The Dixie Chicks and their marketing gurus clearly know publicity. They asked themselves: How can we get ourselves featured on the cover of Time and hailed on CBS’s “60 Minutes” just before the new CD comes out? Easy. Trash George W. Bush again.



Harry Smith, co-host of CBS’s "The Early Show," has spent the last few days reporting from Baghdad. On Friday, he reported the security situation was such that he couldn’t go out and get ice cream. But today, he decided to look for a success story. He found one, but he proved that while he can report a bad news story without mentioning any good news, he can’t report a success story without finding negative items to talk about. Reporting from Baghdad, Harry Smith began his piece, which profiled the work of the U.S. Army 4th Infantry Division’s work in the town of Sababor, talking about the violence in Iraq: "Yeah, good morning. I'll tell you what, just an illustration of how much bad news there is here. A friend of mine here in Iraq told me the other day 'the busiest people in this town are the terrorists.'" Later, he talked of a bombing in Sababor which occurred a month ago: "It hasn't been easy. Just a month ago, a bomb here killed 15 people."

And at one point, "The Early Show" co-host appeared surprised to learn that people in Sababor view Americans positively. And Smith seemed even more shocked when one of the boys told him his name was "Bush" after Smith had an apparent James Bond like moment in introducing himself to the boy.

Video clip of exchange between Iraqi kid who called himself "Bush" and Smith (21 seconds): Real (700 KB) or Windows Media (825 KB), plus MP3 audio (125 KB)



Have CBS and Dan Rather had it with each other?



On CBS’s "The Early Show" this morning, co-host Harry Smith reported from Baghdad. However, unlike Dave Price, the "Early Show weatherman who reported on high morale and security progress in Iraq -- his reporting can be seen here and here -- Smith focused on the negative, and even complained that the security situation is so bad that he couldn’t go out and get ice cream.



Networks fixate on tax cuts ‘for the rich’ while ignoring exploding tax revenues.

While Congress hammered out a $70 billion tax-relief bill last week, the media wasted no time spinning it. After the House approved its version on May 10, the “NBC Nightly News” cited “Democratic critics [who said] the overall bill is heavily tilted in favor of the very wealthy.” At roughly the same time, the “CBS Evening News” presented a graphic to its viewers showing “for incomes of $50,000 or less, you’ll average no more than $46 in savings.”

The following day, ABC’s “Good Morning America” team offered a $20 bill to shoppers at a New Jersey mall as a cynical demonstration of how little this tax cut would help some Americans.

All totaled, the broadcast networks did 16 reports on this issue in their three-day blitzkrieg, largely with the same predictable mantra: tax cuts favor the rich. Conspicuously absent was an honest assessment of just how much lower wage earners in America have benefited from the most recent income tax changes, as well as how much the government has benefited from higher tax revenues.


The Truth Hurts
Without question, the best thing government can do for low-income families is not burden them with income taxes. Toward that goal, according to a March 30 report by the Tax Foundation’s Scott Hodge, the percentage of Americans not paying any federal income taxes has exploded in the past few years as a result of recent tax changes:



Speaking in the Headlines and Biographies lecture series at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto, Dan Rather says today's journalists have an "urge to be so polite, this mandate not to offend anyone - anywhere."

Journalists afraid to bash President Bush? That's unlikely. Of course, the president's low approval ratings have more to do with conservatives hating Bush than liberals, and Rather could not possibly understand criticisms of Bush that did not originate from left-wing MSM initiatives.

Reports Canadian Press:

The veteran U.S. television journalist lamented a trend in today's news that sees reporters rely on euphemisms and tact as though they were conducting international diplomacy instead of telling people exactly what is happening in places like Washington or Ottawa.

"I don't know where this urge to be so polite, this mandate not to offend anyone - anywhere, anytime - came from, but in a journalistic sense, I wish it would go away," he said.



As Rich Noyes pointed out yesterday, the morning shows jumped on the "USA Today" story about the NSA having phone records of ordinary Americans. This morning, CBS’s "The Early Show" continued with the coverage, and used the story to revive one of their favorite terms, "Domestic Spying." In covering this story this morning, co-host Harry Smith interviewed Delaware Senator Joe Biden, a critic of the NSA program, and asked softball questions.



Just to get things started on a Friday, "The Early Show" on CBS had a segment on Milwaukee's missing Alexis Patterson, who was something of a cause celebre a few years back for being the barely known black girl that proved the Only Missing White Girls Matter rule. But CBS used graphics for the story with the words "Without A Trace." Repeatedly.

While that may describe the Patterson case, they also ape the title of a hit CBS Thursday night program. What next? What CBS shows lend themselves most easily to cross-promotional graphic word play?



New White House pressec Tony Snow is taking a more aggressive line with the press corps, sending out emails critical of the elite media's coverage.



It was reported on this morning’s "Early Show" on CBS that the Dow Jones Industrial average is on the verge of reaching record highs. CBS correspondent Susan McGinnis went so far as to mention that was are "In a three-year bull market that has some experts predicting a new record could come any day." That raises the question, where has the media been the last three years?



Since Dan Rather left the "CBS Evening News" just over a year ago, the ratings for the show have increased. After years of being a distant third in the ratings race, CBS's nightly program is now battling it out for second place with ABC's "World News Tonight," Matt Drudge reports:



You may want to look fast, but the Democratic National Committee’s website still has a “Republican Culture of Corruption” page, implying that by installing the Democrats back in the congressional majority, we’ll have a virtual monastery of ethical restraint in Washington – with leaders like Patrick Kennedy setting the example.

The Democratic “culture of corruption” charge is taking more of a beating than the traffic barricade that introduced itself to Congressman Kennedy’s car last week. ABC, CBS, and NBC all devoted some serious air time to the story, and the fact that Capitol Police supervisors waved off a sobriety test and protectively took the son of Ted Kennedy home.

It could be argued that by Friday, May 5, the network attention to young Mr. Kennedy was historic. Pundits and academics have spent the last twenty years lamenting that the networks can’t seem to give presidential candidates more than about seven seconds a clip in soundbites. Now ABC gave Kennedy an amazing 60 seconds to read his statement announcing he was returning to the Mayo Clinic for rehabilitation. Even that wasn’t enough for NBC. This network gave him a two-minute soundbite.