Over the weekend, poor and biased media reporting, dysfunctional politics, blindly ambitious activism, and economic ignorance fed on each other to produce a phenomenally false narrative that went out to hundreds of thousands if not millions of people. The result not only doesn't pass the smell test; it fails the stench test from a mile away.

The first origins of the activist narrative burst forth during Friday's PBS News Hour, when the network's Betty Ann Bowser opened her report on health care costs with two sentences that belong in the Sloppy Statement Hall of Shame (bold is mine):

Health care spending devoured 17 percent of the entire economy last year, about $2.5 trillion. That's the biggest one-year growth since record-keeping began in 1960, according to projections from the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, this week.


If you don't mind my asking -- What exactly is the "that" to which Ms. Bowser referred?

The liberals inside the taxpayer-funded PBS sandbox know how to keep looking down their noses at their competitors in conservative talk radio and TV. Once again, on Friday night’s NewsHour, the supposedly opposing duo of Mark Shields and David Brooks offered their shared revulsion of any Republican spokesman to the right of Sen.

Remember just a week ago when New York Times columnist David Brooks slammed the likes Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck? Naturally, that led to the left-wing noise machine, and the media which uses that message for show prep, to suggest there was a split in the conservative movement and therefore attempt to marginalize the conservative message.

However, will they be so eager to echo the sentiment of David Brooks in the wake of President Barack Obama's Nobel Prize announcement? On PBS's Oct. 9 "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," the Times columnist had some disparaging words for Obama's award - despite a sentiment from some liberals that those who question it were somehow un-American.

"Well, my first reaction is he should have won all the prizes because he has given speeches about peace, but also he's give economic speeches. He wrote a book - that's literature. He has biological elements within his body. He could win that prize. He could have swept the whole prizes," Brooks said tongue-in-cheek before delivering the knock-out blow. "Now - it's sort of a joke."

In the first few moments after Barack Obama's speech to Congress on Wednesday night, PBS anchor Jim Lehrer turned to his allegedly liberal vs. conservative duo of pundits, Mark Shields and David Brooks. Shields said the speech was terrific, the best speech of his presidency. Brooks said....the speech was terrific, the best speech of his presidency.

President Barack Obama; & Jim Lehrer, PBS Anchor | NewsBusters.orgPBS’s Jim Lehrer forwarded several questions with a clear leftward tilt during an interview with President Obama on his Newshour program on Monday. He urged the executive to “crack heads” to get his health care plan passed, and inquired if “taxing the wealthy” was an option to fund it. Lehrer later pressed Mr. Obama on the “huge profits” being made by “big Wall Street banks.”

The PBS anchor led the interview with a sympathetic question on the president’s slipping poll numbers: “Mr. President, it must have been a little unpleasant for you to wake up this morning to see this headline: ‘Washington Post poll shows Obama slipping on key issues, approval rating on health care falls below 50 percent.’ What’s that mean?”

After the president’s initial answer, Lehrer went right to health care, and hinted that the Democrat’s “reform” plan should be passed with little to no congressional input: “As you know, a lot of the commentary over the weekend was that nothing’s going to happen, getting from here to the final hurdle here, unless you really start cracking some heads, and really say, ‘Hey, this is the Obama plan, this is what I want. So much for what this committee wants and that- what that committee wants. Here’s what I want, and I'm going to push and go.’ Are you ready to do that?”

Michael Jackson’s death offers a reminder that some old TV news encomiums were too gooey, even in their own time.

On Tuesday night, PBS’s NewsHour discussed the Sotomayor nomination with a panel including Jenny Rivera, a former Sotomayor clerk and head of the Center on Latino and Latina Equal Rights. You could hear the latest buzz words on diversity being used. The addition of Latina diversity brings a certain "integrity" to the Supreme Court, which suffers from an "insularity," from being encased in a bubble:

The website of the NewsHour on PBS has a NewsHour Extra for students. Its Extra article by Lizzy Berryman on President Obama’s speech at Notre Dame carried this surprising sentence: "While historically Democrats have been pro-choice, in recent years Democratic candidates have softened their rhetoric. President Obama has defended a woman's right to choose -- but says abortion should be rare and may be restricted."

Considering that candidate Obama pledged to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, scrapping every state abortion restriction, that’s not exactly an accurate picture for students to read. In captions of Presidents Obama and Bush, Obama was merely "pro-choice," while Bush was an "ardent opponent of abortion rights."

The bias was even more obvious at the article’s end, which sought to explain away the new Gallup poll showing a 51-42 chasm in favor of the pro-life position. The article’s subhead painted away the victory: "Polls show Americans are divided on the abortion issue." The actual 51-42 gap is never mentioned:

The defection of Arlen Specter is still drawing stories bashing the Republican Party as too conservative.

Liberal pastor and civil rights leader Joseph Lowery’s strange benediction prayer hoping that one day "white will embrace what is right" wasn’t ignored on the Tuesday night news, but it wasn’t portrayed as at all controversial. CBS skipped over it. But ABC, NBC, and PBS’s NewsHour all featured it, often without interrupting their gauzy promotional tone. Here’s a brief tour of how it unfolded.

ABC: In the first half-hour of a 60-minute World News, Charles Gibson recalled a legend praying:

GIBSON: The Reverend Joseph E Lowery, the legendary civil rights leader, delivered the benediction.

Rev. JOSEPH LOWERY: We ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man and white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.

GIBSON: As hundreds of thousands on the Mall savored what they had just seen.

For at least ten seconds there, it appeared Margaret Warner thought PBS stood for the Palestinian Broadcast Service.

On last night's NewsHour Ms. Warner, whilst interviewing Israel's Ambassador to the United States Sallai Meridor, posed one of the dumbest questions in the long, dumb history of broadcast journalism. 

So banal was her query that there was for nearly five seconds the most pregnant of pauses, broken finally by Ambassador Meridor's bemused and chagrined response.  Which Ms. Warner followed with another question of nearly equal asinine force. 

Ms. Warner was fairly addled throughout (transcript below the fold), but nothing else she said rose quite to the heights of foolishness as did this.  We have edited in after the exchange an earlier statement from Ambassador Meridor that we think pretty much sums it all up.

In today's "You've Got To Be Kidding Me" moment, PBS's Jim Lehrer actually defended the corrupt actions of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich Friday asking his guests, "What's the big deal here?"

I kid you not.

During his discussion with regulars Mark Shields and David Brooks on Friday's "News Hour" the subject of Blago arose, and Lehrer took what has to be considered an absurd position on this issue (video available here with relevant section at 6:00, partial transcript follows, h/t Mike Francesa via NB reader John F.):