It's certainly not the most egregious media bias or error story you'll every see. But hey, it's the end of the year and almost GOP primary time, so take a break, lighten up a bit, and enjoy this one.
On Wednesday, as shown here and based on when comments first appeared, USA Today's Chris Woodyard put up an item in McPaper's "Drive On" blog about how the funeral of North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Il used decades-old Lincolns. The headline: "North Korea's elite use Nixon-era Lincolns." Figures, right? Any chance to get in a dig at a Republican or conservative. What's wrong with just saying "1970s"? Well, nothing, especially when you're proven wrong about the Nixonian lineage.
There's good economic news today, at least for those who only scan headlines. On USA Today's Web site, the headline is "Weekly jobless claims at lowest level in over 3 years." Oh, happy day! The president's stimulus is finally working. But if you read the Associated Press story under the headline, the news isn't quite so sanguine:
The number of people seeking unemployment benefits rose last week after three straight weeks of declines to a level consistent with a modest pick-up in hiring.
The cover story of Tuesday's USA Today blared "Resurgent Republicans close gap in key states." Susan Page reported a new USA Today/Gallup poll of 12 battleground states found "the number of voters who identify themselves as Democratic or Democratic-leaning in these key states has eroded, down 4 percentage points, while the ranks of Republicans have climbed by five points." GOP voters were also found to be more attentive to the campaign, more enthusiastic about the election, and more convinced the outcome matters. ABC, CBS, NBC coverage? None.
Gallup also found "Americans' concerns about the threat of big government continue to dwarf those about big business and big labor, and by an even larger margin now than in March 2009. The 64% of Americans who say big government will be the biggest threat to the country is just one percentage point shy of the record high, while the 26% who say big business is down from the 32% recorded during the recession." Network coverage? None. On Wednesday morning's Early Show CBS reporter Jan Crawford found only the Gallup result that would discourage Republicans:
Many journalists recognize that Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has become a lightning rod for religious conflict in America. What some columnists seem less willing to recognize is the intense hatred that he has engendered among those offended by his Christianity.
A Dec. 6 USA Today article by Reid Cherner, "Why Tebow Stirs Debate," acknowledged that Tebow's very public expressions of faith have caused intense religious controversy, and made some people uncomfortable. Cherner also quoted former Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer criticizing Tebow for excessively preaching his outspoken religious faith.
On November 15 (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I compared how two of the leading wire services, Reuters and the Associated Press, covered the announcement by Geron Corp. of its decision to halt the first government-approved clinical trial involving embryonic stem cells. Reuters fairly noted that "teams working with adult stem cells -- a less ambitious area -- are making good progress." While one could quarrel with the characterization of adult stem cell research as "less ambitious" (unless you throw in cloning, which is what sometimes seems to be embryonic researchers' primary area of intrigue), its "good progress" descriptor was fair. Meanwhile, the Associated Press's coverage of the same story failed to even recognize the existence of adult stem cell research.
Wesley Smith, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute's Center on Human Exceptionalism and an influential prolife author, has observed that the establishment press has largely come down where AP did. A Friday Catholic News Agency item elaborates (bolds are mine):
Depending on which news outlet you rely on for current events, you may not have heard that convicted Chicago real estate developer Tony Rezko was sentenced to 10½ years in prison Tuesday.
On top of this, unless you read the following report from Reuters, you mightn't have known just how connected he was to a junior senator from Illinois who just so happens to be the President of the United States:
According to Rick Hampson in what is apparently an analysis piece in Monday's USA Today, the Occupy movement has a violent "fringe," which constitutes just a "fraction" of those involved.
Well, he's right about it being a "fraction," except that said fraction is a lot larger than he apparently believes. The USAT writer also attempts to perpetuate the Occupy Oakland myth that its November 2 "non-violent 'general strike'" was absolutely peaceful until "some masked anarchists broke off from the main protest." Here is some of Hampson's harrumphing:
Former President Bill Clinton is making headlines again, this time touting his liberal prescriptions to fix the economy. Those remedies are laid out his new book Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy. The news media is doing their part to promote Clinton's work and his economic legacy, portraying him as the economic savior of America.
This should come as no surprise, since Clinton is still beloved by liberal journalists. New York Times book reviewer Michiko Kakutani called Clinton's book "a lucid one-man rebuttal of the Tea Party's anti-government agenda." Kakutani also summarized Clinton's plan, saying "Mr. Clinton serves up a succinct common-sense argument, why both spending cuts and increased tax revenues are necessary for addressing the debt problem."
Editor's Note: A new USA Today/Gallup poll that finds Americans blame Washington for the country's economic woes much more than Wall Street and financial institutions. NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell is not surprised and issued the following statement.
The American people see right through the liberal media’s favorable spin on Occupy Wall Street. While they shamelessly coddle these clueless protesters, the public isn’t buying it. Americans overwhelmingly blame Washington for the nation’s economic mess and failure to address it.
Extremists in Guy Fawkes masks, Code Pinkers and "professional anarchists," have camped out in New York City to protest Wall Street, greed and the capitalist system. Through social media the first protest in New York's financial district has sparked copycat protests in more than a hundred cities. In a video posted on The Blaze, organizer Nelini Stamp made it clear that what she wants is "to change the capitalist system that we have today because it's not working for any of us." Moments later she said the conversation needed to begin about how "to reform and bring, you know, sort of revolutionary change to the States." She also labeled the OWS events part of a "new age radical movement."
Yet you're unlikely to hear about that from the liberal national news media, who have ignored the radical leftist underpinnings of the movement in nearly 9 out of 10 stories thus far.
Once again the media is completely ignoring the fact that an initiative it’s covering was funded by left-wing financier George Soros. The Soros-funded Brennan Center for Justice released a report opposed to new laws needed to combat voter fraud. This story was in turn promoted by Soros-funded progressive news sites that brought it to the national stage.
The Brennan Center for Justice, part of New York University’s Law School, reported that voting law changes “could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012.” This 64 page report went on to explain that the effects “fall most heavily on young, minority, and low-income voters, as well as on voters with disabilities” and that the “wave of changes may sharply tilt the political terrain for the 2012 election.”
“When Newsweek was owned by the Washington Post, it was predictably left-wing, but it was accurate,” Neuharth observed before slamming the new owner/editor who picked a picture to make Bachmann look crazy: “Under Tina Brown, it is an inaccurate and unfair left-wing propaganda machine.”
The one I expected came from CNNMoney.com, which read: "Initial unemployment claims fall below 400,000 for the first time in more than 3 months, dropping 24,000 to 398,000 in latest week." The other one came from USAToday.com, which does not ordinarily issue alerts when this report appears, took the opportunity to relay the same message, followed by an assertion that today's report is "a sign the job market may be healing after a recent slump."
In his White House speech tonight, President Obama renewed his call for a debt-ceiling impasse solution which requires "the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to give up some of their breaks in the tax code and special deductions." In other words, he wants tax increases, even though earlier in the day, he backed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's "plan" (using the term loosely, as explained here and here) which, according to two separate reports (USAT; ABC), includes no tax increases.
In other words, the President, from all appearances, changed his mind -- again. Calling the President's performance in the debt-ceiling matter during the past several weeks "Jello-like" would appear to be an insult to the referenced food product.
Two items I've seen on President Obama's speech tonight -- David Jackson's "live blog" item at USA Today and David Espo's coverage at the Associated Press -- did not recognize this seemingly clear point.
In a USA Today email I received 20 minutes after Tuesday's closing bell, I was informed that the exceptionally good day occurred because the stock markets were "buoyed by strong earnings reports by IBM, Coke and others." A visit to the email's linked article also partially attributed the rise to "renewed hopes that U.S. lawmakers would be able to break their stalemate and strike a deficit-reduction deal in time to avert a catastrophic government default."
That's strange, because the CNN Headline email I had received 20 minutes earlier struck a totally different and completely absurd pose, as seen after the jump:
Six out of seven reporters, called on by Barack Obama at today's press conference, asked a question of the President that came from the left and/or blamed Speaker John Boehner and the Republicans for standing in the way of a deal on the debt ceiling.
Ben Feller of the AP, began the trend of questioning when he asked how Obama was going to deal with Republicans who were "adamantly" opposed to tax increases. CBS News' Chip Reid followed with "isn't the problem the people who aren't in the room, and in particular Republican presidential candidates and Republican Tea Partiers on the Hill?"
As the New York state legislature debates authorizing same-sex marriage, some Republican legislators want to ensure that Empire State business owners in the hospitality industry, such as caterers and florists, could refuse to lend their services to a same-sex couple hoping to hire them without being wrung out to dry in court for discrimination.
To say that the statistics concerning new business formation during the past few years haven't been very good would be a major understatement.
USA Today's Scott Patterson deserves some credit for even looking at the topic. It is tailor-made for neglect by the rest of the establishment press. When government policies lean towards lower taxation and regulation, policies left-leaning journalists tend to oppose, net business formations generally grow, and they'd rather not report it. In the high-tax, high-regulation environments they favor, net business formation slows considerably -- and again, they'd rather not report it.
Dennis Cauchon at USA Today has been one of a very few establishment press reporters willing to expose federal workers' disproportionate pay and benefits (previous examples here and here) as well as Uncle Sam's precariously dangerous financial situation.
Cauchon has two USAT items today on the latter topic (HT to NB commenter Gary Hall): "U.S. funding for future promises lags by trillions," which reports that federal obligations totaled $61.6 trillion as of September 2010, a $5.3 trillion increase from a year earlier, and "Government's Mountain of Debt," which itemizes those obligations by major source.
Unsurprisingly, 75% of federal obligations, or a combined $46.2 trillion (actually more, which will be seen at the end of this post), relate to Social Security and Medicare, which no one but a few deluded leftists believe (or pretend to believe) are sustainable in their current form. Unfortunately, at the end of his first story, Cauchon quoted one of them, Michael Lind, whom the USAT reporter described as "policy director at the liberal New America Foundation's economic growth program," who said the following:
How convenient. Via Editor and Publisher, the newspaper industry's Audit Bureau of Circulations, in issuing its March 31, 2011 circulation figures, tells us we shouldn't try to compare this year's numbers to last year's:
Because of the new and redefined categories of circulation on this FAS-FAX report, ABC recommends not making any direct comparisons of March 2011 data to prior audit periods.
As readers will see, if the ABC was really interested in enabling us to make apples-to-apples comparisons, it could have done so with appropriate definitional caveats. But it didn't; instead, it revised its definition of "total circulation" this year without disclosing the impact of the switch.
I've made the comparisons where possible for daily editions anyway, and they follow after the jump (original info links: March 31, 2011; March 31, 2010; Boston Globe data obtained here):
Clearly annoyed with conservative moves to cut the federal budget and, I suppose, with the success of conservative voters and the gun rights lobby, USA Today religion writer Cathy Lynn Grossman penned an odd entry entitled "Budget battles: Granny, get your gun," excerpted in full below:
"Megachurch wants choir to sign anti-gay covenant," blared the headline USAToday.com gave a March 16 Associated Press (AP) story today.
But the story itself reveals the document in question -- Crystal Cathedral Worship Choir and Worship Team Covenant -- simply states traditional, biblically-based Christian doctrine on marriage and sexual ethics.
Yesterday, Washington Post syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer performed an act of journalism that anyone in the establishment press could have done -- and didn't -- for 17 days.
Krauthammer did a masterful job of taking apart Obama White House Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob ("Jack") Lew's ridiculous February 21 defense of Social Security and its alleged irrelevance to the deficit in USA Today.
But he went further. He caught Lew saying the exact opposite thing 11 years ago when he was -- wait for it -- Bill Clinton's White House Office of Management and Budget Director.
Here are key excerpts from Krauthammer's column on the fundamental truths about Social Security and the fundamental fib foisted on McPaper by Jack Lew (bolds are mine):
USA Today's Wednesday cover story ("Killings Escalate Piracy Crisis"), has this reference to a quote obtained by the Associated Press:
Killing hostages "has now become part of our rules," said a pirate who identified himself as Muse Abdi in a statement to the Associated Press. "From now on, anyone who tries to rescue the hostages in our hands will only collect dead bodies," Abdi said. "It will never, ever happen that hostages are rescued and we are hauled to prison."
Pretty provocative, right? In fact, it resembles a declaration of war without the rules of war. You might even call it a declaration of t-t-t-t ... terrorism.
The problem is, Abdi's quote is no longer in any story at the Associated Press's home web site, and is rarely present in other Internet news reports.
"The Civil War still divides Americans, especially at a time when some in the Tea Party movement talk of states' rights and secession; when many states are rebelling against federal initiatives such as the health care overhaul; and when America's changing demographics make some nostalgic for a society in which white Christians were more dominant."
That's how USA Today's Rick Hampson went out of his way to smear conservatives in his February 17 story -- "Across the South, the Civil War is an enduring conflict" -- devoted to examining how commemoration and/or celebration of the Confederacy during the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in the South is a divisive political issue.
Twice on Monday (here and here), I took serious issue with the opening sentences of two Associated Press stories on Uncle Sam's fiscal situation.
First, there was Martin Crutsinger's Sunday stinker, which described the level of spending in President Obama's yet to be released 2012 budget as "$3 trillion-plus," timed so that early morning news readers, radio listeners, and TV viewers would hear it. Too bad that the real number, which the AP reporter acknowledged later on Monday, is really $3.73 trillion. If you think that's bad, the administration projects that total spending this year during fiscal 2011 will be $3.82 trillion.
Then there was Monday's muff by the AP's Andrew Taylor, who absurdly claimed that the federal government has only had "two years of big spending increases." It's actually three out of four if you use Obama-Geithner accounting, and four out of four if you flush their accounting tricks out of the numbers.
The inability to get through an opening sentence without insulting reasonably informed readers' intelligence seems to have spread to USA Today. Look at how the paper's Paul Davidson opened his story about what probably ought to be called "Son of Stimulus" in the hopefully unlikely event it ever becomes a reality:
Obama is...rebooting his operation to what he knows best: wizard of all things to all people and master of warm healing. He is acting as a multi-hued, but blank, canvas upon which a swath of Americans can project its diverse hopes and dreams. President Barack Tabla Rasa.
In an interview with CNSNews.com last week, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R) referenced President Obama's African-American heritage last week and "found it remarkable" that he could be pro-abortion. Santorum, later clarifying his comments under media scrutiny, said he meant he is dismayed that a President who "rightfully" fights for civil rights ignores the civil rights of the unborn in America.
Santorum, speaking of President Obama's position on abortion, said in the interview "the question is--and this is what Barack Obama didn't want to answer--is that human life a person under the Constitution? And Barack Obama says no. Well, if that person, human life, is not a person, then I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say, no, we are going to decide who are people and who are not people."
The media picked up on the comment and, without publishing what Santorum said leading up to the segment, questioned if he had racial motivations. Jennifer Epstein's Politico piece was headlined "Rick Santorum plays race card on President Obama." Epstein labeled Santorum's remark "eyebrow-raising."