In any other industry, when revenues fall steeply, those in charge take at least a casual look at the quality of their product, and try to get a grip on whether it's meeting consumers' needs and expectations.
But that never seems to happen in the news business.
True to form, the New York Times's Richard Perez-Pena devoted over 850 words to the latest developments, and had nothing to say about product quality:
For newspapers, the news has swiftly gone from bad to worse. This year is taking shape as their worst on record, with a double-digit drop in advertising revenue, raising serious questions about the survival of some papers and the solvency of their parent companies.
Ad revenue, the primary source of newspaper income, began sliding two years ago, and as hiring freezes turned to buyouts and then to layoffs, the decline has only accelerated.
San Francisco Chronicle’s Carla Marinucci dutifully dusted off the same liberal talking points we hear every four years about Republican nominees: the women in their own party hate them.
In her front page article, Marinucci found no conservative Republican women to defend McCain or critique him from the right, but she found three Republican, including Obama backer Susan Eisenhower, and two Democratic women to slam McCain.
But as might be expected in the liberal media, the largest reason these liberal Republican women won’t vote for McCain was chalked up to "women’s rights," code words for abortion. The article devoted a special section to McCain's stance on abortion. Of course this ignores the fact that millions of socially conservative Republican women backed equally pro-life candidates such as Mike Huckabee or Mitt Romney in the primaries.
The Obama campaign is trying to re-create Michelle Obama after her stumbles on the campaign trail, and the mainstream media are more than willing to pitch in.
Earlier today, NewsBusters contributor Clay Waters, director of the MRC’s Times Watch project, critiqued a New York Times story, written by Michael Powell and Jodi Kantor, which helped Obama soften her image and suggested that her "proud of my country" remarks were unfairly covered.
Powell reprised his work spinning Michelle Obama on MSNBC today.
The Times staffer sat down with MSNBC's Tamron Hall during the 9 AM hour of the June 18 "MSNBC News Live." During this time, Powell claimed that the potential first lady’s harsh image has "certainly been imposed on her," as though Mrs. Obama’s statements do not reflect who she really is and that those who criticize her public pronouncements are somehow putting words in her mouth.
Michelle Obama could be considered a liability to Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, especially with her controversial "For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country" remarks. As such, the liberal media are trying to work against the potentially negative effects of her comments by portraying Michelle as a victim of those evil conservatives and Republicans, even though a prominent Hillary Clinton blogger floated a nasty rumor about Obama using a racial slur.
A June 12 article by Chicago Tribune’s Christi Parsons entitled "Whispers Get Loud Around Michelle Obama" follows this trend. Parsons wrote: "[Michelle Obama] is emerging as an enticing target for conservative critics." So, it’s only conservatives and Republicans who would criticize Michelle Obama?
The New York Times is in the midst of publishing a series of articles called "American Exception." Its purpose is to "examine commonplace aspects of the American justice system that are virtually unique in the world."
The latest in the series is by Adam Liptak. It carries a June 12 date, and is called "Out of Step With Allies, U.S. Defends Freedom to Offend."
If you think this is yet another "we should be like 'the rest of the world'" piece (in reality, referring to countries overrun by political correctness that have lost their way), you've about got it right.
Here is how Liptak opens (bold is mine):
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — A couple of years ago, a Canadian magazine published an article arguing that the rise of Islam threatens Western values. The article’s tone was mocking and biting, but it said nothing that conservative magazines and blogs in the United States do not say every day without fear of legal reprisal.
Things are different here. The magazine is on trial.
The supposedly surprising rejection of the Lieberman-Warner climate bill last week had an element that Old Media in the US hasn't covered, but is very relevant.
While the press is ever eager to jump on politicians who fly in the face of supposed "world opinion" when it goes against US positions and traditions, it has been virtually silent over how "the rest of the world" has been rejecting the true linchpin of government climate policies: supposedly climate change-related higher taxes and fees. Surely some of the green-leaning Senators who were supposedly on board but voted against cloture were not blind to this.
The Associated Press's Jeannine Aversa started off her Friday evening report on the day's economic news showing, as she and her AP colleagues have for several months, that they either don't understand very basic concepts relating to the information they're attempting to digest and convey or are deliberately reporting it inaccurately:
Pink slips piled up and jobs disappeared into thin air in May as the nation's unemployment rate zoomed to 5.5 percent in the biggest one-month jump in decades. Wall Street swooned, and the White House said President Bush was considering new proposals to revive the economy.
..... Help-wanted signs are vanishing along with jobs, so the unemployment rate is likely to keep climbing, a government report indicated .....
Make no mistake, the news was bad. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the economy lost 49,000 jobs in May, and the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose by more than it has in any single month since the mid-1980s.
But that doesn't change the fact that Aversa either was deliberately inaccurate when she wrote that "pink slips piled up," or that she doesn't comprehend the subject matter she is supposed to be covering.
"The world would dearly love a vote in this, yes, epic contest, but will content itself with a ringside seat," Philip Stephens closed his June 6 column about the U.S. presidential election. The Financial Times associate editor certainly played the spectator part, cheering for Obama while booing McCain.
Stephens seemed to argue that McCain may well have stooped to outright racist talking points to win the election, but thanks to Clinton partisans creating the elitist meme, he can use that handily as a proxy for the race card:
The primaries took their toll. The Republicans' John McCain will not have to mention his opponent's skin colour to stir old prejudices among some white voters. He can take his cue from Geraldine Ferraro, a former vice-presidential candidate and supporter of Mrs Clinton. "If you're white you can't open your mouth without being accused of being a racist," she said last week. "They [working class whites] don't identify with someone who has gone to Harvard and Columbia Law School and is married to a Harvard-Princeton graduate".
The FT columnist did make clear that Obama is not the flawless Obamessiah many hoped him to be, but the things he found that took the shine off the Illinois senator were focused heavily on matters of style, not substance:
In the Washington Post's June 5 Prince George's County Extra insert, staffer Hamil Harris penned a story focused on how Barack Obama's decision to leave his controversial church "is not sitting well with some African American pastors and scholars in Prince George's County."
Harris went on to quote two preachers disappointed with Obama, as well as University of Maryland's Ronald Walters, a reliably liberal pundit. The closest Harris found to being critical of Obama's former church was a pastor who conceded that some ministers may need to "rethink how [their] message of liberation is being communicated."
At no point in Harris's 11-paragraph story, however, did he pick up on any county clergy who have strong misgivings about Rev. Jeremiah Wright or Trinity's theology and its impact on the faith community.
Perhaps Harris should add Prince George's County minister Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr. to his Rolodex. Jackson serves as the senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md., and has devoted at least two of his recent Townhall.com columns to critiquing the theology and temperment of Obama's former senior pastor. From Jackson's May 5 column, "The Way That Seems Wright" (emphasis mine):
As of 11:05 p.m. EDT I found quite different play among some major newspaper Web sites regarding the verdict handed down by a Chicago jury against former Obama fundraiser Tony Rezko today. Both the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times gave prominent play to the story on their Web sites, and the Los Angeles Times similarly teased the story on its front page, four headlines down the left-hand column. But the New York Times downplayed the story while the Washington Post failed to tease it at all on the Web site's front page.
"Ex-Obama Fund-Raiser Is Convicted of Fraud" read a teaser headline under the "More News" menu on the NY Times Web page, about a quarter of the way down the page. A search through the Washington Post's online edition -- looking for keywords "Obama" "Rezko" and "Blagojevich" -- found no links to articles regarding Rezko's conviction, however.
In the midst of reports on the historic nature of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama’s candidacy and as speculation roils about whether he will ask his bitter rival Hillary Clinton to join the ticket, the Boston Globe also found time to take a few jabs at presumptive GOP nominee John McCain and former rival Mitt Romney.
Local politics writer Yvonne Abraham, in a June 4 article titled "McMitt Picking," sought to discuss the potential pairing of McCain and Romney for the presidential and vice presidential spots on the Republican ticket. However, her column was a little less than friendly.
The following is from an MRC press release calling out the liberal mainstream media for covering up House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) recent remarks chalking up the success of the U.S. military in Iraq to the "goodwill of the Iranians." [audio of Pelosi's remarks available here]
Alexandria, VA-- Last Thursday, a collection of reporters and members of the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle sat down for a nearly 80-minute interview with Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California.
At the 62-minute mark, Pelosi slandered and demeaned the hard-won successes of our armed forces in Iraq, saying "Whatever the military success and progress that may have been made, the surge didn't accomplish its goal. And some of the success of the surge is that the goodwill of the Iranians -- they decided in Basra when the fighting would end, they negotiated that cessation of hostilities -- the Iranians."
No one at the Chronicle reported the Speaker's vicious slander. Nor did NBC, ABC or CBS, CNN or MSNBC deem it fit for broadcast, either Thursday evening or at any point on Friday. The vaunted New York Times likewise did not deem this fit to print.
Over the course of this presidential campaign, we've released a number of studies showing how the Democratic presidential candidates have received softer coverage compared to Republicans, it's refreshing to see however, when a left-leaning journalism foundation admits the truth as the Project for Excellence in Journalism did in a comprehensive study released today:
If campaigns for president are in part a battle for control of the master narrative about character, Democrat Barack Obama has not enjoyed a better ride in the press than rival Hillary Clinton, according to a new study of primary coverage by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Joan Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University.
From January 1, just before the Iowa caucuses, through March 9, following the Texas and Ohio contests, the height of the primary season, the dominant personal narratives in the media about Obama and Clinton were almost identical in tone, and were both twice as positive as negative, according to the study, which examined the coverage of the candidates’ character, history, leadership and appeal—apart from the electoral results and the tactics of their campaigns.
On Sunday, NewsBusters' Brent Baker noted how unhappy actress Laura Dern is with the 2000 presidential election ("Dern 'Devastated' by Florida 'Because There Were Uncounted Votes'"). Dern plays then-Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris in HBO's "Recount," which first aired on Sunday.
Dern's displeasure has an apparently limited focus.
A review of the CNN program transcript (the interview with "Reliable Sources" host Howard Kurtz, Dern, and "Recount" director Jay Roach begins about 80% of the way through) confirms Dern's selectivity. "Somehow," the "devastated" Dern and the other interview participants never got around to talking about other votes that Democratic operatives throughout the Sunshine State worked feverishly to disqualify.
The Military Ballots
That CNN interview did not deal with matters that Big Media, which put thousands of hours of time and lots of money into recounting ballots -- only to find that George W. Bush really did win Florida -- has not investigated:
..... But Misses Chance to Refute "Jobs Slashed" Claims.
It's good to see that someone else is on the case of the recession-obsessed Associated Press, particularly reporter Jeannine Aversa. But even the estimable James Taranto, in his Best of the Web column yesterday, let Aversa's most obvious and repeated error go by without comment.
Old Media has mostly ignored Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's poor showing among non-African-American voters, even though it was obvious way back in the early-March Ohio and Texas primaries. To the degree that there has been coverage of the situation at all, it has been presented as if there is something wrong with the voters, not Obama himself or his "message." Clay Waters at NewsBusters noted the most egregious example of this thought process ("Hillary Winning Too Many White Votes") when he reviewed recent coverage in the New York Times on Wednesday.
While at the same time decrying the injection of race into the campaign when anyone suggests that Obama pastor Jeremiah Wright's "white supremacy" shtick is relevant, Old Media is mere inches away from calling the vast majority of non-African-American voters in at least eight states racists, aren't they?
Here is how the last nine major primaries (with apologies to Rhode Island and Vermont) have gone for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Take a good look, because I don't think you'll see these stats anywhere else:
In early May, Richard Wolf at USA Today tried to make a big deal over a very small statistic, and wrote one of those "signs of hard times" pieces that have become all the rage these days in Old Media (previous examples are here and here).
Wolf's piece was hampered by a possibly excusable math error, courtesy of the data supplied. But he also showed no curiosity as to why there have been such wide variations in state-by-state changes in the number of those receiving "welfare" (now known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF).
Here's how his report began:
States' welfare caseloads starting to rise
State welfare rolls, which declined for more than a decade after a 1996 overhaul of the nation's cash-assistance program, are beginning to rise, due in part to the struggling economy.
Twin Cities news consumers aren't well served, and it may get worse.
Avista Capital Partners, which owns the Minneapolis Star Tribune, said earlier this month that its investment in the Strib is performing so poorly that it had to be written down by 75%. Earlier, the New York Post reported the possibility that the paper might go bankrupt. That possibility will loom as long as the Strib, which many locals refer to as "Red Star Tribune," largely serves as the apparent PR outlet of the Democratic Farm Labor Party (the Gopher State's Democrats).
If a Strib bankruptcy were to occur, and it ceases publication, the St. Paul Pioneer Press is less than ready to step into the breach, at least if Tom Webb's article Thursday about recent food price inflation is any indication.
What's up at the supermarket? Prices for almost everything
Food inflation hit an 18-year high in April, with grocery prices rising 1.5 percent for the month, the government said Wednesday. Prices rose in every aisle - dairy, breads, meats, beverages, fruits and vegetables. It means $53 more a month to feed a family of four with a typical food budget.
Someone forgot to tell the Wall Street Journal's Kelly Evans and Justin Lahart, carried here at the Arizona Republic, that they're supposed to portray the economy in a bad light whenever and wherever possible. I'll get to the pair's report later.
That "bad light" directive seems seared into the minds of the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger and his AP colleagues, as they continue to "cling to recession," and attempt to convince consumers and businesses that if perchance we're not already in one, it's just around the bend.
The AP's persistence has borne dreadful fruit. Relentlessly downbeat reporting during at least the past six years by the wire service's business reporters -- who largely determine what most Americans see, hear, and read about the economy -- is a big reason, if not the most important reason, why most Americans, as seen in the latest consumer confidence report, have a negative economic outlook and are convinced that we are in a recession.
How do you write an article about Uncle Sam's April financial results without telling readers how much money came in and went out -- especially if what came in was an all-time record?
Yesterday and today, many journalists have shown us how. Two of them are Martin Crutsinger of the Associated Press and Michael M. Phillips of the Wall Street Journal.
Crutsinger's AP report actually made it appear as if collections is the problem area. In fact, as you will eventually see after the jump, April's result had nothing to do with "dampening" revenue growth, and everything to do with exploding spending.
During the 1992 presidential campaign, when incumbent Vice President Dan Quayle made a spelling mistake, the New York Times was all over it. It's clear from the Times's story that the rest of the media was also in full pursuit:
So Jay Leno has a week's worth of new Dan Quayle jokes. At a school here, everyone was quite hush-hush the day after the visiting Vice President spelled potato wrong while directing a spelling bee.
..... Reporters stood around today for hours outside of the house where 12-year-old William Figueroa lives. He has become a national celebrity for having spelled the word correctly on the blackboard, only to have Mr. Quayle, holding a flash card with the word spelled incorrectly, encourage him to add an E at the end.
Left-leaning journalists don't just pull their punches when it comes to criticizing liberal politicians, they also seem paradoxically inclined to do so when it comes to discussing radical Islam. This curious phenomenon (curious in that modern liberalism is highly secular and radical Islam decidedly is not) has repeated itself many times over the years and is really one of the most bizarre behaviors I've seen in politics.
As strange and morally obtuse that we on the center-right believe the western liberal press to be on this issue, surely the more frustrated people have got to be clear-thinking liberals like Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens who face the task of trying to get their ideological compatriots to stand up for rationality and civil society. It's a difficult task made even more frustrating by the high degree of self-censorship among liberal media elites. Writing earlier this week at the Huffington Post, Harris (an equal opportunity critic of all religion) recounts how the Washington Post refused to run an article he wrote on the "Fitna" movie that the paper deemed "too critical" of Islam.
Such behavior originates in not just the usual double-standard westernized religion faces but in a very real fear among left elites that criticizing Islam is a physically dangerous endeavor. Unfortunately, as Harris writes, this behavior just exacerbates the problem:
I noted a few weeks ago (at BizzyBlog; at NewsBusters) that Mike Celizic at MSNBC couldn't get though his article about Jenna Bush's upcoming wedding without bringing up her misdemeanor arrests from seven years ago.
Julie Mason of the Houston Chronicle also went there in a late Thursday report. She also threw in a number of shots at Jenna's father, his administration, and his hometown:
Saturday, in an Oscar de la Renta gown with twin sister Barbara at her side, Jenna Bush, 26, will marry 29-year-old business school student Henry Hager at her parents' Central Texas ranch.
It's probably as close as Oscar de la Renta will ever get to Crawford.
There can be little doubt now that Old Media is applying full-court pressure to anoint Barack Obama with the Democratic nomination, and on Hillary Clinton to drop out of the race.
The New York Times's stories for tomorrow's print edition ("Support for Clinton Wanes as Obama Sees Finish Line" and "Pundits Declare the Race Over") clearly point in those directions. The first describes North Carolina as "a decisive loss" for Mrs. Clinton. The second shows how determined the Times appears to be to come up with evidence that Obama has the nomination in the bag, as it actually notes the despised Matt Drudge's headline link earier today to Tim Russert's "The Nominee" video.
Wait a minute.
Jim Geraghty at National Review online appears to be about the only person to have caught the obvious: Barack Obama's overwhelming support from African-Americans means that he performed miserably with the rest of the voters.
The unemployment rate in most states has gone up from September 2007 to March 2008. In states where the rate has gone down, none has shown an improvement like that seen in the Sooner State -- not even close.
Why is that?
What has happened in Oklahoma that hasn't happened elsewhere?
Interesting media news this Monday as Newsweek takes a look at the coming war between the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. The mag's piece in turn sparked a newspaper industry news boomlet as other publications rushed to find out whether Newsweek's claim that liberal Democrat Republican New York mayor Michael Bloomberg might give the New York Times Company a cash infusion to "protect the brand."
Not so, says Bloomberg, who denied the claim that he was trying to get into the newspaper biz or purchase a share in Times Co.
An excerpt from the excellent Newsweek piece that started it all is below the fold...
The Media's Reaction to George and CharlieCall it the Audacity of Journalism.
ABC's Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos slipped and let a bit of actual reporting seep into their Democrat Presidential debate moderation efforts on April 16. They mistakenly engaged in fifty minutes worth of pertinent inquiry, largely regarding the patriotic perspectives and numerous troubling relationships of Illinois Senator Barack Obama -- and to a lesser extent examining the fact that New York Senator Hillary Clinton has a Herculean ability to create her Living History out of whole cloth.
The response from the Left has been withering and unremitting.
The police estimated that 750,000 people saw Mr. Mandela at one point or another - 50,000 in Queens at Kennedy International Airport and along the route, 100,000 as he passed through Brooklyn, 400,000 along the ticker-tape parade and 200,000 in the ceremony at City Hall. Hundreds of thousands more saw the events broadcast live on local television.
Based on early returns from the Washington Post and the New York Times, we may not see such an estimate regarding the pope, unless some enterprising non-media types come up with one on their own. It also seems that we will have to brace ourselves for other descriptions designed to minimize the impact of his visit.