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Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard that despite the huge growth of the alternative media, including bloggers and talk radio, the mainstream media is still in charge as it remains able to determine the country's "conventional wisdom."

If you’re old enough, you may remember the howls of media protest in the fall of 1981 over a never-adopted bureaucratic rule that would classify ketchup as a vegetable for purposes of calculating the nutritional value of a school lunch. Liberals went into campaign mode, holding up the proposed change as somehow symbolic of the Reagan administration’s lack of concern for the poor.

The October 2, 1981 New York Times provides a window into the media mindset of the time, with a reporter posing this question to President Reagan at a press conference the day before:

A recent report  published by the Gallup Organization stated:

“a majority of U.S. investors continue to describe the current economy as being ‘in a slowdown’ or ‘recession’ as opposed to being ‘in a recovery’ or ‘sustained expansion.’”

Regardless of continuously strong economic reports, such bearish assessments have been regularly portrayed by public opinion polls for several years. During this period, economists and politicians – including the Bush administration – have wondered what is responsible for this disconnect between perception and reality.

A detailed look at how unemployment numbers are shared with the public by mainstream media outlets gives us some clues. The Labor Department on Friday announced very strong employment gains for the month of November. In fact, this was the largest number of job creations since April. However, this news was reported to the public in a fashion that largely downplayed its significance. A 3.2 percent annual increase in wages was characterized as employees “basically treading water.” Although energy prices have been steadily declining since September, jobs market stories included references of this still being a “huge concern.” Other news accounts referred to the unemployment rate being “stuck at 5 percent,” as if a 5 percent unemployment rate is a bad thing, while one cable news outlet told viewers to take the numbers “with a grain of salt.”

The New York Times just can't forgive Mel Gibson for making "Passion of the Christ." Editor-columnist Frank Rich assailed it, most amusingly when he predicted it would be "a flop in America" and rather appallingly when he called it "a joy ride for sadomasochists" and accused Gibson of anti-Semitism.

The forces of NBC, in the persons of Matt Lauer and Barry McCaffrey, launched a major attack on the enemy this morning. No, not on Al-Qaida or the Baathist dead-enders. We're talking of a real MSM enemy: Donald Rumsfeld.

via USA Today:
Pen gun accident kills budding rap singer

The American people continue to maintain skeptical attitudes toward the press and politicians according to a recent survey:

The annual Gallup Poll asking Americans to rate, on a scale of one to five, the honesty and ethical standards of those in 21 professions again placed nurses at the very top with an 82% favorate score. Journalists, U.S. senators and congressmen trailed badly.

Recently I wrote about Law & Order's not-so-subtle agenda on the immigration issue. Now cometh ABC's Boston Legal, a show known for both entertaining and pushing the envelope. Let's start with a portion of the show synopsis on the ABC website:

Vaughn Ververs of the CBS News blog “Public Eye” critiqued a NewsBusters post today concerning a report made by the “CBS Evening News” last night about the former 9/11 commission’s newly released report card on the government’s response to homeland security issues. Ververs apparently asked correspondent Robert Orr and producer Ward Sloane for their opinions on the NewsBusters analysis: “The ‘news’ in the former 9/11 Commission's briefing was not that the U.S. is doing a very few things right, but rather that four years after the attacks, the U.S. government is largely failing in its very expensive $100 billion attempt to prevent another one.”

Although this might indeed be what the mainstream media perceived as the “news” in this briefing, the reality is that there were a total of 41 categories that the former commission graded the government on, and this CBS News report only shared some of the the “D’s” and the “F’s,” while totally ignoring all of the “C’s,” “B’s,” and “A’s” that the government received. Aren’t these grades “news” as well? Shouldn’t the public be informed as to what the government is doing properly to protect them from terrorist attacks, or are only the failures “news?”

Yesterday Lester wrote, "U.S. Allies Oppose Torture, Polls Show", but instead of focusing on the torture poll, the article focuses on American allies that don't want the United States conducting secret interrogations of terror suspects on their soil.

The Tuesday broadcast network evening newscasts jumped on an inconsequential House hearing, which the AP reported was attended by just seven Members of Congress, where five residents of New Orleans hurled charges that racism limited help after Hurricane Katrina. ABC actually led with the hearing as anchor Elizabeth Vargas teased: "On World News Tonight, the angry voices from inside the storm. The victims of Katrina tell Congress they're still not getting help because they are poor and black." Vargas trumpeted the charges: “They were brought in front of Congress today so that the voiceless could be heard. Five people whose lives were torn apart by Hurricane Katrina. Five black people who say that when the hurricane came, for so many like them, race did matter.” One woman asserted: “When we stepped outside, guns were pointed on us. I felt like we were being told to go outside in order to be killed. No one's going to tell me it wasn't a race issue." ABC reporter Linda Douglass acknowledged believability was in question: "Members listened intently but were skeptical of some of the more extreme charges. Like this one, from [Dyan] French [Cole], who insisted someone deliberately flooded poor neighborhoods." She ludicrously alleged: "I have witnesses that they bombed the walls of the levee." Ridiculously, Vargas characterized the hearing as "extraordinary.”

CBS anchor Bob Schieffer championed Dyan French Cole, affectionately known to CBS News as “Mama D,” as he described her as a “key witness” and reminded viewers that CBS’s “John Roberts first reported on her from New Orleans right after the hurricane. And now Congress isn't likely to forget her, either. She gave them an earful today.” CBS viewers won’t have her wackiest and most insidious charge to forget since in nearly an entire story devoted to her rants, Roberts avoided discrediting her by never mentioning her claim about how the levees were “bombed.” Instead, he personally interviewed her and took her allegations seriously: "She testify on whether race played a role in the Hurricane Katrina response." NBC anchor Brian Williams touted how “a special House committee heard emotional testimony from Katrina survivors who insisted racism was a big factor in the government's slow response to the disaster.” Kerry Sanders, who showcased Dyan French Cole, also skipped over her levee “bombing” charge, began: "In New Orleans, according to a Gallup poll, six in ten blacks said if most of Katrina's victims were white, the rescues would have come faster." (Transcripts follow.)

LA Times columnist Joel Stein writes a column called Oy to the World where he ultimately says that he thinks there isn’t a war on Christmas . I find this ironic and also insulting as a Christian because all throughout his commentary he disparages Christians and what we believe.

Yesterday, CBS Early Show co-host Hannah Storm asked White House aide Dan Bartlett about how most Americans think the economy is tanking: "Finally Dan, quickly, I know you came on to talk about the economy today, the President is going to address this today, there are some positive numbers but we have Ame

Business anchors appearance on CBS fraught with pessimistic myths.

Brian Williams has wrapped up his first year anchoring the “NBC Nightly News,” and he is presenting himself as this year’s new face of the TV news kingdom. He’s a knight on a white horse raging against poverty and indifference, especially in the poorer sections of New Orleans after hurricane Katrina.