At OpinionJournal.com on Thursday ("Fair but Unbalanced -- How the media promote false pessimism about the economy"), Brian Wesbury, who has written several times on the disconnect between the strong economy and the public's perception of it (previous references here, here, here, here, and here), had another generally stellar column about what is nonetheless a relatively small piece of the problem.
Wesbury ascribes much of the disconnect to TV's need for "balance," when giving positive and negative views equal weight is often in reality unbalanced:
If one guest or expert is a "bull," then the other must be a "bear," to keep things fair. Or, if there is a single guest on air, the host often takes the other side of the issue in order to keep things balanced. Get some sparks between guests, a little argument here or there, and it's even better for the ratings. The bigger the audience, the better the show, that's the way the advertisers see it. It's basic supply and demand.
But this idea of presenting both sides of an issue, while entertaining, informative and seemingly balanced, may paradoxically create a warped perspective of the economy.
While Hillary Clinton was assuring the union crowd last night that she knows how to battle the "right-wing machine," Huffington Post blogger Blake Fleetwood reports that Bill Clinton is still taking on the Clinton-challenging media machine. At a fundraiser closed to reporters (but not to bloggers?), the former president asserted "the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal is even more right wing and irrational than most of the commentators on Fox News."
He also asserted that a major American corporation was attacked by the Journal editorial board because it supported Clinton, and didn't care about whether its attacks were factual. Once the company's CEO "sent a check to Bob Dole, and announced it in the newspapers, and the WSJ never said one bad word about his company again." Here's the rundown of Clinton's media claims as the paper is being acquired by Rupert Murdoch:
The decline of the Wall Street Journal, which allowed Rupert Murdoch's purchase of it, can be blamed in part on how advertisers “perhaps weren't enthralled” with the newspaper's “vitriolic right-wing attack editorials,” Washington Post op-ed writer David Ignatius contended in a Thursday column. In “The Path That Led to Murdoch,” Ignatius, a former Wall Street Journal reporter who has held a variety of top positions at the Post since 1986, asserted that during the 1990s “the Journal's editorial page increasingly did its own reporting, with equal portions of journalistic hustle and ideological spin, and it often overshadowed the news side. I suspect that helped undermine the franchise. Advertisers, in the end, perhaps weren't enthralled with a newspaper distinguished by vitriolic right-wing attack editorials.” (Screen shot is from appearance last year on the Chris Matthews Show.)
Ignatius didn't have anything to say about the impact on the New York Times of its vitriolic left-wing attack editorials and I wouldn't count on members of the mainstream media any time soon pointing to that editorial page as the culprit for declining ad revenue at the Gray Lady.
If anyone in the media blames the Minnesota bridge collapse on "cheap Republicans" who like tax cuts, it would not be the first time. In 1989, after a memorable San Francisco earthquake, an interstate highway bridge collapsed and killed hundreds. Media figures demanded new taxes, and some even suggested the Proposition 13 ballot initiative may have caused unnecessary deaths. We reported in the November 1989 MediaWatch:
As aftershocks rumbled through the San Francisco Bay area, media figures began calling for more taxes. On the October 18 Nightline, Ted Koppel asked an agreeable Democratic politician from California: "We all remember a few years ago Proposition 13 which rolled back taxes. And at the same time the point was made you roll back the taxes, that's fine, but that means there are going to be fewer funds available for necessary projects. Any instances where the money that was not spent because of the rollback of Proposition 13 where money would have made a difference?"
Normally liberal media snobbery is irritating (and career-threatening if you're a young conservative journalist), but not when that snobbery is completely ineffectual to stop the thing which the whiney reporters hate. Schadenfreude is the word of the day after reading this Los Angeles Times piece about how "aghast" many reporters in the Wall Street Journal newsroom are at being employed by the son of Satan himself, Rupert Murdoch:
Reporters reacted bitterly to the prospect of Murdoch's gaining control of the Journal, which has long been regarded as a beacon of financial journalism.
They voiced concern that Murdoch would diminish the paper's quality, imbue it with some of the glitzy style of his crosstown New York Post and slant the Journal's news coverage to advance his business interests.
"People are aghast that this could have happened," said one reporter, who like others spoke on condition on anonymity. "It's a sickening realization to know that this really great iconic newspaper is [not only] no longer going to be independent, but is also going to be controlled by a man whose values are inimical to ours." [...]
An editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal tweaks the New York Times and other liberal critics of Rupert Murdoch’s takeover of the Journal. Noting how some of the fussier media outlets are competing with the Journal at a time when all newspapers are fighting the Internet tide, “readers can judge if the tears these papers and their writers claim to shed for the Journal's future are real, or of the crocodile variety.”
As for the ideology Murdoch’s News Corp. might bring to the Journal, the editors of the famously conservative editorial page mocked: “The nastiest attacks have come from our friends on the political left. They can't decide whose views they hate most — ours, or Mr. Murdoch's. We're especially amused by those who say Mr. Murdoch might tug us to the political left. Don't count on it.”
Rival newspapers are not calmly reporting the news that Rupert Murdoch has sealed the deal to buy The Wall Street Journal for a royal sum. The Washington Post front page headline today makes Rupert sound like he came in with tanks, not just cash: "Murdoch Seizes Wall St. Journal In $5 Billion Coup." Liberals must really see this tycoon as some sort of press-baron version of Pinochet.
In New York, competing papers made it sound more like Rupert won another prize, like he bought a new yacht. "Dow Jones Deal Gives Murdoch a Coveted Prize," wrote The New York Times on its front page. "Rupe takes the prize: Wall Street Journal owners selling out to peddler of Post" was a headline in the New York Daily News.
Though many journalists impose their views regularly in biased political coverage, and last year the New York Times publisher made clear his left-wing world view, on Tuesday night the broadcast networks framed Rupert Murdoch's acquisition of the Wall Street Journal around what agenda the “controversial” Murdoch will “impose.” That matches the “fear” expressed in online journalism forums and media magazines about Murdoch's “conservative” agenda. Leading into pro and con soundbites, CBS's Kelly Wallace described Murdoch as “a conservative who put his imprint on the New York Post and brought topless women to the Sun in London. His critics say he may not impose tabloid on the Journal, but will impose his point of view.”
NBC's Andrea Mitchell called Murdoch “a controversial press lord” and declared Murdoch “deeply conservative,” but noted he's also a “pragmatic” man who has been “a supporter of liberal politicians.” Mitchell relayed how Murdoch insists he “does not mix politics and business,” but, she cautioned, “still, some are skeptical.” The liberal Ken Auletta of The New Yorker contended Murdoch “often” uses “his publications and his media to advance either his business or his political interests.” Over on ABC, David Muir warned that Murdoch “already wields great power over much of what we watch and read” and asserted that “critics caution being a brilliant businessman does not guarantee brilliant journalism.” After a soundbite from Auletta about how Murdoch's politics influence his publications, Muir worried: “For that reason, this has turned into a painful decision for members of the Bancroft family, who controlled the Wall Street Journal for more than 100 years. Sell for $5 billion? Or is that selling out? There were tears within the Bancroft family and fears in the newsroom.” On screen, a WSJ headline: “Fear, Mixed with Some Loathing; Many Reporters at Wall Street Journal Fret Over Murdoch's Arrival.”
Looks like Rupert Murdoch has won his bid to buy Dow Jones:
The Bancroft family has accepted News Corporation's $5 billion (£2.46 billion) offer to buy Dow Jones, the owner of The Wall Street Journal, a Dow Jones executive said this afternoon, citing an internal company document.
John Prestbo, editor and executive director of Dow Jones Indexes, said that “the Bancroft family has accepted” the offer, Reuters reported.
Dow Jones “will be part of News Corp”, he added.
Mr Prestbo told Reuters that the information came from an internal company memo. [...]
Journalists far and wide are still crying about Rupert Murdoch possibly owning the Wall Street Journal. Vanity Fair's Michael Wolff said a Murdoch-owned WSJ would suffer "the loss of a few points of I.Q., a quickened pace, a higher sense of drama, less accurate, perhaps, but less tedious too, and, likely, a keener instinct for following the money." So for all of you psych majors who thought IQ scores were static; you've apparently never met a journalist who was told to be fair. By the way, isn't the most precious tenet of journalism "following the money"?
LA Times' Tim Rutten shocks us with the real reason the NY Times and Baltimore Sun reject forced embargoes and try to wreck your Harry Potter night with pre-dawn spoilers; "...it's about money." Harry Potter spoilers, classified information spoilers, apparently Pinch Sulzberger has a different take on "follow the money."
As journalism giant Rupert Murdoch's bid to buy the Wall Street Journal's parent company gets closer and closer to reality, the number of hit pieces continues to grow. After all, the man behind FOX News, the New York Post, The Times of London and other conservative-leaning news outlets cannot be allowed to conduct business without an effort to bring him to his comeuppance. Finally, however, someone from the liberal-leaning media is sticking up for Murdoch, albeit in a somewhat backhanded way.
In a commentary published on MSNBC's website today, O. Casey Corr goes to bat for Murdoch by saying despite the fact that many of the media concerns he owns tend to favor conservative views, he's not to blame for the current news media atmosphere.
It seems you can't swing a dead cat these days without whacking a Rupert Murdoch hit piece.
It must have been the New York Times' turn at the plate so to speak Thursday, and writer Richard Perez-Pena was more than up to the challenge.
After an introduction of Peter R. Kann, the Chairman and CEO of Dow Jones, the company Murdoch is trying to buy, Perez-Pena appeared loaded for bear (emphasis added throughout):
Mr. Kann, who had been advising the family against selling, expressed hope that Mr. Murdoch would not prevail, using an image of The Journal as a citadel trying to repel an invasion by tabloid barbarians.
"The drawbridge is up," Mr. Kann told the group. "So far, so good."
News Corp is a tabloid barbarian? Wow. Nice reference, wouldn't you agree? Yet, Perez-Pena was just getting warmed up:
As the potential Dow Jones sale to Rupert Murdoch gets closer, the mogul was under fire from ABC on July 18. Correspondent Bianna Golodryga cited fears that the Wall Street Journal would begin to resemble the New York Post, already owned by Murdoch.
“Here is why this story is important. This is the paper he wants to buy: The Wall Street Journal. Now, one big news story, a business story that came out a few weeks ago, was the sale of Hilton Hotels.
I’m not sure what derangement syndrome Bill Moyers is currently suffering from, but on Friday’s “Bill Moyers Journal” broadcast on PBS, the outspoken host went into an invective-filled tirade about media tycoon Rupert Murdoch that frankly was one of the most disgraceful exhibitions of liberal bias so far this year.
In his closing monologue, Moyers compared Murdoch to the Marquis de Sade, Imelda Marcos, and Satan himself.
I kid you not.
For those that can stomach it, what follows is a full transcript of this piece of…detritus. Those with a healthier GI tract can watch the video available here. And, more information concerning the press' biased coverage of Murdoch is available at the MRC’s Business and Media Institute.
Without further ado (h/t Dan Gainor, emphasis added, better fasten your seatbelts!):
The Dow Jones Company and News Corp reached a major milestone today, an agreement to preserve the independence of DJ's news publications. Looks like Rupert Murdoch just might get to buy the Wall Street Journal after all:
Dow Jones & Co. and News Corp. have agreed in principle on a set of editorial protections for Dow Jones, according to people familiar with the matter.
While there remained some "open items" to be resolved, the two sides had essentially finalized the last points on the agreement Tuesday morning, these people said. The accord paves the way for the sale of the publisher of The Wall Street Journal to Rupert Murdoch's media conglomerate for about $5 billion.
Reporting on yesterday’s “Take Back America” liberal conference, CNSNews.com’s Randy Hall shows how the organized Left is mounting a full-fledged campaign to delegitimize Fox News and other non-liberal media outlets. The Leftists are especially gleeful that they managed to persuade Democratic candidates to boycott any debates that would be aired on the Fox News Channel, with MoveOn.org’s Adam Green boasting about how the successful scuttling of Fox debates provides "a blueprint for things that we can continue to do now and in the future, which is finding key leverage points to achieve victories against our opponents."
Next up on the agenda, according to these Leftists, is an attempt to block the sale of the Wall Street Journal to NewsCorp’s Rupert Murdoch.
Sam Zaramba, in a subscription-only op-ed column in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal, gives the next Woodward or Bernstein a hot story to follow up on:
..... malaria ..... is the biggest killer of Ugandan and all African children. Yet it remains preventable and curable. Last week in Germany, G-8 leaders committed new resources to the fight against the mosquito-borne disease and promised to use every available tool.
Now they must honor this promise by supporting African independence in the realm of disease control. We must be able to use Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane -- DDT.
..... Today, every single Ugandan still remains at risk. Over 10 million Ugandans are infected each year, and up to 100,000 of our mothers and children die from the disease.
No one could possibly be conspiring to prevent the eradication of malaria, could they?
Well, yes they could. And they are, as Zaramba notes:
Longtime readers of The Wall Street Journal's editorial pages know three things:
The paper's editorials and opinion columns are usually among the best anywhere -- and not just on business and economics.
The Journal has for years had every reason to be proud of the fact, as the late Robert Bartley noted, that it is one of the few papers readers would buy for its opinion pages.
The Journal has, for 23 years, held an uncompromising "liberal" viewpoint on immigration that almost all conservatives have long since abandoned. The Journal's point of view can be summed up in five words it used in a July 3, 1984 editorial -- "There shall be open borders."
A copy of that editorial, posted for fair use and discussion purposes only, can be found here (the title is "In Defense of Huddled Masses") in a post about Journal columnist Peggy Noonan's effective break on June 1 from The Journal's doctrinaire stance.
The 1984 editorial's defining sentence is:
If Washington still wants to "do something" about immigration, we propose a five-word constitutional amendment: There shall be open borders.
From the moment word got out that Rupert Murdoch had offered billions to buyout The Wall Street Journal, the media have cried foul.
Journalists and media critics charged that a Murdoch takeover would turn the prestigious business newspaper into a journalistic joke, that the media mogul would page six-ify the Journal.
An art director at The New York Times, carried those complaints a step further by creating a mock-up of what the Journal would look like under Murdoch. According to The Washington Post, the image has been circulating Journal and Times newsrooms for about a month.
The tabloid style page (See below) reveals the anti-Murdoch bias that exists even in the Times art department.
You haven't heard of Robert E. Murray? That's not surprising.
If there were an open dialog instead of continual blather about "settled science" when it comes to supposedly human-induced "climate change" and "global warming" (two concepts I like to collectively refer to as "globaloney"), Murray would have visibility. But, as Strassel writes, a different "climate," the political one, appears to be keeping him largely out of the public eye, despite his best efforts to break through.
You see, Robert Murray is a coal-company executive who has first-hand experience with what will happen on a much broader scale if the radical changes envisioned by Al Gore and others (whom I like to refer to as "globalarmists") ever get enacted:
Time magazine came out swinging last week against Rupert Murdoch for his offer to buy the Wall Street Journal. In an article titled "Murdoch vs. Family-Owned Newspapers", Time painted a picture of Murdoch as a "controversial genius" who used his company for power and profit, swooping in to take over a family business where the owners "have made use of dual-class stock structures that allow them to take Wall Street's money while attempting to resist its pressures".
How noble, they resisted the pressures of money while "Murdoch has treated News Corp. not as a trust but as a vehicle to get richer and more powerful."
Wait, so using dual-class stock options that allow more votes for select family members in an aristocratic fashion is somehow more noble then expanding one's coporation by traditional methods?
Business is business. Time shouldn't paint one method as better than another, the market will decide.
Perhaps you read this week that in April, the US Treasury reported all-time-record tax collections of $383.6 billion.
If you did, you didn't read it in the dead-trees version of the New York Times. The Old Grey Lady did not deem Thursday afternoon's news "fit to print" on Friday (requires free registration), even choosing not to carry the related Associated Press report that is the main topic of this post (even though the Time posted it online Thursday evening). A Times search on "April treasury" (not in quotes) shows no evidence of any other coverage since then, nor does Sunday's Business home page.
So, unless you happened to read a brief report from MarketWatch (requires registration) or subscribe to the Wall Street Journal (requires subscription), odds are that anything you read or heard about April's Monthly Treasury Statement came from the aforementioned AP report, written by good old Martin Crutsinger (some previous examples of Crutsinger's demonstrated bias and ignorance are here, here, here, and here).
Crutsinger's full report is here. Before I get to his biggest oversight, here are the report's relatively minor (I'm not kidding) shortcomings:
On his must-read "Best of the Web Today" column for Opinion Journal, the online home of the excellent Wall Street Journal editorial page, James Taranto did a nice analysis on Associated Press reporter Mark Sherman:
Rupert Murdoch, founder of the Fox network and Fox News Channel and CEO of media giant News Corp has the ability to make grown journalists cry. A quick survey of liberal media blogger Jim Romenesko's Media News page shows an industry in a panic over Murdoch's $5 billion offer to purchase Wall Street Journal parent company Dow Jones.
Why all the fear and loathing?
To put it simply, Rupert Murdoch is one of the few powerful individuals on the right who realizes the importance of the mainstream. Over the years, the right has had success building up an alternative infrastructure of think tanks, magazines, and web sites. Murdoch, however, has been one of the very few to understand that there is no need to "ghettoize" the libertarian and conservative viewpoints. That is why he is feared even though his committment to the right politically is often quite tenuous (he's hosted fund-raisers for Hillary Clinton and is uncompromising in his desire to do business with the Chinese commies).
Imagine a conservative congressperson doing something this unhinged and not getting raked over the coals in the press (Wall Street Journal link requires subscription):
Tuesday was Africa Malaria Day, and Michigan Representative John Conyers marked the event by inviting something called the Pesticide Action Network to Capitol Hill to denounce DDT as an unsafe malaria intervention. What was he thinking?
Malaria, which is spread through mosquito bites, kills about a million people annually, mostly children and pregnant women in Africa. We're not sure where the House Judiciary Chairman got his medical expertise, but he won't reduce that death toll by promoting disinformation about DDT and malaria prevention. And at taxpayers' expense, no less.
PAN and a shrinking band of other activist know-nothings insist that employing DDT against malaria is "especially dangerous for developing infants and children," but there is no scientific basis to the claim. Zip.