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Now CBS News Frets Gas Prices Are Too Low --11/14/2008


1. Now CBS News Frets Gas Prices Are Too Low
After spending much of the spring and summer hyping the dire consequences of rising gas prices, CBS on Thursday night decided the plummeting cost of gas at the pump is really bad news. Noting that "crude settled at about $58 a barrel today, that's about $90 less than it was in July," fill-in CBS Evening News anchor Harry Smith warned "that comes as a mixed blessing." Reporter Mark Strassmann found an ecstatic man paying less than $2.00 a gallon, but Strassmann spoiled the mood: "Low gas prices are also bad news and the lower prices go, the worse the news gets." An "oil analyst" explained: "This is just a reflection of the poor state of the economy and the oil market is reflecting this global slow down." Strassmann soon fretted over how "it's also a grim time for alternative energy champions" and "sinking oil prices could" hurt "plans to develop alternative sources of energy or fund green developments."

2. Newsweek's Meacham Snidely Suggests McCain Weighed Offing Palin
Appearing on Thursday's Today show, Newsweek editor Jon Meacham suggested Sarah Palin needed a "Berlitz" course in foreign policy and even snidely implied John McCain, like President Andrew Jackson before him, may have wanted to shoot his vice president. Meacham, who was also plugging his book on Jackson, noted to Today co-host Matt Lauer that Jackson once threatened the life his own vice president, and postulated that maybe McCain may have considered that as an option. Lauer: "He's also a guy who threatened to kill his own vice president, isn't he?" Meacham: "He did. Which a McCain/Palin thing-" Lauer: "But we don't hold that, it doesn't make him a bad guy." Meacham: "I don't know if Senator McCain has thought that, along the way."

3. Thomas: Obama Election Shows American People 'Fair and Balanced'
Liberal-media legend (and long-time UPI White House correspondent) Helen Thomas returned triumphantly to the White House briefing room Wednesday after a bout of bad health, and the blog Fishbowl DC has video of an interview with reporter Ken Herman of Cox Newspapers. When Herman asked (superfluously) who she voted for, Helen said Obama. Why? "Because I really thought he was a great gift to democracy that it would show the American people were fair and balanced, and honorable, and understood [it] didn't make any difference in terms of race, color, creed and so forth."


Now CBS News Frets Gas Prices Are Too
Low

After spending much of the spring and summer hyping the dire consequences of rising gas prices, CBS on Thursday night decided the plummeting cost of gas at the pump is really bad news. Noting that "crude settled at about $58 a barrel today, that's about $90 less than it was in July," fill-in CBS Evening News anchor Harry Smith warned "that comes as a mixed blessing."

Reporter Mark Strassmann found an ecstatic man paying less than $2.00 a gallon, but Strassmann spoiled the mood: "Low gas prices are also bad news and the lower prices go, the worse the news gets." An "oil analyst" explained: "This is just a reflection of the poor state of the economy and the oil market is reflecting this global slow down." Strassmann soon fretted over how "it's also a grim time for alternative energy champions" and "sinking oil prices could" hurt "plans to develop alternative sources of energy or fund green developments."

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Friday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

In July, CBS's Early Show aired a piece on how high gas prices were killing people. Reporter Kelly Wallace: "In one rural California case, according to the president of Meals on Wheels nationwide, cutting back from daily deliveries to one every 14 days proved fatal. Two seniors were found dead."

For "CBS's Early Show: High Gas Prices Deadly for Sick and Elderly," go to: www.mrc.org

Two months earlier, "CBS's Glor: Woman 'Pumps Out Own Blood' to Afford to 'Pump Gas,'" recounted:

Correspondent Jeff Glor reported on how "desperate times call for desperate measures. Some people are doing anything they can to save on gas, while others are trying to avoid buying gas altogether." As one example, Glor highlighted a woman from San Antonio, Texas named Jessica Busby: "Then there's Jessica Busby, using her bike to get to a blood donation center two times a week. She pumps out her own blood, making $40 a pop so she has enough money to pump gas."

Full rundown in the May 29 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

Always finding the negative side to good news is nothing new at CBS News. From a September of 1990 MRC report on then-CBS News economics correspondent Ray Brady:

On October 12, 1989, home prices were down. That's great news for the buyers, but not for the sellers, so Brady focused on the sellers: "In the past, the American dream of owning your own home always had a sequel -- live in it, then sell it as a huge profit ...So another dream has faded." On March 16, 1990, home prices were rising, so the conclusion switched to the buyers: "So they keep looking. Thousands of young couples like the Wares, looking for that first house, looking for what used to be called the American Dream."

For the full version of that in the MRC's MediaWatch archive: www.mediaresearch.org

The story on the Thursday, November 13 CBS Evening News:

HARRY SMITH: Not all of the economic news is bad, take oil prices, crude settled at about $58 a barrel today, that's about $90 less than it was in July. But even that comes as a mixed blessing. Here's Mark Strassmann.

MARK STRASSMANN: In places like Atlanta, gas costs under $2.00 a gallon again, less than half its price in July.
MAN AT GAS STATION: I'm happy about it, I'm ecstatic about it, I just hope they keep going down.
STRASSMANN: But low gas prices are also bad news and the lower prices go, the worse the news gets.
ANDY LIPOW, OIL ANALYST: This is just a reflection of the poor state of the economy and the oil market is reflecting this global slow down.
STRASSMANN: In other words, OPEC charges what it can get, not much in this bad economy. With unemployment at 14-year high and consumer confidence at a record low. Even with today's gas prices, road travel's still down 5% from a year ago. Gas may be cheap, but many people aren't driving to stores. Consumers say they plan to spend 40% less on holiday gifts this year than last year. And some analysts say it could be the worst holiday season for retailers since 1991.
T. BOONE PICKENS: Every President since Richard Nixon has been promising us energy independence.
STRASSMANN: It's also a grim time for alternative energy champions. Billionaire T. Boone Pickens suspended his massive wind power project in Texas, plunging natural gas prices dried up credit. Sinking oil prices could have the same impact on plans to develop alternative sources of energy or fund green developments.
JOHN RUTHERFORD SEYDEL, ENVIRONMENTAL DEVELOPER: It does have an effect, we're going to sort of separate the leaders from the stragglers.
STRASSMANN: One effect is already clear, more smiles at the pumps, and for some people that's good enough. Mark Strassmann, CBS News, Atlanta.

Newsweek's Meacham Snidely Suggests McCain
Weighed Offing Palin

Appearing on Thursday's Today show, Newsweek editor Jon Meacham suggested Sarah Palin needed a "Berlitz" course in foreign policy and even snidely implied John McCain, like President Andrew Jackson before him, may have wanted to shoot his vice president. Meacham, who was also plugging his book on Jackson, noted to Today co-host Matt Lauer that Jackson once threatened the life his own vice president, and postulated that maybe McCain may have considered that as an option:

MATT LAUER: He's also a guy who threatened to kill his own vice president, isn't he?
MEACHAM: He did. Which a McCain/Palin thing-
LAUER: But we don't hold that, it doesn't make him a bad guy.
MEACHAM: I don't know if Senator McCain has thought that, along the way.

[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Before the Jackson discussion Lauer, set up Meacham about Palin's readiness: "She didn't impress a lot of people with her knowledge of domestic affairs or foreign affairs." To which Meacham sarcastically agreed: "Ya think? Ya think?" and added the Alaska governor should "be going into a kind of policy Berlitz course, which one would think would be a relatively sound thing to do."

The following is a complete transcript of the segment as it occurred on the November 13 Today show:

MATT LAUER: Jon Meacham is the editor of Newsweek magazine and the author of a new book, American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House. Hey Jon, good morning to you.
JON MEACHAM: How are you sir?
LAUER: I'm fine, thanks. Your magazine ran a poll of conservatives it came out with 50-50, as the shot that Sarah Palin will be the Republican nominee in 2012. What do you see as her future?
MEACHAM: Well, politics is about ideas. So she needs, it's, it's about the apostle but it's also about the creed. And right now she's the most interesting apostle on the Republican side. But what, what is her argument gonna be? And comeback politics is about a critique of the incumbent crowd. So the Republicans have to find a way to criticize Obama without looking as though they are simply relentlessly negative and whether she can find that tone or not I'm not sure.
LAUER: But isn't "comeback politics" also about improving some resume items that seemed weak the first time around? And she didn't impress a lot of people with her knowledge of domestic affairs or foreign affairs? How does she go about improving that?
MEACHAM: Ya think? Ya think?
LAUER: I don't want, I don't want to state the case here.
MEACHAM: No.
LAUER: But how does she go about improving that?
MEACHAM: It is interesting that she spent this time talking to a lot of folks about the campaign and does not seem, at this point, to be going into a kind of a policy Berlitz course, which one would think would be a relatively sound thing to do. She's got some time. She's clearly someone who understands star power. And politics is often about celebrity. But the celebrity only gets you so far. And I think we saw that in the campaign. She can bring in the crowds, but that follow-up question was very hard.
LAUER: Real quickly, transition time, Barack Obama looking at his cabinet and his staff. A lot of people speculating as to whether Hillary Clinton might be part of the team. What do you think?
MEACHAM: I don't know, obviously, but I think that probably Senator Clinton is gonna be Senator Clinton.
LAUER: Stay there.
MEACHAM: I would think so. And there is a great noble tradition here. Daniel Webster, Henry Clay. There are great senators. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. And I think that you got to have strong people there in the Senate.
LAUER: Andrew Jackson, which is the subject you've written about, going back to my high school history and maybe middle school history, seventh President of the United States, hero in the War of 1812. You also say there are parallels though, between Andrew Jackson and what we're about to see in Washington. What are they?
MEACHAM: Well imagine a candidate of change coming to rule after the unpopular son of another president, at a time of economic uncertainty, with a powerful democratic lower case "d" connection to a core of very motivated supporters. And it sounds kind of familiar.
LAUER: Right.
MEACHAM: That's exactly what happened to Andrew Jackson in 1829. He's, he was a democratic leader. He was the President who really made our politics what they are, a kind of popular leader, someone who communicated with his base. And who wanted to give the people a central voice in the politics of the country as long as he was always at center stage articulating that voice.
LAUER: He's also a guy who threatened to kill his own vice president, isn't he?
MEACHAM: He did. Which a McCain/Palin thing-
LAUER: But we don't hold that, it doesn't make him a bad guy.
MEACHAM: I don't know if Senator McCain has thought that, along the way.
LAUER: Alright.
MEACHAM: But he was also the only President who to ever try to attack his own assassin.
LAUER: Okay. But, but as always we can learn about the future by delving into the past. And, and your book is a good example of that. John, good to have you here.
MEACHAM: Thank you sir.
LAUER: And the book is American Lion and you can check out probably an excerpt on our Web site.

Thomas: Obama Election Shows American
People 'Fair and Balanced'

Liberal-media legend (and long-time UPI White House correspondent) Helen Thomas returned triumphantly to the White House briefing room Wednesday after a bout of bad health, and the blog Fishbowl DC has video of an interview with reporter Ken Herman of Cox Newspapers. When Herman asked (superfluously) who she voted for, Helen said Obama. Why? "Because I really thought he was a great gift to democracy that it would show the American people were fair and balanced, and honorable, and understood [it] didn't make any difference in terms of race, color, creed and so forth."

Voting for Obama showed the American people were fair and balanced? That would be a rather elastic defense for all the pro-Obama bias.

[This item, by the MRC's Tim Graham, was posted Thursday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Thomas, now a columnist for Hearst, started by claiming: "I'm still as mean as ever," and tried to work up a complaint about Obama: "He's going after all the old Clinton faces. Why? Doesn't he know anybody?" Herman asked: "No honeymoon from you for the new president?" Helen said "No way...He'll get one day, maybe."

The Fishbowl DC video interview: www.mediabistro.com

Video of her arrival in the briefing room came complete with conservative talk show host Les Kinsolving joking "Here she comes! Everyone genuflect!" Helen and Les may be the only people with White House press passes dated before the age of Disco.

-- Brent Baker