The daily has a big piece on CNBC today, looking at the criticism it's been under in recent days for its previous Wall Street cheerleading, and the way its anchors and pundits have morphed into political talking heads as they unload on the Obama administration.
The Times though, plays dumb in the article about CNBC loud mouth Jim Cramer. Here's how the Times describes his recent behavior:
In recent weeks some have perceived the network to be leading the campaign against President Obama's economic agenda. Mr. Cramer, who calls himself a lifelong Democrat, said last week that the administration's agenda was "destroying the life savings of millions of Americans."
Gee, that doesn't sound so bad, right? In fact, it hardly seems newsworthy. Of course, what the Times politely ignores (no need to embarrass Cramer, after all) is the fact that in recent weeks Cramer has become completely unhinged and has:
repeatedly characterized President Obama and congressional Democrats as Russian communists intent on "rampant wealth destruction," claiming Obama is "taking cues from Lenin" and using terms such as "Bolshevik," "Marx," "comrades," "Soviet," "Winter Palace," and "Politburo" in reference to Democrats.
The Times interviewed Cramer for the article but apparently didn't ask why he was calling the new president a communist. Isn't that pretty much the definition of playing dumb?
This is rich.
CNBC talkers have no problem blaming Obama for the Dow's recent decline, conveniently ignoring months worth of disastrous economic news, over which the new president has had no control. But defensive CNBC anchors and personalities think it's unfair to blame them.
From the NYT article today on CNBC, here's the relevant passage:
When the CNBC anchor Erin Burnett appeared on "Real Time With Bill Maher" on HBO on Friday, Mr. Maher raised a similar issue. "This is the channel that Wall Street watches all day," Mr. Maher said. "I think this is more than a channel; I think it affects what happens on Wall Street. Why didn't anybody there predict what was going to happen?"
Ms. Burnett said that the dot-com bubble was predicted, too. "It's easy to say 'a bubble.' You don't know when it's going to burst," she said, adding that the questions of timing and magnitude were missed by many financial experts. Separately, in a telephone interview Friday, the "Squawk Box" co-host Joe Kernen said of the market turmoil, "Ask yourself whether you really think it's CNBC that caused it, or was it the housing bubble that caused it? I think we know what caused it."
See, CNBC didn't cause the market turmoil, it's the fault of the housing bubble. Except, of course when it's not and CNBC's talkers blame Obama.
Jon Scott, host of Fox News' weekly media analysis program, Fox News Watch, claimed that Vice President Joe Biden's appearance at the AFL-CIO executive council meeting was "closed to the press," adding, "We don't have any idea what he said there." In fact, the White House released a transcript of Biden's AFL-CIO speech, and "a pool of print reporters" reportedly covered the speech at the request of the White House.
As Media Matters recently noted, the idea that Obama's proposed stimulus package might be too small to effectively turn around the economy has been literally ignored by the network news shows over the last month. That, despite the fact lots of prominent economists have argued the government ought to be spending more money to jump-start the economy.
Instead, wed to GOP talking points which claim the stimulus package is too big and too costly, the press has paid very little no attention to the economists' argument.
Well, it turns out Americans also agree with the economists and think the federal government needs to spend more money.
From the recent Newsweek poll [emphasis added]:
Which ONE of the following three statements best describes your opinion of the 800 billion dollar stimulus package recently signed into law by the President...
15[%]: It's the right amount of government spending to help turn the economy around.
40[%]: It's a good start, but more spending will be needed for it to be effective.
37[%]: It won't work and government should NOT be spending money for economic.
Forty percent of Americans think the government needs to spend more stimulus money. But you wont' hear that discussed or covered by the media, which seem content to present just one side--the GOP side--of the stimulus 'debate.'
Echoing a falsehood advanced by numerous media figures, Fox News' Gretchen Carlson falsely claimed that President Obama "pledged that he was going to get rid of all these earmarks." Additionally, an AP article reported that the "$410 billion spending bill includes the kinds of lawmakers' pet projects that Obama pledged as a candidate to eliminate." In fact, Obama actually promised to reform the earmark process and cut wasteful spending.
Chris Wallace allowed Sen. John McCain to falsely claim that, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), "[a]ll of this spending, all of this debt, all of the policies" will, "in the long term, cause us to have a negative ... GDP growth." In fact, CBO has predicted a slight reduction in long-term GDP growth when compared to current projections -- though not enough to result in negative GDP growth -- due to the "crowding-out" effect of the increase in government debt resulting from the economic recovery act.
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On his Fox News program, Sean Hannity falsely claimed that President Obama made a "campaign promise" to allow "no earmarks." Hannity then aired a clip of Obama stating his desire to "ban all earmarks" from the economic recovery package, falsely suggesting that Obama was referring to banning all earmarks in general.
From a particularly dreadful Saturday dispatch:
Every day, the economy is becoming more and more an Obama economy.
As we noted the other day, the latest NBC/WSJ poll found that a strong majority of Americans (66 percent) won't begin to assign to Obama responsibility for the performance of the economy until 2010, and 43 percent won't do so until 2011.
But news outlets like the AP don't care what Americans think. They're assigning Obama responsibility for the economy today because, c'mon, he's already been president for like 50 days, right?
In an AP "analysis," Tom Raum suggested that President Obama is to blame for job losses since he took office -- an argument rejected even by conservative CNBC host and National Review Online economics editor Larry Kudlow.
In the past few days, MSNBC has repeatedly used misleading graphics of the Dow Jones industrial average showing a decline since the beginning of November 2008, suggesting that the drop started with the election of President Obama. In fact, the Dow was on a downward trajectory months before the election, dropping 3,738 points from May 2, 2008, to November 3, 2008.
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Discussing a photo of Michelle Obama at a homeless shelter that featured a man photographing Obama using a cell phone, Rush Limbaugh said, "[T]he homeless and the poor are showing up taking pictures of her with their cell phones." But homeless advocates have stated that cell phones are a "lifeline" for the homeless and noted the importance of having a stable phone number in trying to find jobs.