When at the beginning of the current financial mess John McCain declared that "the fundamentals of the economy are strong," he was roundly lambasted by the MSM, while the Obama campaign called his statement "an enormous mistake."
So, should we expect the liberal media and the Obama campaign to go after Barney Frank . . . now that he has said something remarkably similar? Discussing the markets with Maria Bartiromo on CNBC this afternoon, Frank declared: "I think it's clear that the fundamentals are better than the psychology."
It's become an annual tradition at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative for journalists to appear as Featured Attendees and moderate or speak on panel discussions. This morning's session featuring both John McCain and Barack Obama was moderated by NBC's current Meet the Press host, Tom Brokaw. CNBC's Maria Bartiromo not only speaks today, but anchors a taping for later CNBC airing of Clinton's Global Citizen Awards. The Clinton foundation announced that "CNBC is the official broadcast media partner and The Economist is the official print media partner." CNBC is also thanked for its financial "sponsorship assistance."
Also appearing on panels are New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, and perhaps unsurprisingly, former Clinton spokesman and ABC News star George Stephanopoulos (on an education panel with, among others, hip-hop musician Wyclef Jean) and former Clinton strategist David Gergen, now with CNN.
CNBC's "Squawk Box" co-host Joe Kernen took a moment during a panel discussion September 2 to take a shot at the onslaught of coverage over presumptive vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's daughter's pregnancy.
You know as a member of the media I'm just kind of embarrassed with the media. The media says, "Yeah it shouldn't matter, it's not going to matter, we're not going to cover it" and then they put it on the cover of every paper.
Earlier in the broadcast Kernen told chief Washington correspondent John Harwood he did not think the family incidence was as big a deal as the media was making it out to be:
Felt a little bit like the guy in Casablanca, shocked, you know: teen sex in Alaska, John. Probably not that much of a shocker I guess, right? Not a whole lot. I guess bowling, yeah, It's a little lonely probably up there, right, John? ... I don't understand everybody at the same time saying that this is not going to be a big deal ... the press is going to be responsible about this, Barack Obama please don't make anything of this, but then it's the cover of every paper like it, you know, like matters.
While a lot of the members of the mainstream media were scratching their heads, trying to figure out just who Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was, CNBC actually came through with an almost immediate positive response.
The August 29 broadcast of CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" featured two of the network's prominent personalities analyzing Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain's choice of a running mate. "Closing Bell" host Maria Bartiromo and "Kudlow & Company" host Larry Kudlow said McCain's decision was wise.
Bartiromo, who was set to feature Palin in an upcoming CNBC special on energy, called the governor a "terrific choice."
BARTIROMO: "I can tell you a lot about Gov. Palin just from my conversation with her and from the day that we spent with her and that is she challenged the establishment in Alaska. She is very, very popular in Alaska and what she brings to the table predominantly is her knowledge and her know-how of energy. That's the bottom line."
Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan spoke with CNBC's Maria Bartiromo Thursday, and although a number of press outlets reported his concerns about the economy being close to a recession, his comments about high oil prices being a function of speculation and lack of supply went largely unnoticed.
This boycott seems especially absurd as Congress is currently deadlocked on an energy bill that would offer Americans any hope of relief at the gas pump (photo courtesy Reuters).
With this in mind, Greenspan said the following on Thursday that should not only be relevant to media members, but also to our political leaders that are about to take a five week vacation without having come close to addressing America's energy crisis:
Is there a pro-Obama bias in the media? Only if you at it from a certain point-of-view according to "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams.
Despite allegations of just the opposite, the wall-to-wall coverage of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama's trip to the Middle East then to Europe wasn't a sign of bias - it was just the media attempting to "educate" according to Williams.
Williams appeared on CNBC's "Closing Bell" on July 28 to promote the broadcast of his interview with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be aired on the July 28 "NBC Nightly News." "Closing Bell" host Maria Bartiromo asked Williams if the media were treating Democratic presidential hopeful as a "darling." Williams dismissed the allegation.
"I think it is in the eye of the beholder," Williams said. "As I always say, there was that great New York clothier Sy Syms. We all grew up listening to those radio ads in the New York area and what did he used to say? ‘An educated consumer is our best customer.' The journalism needs to be judged on what we covered of that trip, how we covered it, what we said. It was a big story last week. The crowd I covered in Berlin was a big story, as was the visit to Paris and London and the Middle East before it."
When is a billion-dollar loss a bonanza? When the person suffering it is one of those greedy Wall Street types the MSM loves to hate. Check out how, in opening this morning's show, Today cast the situation of Bear Stearns Chairman James Cayne:
MATT LAUER: Payday! His company imploded and thousands of stockholders went bust, but the Chairman of Bear Stearns cashes in and gets $61 million dollars. Will there be a backlash?
Watching the intro, I assumed the Chairman, despite Bears' fall, had received some kind of bonus or golden handshake. It wasn't until Maria Bartiromo came on later that we learned that Bear Chairman James Cayne, far from receiving a bonus or bonanza, had incurred one of the worst personal financial losses in the history of the street.
"Meet the Press" host Tim Russert asked Bartiromo and CNBC's Erin Burnett if Bernanke was "up to the task" to take on problems with the U.S. economy. Bartiromo didn't blame the Fed chief for the current economic environment, but defended Bernanke and said the foundation of the housing problems was in place prior to his tenure.
"I really don't think you can blame Ben Bernanke for this, Tim," Bartiromo said. "You know, I think that he is, as Erin said, throwing the kitchen sink, doing a lot at this point. And remember, he's a new chairman. You know, so what was put in place before he was actually in this role has set us up for this."
One home supposedly burned because Sheryl Christman, a 38-year-old Michigan woman, was three days short of foreclosure. She pleaded no contest after the Sept. 1, 2007 arson. The other case was a Colorado arson where a man "may have" committed arson before an "imminent foreclosure."
"[T]he truth is, ["Today" co-anchor] Meredith [Vieira], it doesn't matter if we're in a recession," Bartiromo said on NBC's February 6 "Today." "We can talk ourselves into a recession, and that seems to be what we're doing right now and that certainly begets more weakness."
The media coverage has apparently affected voters. According to the February 6 Washington Times, an exit survey from the "Super Tuesday" primaries showed 47 percent of Democratic voters and 40 percent of Republican voters said the economy was the most important issue in making their choice at the polls.
It's really frightening to imagine that people who get the bulk of their news from Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" will be making what they probably think are educated decisions at the ballot box come Election Day.
Stewart, who is now a self-proclaimed economist, said on his January 23 show, "Our economy is tanking." And now you can add financial media critic to Stewart's list of titles.
"For insight, I turned to the two major financial networks to find out what is going on, or as they're known around here, ‘hot ladies talk economy with bald dudes,'" Stewart said.
Billionaire investor George Soros called for more government monitoring and involvement in markets in an interview on CNBC January 23.
"Now we really have to reconsider the whole policy, which has been in my opinion misplaced, of relying on the markets to police themselves," Soros told Maria Bartiromo in Davos, Switzerland, "to recognize the risks. And there are risks which it is the job of the authorities to control, and the authorities have abdicated their responsibilities. So did the rating agencies."
Soros slammed the government for "not taking the right steps in dealing with" what he called upset financial markets. "[T]he authorities ought to move into the market makers, look at the books and make sure that the bad risks are recognized and reassure the markets that the main actors, the banks that are too big to fail, will not fail, that they will in fact be bailed out the same way as Northern Rock was bailed out even if that means wiping out the shareholders or greatly reducing their benefits."
ABC, CBS and NBC reported "more signs of a looming recession," "deepening troubles," "new fuel for recession fears," "rattled consumers," "an economy on edge" and "bracing for recession," or some scary variation a total of 32 times just in the first two weeks of 2008.
The segments predicted a recession or reported fears of a looming recession four times as often as they reported optimism about the New Year, even though recent surveys of economists put the chance of recession at 40 percent to 42 percent.
"And the major concern heading into 2008 is that big ‘R' word, recession," David Muir ominously reported on January 1. "When does the mortgage mess, the housing market, lead to that?" he asked, assuming that a mortgage "mess" inevitably leads to recession.
ABC reported "growing concerns the economy may be heading toward recession." CBS mentioned that "when companies stop hiring, it's often a sign we're slipping into a recession." NBC noticed that in a speech about the economy, President Bush
Hillary Clinton's performance in her interview with Maria "Money Honey" Bartiromo of CNBC last week was so bad that she must have sent a double (stop shivering at the thought, will ya?).
After all, the genuine Smartest Woman in the World couldn't possibly have said the things she said, as noted at Rush Limbaugh's site last Thursday. It got so bad that Bartiromo, who seemingly has barely cracked a smile since George Bush became president, felt compelled to challenge her.
Here is one of the choice offerings Mrs. Clinton served up:
(There are ) lots of people who come on your show who, you know, are gung-ho, protect the tax cuts for the wealthiest of Americans, that will not work if the economy slows down. You need to get money in the pockets of tens of hundreds of millions of Americans, and that's what I intend to do.
It’s a little odd when a reporter contradicts herself and discloses she doesn’t necessarily agree with what she’s reporting.
But that’s what happened this morning when CNBC’s Maria Bartimoro appeared on the November 12 “Today” to report the chances of a recession. “Today” host Meredith Vieira asked Bartiromo if she thought the economy was heading into a recession after Bartiromo delivered a report about economic fears.
“You know Meredith, I do not,” Bartiromo said. “My gut feeling tells me that we have strength around the world. Economies like China and India and Europe continue to grow and that certainly helps American companies that have operations there. I think that that growth will probably offset the weakness that we’re seeing in housing and of course this pressure from oil.”
Housing, oil and inflation were all common themes during the broadcasts of last night’s “CBS Evening News” and “NBC Nightly News.” But, unless you watched last night’s ABC “World News with Charles Gibson” instead of the other two, you would not have known about the positive GDP growth the U.S. Commerce Department reported yesterday.
“On the broadcast tonight, the economy is our big story,” “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams said to begin the October 31 broadcast. “We’ll have the interest rate cut, oil prices are soaring, and still, what about housing?”
It was the same dour mind-set on “Evening News.”
“With the ailing housing market threatening to infect the entire economy, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke administered another shot of preventive medicine today, with a quarter-point rate cut,” CBS correspondent Anthony Mason said.
Sounds like liberal hogwash, doesn’t it? Well, that’s how CNN Senior Business Correspondent Ali Velshi reacted to a CNN-Opinion Research poll.
“Get this: 46 percent of Americans think the economy is in a recession – 46 percent. Nearly half of all Americans think that we're in a recession,” Velshi said on the October 18 “American Morning.”
However, Velshi told viewers the economy isn’t in recession by textbook definition.
“[T]his is interesting, because by official standards, we're not in a recession,” he said. “Recession is a sustained decline in economic growth. We haven't seen any decline in economic growth. We’ve seen some decline, but not a sustained decline.”
“[W]ell, we’re coming to you from the Ford Performing Arts Center,” co-moderator Maria Bartiromo said during the October 9 CNBC “Closing Bell.” “And there’s a lot of buzz and excitement around. We're just about an hour away from the debate and of course, this is the first national presidential debate focused only on economic issues. We'll be talking taxes, trade, housing, broad economy, foreign relations, protectionism.”
But it didn’t end up that way. While there were four questioners, co-moderator Chris Matthews was the most obvious in asking questions that had little to do with the economy. Out of his 49 questions, 28 were largely non-economic.
In case you were out of the country and missed it, the Federal Reserve on Tuesday surprisingly cut two key interest rates by a half percentage point - twice what most analysts expected - causing one of the largest one-day rallies on Wall Street in years.
Yet, the folks on the "NBC Nightly News" seemed a tad unhappy with the Fed's move, as anchor Brian Williams wondered "is it good for everyone," and correspondent Kevin Tibbles cautioned, "But experts say beware of the downside of any economic upturn."
I kid you not.
The News began Tuesday evening mostly with the positive side of the rate cut, bringing in CNBC's Maria Bartiromo to discuss the day's events on Wall Street. However, as Williams introduced Bartiromo, he foreshadowed the gloom to come (video available here, h/t NB reader Tim O'Donnell):
CNBC’s Jim Cramer went on an impassioned rant August 6 calling for the Fed to reduce interest rates.
“Bernanke needs to open the discount window. That is how bad things are out there … in the fixed income markets we have Armageddon,” said Cramer on “Stop Trading!” Following Cramers’ rant, NBC brought him on “Today” to analyze the economy August 10.
NBC’s Meredith Vieira asked “Are the markets about to crash?” on the August 10 “Today” show.