This doesn't qualify as any kind of surprise, but it should be noted nonetheless.
Thursday, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama gave a stunningly downbeat assessment of the nation's overall situation in a response to a seven year-old girl who asked him why he is running for president. Obama's media water-carriers have virtually ignored his very telling response, one that is reminiscent of Jimmy Carter's gloomiest, malaise-based assessments of America during his awful presidency.
Previous NewsBusters posts by Brent Baker and Rusty Weiss have noted the "strange" and nearly complete memory loss exhibited by the TV networks (with the expected exception of fair and balanced Fox News) and the Associated Press concerning the political party affiliation of just-jailed Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
The New York Times's record during the past seven months has been almost equally disgraceful.
Here's the detailed rundown of 14 relevant stories I found in the Times since the troubles that ultimately led to the Mayor's indictment and recent incarceration began:
E-mailer and frequent NB commenter Gary Hall sent me a link to a July 30 LA Times article about how worldwide AIDS deaths are down 10%.
In discussing the improvement, it's hysterical in one sense, but very sad in another, to watch how reporter Thomas H. Maugh II studiously avoided using the word "abstinence" (the A-word), which does not appear even once in his entire piece.
Just to be sure no reader could possibly leave the article thinking that the current administration has contributed to an overall improvement, Maugh pointed to the increased prevalance of AIDS in the US African-American community, and gave antagonistic spokespersons free rein to criticize an alleged lack of urgency without a countervailing response.
First, here's a sample of Maugh's A-word avoidance (noted in bold):
UPDATE, Aug. 6 -- The media fact-checker overview begins here, and continues below the fold:
"..... all the oil that they’re talking about getting off drilling" Obama refers to is NOT just the 200,000 additional barrels obtainable from the "Pacific, Atlantic and eastern Gulf regions." Republican proposals also include Alaska, shale oil, and tar sands.
Just including Alaska coastal at very conservative extraction assumptions leads to a potential of almost 1 million barrels of oil a day instead of only 200,000.
Fully ramped-up production from shale oil and tar sands at very conservative extraction assumptions would lead to a potential of another 27 million (you read that right) barrels a day.
Is reporter Michael Powell at the New York Times auditioning for Comic Relief?
At next year's event, Powell's headline at his August 2 story (HT Weapons of Mass Discussion) about Obama's repeated hypocritical invocations and charges relating to race (of course, that's not how he sees it), along with his report's first 10 words, would bring the house down:
With Genie Out of Bottle, Obama Is Careful on Race
Senator Barack Obama is a man of few rhetorical stumbles .....
Only someone locked inside the Old Media bubble could possibly believe that Obama hasn't "stumbled" repeatedly, to the point where he's making Bush 41 Vice President Dan Quayle look like a certified genius.
The Associated Press has done it again, even beyond what Ken Shepherd of NewsBusters noted in a related post on June 4.
In that post, Ken cited an AP report that did not identify the political party of Democratic Massachusetts State Senator and alleged serial sexual assaulter James Marzilli until the eleventh and final paragraph.
AP Writer Denise Lavoie went one step further in her 300-word July 30 report on criminal complaint charges that have been filed against Marzilli. She completely failed to disclose his party, even though she noted his previous withdrawal from an upcoming election, and even though there is another prosecution in progress involving similar charges:
A visit to the Vanderbilt TV News archives (no link; registration is required) reveals that on September 20, 1996:
GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole was trying to make up lost ground against incumbent President Bill Clinton, while Ross Perot was filing a Federal Elections Commission complaint over being excluded from televised presidential debates.
It was disclosed that Unabomber suspect Ted Kaczynski had kept a journal in which he admitted to all 16 bombings he was accused of.
There was a "change in the FBI's working theory that TWA Flight 800 was brought down by a bomb," based on a "revelation that plastic explosives were placed on the plane a month before as part of a training exercise for bomb-sniffing dogs." The plane had crashed shortly after takeoff from New York's Kennedy Airport in July, killing all 230 aboard.
The July 11 Second Amendment Freedom Rally in downtown Chicago was ignored by both of Chicago's major newspapers (Tribune search on "gun rally," not in quotes, is here [HT Say Uncle]; Sun-Times search on "gun" is here).
Focusing on the Tribune: Its editorial board last month advocated repealing the Second Amendment in the wake of the Supreme Court's Heller ruling, holding that the amendment confers an individual right. Perhaps not coincidentally, it has frequently covered anti-gun events with a similar number, or even fewer, participants, than were at Thursday's event.
At least one Chicago TV station did cover the Second Amendment Freedom Rally. Here is part of the report filed by Leah Hope at ABC affiliate WLS (video is also at the link; bold is mine):
The media real estate rule: location, location, location
Liberal Scandals Strategically Located The Washington Post had two awful statements from Presidential campaign surrogates to work with last week. How it dealt with each of them is highly illustrative of how the media does its business.
Last Sunday evening the world was again made privy to the inner workings of the Reverend Jesse Jackson's mind, thanks to a moment of hot microphone pre-interview candor. Apparently, the Reverend Jackson is very, very angry with how Illinois Senator Barack Obama talks to black people, and with his pledge to up the ante on President George W. Bush's faith-based initiative. So perturbed is Jackson that he wishes to perform a certain ghastly procedure on the Senator, one that if executed on a sheep would be what a cowboy chef would say is the first step in the preparation of Rocky Mountain Oysters.
This is either a huge problem or a huge gift for the Illinois Senator. It is hardly good for a prominent Obama proxy to wish him castrated, worse still if he is so passionate about seeing it done that he is willing if not eager to do the job himself. On the other hand, it's a great opportunity for Obama to distance himself from the grievance-mongering Jackson and his ilk.
On Wednesday, Jackson officially retracted his desires to enter the eunuch-ing business, and on Thursday the Post delivered us the politically volatile goods like this (below the fold):
So if you're in index funds, this has not been the best of times (but, on the "bright" side, to the extent your 401(k) or other retirement investments are index funds, your current contributions are buying more shares).
Nonetheless, be thankful if you're not directly or indirectly invested in newspaper stocks.
Newsosaur reported today (HT to commenter dscott) that seven newspaper stocks hit record intraday lows in today's trading before recovering a bit before the close:
Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer Bill Rankin penned a July 10 article noting a judge's refusal to slap a temporary restraining order on Georgia's voter ID law. Rankin labeled the measure "controversial." Yet the AJC staffer failed to relay that Georgia state law provides photo voter ID cards free of charge.
From the Georgia Secretary of State's Web site (PDF file):
If you do not have one of these acceptable forms of photo identification, the State of Georgia offers a FREE Voter Identification Card. An identification card can be issued at any county registrar's office or Department of Driver Services office FREE of charge.
Rankin did note that people who show up at the polling places without photo ID can still cast a provisional ballot, but that those ballots don't end up being counted as cast unless the voter comes back within two days with proper identification. He then cited both a criticism and a defense of that provision of the law:
During the noon hour of the July 8 "MSNBC News Live," host Tamron Hall discussed McCain's new TV ad with Chicago Tribune's Jill Zuckman and Washington Post’s Kevin Merida. The ad focused on McCain's time as a POW as demonstrative of his love of country and Hall questioned how Obama could compete with such a story.
Well, look, Senator McCain's got this great story about what he survived and what he endured and his campaign wants to tell that story as much as possible because they think that that's something voters respect and it gives them a sense of what he’s made of. But Senator Obama’s got a great American success story, too, and it’s just a different one and I think voters are equally impressed with what he’s all about.
So, the story of a man who never served in the military but was a community organizer and graduated from Harvard Law is "different" but just as impressive as the story of a man who was a prisoner of war, tortured by his Communist captors and refused special treatment in order to stay with his fellow servicemen in prison?
Although the term isn't used, it's clear that the Obama campaign sees itself and their candidate as victims of a vast conspiracy of right-wingers.
Going all the way back to the 1988 presidential election, Obama's "Fight the Smears" chart (featuring the campaign's new sort-of "presidential seal," replacing the one that was "dropped," at the top left) purports to tell us "Who's Behind These Lies."
If the page's historical starting points are any indication, to paraphrase Jerry Lee Lewis, there may not be "a whole lotta smearin' goin' on" among the current "smearing" parties it identifies:
They make Reverend Wright and Trinity United disappear
The Media, Lining it Up
And for their next trick, the media will stuff Illinois Senator Barack Obama’s liberalism back into his hat.
On Sunday, the Washington Post’s Jonathan Weisman gave us a 1,152 word news-ish story entitled “Obama Addresses His Faith”, which was a glowingly open forum for Obama to deliver “a highly personal account of his spiritual journey” and in which he proffered “a promise that he will make ‘faith-based’ social service ‘a moral center of (his) administration.’”
It’s hard to read the word “faith” in the same sentence as the name “Barack Obama” without thinking of the racist, anti-American radical Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who for twenty years served as the Senator’s pastor, and (as Obama described him) his “spiritual advisor” and “mentor”, in Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ.It cannot be accidental that the Washington Post made no mention whatsoeverof Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Trinity United in a piece dedicated exclusively to the Senator’s religion.
If you are unaware that America is on the cusp of a spectacular victory against Al Qaeda in Iraq, its most likely because you read American newspapers and watch American news. We are closing in on a trap around 1,200 terrorists in Iraq that will effectively put an end to Al Qaeda in Iraq, but this report is oddly absent in American media. They missed the boat on this one, but the Times of London reports:
After being forced from its strongholds in the west and centre of Iraq in the past two years, Al-Qaeda’s dwindling band of fighters has made a defiant “last stand” in the northern city of Mosul.
A huge operation to crush the 1,200 fighters who remained from a terrorist force once estimated at more than 12,000 began on May 10.
Operation Lion’s Roar, in which the Iraqi army combined forces with the Americans’ 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment, has already resulted in the death of Abu Khalaf, the Al-Qaeda leader, and the capture of more than 1,000 suspects.
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama says “mental distress” should not qualify as a health exception for late term-abortions, a key distinction not embraced by many supporters of abortion rights.
In an interview this week with “Relevant,” a Christian magazine, Obama said prohibitions on late-term abortions must contain “a strict, well defined exception for the health of the mother.”
Rush Limbaugh's new deal with Clear Channel, as flashed by Drudge (also covered or addressed here and here at NewsBusters; here at the New York Times; and here in a very long New York Times magazine article), is north of $400 million for the next eight years.
Good tax planning too: Maharushie will get his reported nine-figure signing bonus this year before a possible President Obama does his hundreds of billions in damage. Limbaugh's tax savings, if the bonus is $100 million and Obama gets everything he wants, would be a hair under $17 mil (12.4% Social Security on all but $148,000, plus the 4.6% planned increase in the top rate).
One conclusion you can reach, based on what newspaper industry watcher Newsosaur told us earlier this week, is that Old Media covering the Limbaugh story is like zombies covering the living (link in excerpt was in original):
Two June 23 Motor City newspaper reports -- one in the Detroit Free Press ("Group blasts subprime loans," by Amber Hunt), the other in the Detroit News ("ACORN focuses on vote," by Mike Martindale) -- portrayed the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) as a noble enterprise dedicated to helping troubled borrowers and increasing voter involvement in the political process.
Hunt and Martindale were either unaware, or perhaps didn't care, that ACORN has had myriad problems over several years, including but not limited to voter-registration fraud, employee mistreatment and intimidation, and home-loan irregularities. Days before the group's national convention in Detroit, the Consumer Rights League, a group whose stated mission is "protecting consumer choice," issued a scathing whistleblower report charging ACORN with "misusing taxpayer dollars for political ends and by attacking lending corporations for the same 'predatory' lending practices it regularly engages in."
Here are selected paragraphs from each reporter's virtual press releases (HTs to Michelle Malkin here and here):
Robert Mugabe continues to take Zimbabwe into utter ruin. A former breadbasket when it was colonial Rhodesia, it is now a starving, rotting basket case.
The latest development in the ongoing nightmare: A sham "runoff" election where Mugabe is the only candidate, thanks to "violence against .... opposition members," whose candidate dropped out of the race less than a week ago.
For nearly a decade, we've been told, "Don't worry, (South African President Thabo) Mbeki will handle him."
Shortly after Michelle Obama’s appearance as a guest host on ABC’s the View, her choice of clothing began attracting media attention, turning political and general assignment journalists into fashion critics. NBC’s Today show claimed that "fashion icon" Obama had started a "frock frenzy." Before that, NBC's Lee Cowan, who has said covering Barack Obama makes his "knees quake," gushed that "Michelle Obama had always been there, dressed as brightly as her husband's smile."
Well today, Chicago Tribune fashion columnist Wendy Donahue took a stab at political commentary, using Obama’s dress as her news hook.
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.