Erick at Red State reports that USA Today reporter Jill Lawrence distorted what she reported Saturday on a statement made by Fred Thompson to a Burlington, Iowa audience.
Here, per Erick, is how Thompson actually responded to the question, "Do you want to be President?" --
The first place, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t. I wouldn’t be doing this. I grew up in very modest circumstances. I left government and I and my family have made sacrifices to be sitting here today. I haven’t had any income for a long time because I figured to be clean, you’ve got to cut everything off. I was doing speaking engagements and I had a contract to do a tv show. I had a contract with ABC radio…and so forth. A man would have to be a total fool to do all those things and to be leaving his family which is not a joyful thing if he didn’t want to do it.
I am not consumed by personal ambition. I will not be devastated if I don’t do it. I want the people to have the best president they can have.
Bill Theobald of Gannett News Service has been following Republican Fred Thompson around Iowa. In a dispatch today from Burlington, Bill quotes the former Tennessee senator as saying he doesn't like modern campaigning, isn't that interested in running for president and "will not be devastated" if he doesn't win.
This makes it appear as if Thompson is just going through the motions, doesn't it?
That's because Californians relying on Old Media for their news about the Golden State's dire financial situation are being conditioned to believe that only a tax increase will solve the state's problems.
The latest offering in that regard is a Field poll covered at the San Jose Mercury News and the San Francisco Chronicle, headlined "Many voters think deficit fix will require higher taxes" and "Voters resigned to higher taxes to solve budget crisis," respectively. Those headlines conveniently obscure the fact that the margin of those believing that tax increases are necessary vs. those who think that the answer is totally in spending cuts is only 48%-43%.
Does the New York Times let bias creep into its post-Christmas reports on the shopping season just completed?
Smart-aleck answer: Is Maureen Dowd obsessed with Dick Cheney? (His name appears in 295 of her columns, all but four appearing during the last seven-plus years. That would be almost 40 Cheney inclusions per year, probably close to half the number of columns she has written during that time.)
After reviewing 17 years of those reports, the answer is a definitive "Yes."
For each year from 1991 through 2007, I went back to the Times's first or near-first post-Christmas report on the shopping season. I expected to find blue sky and sunshine during the Clinton years, and gloom as far as the eye can see during Bush 41 and Bush 43. While it wasn't quite that bad, the bias is there, and it's more obvious in recent years.
When Larry Summers suggested in early 2005 that, as paraphrased by Slate's William Saletan, "innate differences between the sexes might help explain why relatively few women become professional scientists or engineers," the outcry was immediate, furious, and went to saturation level virtually overnight. The controversy ultimately led to his resignation a year later as Harvard President.
On Wednesday, Mr. Summers, a Democrat who was once Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton, made a recommendation in his area of expertise -- that is, that a tax cut would be a good idea to protect against a possible recession. (Yours truly doesn't believe that a recession is anywhere near occurring. But hey, I've said since May, and several times since [here, here, and here, among others] that a tax cut is needed anyway to keep the economy chugging along at a good rate. So if panicked pols want to enact a tax cut for the wrong reason, I'll take it.)
Old Media reaction to Summers has been virtual silence.
... "Our whole mission ... is to say: These people are not objective. They're not disinterested, the press and people need to see them for what they are," (Tim) Graham said in a recent telephone interview.
Demystifying the relationship between the press and the Clinton camp is essential for Americans to decide this year's race, (L. Brent) Bozell said.
"Past is prologue," he said. "The kind of behavior that was going on 15 years ago is going on today."
Although just 30% of those polled give Democrats in Congress good marks, they favor the party by a 53%-40% margin in next year’s elections. That represents a silver lining for Democrats, who achieved only a fraction of their ambitious agenda after taking over Congress.
It’s odd because Wolf doesn't indicate how many of those polled gave Republicans in Congress good marks. It's even odder that the 53%-40% election margin Wolf cited is nowhere to be found in the survey detail. Also, neither the article nor the survey detail have an external link to information relevant to this margin.
But the survey detail does tell us that 26% give Republicans in Congress good marks, only 4 points fewer than the Dems. Wolf "somehow” managed not to mention that.
Yes, the viciousness is being directed at Democrats for not being spendthrift enough.
It's too early to tell whether President Bush and congressional Republicans have outmaneuvered the Democratic congressional majority, but it's looking that way. Old Media doesn't like it, and their inability to successfully buck up their side, one bit.
In the Washington Post's "Dems Blaming Each Other For Failures," Jonathan Weisman and Paul Kane are clearly critical:
As monthly reported troop deaths began falling in Iraq a few months ago, CNN's Robin Wright was in an early October interview with the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz on CNN's "Reliable Sources" that was blogged on by NB's Noel Sheppard.
In it, Wright explained why September's US troop death figure, at the time the lowest in over a year, did not deserve significant news coverage:
We've had five years of the Pentagon telling us there is progress, there is progress. Forgive me for being skeptical, I need to see a little bit more than one month before I get too excited about all of this.
Okay, maybe Ms. Wright can work up some "excitement" about this (Source: icasualties.org) --
Journalism's defenders often describe it as a profession or craft unto itself, and minimize the importance, or even sometimes the relevance, of subject matter expertise.
That lack of subject matter expertise, and the apparent unwillingness to seek out a source of that expertise when necessary, probably explain how a Hillary Clinton whopper has survived on the campaign trail for so long.
Of course, the expectations game can be frustrating, and we won't know for sure until the actual report is released Thursday at 8:30 a.m. But there appears to be remarkably good economic news ahead. Naturally, it is getting the barest of coverage from an Old Media business press corps that seems intent on talking the economy down.
First, a week ago Monday, MarketWatch's Greg Robb, in an article entitled "Economists think U.S. can dodge recession," said the following (bolds are mine throughout this post): "The economy grew at a 3.9% rate in the third quarter, and many economists expect an upward revision above 4.5% when the government revises the data on Nov. 29."
Then, at MarketWatch.com yesterday, ("Dollar under pressure as credit fears loom"; link requires free registration), reporter Lisa Twaronite got this quote from an industry expert:
Wash, spin, rinse, spin. Phone, spin, report, spin, poll, spin. The similarities between the work of the mainstream media and a laundry machine are striking. Yet there is nothing about the cycle -- the spin-report-poll-spin cycle -- that does for political events what detergent does for your boxers or briefs.
The media, as One, spend days or weeks bashing someone or something they do not like. They then conduct a poll to prove to you that they were right all along. In a campaign season, their one-sided coverage is calculated, then executed to produce a result. It’s not about reporting the events, it’s about changing the prevailing view.
And the polls -- such as the ones by the media, which are not independent surveys like those undertaken by the likes of Rasmussen or Gallup -- aren’t intended as much to gauge the public view of a candidate or events as they are to reinforce that which they have “reported”, or provide the media guidance on how effective their spinning of the news has been.
In a report ("D.C. Poised to Exceed 2006 Homicide Totals"; HT Hot Air) on overall urban homicide, Allison Klein at the Washington Post used a word that I've never seen directly associated with criminal activity by groups of people, and she used it twice.
Here's the first:
The number of killings in the District this year already has reached the homicide count for all of last year, reversing a trend in which deadly violence steadily declined over the past four years.
With six weeks left on the 2007 calendar, the District has recorded 169 homicides.
"There's a whole lot of things that play into it," (D.C. Police Chief Cathy L.) Lanier said. "It's hard to say any one contributing factor is driving the homicides."
Among her theories: Neighborhood crews are having more violent flare-ups, and criminals are using assault rifles and other guns with more firepower.
Did the police chief really say "crews"? Note that the sentence has no quotations marks.
The Anchoress, a three-time Weblog Awards finalist and 2007 Catholic Blog Awards Winner (congratulations!) in the Best Political/Social Commentary category (scroll down at link to see it), delivered a cold but necessary shower earlier this evening to those of us who are tempted to exaggerate or overstate the impact New Media is having on most Americans.
I'll bet that a lot of us can relay similar stories to the ones she referred to in her very perceptive post ("Good news leaks past the embargo on good news…"; links that contradict the Old Media-driven beliefs described and bolds/italics were included in her original):
Unfortunately, it is still true that until a new president is installed in the WH, preferably one with a D after the name, only the downsides are newsworthy, and that holds true in every subject. Every subject. My elderly family members are convinced that everything, everywhere, is going to hell, and they are fretful and terrified. They think everyone is out of work, the economy is in a recession, the war in Iraq is lost and there are no real terrorist threats - that’s just made-up stuff. They’re sure America is dying. They are sure the world is headed for famine. They are depressed and do not want to send out Christmas cards, because how can you do that when so much is bad in the world?
It's hard to overstate the importance of the study released today by the Treasury Department ("Income Mobility in the U.S. from 1996 to 2005"; press release; full study PDF).
That's because it provides documented evidence of more, not less, economic mobility than in previous eras. Beyond that, taken in combination with an independent report I covered last week, it demonstrates beyond any reasonable doubt that the first four-plus years of the Bush economy were exceptional.
Tuesday's read-the-whole-thing feature editorial at OpinionJournal.com provides a great overview (bolds are mine), plus some tantalizing details:
In a move that must be causing Excedrin headaches at the New York Times and other Old Media outlets, USA Today reports that the Wall Street Journal's new owner expects to tear down its subscription wall:
News Corp. (NWS) Chairman Rupert Murdoch said Tuesday he intends to make access to The Wall Street Journal's website free, trading subscription fees for anticipated ad revenue.
"We are studying it and we expect to make that free, and instead of having 1 million (subscribers), having at least 10 million-15 million in every corner of the earth," Murdoch said.
News Corp. has signed an agreement to acquire Dow Jones (DJ), and the deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter. A special shareholders meeting is scheduled for Dec. 13 in New York.
Murdoch said he believes that a free model, with increased readership for wsj.com, will attract "large numbers" of big-spending advertisers.
Wealthy Americans are becoming increasingly interested in donating to global causes. Since 1997, the rate of global giving has increased steadily at an average of 12.5 percent each year. According to a recent Financial Times story, JPMorgan Private Bank has “noted a rise of about 20 percent over the last year in client interest in overseas donations, with high-net-worth individuals looking to support education, health and economic expansion projects in developing countries.”
And they aren’t alone. Financial planners and international banks have seen similar upswings. It all begs the question—why?
What does this increased giving tells us about Americans?
That's Bill Lerach. Yes, THAT Bill Lerach. The self-styled, one-time "King of Torts," and former partner at the once-untouchable Milberg Weiss law firm. The now criminally convicted Bill Lerach.
For those who are unfamiliar with the story of Bill Lerach and Milberg Weiss, here's a relatively quick synopsis, courtesy of a subscription-only editorial at the Wall Street Journal excerpted by yours truly in May 2006, when Milberg Weiss and two of its partners were indicted:
With all due respect to the chairman (Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke), he would see the recession that so many others are feeling if he would only open his eyes. While Mr. Bernanke and others are waiting for the official diagnosis (a decline in the gross domestic product for two successive quarters), the disease is spreading and has been spreading for some time.
Someone needs to tell me why this news about discretionary income isn't as significant as I believe it is.
But first, three warnings: 1. I'm not about to spend the $250 needed to read the full report from the Conference Board that backs the story (their "about" page is here). 2. I don't feel totally comfortable with how the statistic is measured -- "Households with discretionary income, as defined by the study, are those whose spendable income exceeds that held by households with similar demographic features." 3. I don't feel totally comfortable that the statistic has been measured consistently.
Now with the disclaimers out of the way, here's the stunning news: More Americans have "money to burn," technically known as "discretionary income," than at any time in the past quarter-century, and perhaps in the country's history.
A lot more. A whole lot more.
So many more that I went as far back as I could for comparable stats.
It is understandable, but not forgivable, that business reporters at Old Media newspapers might think that the economy is in bad shape. They first have to get past how poorly most of their employers are doing. The industry as a whole has not been doing well, and it's been that way for quite some time.
This table illustrates that point (September 30, 2007 figures are at this post, which originally came from this Editor & Publisher article, which will soon disappear behind its firewall; March 31, 2005 figures were estimated in reverse using annual percentage changes reported as of March 31, 2006, because older data I thought would remain available no longer is):
It seems that no bad Hillary Clinton deed goes unresponded to.
As we are in the midst of a presidential campaign, this by itself is not an issue. That it is the national media that is leading this charge is. One need focus on but the latest corners of the Clinton pantheon to come to light to see the full court press the press puts on when their girl needs them.
In an October 10 Boston Globe interview, Senator Clinton let her socialism slip a bit, saying "I have a million ideas. I can't do all of them. I happen to think in running a disciplined campaign - especially when it comes to fiscal responsibility, which is what I'm trying to do - everything I propose I have to pay for. You know, you go to my website, you'll see what I would use to pay for what I've proposed. So I've got a lot of ideas, I just obviously can't propose them all. I can't afford them all. The country can't afford them all." (Emphasis ours.)
The Audit Bureau of Circulations released circulation numbers for more than 700 daily newspapers this morning for the six-month period ending September 2007. Of the top 25 papers in daily circulation (see chart, separate story), only four showed gains.
All together now - awwwwww.
For your entertainment pleasure, here were some of the declining dinosaur totals:
In an article counseling readers to cancel the pity party the Washington Post wants to throw for "Young Altruists In the Crowded Field of Public Interest," Rand Simberg at Transterrestrial Musings nails it, and in the process hammers home a reality that Old Media reporters and pundits never seem to comprehend (links were in original post):
..... Who is it that really changes the world, and for the better?
I would argue that it is the people like Bill Gates, or Henry Ford, or Thomas Edison, or the Wright brothers, who have a much larger and more beneficial effect on the world than people who "want to make a difference."
It appears that Editor & Publisher felt the need to get in front of some really bad news in the newspaper business. In fact, the sampling of numbers reported previews a report that will apparently be worse than others I have tracked (previous posts here, here, and here):
According to industry sources speaking to E&P, daily circulation for reporting papers in the six-month FAS-FAX period ending September is down about 2.5% while Sunday is expected to fall 3.5%. Those types of declines -- in the 2% and 3% range -- have been occurring as far back as the March 2005 period.
The bad news keeps on coming for the New York Times. When will company chairman Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger announce he's a failure and his ideas should be reversed? Oh wait, I forgot, only Republican presidents are supposed to do that.
Sulzberger sure hasn't been doing well, though. Here's the latest:
Morgan Stanley, the second-biggest shareholder in New York Times Co., sold its entire 7.3 percent stake today, according to a person briefed on the transaction, sending the stock to its lowest in more than 10 years.
The person declined to be identified because Morgan Stanley hasn't made the sale public yet. Traders with knowledge of the transaction said Merrill Lynch & Co. brokered a $183 million block trade of 10 million New York Times shares this morning.
It's a tradition that goes back at least as far as the Vietnam War, when CBS edited and reshuffled the content of a TV interview with a US general to make it appear as if he believed that having wars from time to time was a necessary and good thing. CBS, operating in the days of Old Media's de facto monopoly, paid little if any price for its transgression. Someone on the order of a Bill Buckley or Cal Thomas objected, and that was about it.
That creative editing was occurring and considered a hallowed right of Old Media during its "good old days" is almost indisputable. As I recall it, several Nixon Administration advisers in the early 1970s whom the networks wished to interview agreed to do so, with but one proviso: The interviews would either be live, or air unedited. My recall is that CBS never followed through on any of these interviews. Readers are welcome to fill in any gaps in yours truly's memory.
The practice of "creative interviewing" continues. The latest to get caught doing it is New York Times "Questions For" writer Deborah Solomon.
At least this time, someone at the media outlet involved is openly questioning the technique. That would be Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt, who skewered Solomon's methodology in his Sunday column (HT Don Luskin; link requires free registration; bolds are mine throughout this post):
The Heritage Foundation's Robert Bluey reported in his Sunday Townhall column that there was disinterest at the hallowed "newspapers of record" in the government's news about the just-ended fiscal year's deficit (links to White House deficit announcement and to Business and Media Institute report are in the original):
The U.S. budget deficit fell to the lowest level in five years last week, but three of America’s leading newspapers -- the New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times -- couldn’t find the space to mention the dramatic drop.
Journalists who have spent years trashing President Bush’s tax cuts appeared to suddenly lose interest when the budget picture brightened. That’s not surprising, however, considering that mainstream reporters frequently ignore upbeat economic news.
In the midst of a Wall Street Journal editorial today about proponents' misrepresentations relating to the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) coverage, cost, and financing (characterized as "fiscal fraudulence"), the Journal took shots at blogs that have questioned the SCHIP eligibiliy of Graeme Frost, the 12-year-old boy the Democrats used to deliver a two-minute rebuttal to President Bush's veto of legislation that would vastly expand the program.
The Journal's criticisms of SCHIP expansion and the Democrats' overheated rhetoric after the veto are, on substance, very solid:
After President Bush vetoed Congress's major expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, Nancy Pelosi declared: "President Bush used his cruel veto pen to say, 'I forbid 10 million children from getting the health benefits they deserve.'" As far as political self-parody goes, that one ought to enter the record books.
It's wrong on the facts, for one, which Speaker Pelosi knows. ..... The Schip bill was not some all-or-nothing proposition: A continuing resolution fully funds the program through mid-November, so none of the 6.6 million recipients will lose coverage.
Here's another Old Media non-followup on yesterday's news: Failure to get a reaction from two Democratic presidential candidates who had harsh things to say a month ago when August's weak employment report was released.
That August report showed a loss of 4,000 jobs. The Old Media "recession worries" chorus was deafening. August's job-increase number was revised upward to a pickup of 89,000 as part of yesterday's report. As noted by Baker and Gainor, Old Media reaction to that revision was relatively muted. I also don't see that anyone in Old Media pointed out that the total new-jobs increase, including prior revisions, was a gain of 228,000 jobs (September's initial +110,000 pickup, August's +93,000 revision, and a +25,000 revision to July).
The two leading Democratic presidential candidates opportunistically jumped on that initial August report and its supposed implications in early September, reporter Edmund Andrews noted in a New York Times article: