2. On National Security, Kerry Pursuing a "Path Down the Middle"
3. Jennings Flummoxed by More in Prison "Even Though" Crime Down
4. NBC Skips GDP Jump, But Has Time for Gas Prices Causing Hunger
5. USAT Touts "Good News on Economy,"
WashPost Sees Only Bad Signs
6. CBS: Threat Warning a "Campaign Tactic" to Distract "from Iraq?"
7. Students Learn About Internment Camps, Not WWII Battles
Dan Rather on Thursday night trumpeted the polling success of a Kerry-McCain "Democratic dream team" ticket over Bush-Cheney. Over a graphic of a mock red, white and blue campaign button showing the faces of John Kerry and John McCain, with a question mark in between, Rather touted how "belief appears to be growing that the Democratic dream team -- and President Bush's nightmare -- would be Kerry and Republican Senator John McCain. Look at this: The latest CBS News poll indicates Kerry with an eight-point lead [49 to 41 percent] over President Bush. With McCain on a Kerry ticket the lead grows to 14."
Rather cautioned excited viewers and journalistic colleagues, however, that "McCain insists he is not interested in joining the Democratic ticket."
As Rather cited the comparison numbers, viewers saw side-by-side campaign buttons made up for Kerry-McCain and Bush-Cheney with the numbers for each beneath: 53 percent for Kerry-McCain compared to 39 percent for Bush-Cheney.
Rather's numbers weren't from a new poll, just a previously unreleased finding from the CBS News survey of registered voters taken from May 20-23 and released on May 24.
The May 25 CyberAlert featured an item about what the CBS Evening News on Monday reported about the poll: The CBS Evening News on Monday night relayed seven findings in a new CBS News poll, including how John Kerry has an eight-point lead over President Bush and how most think a President can change the price of gas. But though four different stories cited numbers from the poll, CBS ignored how ten times more of those surveyed feel the prisoner abuse story has been over-covered as under-covered. Asked if the media have spent "too much" or "too little" time on the abuse scandal, 61 percent said "too much" compared to a mere 6 percent who answered "too little." That's an even greater disparity than CBS found two weeks ago when the split was 49 percent to 8 percent -- a finding CBS skipped then too. See: www.mediaresearch.org
"Poll: McCain/Kerry Ticket A Winner," reads the online posting of CBS's freshly released numbers. An excerpt from the posting dated May 26, the day before Rather touted the finding:
....The Kerry/McCain ticket draws 15% of Republican voters while keeping the same level of support among Democrats -- 80% -- that Kerry enjoys alone. However, the addition of McCain brings many more veterans to the Democratic camp: tested one-on-one against Bush, Kerry loses to Bush among veterans, 54% to 41%. With Kerry and McCain together, the two tickets split the veteran vote.
Independent voters, too, move to the Kerry/McCain ticket: 51% of them support Kerry over Bush, while 57% would back a Kerry/McCain ticket.
Views of McCain
Among those voters who have an opinion or know of John McCain, opinions of the Senator are overwhelmingly favorable. 46% say they have a favorable view of McCain, while just 9% are unfavorable. Independents hold the most favorable views. Republican voters, meanwhile, are more likely than Democrats to view the Senator in a negative light: 16% of them do, compared to just 4% of Democrats and 8% of Independents.
Moreover, the Republican McCain has far higher favorable ratings than the Vice-Presidential nominee on the GOP side, Dick Cheney. The Vice-President elicits more negative than positive opinions from those familiar with him and, like the President, his negative ratings are up from last month. Despite four years in office, however, Cheney remains unknown to, or elicits no opinion from, more than one-third of voters....
END of Excerpt
For the CBSNews.com rundown of its numbers for a Kerry-McCain ticket, as well as a proposed Kerry-Edwards pairing, see: www.cbsnews.com
Some network stories on Thursday night empathized with John Kerry's supposed struggle to find the correct path on national security and Iraq, one that puts him down the middle of the ideological spectrum. NBC framed a story around, as Tom Brokaw put it, how "the Democratic candidate has a difficult job ahead of him -- appearing aggressive in Iraq while setting himself apart from President Bush." NBC's Kelly O'Donnell concluded that Kerry is the true centrist, asserting: "On national security, the Kerry strategy: Subjected to slings from both right and left, is looking to find a path down the middle." Over on ABC, Dan Harris hit Kerry from the left for not being liberal enough: "Some Democrats want Kerry to be more aggressive, to hit Bush as hard as Al Gore, the Democratic Party's last nominee, did yesterday."
O'Donnell began her May 27 NBC Nightly News story, prompted by Kerry's national security speech in Seattle: "For John Kerry the campaign trail has fast become a campaign tight rope, an uneasy balance between his need to appear tough enough on national security and terrorism, mindful of swing voters and moderates-"
After noting how a Bush campaign spokesman said that Kerry offered nothing new, O'Donnell noted how anti-war activists have "turned up the pressure." Viewers heard a complaining soundbite from Tom Andrews of the group Win Without War, which O'Donnell set up by observing that "some Democrats wish Kerry were as fiery as Al Gore was yesterday."
She concluded: "On national security, the Kerry strategy: Subjected to slings from both right and left, is looking to find a path down the middle."
Over on ABC's World News Tonight, Dan Harris outlined how Kerry listed his priorities and building alliances, modernizing the military and reducing dependence on foreign oil. But, Harris noted, he didn't offer a new policy on Iraq. Harris then relayed: "There are Democrats who say Kerry is not presenting a clear alternative to Mr. Bush."
Following clips of two diners, at an Ohio restaurant, who were unclear on Kerry's stand on Iraq, Harris reported: "Some Democrats want Kerry to be more aggressive, to hit Bush as hard as Al Gore, the Democratic Party's last nominee, did yesterday."
Harris allowed Richard Holbrooke to explain why before concluding with how Bill Clinton thinks Kerry is playing it smart since when an opponent is in trouble, as is Bush on Iraq, you should get out of the way.
Peter Jennings seemed baffled by two simultaneous trends: The number of people in prison is rising as the crime rate is falling. Picking up on how the Justice Department reported that the "prison population grew 2.9 percent last year to nearly 2.1 million," putting one out of every 75 American men behind bars, a flummoxed Jennings complained: "The number went up even though the crime rate continued to fall."
A Thursday AP dispatch by Connie Cass struck a similar disconnected note: "The inmate population continued its rise despite a fall in the crime rate and many states' efforts to reduce some sentences, especially for low-level drug offenders."
But Cass also allowed Attorney General John Ashcroft to explain the obvious: "'It is no accident that violent crime is at a 30-year low while prison population is up,' Ashcroft said. 'Violent and recidivist criminals are getting tough sentences while law-abiding Americans are enjoying unprecedented safety.'"
For the AP story, "Report: 1 of Every 75 U.S. Men in Prison," in full: news.yahoo.com
Jennings' confusion about how you can have a rising prison population while crime is falling reflects the disconnect shown repeatedly by the New York Times, classically captured in this 1997 headline: "Crime Rates are Falling, but Prisons Keep on Filling."
An excerpt from a May 13 posting by the MRC's Clay Waters on the MRC's TimesWatch.org site:
Prisons Fill, Crime Falls, Times Reporter Frets
Crime reporter Fox Butterfield Wednesday picks up a study from an unlabeled liberal group, the Sentencing Project, and frets over the increasing length of prison sentences: "Almost 10 percent of all inmates in state and federal prisons are serving life sentences, an increase of 83 percent from 1992, according to a report released yesterday by the Sentencing Project, a prison research and advocacy group. In two states, New York and California, almost 20 percent of inmates are serving life sentences, the report found."
Then, for the umpteenth time, Butterfield fails to grasp the connection between longer sentences for criminals and resulting reductions in crime. Instead, he finds increased incarceration rates a puzzling and "punitive" anomaly: "The increase is not the result of a growth in crime, which actually fell 35 percent from 1992 to 2002, the report pointed out. Instead, it is the result of more punitive laws adopted by Congress and state legislatures as part of the movement to get tough on crime, the report said. The jump in the number of inmates serving life sentences imposes large costs on states, about $1 million for each inmate who serves out his full sentence behind bars, said Marc Mauer, the assistant director of the Sentencing Project and an author of the study." ...
A reprint of a TimesWatch.org item from July 28, 2003:
"Crime Falling, Yet Prisons Still Filling," Part XIX
A teaser on Monday's front page sent Times Watch into nostalgic reverie: "Prison Population Rises -- The nations' prison population grew 2.6 percent last year, the largest increase since 1999. Researchers found the jump surprising, since serious crime had fallen."
The Times is up to its old rhetorical tricks. Ever since a September 1997 headline that read "Crime Rates are Falling, but Prisons Keep on Filling," (as if the two trends were unrelated) the Times has been willfully na've on the connection between more criminals being in prison and a corresponding drop in the number of crimes being committed. The prime offender is crime reporter Fox Butterfield, so it's no surprise to turn to page A12 and spy Butterfield's byline. Butterfield's back with yet another story where he's unable to grasp the connection between putting criminals in prison and a fall in the crime rate. The subhead to Butterfield's story reads: "More Inmates, Despite Slight Drop in Crime." Butterfield's actual story focuses more on alleged racial disparity in the prison population, but it's nice to know some things never change in Times-land.
END of Reprint
For the latest on the liberal political bias in the New York Times, check: www.timeswatch.org
On Monday night, the NBC Nightly News found the time to falsely claim gas prices hit a new "record" price and for reporter Anne Thompson to focus a full story on the "ripple effects of two dollar gas," including a Meals on Wheels official in Spokane who offered a dire warning that since volunteer drivers can't afford gas, "my fear is that seniors will go hungry." Thompson maintained that is "a growing problem for Meals on Wheels programs nationwide." But on Thursday night, after the Commerce Department revised upward the first quarter GDP growth number to 4.4 percent, from 4.2 percent, the NBC Nightly News didn't utter a syllable about the good news.
NBC did have time for a full story on radiologists in Israel who use the Internet to read MRI scans from a Philadelphia area hospital and for Tom Brokaw to highlight a Surgeon General's report on how 430,000 die every year from smoking-related illness and that smoking takes 13.2 years off the lives of men and 14.5 off the lives of women.
ABC and CBS at least noted the GDP jump, but gave it short-shrift compared to the time allocated on Monday to gas prices.
Peter Jennings noted on the May 27 World News Tonight: "There's a new sign that the economy is getting stronger. The government said today that the Gross Domestic product, the broadest measure of economic activity, grew 4.4 percent in the first quarter of the year. That was slightly better than estimated."
On the CBS Evening News, Dan Rather read this short item: "New numbers from the government today showed the U.S. economy was growing in the first quarter of this year at a healthy annual rate of 4.4 percent. Wall Street took that as fresh evidence the recovery is on track. The Dow gained 95 points."
Back on Monday night, May 24, all three broadcast network evening newscasts devoted full stories to gas prices, with both CBS and NBC falsely reporting a record high price.
Brokaw introduced the above-quoted Thompson story on old people going hungry, as tracked down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "There's news from the Energy Department today that gasoline prices have set still another record in this country, increasing almost five cents over the last week to an average now of $2.06 a gallon [gas pump graphic with the price]. And it's not just drivers who are feeling the pain, the ripple effect is wide, and it's getting wider. Here's NBC's Anne Thompson."
Thompson ominously began: "Meals on Wheels is a lifeline to seniors in Spokane, Washington. Its lifeline: Volunteer drivers. But soaring gas prices are forcing some, like Bob and Doris Swehla, to cut back on miles and others to drop out altogether."
On ABC's World News Tonight on Monday night, Peter Jennings set up a story from Lisa Stark: "We're going to take another look tonight at the impact of the current oil and gas prices. It's virtually become a daily matter. The government said today that the national average price of a gallon of regular has now reached almost $2.07 a gallon. That is nearly 60 cents more a gallon than last year. Crude oil closed at $41.72 a barrel in New York today. Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer and an ally of the United States, promised over the weekend to increase production again in an effort to stabilize prices."
Over on the CBS Evening News, Dan Rather intoned: "World oil prices went up again today. They closed here in New York at $41.72 a barrel. And gasoline is up another 4 cents in the past week alone, to a nationwide average now of $2.06 a gallon for self-serve regular. An OPEC ally is promising help, but CBS's Anthony Mason reports one cause of higher gasoline prices is right here at home."
Mason looked at how "refineries may not be able to handle the Saudis' extra oil" and made an inaccurate statement about "record highs" for prices: "As gas prices continue to hit record highs, the CBS News poll found that more than half of Americans say higher gas prices have affected them a lot. And while most blame the oil companies, 58 percent think the price of gas is something a President can do a lot about. But even the promise of more Saudi crude couldn't put the brakes on accelerating prices today."
In fact, despite the insistence of CBS and NBC, adjusted for inflation, gas prices are well below their 1981 level.
An excerpt from an American Petroleum Institute report released on Monday:
An inflation-adjusted 2004-dollar terms, today's price is low compared to the historical record of pump prices over the last 86 years. In fact, motor gasoline prices are 25 percent lower than the 1981 high of $2.79 per gallon. Between then and now, the real cost of motor gasoline to consumers has fallen by $0.69 per gallon. This decline can be attributed to lower crude oil costs. Crude oil costs have declined by $0.87 per gallon from $1.73 per gallon in 1981 to $0.86 per gallon by May 2004.
END of Excerpt
For API's report, a PDF: api-ec.api.org
USA Today versus Washington Post on first quarter GDP growth. "Reports have good news on economy," declared the headline over the USA Today "Money" section story on Friday. But Washington Post readers were greeted with this headline on the front page of the "Business" section: "Growth May Be Slowing."
An excerpt from the top of USA Today reporter Barbara Hagenbaugh's May 28 article:
U.S. businesses posted solid profit gains in the first quarter, the government said Thursday in a report that suggested firms are in a good position to hire and make investments.
Other data out Thursday showed the economy grew more strongly than first thought at the beginning of the year, while inflation was actually lower than initially estimated -- two pieces of good economic news.
Financial markets reacted positively to the data. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 95 points to 10,205. Bond traders greeted the positive inflation news by pushing the yield on the 10-year Treasury note down to 4.60% from Wednesday's 4.66%.
Corporate profits, after taking out taxes, rose 1.4% in the first quarter from the fourth quarter of 2003 and were up 36.7% from first-quarter 2003. That was the largest year-over-year quarterly gain since the third quarter of 1981, the Commerce Department said....
In other good news, the Commerce Department said gross domestic product -- the broadest gauge of economic activity in the USA -- rose 4.4% at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in the first quarter. That was up from the initial estimate of 4.2% and was above the 4.1% gain in the fourth quarter....
On the inflation front, the government lowered its estimate of a key inflation indicator for the first quarter....
END of Excerpt
For the USA Today story in full: www.usatoday.com
Friday's Washington Post managed to turn all of that into bad news as reporter Nell Henderson saw a downside to every positive economic number. An excerpt:
The U.S. economy grew at a healthy 4.4 percent annual rate in the first three months of the year, but growth appears to have slowed more recently as consumers and businesses deal with rising inflation and interest rates, economists said yesterday.
The first-quarter growth rate reported yesterday by the Commerce Department was better than the 4.2 percent seasonally adjusted annual pace initially estimated, and faster than the solid 4.1 percent rate posted in the final quarter of last year. The department revises the estimates as additional data become available, providing a snapshot of the economy that becomes clearer over time.
But weaker-than-expected vehicle sales this year and a drop in other April retail sales signal a slowdown in consumer spending in the current quarter, and softer overall economic growth as well, said Gary Bigg, an economist at Banc of America Securities LLC, in a note to clients yesterday....
Orders to factories for big-ticket durable goods fell a sharp 2.9 percent in April, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the amount of help-wanted advertising in major U.S. newspapers fell in April, the second monthly drop in a row, according to figures released yesterday by the Conference Board, a business research group....
Banc of America is now forecasting that the nation's gross domestic product, or output of goods and services, will rise at about a 4 percent annual rate in the April-through-June period, down from the 5 percent rate it was forecasting a month ago....
Consumer prices, excluding volatile food and energy prices, rose 1.7 percent at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in the first quarter, according to a Commerce Department measure tied to GDP that is closely followed by the Fed.
That is a relatively low inflation rate, and within the comfort range of many Fed officials, but the quarterly figure has moved steadily upward since touching a low of 0.8 percent in the April-through-June period of last year.
Corporate profits have soared, up 31.6 percent in the first quarter of this year compared with the same period last year. That's the fastest growth in 20 years, according to John E. Silvia, chief economist for Wachovia Economics Group. However, Commerce Department figures show the pace of that profit growth slowed in each of the past four quarters....
END of Excerpt
For the May 28 Post story in full: www.washingtonpost.com
The Bush administration can't win. Just weeks ago they were being hammered in the media for not warning the public before 9/11, based on vague intelligence reports, about the possible threat of hijackings. But on Thursday morning, after FBI director Mueler and Attorney General Ashcroft warned, based increased terrorist chatter, that al-Qaeda may be planning an attack this summer, CBS's Early Show latched onto Democratic claims, as quad-anchor Julie Chen put it, that "this latest terror warning smacks of election year politics."
Reporter Thalia Assuras laid out how "Mr. Bush's poll numbers are sagging and his leadership image has been tarnished by the increased violence and the increasing number of American deaths in Iraq, as well as the prison abuse scandal. So the question is whether politics played a role?"
In a session with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, quad-host Harry Smith asked her: "A number of critics said none of these threats are new and wondered, in fact, if this was a campaign tactic to bring attention away from Iraq. Do you believe that's possible?"
Chen set up CBS's May 27 story on The Early Show, as taken down by MRC analyst Brian Boyd: "Some Democrats charge this latest terror warning smacks of election year politics. Early Show national correspondent Thalia Assuras is live in Washington with that part of the story. Good morning, Thalia."
Assuras elaborated: "Good morning, Julie. As you said, this is an election year. Mr. Bush's poll numbers are sagging and his leadership image has been tarnished by the increased violence and the increasing number of American deaths in Iraq, as well as, the prison abuse scandal. So the question is whether politics played a role. After all, the threat level, despite the credible intelligence chatter, has not been raised. From the top-"
A few minutes later with Madeleine Albright, via satellite from Boca Raton, Harry Smith proposed:
On this day before the dedication of the new World War II Memorial in Washington, DC, disturbing news in a Washington Post story about what junior and senior high schoolers in the DC area are learning about World War II: More students know about Japanese-Americans being sent to internment camps, discrimination against blacks in society and the armed forces and the phenomenon of "Rosie the Riveter," than know about any battles, the name of any General or even the name of the President. On Pearl Harbor, "instead of seeking the details of the Japanese assault on Hawaiian-based forces on Dec. 7, 1941," an Alexandria teacher asked his class: "Why did Japan attack Pearl Harbor?"
An excerpt from the May 28 story on the front page of the "Metro" section, by Jay Matthews, "In Schools, a Battle on the WWII Learning Front." (Online, the headline reads: "A Battle on the WWII Knowledge Front." Online, the subhead: "Time, Focus Limit Area Students' Learning.) In my delivered paper the subhead was a word off: "Time, Focus Limit Area Students' Knowledge." The excerpt:
Tiffany Charles got a B in history last year at her Montgomery County high school, but she is not sure what year World War II ended. She cannot name a single general or battle, or the man who was president during the most dramatic hours of the 20th century.
Yet the 16-year-old does remember in some detail that many Japanese American families on the West Coast were sent to internment camps. "We talked a lot about those concentration camps," she said.
As Washington begins a massive Memorial Day weekend celebration of the new National World War II Memorial on the Mall, interviews with national education experts, teachers and more than 100 public school students suggest that Charles' limited knowledge of that momentous conflict is typical of today's youths.
Among 76 teenagers interviewed near their high schools this week in Maryland, Virginia and the District, recognition of the internment camps, a standard part of every area history curriculum, was high -- two-thirds gave the right answer when asked what happened to Japanese Americans during the war. But only one-third could name even one World War II general, and about half could name a World War II battle.
Diane Ravitch, an educational historian at New York University, said the big emphasis in high schools today is on the internment camps, as well as women in the workforce on the home front and discrimination against African Americans at home and in the armed services.
"Then, too, there was a war in the Atlantic and Pacific," she said....
At George Washington Middle School in Alexandria yesterday, seventh-grade history teacher Eric Bartels led his students through a spirited discussion of World War II that included mentions of Pearl Harbor, D-Day and other battles. But much of the emphasis was on the class's earlier visit to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, a visit to the school by African American World War II pilots and the causes of several of the war's major events.
Instead of seeking the details of the Japanese assault on Hawaiian-based forces on Dec. 7, 1941, Bartels asked: "Why did Japan attack Pearl Harbor?"
He got a big response when he asked about American women entering the workforce: "Rosie the Riveter!" several students said....
Many teachers, including Bartels, say they emphasize the social, rather than the military, history of the war, a trend that extends to many universities and through both public and private schools....
Other scholars warn that this approach can leave many students unclear on the details of the conflict and unable to understand what produced victory or defeat....
END of Excerpt
For the Washington Post article in its entirety: www.washingtonpost.com
Confirmation that the educational establishment is at least as biased to the left as the media.
-- Brent Baker