2. Journalists Mourn Loss of Leftist, Ideologically-Driven Reporters
3. Mike Wallace Retires: A Look Back Through the MRC's Archive
MSNBC's Hardball carried the entire interview while viewers of the NBC Nightly News and MSNBC's Countdown only saw a few excerpts. In the NBC Nightly News/Countdown piece, David Gregory reported: "The President brushed off the fact that his poll ratings are now similar to Richard Nixon's when he resigned the presidency." Gregory featured this question he had posed: "Do you think it's possible that, like Nixon and Watergate, that the American people have rendered a final judgment of disapproval on you and your war in Iraq?" Those watching the 5 and 7pm EDT Hardball heard all that, as well as how Gregory proposed: "You've said and have said in this immigration debate that you want to find 'rational middle ground' on this issue. What other areas can the American people expect you to urge a more centrist approach to policy?" Bush replied that "cutting people's taxes is rational." To which Gregory retorted: "But is that middle ground?"
As of 8:30pm EDT, CBSNews.com's home page had up video of Plante's entire session with Bush and MSNBC.com has posted video and a transcript of Gregory's interview (my Hardball transcript below has corrected errors in it): www.msnbc.msn.com
But I can't find video or a transcript of the ABC, CNN or FNC interviews so I only know that the portions which aired on World News Tonight, The Situation Room and Special Report with Brit Hume (and Hannity & Colmes which appeared to run the entire interview) all stuck to issues surrounding the immigration debate.
# NBC Nightly News, May 18. David Gregory checked in from near Yuma and highlighted Bush's comments on immigration, before moving on to other topics:
Gregory: "Let me ask you about your leadership. In the most recent survey, your disapproval rating is now one point lower than Richard Nixon's before he resigned the presidency. You're laughing-"
Illustrating the far-left composition of the faculty at one of the most prestigious journalism schools, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism professor Sandy Padwe called the dismissal by Time magazine, for budget reasons, of investigative reporters Donald Bartlett and James Steele, "a disgrace. Two of the best investigative reporters ever, and they're on the street? It's a f---ing travesty." In fact, at both the Philadelphia Inquirer and Time, Bartlett and Steele delivered shoddy, ideologically-driven left-wing "journalism" which should have embarrassed any journalist with pride in their profession. Nonetheless, in the Thursday CJR Daily posting which quoted Padwe, veteran journalist Steve Lovelady gushed: "Barlett and Steele came to be regarded by many as the premier investigative team in the business, and one that consistently met benchmarks to which others could only aspire."
Their infamous 1991 series which used ludicrous data and charts to prove that in the 1980s the rich benefitted at the expense of the middle class and the poor, was turned into a 1992 book, America: What Went Wrong. In April of 1992, the duo got a friendly session with Charlie Gibson on ABC's Good Morning America. But it wasn't just the MRC which found their work unworthy of admiration. Philadelphia magazine Senior Editor Paul Keegan asserted: "Their series is so fundamentally flawed, its intellectual underpinnings so weak, that it actually says little about what went wrong with America, and everything about what went wrong with Barlett and Steele."
[This item was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The evils of corporate welfare is the November 9 Time magazine cover story. I haven't had a chance to read the 13-page piece, the first of a weekly series, but the byline jolted me by reminding me of some of the most tendentious left-wing bias ever documented by the MRC. The byline: Donald Barlett and James Steele, most infamous for a 1991 series in the Philadelphia Inquirer and other Knight-Ridder newspapers called "America: What Went Wrong." The series became a book with the same name.
Of course what went wrong for Barlett and Steele was Ronald Reagan and Democrats giving in to business interests. To give you a flavor of their liberal crusading spiced up with exaggerated hype about the dire conditions of the country, here's a quote from a 1991 installment on deregulation: "For you, the American taxpayer and consumer, deregulation has meant fewer airlines and higher air fares, more unsafe trucks on the highways, and your tax money diverted to pay for the S&L debacle....The results: There are more rich people than ever before. There are more poor people than ever before. And the ranks of those in between are shrinking, their standard of living falling."
For an idea of how loose they are with basic facts, here's an excerpt from the December 1991 MediaWatch "Janet Cooke Award" article on the series:
Assertion: A dramatic front page chart [ABC's version to the right] showed a 13-inch high stack of dollar bills labeled "Increase in the salaries of people earning more than $1 million: 2,184 percent." In contrast, a quarter-inch high stack reflected the 44 percent growth in salaries of those making $20,000 to $40,000.
Reality: Barlett and Steele's numbers reflected the total, non- inflation adjusted, dollars earned by everyone reporting an income over $1 million, not the "increase of salaries of people earning more than $1 million." Translated: In 1983, 10,800 households reported an income of over $1 million, for a total of $24 billion. By 1988, millionaires reported $172 billion in income. But that's because the number of households reporting a $1 million-plus income soared six-fold to 65,300. As Joint Economic Committee economist Chris Frenze explained to MediaWatch, the 1986 tax reform cut the marginal rate from 50 to 31 percent, leading the wealthiest to take money out of shelters and report it as income.
END MediaWatch excerpt, resume CyberAlert excerpt:
[For the Janet Cooke Award rundown in full: www.mediaresearch.org ]
A few months later, far from being embarrassed by its shameless manipulation of emotions through misleading generalities in the "America: What Went Wrong" series, Barlett and Steele wrote a front page story on the unfairness of a capital gains tax cut. They charged, as recounted in the February, 1992 MediaWatch (www.mediaresearch.org ), that a cut would "encourage another round of corporate takeovers, such as the ones in the 1980s that led to the closing of plants and the elimination of jobs." They also preposterously asserted: "An Inquirer analysis of the 70-year history of the capital gains preference shows no evidence linking the tax to the creation of jobs."
After their book was published in the spring of 1992, MediaWatch asked: "So who in the media have cared enough to check Barlett and Steele's wild assertions? Just Philadelphia magazine Senior Editor Paul Keegan. In April he found: '€˜Their series is so fundamentally flawed, its intellectual underpinnings so weak, that it actually says little about what went wrong with America, and everything about what went wrong with Barlett and Steele.'"
Nonetheless, Time considered them a great addition to the staff. In a "To Our Readers" letter in the November 9 edition, Time Editor-in-Chief Norman Pearlstine, crowed: "Barlett and Steele came to Time, Inc. 18 months ago from the Philadelphia Inquirer, where, over 26 years, they earned their reputations as America's finest investigative reporters."
More like America's finest transformers of liberal polemics into a news story format. Liberals and conservatives oppose corporate welfare, but I bet the series approaches the subject from the left. Next week Time promises "Life with America's Biggest Sugar Daddy."
END of Reprint from CyberAlert
ABC & PBS Act As Co-Conspirators INQUIRER MYTHS PROMOTED
The misinformation and anti-free market vitriol of Philadelphia Inquirer reporters Donald Barlett and James Steele continues to gain new audiences. Last December MediaWatch documented the numerous factual errors in the nine-part, 75,000 word "America: What Went Wrong" series, but supposedly responsible media outlets have continued to promote its claims.
Instead of fulfilling its stated role "to assess the performance of journalism," the Columbia Journalism Review ran an excerpt "meant as ammunition for reporters and editors who are trying to find out what the presidential candidates have in mind for the nation's economic future -- an aid to formulating some questions."
After the series was released in paperback book form, PBS devoted the April 14 and 21 episodes of Listening to America with Bill Moyers to reciting its claims, complete with emotional stories about people hurt in the '80s.
The book release got the duo an April 15 Good Morning America spot. Co-host Charlie Gibson failed to challenge any of their assertions, instead simply providing prompts for their recitations: "This from 1980-1990, people earning a million dollars or more, the total amount of money they earned went up over two thousand percent, is that right Jim?"
During a tour stop on Washington's WAMU radio, a caller asked the duo about MediaWatch's critique of just that assertion. Barlett responded: "MediaWatch completely misread the first chart that they zeroed in on, on salaries. They misread it as total income."
MediaWatch assumed they meant "adjusted gross income" since that's how they measured income changes throughout the series. But their statistical point remains fallacious. They failed to adjust for inflation or explain that the big jump did not so much reflect individuals making more, but that number of people reporting a $1 million plus salary jumped from 3,300 to 51,000.
So who in the media have cared enough to check Barlett and Steele's wild assertions? Just Philadelphia magazine Senior Editor Paul Keegan. In April he found: "Their series is so fundamentally flawed, its intellectual underpinnings so weak, that it actually says little about what went wrong with America, and everything about what went wrong with Barlett and Steele." Expressing the ultimate arrogance, Barlett told Keegan: "We are always so far ahead that people don't understand it. This series is five to ten years ahead of its time."
Philadelphia sent their article to GMA before the interview, but Gibson ignored it. And reporters wonder why people don't believe everything they read and hear.
END Excerpt from MediaWatch. That's online at: www.mediaresearch.org
Despite their record, on Thursday CJR Daily, the Web site of the Columbia Journalism Review magazine, posted "An Appreciation: Once There Were Giants." Steve Lovelady opined, in part:
....First at the Philadelphia Inquirer for 26 years and then at Time for nine years, Barlett and Steele came to be regarded by many as the premier investigative team in the business, and one that consistently met benchmarks to which others could only aspire. As Jim Warren of the Chicago Tribune has admiringly noted, in an age of singles hitters, Barlett and Steele swung for the fences every time, and seldom failed.
Their body of work is a testament to an exacting, relentless, painstaking and meticulous determination that other reporters could only shake their heads at as they admired it from afar. What they practiced was the opposite of "Gotcha!" journalism, or quick hits, or cheap shots. Rather, they burrowed in for months -- sometimes years -- at a time, and then returned with an examination of entire systems gone awry, whether it be an oil crisis, the nuclear waste dilemma, corporate welfare run rampant, the nation's ramshackle tax system, or the economy itself.
Indeed, in the summer of 1992 Americans were presented with the unlikely sight of both Bill Clinton and Ross Perot waving paperback copies of America: What Went Wrong? in voters' faces as they campaigned for president. The volume was actually a newspaper series that Barlett and Steele wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer, republished word-for-word as a book, and it resided at #1 on the New York Times paperback best-sellers list for six months -- an eternity in publishing.
This morning, as word moved through the journalism community that Barlett and Steele had been sacked by a corporation as wealthy as Time Warner, the all-but-universal response was dismay. "This," said Sandy Padwe, a professor at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and a pretty fair investigative reporter himself, "is a disgrace. Two of the best investigative reporters ever, and they're on the street? It's a fucking travesty."...
END of Excerpt
For the CJR posting in full: www.cjrdaily.org
To mark his retirement, Sunday's 60 Minutes will be devoted to a tribute to Mike Wallace. From the MRC's archive, some comments and views from Wallace that you can be certain will not be mentioned Sunday night: Wallace proclaimed that if he were traveling with enemy soldiers he would not warn U.S. soldiers of an impending ambush, was "astonished" wounded vets back the Iraq war, declared only a "[expletive] up" America could elect Bush, insisted the liberal bias charge is "damn foolishness," lent his name to a fundraiser for a pro-gun control group, doubted Bush's "validity," and said Iraq not a "good war," mocked President's Bush's smarts and belief in freeing people from oppression as he demanded, "Who gave George Bush the duty to free people around the world?" and voted for Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader.
For video of comments from Peter Jennings and Mike Wallace as well as Connell's angry reaction, in Real or Windows Media, see the March 17, 2006 CyberAlert:
Indeed, in Sunday's 60 Minutes piece, Wallace gave four wounded vets a total of 45 seconds to express support for the war -- but then allocated twice as much time to a wounded vet to denounce the war. Over video of Tomas Young with Cindy Sheehan, Wallace note how he "has become an anti-war activist since he was paralyzed in Iraq." Young recalled how he heard President Bush "standing on the rubble of the World Trade Center with a megaphone saying that we were going find the people that did it and smoke them out of their caves and all that rah rah. And so I wanted to go to Afghanistan to seek some form of retribution on the people that did this to us." Instead of Afghanistan, Wallace pointed out, "he found himself in Iraq, which he considers the wrong war in the wrong place."
See the February 13, 2006 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
See the December 9, 2005 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
See the November 7, 2005 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
See the July 12, 2005 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
See the June 1, 2004 CyberAlert, which includes a RealPlayer clip which will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
See the April 19, 2004 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
Yes, America Had A Tantrum. "There was a temper tantrum that did take place in the American electorate last November. No doubt about it. They were mad at the Democrats, they were mad at the President. They were frustrated because, there's all kinds of reasons to be frustrated, and talk radio -- in my estimation, I think the President is right about that -- focuses on that." -- 60 Minutes reporter Mike Wallace agreeing with the Peter Jennings radio commentary blaming the November election result on "a temper tantrum....a nation full of uncontrolled two-year-old rage."
We're Just Objective Reporters, Not Commentators. "The fact of the matter is that everybody you're looking at here is a reporter, and the fellow in Moscow [Dan Rather] as well, and we report about other people. There's not a commentator on this stage, and that fellow in Moscow is not a commentator. So we simply don't do what you're saying."
Nostalgia For Brutal Order. "Many Soviets viewing the current chaos and nationalist unrest under Gorbachev look back almost longingly to the era of brutal order under Stalin."
Mike's Inspirational Reading. "I read Mother Jones carefully and look forward to every issue. After all, stories that started out in Mother Jones have wound up on 60 Minutes."
-- Brent Baker