Now that the election has passed, the networks decided it was safe to treat job gains as a positive. The Friday after the Republican convention the networks portrayed a fall in the unemployment rate in August, while 144,000 new jobs were created and the July job creation number was doubled, as a negative for President Bush. A month later, the networks stayed negative when the unemployment rate held steady while 96,000 jobs were created in September. Dan Rather intoned on the evening of the second presidential debate: "A disappointing report on the economy is out just weeks before the election." But last Friday, in reporting on how 337,000 jobs were created in October, the broadcast networks were downright upbeat and were not bothered by a one-tenth of a percent jump in the unemployment rate. Earlier in the year, however, as the economy added a similar number of jobs, the networks focused on closing factories and people forced to drive taxicabs.
Al Franken and Susan Sarandon Having
Trouble Accepting Bush Win?
A few celebrities showed on Friday night that they're having trouble accepting the reality that George W. Bush beat John Kerry. Though Bush was the first President since 1988 to win a majority of the vote, on CBS's Late Show, Al Franken downgraded the Bush victory by emphasizing how "Bush won this election by a smaller percentage than any incumbent President who was re-elected, I believe, in history." Franken, attempting some humor, dismissed the swath of red on the U.S. state map by insisting that "a lot of the red is desert. And there's, like, no people there" and "the electoral college favors people who vote in the desert."
Bush won thanks to "voter fraud," actress Susan Sarandon contended to HBO's Bill Maher. When Maher maintained that Kerry "lost, by a lot," Sarandon countered: "Wait a minute. You better tune in to some of the other channels." She cited "this black box thing," a mis-reported vote total in one Ohio town, "and the hanging chads and the provisional votes -- this was not the way the voting's supposed to work." Quite serious, she reported that "Ralph Nader's very close to filing something about what went on in New Hampshire." Plus, "lots and lots of problems in Florida. And in New Mexico. It's all coming in now."
Lawrence O'Donnell predicted on the McLaughlin Group that there will be "a serious discussion of secession over the next twenty years" since "the segment on the country that pays for the federal government is now being governed by the people who don't pay for the federal government."
-- On the November 5 Late Show with David Letterman, this exchange took place between Franken and Letterman as taken down by the MRC's Brad
Letterman: "I was talking to Tom Brokaw about this last night. The polls, a dead heat going into it, dead heat, and did it turn out, was it a close election or was it not a close election?"
Franken: "It was a close election. It was, Bush won this election by a smaller percentage than any incumbent President who was re-elected, I believe, in history. In 1824, before 1824 and before, they didn't keep the popular vote. But since then, no incumbent -- and 1824 is John Quincy Adams and he wasn't an incumbent, and before that was Monroe in 1820, and he won every electoral vote but one, so I'm assuming that he won by, so Bush won by a smaller margin in terms of percentage of any incumbent who's been re-elected."
Letterman: "You're talking about the popular vote?"
Franken: "Yeah, yes, yes."
Letterman: "But he also had the highest popular vote in the history of elections?"
Franken: "That's true. And you know who had the second highest popular vote in history? John Kerry. [Applause] Yeah, this was, you know, it's funny, is you see guys like Sean Hannity, the, you know, the right wing guy."
Letterman: "Taking the high road there, Al?"
Franken: "Yeah, high road. And he'll hold up the map and he'll go, look how, red, look how red it is! And it's like, well, first of all, a lot of that is desert. A lot of the red is desert. And there's, like, no people there. And Nevada was 49 percent for Kerry. New Mexico was 49 percent for Kerry. So if you look at it by, like, if you look at a real map where it goes by precincts or goes by county, it's, the country is much less divided than we believe. It's, most of the country, I mean, it's blue and red. Most of the country is shades of purple, different shades of purple. And the most blue state was Massachusetts, and the most red state was Wyoming, which has eight people in it, and has three electoral votes. So, I mean, that's why the electoral college favors people who vote in the desert."
Letterman: "Does it favor or does it make it equal?"
Franken: "No, it favors. It was put in the Constitution to, as a compromise for states that have little population. And it reflects, as you know, the electoral vote is the number of senators plus your number of representatives. So it does favor the smaller populated states. And that's why it'll never be changed. That's why we're always going to have the electoral vote because you need three quarters of state legislatures to approve an amendment to change it, and most states are helped by it."
When asked how his Air America radio show is going, Franken took a shot at Rush Limbaugh: "We're doing incredibly well. We were beating Rush in many cities, Rush Limbaugh, big fat idiot, a drug addict."
Franken's Air America Web page features, "COMEDY BIT: THE BUSH-SATAN CONNECTION: From Friday's The Al Franken Show, Al and Katherine discuss the possible connection between Bush...and SATAN. DUN dun dun." See: www.airamericaradio.com
-- Susan Sarandon appeared via satellite from New York City on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher which aired live at 11pm EST on Friday night.
Sarandon argued: "We should deal with voter fraud. I was so naive -- all this stuff about the provisional voting? You know, I thought that stuff was really going to count and they were challenging all these people and just, you know, they're never going to even look at them. I mean, they've got this system in Ohio with the-"
Maher: "C'mon. He lost, by a lot. He lost by over-"
Sarandon: "Wait a minute. You better tune in to some of the other channels. They're finding all kinds of -- one area of Ohio 628 people registered to vote, Bush got 4,000 votes. There's a lot of irregularities. He did lose and he's not going to win but I'm saying this black box thing and the hanging chads and the provisional votes -- this was not the way the voting's supposed to work."
Maher: "But this is not 2000 when the Democrats weren't prepared for it. They had an army of lawyers in that state. You're telling me that army of lawyers didn't keep it square and fair?"
Sarandon: "I sure am. And in New Hampshire too and your guy Ralph Nader's very close to filing something about what went on in New Hampshire....And in Florida. Lots and lots of problems in Florida. And in New Mexico. It's all coming in now."
It is true that there was a mis-reported vote total in one precinct, but hardly a major event. And memo to Sarandon: Kerry won New Hampshire and no re-count will turn Nader's one percent into 50 percent.
For a photo and bio of Sarandan, see the Internet Movie Database's page on her: www.imdb.com
-- On the McLaughlin Group over the weekend, Lawrence O'Donnell a former aide to Senate Democrats and an analyst for MSNBC who has been a producer on NBC's The West Wing on which he played "President Bartlet's" father, spewed:
"The big problem the country now has, which is going to produce a serious discussion of secession over the next twenty years, is that the segment on the country that pays for the federal government is now being governed by the people who don't pay for the federal government....Ninety percent of the red states are welfare client states of the federal government. They collect more from the federal government than they send in..."
That's just another way of making a point which liberals dismiss when made to explain why the largest dollar amount of Bush's tax cuts went to the wealthy: The top few percent of income earners pay the vast majority of the income taxes collected by the federal government while the bottom 50 percent, in both red and blue states, pick up virtually none of the income tax burden.
Rooney on Journalists: Half Liked Kerry,
Other Half Hated Bush
Noting that "a lot of you believe that most people in the news business are liberal," Andy Rooney assured 60 Minutes viewers on Sunday night that his colleagues in journalism "were almost evenly divided this time." Rooney conceded that "half of them liked Senator Kerry," but then he wittily added his kicker, "the other half hated President Bush." Rooney asserted that he hopes "all of you who voted for Kerry can find it in your heads, if not in your hearts, to swallow this and support President George W. Bush." Making it obvious which candidate he supported, Rooney reported: "That's what I'm going to do."
The last half of Rooney's commentary at the end of the November 7 60 Minutes:
"Television did a good job Tuesday night, I thought. I know a lot of you believe that most people in the news business are liberal. Let me tell you, I know a lot of them, and they were almost evenly divided this time. Half of them liked Senator Kerry; the other half hated President Bush.
"I think we're all glad this is over, though. The losers are usually civil about it. Kerry called Bush and congratulated him. The loser doesn't really mean it, of course but it's nice of him to do it.
"I hope we get over this viciously divisive election campaign we had. It is our country. It's the only one we've got. We have to love it. No one else does, that's for sure. I hope all of you who voted for Kerry can find it in your heads, if not in your hearts, to swallow this and support President George W. Bush. That's what I'm going to do."
For the text of the entire commentary, as posted by CBSNews.com: www.cbsnews.com
Carlson "Hopes" Senate "Moderates" Block
Bush's Policy Plans
Time magazine's Margaret Carlson, on Saturday's Capital Gang on CNN, pinned her "hopes" in the more Republican Senate "on the moderates blocking" President Bush's plans on "some of these things like Social Security privatization and the permanent tax cuts."
On the November 6 Capital Gang, Carlson warned: "But you know, Sam Rayburn said, 'watch out for your majorities, they can sometimes hurt you.' And this could happen this time if he goes too far. And in fact, you know, people are coming to him and saying, 'listen, we want to be paid off,' like on judges, and I think he's going to have a hard time with that. I think the hopes rest, in the Senate certainly, on the moderates blocking some of these things like Social Security privatization and the permanent tax cuts."
Ashcroft Symbolizes "Far Right," Bush
"Doesn't Like People"
Catching up with a few items from last Thursday and Wednesday, CNN's Suzanne Malveaux maintained that John Ashcroft "has come to symbolize the far right," MSNBC's Chris Matthews complained that George W. Bush "doesn't seem to like a big, a big part of this country," Newsweek Managing Editor Jon Meacham claimed that Bush "doesn't like people very much" and NBC News reporter Andrea Mitchell rejected the idea that "moral values" means conservative values. When Al Sharpton complained that "we've allowed" Republicans "to define moral values," Mitchell echoed: "Exactly."
-- The MRC's Tim Graham came across how, just before President Bush's 11am EST Thursday press conference, CNN's Suzanne Malveaux asserted, as she stood on the White House lawn:
"It was just moments ago that the President wrapped up a meeting with his cabinet, and already there is word of a cabinet that is changing. We have learned, CNN has learned from sources close to Attorney General John Ashcroft it is likely that he is going to submit his resignation in a couple of weeks. He has had some health problems, some health concerns in the past. He has come to symbolize the far right and has been a lightning rod for criticism around the Patriot Act. We understand that he is likely to submit his resignation fairly soon."
-- MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, live 9pm EST second edition on Wednesday night, November 3. A couple of quotes caught by the MRC's Geoff Dickens from the program broadcast from NBC's "Democracy Plaza."
# Bush doesn't like people:
Chris Matthews: "But wasn't it a 'divide and conquer' strategy? Because, I ask you this, Jon Meacham. Can you imagine the President of the United States, like so many Presidents before him, like Nixon and Reagan and Ike, coming up to New York for a week in this beautiful, chief city of ours and just enjoying a weekend and seeing a couple of plays and going to some dinners? He, you're laughing because he's so antithetical to that. That's like saying, why don't you spend a weekend in Boston or L.A. or San Francisco? He doesn't seem to like a big, a big part of this country."
Jon Meacham: "No, the President's a curious pol-, one of the few politicians I've studied that, who doesn't like people very much. It's an interesting thing in a politician."
# Peeved that GOP owns moral values issue:
Andrea Mitchell: "And I cannot accept the fact that on moral values, we're defining moral values so narrowly that when voters say they're voting on moral values, that means they're against this, they're against that. There has got to be more of an embrace."
Al Sharpton: "That's my point. I think that we've allowed them to define moral values."
Conservative Victories Concern NPR, "Moral
Last week, in the wake of widespread Republican electoral triumphs, National Public Radio briefly clung to the chance that President Bush hadn't been re-elected after all; suggested that the GOP is the more partisan of the parties; and slighted the "moral values" issue that influenced so many voters in the Republicans' favor. Following is a day-by-day sampling of how NPR's twin flagship programs, Morning Edition and All Things Considered, covered the election's aftermath.
[Tom Johnson, who monitors NPR for the MRC, filed this item for CyberAlert.]
-- Wednesday, November 3, the morning after the election: Morning Edition co-hosts Renee Montagne and Steve Inskeep maintained as long as they possibly, plausibly could that John Kerry might somehow win Ohio's electoral votes, and with them the presidency. Montagne introduced a report by declaring prematurely, "As was predicted in the days and weeks leading up to election day, Ohio has become the Florida of 2004." Later in the show, Inskeep asserted that "it would be hard to call this a repeat of the 2000 election, simply because nothing could be, but it certainly is another problematic morning after the vote," and that "the Bush campaign expected last night to celebrate victory, and ended up holding a very different kind of ceremony."
Two NPR reporters rebuked Republicans for how they handled their victory over the Senate Minority Leader, Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) After running a soundbite of Sen.-elect John Thune, who had thanked Daschle for his "public service" and added that "all South Dakotans owe him a big debt of gratitude," Andrea Seabrook then sniped, "But that was where Thune's kind remarks about Daschle began and ended." In a separate piece, reporter David Welna related that "some of Thune's supporters showed no sorrow about Daschle's defeat."
By the time All Things Considered aired in late afternoon, Kerry had conceded, and co-hosts Melissa Block and Robert Siegel seemed a tad out of sorts. Block confronted Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell: "You've got the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, out on a victory tour with Republican Senators in the South. I wonder if you think that might be the wrong message, that it's not the time for gloating, but for real cooperation and reaching out." Siegel asked NPR White House correspondent Don Gonyea whether the Bush administration had "ever admitted anything, any loss of legitimacy for the terms of the 2000 election."
Reporter Julie Rovner implied that conservative congressional Republicans are unwilling to cooperate with Democrats. Rovner led into a soundbite from Frist by saying that the Tennessee Senator had "pledged to put the past year's partisanship behind him." After the soundbite, however, Rovner commented, "But the new members of the freshman Republican [Senate] class could make that difficult. All except Florida's Mel Martinez are former House members from the conservative wing of the party." Fifteen seconds later, she added, "Partisanship looks likely to continue in the House as well, where Republicans...picked up four seats, with five races yet to be settled."
-- Thursday, November 4: On Morning Edition, Montagne, apparently lumping Fritz Hollings, Bob Graham, and John Edwards with Zell Miller and John Breaux, claimed that in the Senate, "Southern moderate Democrats are being replaced by conservative Republicans." Montagne also took up Block's Republican-outreach line, asking senior correspondent Juan Williams whether President Bush will "primarily be interested in exciting his conservative base," or, alternatively, in "expanding the party's reach, as he suggested he would do yesterday."
On All Things Considered, Block worried aloud to her guest, Rep. David Price (D-N.C.), whether "this question, this 'moral values' term, has become...closely entwined this year with the gay-marriage bans" and "may really have trumped everything else and become a very effective wedge for the right." Addressing Price, Block bought into the notion that liberal positions tend to be more complex than those of conservatives: "What you're talking about does seem, though, more abstract, more nuanced, than something as simple as 'If you're opposed to gay marriage, go to the polls and vote for Option 1, vote for Amendment 1 on the ballot.'"
-- Friday, November 5: In a Morning Edition dispatch on Russian reactions to Bush's re-election, correspondent Lawrence Sheets soundbited an 18-year-old man who said, through an interpreter, "I really don't like America, and I don't like Bush. All anyone thinks about here is dollars, and that's horrible. America's turning everyone into zombies." Later in the program, Montagne, disgruntled Russians notwithstanding, applied a foreign twist to the outreach theme, asking a former Reagan administration official, "How likely is it that President Bush will reach out now to Europe in a way that he was not comfortable with in his first term?"
Reporter Pam Fessler noted that a group of "international monitors" were not pleased with how voting rules in the U.S. vary from state to state. Fessler paraphrased a German monitor's belief that the group "will likely recommend that changes be made when it comes to such things as the voting rights of felons."
And, on All Things Considered, during an interview with Colorado's Democratic Sen.-elect Ken Salazar, Block mused, "There's been a lot of talk about this elusive term, 'moral values,' this week, which a lot of people don't know quite how to define." Yes, and most of them are Democrats and/or journalists.
Now that Election Over, Networks Trumpet
Now that the election has passed, the networks decided it was safe to treat job gains as a positive. The Friday after the Republican convention the networks portrayed a fall in the unemployment rate in August, while 144,000 new jobs were created and the July job creation number was doubled, as a negative for President Bush. A month later, the networks stayed negative when the unemployment rate held steady while 96,000 jobs were created in September. Dan Rather intoned on the evening of the second presidential debate: "A disappointing report on the economy is out just weeks before the election." But last Friday, in reporting on how 337,000 jobs were created in October, the broadcast networks were downright upbeat and were not bothered by a one-tenth of a percent jump in the unemployment rate.
Earlier in the year, large job creation numbers weren't given such respect.
# The April 5 CyberAlert reported: The Labor Department made up phoney unemployment numbers to help the Bush campaign? NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams gave credence to such a theory on Friday night as he introduced a story, on how 300,000 jobs were created in March, by reporting that "today's announcement was such a badly needed shot in the arm for the Bush administration -- and was such good news -- some thought the numbers were too good to be true." And ABC couldn't let the good news go unchallenged for long. The next night, ABC looked at an accountant forced to drive a cab. See: www.mediaresearch.org
# June 7 CyberAlert: On Friday, the Department of Labor announced the good economic news that while the unemployment rate held even at 5.6 percent in May, 248,000 new jobs were created and earlier job growth numbers were revised upward. So how did the CBS Evening News bring this upbeat news to life for its viewers? By focusing on an Ohio company which is laying off employees. "After 103 years," reporter Jim Axelrod intoned, "work at this plant in Canton Ohio is set to stop. The Timken Company is shutting three factories and shedding 1300 jobs." See: www.mediaresearch.org
# July 6 CyberAlert: NBC emphasized the negative on Friday night on the unemployment level while CBS found an upbeat angle, but still ended on a downbeat note. NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams acknowledged "good news" in how "the economy added jobs -- 112,000 of them in June -- and while unemployment did not rise last month, holding steady at 5.6 percent," he stressed the "bad news," that "the experts tonight say there's reason to worry because the job numbers came in below what they were expecting. And it is fair to say tonight that any recovery in this country is a work in progress." In contrast, on the CBS Evening News, Anthony Mason saw "another sign the economy is taking off. FedEx, the Memphis-based shipping company, has hired nearly 6,000 workers this year." He trumpeted how "the surging U.S. economy has now gained back more than half of the 2.7 million jobs lost in the recession." See: www.mediaresearch.org
How the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts covered the two unemployment numbers released before the latest announcement, compared to the newest numbers:
-- ABC's World News Tonight, September 3. Peter Jennings announced: "The government said today that the economy added 144,000 jobs in August. That was better than the previous two months, when job growth essentially stalled. But it fell short of the 200,000 jobs per month that most economists consider the minimum for strong employment growth. President Bush and Senator Kerry hit the campaign trail right after the Republican convention ended last night. They stumped in four battleground states today, where the loss of jobs has been an issue. And they both seized on the latest job numbers to make very different arguments about the economy. Our White House correspondent Terry Moran is with Mr. Bush in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Terry, what was the Bush take on jobs today?"
October 8: ABC's World News Tonight led with the employment numbers. Betsy Stark contended that "economists generally agree, this was another surprisingly weak jobs report." Stark rued: "What troubled economists is that September marked the fourth straight month of anemic gains."
November 5. Peter Jennings teased: "On World News Tonight, good news about the economy: The strongest job numbers in seven months."
Jennings led: "Good evening, everyone. The Bush administration waited for a long time to get some encouraging news about the economy. They got it today. The government reports that 337,000 jobs were added to the economy in October. That is the highest number in seven months. The numbers exceed what economists had predicted. So, after a dismal few months, there is finally reassuring news for many Americans. Here's ABC's Betsy Stark."
Stark: "The October surprise for the economy was a job market that finally ignited, even with oil prices at $55 a barrel...."
-- CBS Evening News, September 3. John Roberts checked in from the campaign trail: "It was just the boost President Bush was looking for as he launched his drive through the battleground states: News that in August the economy added jobs for the 12th straight month."
Bush at a rally: "The national unemployment rate is down to 5.4 percent. That's nearly a full point below the rate last summer."
Roberts: "What the President didn't say was that the employment numbers in August again fell short of expectations, and it is now certain he will end his first term as the first President since the Great Depression to lose jobs on his watch."
Harry Holzer, Urban Institute: "There will be a net job loss in the private sector of well over a million jobs. That can't be reversed at this point."
Roberts: "And the situation is worse than it seems. While the President touts the results of his economic recovery plan-"
Bush: "We have added 1.7 million jobs."
Roberts: "-job creation hasn't kept up with population growth. By that measure, experts say, he is several million more jobs in the hole...."
October 8. "Tonight, where are the jobs?", Dan Rather demanded at the top of the CBS Evening News before driving home the political implications: "A disappointing report on the economy is out just weeks before the election." Rather asserted, in setting up his lead story, that "what's troubling is the number of jobs the economy did and did not create. CBS's Anthony Mason reports it's far fewer than expected, far fewer than needed." Mason relayed how an economist who "likens the latest jobs numbers to a bloop single in the bottom of the ninth when your team is way behind. They might offer some hope, he says, but they're not going to win the game." Introducing a second story, Rather stressed: "It's the first net job loss on a President's watch since Herbert Hoover during the Great Depression of the 1930s."
November 5. Dan Rather teased: "The U.S. economy picks up some steam: Hiring jumps sharply. Wall Street's up, too. What's going on?"
Rather soon explained: "In this country, the jobs picture is improving. While the official overall unemployment rate edged up a tenth of a point last month to 5.5 percent, the economy cranked out a surprisingly strong number of new jobs. With that news, Wall Street, already ahead eight straight sessions, made it nine today. CBS's Anthony Mason has the latest on jobs and the U.S. economy."
Mason: "The pace of hiring hit its highest level in six months as the U.S. economy created more than 330,000 new jobs in October...."
-- NBC Nightly News, September 3. Anchor Brian Williams made a vague note about how "the numbers for June and July were revised upward," though he at least reported how "the unemployment rate ticked down a tenth of a point to 5.4 percent." David Gregory relayed how "Mr. Bush argued his tax cuts have led to the creation of 1.7 million jobs since last summer," but Gregory countered "that's far shy of the 2.6 million jobs the administration promised this year alone."
October 8. Tom Brokaw: "Employers' payrolls grew by 96,000 in September. That's much weaker than analysts had expected. The nation's unemployment rate held steady at 5.4 percent last month as more than 200,000 job seekers dropped out of the labor pool. Both campaigns today were trying to put their own spin on the numbers as they get ready for tonight's debate."
November 5. Brokaw teased: "Jobs: A strong report from the government about new ones. Even the experts were surprised."
Brokaw made it his lead story: "Good evening. The good news for President Bush just keeps piling up this week. Three days after his election, a big jump in new jobs in the country. Employers went on a hiring spree last month -- 337,000 new jobs were added to the country's payrolls in October. That's the biggest gain in seven months. At the same time, the unemployment rate, however, ticked up a tenth of a point to 5.5 percent. That's because more discouraged job seekers went back into the labor market looking for work. But, overall, economists were pleasantly surprised by the job numbers. And, as a result, they are now revising their outlook for the economy on a number of fronts."
For CyberAlert's rundown of September 3 coverage: www.mediaresearch.org
For CyberAlert's rundown of October 8 coverage: www.mediaresearch.org
-- Brent Baker
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