The day before Thanksgiving brought encouraging news on unemployment. CBS News.com reported "New Jobless Claims Plunge to 466K." Investors.com headlined "Jobless Claims Dive To 466,000." CNN Money.com issued a special report titled "Jobless claims plummet to 14-month low." And the Financial Times included a link to the Calculated Risk blog article "Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims Decline Sharply."
Such good news, reported widely throughout the media, doubtless gave hope to many Americans. If some of them wished to attribute this dramatic turnaround to Barack Obama's stimulus program, so much the better. The truth, however, is that improvement in the number of jobless claims was less than electrifying. The numbers touted in the media are, according to the Department of Labor, "seasonally adjusted" with a statistical technique designed to accommodate fluctuations in the job market. Set that aside, and the numbers are not nearly as rosy. As DOL's Employment and Training Administration reported:
The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 543,926 in the week ending Nov. 21, an increase of 68,080 from the previous week.
Yesterday, CBS News.com's Political Hotsheet blog reported on "Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln and the Politics of the Health Care Vote." It notes:
The focus is also on some Democrats with doubts, notably Louisiana's Mary Landrieu and Nebraska's Ben Nelson, who aren't up but do represent very red states, and Arkansas' Blanche Lincoln, who is, and could face a tough test in 2010.
The piece later states that Nelson:
has cast many a conservative vote in representing a state that, while historically willing to send Democrats to the Senate, is nonetheless firmly Republican overall.
Many a conservative vote? According to interest group ratings compiled by Project Vote Smart, for 2008 the American Conservative Union assigned Nelson a rating of 16. The National Taxpayers Union gave him a rating of F. Nelson received a 100 from the liberal AFL-CIO for 2008 and an A for 2007-2008 from the liberal National Education Association. For 2007, Nelson racked up a 5 with Americans for Tax Reform.
CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen is a long-time critic of the Bush administration, enhanced interrogation techniques, military tribunals, Gitmo, and many aspects of the government's prosecution of the war on terror. For general background, see Cohen's CBS News blog "Court Watch." It is, therefore, no surprise at all to see Cohen defending the propriety of the upcoming New York City terror trials.
Is it newsworthy when an animal urinates on a member of the press?
The good folks at CBS News must think so.
On Thursday, CBSNews.com not only created a video clip of Debbye Turner Bell getting splashed in the eye by a beaver on that morning's "Early Show," but someone actually posted it at the website's "Recommended" videos section (embedded below the fold):
"Should Anti-Gay Rights Petition Signers Be Exposed?" asked a teaser headline [screencap shown at right] on CBSNews.com's front page.
"Hot Topic: Battle Rages in Washington State over Privacy of Petition Signers" the subheader read.
While the November 3 article itself by staffer Brian Montopoli was balanced -- giving room for a social conservative activist to defend keeping the names and addresses of signatories of the Referendum 71 petition from being made public -- the headline sets the tone for readers to see pro-traditional marriage backers in Washington State as folks motivated to deprive fellow citizens of their "rights."
So what does Referendum 71 actually do? According to Montopoli:
Monday's CBS Evening News carried a brief excerpt, sans the excessively laudatory introduction: “Today I spoke with someone who knows a bit about Washington politics and the environment, former Vice President Al Gore. He's out with a new book and is on the cover of this week's edition of Newsweek.”
Three weeks after their gushing praise of President Obama's meeting with Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the media have taken a cue from the lack of action that followed.
It was a good run while it lasted.
Word from the conflict became more dire almost by the day as Obama's cabinet squabbled. The American media, having sensed Afghanistan could be lost without action, chose to cover for their favorite president and begin the process of mentally preparing the public for defeat.
The Washington Post published a perfect example of the new meme in Howard Kurtz's column on October 23. Kurtz attacked Republicans as "armchair quarterbacks" for their criticism of Obama's stalling and said it was "rich" of Dick Cheney to demand a new plan. As for what that plan might be, Kurtz's Vietnam defeat song sounded all too familiar:
Monday’s CBS Early Show touted a new 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll about American cultural attitudes, with CBSNews.com’s Cali Carlin asking co-host Maggie Rodriguez one of the survey questions: "Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Angelina Jolie or Beyonce...Who would you want to swap lives with for a week?" Rodriguez immediately responded: "Hands down, Michelle Obama."
Carlin happily declared that Rodriguez, who had not yet seen the poll results, was "in step with mainstream America." Carlin further explained: "26% of women we surveyed said they’d want to switch with Michelle Obama. In fact overall, Washington beat out Hollywood, surprisingly. So both Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton beat out Angelina Jolie and Beyonce."
The poll had a similar question for men, as Vanity Fair online editor Michael Hogan asked co-host Harry Smith: "Okay, so the choices are George Clooney, Bruce Springsteen, Barack Obama, or Tom Brady. So what do you think?" Smith went the Hollywood route: "George Clooney... I mean that’s who I would switch places with. I mean, I know he wants to switch places with me, obviously." Rodriguez joked: "We could arrange that."
"I think that the President could have done a better job of really outlining the issues and what's involved in health care reform. I think it's mind-numbingly dull and complicated and a lot of people don't truly understand a) why the system is broken, if it is in fact broken and the proposals - and how these proposals will actually improve the quality of care."
"It's the most explosive moment for the soda industry since the Diet Coke and Mentos experiment," CBS's Katie Couric quipped of a proposed federal soda tax in her September 18 Notebook video on CBSNews.com (embedded at right).
While careful not to explicitly endorse a proposed one-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks, Couric hinted that taxing sodas could help curb obesity, because, after all, "some lawmakers say taxes on cigarettes have reduced smoking and raised revenues."
Pledging to help soda-drinking Americans lose weight while simultaneously thinning their wallets -- and fattening Uncle Sam's coffers -- certainly appeals to the self-appointed food police and tax-hiking liberals, but it's likely to cause average Americans to gripe about having to pay taxes for the harmless guilty pleasure of cracking open an ice-cold soda pop.
Yet Couric sees only a downside to that dastardly profitable soft drink industry, not average Americans tired of government intrusion into their personal choices:
On a Sunday evening in August four summers ago the NBC Nightly News devoted its “In Depth” segment to how Cindy Sheehan was “single-handedly bringing the Iraq debate to Mr. Bush’s doorstep” with her protest in Crawford, Texas. But Sunday night this year, after Sheehan departed Martha's Vineyard without earning any network media coverage as President Barack Obama's wrapped up his vacation there, NBC's Ron Allen began a story: “Hours before President Obama's vacation ended, he treated his girls to ice cream and candy -- the kind of family time the President said he had in mind for the week on Martha's Vineyard. A chance, friends say, to renew himself.”
A week ago, a MRC Media Reality Check asked: “Will Nets Note Sheehan's Anti-Obama Protest? Media Embraced Cindy Sheehan's Anti-Bush Push in 2005; ABC Anchor Now Says: 'Enough Already.'” (NB posting) The answer: No. Though she spent four days on the island and held an event on Thursday right next to the media set up in the Oak Bluffs School, her anti-Obama efforts were ignored by all the networks (cable too) as well as major newspapers.
The 10-paragraph entry by Havana-based news producer Portia Siegelbaum amounted to an electronic birthday card for the Communist dictator.
No Castro critics, domestic or foreign, were cited in the story, although Siegelbaum made sure to note how a "U.S.-based religious group, Pastors for Peace" got to hang out on Wednesday with the aging despot.
Yet Siegelbaum failed to note the leftist political bent of Pastors for Peace, describing it merely as "an anti-embargo organization." The Web site for Pastors for Peace, a project of the Interreligious Foundation for -- wait for it -- Community Organization (IFCO), insists that its purpose is:
What follows is not meant in any way to make light of a literally life-and-death issue. It is instead meant to perhaps (we can always hope) drill a little truth into the thick heads of the establishment media's alleged "journalists" who continue to refuse to see what's right in front of them in ObamaCare (or in many cases to even read the legislation in the first place).
You see, abortion coverage in ObamaCare is analogous to the pasta afficionado's expected set of ingredients in Prego Spaghetti Sauce, as presented in this popular 1984 commercial -- that is, "It's in there."
On Sunday, in an alleged "Fact Check" piece on ObamaCare, the Associated Press tried to pretend abortion coverage isn't in there. Two days later, prodded by Steven Ertelt at LifeNews.com and others in the pro-life community, the wire service specifically backtracked and admitted that yes, it's in there ("Gov't insurance would allow coverage for abortion").
Now it's Stephanie Condon of CBS who is pretending that abortion coverage is not in there in ObamaCare. LifeNews.com and pro-lifers are once again out there pushing back, while deliciously reminding the network of a 2004 story that wasn't all there -- or was only there in the vivid, anchor-ending imagination of Dan Rather (link to CBS story within excerpt added by me; bold is mine):
President Barack Obama burned roughly 9,000 of jet fuel yesterday, Earth Day, and that only to deliver one speech in Iowa, reports CBS News's Mark Knoller in an April 22 Political Hotsheet blog post.
As if that weren't amusing enough, Knoller notes that the Air Force and the White House wouldn't disclose to Knoller how much fuel the president's plane burns on an average flight, so he had to consult with the manufacturer of the 747, Boeing:
In flying to and from Iowa today, President Obama took two flights on Air Force One and four on Marine One.
The press office at Andrews AFB wouldn’t give me the fuel consumption numbers for the 747 that serves as Air Force One without the approval of the White House Press Office, which as I write this has yet to be given.
But Boeing says its 747 burns about 5 gallons of fuel per mile. It’s 895 miles from Washington to Des Moines, so a round trip brings the fuel consumption for the fixed-wing portion of the President’s trip to 8,950 gallons.
The economy is already in rough shape, but some think we should let it go to pot - literally. Pro-legalization advocacy groups are promoting the possibility that legalizing marijuana could provide some economic relief, and the media has eagerly explored the idea.
On April 20, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) aired TV ads calling for marijuana legalization. They ran on CNN, Fox News Channel and were covered by CBS News.
"In the spot, Americans say of the drug, ‘you can tax it, you can regulate it, apply age restrictions...create millions of new jobs ... save our economy,'" Brian Montopoli wrote for CBSNews.com on April 20.
With chatter that this could be a campaign issue in 2010, the new Obama Administration's relaxed policies toward the drug and some people's desperate, try-anything approach to solving the government spending deficits and economic woes, the idea of marijuana legalization is gaining traction with the media.
Sticking up against those ol' playground bullies on the Right, CBS's Katie Couric tells conservatives in a recent blog post to " give the new kids on the block" in the Obama administration "a chance to get their learner's permits first."
Not exactly the wisest choice of words from an Obama-friendly journalist, particularly when a heavy drumbeat of criticism against him in the presidential campaign was that it unwise to trust the presidency to a man who would need "on-the-job training."
CBS’s Katie Couric, formerly queen of “Today” show sunshine, has written a very anti-gun piece on her blog, Couric & Co. It seems worthwhile to do a point-by-point response, so below, please note that italics are from Couric's blog, and the response is in normal font.
Thirteen people shot dead in Binghamton, New York.
In his newly released book ‘Liberty and Tyranny’ author Mark Levin criticizes the mainstream media for its systematic support of left-wing causes. In chapter 8, entitled "On Enviro-Statism," Levin focuses on the media’s slanted coverage of global warming and points out its confusion on the subject:
In 1975, scientists again raised the specter of global cooling. A famous article appearing in Newsweek magazine, titled "The Cooling World," concluded, "The central fact is that after three quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the earth’s climate seems to be cooling down."...In 2008, the same Newsweek that gave weight to the false science of global cooling published an article titled "Global Warming Is a Cause of This Year’s Extreme Weather."
Levin goes on to expose CBS’s Scott Pelley as a diehard global warming advocate:
Consider CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley. When asked why his reporting on global warming did not acknowledge the views of skeptics, he replied, "If I do an interview with Elie Wiesel, am I required as a journalist to find a Holocaust denier? This isn’t about politics or pseudo-science or conspiracy theory blogs. This is about sound science."
Well, if you do a highly contentious and hostile interview with a Republican political candidate that ends up assisting in that persons defeat at the polls you'll get an award from your colleagues.
Such was obviously the case when CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric was given a "Special Achievement" award earlier this week for her highly-publicized September interviews with vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
Michelle may bring home the bacon, but she sure doesn't fry it up in a pan.
During last year's presidential campaign, the media worked overtime to portray John and Cindy McCain as wealthy private jet junkies with more homes than they can remember, while showcasing Barack and Michelle Obama as just another middle class family with two working parents, one car and freshly paid off student loans. In 2008, a media frenzy whirled around Mrs. McCain's income and the $170,000 she paid household staff in 2006.
On the other hand, Mrs. Obama was defined as an average mom who juggled work and home with extraordinary skill. According to the media, she arranged sleepovers, scoured Target for the perfect wardrobe and served healthy organic dinners. Just like us common folk, right? Well, almost. Those healthy organic dinners were cooked by the Obamas' personal chef, Sam Kass.
Funny how the media didn't mention that on the campaign trail, particularly in all of those syrupy, hagiographic interviews where Michelle discussed her family life, such as this October 17, 2008 CBS "Early Show" segment where she danced around answering reporter Maggie Rodriguez when she asked, “Who cooks at home?” (emphasis mine):
Here's a story you may not have heard as the media have all but ignored outgoing President Bush during the Obama transition.
The Air Force pilot who flew President Bush on 9/11 and ferried the commander-in-chief on secret flights to visit troops in Iraq hails the outgoing president as "definitely a great man" for whom "it's been an honor to fly."
As CBS Radio's Mark Knoller noted in a January 17 story, Air Force Colonel Mark Tillman, commander of the Presidential Airlift Group, is retiring from military service after flying President Bush back home to Texas.:
The blog post by Havana-based Portia Siegelbaum began by insisting that:
Expectations are almost as high among Cubans as they are among Americans as the countdown to the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama speeds up.
Of course, far-left rhetoric notwithstanding, the United States is a republic with two major parties and a healthy tradition of freedom of speech and press, whereas Cuba is a totalitarian throwback to the Soviet era.
Yet Siegelbaum failed to note that President Raul Castro is a dictator unanswerable to the call of change from his people.
What's more, the CBS reporter practically laid the entire blame for Cuba's poor economy not on the failures of Communism and dictatorship but the long-standing U.S. embargo:
CBSSports.com columnist Gregg Doyel has had it with all the hero worship, the idolatry, the 'canonization' of the guy:
This one's going to hurt. It's going to hurt you, and it's going to hurt me..... It's directed at those who would beatify the man.... Because he's just a man.
No, he's not referring to President-elect Obama but rather Tim Tebow, the University of Florida quarterback who led the Gators to a national championship on January 8. Yet in his January 13 column, Doyel went from waging a legitimate complaint about excessive hero worship to hashing out liberal talking points regarding the open practice of faith by Christian athletes (emphasis mine, h/t NewsBusters commenter Blonde):
CBS News has found a Greenville, S.C., Roman Catholic priest who has warned any and all of his Obama-voting parishioners to repent of voting for the Illinois Democrat before taking Communion, owing to the president-elect's "stance on abortion."
Yet in reporting the November 14 story on its Web site, CBS News failed to ever mention by name the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), the signing of which Obama famously declared would be a top priority in his presidency.