A recent report published by the Gallup Organization stated:
“a majority of U.S. investors continue to describe the current economy as being ‘in a slowdown’ or ‘recession’ as opposed to being ‘in a recovery’ or ‘sustained expansion.’”
Regardless of continuously strong economic reports, such bearish assessments have been regularly portrayed by public opinion polls for several years. During this period, economists and politicians – including the Bush administration – have wondered what is responsible for this disconnect between perception and reality.
A detailed look at how unemployment numbers are shared with the public by mainstream media outlets gives us some clues. The Labor Department on Friday announced very strong employment gains for the month of November. In fact, this was the largest number of job creations since April. However, this news was reported to the public in a fashion that largely downplayed its significance. A 3.2 percent annual increase in wages was characterized as employees “basically treading water.” Although energy prices have been steadily declining since September, jobs market stories included references of this still being a “huge concern.” Other news accounts referred to the unemployment rate being “stuck at 5 percent,” as if a 5 percent unemployment rate is a bad thing, while one cable news outlet told viewers to take the numbers “with a grain of salt.”
The New York Times just can't forgive Mel Gibson for making "Passion of the Christ." Editor-columnist Frank Rich assailed it, most amusingly when he predicted it would be "a flop in America" and rather appallingly when he called it "a joy ride for sadomasochists" and accused Gibson of anti-Semitism.
Wednesday's paper dredges up the anti-Semitic charge in a front-page business-section story by David Halbfinger promoted on the "Inside Box" on the front page with this heavy language:
"Mel Gibson, whose 'Passion of the Christ' was assailed by some critics as an anti-Semitic passion play -- and whose father has been on record as a Holocaust denier -- has a new project under way: a nonfiction mini-series for television about the Holocaust."
David Cloud reports on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's talk at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in "Rumsfeld Says the Media Focus Too Much on Negatives in Iraq," but devotes most of his small Tuesday story to anti-administration side issues and rebutting unrelated statements by Rumsfeld.
"Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Monday that news media organizations were focusing too much on casualties and mistakes by the military in Iraq and were failing to provide a full picture of the progress toward stabilizing the country. 'We've arrived at a strange time in this country where the worst about America and our military seems to so quickly be taken as truth by the press, and reported and spread around the world, often with little context and little scrutiny, let alone correction or accountability after the fact,' he said in a speech at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies."
Saturday's New York Times story from Sheryl Gay Stolberg, "Democrats Sense Chance In Ohio for '06 Elections -- Weakened Republicans Still Hold Edge," is the latest in what amounts to an "occasional series" of Times' stories encouraging Democrats in Ohio.
Congressional reporter Stolberg is even more excited about Democratic prospects in Ohio than James Dao (of Marine letter infamy) was during Paul Hackett's unsuccessful run for an open House seat. And before the 2004 election, Dao noted: "The disarray is so great, Democrats contend, that it could hurt President Bush's ability to win Ohio, a pivotal state for the Republicans."
As reported by NewsBusters here, the New York Times’ William Safire made some statements on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on October 30 concerning his view of a changing tide in the media’s opinion of the president. This morning’s panel on NBC’s “The Chris Matthews Show” proved Safire as being rather prophetic.
To refresh everyone’s memory, Safire said that day: “Now, the wonderful thing about American attention and media coverage, is the narrative has to change. It can't stay the same, or else it's not newsworthy. And so the story will be the comeback.”
No tremendous shock here, but the New York Times has done it again. Specifically, in editorializing against the services of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, the Times has reinforced the perception that it has become an active arm of the liberal and world-elite.
The editorial, "Blocking Reform at the U.N." says that Ambassador Bolton is "threatening to hold up its entire two-year operating budget unless his demands for major reforms are met almost immediately."
The New York Times claims "An American-backed program appears to defy the basic tenets of freedom of the press" as it continues to play catch-up to the Los Angeles Times, which had the dubious honor of breaking the story of the Pentagon-led PR-journalism campaign in support of the U.S. effort in Iraq.
On Friday, NYT reportrs Eric Schmitt and David Cloud file "Senate Summons Pentagon To Explain Effort to Plant Reports in Iraqi News Media." The text box: "An American-backed program appears to defy the basic tenets of freedom of the press."
Yesterday afternoon the Washington Post filed to its website a quick take on Bush's speech to the Naval Academy on Iraq, including the president's emotional quotation from a letter found on the laptop of Marine Cpl. Jeffrey Starr, six months to the day after his death in a firefight in Ramadi.
"Reading from a letter written by a U.S. soldier on his lap-top computer before his death, an emotional Bush said America owes those who have died in Iraq to 'take up their mantle, carry on the fight and complete their mission.'"
By contrast, the Times online story from Christine Hauser made no mention of Starr's letter. Perhaps one reason why: As Michelle Malkin first learned, The New York Times quoted Starr's letter in a story last month, but managed to miss the point, leaving off the very part Starr's family and President Bush found significant.
Don't miss my latest writing for the Free Market Project: Media claims about a “housing bubble” are nothing new. Since before the 9/11 terror attacks, the media have been calling the housing market a “bubble” while predicting an imminent, devastating decline. Not only have they been wrong in forecasting such a top, they have thoroughly mischaracterized what an investment bubble is. Now that the market for homes has finally slowed a bit, the media are declaring the bubble has burst.
A Bubble?: Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan has denied the existence of a national housing bubble for several years, but the media have used the term repeatedly.
Strong Gains: The increase in real estate values the past five years has not resembled the rapid rise typically seen in a bubble. In 2000, the national median existing-home value was $139,000. This grew to $215,900 by the third quarter of 2005 – a 55-percent nominal increase but a 34-percent inflation-adjusted gain.
Home Sales Still Going Up: New home sales jumped another 13 percent in October. While sales of existing homes were down 2.7 percent from September, the median national price rose to $218,000, a 16.6 percent increase since October 2004.
You've come to Newsbusters because you want to see a concrete example of liberal bias. Who delivers that better than the New York Times?
This is reality. We're 4 years out from the worst attack since Pearl Harbor, post dot-com crash, we've had more hurricanes than any year since some old man first started keeping track, and we just about had a major U.S. city -- an economically important city -- wiped off the face of the planet. The hurricanes took out oil infrastructure at a time when we can ill afford a disruption in supply.
And yet the economy is, quite simply, running hot.
That would be great, except for the fact that a religious conservative is sitting in the White House. Will the powerful New York Times stand for this? After all, there has been so much invested in making Bush look like a religious idiot.
Perhaps the media's most cherished holiday tradition is the middle-class poverty story, which alleges that hunger and homelessness are now stalking the previously impervious middle class, stories often based on dubious numbers from the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Now, clear a place: Heating bills are joining hunger and homelessness at the liberal groaning board.
The Times discovers middle-class needy in Stony Brook, N.Y., in Sunday's Metro section story by Paul Vitello ("Middle Class Gets in Line for Help With Rising Heating Bills").
"The main government assistance office in Suffolk County sits just off a busy road in an office park surrounded by a neighborhood of deep lawns and two-car garages. Everyone for miles around uses that road every day. But until recently, hardly anyone from the neighborhood -- people whose status in the middle class was thought secured unquestionably by homeownership -- ever turned into the office park to seek help inside the county's nondescript building. This year, they have come in from the fear of the cold. They are retirees, young couples, the temporarily unemployed, the two-income families stretched to the limit of second mortgages and credit cards, a slice of the suburban demographic that social workers call 'mortgage rich and pocket poor.'"
A Monday New York Times editorial, "Public Broadcasting's Enemy Within," goes way over the top in its rhetorical assault on Kenneth Tomlinson, the former Corporation for Public Broadcasting chairman who had the audacity to attempt to bring some political balance to PBS, which has long used tax money to fund liberal programming:
"As chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Kenneth Tomlinson proved to be a disastrous zealot. Internal investigators found he repeatedly broke federal law and ethics rules in overreaching his authority and packing the payroll with Republican ideologues."
Like some of the other shows, it seemed a little unanimous on CNN's "Reliable Sources" today. They began with a panel of raving leftist New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, liberal historian Robert Dallek, liberal CNN correspondent Bruce Morton, and UPI Pentagon correspondent Pam Hess, who must qualify as the most conservative one on the panel. Krugman muffed it early when host Howard Kurtz asked if Walter Cronkite could galvanize the anti-war movement today by saying we've lost, we should withdraw: "If Walter Cronkite were alive -- sorry, he is alive. If Walter Cronkite were on the news today, if a Walter Cronkite equivalent were on the news, he would -- immediately after that broadcast we just saw, he would have been called a traitor."
Tired of public opinion polls? Well, an article in today’s New York Times might be an indication that Americans have seen enough polls in the past three months, and that a new strategy is necessary to inform them how to think. How does it work? Well, instead of releasing data that supposedly represents a statistical picture of the nation’s views on a subject, make the data significantly more real by putting names and faces to the numbers.
The article in question, entitled “Even Supporters Doubt President as Issues Pile Up,” effectively introduced this strategy in its first four paragraphs:
The big news story from Iraq yesterday was the suicide bombing in Mahmudiya which killed 31 people. The Washington Post story makes it clear what the "insurgents" are really doing:
A suicide attacker steered a car packed with explosives toward U.S. soldiers giving away toys to children outside a hospital in central Iraq on Thursday, killing at least 31 people. Almost all of the victims were women and children, police said.
In homes across this country that subscribe to the New York Times, Americans will wake up on Thanksgiving morning to be told that the land they love is still in some kind of Great Depression. Of course, unemployment is at 5 percent, more Americans own their own homes than ever in history, and the average citizen has a higher net worth – meaning assets minus debt – than ever before, including during the supposed boom years of the late ’90s. Alas, none of that is important to the Times editorial staff...not even on Thanksgiving.
To be sure, this kind of economic mischaracterization is certainly nothing new to the mainstream media. However, stuck in the middle of an editorial about one of the nation’s most cherished holidays, on the very day in question, does make it a little more distasteful than usual:
In reviewing the new George Clooney film “Syriana,” New York Times film critic A.O. Scott files a classic paragraph explaining how this movie may not actually resemble the current political reality, but even if it’s a conspiracy-theory stew of baloney, its heart is in the right place:
“Someone is sure to complain that the world doesn't really work the way it does in ‘Syriana’: that oil companies, law firms and Middle Eastern regimes are not really engaged in semiclandestine collusion, to control the global oil supply and thus influence the destinies of millions of people. O.K., maybe. Call me naïve -- or paranoid, or liberal, or whatever the favored epithet is this week -- but I'm inclined to give Mr. Gaghan the benefit of the doubt. And even if the picture's rendering of current events turns out to be entirely off base, the energy, care and intelligence with which it makes its points are hard to dismiss.” Okay, Mr. Scott, you have it: you're a paranoid liberal. A peek at Metacritic.com shows that critics routinely found it to be liberalism on speed:
Inside the New York Times today, reporter Gardiner Harris reports on how federal regulators have found that all four women who died after taking the RU-486 abortion drug cocktail “suffered from a rare and highly lethal bacterial infection.” This is certainly not a story the major media has shown much interest in. They did major stories (hawking liberal interest groups) warning about fat-free Pringles and taco shells made of genetically engineered corn, but major corporations that make surgery-free abortions possible? The corporate watchdog suddenly is a harmless, quiet pooch.
Harris reported “officials from the F.D.A. and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have decided to convene a scientific meeting early next year to discuss this medical mystery, according to two drug agency officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic.”
Comments are a wonderful thing and truly one of the best features of blogging. I say that because a particular comment on the CBS News "Public Eye" blog is worth highlighting here at NewsBusters now that axed CBS News producer Mary Mapes has come under increasing fire from her former employer. This raises a question for PE commenter "Neuro-con." (Unfortunately, CBS's software does not allow direct linking to a comment so you'll have to search or scroll a bit.)
Mapes' book was newsworthy, in that it confirmed that she has an
extremely distorted notion of truth. CBS is implicated in maintaining
such an individual on the payroll for 15 years.
CBS has an ethical obligation to (at least) make public a list of her previous pieces for 60 Minutes, along with transcripts.
The NY Times and The New Republic, when confronted with a
pathological liar on the payroll, went back and re-reported every
single one of their stories. In both cases, a pattern of behavior was
Vaughn [Ververs, PE's editor], please answer this question: Why does CBS hold itself to a much lower standard than the NYTimes or The New Republic?
In the New York Times Sunday book review, Newsweek Senior Editor Jonathan Alter checks out "Truth and Duty," the apologia from Mary Mapes, the disgraced former CBS News producer of "Memogate" infamy, in which she blames right-wing bloggers and everyone but herself for how her "expose" of Bush's National Guard duty blew up in the face of her network.
The liberal Alter is highly critical of Mapes and CBS, but makes a rather paranoid and over-the-top claim about "Buckhead," the Atlanta attorney who originally questioned the fake documents used by CBS's "60 Minutes II" to attack President Bush's Texas Air National Guard service record.
"Buckhead"'s posting on the right-wing FreeRepublic website began the blogosphere's speedy evisceration of the forged memos, but Alter has this novel spin: "The blogger's anonymous assertion, within hours of the broadcast, that the proportional spacing and type font of the Killian memos did not exist in those days was only one of many falsehoods spread by political hit men."
Today’s New York Times featured a Carl Hulse article that depicted the future of the Republican Party as being almost as bright as Alaska for the next several weeks. In Hulse’s view, just about everything that has gone wrong in America in 2005 can be linked to Republicans, while, conversely, in a 27 paragraph piece, there was only one paragraph that suggested any problems for the party on the opposite side of the aisle. Frankly, this article read more like a press release from a political strategist than a column in a leading, national newspaper.
First, Hulse set the stage: “The ugly debate in the House on Friday over the Iraq war served as an emotional send-off for a holiday recess, capturing perfectly the political tensions coursing through the House and Senate in light of President Bush's slumping popularity, serious party policy fights, spreading ethics investigations and the approach of crucial midterm elections in less than a year.”
He then established the goal: “Capitol Hill was always certain to be swept up in brutal political gamesmanship as lawmakers headed into 2006 - the midpoint of this second presidential term and, perhaps, a chance for Democrats to cut into Republican majorities or even seize power in one chamber or the other.”
Then, Hulse enumerated all the Republican shortcomings:
Sunday’s New York Times Magazine features another weekly submission from Randy Cohen, writer of "The Ethicist" column, about a non-political topic -- who should pay for damage done to an office building by a doctor’s patient -- but on Friday’s Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on CBS Cohen made clear his disgust with President Bush. When Ferguson raised Bill Clinton’s name, Cohen reacted with outrage that Ferguson was still concerned about such old news: "Oh, Clinton, he's been out of office for, you know, how long? Seven years. Some little lie about his personal life. We've got a guy now who lied the country into a war. You're talking about Clinton from seven years ago?" Actually, Clinton left office fewer than five years ago. Cohen advised that on Monica Lewinsky “he should have said, 'None of your business' and then after that, it's between him and his wife.”
Cohen’s hostility to President Bush isn’t based on recent events. A MRC CyberAlert item in June of 2003 recounted: “Since President Bush is either a 'liar’ or 'corrupt’ or just plain 'incompetent’ now that his reasons for war with Iraq have all been found to be untrue, the 'ethicist’ columnist for the New York Times wondered on CNN whether Bush can 'honorably’ continue to serve in office.” (Full rundown of those comments, in which he made Aaron Brown seem reasonable, as well as what he said Friday night on CBS, follows.)
Battling chilly temps and uncooperative winds, a Ukrainian group assembled outside New York Times headquarters in Manhattan Friday to protest the 1932 Pulitzer Prize awarded to Times reporter Walter Duranty for his pro-Stalin coverage of Russia.
The Ukrainian famine of 1932-33 (Ukrainians call it the Holodomor) was engineered by Russian dictator Josef Stalin -- and whitewashed from Duranty's reporting for the Times. Duranty, who covered the country for the Times from 1922 to 1941, ignored Stalin's atrocities, including the famine that killed seven to ten million Ukrainians.
Duranty, who is "credited" for coining the phrase (referring to Stalin’s purges) "You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs," said of the famine accusations, which were reported at the time by left-wing journalists like Malcolm Muggeridge: "Any report of a famine in Russia today is an exaggeration or malignant propaganda."
Rep. John Murtha's anti-war pessimism leads Friday's New York Times, but criticizing the war isn't new for the "conservative" congressman.
"Fast Withdrawal Of G.I.'s Is Urged By Key Democrat" is the headline to Eric Schmitt's story:
"The partisan furor over the Iraq war ratcheted up sharply on Capitol Hill on Thursday, as an influential House Democrat on military matters called for the immediate withdrawal of American troops and Republicans escalated their attacks against the Bush administration's critics....'Our military has done everything that has been asked of them. It is time to bring them home,' Mr. Murtha said, at times choking back tears. Mr. Murtha's proposal, which goes well beyond the phased withdrawal of United States forces from Iraq that other moderate Democrats have proposed, stunned many Republicans who quickly held their own news conference to criticize the plan."
As reported by the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker, the network evening news broadcasts tonight all lead with Congressman John Murtha’s (D-Penn.) call for the removal of American troops from Iraq. Yet, they seemed disinterested in focusing much attention on Rep. Murtha's “denouncement” of the Iraq war more than a year ago. (Please see a May 10, 2004 CNN story stating, “Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, in a news conference with Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said the problems in Iraq are due to a ‘lack of planning’ by Pentagon chiefs and ‘the direction has got be changed or it is unwinnable.’") Maybe most important, the networks totally ignored the fact that Rep. Murtha has been expressing disgust with the Bush administration’s prosecution of this war since six months after it started.
Rep. Murtha first voiced his displeasure with how things were going in Iraq on September 16, 2003, when he called for the immediate firing of President Bush’s defense leadership team. The network news organizations this evening chose not to inform their viewers of this, and, instead, implied that Rep. Murtha was a "hawk" that has always supported this war, and that his statements today were recent revelations.
Quite the contrary, the New York Times reported on September 17, 2003 (link courtesy of Common Dreams.org):
The latest edition of "The Balance Sheet," the MRC's Free Market Project (FMP) newsletter, is up and archived on freemarketproject.com. Balance Sheet, published every week on Wednesday afternoon, provides the best of FMP coverage from the previous week on the media's bias against the free market.
You can obtain a free subscription to "The Balance Sheet" by clicking here and signing up for e-mail delivery.
Highlights from this week include FMP director Dan Gainor's take on the Fox News's special from Sunday: "The Heat is On," editor Amy Menefee's analysis of the media's hyped predictions on natural gas prices for this coming winter, and as always, "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" in economic and business reporting from the past week, and yes, the New York Times makes the list, but perhaps in a way that will surprise you. All that, plus links to commentaries, analysis, research and upcoming events from experts at think tanks like American Enterprise Institute, Heritage, and Cato.
The White House is counterattacking anti-war critics charging that "Bush lied" us into Iraq, and Elisabeth Bumiller files a short piece showing the vice president has joined in ("Cheney Says Senate War Critics Make 'Reprehensible Charges'"). Cheney was speaking to a Frontiers of Freedom gathering in Washington when he said those accusing Bush of manipulating war intelligence were making "one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city."
The updated, online version of Bumiller's article claims:
"In his speech, Mr. Cheney echoed the argument of Mr. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in the past week that Democrats had access to the same prewar intelligence that the White House did, and that they came to the same conclusion that Mr. Hussein was a threat. The administration, however, had access to far more extensive intelligence than Congress did. The administration also left unaddressed the question of how it had used that intelligence, which was full of caveats, subtleties and contradictions. Many Democrats now say they believe they had been misled by the administration in the way it presented the prewar intelligence."