2. Christmas-is-Cancelled Media Skip Own Role in 'Nation of Whiners'
3. NBC's Today Focuses on 'Damage' from Gramm, Ignores Facts
4. Obama Shoots Down Puffery of His 'Mastering Indonesian Language'
5. In Accepting MRC Award, Snow Chastised Media's 'Facile Cynicism'
Three weeks ago when a Newsweek poll put Democrat Barack Obama 15 points ahead of Republican John McCain, the ABC and CBS evening newscasts highlighted the out of sync finding. But when a new Newsweek survey released Friday placed Obama a mere three points in front of McCain, neither ABC's World News nor the CBS Evening News mentioned it on Friday or Saturday night.
"A startling new poll," fill-in CBS Evening News anchor Russ Mitchell announced during the Friday, June 20 newscast, "Barack Obama now leads John McCain nationwide by 15 points, 51 to 36 percent. This according to Newsweek." The next night, Saturday, June 21, ABC World News anchor David Muir pointed to "a new poll from Newsweek magazine that shows Barack Obama opening a 15-point lead over John McCain."
Newsweek's Jonathan Darman failed to consider the inaccuracy of the earlier poll as he expressed his befuddlement on Friday with the slim 44 to 41 lead for Obama: "Perhaps most puzzling is how McCain could have gained traction in the past month."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Saturday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Muir's item in full on the June 21 World News: "We turn to the presidential race tonight and a new poll from Newsweek magazine that shows Barack Obama opening a 15-point lead over John McCain. Other polls this week showed Obama with only a slight edge."
"Barack's Bounce: The latest NEWSWEEK Poll shows the Democrat with a 15-point lead over McCain," read the headline over the article by Michael Hirsh posted the afternoon of Friday, June 20: www.newsweek.com
Three weeks later: "Glow Fading? The latest NEWSWEEK Poll shows Barack Obama leading John McCain by only 3 points. What a difference a few weeks can make," posted on Friday, July 11. An excerpt from the story by Jonathan Darman:
A month after emerging victorious from the bruising Democratic nominating contest, some of Barack Obama's glow may be fading. In the latest NEWSWEEK Poll, the Illinois senator leads Republican nominee John McCain by just 3 percentage points, 44 percent to 41 percent. The statistical dead heat is a marked change from last month's NEWSWEEK Poll, where Obama led McCain by 15 points, 51 percent to 36 percent....
But perhaps most puzzling is how McCain could have gained traction in the past month. To date, direct engagement with Obama has not seemed to favor the GOP nominee. McCain has announced major initiatives on energy and the economy but failed to dominate the conversation on those issues. Last week's shake-up of the campaign's senior management did little to halt calls from Republicans for a major overhaul in McCain's message. Nor did it quell the lingering suspicion among Republicans that 2008 is simply destined to be a Democratic year....
END of Excerpt
That's online at: www.newsweek.com
Various media outlets have jumped on the comments of Phil Gramm, an advisor to John McCain's presidential campaign, that when it comes to the economy, "we've sort of become a nation of whiners." However, these same organizations, such as ABC News, have done their part to promote such things as fretting over no more Christmas presents. For instance, on the November 12, 2007, Good Morning America, reporter Bianna Golodryga hyperbolically warned that "some people are foregoing routine visits to the doctor and are opting for cheaper foods, like pasta and peanut butter, as opposed to protein, fruits and vegetables, in order that they can save as much money as possible." She added that for certain individuals, "Even holiday gift shopping won't be the same." See a November 13, 2007 CyberAlert posting for more: www.mrc.org
Now, this is the same program that on Friday's show observed that "conservative icon" Phil Gramm's "words have been damaging at a time when McCain is trying to convince voters he feels their pain." Certainly, GMA has done everything possible to assure viewers that the economic situation, which isn't a recession, is destroying their lives. On April 22, 2008, Golodryga showcased a man who had been forced to skip church because of gas prices. She then intoned, "Some people even say that they are changing their diets, cutting down on costly prescription drugs or walking instead of driving to the local grocery store." See a April 23, 2008 CyberAlert posting for more: www.mrc.org
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
On July 3, 2008, previewing Fourth of July barbequing, GMA reporter Sharyn Alfonsi argued that hot dogs "could take a big bite out of [Americans'] wallets." As MRC intern Lyndsi Thomas pointed out, this was at a time when hot dogs were routinely on sale for less than a dollar, buy one, get one free. See a July 7 CyberAlert posting: www.mrc.org
CBS's Early Show has also gotten into the whining act. On July 2, the program covered the announced closing of 600 Starbucks and correspondent Ben Tracy asserted that with the economic slowdown, "After filling up their gas tanks, some coffee lovers don't have enough left to fill up their cups." See a July 3 CyberAlert posting for more: www.mrc.org
So, when discussing former Senator Gramm's comment about whining, media outlets should examine their own role in this debate. After all, telling viewers that Christmas and church are cancelled and hot dogs and coffee are unaffordable might have an impact on how Americans view their economic situation.
The United States is not in a recession, but the crew of the Today show does not care about the facts. On Friday's edition, the NBC morning program focused on McCain adviser Phil Gramm's "mental recession" and "nation of whiners" comment. Instead of actually examining the facts behind Senator Gramm's opinion, Today instead chose to focus on the "damage" to the McCain campaign. Lauer opened the show with the cliche phrase "with friends like these," and noting McCain is "distancing himself from his friend" and proceeded to ask "has the damage been done?" Lauer then introduced the story claiming the remarks "could spell problems for Senator John McCain's campaign."
[This item was adopted from the NewsBusters post by Justin McCarthy: newsbusters.org ]
Perhaps a fair story would examine whether Senator Gramm's statements ring true or not. While the "nation of whiners" comment is Gramm's opinion, his remark that we are not in a recession is a fact.
According to Bloomberg News, the economy grew at a slow rate, but nevertheless grew in the last two quarters: "The economy probably grew 1.5 percent in the second quarter, as growing exports helped counter weakness in manufacturing and construction, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists taken the first week of July. The economy grew 1 percent in the first quarter, when net exports contributed 0.8 percentage point to the expansion." See: www.bloomberg.com
The entire transcript from 7:00 AM on July 11, including opening teasers:
MATT LAUER: Good morning. With friends like these: One of John McCain's closest advisors has harsh words for Americans calling us a nation from whiners when it comes to the economy. McCain is distancing himself from his friend, but has the damage been done?
MEREDITH VIEIRA: I'm Meredith Vieira. We talked about the high cost of gas and food and the housing crisis for months now. But apparently one of John McCain's top economic advisors sees things a little bit differently.
LAUER: Let's start though this morning with the election and the economy in remarks that could spell problems for Senator John McCain's campaign. NBC's Andrea Mitchell has more on this. Andrea, good morning to you.
ANDREA MITCHELL: Good morning, Matt. As you've been discussing, John McCain is now running as fast as he can to get away from one of his closest economic advisor who called Americans a nation of whiners when it comes to the bad economy. In Michigan, a battleground state where the economy is on everybody's mind, John McCain wasted no time throwing his economic advisor, Phil Gramm, under the bus.
NBC News may actually be more pro-Obama than Barack Obama himself. Back in March, a celebratory NBC Nightly News story about Obama's childhood in Indonesia described the future candidate as "mastering the Indonesian language." But Obama -- who last week voiced displeasure that many Americans do not speak a foreign language -- admitted on Friday: "I don't speak a foreign language. It's embarrassing!" he said.
[This item, by the MRC's Rich Noyes, was posted Friday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
On Tuesday, Obama voiced regret over Americans' lack of language skills. He revisited the topic on Friday, this time admitting that he speaks no foreign languages himself. Via Jake Tapper's "Political Radar" blog: blogs.abcnews.com
At a town hall in Dayton, Ohio the presumptive Democratic nominee attempted to explain his statements, blasting the interpretation of his original remarks...."I said something the other day down in Georgia, and the Republicans jumped on this. I said, you know, absolutely immigrants need to learn English, but we also need to learn foreign languages," he said Friday....
While the Obama campaign says that Obama speaks a little bit of Indonesian, Obama himself admits that he isn't bilingual.
"I know because I don't speak a foreign language. It's embarrassing!" he said.
The admission undercuts NBC's claim that Obama "mastered" Indonesian as a young child. Back on March 14, correspondent Ian Williams offered a sappy report on all of Obama's former friends and classmates from Jakarta, Indonesia, who were rooting for him in the presidential race: "He arrived in Jakarta in 1967, age 6 with his mother who'd married an Indonesian student. His stepfather, first in the army, later worked for an oil company. Young Barry's half sister Maya rounded out the family photo. Obama was the only foreigner at the upscale Menteng school, mastering the Indonesian language. He towered over classmates who remembered him as a happy-go-lucky child." Check the March 17 CyberAlert for more on the story: www.mrc.org
It's possible that Obama was fluent in Indonesian as a child, but has lost those skills as an adult. Or perhaps NBC's eagerness to tout the Senator's amazing abilities has now bumped up against Obama's own testimony of exactly which languages he can and cannot speak.
"I love your determination, I love your creativity, your terrier-like refusal to let the press get away with things that violate the canons of journalism. But while I'm at it, I want to take a moment to talk about what is the most indefensible lapse of all. And we've seen several examples of it tonight. That is, the failure of the press to shake off maybe the greatest bit of laziness that you see often in journalism, it's what I call 'facile cynicism.'
"It's the attitude that, when you look at American life, you look at it with a sense of boredom; you're surrounded by people who are mediocre; the politicians are boring; oh, you look at it with a yawn. There's a kind of an Olympian look down at the people that fails to acknowledge that even now, in a time when we are riven by disagreements about a war and when we are anxious about our economy, this is still the world's dream machine."
Text below is of Snow's remarks. Video of his address will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert, but in the meantime, for click and play Flash video as well as downloadable wmv video and MP3 audio, go to this page and click on the video on the bottom right: www.mrc.org
Media Research Center President Brent Bozell issued this statement on Saturday regarding Tony Snow's passing:
"The news of Tony Snow's death wasn't wholly unexpected, but it's still devastating. Tony was a man brimming with optimism and you just felt that if anyone could beat this cancer, he could do it. He was an absolute professional in his craft and always, always a gentleman. The conservative movement is diminished today and anyone who knew him is heartbroken for his wife, Jill, and his three children Kendall, Robbie, and Kristi.
"Rest in peace, gentle warrior."
Now the full text of Snow's remarks in accepting the "William F. Buckley Jr. Award for Media Excellence" at the MRC's 2008 Gala and DisHonors on April 10:
Thank you very much. Thank you so much.
First, it's just a delight to see the room packed tonight and I want to thank Brent and the MRC for what they've done for many years. Not only to make us laugh, but to make us think.
I do have to explain one thing. You probably feel that you're in close quarters tonight. That's because we had actually concocted a surprise we were going to try and pull on you tonight. The idea was I would come up here, this curtain rises and my, the rock band I'm in is standing there, and we play a couple of tunes.
Well, it turns out one of our guitarists is off on business in New York. Well, that was okay, we're ready to go. But earlier this week, another one got called away to business in Kazakhstan. That's a pretty good excuse.
So as a result, I'll tell you what we're going to do. I've made this promise to Brent. Next year we'll come back with a band, and we'll absolutely entertain and we will have a great time.
Again, I want to thank you so much for the honor and I'm going to talk in a minute about Bill Buckley. But I do want to thank Brent because, I'll tell you what, when MRC started, it was back in those days when conservatives -- we still felt ourselves embattled, we didn't feel that we had voices and we certainly looked with frustration on what we saw on the television screens, or heard on radio, or saw when we opened up the newspapers.
Well, we'd bitch and moan, but we didn't do anything about it, did we? Until Brent and a hardy band started doing the very difficult business of poring through news clips, and radio, and video. I'll tell you, it used to be when I was -- well in fact I'll be doing it again -- when I was writing columns and other things, if I needed a news clip, I'd call MRC. These guys are an extraordinary resource. And Brent I want to thank you on behalf of all of us who've labored in the vineyards for these many years.
To Mark Levin, for the 'pants off, hat on' image, which will haunt me certainly through the night, thank you for that.
I'm going to give you a few brief comments. First, I love to be here because you love to laugh. Laughter is maybe the most important and underrated ingredients in politics. If you cannot laugh at politics, you are not alive, or you're not paying attention.
The business of exposing bias is a little bit like serving as a parole officer at a juvenile detention facility. The misdeeds seldom change, the miscreants seldom learn, but you still have to do your best to encourage good behavior. And you have to do it in such a way that you don't lose your temper or your mind.
Now, I love your determination, I love your creativity, your terrier-like refusal to let the press get away with things that violate the canons of journalism. But while I'm at it, I want to take a moment to talk about what is the most indefensible lapse of all. And we've seen several examples of it tonight. That is, the failure of the press to shake off maybe the greatest bit of laziness that you see often in journalism, it's what I call 'facile cynicism.'
It's the attitude that, when you look at American life, you look at it with a sense of boredom; you're surrounded by people who are mediocre; the politicians are boring; oh, you look at it with a yawn. There's a kind of an Olympian look down at the people that fails to acknowledge that even now, in a time when we are riven by disagreements about a war and when we are anxious about our economy, this is still the world's dream machine.
Tonight we will hear of yet another soldier who has fallen in battle in this country and, if you've talked to people who've been in Iraq and Afghanistan, if you've heard the stories, you realize that the special thing about this country is we have young men and women who will expend their lives so that others can be free. And when they return they don't talk about the gore of war -- they talk about the fact that they have planted seeds of hope in places that before have not seen hope. They have shared with captive nations the power of the American dream. When somebody looks at the war and does not report these, they are missing some of the big stories.
When somebody looks at the economy today and gives me numbers, they're missing the fact that we are living on top of a volcano. And if you don't feel it -- I'll tell you what, if you don't believe it, look at your kids' Christmas lists. If you understand any of that stuff, you're a better person than I am.
But the fact is that this economy, each and every year, below the surface is churning with creativity. The Dallas Fed a couple of years ago did a study, found out that, that in the year 2006, they estimated that new information going into the global economy was the equivalent of 37,000 Libraries of Congress, or 629 billion volumes.
We're sitting on a volcano. There's excitement out there. Your kids feel it. If you look at them, you watch them text messaging hundreds of times a day -- I don't know how they do it -- but you look at it, and you look at a younger generation that is entrepreneurial, and is enterprising, and is excited, and is filled with the joy of creation, and it is our job to liberate them.
And it's also the press's job to cover that miracle that is born every day. Larry Kudlow, I want to single you out because of all the people who write about this stuff, nobody does it better, nobody does it more reliably. I want to thank you; I steal from you all the time.
Our press too often is missing the truly grand stories of triumph and sacrifice, of Yankee ingenuity and transcendent kindness. They portray failure as success and success as failure, and wonder why the readers, listeners, and viewers are going away.
Second, I cannot tell you what an honor it is to receive an award named after Bill Buckley. Bill was our happy warrior, in the manner of a young child or a holy man. He took endless joy in a world that never ceased to yield up new delights, many of which he captured and immortalized with his unparalleled and personal prose. He rejoiced in discovering new talent as well.
Quick show of hands, how many people here got a start in the business because of Bill Buckley? How many? Just a quick show -- I mean you're going to see -- don't be bashful, but many people in the business will tell you that. Bill had this ability to look at young people with a sense of wonder and to pluck them out and to give them opportunities and hope.
What he wanted to do was to introduce bright young minds to the world and at the same time introduce the world to brilliant young men and women. It never occurred to him that he might be minting competitors; he was too generous for that. As a matter of fact, Bill's courtliness, grace, generosity, and selflessness, set an example we all ought to follow in our lives.
Realize that there is plenty of success to go around -- you make more of it, you don't try to hoard it. The same for his gift of friendship, which like everything else I've mentioned, really illustrated his relish of life among God's children.
Third, we need to learn from Bill that life is too short for rancor. There's a time when fury seems thrilling -- Keith [Olbermann] -- maybe even profound, but as we mature we start to see boisterous anger as nothing more than bratty exhibitionism. If we want to convert people, let's do it the right way. Let's make our case plainly, happily, confidently. After all, we do have truth on our side.
And here's the most powerful source of truth: It's our belief in liberty. You see, if you believe in freedom, you believe that each and every individual on this planet has been invested by God with an unbreakable dignity, and that dignity is something that you want to nurture and grow so you set them free to go ahead and explore their dreams within a regime of freedom. You say, we will try to protect you from fraud and all of these things, but we want you to be the creative engine.
And as a result, the United States of America is the one place where no matter how humble your birth, you still have the possibility to become an engine of destiny.
The other thing is, we're daring. We're brash. We don't want a planned world, we like a world that is full of surprise, full of excitement, full of the unexpected innovation, full of the invention nobody expected -- for me, cancer cure, come on, let's go guys. But the fact is that the rare combination of freedom, and decency, and commitment in the American heart and spirit has us look to do things that nobody else wants to do, to extend the boundaries of life and the blessings of liberty. Bin Laden may be trying to figure out other ways to blow up people, but we're trying to figure out new ways to make people appreciate the joy and blessings of life.
So the belief in freedom, let me say, nothing, nothing -- are you listening Barack Obama? -- nothing is more certain to produce hope and change. Our creativity, our daring, our decency, our goodness, our joyousness, and our ambition -- these are the materials and mortar on which we build our shining city on the hill. We need those now to rebuild America's place, America's destiny as the light and the inspiration of the world.
So as we celebrate tonight, let's just remember a few things: the country needs our talents, it needs our passions, our principles, and our example. And let's honor Bill Buckley not with sappy reveries, but by leaping onto the barricades, standing athwart history and shouting as he did in his mature years: 'Bring it on!' It's an exceptional moment, I cannot tell you how much I cherish not only this award, but also having known Bill and to have you as friends. That's what it is all about. So, God bless you, and God bless America, and thank you very much.
-- Brent Baker