Forget the basics of supply and demand, just find someone to blame.

As Congress takes new aim at speculators for the high price of gasoline, some media reports seem to be following suit. But as The Biz Flog explains this week, there is considerable debate over whether speculators should be blamed for the high cost of oil.

June 23, the same day Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee condemned oil speculators, the "CBS Evening News" and ABC's "World News" blamed oil speculation for a large chunk of the spike in prices.

"There's no doubt speculation plays a role in the skyrocketing price, but how much?" ABC correspondent Ryan Owens said June 23. "Experts say if it were just simple supply and demand a barrel would cost $75. Today it closed north of $135."

Scott Horsley explained oil speculation on June 29 for National Public Radio's "All Things Considered," where he pointed out that there have always been financial players in the oil market and there is still a debate over what influence they really have.



Mass murder in real concentration camps in the Soviet Union are ancient history to National Public Radio, but the cause of poor, blacklisted communists in Hollywood charging America was a concentration camp is still a fresh and poignant soundbite. On the June 17 edition of All Things Considered, anchor Melissa Block championed a forthcoming new documentary about communist screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, made by Peter Askin and Trumbo’s son Christopher and featuring big celebrities like Michael Douglas.



On Sunday, I mentioned that the Saturday night version of NPR’s All Things Considered was a pacifist’s dream. It was also a Bush-basher’s delight. Leftist actor John Cusack explained his new anti-war comedy (read: the next box office flop) this way: "The ideology behind this war is so radical and it's so destroying the country that I think a somber serious take on it would just add to the sense of depression and inevitable doom that this administration has unleashed on the country."

Cusack added War Inc. was Bush-inspired: "And the argument of the Bush administration is that there's nothing, no function of state, there's no national interest that is not a corporate interest. Everything is to be privatized, everything is to be -- the core function of government is to create the optimal conditions for a feeding frenzy."

It’s probably a good thing Cusack didn’t try to argue the Bush administration lied its way into war, since Cusack charmed and tickled his NPR interviewer by explaining how they basically lied to major companies seeking to use their corporate logos for mockery by filing innocuous requests, not telling the Financial Times, for example, that their logo was going to be put on the side of a tank for laughs.



Saturday night’s All Things Considered on National Public Radio came to an overtly pacifist conclusion. Substitute host Guy Raz (an NPR Defense Department correspondent) conducted a seven-minute interview with John Cusack on his satirical anti-war, anti-Bush film "War Inc.", and Cusack predictably denounced the war and Bush as absurd. Then came a six-minute interview with a smitten John Lennon fan who’s hoping to make a half-million dollars auctioning the original hand-written lyrics to "Give Peace a Chance," since she was there in Montreal for the original "bed-in" protest that produced the anthem. Then, as the music continued, Raz unloaded a little editorial.

Raz decided to read from Dwight Eisenhower, a "man who knew war better than most," on the need for peace: "I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of their way and let them have it."



As part of their post-mortem for the zombified Hillary Clinton campaign, National Public Radio is blaming the media (including talk-radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, and Fox's Neil Cavuto and Bill Kristol) for demeaning Hillary Clinton "pioneering candidacy" with sexist coverage during her race for the White House.



In all the brouhaha last week over the incendiary comments made by Barack Obama's pastor the media seemed to forget to partake in their traditional Holy Week Christian-bashing excercise.  There were a few entries in the "Easter Hit Parade," like the Comedy Central show "Root of All Evil" which my boss, Brent Bozell, wrote about in a column recently, and an episode of "Law and Order" which featured another Christian-stones-someone storyline.

I suppose it's good news that there was less faith flagellation courtesy of the liberal media, and yet at the same time it's sad that I was expecting to find it at Easter time.  But the fact remains that Christmas and Easter are generally times when the media attacks on Christians are more pronounced.

For atheists it's a different story.



Did Hillary’s misty talk of how much she loved America and wanted to reverse the Bush administration help her win in New Hampshire? NPR’s All Things Considered on Wednesday night went looking for women voters who were moved. Co-anchor Melissa Block interviewed three Hillary voters in Manchester: "Do you think that the polls underestimated women here?" One said: "I think they really, really did.



On NPR’s evening newscast All Things Considered on Tuesday night, anchor Melissa Block talked to primary voters in Milford, New Hampshire, and the liberal ones were very expressive. One touted Hillary as "Mother Earth...a mother to take care of the country," and another broke down into tears at the similarities in the hopes inspired by Barack Obama and John F. Kennedy. She began with Steven Shaheen, making no effort to confirm or deny whether he was related to former New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen:



The Laura Ingraham radio show began Wednesday morning with a red-hot burst of outrage at yesterday's National Public Radio debate with the Democratic presidential candidates. She called it "an underreported treasure trove of idiocy" and said the broadcast completely lived up the boutique-liberal NPR stereotype -- which is why it was underreported by the rest of the media.



Back in March, liberals tried to make a major controversy out of Rush Limbaugh’s parody of Al Sharpton singing "Barack the Magic Negro" (to the tune of "Puff the Magic Dragon") even though it borrowed the "magic negro" term from a black writer in the Los Angeles Times. Critics thought it was racist and made Sharpton sound like an idiot. One blogger called for station managers to drop Limbaugh and this "worst kind of vile, demeaning garbage." It even became a news story on NBC.

But what about when the left does a similar kind of satire against Clarence Thomas – and on National Public Radio, no less? On October 1, the first day of the Supreme Court’s new term, NPR’s All Things Considered aired a parody by Bruce Kluger and David Slavin, using ethnic and racial stereotyping for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Antonin Scalia, and Thomas. Scalia is pitched as the Godfather (complete with notes from the "Godfather" soundtrack) and Thomas is mocked as Scalia’s goon, who repeats everything Scalia says and even calls him "Boss." Fake Thomas also seems well-versed in the signals of public-restroom sex. (You have to hear it to believe it. Audio here.)



News people often hedge on the accuracy of the existence of God, but National Public Radio showed an ease in declaring they were in the presence of a "goddess" (no quote marks for her) on Thursday's All Things Considered newscast. The "feminine divine" in question was 9-year-old Sajani Shakya. Anchor Michele Norris proclaimed "she is a goddess, or Kumari, venerated as a deity in the Kathmandu valley of Nepal," who was visiting Washington as part of the Silverdocs film festival.



It has been over three weeks since the fundamental claim of the "Food Stamp Challenge" was debunked, first by Mona Charen in her syndicated column, then in more detail by yours truly (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog). Yet the "Food Stamp Challenge" has spread.

As noted in this NPR report from April 23, it all started in Oregon. That state's governor, Ted Kulongoski, joined in and put on quite a show, getting plenty of Old Media attention (Associated Press; New York Times [may require free registration]) as he tried to buy a week's worth of groceries with $21, because that was said to be what "the state’s average food stamp recipient spends weekly on groceries."

The Challenge's claim that the average Food Stamp recipient's benefit of $21 per person per week is all that beneficiaries have available for purchasing food is incorrect, as anyone visiting the USDA's web site could have learned very easily.

As I noted in late April, the Food Stamp Program’s "Fact Sheet on Resources, Income and Benefits" provides a table of "Maximum Monthly Allotments" (i.e., benefits), and says the following about benefit levels (bold is mine; I converted the Monthly Allotments to weekly allotments per person by dividing by the average number of weeks in a month [4.345], and then by the number of people):