Following President Bush's Tuesday news conference in which he took responsibility for federal mistakes following the Hurricane Katrina disaster, some news organizations left out the word federal in their reportage, creating the possible impression that Bush had shouldered blame for state and local failures.
National Review’s Stephen Spruiell noticed this later in the day when he spotted a CBSNews.com story which left out the federal. He blogged on it Tuesday and again yesterday after CBS News acknowledged the problem, albeit only on its blog and not in the story itself.
"We could have been more clear higher up in the piece, adding the word federal before government," CBSNews.com director of news and operations Michael Sims is quoted as saying.
He's right, of course, but this episode raises a question about the CBS editorial process since the web story has yet to be fixed (as of this writing), despite the fact that the AP story on which the CBS page was based was changed later in the day. Click here for the first version of the AP report, and here for the revised edition which corrects the record.
As Mark Finklestein noted in his earlier post Today can't seem to stay away from the same old themes.
Matt Lauer opened this morning's Today show first with Ophelia news but quickly got to Bush's falling poll numbers: "Good morning the storm that won't leave. Hurricane Ophelia is battering the North Carolina coast for a second straight day. Damage control. President Bush heads back to the Gulf Coast for a primetime address. Can he turn around those plunging poll numbers?"
This year's national Emmy awards (set to air Sunday night) are scheduled to include a salute to the three anchormen of yesteryear, Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, and Tom Brokaw. Quoting the Hollywood Reporter:
The end of an era in television news will be commemorated during Sunday's Primetime Emmy Awards telecast with a lengthy segment that will pay tribute to the careers of long-serving news anchors Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather and the late Peter Jennings.
Ken Ehrlich, producer of the Primetime Emmy telecast, to be telecast live on CBS, said plans for the salute to the trio of newsmen were in the works long before 40-year ABC News veteran Jennings died in August of lung cancer at age 67. [...]
"These are the guys through whose eyes we've watched the world change," Ehrlich said, noting that the intense news coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina during the past two weeks has only underscored how much the TV news landscape has changed amid the changing of the guard among the Big Three news anchors.
In the week leading up to former FEMA director Mike Brown’s exodus, the media spent a lot of time castigating the president for hiring someone with such poor qualifications. Yet, a video report (to follow) from CNN of all places states that the Democrats had a large hand in this appointment.
Of course, that hasn’t been the media’s position up to this point. Here is an article from this week’s edition of The New Republic:
“By now, the basic contours of Mike Brown's ascendancy to director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (fema) have come to light. Journalists have uncovered that Brown had almost no relevant experience for the position and got hired by fema because he was a longtime friend of George W. Bush's close associate Joe Allbaugh. The story being reported, in other words, is that Brown was a lawyer who ended up with a crucial post in the Bush administration because of rank cronyism.”
“Yet, far from being a caricature, this description, if anything, understates the absurdity of the situation. The real story of Brown's meteoric rise from obscurity is far more disturbing, as well as a good deal more farcical. It's clear that hiring Brown to run fema was an act of gross recklessness, given his utter lack of qualifications for the job. What's less clear is the answer to the question of exactly what, given Brown's real biography, he is qualified to do.”
Is the Reagan Revolution finally coming to an end? “Progressives” like Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift certainly would like to think so. In fact, in a recent op-ed, Eleanor contends that the wake of Katrina is the death knell for such heinous things as tax cuts and smaller government:
“If there’s an upside to Katrina, it’s that the Republican agenda of tax cuts, Social Security privatization and slashing government programs is over. It may be too much to predict an upsurge of progressive government, but the environment and issues of poverty, race and class are back on the nation’s radar screen.”
Of course, never one to suppress an opinion no matter how caustic, Eleanor couldn’t resist giving President Bush a few kicks while he’s down:
As reported here yesterday, the Associated Press thoroughly misrepresented and understated better than expected inflation data that was released by the Labor Department. Today, Reuters botched a report released by the Commerce Department concerning retail sales:
“U.S. retail sales dropped by a larger-than-expected 2.1 percent in August, the sharpest drop in almost four years, after car purchases collapsed from July's near-record level, government data showed on Wednesday.”
Unfortunately, Reuters chose not to inform its readers that the drop in car sales was expected for a number of reasons. First, July was a blowout month for automakers due to huge incentives. Second, August is historically a bad month for the car industry as it prepares to rollout the new model year in September.
Here’s how Bloomberg reported the same data:
CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen vented yesterday on CBSNews.com about how mum John Roberts has been during questioning, refusing to take the bait on hot-button questions posed by liberal senators. But in doing so, Cohen gives away his bias: he'd prefer a Supreme Court justice who believes in judicial activism, rather than judicial restraint:
Transcript continues below. Video available in Windows or Real.
Kyra Phillips: "Now, I've seen Michael Bolton sitting behind the President. Obviously not now, we're looking at different live pictures. Are we going to hear from him? Or have we heard from him?"
Richard Roth: "Well, you may -- you're not going to hear him sing. I think you said Michael Bolton, John Bolton the US ambassador-"
Phillips (embarrassed): "John Bolton. Richard, thank you so much. You're taking me back now to, what, the early '80s? My goodness."
Roth: "Yes, and this ambassador has much shorter hair."
Phillips: "And no relation, right? Maybe we should make that clear."
Roth: "No relation. Though some of his remarks has -- have caused some hair-raising reaction from advocates for some groups...."
Editor & Publisher reports on a cozy little deal made by The Washington Post and The New York Times in which the two MSM giants let each other know in advance what their most important product - the Front Page - will be, every day.
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But all the predictions and simulations before Katrina predicted nothing but water going above the levees, not breaking them.