Among other things, this serves as a useful reminder that the people who ultimately call the shots in major news organizations are wealthy elites. From Philadelphia magazine:
Though the company teetered on the verge of bankruptcy at the time, this past December Philadelphia Media Holdings awarded bonuses to CEO Brian P. Tierney, vice president of finance Richard Thayer and Daily News publisher Mark Frisby.
PMH board chair Bruce Toll confirmed bonuses of $350,000 for Tierney and $150,000 each for Thayer and Frisby in a phone conversation on Friday. Reached by phone, Frisby told Philadelphia, "The numbers are wrong. But I'm not going to give you a number."
PMH filed for bankruptcy in February. Toll, of the homebuilding Toll Brothers company, confirmed that the PMH board knew the company¹s fiscal situation was dire. "The financial condition of the papers was obviously not good," said Toll. "We knew what was going to happen sooner or later."
So why give out $650,000 in bonuses? "We thought it was deserved," he said. "But we can't get into the details because we're involved in bankruptcy proceedings."
It had earlier been revealed that Tierney received a raise in December, just before Christmas, boosting his pay roughly 40 percent to $850,000. The company initially defended the raise, which was revealed in its bankruptcy filing, by saying that Tierney had taken on extra responsibilities since his initial deal had been struck.
Tierney gave up the raise shortly after it was revealed. Frisby and Thayer simultaneously gave back smaller raises. Now comes news of the bonuses, which were awarded just two months after the company's unions voted to postpone $25-a-week raises for each of its members at the request of PMH.
UPDATE: Atrios has more.
Howard Kurtz continues to act as though Joe Scarborough doesn't exist, so that he can suggest MSNBC is as liberal as FOX is conservative. A couple of months ago, Kurtz went to great lengths to downplay the three hours a day that MSNBC hands Scarborough. Today, he just disappeared Scarborough from a discussion of the cable channel's leanings:
N.Y., N.Y.: Once again, I must take exception to the depiction of MSNBC as left- leaning. Rachel Maddow is certainly a progressive "left" leaner and Olbermann, while appearing left-leaning, is actually a libertarian with personality leanings (i.e. he likes Obama and does not like Bill O'Reilly -- I'm sure you can recall how much he did not like Hillary Clinton who was to Obama's left on many issues). Matthews and Shuster are center right with Matthews having a particular fondness for D.C.'s homegrown insular conventional wisdom as dispatched by folks like Howard Fineman (Morning Joe is big on this, too). I would be delighted if there was a progressive news channel but MSNBC is definitely not that channel.
Howard Kurtz: You're entitled to your view, of course. But one way to measure it is by criticism of the two administrations. Olbermann and Maddow criticized the Bush administration virtually every day, and have clearly been more sympathetic to Obama. Hannity has ripped the Obama administration, and O'Reilly has been skeptical to critical, almost every day, and both were more sympathetic to Bush. The same applies to the vast majority of their guests. And Democratic politicians are far more likely to show up on the two MS shows, and Republicans on the two Fox shows.
Note that the questioner mentioned Morning Joe - but Kurtz, bent on equating MSNBC and FOX, pretended the show didn't exist, and that MSNBC consists solely of Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann.
Howard Kurtz, today:
New York City: I realize you're not the Ombudsman, but you do call yourself "Media Critic," so hoping you'll comment on this one: The Post used a lot of breathless language a while back to announce the scandal over the AIG bonuses was "increasingly blowing back on Obama" and "threatening to derail" the young administration's agenda. But how in the heck does the Post know the Obama White House is paying a stiff political price? The reporters don't (can't?) actually point to anything to suggest "the public" is taking its anger out on Obama, or that the public has decided he's to blame for Wall Street's greed. (Greed the president has, in fact, denounced.). There's no polling data cited, and the article doesn't offer up even anecdotal evidence to suggest Obama's entire agenda is now threatened. I suppose it's just a coincidence that the RNC thinks the exact same thing, right? So... why does this article appear as a "news" story and not in the op-ed section?
LINK: Anger Over Firm Depletes Obama's Political Capital (Post, March 17)
Howard Kurtz: I didn't think the story was opinionated or served up RNC talking points by any means. But I do think it got out a little bit ahead of the available facts.
Anyone want to guess what "I didn't think the story was opinionated ... I do think it got out a little bit ahead of the available facts" means?
This gave us a good chuckle, reading the WashPost's Kurtz. It's in an article about Fox News and Kurtz faithfully goes through the pointless ritual of giving FNC bosses a chance to explain how the entire operation isn't really a GOP movement-driven organization:
Fox executives maintain that the channel's reporting is aggressive but not ideological. Senior Vice President Bill Shine says that "our reporters, people like Major Garrett, have been asking tougher questions" than their rivals, such as scrutinizing efforts to increase White House involvement in the 2010 Census. As for the commentators, Shine says Hannity still has some liberal guests.
Of course, Hannity's longtime liberal co-host, Alan Colmes, recently left the show* so now it's just right-wing Hannity for an hour each weeknight. But an FNC boss claims Hannity still has "some" liberal guests on, so Kurtz types it up.
We just did a three-minute search on Nexis and found Hannity's list of guests for the past week. We couldn't find a single liberal. (A couple of Dems, yes. Liberals? No.) But we did see that Michele Bachmann, Mike Huckabee, Ann Coulter, J.C. Watts, Karl Rove, Hugh Hewitt, Newt Gingrich, Judd Gregg, Dick Morris, (radio nut) Mark Levin, and the WSJ's Stephen Moore appeared on the show.
Maybe when Hannity actually does have "some liberal guests" on his program Kurtz can publish an update.
UPDATE: * Changed original language to indicate Colmes left the show on his own accord.
And that the press, aside from downplaying what have now become routine, gun-related killing sprees that dot the nation, has completely walked away from even raising the issue of gun control in the wake of the rampages?
The latest proof came in the wake of the carnage that unfolded in Carthage, North Carolina, on Sunday when a heavily armed suspect, Robert Stewart, entered a local retirement home and began randomly shooting patients and employees with a high-powered rifle. Eight were killed and three others were wounded before police subdued the man. The local police chief described the killing scene as "unimaginable, horrific, everything you can possible imagine that is bad in this world."
The thin coverage the story has received nationwide has been rather astounding. According to TVeyes.com, in the 24 hours since news broke about the bloody killing spree, it has received just 180 mentions on cable and network television, combined (i.e. ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, CNN Headline News, MSNBC, and NBC.)
By contrast, the flood that didn't materialize as feared in Fargo, North Dakota, over the weekend received nearly 250 mentions during the same time span. So the flood that didn't happen got more coverage than than the killing rampage that left eight people dead in North Carolina.
Also, TV mentions of General Motors in the last 24 hours, prompted by the news its CEO is being forced out, far outnumbered the news mentions of the nursing home killing spree.
As for a discussion of gun control in the wake of the nursing home massacre, forget about it. It never came up on TV. The press has no interest in dissecting our Rampage Nation.
To date, there have been just seven mentions of the story on cable and network news, according to TVeyes.com
Here's the headline on an article in The Hill about purported Obama missteps: "Experts say Obama needs to watch the gaffes"
And here's the 18th paragraph:
The presidential experts don't believe that Obama has been more gaffe-prone than his predecessors. "Most presidents make rookie mistakes because everything they say is going to be newsworthy, and even prominent individuals get surprised by that," West said.
In between, The Hill lists various supposed Obama "gaffes" going back two years. Included among them: "saying that bailed-out businesses shouldn't be going to Las Vegas." The Hill may consider that a "gaffe," but I suspect few Americans want companies that have been bailed out by the government using that tax money to head to Vegas.
The Hill then inadvertently shows that Obama is being held to a higher standard than his Republican predecessors:
Ironically, a tool that Obama keeps at the ready to avoid verbal missteps - the teleprompter - has quickly become a running gag, with a popular blog launched pretending to be the voice of Obama's omnipresent teleprompter. This might not play against a politician, except for the fact that Obama was praised as a great orator on the campaign trail by right and left.
The fact that the same people who would mock Obama for verbal missteps mock him for taking unremarkable steps to avoid them isn't really "ironic" -- it's an indication that Obama is damned if he does, and damned if he doesn't. The Hill continues:
Noting Reagan's reliance on note cards, [Lee] Edwards said the teleprompter was a new factor in presidential assessment. "It's just strange," he said. "We haven't been able to figure out why he's so dependent on it, because he's a really intelligent guy.
So, Ronald Reagan relied on note cards, but it's supposed to be remarkable and inexplicable that Barack Obama uses a teleprompter? Huh? Do Lee Edwards and The Hill think there is some fundamental difference between note cards and a teleprompter?
Finally, would it surprise you to learn that Edwards is the Heritage Foundation's "Distinguished Fellow in Conservative Thought," or that Heritage touts him as "the chief historian of the American conservative movement"?
As long as self-appointed leaders like Andrew Breitbart are in charge of growing the conservative blogosphere, we think we'll be waiting a very long time before the Rightroots stops getting lapped by the liberal Netroots.
Breitbart's latest excuse for why right-wing bloggers remain stuck in neutral is truly priceless. (Hint: somehow it's Media Matters' fault; we're "goons and liars.")
And just some friendly advice, but political movements that get off the ground are rarely fueled by non-stop whining. But maybe Breitbart's pity party will prove to be the exception.
UPDATE: And don't look now Andrew, but the conservative site Riehl Word View is calling your bluff:
Give me a freaking break here, Breitbart. The Right on line doesn't need to be infiltrated. It has long been nurturing the seeds of its own destruction by elevating people who have already swallowed most of the little blue liberal pill of political correctness in a chase for prestige, or cash.
The Left isn't the Right's worst enemy - the Right, more specifically, the sissies and the mostly pedestrian conservative mouthpieces waiting for their next big scoop via the RNC in our midst, are... The Right-side of the blogosphere is a snoozefest just waiting for Big Brother to pat them on the head, toss 'em a quarter and tuck them in.
I'm not surprised, since, for some unknown reason, Pew Research itself seemed determined to botch the results of its own polling data. But now we have Slate pushing the false claim that most Americans wouldn't care if their local newspaper folded. It's part of a larger Slate contrarian piece (surprise!) about how newspapers aren't really that important to democracy.
From Slate's Jack Shafer [emphasis added]:
If you're a big proponent of democracy, you'll be interested to know that a majority of Americans don't care whether their local newspaper lives or dies. A Pew Research Center poll released earlier this month shows that fewer than half of Americans "say that losing their local newspaper would hurt civic life in their community 'a lot.' " Hell, I'll bet that if you put the abolishment of newspapers on the ballot in a lot of cities, it just might pass.
In terms of a majority not caring if their newspaper dies, that's just flat out wrong, and therefore kicks a significant leg out from the Slate argument. As we already noted in detail, what the Pew poll actually found was that a majority of Americans (58%) would care if their newspaper folded: 33% would miss it a "lot," and 25% would miss it "some." That's 58%. And among those polled who called themselves regular newspaper readers, a whopping 80% said they would miss their daily if it folded.
Why are Slate and Pew so determined to misread, and mislead about, those results?
As for Slate's larger point that newspapers aren't important to democracy, Pew found that an overwhelming majority of American rejected that claim: 74% say losing their local newspaper would hurt civic life in their community. (81% among regular newspaper readers.)
Personally, I just don't get this mini-push to claim that readers don't care about newspapers. But please, let's not use phony numbers to prop up the soggy claim.