The U.S. Postal Service is helping cigarette bootleggers evade the law, warned the June 18 “World News Tonight.” But while ABC’s Dan Harris explored the legal quandary the postal office faces in preventing tax evasion from Internet sales of tobacco, he left out a key reason for the strong black market in cigarettes: high state tobacco taxes. “ New York ’s attorney general says this is an illegal act taking place nearly every day, in broad daylight, with the help of the United States Postal Service,” Harris began. His story focused on Indian reservations shipping tax-free cigarettes to customers all... continue reading
CNN gave viewers a sort of Saturday morning fever as CNN’s Andy Serwer raised fears of stagflation sapping the economy’s strength on the June 17 “In the Money.” “Stagflation” is a term coined in the 1970s to refer to high inflation coupled with a weak economy. Two days earlier, Serwer suggested on CNN’s June 15 “American Morning” that the economy was already in such a state. Inflation at an annual rate of 3.8 percent, “the highest rate in 11 years” and an economy “that’s not particularly firing on all cylinders,” raises “the specter of stagflation,” Serwer warned. Serwer took to... continue reading
The three broadcast networks have focused growing attention on inflation recently – 42 stories since early May. CBS anchor Bob Schieffer declared on June 14 “Well, it is back, inflation, that is.” The following day, ABC’s Bill Ritter cautioned, “everything from mowing the lawn to joining a gym could cost you more money.” Yet, when positive inflation news was announced just hours later by the new chairman of the Federal Reserve, ABC didn’t even bother reporting it on its evening news program. Meanwhile, the other two broadcast networks paid inflation relatively little notice compared to their other stories that night... continue reading
In the mid-1990s, aside from tobacco companies, Microsoft (NYSE: MSFT) and its CEO Bill Gates were perhaps the media’s favorite corporate villain. Now he’s a media darling. On the March 3, 1998, then CBS “Evening News,” anchor Dan Rather suggested Microsoft needed to be reined in by the federal government. “Some policing may be needed along the information superhighway,” he said, adding that “fellow-travelers say Gates is trying to run them off the road.” A month later on the April 21, 1998, “World News Tonight,” ABC’s Peter Jennings warned his audience that “millions of everyday computer users are still anxious... continue reading
“We are the problem,” declared NBC’s “Today” co-anchor Matt Lauer doing a stint as host for the SciFi network. Lauer was referring to mankind’s alleged misuse of planet Earth, but his comment better suits the media and his apocalyptic documentary. Lauer’s program, “Countdown to Doomsday,” merged nearly every science-fiction disaster flick ever made – “The Terminator,” “Deep Impact,” “I, Robot” and, of course, the SciFi Channel’s own “Battlestar Gallactica.” Lauer’s news background gave an air of respectability to the documentary and the show was filled with news footage from Hurricane Katrina, 9/11 and more to reinforce that impression. In it,... continue reading
ABC’s Charlie Gibson promised his June 13 “World News Tonight” viewers a look at “why a leading consumer group has a bone to pick over the fat in KFC food.” But that organization was none other than the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an anti-food industry group that has had a beef with everything from movie theater popcorn to soda pop. “The Center for Science in the Public Interest is taking KFC to court over the trans fat used to fry the chicken,” Gibson noted as he introduced a segment by correspondent Elisabeth Leamy. “The consumer group says... continue reading
The June 9 “Now with David Brancaccio” could well have been titled PBS’s “Tin-Foil Conspiracy Theatre” as the newsmagazine looked at death of the electric car from the Michael Moore-like lens of a left-wing filmmaker. Rather than entertaining the notion that a lack of market demand doomed the vehicles, “Now” instead pushed filmmaker Chris Paine’s arguments that the “clean” car’s demise was the result of a sinister plot by GM and Big Oil. That film, “Who Killed the Electric Car,” is scheduled for a June 28 release in New York and Los Angeles. Looking into the demise of the electric... continue reading
Perhaps not since “Gigli” has a movie so highly anticipated by the media done so little at the box office. Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” has been and still is being strongly promoted in the media, but as with the ill-fated Lopez-Affleck outing, the moviegoers aren’t busting down theater doors to see it. Despite lengthy interviews on “The Early Show” and “Today” or a coveted interview slot on late night talk shows like “The Tonight Show,” Gore’s apocalyptic view of global warming is not burning up the box office. It’s a sleeper that refuses to be roused, but the media... continue reading
As graduation season wound down, the June 12 USA Today alarmed readers with a look at the “growing number of college grads” who owe more than $100,000 in student loans. But even the article’s author briefly conceded that’s the exception, not the rule. “The average college senior graduated this year with more than $19,000 in debt. That’s a problem Joe Palazzolo would love to have,” correspondent Sandra Block began her front-page story. Palazzolo, she continued, finished a graduate degree in public policy from Rutgers and now has more than $116,000 in student loans. In fact, the Rutgers alumnus owes more... continue reading
On the June 8 “Nightly News,” NBC’s Brian Williams squeezed in a Democratic talking point when reporting the Senate vote on the death tax. While Williams said that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) called the estate tax “unfair” and vowed to bring the legislation to a vote again later in the year, the NBC anchor added that Democrats would oppose what they call “a budget-busting giveaway to the wealthiest Americans.” Williams left out classic conservative talking points such as Grover Norquist’s quip that “the government has no business erecting a toll booth on the stairway to heaven.” But political... continue reading