Watching TV can be torture. This close to the election, it’s even worse thanks to TV news.
For more than a year, the networks told us almost every bit of good economic news was somehow bad. Now that they feel they have conservatives right where they want them, journalists are tightening the screws.
No major news outlet is worse than CNN. It doesn’t matter whether it’s “Network” populist Lou Dobbs or curmudgeonly Jack Cafferty, CNN is brainwashing viewers into believing there is a “war on the middle class” led by business, conservatives and Republicans.
Every day spins some good news into bad. Every day brings some new CNN election special – extra nights of Lou Dobbs or the largely one-sided “Broken Government” series. It’s one thing after another, after another.
This isn’t news; it’s Chinese water torture style journalism. Each negative report is another drip, drip, drip. For extra effect, CNN could use Dobbs’ crocodile tears that he sheds for working people who earn a fraction of what a major TV anchor makes. Or maybe Lou could afford a bottle of Cristal or Dom Perignon.
In any case, that flood of coverage has one intended result – to sway your vote.
First, CNN attacked the economy with the Dobbs “war on the middle class” theme more than 70 times in three months. Lou even self-promoted his book of the same name at the same time. Top it off with an election special called “America Votes 2006: War on the Middle Class.” Subtlety is not a CNN virtue.
Give cantankerous Jack Cafferty all the time in the world to criticize Republicans. Forget journalistic ethics and standards. The CNN people mix opinion with news so openly, it’s a wonder they call anything commentary. On October 28, Jack even urged American voters to “Go to polls and vote against every incumbent on the ballot. Throw them all out.”
How convenient that most of those incumbents are Republicans.
On the same night as the Dobbs special about the “War on the Middle Class,” reporter Kitty Pilgrim asked one of the most loaded questions of 2006: “Now for tonight’s poll: How would you rate the government’s handling of the middle class crisis in this country?” Fair-minded CNN decided that “middle class” now equals victimhood.
What will Pilgrim ask next? “How long have Republicans been beating their wives?” No wonder CNN introduces the Dobbs show as “news, debate and opinion.”
It wasn’t just Dobbs, Cafferty and their crews. “American Morning” reporter Ali Velshi played tricks on the GOP for Halloween. Velshi claimed: “For the most part, Republicans have kept hourly wages and taxes low.” That’s typical for a network where even business reporter Andy Serwer considered criticisms of a minimum wage increase “a lot of bull.”
I could go on and on. There are a lot of drips at CNN.
Every Saturday, the network rolls out “In the Money,” a left-wing spin on business. “Money” puts truth on the rack, often stretching it beyond the limit.
The October 28 show had business anchor Jennifer Westhoven claiming “you know heating costs are gonna be really tough this winter.” The Energy Department thinks otherwise. According to an Energy press release two weeks before that show, “for the first time since the winter of 2001-02, residential heating fuel prices for most Americans are projected to be either lower than or close to prices prevailing during the previous winter.”
That same program, Serwer introduced a minimum wage story with this rant: “Overworked and underpaid. It’s our new national motto it seems, for a lot of us anyways.” This from the same “business” show that missed recent Labor Department news that added 810,000 jobs to the Bush recovery.
Hopefully, when “Money” talks, nobody listens.
But CNN shows you the money – with a slant – all over its network. On September 13, reporter Heidi Collins declared a hike in California’s minimum wage meant “the people won.” Earlier that month Dobbs preached that successful achievement of the American Dream “in this country could become a relic of our past.”
CNN is bad, but there is one bright light. On the October 30 edition of “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” a viewer from Missouri urged Dobbs to go for the White House. “Please run for president. You're the only hope the ‘used to be’ middle class has to hope for short of civil war.”
Dobbs responded that “I ain’t running for anything.”
For the few Americans who saw the recent Robin Williams flick “Man of the Year,” this was fantastic news. In the film, Williams plays another quirky talk show personality who runs a bizarre, successful and ominous presidential campaign. The character? Tom Dobbs.
“President Dobbs?” Now that would be torture.
Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Free Market Fellow and director of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute.