May 11, 2010

Big Three Nets’ Evening News Dives Deepen

NBCABCCBSchartGraphicFive weeks ago (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the Big Three Networks’ combined evening news audiences dropped to below 20 million — an audience about 5% less than what Matt Drudge in the summer of 2006 headlined as “TV’s Lowest Week.”

Three weeks ago (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), their combined audience came in at 19.61 million, down over 12% from the previous year.

For the week of May 3, the combined total fell further, to the point where they’re one more really bad week away from hitting an all-time low — a low that was “achieved” in mid-June of last year (Source — Media Bistro, week of May 3, 2010; week of May 4, 2009):

BigThreeNetsRatings050310v050409

The combined total audience is less than 2% higher than the 19.06 million of June 15, 2009. The 25-54 demo audience is less than 200,000 above that same week.

Those who properly point out that the audience figures cited here are much larger than seen on cable news networks can take some comfort and solace in the following:

  • Just 10 years ago, the nets’ evening news audience was about 12 million larger in a country with a population that was about 9% smaller.
  • At this point, it’s likely that many people who continue to watch these shows, other than the brave souls at the Media Research Center who do it so the rest of us don’t have to, are lost causes to conservatism. Otherwise, they couldn’t bear sitting through what Brian, Diane, and Katie constantly feed them. The fact that their numbers are shrinking may mean that more people are open to sensible conservative arguments.
  • Though it’s difficult to gauge, it seems that right and center-right new media outlets are gathering a bit of a head of steam compared to the leftist counterparts.

Anyway, the regularly scheduled summer viewing slump is only a month away. Two words: Faster please.

Former Car Czar Rattner’s Creative Term For Fibbing: ‘Elasticized the Reality of Things’

RattnerInDetroitForFed051010If a conservative or Republican uttered the nonsense to be revealed shortly, we’d justifiably never hear the end of it on the late-night comedy shows and elsewhere. As it is, former car czar Steve Rattner’s “creative” term for fibbing has and probably will continue to get little coverage outside of Detroit.

Rattner’s risible rendition of reality spewed forth before he spoke at a Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago-Detroit District conference. Here are excerpts from the coverage by the Detroit News’s Robert Snell (HT Laura Ingraham), with help from David “I think Toyota bragged about avoiding safety recalls, so they did” Shepardson (bolds are mine):

General Motors Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Ed Whitacre may have stretched the truth in a commercial saying the automaker had repaid its federal obligations, former autos czar Steve Rattner said today.

GM “may have slightly elasticized the reality of things,” Rattner told reporters ahead of a speech today.

But he also praised Whitacre. “We should all wake up and thank God we have him. The guy’s a hero,” Rattner said.

Rattner said GM has signaled to the market that it will report a profit for the first quarter next week.

GM touted its repayment of $6.7 billion in federal loans — but downplayed the fact that the taxpayers are still on the hook for $43 billion in aid that was swapped for a 61 percent majority stake in GM.

Downplayed? How about “didn’t mention”? Anyway, let’s resume:

Rattner, who was President Barack Obama’s auto czar last year, returned to Detroit on Monday a year after Chrysler’s bankruptcy filing, and talked about why the government saved the auto industry.

Rattner, who is writing a book on his work as auto czar due out in October, touted progress that GM and Chrysler have made following the government’s controversial $62 billion bailout.

Funny, the bailout price tag cited by the Time a year ago was “$80 billion and Growing” to a possible $100 billion. What happened? And from what I can tell, Time’s tally doesn’t even include anywhere near all of the potential losses at GMAC, which, at $17.29 billion and counting, is turning into a miniaturized version of the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac sinkhole.

As to GM’s first quarter profit:

  • The thing to watch for is whether it comes from domestic/North American operations or from elsewhere. My guess is “elsewhere.”
  • The company sat on a hoard of cash from the government that overstuffed it so that (it is hoped) it can’t fail again. Tens of millions of dollars in interest income that have nothing to do with the profitability of operations might be what actually puts the company over the top.
  • If GM were a publicly held company (as opposed to a government-owned entity), it couldn’t “signal the market” as described. There is no market for GM stock, as it isn’t traded. The company’s position is that it does us a favor by telling us anything at all about its finances, because as a “private entity,” it doesn’t have to reveal anything.

As to Steve Rattner’s “creative” new term “elasticized”:

  • The Associated Press’s Tom Krisher and Tim Martin didn’t even mention the Whitacre ad controversy, let alone bring up the former car czar’s stretchy word.
  • Relative bit player UPI.com did cover Rattner’s pre-speech statement, and brought out Rattner’s new E-word in its first two paragraphs.
  • The Detroit Free Press’s Brent Snavely and Chris Christoff got to Whitacre’s whoppers in Paragraphs 7 through 9, and did quote Rattner’s use of the E-word.
  • The New York Times has no coverage of Rattner’s appearance, nor does its DealBook Blog.
  • Business Week didn’t bring up the ad matter at all, but did have an interesting quote about the prospect of first-quarter profitability from auto industry consultant Dennis Virag — “Whitacre has come out several times and said GM expects a profit for the year. … He didn’t predict a first- quarter profit, but I don’t believe he would be talking about profits if he didn’t expect to post one.”

Really, Dennis? Whitacre was perfectly willing to talk about a “bailout paid in full” when there wasn’t one.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Lucid, Lickety-Split and Lightning Links (051110, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 9:51 am

Updating the Obama stimulus promise vs. performance chart through April 2010 (HT commenter dscott):

stimulus-vs-unemployment-april-dots

The light blue line is what Team Obama said would happen WITHOUT the stimulus. The dark blue like is what they said would happen WITH the stimulus. The maroon dots represent the actual unemployment rate.

Reality has proven that enacting the stimulus plan was WORSE than doing nothing.

Now the administration is saying that the unemployment rate won’t come down to 8% until the end of 2012.

This means that the unemployment will have stayed ABOVE what the administration says was the worst-case scenario if the stimulus bill passed for almost four years (March 2009 to Dec. 2012).

Heckuva job, Barry.

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From the “What a Guy” Dept., via the New York Daily News (HT BigJournalism.com) –

(Casey) Greenfield is a pretty, ginger-haired, Yale-educated lawyer and writer who last March gave birth to a love child. The baby’s father is married CNN star and best-selling New Yorker writer Jeffrey Toobin.

… He said he was going to leave his wife for her. But, by then, Casey had begun to distrust him. She suspected he had several other mistresses.”

In 2008, when Greenfield became pregnant, and when she told Toobin the news, he offered her “money if she’d have an abortion,” says a source. He also allegedly offered to pay for her to have another child later via a sperm donor.

“When Casey wouldn’t have an abortion, Jeff told her she was going to regret it, that she shouldn’t expect any help from him,” claims another source.

Greenfield underwent a risky DNA test while pregnant, but Toobin didn’t provide his sample and stopped talking to her, according to sources. On the day she gave birth, Greenfield e-mailed Toobin, inviting him to meet his son, Rory. A source says Toobin didn’t reply.

Toobin ultimately cooperated with a DNA test that proved he was Rory’s dad. In February, a Manhattan Family Court judge ordered him to pay child support. When he refused to pay the full amount, say sources, Greenfield’s lawyer threatened to notify his employers and garnish his wages; Toobin then paid up.

Toobin now sees the 13-month-old lookalike heir. “His wife, Amy, comes with them to the park,” says a source.

“The sisterhood” was apparently unavailable for comment.

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An interesting parallel found while reviewing Obama commencement speeches yesterday:

At Michigan on May 1:

ObamaMichigan

At Hampton University on May 9:

ObamaHampton

Spontaneous? Or plants?

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Lickety-Split Links:

This item at the home page of the New York Times and the article behind it are intensely entertaining:

First, there’s the admission: No one currently on the Court has Scalia’s intellectual heft. Savor that.

Second, there’s the fantasy: Scalia’s intellectual heft is based in sensible, Constitution-based conservatism. Without that, no one, regardless of their basic intellectual firepower, can or ever will have Scalia’s intellectual heft.

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The establishment media/Obama administration mission has not been accomplished — “Toyota Posts $2.2 Billion Annual Profit.” Key sentence: “Toyota thwarted a third consecutive year in the red thanks partly to a strong performance in the three months through March.”

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The Associated Press does Absolute Propaganda (“Obama oil response: aggressive as crisis unfolded”) –

The AP review found that the administration – aware of the political scars left on the Bush White House over Katrina – moved early with rescue efforts. Also, the government knew within days that while no leak had been found, the potential for environmental harm existed.

Except for one “little” thing — there is conveniently no reference to the missed opportunity to do a controlled burn anywhere in the AP item. National Contingency Plan documents make it crystal clear that the responsibilities for this type of disaster preparedness and follow-through rest firmly with federal agencies.

This is a tacit admission that the federal response capability has been far less than perfect.

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Lightning Links:

  • Awwww, too bad — “Expect no climate deal this year: Indian minister”
  • A trillion-dollar bailout in Europe. As usual we’re involved, and nobody asked us for permission. “The Fed will provide the ‘full allotment’ of U.S. dollars as needed” — i.e., it has no limits.
  • From Michelle Malkin last week — “Lester Kinsolving: White House press corps pit bull.” Most of the rest are lapdogs.

Positivity: Postmaster General to dedicate Mother Teresa stamp in Sept. 5 ceremony

Filed under: Positivity,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:44 am

From Washington:

May 11, 2010 / 06:35 am

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has announced that the Postmaster General will dedicate its new stamp honoring Mother Teresa on Sept. 5 at a ceremony at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. The U.S. Post Office looks forward to a “very dignified and successful” ceremony, a spokesman said.

In a May 10 phone call, Roy Betts, a community relations manager with the USPS Stamps department, talked with CNA about the dedication of the stamp.

Reporting that the ceremony will take place at 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon, he said that Postmaster General Jack Potter has been confirmed as the dedicating official.

However, nothing more had been planned to his knowledge and he did not know what Catholic officials were planning for the ceremony.

CNA asked about concerns about whether the stamp affects constitutional issues such as the separation of church and state.

Betts acknowledged there had been “a little activity, a little noise” about the issue when the stamp was first announced, but any controversy has since faded.

“In the past month or so, I’ve not received a single call or e-mail or anything about the concerns that others have raised,” he reported.

Initial complaints about the stamp were raised by the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation. People supportive of the Mother Teresa stamp sent a petition with more than 70,000 signatures to the Postmaster General this past February.

“The stamp program recognizes Mother Teresa for her work as a humanitarian. She was a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, she was an honorary U.S. citizen. Her work on behalf of the poor is being recognized. And this honor is being bestowed on her, and it is well deserved.”

According to Betts, the U.S. Postal Service is not violating its own policy on the issue, which forbids singling out a religious organization for honors.

“This is recognition of a humanitarian who is world-renowned,” he explained.

Betts listed several religious figures honored by the USPS, such as a 1961 Mahatma Ghandi stamp and a 1979 stamp honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. …

Go here for the rest of the story.