Mike Bates

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Today on the Chicago Tribune's front page, above the fold, is the headline "Pricey gas seen as good, in a way."  The story also appears on the Los Angeles Times's Web site with the title "Gas prices' jump attests to upbeat economy."  Yes, happy days are here again and much of the mainstream media are feeling glad all over, hoping the purported much-improved economy will enhance President Barack Obama's re-election bid.  The article notes:

The U.S. recovery has solidified through the fall and so far this year, as shown by strong job reports and last week's news of 1.1% increase in retail sales in February.

Posted on the Chicago Sun-Times's Web site today is "The rise and fall of Rod Blagojevich," written by Carol Marin, the newspaper's political columnist.  Illinois's former Democratic governor is heading to the Federal pen this week, and Marin writes "he had surrounded himself with con men and creeps."  She names a few, most notably convicted influence peddler Tony Rezko.  She ignores a man who had a substantial role in elevating Blagojevich to the governor's office, Barack Obama.

In a 2008 New Yorker accounting, Ryan Lizza wrote:

On the Chicago Tribune's Web site and in its print edition today, columnist Clarence Page asks hopefully "Could this be the end of Limbaugh?"  

Seizing on the usual Democratic points regarding Rush Limbaugh's comments about law student Sandra Fluke, Page writes that Limbaugh wasn't suspended, "despite his breathtaking assault against a private citizen whose only crime, after all, was to testify before a congressional committee hearing in support of mandatory health insurance for contraception."

Saturday morning, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) appeared alongside Rev. Jesse Jackson on his weekly Rainbow PUSH program, prior to her endorsement of Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) in this month's Democratic primary.  The Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, WLS AM, and the local affiliates of NBC and ABC all covered the the event.

Moments after saying it's "a badge of honor" for President Barack Obama to be known as the food stamp president, Pelosi made an incredible assertion (video here):   

Weeks ago, Jesse Jackson accused GOP presidential candidate of "name calling" for referring to President Barack Obama as the "best food-stamp president in American history."  But Saturday morning at his Rainbow PUSH forum, broadcast nationally on the Word Network, Jackson appears to have decided that being characterized that way isn't so bad after all.

As he often does, Jackson directed (video here) the audience to repeat his words of wisdom on the subject:

Yesterday, NewsBuster Kyle Drennen detailed how NBC Today co-host Ann Curry fretted about the latest Kennedy scandal's impact on Caroline Kennedy.  "What about Caroline, who is still alive? " she asked John F. Kennedy mistress Mimi Alford.

Last night on Fox Chicago News, anchor Bob Sirott picked up on the same theme in his "One More Thing" opinion segment:

I wonder if she (Alford) feels guilty now about how President Kennedy's only living child Caroline might feel about her story?

Just a guess, but I imagine the daughter, now older than her father was when he died, didn't go into a state of shock.  Yet the mainstream media worry about her as though she were a teenager, like Alford was when the 45-year-old Kennedy took her virginity. 

It was a routine Saturday morning at Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow PUSH forum, broadcast nationally on the Word Network.  He was all over the map.  Jackson trashed Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater, Newt Gingrich, and Mitt Romney.  He warned that enterprises such as black funeral homes and black insurance companies are “under attack.”  He condemned a proposed change in Grammy Award classifications.  Jackson also spoke out against Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who, he said, “did the ultimate insult.  She put her finger in his (President Barack Obama) face.”  Jackson wants people to call and complain (video here):

On the Chicago Tribune's Web site today, columnist Clarence Page writes of "The umbrage card trick."  Page lights into GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich for assorted misdeeds, one of which is calling Barack Obama a "food stamp president":

On yesterday's CNN Saturday Morning News, business correspondent Alison Kosik reported on Verizon Wireless's reversal of a day-old plan to charge some customers a $2 bill-paying fee.  Citing recent about-faces by Bank of America and Netflix, Kosik concluded:

Now, there's no direct connection here, but I can't help but believe that the outrage that we witnessed in the Occupy movement around the country has encouraged consumers to band together and protest what they see as unfair.
The Verizon Wireless fee fight is another example of the growing power of U.S. consumers, especially when they take their case to the internet.

Like others in the mainstream media, Kosik seems determined to credit the Occupy movement with some positive accomplishment regardless of reality.  Forget all the crimes, disturbances, threats, and associated costs emanating from the malcontents with no discernable agenda other than taking someone else's money.  Their motives are pure and, although the media can't identify a direct connection between their often contemptible behavior and consumer empowerment, people like Kosik will say she believes there is one.

There's good economic news today, at least for those who only scan headlines.  On USA Today's Web site, the headline is "Weekly jobless claims at lowest level in over 3 years."  Oh, happy day!  The president's stimulus is finally working.  But if you read the Associated Press story under the headline, the news isn't quite so sanguine:

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits rose last week after three straight weeks of declines to a level consistent with a modest pick-up in hiring.

On yesterday's Rainbow PUSH Saturday Morning Forum, broadcast nationally on the Word Network, Jesse Jackson spoke of Christmas.  The activist, 1984 and 1988 Democratic presidential candidate, and former Clinton spiritual adviser told (video here) of "non-Christian" merchants who "use Jesus to lure you in to Santa Claus's birthday party."  Here's what he said:

This morning the Chicago Tribune carries an Associated Press story headlined "Racine alderman is charged assaulting woman." 

The piece begins:

On the Chicago Tribune's Web site today appears Breaking News with the headline "Corruption sentencing delayed for Rezko, fundraiser for Blagojevich."  Tony Rezko, convicted on corruption charges, did indeed raise money for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-IL).  More significantly, however, he also raised many dollars for President Barack Obama in Obama's earlier political contests.

From a March 15, 2008 Tribune article:

Trying to put his past with Antoin "Tony" Rezko behind him, presidential candidate Barack Obama on Friday said he never thought the now indicted Chicago businessman would try to take advantage of him because his old friend had never asked for a political favor.

But in a 90-minute interview with Tribune reporters and editors, Obama disclosed that Rezko had raised more for Obama's earlier political campaigns than previously known, gathering as much as $250,000 for the first three offices he sought.

Forget those polls.  In the mainstream media, there's always good news for President Barack Obama.  So it is on the Minneapolis StarTribune's Web site.  An Associated Press article appears under the headline "Voters weathering economic downturn sticking with Obama — because they like him" and includes this heartening news:

People who have lost their jobs or homes during Obama's presidency nonetheless say they want him to succeed and, what's more, they're working to help re-elect him because of the affinity they feel for him.

And how did the AP arrive at this conclusion in its 31-paragraph story?  They talked to people, that's how.  Specifically, the article includes quotes from two, count'em, two women who have lost their jobs, one woman who has lost her house, and one woman who has a law degree but "cobbles together work as a caterer, cake decorator and office manager."  The AP supplemented its exhaustive research by talking to a few Democratic operatives, to assure an objective and complete analysis no doubt. 

In recent years, various media outlets have established self-styled truth squads to "fact check"  politicians.  Today on CNN Newsroom anchored by Brooke Baldwin, correspondent Tom Foreman examined statements made at last night's GOP presidential candidate debate.  One was former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's criticism of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s support for a law allowing children of illegal immigrants to qualify for in-state tuition at public universities and colleges.  Romney said: "Four years of college, almost $100,000 discount if you're an illegal alien to go to the University of Texas. If you're a United States citizen you have to pay $100,000 more."
Foreman's verdict was that Romney's assertion was correct, but faulted him because he didn't mention other states have similar programs:

FOREMAN: If you were an out of state student, you would pay an additional around $23,000 to go there, so over four years that, would add up to about $100,000 break as an in-state student. What he doesn't mention, however is that Texas is not alone. Sure, he wants to punch Rick Perry with this. But California does this, New Mexico does it, Illinois, Nebraska, Kansas, Maryland, I can't remember them all.

On MSNBC's Political Nation Friday evening, host Al Sharpton interviewed Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for The Huffington Post.  They spoke about House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH):

GRIM: So, you`re right, the record that he is amassing is probably one of the most extreme records that a House Speaker has put up in decades.

SHARPTON: Well, based on your last statement, he being probably the most extreme Speaker we`ve seen in decades, should President Obama even bother negotiating with him?

GRIM: No, he probably shouldn`t. He should do the opposite approach.

If these guys really think Boehner is probably the most extreme speaker in recent history, they must have mighty short memories.  Does the name Nancy Pelosi sound familiar, Reverend Al?

Next week, President Obama will unveil his jobs plan.  Details haven't been revealed, but that didn't make a difference today on CNN's American Morning.  Anchor Carol Costello announced the day's "talk back" question and anchors Ali Velshi and Christine Romans promptly chimed in:

Wednesday on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight, Morgan interviewed GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum.  The host spent considerable time on Santorum's views on homosexuality.  Confirming the candidate is a Catholic, Morgan asked if he believes homosexuality is a sin.  Santorum stated he subscribes to his Church's teaching that it is.  Morgan asked how Santorum would react to learning one of his sons is gay and after listening to his response:

MORGAN: I guess one of the reasons it's troubling and difficult for people to come out is because of the level of bigotry that's out there against them. I have to say that your views you espoused on this issue are bordering on bigotry, aren't they?

So an orthodox Roman Catholic who adheres to his faith's determination that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered" borders on bigotry.  Not Morgan, however:

MORGAN: Well, I'm a Catholic, too. I just think, unfortunately, we're in a different era. We're in a modern world. And the fact --

Yesterday on CNN's The Situation Room, the story of President Barack Obama's uncle's arrest on charges of driving under the influence was reported.  Make that Barack Obama's half-uncle, as anchor Wolf Blitzer and correspondent Brian Todd identified him that way at least nine times.  Todd even presented a wall chart detailing "a complicated and very fascinating family tree." 

CNN and Blitzer haven't always emphasized Obama's precise relationship with other relatives.  From The Situation Room of April 12, 2011:

Posted today on the Chicago Tribune's Clout Street blog is the story "GOP attacks Obama bus, but Bush did same," written by Rick Pearson. It begins: