With Saturday Night Live now in re-runs until September, my offering for a little Saturday night -- media bias-based -- humor.
Nearly five years ago, when compliant journalists were touting then-vice presidential candidate John Edwards and admiring his supposed idyllic marriage to Elizabeth Edwards, Katie Couric celebrated the happy couple's annual wedding anniversary “romantic ritual” of eating at Wendy's, wondering as all three laughed together:“What do you say, 'One Frosty, two straws?'” Pretty ridiculous in retrospect.
In the taped interview aired on the Thursday, July 15, 2004 Today show, Couric cued up the couple: “I know you'll be celebrating your 27th wedding anniversary. And I understand you go through a romantic ritual every year to commemorate that date. Share it with us will you?” John Edwards answered that “we go to Wendy's for our anniversary” before his wife provided her take, prompting a delighted Couric to marvel: “So every year for 26 years so far?” As John Edwards quipped “you could question our sanity,” Couric jumped in: “I was gonna say, what do you say, 'One Frosty, two straws?'”
After 120 days of the new presidency, the automobile industry provides some of the best evidence of an administration that favors the heavy hand of government meddling in the private sector. And as is the case with mostcoverage of President Obama and his policies, criticism of his automotive tinkering has been sparse.
On May 19, Obama announced a 30-percent increase in Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, which would come to a 35.5 miles per gallon (mpg) average for both cars and light trucks. It will equate to a higher percentage increase for cars, up from its current level of 27.5 mpg standard to 39 mpg starting in 2016. And the average for light trucks would rise from 24 mpg to 30 mpg.
"We have set in motion a national policy aimed at both increasing gas mileage and decreasing greenhouse gas pollution for new trucks and cars sold in the United States of America," Obama said during his May 19 announcement.
Is there another shakeup imminent at CNBC? Since the economy has been on the rocks, NBC Universal's financial network has been in the spotlight - political tug-of-war and all. This time, another one of the network's star on-air personalities, Jeff Macke, could be out.
After the winner of "American Idol" is crowned, the appropriate action is to congratulate the newly crowned Idol on his success. Yet on May 21 media focus was clearly elsewhere. That day, reports on all three networks' morning broadcasts, marveled at how Kris Allen beat Adam Lambert and gave unusual attention to contestants who did not win, but are still successful, leaving little doubt that these hosts and reporters believe something wasn't right about Allen's victory.
Allen and Lambert are very different. Allen, a married twenty-three year old, is a college student from Arkansas. He grew throughout the season as a performer and was often labeled as humble. Lambert, on the hand, was an edgy performer who has become known for his "guyliner," or extensive use of black eyeliner. Although he was a frontrunner and often praised by the judges, his sexuality was often questioned, especially after photos hit the Web in which he appeared to be kissing another man.
ABC, CBS and NBC all led Wednesday night with the Senate's overwhelming 90 to 6 bi-partisan vote to withhold funding for the closing of Guantanamo and block any detainees from being moved to the U.S., but ABC anchor Charles Gibson was uniquely flummoxed: “What's the problem here?...We have terrorists in U.S. prisons, so why not the guys from Guantanamo?”
Gibson alluded, in setting up his question to George Stephanopoulos, to Jake Tapper's reference to how “several convicted terrorists are currently in U.S. 'super-max' facilities, including shoe bomber Richard Reid,” and how Dianne Feinstein (one of the six Senators on Obama's side) argued “there is ample evidence that the United States can, and in fact does, hold dangerous convicts securely and without incident.”
But in being confused about the reasoning of the vast majority, Gibson overlooked how Tapper had already answered his question: “FBI Director Robert Mueller today said putting these detainees in U.S. prisons could be dangerous.” Viewers then heard from Mueller: “There is a potential for radicalization in a number of ways, whether it be for gang activity, for terrorist groups, for other extremists.”
NBC's coverage of a new bill that restricts credit card companies has been riddled with contradictions - first attacking companies for taking advantage of young people, then admitting students need to build credit.
On May 14 "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams said, "graduates enter the world with awful credit card debt" and then reporter Lisa Myers demonized credit card companies for student debt and praised possible government intervention.
The House passed a bill on May 20 to restrict credit card companies which would make it very difficult for consumers under 21 to obtain a credit card unless they have a parent co-sign the card or prove they can pay.
That will make things difficult for college students who need to establish a line of credit to rent an apartment, buy an airline ticket or purchase a car. That was ignored by NBC "Nightly News" May 19 and CBS "Early Show" on May 20. "Good Morning America" didn't report the credit card story at all on May 20.
General Electric (NYSE:GE) is the parent company of the major media conglomerate NBC Universal, which owns media outlets NBC, MSNBC and CNBC. At times that has led to the lines between corporate advocacy and journalism being blurred.
That was certainly the case when GE's CEO Jeff Immelt appeared on CNBC's "Squawk Box" May 20 to discuss the White House meeting of President Barack Obama's 16-member Economic Recovery Advisory Board headed by former Federal Reserve chief Paul Volcker.
Immelt used his platform at CNBC to make the case for a cap-and-trade program to curb emissions - something Obama has called for and one Congressional committee is debating this week.
When examination of the science is too much work for show preparation and taking a position that falls in line with like-minded ideologues is part of your shtick, you can always resort to ad hominem attacks if needed.
In a May 19 segment on his "Hardball" program about global warming, MSNBC's Chris Matthews interviewed Reps. Jim Moran, D-Va., and Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., who had opposing views on the issue. However, Matthews attacked Rohrabacher, a global warming skeptic, as someone ignorant of science.
"Congressman Rohrabacher, are you a Luddite, a troglodyte? Are you a part of ‘The Planet of the Apes' that doesn't want science? Where would you place yourself in this argument?" Matthews asked.
Meghan McCain was again provided with a national outlet for her "moderate" Republican views with her appearance on "The Colbert Report" on May 18. Host Stephen Colbert said to her, "You're more liberal than President Obama. Is that how you see the future of Republican Party going?"
"I'm liberal on social issues," McCain responded
Later in the interview McCain explained her views: "All I'm trying to say is it can be a party for a 24-year-old pro-sex woman. It can be. I just think that we have people that are in this party that are hijacking it and - trying to make it more extreme."
A self described "pro-sex, pro-life and pro-gay marriage" Republican, McCain would prefer the Republican Party stray away from abstinence only education and drop its support for the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
As Californians go to the ballot box to vote whether or not to increase their taxes, government leaders in Sacramento are trotting out "the usual human shields" - kindergarteners, firefighters, policemen and nurses to frighten people into voting.
The ballot initiative, promoted by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, has little to no chance of passing according to the Los Angeles Times. But that did stop the governor from using fear tactics, as Fox News Channel's Glenn Beck pointed out on his May 19 program.
"What's their plan to turn the state around? They have one?" Beck said. "Yes - the Governator, he proposed $15 billion in cuts. Wow. And he warned that if his, if his propositions failed, California will need to release 40,000 prisoners out on the streets."
You know the era of big government is alive and well when you see a mainstream news outlet praise the growth of the public sector as a "bright spot."
Leading up to and throughout the 2008 national election cycle, CBS News was generally downbeat on the economy, even when times were much better than they are currently. However, now that government has taken a much larger role in the private economy, the "CBS Evening News" has now been running a so-called "Economic Bright Spot" segment. And on the May 18 broadcast, "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric explained how government was going to save us all.
"Back here on earth, government agencies like NASA seem to be the only places hiring during this recession," Couric said. "Last month, there were 72,000 new government jobs - 66,000 federal. That's up more than 2 percent from the month before. As Kelly Wallace reports, for thousands of graduates who need jobs this hiring boom is one of the economic bright spots."
Minutes after she praised President Obama for his “courageous” decision to accept the invitation to speak at Notre Dame, CNN anchor Fredricka Whitfield played the role of liberal advocate for the president’s commencement address, grilling one Catholic guest who questioned the university’s decision, while going easy on her other guest who was happy to see Obama speak there. Just as MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell had done on May 14, Whitfield equivocated between the issues of abortion and the death penalty, along with war, in her question to Raymond Arroyo of the Catholic television network EWTN: “So does the death penalty fall into that and also wars...does that fall into that as well?”
Later, when Arroyo brought up how the Catholic teaching on abortion wouldn’t change, even if most of the Notre Dame graduates agreed with the decision to bring the president to campus, the CNN anchor replied, “Well, might it suggest something else, that perhaps the Catholic majority has evolved in its opinion of certain things....Perhaps, it means that there’s a greater understanding in some of the areas that you say...once upon a time there wasn’t.” [Due to the large amount of transcript, the entire text of both segments of the two segments can be read here. Audio clips from both segments are available here.]
Since its announcement in March, the University of Notre Dame's decision to invite President Barack Obama to give this year's commencement address and receive an honorary doctorate in law has been a big story for American Catholics. Pro-life Catholics were outraged and more than 366,000 people signed a petition urging Notre Dame to rescind the invitation. Somehow, though, the controversy didn't merit notice by the broadcast networks. They refused to cover it.
Yet after the fact, Obama's commencement address led ABC and NBC's evening news programs on May 17. (CBS' "Evening News" was preempted by golf, but anchor Russ Mitchell did offer a newsbreak that included a brief mention of Obama's address.) The broadcast networks' morning news programs, including CBS, also discussed Obama's speech. In each case they praised his words and ignored what had stirred so much controversy: the president's history of supporting even the most extreme abortion rights measures. And they turned to mostly liberal Catholics to provide context and perspective on the debate.
On May 15. Julie Chen, co-anchor of CBS' "The Early Show" glossed over a declaration from former Miss California co-executive director that the National Organization for Marriage is a hate group
After her resignation from her Miss California position, Moakler went on the show in an exclusive interview to discuss her departure. Donald Trump's announcement in a press conference on May 13 that Carrie Prejean would keep her title as Miss California led to her departure, and Moakler criticized Prejean in the interview.
"I think it's wrong to start screaming that you're being persecuted, then you go and align yourself with organizations like NOM, to me that are particularly, I consider them hate groups," said Moakler.
After briefly clarifying what "NOM" refers to (Moakler said, "The National Organization for Marriage."), Chen immediately moved on to a completely different question about Trump's response to her resignation.
On Friday’s American Morning, CNN anchor Kiran Chetry used the liberal talking points about Wanda Sykes and Rush Limbaugh, the two “Wingnuts of the Week,” according to John Avlon of The Daily Beast, Tina Brown’s Huffington Post knock-off site. After playing clips from Sykes’ now-infamous routine which bashed the talk show host and wished him dead, Chetry replied, “So, some would say, wait, she’s just a comedian, and she was trying to get laughs at the correspondents’ dinner. So what’s the harm in her joke, and why do her comments qualify her for wingnut of the week?” Later, the anchor asked Avlon concerning Limbaugh, “He’s certainly really dominated the voice of the GOP for -- for the past several months, and, you know, the left has been saying he’s the new voice of the Republican Party. Why did you pick him as the wingnut of the week?” [audio excerpt available here]
The CNN program began the “Wingnut of the Week” last week with Avlon, as a proposed regular segment on Fridays targeting, in his words, “the professional polarizers, the unhinged activists, the folks who are trying to always hijack our debates and divide us.” His picks last week were Representative Michelle Bachmann, for her recent anti-Jimmy Carter remark, and former Representative Cynthia McKinney, for comparing herself to Rosa Parks and referring to Washington, DC as a “Zionist-occupied government.”
Another day with Barack Obama as President of the United States, and another media report on how he is going to save us from ourselves.
On NBC's May 14 "Nightly News," NBC identified a new problem facing society: credit card companies that use marketing gimmicks and low interest rates to lure in young borrowers. The solution, of course, is to continue the evolution toward a government that protects the individual womb-to-tomb.
"It is commencement season, which brings to mind all the joys of college graduation, and these days all the debts," "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams said. "First, the student loans. But so often now, graduates enter the world with awful credit card debt and a chum - a crummy job market. President Obama talked about the problem today, urging Congress to crack down on companies that make the credit cards so enticing to students in the first place."
Instead of performing as an anchor, MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell became a liberal sparring partner to the Cardinal Newman Society’s Patrick Reilly on the network’s Thursday afternoon programming over President Obama’s upcoming commencement address at the University of Notre Dame. Invoking her Catholic upbringing, she used the common left-wing tactic to equate the Church’s unequivocal teaching against abortion with its skepticism of the death penalty, and asked if former presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan shouldn’t have addressed prior commencements for their support of capital punishment. O’Donnell also inquired as to why Reilly was “advocating a Catholic Church that advocates division” [audio clips from the segment available here].
Before introducing Reilly, the MSNBC anchor began the segment, which started 20 minutes into the 3 pm Eastern hour, by reading recent poll numbers from Quinnipiac University which found that 60% of Catholic voters answered negatively when asked if Notre Dame should disinvite President Obama. She then turned to her guest and asked, “What’s your point? Why are you organizing this protest?” Reilly answered, “The protest has nothing to do with the president in particular. This is a concern that Catholics have had for decades now, that many of our Catholic institutions have lost a sense of Catholic identity, and Catholics are drawing a line in the sand, saying that the Catholic University of Notre Dame ought to be choosing those who it honors based on its Catholic principles and values.”
Gender and sexual orientation matter more than judicial philosophy and experience, at least according to the CBS "Early Show" on May 14.
The morning news program focused its discussion of only two of the potential Supreme Court nominees - two openly gay women.
Co-anchor Julie Chen announced the story saying, "Washington is all a buzz over the two openly gay women under consideration." Senior White House correspondent Bill Plante's story followed, which he began by asking "Is America ready for a gay Supreme Court justice?"
On the face of it, the idea of the government being able to regulate how much carbon dioxide (CO2) is emitted into the atmosphere seems absurd. After all, it's a gas emitted by, among other things, human breathing.
That's the point Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, was making when he criticized the new policy that requires the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate CO2 - much to the chagrin of MSNBC "The ED Show" anchor Ed Schultz.
"The Republican from Texas, Barton has already made it clear he's one of Congress' biggest deniers on man-made climate change," Schultz said during his "Psycho Talk" segment on his May 13 broadcast. "Now he's got a new one. The Congressman spoke with Newsmax - there's a news source - on Monday. Now, based on his interview, if you were a runner, I'd be a little bit of nervous about your favorite sport."
Remember back in March when Congress had the brilliant idea to retroactively tax bonuses paid out by bailed out insurer American International Group (AIG)? The House voted 328 to 93 for the 90-percent tax on the $165 million in bonuses, but it later died in the Senate.
Steve Moore, a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board, explained on CNBC's May 13 "Street Signs" that the punitive retroactive tax was just a distraction to divert attention away from the culpability of Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., for the current financial crisis.
"Remember, Barney Frank was one of the guys right at the center of the financial crisis," Moore said. "I think he had a lot of the blame of this lays at his foot. He said roll the dice on Fanny and Freddie. So the point is I think that these Democrats are trying to redirect the populist storm against members of Congress like Chris Dodd and Barney Frank towards executives. So, I'm not so sure he didn't want that to pass as a way of deflecting criticism."
MSNBC's Contessa Brewer stated yesterday after pageant owner Donald Trump proclaimed Carrie Prejean would continue her reign as Miss California, that the controversy over her defense of marriage as one man and one woman "is a good jumping off point for a conversation about same-sex marriage, about hypocrisy."
Based on Brewer's softball interview with "celebrity gossip columnist" Perez Hilton, it's clear she does not want a conversation. She wants Prejean to apologize for her beliefs and to Hilton.
Four weeks after FX's Rescue Me featured a New York City firefighter telling a French journalist how the 9/11 terrorist attacks were part of “a massive neo-conservative government effort” to enable “American global domination,” Tuesday night's episode gave the French character “Genevieve,” interviewing firefighters for a book on 9/11 first-responders, a platform to rail against how the U.S. failed to heed France's advice in starting “two new wars” in the name of “revenge.”
Discussing 9/11 with firefighter “Tommy Gavin,” played by show creator Denis Leary, “Genevieve” agreed “9/11 was a tragedy. To most of the world it was a tragedy,” but she fretted, “to Americans, it was the beginning of the end of the world.” As the two walked along a Manhattan street following a visit to Ground Zero, she lectured, presumably alluding to Iraq: “France warned the U.S. government because of their experience with Algeria. And then told them that maybe this was not a good idea and they didn't want to send their people to die.” As to why she wants to write about 9/11:
It's an amazing story, it's a story about how so many people in the world came to support America and its people, to say, “hey, you know what? You've done so much to help us and to support us, we want to give back to you.” But what did your government do with all that good will? Hell, you went right back to war. You started two new wars. In the name of what? Revenge?...Every goddamn war is about revenge -- and the French don't believe in guns.
MSNBC anchor David Shuster continued his outspoken disdain for anyone that supports traditional marriage. Directly after Donald Trump announced Miss California Carrie Prejean could keep her title on May 12, Shuster asked "Can I vomit?"
In a typical rant, Shuster repeated his criticism of Prejean:
"Can I vomit right now? I mean, literally. Can I vomit?" Shuster said. "Doesn't this represent everything that is wrong with the superficial nature of these pageants? I mean, she talked about how women can make a difference in the world. She lied. She avoided taking personal responsibility. She blamed others whether it's Perez Hilton or the photographer."
During Trump's press conference Shuster commented on his Twitter page, "Prejean, who got cosmetic surgery before the pageant, just spoke of ‘how women can make a difference in the world.' Absolutely revolting."
Roubini, often called Dr. Doom and known for crazy parties, predicted back in 2005 the speculative housing bubble would be the eventual undoing of the economy - and he was correct. However, as Jeff Macke, founder and president of Macke Asset Management and panelist on "Fast Money" explained May 11, being two years early with that prediction wasn't something to hang your hat on.
"Let me give you a little hint on trading," Macke said. "If you're two years early on any idea, what you are mostly is dead. You're a professor, as opposed to a trader. And if we still have time to talk after the five-minute butt kissing we gave the guy, I'll tell you what - he hasn't made anyone a cent. Until he does, as far as I'm concerned, it's a nice opinion but it's not making me money."
The food police are at it again telling us what and how to eat. This time, they're attacking the restaurant industry under the premise the general public is too ignorant to determine what is healthy and what isn't.
"A well-known health group is out with a new warning about America's most popular chain restaurants saying many of their meals have dangerous amounts of salt," "World News" anchor Charles Gibson said. "The Center for Science in the Public Interest checked 102 meals and found 85 of them had more than a day's worth of sodium."
It looks like Miss California Carrie Prejean's title is in jeopardy, as Miss California officials appointed first alternate Tami Farrell to attend all events on May 11 and Donald Trump set to announce the fate of Prejean Tuesday, May 12. The ostensible reason is the emergence of revealing pictures of her. But the publication of those photos was a clear attempt to smear Miss California for her defense of traditional marriage at the Miss USA competition in April.
After weeks of controversy, CBS' "The Early Show" finally interviewed a guest on May 11 that defended Prejean and provided another view point.
Current Miss Rhode Island Alysha Castonguay told anchor Maggie Rodriguez that she too had had an incident in which a revealing photo - more risqué than Prejean's - was published in Maxim. Castonguay told the pageant about it and was allowed to remain in the competition.