Dec 1 2011


December 2011

TV’s Left Is Morgan Stanley, Not Occupy

“We Democrats can’t criticize Republicans for catering to the Tea Party and not say to our Democratic Party, you got to look beyond Occupy and be willing to do what’s in the best interest of the country.”

—Morgan Stanley managing director and former Democratic Rep. Harold Ford, Jr., appearing as the leftmost pundit on Meet the Press (10/23/11)

Retiring as Not Right Enough

Conservative writer/commentator David Frum—who coined the phrase “axis of evil” as a Bush speechwriter—announced he would stop doing left/right debates with Robert Reich for the public radio show Marketplace (10/12/11). Frum’s been critical of the Tea Party’s influence on the Republican Party lately, and that’s made him feel awkward debating from the right:

I think that there’s a kind of expectation that when you do it, that you represent the broad point of view of your half of the political spectrum. And although I consider myself a conservative and a Republican, and I think that the right-hand side of the spectrum has the better answers for the long-term growth of economy—low taxes, restrained government, less regulation—it’s pretty clear that facing the immediate crisis —very intense crisis—I’m just not representing the view of most people who call themselves Republicans and conservatives these days.

It’s nice to think—but hard to imagine—that some of the corporate Democrats who play the left on TV will take a similarly principled stand.

O’Reilly Crunches the Numbers

Decrying “the far-left loons [who] want to spend more,” Fox’s Bill O’Reilly (10/18/11) lays out the


In the year 2007, during the Bush administration, federal deficit spending was $161 billion, despite the Iraq and Afghan wars. Four years later, four years under President Obama, the deficit spending is $1.3 trillion, eight times as much.

2007 was not the last year of George W. Bush’s administration, of course; in Fiscal Year 2008, the federal budget deficit was $459 billion, and it was $1.4 trillion in Fiscal Year 2009 (Wall Street Journal, 10/19/11)—which began in September 2008, based on a budget submitted by Bush in February 2008. So the proper comparison between the deficits in Obama’s most recent budget and Bush’s last budget is not eight times as much—but 93 percent as much.

Funny Numbers on Green Jobs

Writing about the Obama administration’s green-energy program, Newsweek writers Daniel Stone and Eleanor Clift (10/24/11) wrote that

it is clear that the program created far fewer jobs than promised. So-called green-collar jobs are notoriously hard to tally, but numerous estimates by gleeful Republicans put the taxpayer cost of each green-energy job created by the stimulus at more than $1 million.

It’s really hard to figure out the numbers on this—so here’s a figure “gleeful Republicans” like to throw around? Alternatively, Newsweek could have cited the estimate of University of Massachusetts economist Robert Pollin (NPR, 6/13/11), who ran the numbers for the Commerce Department, that each $1 million investment in green energy produces 17 jobs (as compared to five per million for oil/gas investment, or 11 for military spending). For balance, it could have cited the complaint of Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R.-Utah) (New York Times, 9/22/11) that each green job costs $80,000—that is, 12.5 per million dollars.

Good Friends Poison You Cheap

“I think people should be careful what they wish for on China. You know, if China were to revalue its currency, or China is to start making, say, toys that don’t have lead in them, or food that isn’t poisonous, their costs of production are going to go up, and that means prices at Wal-Mart here in the United States are going to go up, too. So I would say China is our greatest friend right now; they’re keeping prices low and they’re keeping the prices for mortgages low, too.”

—Erin Burnett (Hardball, 8/10/07; Crooks & Liars, 8/11/07), now hosting CNN’s OutFront

Deleting Depp

With celebrity news such a staple of local TV news, it was surprising to hear that one media conglomerate, Disney, ordered its local TV affiliates not to cover one celebrity in particular: actor Johnny Depp. According to an item in the Hollywood Reporter (10/22/11), Disney told its local ABC affiliates not to cover Depp’s promotional tour for his new film, The Rum Diary, based on the book by Hunter S. Thompson.

Shelton Green, a reporter for KVUE, ABC’s Houston affiliate, told the Reporter, “Apparently Disney doesn’t want Johnny Depp’s new movie…to get more exposure than his new Pirates of the Caribbean movie. So they wouldn’t allow us to interview him, nor would they even allow us to get video of him, but hundreds of other people did.”

Media giants have long used their news outlets to promote their entertainment products—they call that “synergy.” When you refuse to cover things to help make your entertainment sell better, perhaps that should be known as “censornergy.”

Iraq Finally Learning to Ride Its Bike

Richard Engel on NBC Nightly News (10/21/11), speaking about the end of the Iraq War:

The training wheels off, Iraq will have to succeed or fail without American troops on the ground to guide the way.

By “training wheels,” of course, Engel means eight years of invasion and occupation by the United States. That’s quite a metaphor.

Correction: Fixing wrong call letters for the Houston ABC affiliate–March 8, 2012.