EppsNet Archive: Media

The Victimized Media

16 Jul 2017 /

In the age of Trump, it’s acceptable for reporters to claim they “never wanted to be part of the story,” while waiting in a green room to go on TV and talk about themselves.

Joe and Mika


Big Losers

27 May 2017 /

I saw this headline on an AP story today — Poor and disabled big losers in Trump budget.

The story includes a photo of the budget (see below), so I think it’s safe to say that the AP writer didn’t read the entire thing before announcing who the “big losers” are. He’s just flogging his own agenda. (See also Harvard Study Says Media Are Very Biased Against Donald Trump)

2018 budget

“Trump’s plan for the budget year beginning Oct. 1 makes deep cuts in safety net programs . . .” the story says.

What’s the difference between a “cut” and a “deep cut”? The latter sounds mean and scary. Why not just say something factual like “10 percent cut” or “50 percent cut” and let readers put their own characterization on it?

“Safety net programs” is also a loaded expression.

“Trump’s budget would cut the food stamp program by $191 billion over the next decade.” OK, there’s a factual assertion. But the government doesn’t use zero-based budgeting, in which each year’s budget starts at zero and all expenses must be justified for each new period. Government budgeting calls for incremental increases over previous budgets.

For example, if the cost of Program X is budgeted to increase 10 percent per year, and we “cut” it by 5 percent, the cost still goes up 5 percent. We can have budget cuts and more spending at the same time.

So “Trump’s budget would cut the food stamp program by $191 billion over the next decade” actually means something like — I don’t know the actual numbers, but something like “The cost of the food stamp program would have gone up by $800 billion over the next decade but because of the $191 billion ‘cut,’ it will only go up by $609 billion.”

Also — numbers in a federal budget look really big because the US is a big country with a lot of people — 320 million. If you wanted to give every person in the country 5 dollars, you’d need to have more than $1.5 billion on hand to do it.

A small number — 5 bucks — becomes a big number — $1.5 billion — when you project it to a national scale.

Food stamp costs of $191 billion over a decade comes to $19 billion per year. How many people receive food stamps? About 45 million. So $191 billion is only about $400 per person per year.

I saw Elizabeth Warren on YouTube emoting about the budget: Blah blah blah Donald Trump blah blah blah Betsy DeVos blah blah blah …

I could be wrong but I don’t think Elizabeth Warren or fans of Elizabeth Warren really care about people on food stamps, at least not enough to help out of their own pockets. I think they care about having the power to deem things worthy and then make other people pay for them.

Elizabeth Warren didn’t say “I am personally contributing $400 per year and I want all of you who are as outraged about this as I am to contribute $400 per year to make up the difference in the food stamp budget.” What would happen if she did?


Harvard Study Says Media Are Very Biased Against Donald Trump

23 May 2017 /

According to a Harvard University study, the mainstream media are very biased against Donald Trump.

Here’s a chart from the study, showing that the tone of some news outlets is negative in as many as 98% of reports:

Tone of Trump news coverage

I’ve noticed that even our local news station is about 90-10 negative on Trump coverage.

We have to look at the way the media handled Trump before he was elected. How many newspapers in the entire country endorsed Trump for president? I don’t think the number is zero but it has to be very close to zero.

Some newspapers — The Washington Post and New York Times come to mind — were virulently anti-Trump on the editorial page, which bled over into the news coverage.

Every news network except Fox was anti-Trump, the only positive news being that he was most definitely not going to be elected. Well, actually it was that he was definitely not going to be the Republican nominee, and then that he was definitely not going to be president.

The Huffington Post refused to cover Trump at all as part of its political reporting. All Trump news was published in the entertainment section.

And then he was elected president!

So everyone in the media had to either a) recalibrate their self-image from “We are super smart people who knew in advance that Trump would never be president” to “We are the dumbest people in the universe,” or b) commit to spending the next four years (at least) finding ways to say “we told you so,” e.g. “We told you he was a monster,” “We told you he was a moron,” We told you he was crazy,” etc.

Here’s a chart showing the tone of Trump coverage compared to other recent presidents:

Tone of Trump coverage

The media are setting a new standard for unfavorable press coverage of a president. No president in recent history is even close. Note that the media were mostly cheerleaders for President Obama.


Anything Bothering You?

23 May 2017 /
Brushing teeth

“Anything new?” the dental hygienist asks. “Anything bothering you?”

“Oh my god yes,” I reply. “The media coverage of Trump, for one thing.”

“I meant with your teeth,” she says.

“Oh my teeth are fine.”


The Unbearable Whiteness of Liberal Media

17 May 2014 /

Via The American Prospect, a left-leaning publication:

http://prospect.org/article/unbearable-whiteness-liberal-media


Why Aren’t Women Interested in Computer Science?

30 Nov 2013 /
The Big Bang Theory

According to this recently published research paper, women aren’t interested in computer science because of media portrayals like “The Big Bang Theory,” in which technologists are depicted as socially awkward, interested in science fiction and video games and physically unattractive.

If that seems like a compelling line of reasoning, you can read a more complete write-up in this WSJ.com article.

What I’ve never been able to figure out is why people are so interested in why women aren’t interested in computer science . . .


Rara Avis: Female Republicans and Tax-Paying Democrats

30 Aug 2012 /

Here’s a headline from NBC News coverage of the RNC:

Women share their reasons for being at the Republican National Convention

NBC does a lot of editorializing in their “news” coverage.

I propose the following headline for next week’s DNC:

Taxpayers share their reasons for being at the Democratic National Convention


You Don’t Count, You’re Not on TV

16 Feb 2011 /
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

There’s this primary America of freeways and jet flights and TV and movie spectaculars. And people caught up in this primary America seem to go through huge portions of their lives without much consciousness of what’s immediately around them. The media have convinced them that what’s right around them is unimportant. And that’s why they’re lonely. You see it in their faces. First the little flicker of searching, and then when they look at you, you’re just a kind of an object. You don’t count. You’re not what they’re looking for. You’re not on TV.


Fair or Balanced

10 Oct 2010 /
James Randi

What needs changing is the way the media deals with the conflicting claims of science and pseudoscience. You can’t be “fair and balanced.” You can only be fair or balanced. To be fair is to tell the truth; to be balanced is to tell a truth, tell a lie, and then let the public determine which is which — and this, of course, isn’t fair to anyone. People are busy! They have jobs to attend, children to raise, hobbies to pursue. They can’t go out and investigate every last crazy claim. They deserve a media unashamed of telling the best truths it can.


Not in My Backyard

1 Oct 2010 /
Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher (Joe the Plumber) h...

James Taranto on press coverage of President Obama’s Backyard chats:

What’s most telling about these encounters is the absence of fear on the part of the citizens challenging Obama. In October 2008, in his own Ohio neighborhood, “Joe the Plumber” confronted the future president and objected to his tax-hike plans. Obama revealingly replied that he was eager to “spread the wealth around,” and the media pounced–on Joe. He’s not really a plumber! Joe is his middle name! Who knows how history might have been changed if the media had been as aggressive in investigating Obama’s background?

But now, it seems, the lesson of Joe the Plumber has been lost. Citizens feel free to criticize Obama with impunity. The reporters who wrote these stories don’t even mention the names of the critics, much less conduct opposition research against them on Obama’s behalf.


Dying Media

17 Oct 2009 /

It is bizarre that liberals who celebrate the unruly demonstrations of our youth would malign or impugn the motivation of today’s protestors with opposing views.

The mainstream media’s failure to honestly cover last month’s mass demonstration in Washington, D.C. was a disgrace. The focus on anti-Obama placards (which were no worse than the rabid anti-LBJ, anti-Reagan or anti-Bush placards of leftist protests), combined with the grotesque attempt to equate criticism of Obama with racism, simply illustrated why the old guard TV networks and major urban daily newspapers are slowly dying. Only a simpleton would believe what they say.


Welcome to “The Obama Show”

24 Jun 2009 /

During the eight years of the Bush administration, liberal outlets such as the Huffington Post often accused the White House of planting questioners in news conferences to ask preplanned questions. But here was Obama fielding a preplanned question asked by a planted questioner — from the Huffington Post.


Goofus and Gallant

23 Jun 2009 /

President Bush was unreflective and cocky for playing golf amidst serious world events.

President Obama’s “frequent golf outings reflect a cool self-confidence.”


Nut Cases on the Right vs. Nut Cases on the Left

15 Apr 2009 /

Liberalism . . . has been reduced to an elitist set of rhetorical formulas, which posit the working class as passive, mindless victims in desperate need of salvation by the state. Individual rights and free expression, which used to be liberal values, are being gradually subsumed to worship of government power. . . .

For the past 25 years, liberalism has gradually sunk into a soft, soggy, white upper-middle-class style that I often find preposterous and repellent. The nut cases on the right are on the uneducated fringe, but on the left they sport Ivy League degrees. I’m not kidding — there are some real fruitcakes out there, and some of them are writing for major magazines.


Thomas Jefferson on the Financial Meltdown

27 Mar 2009 /

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — If anyone could emerge from the AIG bonus debacle looking good, it could be New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

Thomas Jefferson

Cuomo. KWOH-moh. Italian, I suppose.

I have no personal animosity toward Mr. Cuomo, but despite his favorable write-ups in the press, he is certainly no hero in these matters.

Americans have short memories. Even members of the press — or “the media,” as you now call them — who should provide context and perspective, have short memories.

Set the Wayback Machine to 1995. Bill Clinton is president and Henry Cisneros, the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary, institutes a requirement that 42 percent of the mortgages financed by government-sponsored entities (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac serve low- and moderate-income families.

Things only got worse under Cisneros’ successor, Andrew Cuomo:

Cuomo raised that number to 50 percent and dramatically hiked GSE mandates to buy mortgages in underserved neighborhoods and for the “very-low-income.” Part of the pitch was racial, with Cuomo contending that Fannie and Freddie weren’t granting mortgages to minorities at the same rate as the private market. William Apgar, Cuomo’s top aide, told The Washington Post: “We believe that there are a lot of loans to black Americans that could be safely purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac if these companies were more flexible.”

Hey, I’ve got an idea! Let’s put half of the GSE money into mortgages for very low income black people! And let’s not trouble them for a down payment either:

Fannie also developed a “flexible” product line, providing up to 100 percent financing and requiring borrowers to make as little as a $500 contribution, and bought $13.7 billion of those loans in 2003.

And yet I often hear the ensuing financial meltdown being blamed on “greed” and “the evils of capitalism.”

That was not capitalism; that was government manipulation of the housing market.

Americans have very short memories . . .


A Handful of Editors

18 Nov 2008 /

It used to be that a handful of editors could decide what was news–and what was not. They acted as sort of demigods. If they ran a story, it became news. If they ignored an event, it never happened. Today, editors are losing this power. The Internet, for example, provides access to thousands of new sources that cover things an editor might ignore. And if you aren’t satisfied with that, you can start up your own blog, and cover and comment on the news yourself. Journalists like to think of themselves as watchdogs, but they haven’t always responded well when the public calls them to account.

 

A recent American study reported that many editors and reporters simply do not trust their readers to make good decisions. Let’s be clear about what this means. This is a polite way of saying that these editors and reporters think their readers are too stupid to think for themselves.