September 30, 2008

Big Three Nets’ Evening News Programs Still in Collective Decline

You might think that a presidential election year might give the Big Three networks’ evening newscasts a shot in the arm.

You would be wrong.

Full-year figures released last week and available MediaBistro’s TVNewser showed yet another audience decline.

The comparisons that follow are of the 2007-2008 ratings year just ended (each ratings year begins of fall season premieres) to 2006-2007:

EveningNews2008v2007

NBC’s small pickup is more than wiped out by the audience losses at ABC and CBS.

The first week of the new ratings year was better than the previous week, but the overall downward trend clearly continues, as you can see by comparing it to the two previous years’ averages:

EveningNewsFirstNewWeekVs2008and2007

Viewership should be strongest right now, but it isn’t. NBC’s decline is especially steep, and makes you wonder if the fever-swamp nuttiness of MSNBC is hurting the parent brand.

They”ll say the audience declines are because of competition from alternative media. That’s somewhat valid, but the nets continue to chase their audiences away faster than would otherwise have happened with their relentless bias.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Memo to the ‘Jean Schmidt Is a RINO’ Chorus ….. (UPDATE: Let-Down)

Filed under: Economy,OH-02 US House,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:05 pm

….. uh, not exactly (HT Weapons of Mass Discussion; roll call vote of 205 for and 228 against is here):

Schmidt said she voted against the (bailout) bill because taxpayers need a better deal in which “every penny of their investment” is returned. Also, the bill did nothing to prevent the underlying problems “that caused this mess,” she said.

“If you have a flat tire, you can’t just fill it with air, you have to fix the hole first,” Schmidt said.

Calls to the congresswoman’s office had been running as high as 70 percent against the bailout proposal.

Those who thought she would always vote the GOP leadership’s line, especially when it varies from conservative principles, appear to be in need of a rethink. She didn’t go wobbly on us; I’m sure quite a few expected it.

8th District Congressman, House Republican Leader, and usually Great American John Boehner temporarily wandered yesterday. I look forward to his return shortly.

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UPDATE, Oct. 3 — Unfortunately, in the end, Schmidt joined a few dozen others and wilted, as this BuckeyeRINO post indicates. Very. Disappointing.

US Deaths from Hostile Action in Iraq Hours Away from All-Time Single-Month Low

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,TILTpatBIDHAT,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 8:21 am

UPDATE, Oct. 1, 11:25 p.m.: The final number for deaths from hostile action came in at 8, which ties the previous lows of July 2008 and April 2003.

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This item will likely not make an Old Media splash, because overall US troop deaths in Iraq in September will be higher they were in July and August. But they’re probably not interested anyway.

To be sure, it would be ideal to note that no US soldiers have died.

Nonetheless, with eight hours remaining until the month ends in Iraq, in what would seem to be strong evidence that the gains from the 2007-2008 troop surge are holding, it is good to note that September US troop deaths from hostile action are at an all-time low (Source: icasualties.org; select “Hostile” in the drop-down bar to replicate):

IraqUShostileDeathsHistoryThur0908

Unfortunately, deaths not related to hostilities, at 17, are up compared to previous months.

September’s hostile death result, if it holds, caps a quarter of remarkable improvement. The quarter that is about to end will, without a doubt, show the lowest death toll from hostile action ever — by far (UPDATE, Oct. 1, 11:25 p.m.: The final number for deaths from hostile action came in at 8, causes the three-month total to be 28, still by far an all-time low):

IraqHostileDeaths0908

With the financial industry bailout dominating news coverage, I suspect that the improvements just noted will be downplayed or ignored. They probably would be anyway, given Old Media’s previous track record of ignoring good news from Iraq (two of many examples from NewsBusters, both involving NBC, are here and here). That’s why I put up this post.

Cross-posted at NewsBuster.org.

Matthews Interviews Daughter, Doesn’t Tell Viewers; She Disses Tax Cuts and Calls for ‘Sacrifice’

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:57 am

MatthewsAndDaughter0908The news comes from Media Bistro’s DC Fishbowl, with a twist that the post overlooked:

On Friday’s “Hardball,” Chris Matthews interviewed a number of student members of the group Concerned Youth of America.

One of those students — Caroline — is his daughter, a student at the University of Pennsylvania. Did Matthews disclose that fact as he interviewed her?

Not so much.

One tipster tells FishbowlDC that “Matthews, at the asking of his daughter, instructed the producers not to name her.”

Video is at the link.

Here is what Matthews asked his daughter, and how she answered (bolds are mine):

(at the 0:35 mark)

Chris Matthews: And what happens after the bailout. (The national debt is) $11 trillion, right?

Caroline Matthews: If you keep on spending like this, our generation, in like 20 to 30 years, the debt will get to like 53 trillion dollars.

(at the 1:00 mark)

Chris Matthews: How come politicians don’t talk about this?

Caroline Mathews (away from camera, causing Chris Matthews and cameraman to hastily move to her): Because people aren’t – because it’s not an attractive issue. People want to say – Politicians worry about being voted for, and you know, the people want taxes to be cut, and they want entitlement programs. And that’s how a politician gets elected. They’re not going to get elected by saying we’re going to have to make sacrifices, which is what we’re going to have to do.

FishbowlDC didn’t note that at the very end, Matthews said “her name is Caroline,” and pointed to his daughter. That would appear to contradict his daughter’s stated wish to producers, at least according to FishbowlDC’s tipster.

Mathews should be asked if he used his daughter as a political prop, especially because Caroline mentioned tax cuts as a problem before spending, despite the fact that the financial industry bailout, the topic of the day, is obviously all about spending. Did Matthews coach his daughter beforehand?

The “Our Issue” page at the Concerned Youth for America web site has this to say about the deficit problem:

Debts accumulated to pay for bloated and inefficient entitlement programs and the War in Iraq will have to be paid for not by the current leadership, but by us, the youth of America.

The irresponsible spending policies of today will weaken the American economy if not stopped.

Note that there’s no mention of tax cuts, no claim that taxes are too low, or any mention of the word “sacrifice.”

In fact, I found no mention of tax cuts anywhere on CYA’s site. That’s with good reason. Because of President Bush’s tax cuts, tax receipts grew 44% between fiscal 2003 and fiscal 2007. The national debt situation would be even worse if the cuts had not been enacted.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: UCLA mathematicians discover a 13-million-digit prime number

Filed under: Marvels,Positivity — Tom @ 5:57 am

From Los Angeles: (video here):

UCLA mathematicians appear to have won a $100,000 prize from the Electronic Frontier Foundation for discovering a 13-million-digit prime number that has long been sought by computer users.

While the prize money is nothing special, the bragging rights for discovering the 46th known Mersenne prime are huge.

“We’re delighted,” said UCLA’s Edson Smith, leader of the effort. “Now we’re looking for the next one, despite the odds,” which are thought to be about one in 150,000 that any number tested will be a Mersenne prime.

Prime numbers are those, like three, seven and 11, that are divisible only by themselves and one. Mersenne primes, named after the 17th century French mathematician Marin Mersenne, who discovered them, take the form 2P – 1, where P is also a prime number.

In the new UCLA prime, P = 43,112,609.

Thousands of people around the world have been participating in the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, or GIMPS, in which underused computing power is harnessed to perform the complex and tedious calculations needed to find and verify Mersenne primes. The prize is being offered for finding the first Mersenne prime with more than 10 million digits.

Smith and his UCLA colleagues have, since last fall, harnessed the power of the 75 machines in the university’s Program in Computing/Math Computer Lab, which is used by students for computer projects. Smith, a system administrator, realized that the lab was using only a fraction of its available CPU power. Rather than let it go to waste, he and his colleagues decided to use it for the GIMPS project. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.