ABC Chafes: 'Breathtaking' Exxon Profits 'Enriching' Shareholders --7/28/2006
2. Gregory Goes to Area Kerry Won to Prove GOP Faces Fall Backlash
3. CBS Producer Who Castigated CyberAlert Will Take Over ABC's GMA
ABC's World News with Charles Gibson on Thursday night hyperventilated over "breathtaking profits" for ExxonMobil which "you paid for...at the pump," how the company made "more in 30 seconds than many families earn in a year" and how "just" $4 billion went to exploration while $6 billion went to "enriching" shareholders. But ABC never cited the company's quarterly profit number -- which at $10 billion matches $4 billion plus $6 billion and means 40 percent went for exploration.
Reporter Betsy Stark asserted: "The earnings reported today are astounding. In three months, Exxon earned $114 million a day, $80,000 a minute. Or, look at it this way: In 30 seconds, the ExxonMobil corporation makes about what an average American family earns in an entire year." (ABC charges more for a prime time ad than many families make in a year, but it's an equally silly comparison. A better one: Charles Gibson earns more in a day than most make in a year.) Stark fretted that "Exxon said just $4 billion went to exploring for new sources of oil. But $6 billion went to buying back its stock, enriching its shareholders." How awful. But those two expenditures match the total of Exxon's profit, a number Stark conveniently failed to report verbally or on screen. Stark concluded by noting how "Democrats denounced" the profits announced by oil companies. Well, Stark and ABC certainly advanced the Democratic agenda.
[This item was posted Thursday night on the MRC blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Gibson teased at the top of the ABC newscast: "Breathtaking profits: The company that's been making $80,000 profit every minute. And you paid for it at the pump." Before an ad break, Gibson plugged an upcoming look at "the oil giant making more in 30 seconds than many families earn in a year."
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams cited "jaw-dropping profits" and how for ExxonMobil that "translates to about $79,000 a minute in profit," but at least he informed viewers of the actual dollar figure:
CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer refrained from such silly per-minute comparisons.
ExxonMobil's press release on its estimated second quarter (April-June) earnings: home.businesswire.com Date*J2*N1001106&newsLang=en&beanID=2030803304&viewID=news_view
Now, a full transcript of the July 27 story on ABC's World News with Charles Gibson:
Gibson, anchoring from Washington, DC, over "Mega Profits" graphic: "Oil companies this week are reporting their profits for the second quarter of 2006. And today, ExxonMobil reported a profit number so big, it was staggering, even by oil company standards. ABC's Betsy Stark takes a look at the numbers."
Betsy Stark began: "The earnings reported today are astounding. In three months, Exxon earned $114 million a day, $80,000 a minute. Or, look at it this way: In 30 seconds, the ExxonMobil corporation makes about what an average American family earns in an entire year."
If Democrats win big this fall, David Gregory's Thursday story on NBC Nightly News may look prescient, but his effort to show how Republicans are newly in trouble in suburban Philadelphia suffered from several analytical flaws. Of those in four featured soundbites, three complained about Iraq, including one comment from a Democratic congressional candidate who hardly represented any trend among Republicans, and one lamented Bush's lack of "fiscal responsibility." Unmentioned: Illegal immigration, an issue on which many Republicans disagree with Bush.
Gregory served up as emblematical of Republican troubles a "lifelong Republican" and two "Republican voters," but while they may be frustrated with national Republicans, if they are truly Republicans why would they vote for a candidate from the opposition party? Gregory described the Haverford area as "reliably Republican in the past," asserting that "this year the mood has changed." But seconds later, he undermined his premise when he acknowledged that the area "has been trending Democratic in recent years, even narrowly supporting John Kerry for President."
At the top of his piece, viewers saw a zoom-in on a car's bumper sticker with an image of a woman pulling out her hair:
[This item was posted late Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video for the July 27 NBC Nightly News story. Anchor Brian Williams teased: "President Bush on shaky ground tonight in what was safe territory: Why Republicans are now fighting to hang on to their own voters."
Williams set up the subsequent piece:
David Gregory, with "Shaky Ground" as on screen tag: "Just a half hour drive from downtown Philadelphia is a suburban battleground. Reliably Republican in the past, this year the mood has changed. Lifelong Republican Laurie Williams now worries about her daughters' future because of the President she has twice supported."
Jim Murphy, who castigated the MRC as "more biased" than the mainstream media and rejected criticism in two CyberAlert/NewsBusters items when he was the Executive Producer of the CBS Evening News, will soon take control of ABC's Good Morning America. Broadcasting & Cable magazine reported last week, and ABC made it official Wednesday, that Murphy will join ABC News as Senior Executive Producer of Good Morning America. Murphy ran the CBS Evening News for six years, working alongside Dan Rather, until being replaced in November, seven months after Bob Schieffer replaced Rather.
A July 27 Washington Post article, "Former CBS News Producer Taking Charge of 'GMA,'" reported ABC's announcement: www.washingtonpost.com
Last September, when two CyberAlert/NewsBusters items criticized biased CBS Evening News stories about President Bush and Katrina (a CBS reporter gratuitously pointed out how Bush spoke "inside an air-conditioned tent" while most were sweltering and on another night CBS uniquely highlighted a slam at the Bush administration from Jimmy Carter), CBS's Public Eye blog asked Murphy to respond and he charged that the Media Research Center "is a much more biased organization than any institution in the MSM."
An excerpt from the September 23 CyberAlert:
...CBS Evening News Executive Producer Jim Murphy, on the CBS News "Public Eye" blog on Thursday [September 22], criticized two MRC CyberAlert articles I wrote. Public Eye Editor Vaughn Ververs asked Murphy to comment on a September 21 CyberAlert item, "CBS: Bush Should 'Wake Up and Smell the Coffee.'" Murphy seemed befuddled by the article: "Please explain to me what's WRONG with pointing out the President spoke from an air-conditioned tent, which to most people on the gulf would be a more than welcome relief from their existence. It was not gratuitous, it was an interesting note" and the CBS reporter's "use of the well-known phrase, 'wake up and smell the coffee,' was attributed to the restaurant owners as THEIR feeling, NOT hers. It's just good, colorful, pointed writing." (The MRC's Michelle Humphrey tracked down a still shot of Murphy from a May of 2004 appearance on CNN.)
Murphy was similarly flummoxed by the September 22 CyberAlert, "CBS Trumpets Carter's Criticism of Bush Administration," contending that "we simply reported it because the former President SAID it."
But Murphy's reasoning is a tautology. I was criticizing the judgment of CBS News on what is news. Other outlets did not choose to highlight Bush's air-conditioned surroundings, how one woman at a French Quarter restaurant assailed him for not experiencing their suffering or what Jimmy Carter said. Carter makes comments nearly every day. CBS chose to report this particular comment on this day. CBS decided that the restaurant owner's comment was more newsworthy than any number of other soundbites they could have run. The story reflected an agenda. By Murphy's reasoning, my articles should be beyond criticism since they accurately quoted what CBS reported.
Public Eye Editor Ververs conceded the piece on Bush had a point about CBS's "attitude." That and a bit more from Murphy follows.
Ververs described the MRC as "a centerpiece in what has become an entire industry of partisan media criticism," but he soon pointed out how "that's not to say there isn't occasionally some validity to their gripes. In this case, they have a small, but overblown, point to make in my view (which, of course, is also subjective). Television is about more than words, it's about images of course but also tone, attitude and emotion."
On featuring Carter in the September 21 CBS Evening News story, Murphy asserted: "I'd like to say one more thing about MRC. Look at its website today. It has one headline saying 'CBS Promotes Carter's FEMA Criticism.' Another says 'CBS Lauds Carter's Criticism of Bush Administration.' CBS News didn't LAUD or PROMOTE anything Jimmy Carter said. We simply reported it because the former President SAID it. That's what we DO -- report to viewers what is happening on a given day and what people are saying on a given day. The MRC chooses to like or dislike what is REPORTED based on how it FEELS. That is simply, purely, BIAS."
Those headlines did go beyond the headlines I wrote to go above the NewsBusters and CyberAlert postings (as well as what CyberAlert e-mail subscribers saw), but focusing on them is like me judging a CBS Evening News story based on a teaser or plug line for an upcoming story.
END of Excerpt
For the September 23 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
For the September 22 Public Eye posting, "The Bias Debate: Evening News Exec Producer Defends Piece to Conservative Critics," go to: www.cbsnews.com
-- Brent Baker