Former USA Today White House correspondent Richard Benedetto offered strong words for his old colleagues at Politico.com. The headline was "Watchdogs are heeling for Obama." Benedetto feels the "mainstream news media" have been burnishing his image and offering few challenges, that they seem "mesmerized by the glamour" of Obama:
Last week, I asked my journalism and political science students at American University to grade the news media covering the Obama administration for the first 100 days. The consensus fell between a C+ and a B-.
However, if I asked President Barack Obama’s media strategists to grade the press corps covering their boss, I bet they would mark their cards with an A.
Imagine that former Vice President Dick Cheney was set to be honored next month at a Catholic university's commencement ceremony and news came down that another person to be honored at the same ceremony with a different award declined the honor, stating that she felt it inappropriate for the university to honor a man who believes in and furthered the use of torture by condoning waterboarding of enemy combatants.
The press, it's safe to say, would have a field day. But that's not the case with the news of Mary Ann Glendon -- a pro-life Catholic and Harvard professor who is displeased with Notre Dame honoring pro-choice President Barack Obama -- declining to accept the Laetare Award from Notre Dame University.
Yesterday evening NewsBusters Editor-at-Large Brent Baker noted that only NBC's "Nightly News" touched on the story, and that only briefly. This morning, not even NBC's "Today" show mentioned the development in the ongoing commencement speech controversy. Broadcast TV competitors "Good Morning America" and CBS's "The Early Show" ignored the story as well.
The Audit Bureau of Circulations released this morning the spring figures for the six months ending March 31, 2009, showing that the largest metros continue to shed daily and Sunday circulation -- now at a record rate.
According to ABC, for 395 newspapers reporting this spring, daily circulation fell 7% to 34,439,713 copies, compared with the same March period in 2008. On Sunday, for 557 newspapers, circulation was down 5.3% to 42,082,707. These averages do not include 84 newspapers with circulations below 50,000 due to a change in publishing frequency.
Below is a chart showing the specifics for the top 25, including percentage losses for the past four years and during the past year (current year source: Editor & Publisher):
The major media aren’t waiting for the actual 100 days of the Obama administration to end before crowning him a success. The front page of Friday’s USA Today touted their poll with Gallup, using the headline "Poll: Public thinks highly of Obama." He’s only getting stronger, they claimed:
President Obama's opening months in the Oval Office have fortified his standing with the American public, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, giving him political capital for battles ahead.
As his 100th day as president approaches next Wednesday, the survey shows Obama has not only maintained robust approval ratings but also bolstered the sense that he is a strong and decisive leader who can manage the government effectively during a time of economic crisis.
It’s also worth watching how they use the "man on the street" quotes to boost his image. Here’s the third paragraph:
News editors need to retake Journalism 101 or move to features when stories about the White House dog take precedence over a controversial veto by the President's unconfirmed appointment to Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius vetoed a bill, House Substitute for SB 218, April 23 which would have placed additional restrictions on third trimester abortions and allowed more criminal charges over late-term procedures to occur.
With the exception of "Special Report with Bret Baier" that night and "Fox and Friends" the morning of April 24, the broadcast media avoided covering the controversial decision. But "Today," "The Early Show," and "Good Morning America" all had time to cover Michelle Obama talking about the first family's new dog Bo the morning of April 24.
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Lamestream Media The media coverage of the more than 800 Taxed Enough Already (TEA) Party protests that took place in all fifty states on April 15 ranged from disdainful dismissal of their nature, significance and import, to outright hostility towards the events and individual participants, to sexual innuendo-based full-on ridicule.
In this summary, we focused on the three major networks - NBC, ABC and CBS, the two left-of-center cable news networks - CNN and MSNBC and the three major "national" newspapers - the USA Today, the New York Times and the Washington Post.
While not an exhaustively comprehensive oeuvre of TEA Party bias, it contains many, many examples which serve to illustrate the broader antipathetic themes.
Gun control policies wrought by the likes of liberal Sens. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Schumer (D-N.Y.) amount to "cruel indecency and forced victimization" argues rocker Ted Nugent in an April 20, 2009 column in U.S. News & World Report.
With the election of Barack Obama, the 10th anniversary of Columbine, the second anniversary of Virginia Tech, and the media's ongoing fixation on a faulty "90 percent" statistic of U.S. guns seized in Mexican drug crimes, the MSM has found a second wind for the gun control after it was virtually moribund post-9/11.
But the intensified interest in the media for gun control is only certain to energize gun rights and self-defense advocates like Nugent, who takes no prisoners and blows away political correctness in bluntly addressing what's at stake with liberals pushing more gun control:
USA Today's Chuck Raasch has decided that President Obama is a "transformational American leader abroad" and that his America Stinks tour of Europe is a "confirming stamp of that new reality." This effluvia of over indulgent praise heaped on Obama is ubiquitous in the media, we all know, but what makes Raasch's piece egregious is the assumption of historical "truth" that posits that Obama has already succeeded as president even though he's only been in office a few short months. Raash states as fact that Obama has "transformed" America's image with this one tour and that all sorts of new and better relations have followed.
But, the main problem with Raasch's sycophancy is that "followed" hasn't even arrived yet. In fact, Raasch writes this article before Obama's trip abroad is fairly done. It is idiotic to say what "has" come of it all before the president has even set his feet back on American soil. And this is a key problem with all these fake assessments of the "success" of Obama's presidency. There hasn't BEEN any "success" because history has yet to see the outcome of anything he's done thus far.
But this doesn't stop the slobbering Obama love affair that mediots like Raasch wallow in. It all amounts to little else but propaganda as opposed to serious analysis -- serious prOpaganda, if you will.
Same-sex marriage proponents have finally won a victory yesterday the old-fashioned and constitutionally legitimate way: through legislative action. On April 7, state legislators overrided a veto by Gov. Jim Douglas (R), making Vermont the fourth state with legalized same-sex marriage and the first through the consent of the governed as expressed through their legislature.
On Tuesday, both USA Today and the Associated Press highlighted guarded optimism that seemed a bit beyond the justifiable after the release of March's sales results for the auto industry.
Though there is perhaps some cause for hope, both reports made more out of the industry's roughly 25% sales pickup from February to March (compared to a typical 20% in previous years) than was justified. More importantly, both reports failed to specifically cite:
Continued market-share losses at bailed-out General Motors and Chrysler.
Ford's disproportionate share of that decent but not exceptional industrywide February to March pickup (seen in a chart after the jump).
The "Faith & Reason" blogger lamented that "[s]ummer meeting season looms for many of the nation's leading Protestant denominations and that means the culture warriors are manning the battle stations on sexuality issues." Of course there are two sides to the culture war on sexual ethics in American Protestant Christianity, but Grossman's conclusion made clear her complaint was mostly, if not entirely, with conservatives, who stand on the defensive end of assaults by liberal Christians:
How would it affect your life, your spirituality, if the gay couple next door were married by a pastor, priest or rabbi? If your church were served by gay and straight people? Can you share a pew with someone who sees these issues differently?
And that's where Grossman is off the mark. These fights over gay, lesbian, and transgendered clergy are not by and large about the laity praying in the pews but about the higher moral standards on sex expected for the clergy.
The current “money mess” is “primarily because we've spent or authorized more money on the Iraq war (its sixth anniversary is next Thursday) than we're putting into the stimulus program,” USA Today founder Al Neuharth contended in his weekly “Plain Talk” column on Friday. While “many Democrats as well as nearly all Republicans in Congress gave Bush” the authority to go to war in Iraq, “by contrast, the votes on President Obama's recovery or stimulus plan to clean up the mess that Congress helped create with the Iraq misadventure” were not so bi-partisan.
After citing how 246 Democrats House Democrats, but zero Republicans, and 56 Democratic Senators, but only three Republicans, voted for the “stimulus” package, Neuharth scolded Republicans: “Both parties got us into this mess, but only one is trying to get us out of it.”
Media outlets preyed upon people's emotions this week in its reporting of President Barack Obama's decision to overturn the Bush Administration ban on federally-funded embryonic stem cell research.
Embryonic stem cell research is a hot topic among pro-life advocates because it involves the destruction of human embryos in order to obtain the stem cells needed.
CBS' Chip Reid said of embryonic stem-cells during the March 6 Evening News "Scientists believe that by turning them into cells damaged by injury or disease, they can treat or even cure everything from spine cord injuries to Alzheimer's disease to diabetes."
Typical of ABC's Lisa Stark's weekend reporting on the issue was her explanation during the March 6 World News with Charles Gibson: "The president's move will free up federal dollars for more widespread research on embryonic stem cells, the so-called master cells of the body. Supporters say it may lead to cures for diseases, such as diabetes, Parkinson's and Alzheimers."
What these reports ignore is that embryonic stem cell research has not produced any positive results Daniel S. McConchie, vice-president of government affairs for Americans United for Life, wrote, "Ten years after the first isolation of embryonic stem cells, there is not a single disease that these cells can cure." He adds, "Scientists have been conducting research on mouse embryonic stem cells for over 25 years and are yet unable to cure mice."
Be careful when channel surfing; you might get an eyeful of advertisements for pay-per-view porn. But where is the mainstream media's warning to parents and concerned customers?
According to a March 9 article on adage.com, cable and satellite providers such as Comcast and DirecTV, are picking up their effort to boost sales through adult entertainment and the advertisements are expected to appear on more "male-heavy channels such as ESPN and Spike TV." Though the spots may run in the early morning hours of 2 a.m. to 6 a.m., the mainstream media has largely failed to report this news.
The rage among some Italian dioceses is to call on Catholics to shut off the Internet connection, put down the I-pod and chill out on texting for the Lenten fast.
This may contradict the pope, who just recently extolled social networking to forge worldwide understanding and approved a Vatican channel on YouTube. (I wonder if they shut that down for Lent?)
Grossman apparently has trouble reconciling the Vatican's desire to engage social media outlets to reach out to young Catholics and evangelize potential converts with the pastoral counsel from priests and bishops that fasting from too much of a good thing -- such as text messaging -- may help sharpen one's spiritual devotion during the Lenten season:
Back during confirmation hearings in 2001 for former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson Dan Rather reminded Evening News viewers of Thompson's "hardline anti-abortion stand."
Eight years later, there's a whitewash of President Barack Obama's HHS' nominee abortion record.
As a Democratic governor in red-state Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius has vetoed several bills that would modestly restrict abortion. She supports late-term abortion. She's socialized and taken money from well-known abortion extremists, and she has been unofficially ostracized from the Catholic Church for her stance. But you'd have to go out of your way to learn much about that from the news reports that followed the Feb. 28 announcement that Obama planned to nominate her as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
This is a position that controls a $700 billion budget and, according to the New York Times, "would have considerable influence over government policy on abortion."
Though there was never any announcement on this side of the Atlantic that there would be a full-blown joint news conference today when British Prime Minister Gordon Brown stops by to meet with President Obama, some British journalists are rather cranky this morning about the fact that there won't be one. Some who flew over with Brown last night thought there would be an Obama-Brown newser, and were surprised to hear when they arrived that there wouldn't. They see it as a snub.
"Mr Brown might lament," writes Toby Harnden of The Telegraph, "that despite the so-called 'special relationship' Britain is now getting the same treatment as the president of Uruguay but he need not despair. I'm told there's a chance he might get drinks with Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday evening."
Patriotism is cool again. Some would say patriotism, defined as "love of one's country," never goes out of style. But to the Left, it's clearly not an unconditional love. Narcissistic liberals demand a country in their own image.
Still, it's good to see so many of the nation's cultural and entertainment elite waving the flag. Hollywood producer and People for the American Way founder Norman Lear is a perfect example. Lear is so moved by the spirit of patriotism these days that he created a campaign focused on being a "Born Again American."
Unfortunately, liberals like Lear are so out of practice with patriotism that they seem to have adopted it as a surrogate spirituality, or confused it with a very un-American cult of personality.
Joe Strupp at Editor & Publisher reports the revolving door between the media and government spun wildly out of the New Jersey Star-Ledger: "at least 16 reporters and newsroom staffers at The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., most of whom left the paper in the past year's massive buyout, are now working for public officials or state agencies the paper covers...With 151 newsroom staffers taking buyouts last October, out of 330 total, that figure represents about 10% of the departed reporters, although some left prior to that round of buyouts."
Topping that list is Deborah Howlett, a former statehouse reporter who is now Gov. Jon Corzine’s communications director. However, this is not Howlett’s first job in politics. We at MRC reported in 1990 that before joining USA Today, Howlett, spent four months in 1983 as Press Secretary to Oregon State Senator Margie Hendricksen, a Democrat who later opposed moderate-to-liberal GOP Sen. Mark Hatfield. The Almanac of American Politics blamed Hendricksen's loss on her "consistently liberal views" which, as The New Republic once noted, include favoring unilateral nuclear disarmament.
As the 1980s wound to a close, Howlett sneered at the Reagan '80s in a November 27, 1989 USA Today "news" story: "The '80s were the years of excess. We swaggered through the portals and grabbed as much as we could. We were greedy and gluttonous. As long as we wore starched shirts, we could belch at the dinner table. And Ronald Reagan led us."
With Barack Obama’s first press conference as president scheduled on Monday night, one obvious question that comes up is what kind of questions he will receive from the White House press corps. His predecessor, George W. Bush, faced some pressing questions during his first press conference on February 22, 2001.
Liberal firebrand Helen Thomas offered the most politically-charged question: “Mr. President, why do you refuse to respect the wall between the church and state? And you know that the mixing of religion and government, for centuries, has led to slaughter. The very fact that our country has stood in good stead by having this separation -- why do you break it down?” When President Bush answered that he did “respect the separation of church and state,” Thomas blasted back: “Well, you wouldn't have a religious office in the White House if you did.” Since President Obama has decided to retain Bush’s faith-based initiative (although with a new name and slightly new mission), one wonders if Thomas will press the Democrat on the issue.
Two weeks ago, ABC's Good Morning America featured kids who offered up silly liberal platitudes for President Barack Obama (“I want you to make people stop littering because our Earth is dying”) , but in retrospect they seem downright insightful compared to the collection of letters from children showcased in Wednesday's USA Today -- which embarrassed itself with a headline that characterized the writers as providing “helpful advice” to the new President. Reporter Greg Toppo, in the “Life” section article plugging a new book, 'Thanks and Have Fun Running the Country,' promised “it contains dozens of frank, heartfelt letters to Barack Obama, offering the new President congratulations, praise, reading lists and reams of helpful, bullet-pointed advice.”
Amongst the letters with that “helpful” advice listed next to Toppo's story, this from a 6-year-old:
I would fill the White House with chocolate and gravy (but not together) and mashed potatoes or maybe fill it with root beer. I'd drive through the White House on a boat. We'd make the floor out of mashed potatoes and the house would be filled with mashed potatoes.…I'd have a couch made out of pudding that you could eat with a giant spoon. And I'd have a pizza carpet.
New numbers are out about President Obama's performance and they show that, while most Americans favor the majority of actions he has taken, two of his more controversial decisions are highly unpopular. One of the disputed actions, the closing of the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has long been a high-profile issue the media can hardly dodge. But the other, reversing the “Mexico City” policy, has gotten little news coverage. It will be interesting to watch whether they finally report on Mexico City, or even note that Obama has made any unpopular moves.
The mainstream media is still head over heels for our new commander in chief, and he still has honeymoon popularity with the public. But according to a Feb. 1 USA Today/Gallup Poll telephone survey of 1,000 adults, only 35 percent of Americans approved of Obama's decision to overturn the Mexico City Policy, a ban on U.S. funding of overseas family planning groups that promote abortion.
On Thursday's Late Show, actress Renee Zellweger recounted her “emotional” experience seeing Barack Obama's inauguration, but Obama isn't the only liberal politician she idolizes. Zellweger, who stars in a new movie that apparently ridicules small town America and Christians, told USA Today: “I have a crush on Jimmy Carter. I admit it. He has an extraordinary mind. He's an exceptional human being. And he writes poetry, for crying out loud. He's all good things.”
In a Friday “Life” section profile, “A low-key Renee Zellweger loves to hide in plain sight,” reporter Donna Freydkin relayed: “So wowed was Zellweger that she waited in the blistering Manhattan cold for 2 1/2 hours on Monday to have the 39th President sign her copy of his latest book, We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land: A Plan That Will Work.”
Humorously, three pages later, USA Today film reviewer Claudia Puig trashed Zellweger's movie which opened Friday, The New Town, as not only “the worst movie of this fledgling year,” but as “one of the worst movies of any year.” Puig condemned it: “Not content to be merely inane and predictable, it is downright insulting, humorlessly deriding those who choose to live in rural America, labor in factories or have a strong Christian faith.”
Who would have thought a blanket with sleeves, available in a variety of pastel colors, could serve as an economic indicator?
While several sectors of industry are seeking bailout money in some form or another, the Snuggie, an oversized fleece blanket with sleeves featured in cable television ads, is one of the good-news business stories of 2009. According to an article in the Jan. 27 USA Today, 4 million Snuggies have been sold and the product has even developed a bizarre cult following. And, according to CNBC "Squawk on the Street" co-host Erin Burnett, that's proof television as a medium isn't dead yet.
"Hey guys, guess what - Joe, you just gave me a thought," Burnett said on the Jan. 29 "Squawk on the Street." "You know how everyone says television is dying and all the advertising is going to go to the Web eventually? Isn't the Snuggie proof that that is not true?"
The news that the Gannett Company--the nation’s largest newspaper publisher, flagship USA Today--is forcing thousands of its employees to take unpaid leave is the latest, shocking, evidence of the ill health of the old media.
But for present purposes, let's focus on this odd nugget: Gannett has informed its employees that pursuant to federal and state law, they [emphasis added]:
must not work while on an unpaid leave. That includes reading or responding to e-mails, calling or responding to calls from colleagues and being on site at your location at any time during your furlough days.
Can't you just imagine the scenario? A conscientious furloughed Gannett employee is at home trying to stay current by reading some emails, when suddenly comes a battering at the door: "FBI! Put down the mouse and step slowly away from your computer!"
USA Today's religion reporter Cathy Lynn Grossman apparently has little use for Christian ministers who believe the Bible's teachings on sexual ethics.
Apparently already annoyed with evangelical pastor Rick Warren's stance on California's Proposition 8, Grossman took the California preacher to task for a letter offering use of his Saddleback Church to conservative Anglicans who have left the liberal Episcopal Church USA but were deprived of their church parish property due to a recent California court ruling (emphasis mine):
After sticking a fork in the eye of gay rights advocates by actively supporting Proposition 8 -- which overturned the legalization of gay marriage in California -- Warren compounded their outrage by equating gay marriage with incest in an interview with Beliefnet.
In his weekly Friday column confusingly titled “Media should offer Bush a mea culpa,” USA Today founder Al Neuharth contended “many of us in the media owe a mea culpa to Bush -- and to you -- for failing to properly inform” him and the public “of the possible consequences” of Bush's “major misdeeds.” We've lacked enough critiques of Bush policies? Bush, Neuharth condescendingly opined, “simply did not understand much of what he did as the self-proclaimed 'decider'” and “he listened too much to his two worst advisers, Vice President Cheney and the forgotten former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.”
He scolded journalists for having “failed to warn” of the Iraq “ mistake” and for how “most journalists (including me) failed to warn adequately what the credit card craze and home buying binge might lead to. Bush couldn't comprehend it.” Thus, “many of us in the media owe a mea culpa to Bush -- and to you -- for failing to properly inform of the possible consequences of those major misdeeds.”