The media were thus 13 times more likely to put a positive spin on the Democrats' intentions than to characterize the move as a tax increase.
Collectively they gave her less than five minutes.
The Republican Delaware Senate nominee gave a speech at the Values Voters Summit in Washington, D.C. this afternoon from about 3:25 to 3:45 p.m. EDT. Of the three major cable news networks, Fox News showed none of the speech while MSNBC's Chris Jansing gave viewers just under a minute of O'Donnell audio before interviewing Time magazine's Jay Newton-Small about concerns some GOP operatives have about O'Donnell being a weaker matchup against the Democratic nominee than Rep. Mike Castle (R) would have been.
Only CNN's Rick Sanchez gave O'Donnell a substantial chunk of time: 3 minutes and 33 seconds. When Sanchez cut away from O'Donnell, he noted that she's "getting her first taste of the national spotlight" since clinching the nomination and promised that CNN would "continue to follow as the midterms in November draws near."
In late July, NB Contributing Editor Tom Blumer busted the Associated Press for neglecting to mention the party affiliations of scandal-plagued officials in Bell, California. The AP piece was one of hundreds of reports on the scandal. Of those hundreds, one solitary report mentioned party labels for the five officials.
Can you guess which party they belong to? I'll bet you can.
The only news outlet that mentioned the officials were Democrats was the Orange County Register. And even that paper noted the absence of party labels only in response to reader complaints. "Our readers noticed one part of the story has been left out by virtually all media sources," the paper's editorial board wrote. "All five council members are members of the Democratic Party."
The most prominent of the officials in question, former Bell city manager Robert Rizzo, resigned after it came to light that he was making $1.5 million per year - in a town with a per capita income languishing at about half the national average.
Earlier today, NB's Lachlan Markey covered Bill O'Reilly's interview with the Fox Business Channel's Charles Gasparino.
In that interview, Gasparino confirmed what the New York Post reported in April of last year, namely that "GE Execs Encouraged CNBC Staff to Go Easy on Obama."
The suits at GE, including Chairman Jeff Inmelt, had a clear motivation for encouraging their reporters to lighten up, namely that "General Electric at the time was hoping to profit handsomely from policies that would benefit a few companies, including GE, at the expense of the majority of the economy"-- specifically cap and trade.
But speaking of motivation: What about former CNBCer Gasparino's?
The easy answer would be that sometime in the past two years he has seen the light and realizes his past reporting at CNBC was lacking in fairness and balance. Despite his move to Fox, there's reason to doubt that.
The big three nightly news broadcasts, NBC Nightly, CBS Evening and ABC World, lost a combined one million viewers in the second quarter of 2010, according to TVNewser.
These numbers are comparable to the first quarter, which saw Evening News and World News get their lowest average viewers ever, while NBC's Winter Olympics coverage helped it get their highest average viewers since 2005. In the second quarter, NBC lost 440,000 viewers, ABC 260,000 and CBS 340,000. It was about this time last year that ABC and CBS' news programs had their lowest ratings ever.
These numbers are not at all surprising in light of the public's continued distrust of the old media. As Newsbusters' Rich Noyes wrote of a Rasmussen poll released earlier this month, "Perhaps as a result, the poll finds an astonishing two-thirds of the public (66 percent) say they are angry with the media, ‘including 33 percent who are very angry' with the press."
Of the more than 300 corporate sponsors who have sponsored Comedy Central in the past, not a single one has indicated their intention to buy advertising time on the planned "JC" program should it ever be set to go to broadcast.
That's the victorious announcement today from Citizens Against Religious Bigotry (CARB), a group co-founded by NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell and a handful of other social conservative activists.
"The sponsors understand what the programming department at Comedy Central does not: Religious bigotry is bad business," Bozell noted in a statement. "With literally zero advertiser support for this program, the only reason Comedy Central would put it on their broadcast schedule is in an effort to offend Christianity and Christians. There is no valid business reason for airing 'JC,'" the Media Research Center founder argued.
CNN has announced that it will cease using all content from the Associated Press effective June 30, and from all appearances will take a run at becoming a credible wire service competitor.
Although it would be easy to dismiss this as the blind leaving the blind, this development seems like it has the potential to alter the news landscape and temper some of the worst excesses of press bias and ignorance.
Here are a few paragraphs from CNN's internal announcement, as carried at Media Bistro:
To: CNN Staff From: Jim Walton
We are taking an important next step in the content-ownership process we began in 2007 to more fully leverage CNN's global newsgathering investments. Starting today, CNN newsgathering will be the primary source of all content for all of our platforms and services. We will no longer use AP materials or services. The content we offer will be distinctive, compelling and, I am proud to say, our own.
Real Clear Politics currently has a video highlighting statements by Democratic Congressman James Clyburn Jr. of South Carolina. It teases the video with a question asked by Candy Crowley of CNN.
Once one sees the entire sequence, it's clear that Clyburn really answered Crowley's question before she even asked it.
Here's the full transcript of the vid, which begins after Indiana Republican Congressman Mike Pence had apparently made some points about how steps taken by the Obama administration to revive the economy to the point where it generates meaningful job growth aren't working. Clyburn's answer to when his party will stop blaming Bush is in bold:
Clyburn: Uh, Congressman Spence, uh, Pence keeps talkin' about, uh, the fact that, uh, we are, uh, failing in our approach. We all know exactly what this president inherited, and we will stop talkin' about that inheritance, uh, when uh Congressman uh Pence and others stop talkin' about takin' us back uh to those failed policies.
On last night's "O'Reilly Factor," host Bill O'Reilly and guest analyst Arthel Neville discussed the possibly impending Comedy Central show "JC" - as in Jesus Christ.
Given the network's past treatment of Christianity, the portend for this show is hardly positive.
Which is why the Media Research Center has put together a coalition to ask advertisers to publicly pledge to not underwrite/support the show.
Citizens Against Religious Bigotry (CARB) (which Ms. Neville graciously mentioned by name) is made up of many organizations - made up of Christians, Jews and Muslims - who would like to see religion not be the butt of raunchy/tasteless jokes, and who don't think America's advertisers should help fund said alleged humor.
A petition to advertisers (to be found on the CARB website) has garnered more than 115,000 signatures thus far.
And if you aren't familiar with how Comedy Central does Christianity, watch this video and you'll get an idea of what can be expected should JC ever make it to the airwaves.