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14,000 Dow; ABC: 'There's a Good Deal of Worrisome Economic News' --7/20/2007


1. 14,000 Dow; ABC: 'There's a Good Deal of Worrisome Economic News'
Repeating the downbeat spin employed when the Dow Jones Industrials passed 13,000 in late April and ABC's reporter warned "we're actually overdue for a correction," less than three months later when the Dow closed over 14,000, ABC's World News put the news into a "yes, but" framework. Fill-anchor Elizabeth Vargas on Thursday night led with the record high close, but fretted that "there's a good deal of worrisome economic news these days -- from sky-high gas prices to America's gaping trade deficit" and "yet," she marveled, "the market keeps marching on." Reporter John Berman began by emphasizing that though "the Dow went from 13 to 14,000 in just 3 months," this occurred "despite those serious jitters about the U.S. economy: $3 gas, a major housing slump -- a drag on the U.S. economy." Crediting the rise to overseas earnings, Berman pointed out that "while the economy in the U.S. is struggling along in a growth rate of less than one percent, it's racing ahead at nearly 11 percent in China with strong numbers in India, Russia and Brazil as well." Vargas followed up on a gloomy note, raising "disappointing earnings reports from Google," prompting Berman to predict: "It may mean that the mood tomorrow won't be quite so rosy."

2. Couric Notes Plame, Hillary Rebuke; Olbermann Sends Bush to Iraq
Of the three broadcast network evening newscasts on Thursday, only the CBS Evening News reported how a federal judge threw out Valerie Plame's lawsuit and how a Pentagon official berated Senator Hillary Clinton, but anchor Katie Couric quickly moved on to "more positive news" for her in how most believe she will be elected President: "The Pentagon is lashing out tonight at Hillary Clinton. A letter written by a senior Pentagon official accuses Clinton of reinforcing enemy propaganda by demanding the military start planning for a withdrawal from Iraq....In more positive news for her campaign, a CBS News/New York Times poll shows 63 percent of voters believe she's likely to win the presidency if she gets the nomination." Enraged by the letter from Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann opened Thursday's Countdown with a "Special Comment" on how President George W. Bush will go down in history for his "infamy" as a President who has "sold this country out." To get the U.S. out of Iraq, Olbermann suggested Bush must be impeached "sooner rather than later." Olbermann snidely concluded his lengthy rant: "Go to Baghdad now and fulfill, finally, your military service obligations. Go there and fight your war, yourself."

3. NY Times Applies Tags to Republican Candidates, But Not Edwards
Balance, New York Times style: The GOP is trying to appeal to "conservatives," while Democrat John Edwards is free to cite the "imposing historical figure" of Bobby Kennedy without being called a liberal.


14,000 Dow; ABC: 'There's a Good Deal
of Worrisome Economic News'

Repeating the downbeat spin employed when the Dow Jones Industrials passed 13,000 in late April and ABC's reporter warned "we're actually overdue for a correction," less than three months later when the Dow closed over 14,000, ABC's World News put the news into a "yes, but" framework. Fill-anchor Elizabeth Vargas on Thursday night led with the record high close, but fretted that "there's a good deal of worrisome economic news these days -- from sky-high gas prices to America's gaping trade deficit" and "yet," she marveled, "the market keeps marching on." Reporter John Berman began by emphasizing that though "the Dow went from 13 to 14,000 in just 3 months," this occurred "despite those serious jitters about the U.S. economy: $3 gas, a major housing slump -- a drag on the U.S. economy." Crediting the rise to overseas earnings, Berman pointed out that "while the economy in the U.S. is struggling along in a growth rate of less than one percent, it's racing ahead at nearly 11 percent in China with strong numbers in India, Russia and Brazil as well." Vargas followed up on a gloomy note, raising "disappointing earnings reports from Google," prompting Berman to predict: "It may mean that the mood tomorrow won't be quite so rosy."

Thursday's CBS Evening News wasn't as negative as it was back in April, but in his generally upbeat piece Anthony Mason contrasted the American economy with the international scene: "The U.S. economy doesn't look nearly as strong. Retailers just had their worst month in nearly two years. Gas prices are rising. And house prices are falling."

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

The Thursday, April 26 CyberAlert item, "Dow Soars to Record 13,000, But...CBS and ABC Find Downside," recounted CBS's take the night before:

CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric fretted that "even as investors are making money in the market, Anthony Mason reports there are concerns tonight about the rest of the U.S. economy." Mason talked with a celebrating stock trader before turning downbeat: "But Wall Street and Main Street appear to be headed in different directions. While the stock market's been racing ahead, the economy has been slowing down. Housing is mired in a slump." Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab confirmed bad news for the overall economy, citing how "we have seen economic growth get cut in about half in the last year, so clearly the economy is not as strong as it was a year ago." Mason ominously warned: "Rising gas prices, up 70 cents already this year, could slow the economy even more."

The CyberAlert also relayed ABC's negative spin:

ABC anchor Charles Gibson teased World News: "Tonight, the Dow moves into uncharted territory, zooming past 13,000 for the first time. But is the economy as hot as the market?" Gibson set up his lead story by contrasting how "the rise in recent months has been steep, despite less-than-inspiring news on the economy overall." Betsy Stark featured pleased investors before cautioning how "there were fresh signs today of trouble in the housing market" and "oil prices shot up another dollar today, which will only add to consumers' woes at the pump." Gibson stayed on the negative, proposing to Stark: "We've had four years of a straight bull market. Doesn't just the timing of this suggest that there might be a correction?" Stark agreed: "By historical standards, Charlie, we're actually overdue for a correction."

For the entire April 26 CyberAlert article: www.mrc.org

Transcript of the lead stock market story on the July 19 World News on ABC (CBS got to it as its second story after FEMA's trailers, NBC Nightly News as its fourth):

ELIZABETH VARGAS: Good evening. They made history a few miles south of here, tonight. On Wall Street, where lately the stock market has known only one direction, up, the Dow Jones stock index reached new heights today, gaining another 82 points to close above 14,000 for the first time. There's a good deal of worrisome economic news these days -- from sky-high gas prices to America's gaping trade deficit -- yet the market keeps marching on, in a powerful rally that has added tens of billions of dollars to the personal wealth of Americans. ABC's John Berman joins us with today's record-breaker on Wall Street.

JOHN BERMAN: Elizabeth, Wall Street watchers love big, round numbers. And 14,000 is the biggest we've ever seen. The Dow went from 13 to 14,000 in just 3 months. And this, despite those serious jitters about the U.S. economy: $3 gas, a major housing slump -- a drag on the U.S. economy, but not enough to darken moods on Wall Street today.
ELIZABETH MACDONALD, SENIOR EDITOR OF FORBES: Wall Street was giddy beyond belief today. It could not believe it cracked 14,000.
BERMAN: Why the big surge? Big earnings reports from the big blue chip companies. Twelve of the 30 stocks in the Dow posted double-digit gains in the last three months alone. Most of the fuel for this fire isn't from home: 40 percent of these company's profits came from beyond our borders.
ALAN SKRAINKA, MARKET STRATEGIST, EDWARD JONES: Americans tend to focus on what's happening here at home. In the meantime, growth has been very strong overseas.
BERMAN: While the economy in the U.S. is struggling along in a growth rate of less than one percent, it's racing ahead at nearly 11 percent in China with strong numbers in India, Russia and Brazil, as well. As a result, the Dow as a whole is up a whopping 30 percent in the past year. Good for Wall Street moguls and mom and pop investors, with shares of these blue chip companies in their 401ks.
MAN ON STREET IN NEW YORK CITY: I think it shows we have a vibrant, strong economy. So I think that's great.
BERMAN: Diana Amendt is riding the wave. The stocks in her investment club in southeast Michigan, are up 28 percent this year.
DIANA AMENDT: It wouldn't surprise me, with the market doing what it's doing, we'll probably get a few more people that say, hey, I want to be part of that club. So we just might pick up new members based on this.
SKRAINKA: There is a psychological lift and some investors that got out of the market earlier this decade, now might see the numbers and start to get back in.
BERMAN, holding up New York Post: Now this was the newspaper headline from just five months ago: "Stocks in Shocking Nose Dive." Now, we have a new record. This shows you what a volatile year it's been.
VARGAS: Volatile. But after the market closed, some disappointing earnings reports from Google. How might that affect tomorrow's trading?
BERMAN: Google came back with earnings that didn't meet expectations. Their shares tanked, down more than 7 percent at one point. It may mean that the mood tomorrow won't be quite so rosy.
VARGAS: So don't be celebrating the 14,000 too quickly. Alright, thanks so much John.

Couric Notes Plame, Hillary Rebuke; Olbermann
Sends Bush to Iraq

Of the three broadcast network evening newscasts on Thursday, only the CBS Evening News reported how a federal judge threw out Valerie Plame's lawsuit and how a Pentagon official berated Senator Hillary Clinton, but anchor Katie Couric quickly moved on to "more positive news" for her in how most believe she will be elected President. Couric relayed how "the Pentagon is lashing out tonight at Hillary Clinton. A letter written by a senior Pentagon official accuses Clinton of reinforcing enemy propaganda by demanding the military start planning for a withdrawal from Iraq. A spokesman for the Senator calls the letter 'outrageous.' In more positive news for her campaign, a CBS News/New York Times poll shows 63 percent of voters believe she's likely to win the presidency if she gets the nomination."

Enraged by the letter from Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann opened Thursday's Countdown with a "Special Comment" on how President George W. Bush will go down in history for his "infamy" as a President who has "sold this country out." To get the U.S. out of Iraq, Olbermann suggested Bush must be impeached "sooner rather than later." Olbermann snidely concluded his lengthy rant: "Go to Baghdad now and fulfill, finally, your military service obligations. Go there and fight your war, yourself."

MSNBC.com's transcript of Olbermann's July 19 tirade: www.msnbc.msn.com

[This item was posted late Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

An excerpt from a July 19 AP dispatch, "Pentagon rebukes Sen. Clinton on Iraq, by Devlin Barrett:

The Pentagon told Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton that her questions about how the U.S. plans to eventually withdraw from Iraq boosts enemy propaganda.

In a stinging rebuke to a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman responded to questions Clinton raised in May in which she urged the Pentagon to start planning now for the withdrawal of American forces.

A copy of Edelman's response, dated July 16, was obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

"Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia," Edelman wrote.

He added that "such talk understandably unnerves the very same Iraqi allies we are asking to assume enormous personal risks."

Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines called Edelman's answer "at once outrageous and dangerous," and said the senator would respond to his boss, Defense Secretary Robert Gates....

END of Excerpt

Yahoo's posting of the AP story: news.yahoo.com

Couric announced these back-to-back items deep into the July 19 CBS Evening News:
"A federal judge today threw out Valerie Plame's lawsuit against members of the Bush administration in that CIA leak scandal. The former CIA operative accused, among others, Vice President Dick Cheney, his former aide Scooter Libby, and senior White House advisor Karl Rove of conspiring to leak her identity. But the judge ruled what the officials did was all part of their jobs. Plame's lawyer is planning to appeal.
"Meanwhile, the Pentagon is lashing out tonight at Hillary Clinton. A letter written by a senior Pentagon official accuses Clinton of reinforcing enemy propaganda by demanding the military start planning for a withdrawal from Iraq. A spokesman for the Senator calls the letter 'outrageous.' In more positive news for her campaign, a CBS News/New York Times poll shows 63 percent of voters believe she's likely to win the presidency if she gets the nomination. And it's due in large part to the female factor. Kelly Wallace has the numbers...."

For the CBSNews.com rundown of the survey, "Poll: 63% Say Clinton 'Likely' To Win; CBS/NYT Poll: Majorities Of Both Men and Women Think New York Democrat Will Be Next President," go to: www.cbsnews.com

NY Times Applies Tags to Republican Candidates,
But Not Edwards

Balance, New York Times style: The GOP is trying to appeal to "conservatives," while Democrat John Edwards is free to cite the "imposing historical figure" of Bobby Kennedy without being called a liberal.

[This item is expanded from a posting, by Clay Waters, on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]

A sign of labeling bias to come? Jo Becker's Thursday article on likely GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson's work for a pro-abortion group (called a "Family Planning Unit" by a queasy Times headline writer) contained three "conservative" labels [in ALL CAPS here]:

-- "Mr. Thompson's work for the family planning agency has become an issue because he is positioning himself as a faithful CONSERVATIVE who is opposed to abortion."

-- But in answering questions by the CONSERVATIVE Tennessee group Flare during the 1994 campaign, Mr. Thompson promised not to support tax-financed clinics that recommend 'abortion as a method of birth control.'"

-- "In a column published on the CONSERVATIVE blog Powerline, Mr. Thompson wrote that in light of lawyer-client confidentiality, it would not be appropriate for him to respond to those who are 'dredging up clients -- or another lawyer's clients -- that I may have represented or consulted with' 15 or 20 years ago."

For Becker's July 19 article: www.nytimes.com

There were eight more labels in Adam Nagourney's Thursday front-page off-lead story on how the surprise collapse of John McCain's campaign has led to a change of tactics among the other GOP candidates. The tags referred to both the candidates own credentials and the ideology of the primary voters to whom they were trying to appeal:

-- "And Mitt Romney of Massachusetts released a television advertisement Monday emphasizing faith and family values in what aides said was an effort to stir unease about Mr. Giuliani among CONSERVATIVE voters who have gravitated toward him."

-- "Aides to Mr. Romney and Mr. Thompson said they increasingly fear that their candidates would divide CONSERVATIVE votes."

-- "Anticipating Mr. Thompson's entry into the race, Mr. Romney's advisers said they had begun examining Mr. Thompson's record and plan to highlight his work as a trial lawyer and Washington lobbyist. They also said they thought they could raise doubts about him among CONSERVATIVES by noting his support, along with Mr. McCain, of campaign finance legislation that has been widely criticized by CONSERVATIVES."

-- To confront a Thompson candidacy, Mr. Romney's aides said they were adding to their forces in South Carolina, the state with the fourth nominating contest, in hopes of handing Mr. Thompson a decisive defeat in a state with a heavy CONSERVATIVE population and where he presumably has regional appeal."

-- "Mr. Romney's television advertisement, focusing on family values, was intended as the first in what staff members said would be a full-fledged challenge to Mr. Thompson for CONSERVATIVE voters who have seemed unhappy with their choice of candidates."

-- "Mr. Thompson's advisers, saying they would speak only anonymously until their candidate gets into the race, confirmed that assessment, saying that Mr. Thompson intended to present himself as the most CONSERVATIVE candidate in the race and would go to South Carolina as part of his announcement swing."

-- "Still, Mr. Giuliani used his first major speech in Iowa on this trip to pledge, as president, to appoint 'strict constructionist judges,' as he sought to push back against Mr. Romney's efforts to undercut his standing among CONSERVATIVE voters who are so important there."

For Nagourney's July 19 story: www.nytimes.com

But while the Times larded on the CONSERVATIVE labels in two mildly negative stories about Republican candidates, they didn't use a single liberal label in a strongly positive Thursday story from Susan Saulny on Democratic candidate John Edwards' populist liberal "Two Americas" campaign, "Edwards Ends Poverty Tour By Broadening His Theme" (in which Saulny called Bobby Kennedy "an imposing historical figure"). See: www.nytimes.com

For daily postings detailing liberal bias in the New York Times: www.timeswatch.org

-- Brent Baker