One Quarter Percent Rake Hike: Layoffs and No Dream Houses --7/1/2004
2. ABC's Gibson Paints Surprise Handover as Sign of Failure
3. FNC Reveals How Moore Distorted Scene with Bush at Golf Course
4. Today Airs Katie Playing Badminton Over New Saddam Hussein Video
The Federal Reserve Board on Wednesday hiked its federal funds rate by a quarter point to 1.25 percent, returning it to where it stood in June of last year, and still at a historically low level -- it was at 6.5 percent in 2000. But while NBC's Anne Thompson described the decision as "a vote of confidence in the recovery from the Federal Reserve," the CBS Evening News stressed the negative. Anthony Mason declared: "The era of cheap money is over." He ran through a dire forecast: "Your credit card interest rate will be rising. So will adjustable rate mortgages. And say goodbye to those zero percent auto loans."
As video showed empty desks in an office, Mason bemoaned how rising mortgage rates have "put the brakes on the refinancing boom and left empty desks and mortgage brokers. Bank of America cut 500 mortgage processing jobs this month, and the industry has been laying off thousands." Mason ominously concluded: "This era of low interest rates is beginning to appear in the rear view mirror. And economists say it could be decades before we encounter another one."
(The "federal funds" rate, as the AP described it, is "the interest that banks charge each other on overnight loans" and "is the Fed's primary tool for influencing economic activity.")
All the other networks were no where near as negative, but all managed to find victims of potentially higher interest rates.
ABC's Barbara Pinto began her June 30 World News Tonight story: "Armed with the cheapest cash in nearly half a century, Americans have been spending on everything from homes to cars. Today, the Fed is tapping on the brakes, raising rates to slow the growing economy and curb inflation."
But though she noted that "rates are still historically low," she asserted that a quarter percent hike is a lot for a couple which owes tens of thousands on credit cards and so will pay hundreds more in interest each year. Over video of a couple looking over architectural drawings, a couple with a variable rate loan to build a house in Texas, Pinto concluded her story on a very downbeat note about how higher rates will mean they can't afford as large a loan: "As rates rise, their dream home is shrinking."
People building a home in the 1990s would dream of a rate as low as a point higher than today's rates.
On the NBC Nightly News, Anne Thompson began on an upbeat theme: "Today, a vote of confidence in the recovery from the Federal Reserve. The quarter point hike taking the short term rate up from its 46 year low of one percent is the first step in what the Fed signaled will be a slow, steady climb to keep inflation in check and the economy growing."
Thompson, however, soon found a dark side, highlighting the Taylors, a couple with a home equity loan and $25,000 in credit card debt. Thompson warned: "And mortgage rates, while not directly tied to what the Fed does, are already up nearly a percentage point since March, a worry for the Taylors who are in the market for a new house."
If they have already borrowed for a home equity loan and have tallied up $25,000 in credit card debt, a slightly higher rate on a potential mortgage is the least of their problems.
"This is still an incredibly low interest rate," CNN's Kathleen Hays asserted on NewsNight of the 1.25 percent rate as she recalled how the federal funds rate was as high as 6.5 percent as recently as 2000.
But CNN followed up with a piece from Jonathan Freed about a supposed victim of higher mortgage rates: "It's the home they wanted, it's the home they bought, but now Michael Karnuth and his fiance aren't convinced it's a home they can afford....The couple's been waiting to lock in their mortgage rate. Now, they say, they're kicking themselves. They're not alone..."
Now, a full rundown of the story which led the June 30 CBS Evening News. From Baghdad, Dan Rather began:
Mason began, as taken down by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth: "The era of cheap money is over. Your credit card interest rate will be rising. So will adjustable rate mortgages. And say goodbye to those zero percent auto loans. For the first time in four years, the Fed has raised interest rates by a quarter of a point."
Still trying to paint the handover in Iraq as a sign of failure. ABC's Charlie Gibson lectured Paul Bremer, the former U.S. Administrator in Iraq, about how "I can imagine that when you arrived in Iraq for the first time, you envisioned someday a ceremony with bands playing and crowds cheering, and control returned to the Iraqis," but "instead it happened in secret, in a small room so as to disrupt potential terrorists." Gibson asked on Wednesday's Good Morning America: "Is that a sad commentary on where we stand with security?"
Bremer appeared from the White House lawn for his June 30 session with Gibson. The MRC's Jessica Anderson took down Gibson's questions:
-- "Mr. Ambassador, I don't mean to put thoughts in your head, but I can imagine that when you arrived in Iraq for the first time, you envisioned someday a ceremony with bands playing and crowds cheering, and control returned to the Iraqis. Instead it happened in secret, in a small room so as to disrupt potential terrorists. Is that a sad commentary on where we stand with security?"
-- "Everything now depends on security -- that is the hope for the future. What evidence, other than hope, do you have that they will be able to do better?"
-- "We have seen twice, though, in ten years their army cut and run. We are now taking young men and training them in security. Do you believe they can stand up to what they face?"
Gibson went on to ask Bremer to list his "best moment or "greatest success" (Constitution agreement in March), "greatest regret," (security) and then to comment on the state of mind of Saddam Hussein.
The TV ads for Michael Moore's "documentary" Fahrenheit 9/11 feature a mocking clip of President Bush on a golf course. Bush declares, "I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorists killers," and then Moore jumps to Bush adding, as he prepares to swing at a golf ball, "now watch this drive." Tuesday night on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, Brian Wilson noted how "the viewer is left with the misleading impression Mr. Bush is talking about al-Qaeda terrorists." But Wilson disclosed that "a check of the raw tape reveals the President is talking about an attack against Israel, carried out by a Palestinian suicide bomber."
Indeed, Wilson played another part of what Bush said in the remarks to reporters made on August 4, 2002: "For the sake of the Israelis who are under attack, we must stop the terror."
MRC analyst Megan McCormack noticed Wilson's correction of Moore in a piece in which Wilson outlined how Moore's movie better matches the definition of "propaganda" than "documentary."
"The American Heritage Dictionary," Wilson relayed, "defines a documentary film as one that presents facts quote, 'objectively without editorializing or inserting fictional matter.'"
After documenting Moore's distortion of Bush's golf course comments, Wilson moved on to how "in his film, Moore claims that special flights carrying Saudi nationals were allowed to fly within the U.S. at a time when commercial aircraft were grounded due to the 9/11 attacks. Not true. The Saudi flights did not occur until after commercial flight restrictions were lifted on September 14th. Newsweek's top investigative reporter Michael Isikoff took Moore to task on that and other incorrect claims in a recent column, and says of the movie:"
Last Friday night, June 25, the NBC Nightly News ran a fact check on Moore's movie, the MRC's Brad Wilmouth observed, and found it wanting. NBC's Lisa Myers didn't note how the golf course comments were suggested to be about al-Qaeda when they were really about Palestinian terrorists, but she did call it a "cheap shot."
She began her story with a clip of an ad for the movie: "A true story that will make your temperature rise."
But liberals and much of the media still love it.
The Today show's parallel universe. Thursday morning at 8:30am EDT, ABC's Good Morning America, CBS's The Early Show, as well as MSNBC, CNN's American Morning and FNC's Fox & Friends, all aired the taped video just released out of Iraq showing Saddam Hussein in the courtroom, the first video of Hussein since the video of a scraggly Hussein in December just after he was found in a hole. But Today viewers instead saw Katie Couric playing badminton.
At 8:30am EDT, Today previewed an upcoming segment with two U.S. Olympic team badminton players by having Katie Couric whack the shuttlecock back and forth with them a few times over an outdoor net. Following the weather and an ad break, while every other network was showing Hussein, Today ran a taped interview by Jill Rappaport with Robert Redford. Following another ad break, Katie, Matt Lauer and Al Roker, all wearing sports outfits, took on the two Olympic team players in a game that lasted a few minutes -- and in which the real players let the Today team look good.
Today watchers didn't get to see the new Hussein video until the 9am news update.
# Ralph Nader is scheduled to be the guest tonight, Thursday, on Comedy Central's Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
-- Brent Baker