In Washington, many people look to Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales to see how the President's State of the Union went, at least as a televised event. Shales said it was competent, if forgettable. But his opening paragraph was bizarre:
But when Kerry started inventing statistics in his rant against the President’s education policies, preposterously claiming at one point that “53 percent of our children are not graduating from high school,” (in fact, 73.9 percent of incoming freshmen graduate from high school, according to the most recent Department of Education tally) Couric never even blinked -- not even when Kerry haughtily accused Bush of not presenting “the real state of the Union.”
With help from Mr. Baker's blogs, and the kindness of Duran Duran-loving editors at NRO, my overnight analysis of the State of the Union is posted on National Review Online today.
Sometimes, it's interesting to follow the choice of words reporters use and wonder whether they mean to send subtle signals. Yesterday morning, in Bill Plante's report on the "Early Show" on why the State of the Union speech might be important for Bush, David Gergen explained in a soundbite that it could be crucial for maintaining the GOP majority in the next two election cycles.
Liberals hate to be accused of having a pre-9/11 mentality. But how else can you describe it when two leading MSM lights dismiss the war on terror as a political ploy that President Bush has taken to "extremes"?
That's exactly what happened on this morning's Today show. Matt Lauer, conducting a SOTU post-mortem interview of Tom Brokaw, wrote off W's war on terror as a political tactic:
Following the speech, Vargas noted how Bush had offered an “olive branch” to Democrats. That prompted Gibson to again suggest that Bush is more to blame for partisan fighting: "Yes, he did. And you wonder if he had done this four years ago, five years ago, if indeed there might have been greater comity in the city of Washington, greater cooperation in the city than there has been so far through the Bush presidency." Gibson also relayed the odd analysis, from ABC’s political team, that of 62 paragraphs in the speech, “48 could have been given verbatim by President Bill Clinton.” Dr. Tim Johnson, a “single-payer” advocate, complained that on health care Bush “was just...tinkering with the system that is basically broken.”
Of the broadcast networks, ABC uniquely highlighted the Spanish language Democratic response from LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Vargas relayed how he “blamed the Bush administration's, quote, ‘reckless policies for increasing the national debt, the number of uninsured Americans, including 39 percent of Latinos, and the number of failing students and the ranks of the poor.'" As if one Democratic response were not enough. (Transcripts follow.)
In the article, "Sheehan Arrested in House Gallery", CNN.com completely ignored the facts of Cindy Sheehan's meeting with President Bush in June 2004. Instead of reporting Cindy's own words to David Henson, staff writer for the Vacaville Reporter, CNN relied on talking points from Cindy's public relations team.
According to CNN:
It turns out that media coverage of the nation’s economic growth can vary a lot depending on how strong or weak the economy is doing. Strong numbers are downplayed or undermined and weak numbers like the fourth-quarter results are highlighted in some of the major media.
The Commerce Department released the fourth-quarter Gross Domestic Product (“GDP”) January 27, and the 1.1 percent growth was well below the 2.8 percent analysts had predicted. Though the stock market rose by 98 points and the dollar rallied strongly against most other currencies, much of the news was strongly negative. Articles over the weekend had phrases like “The economy slowed to a near crawl in the final quarter of 2005, a listless showing that was the worst in three years,” and “Those numbers suggested that the economy is slowing – and an end is in sight to free spending.”
One of the most bearish reports came from that evening’s “NBC Nightly News.” Reporter Anne Thompson began her segment in a similar vein:
What do you get when you cross a so-called editorial cartoonist with a person that hates the Military, Republicans, President Bush and America? If you answered “Ted Rall”, you hit the nail on the head.