September 1, 2010

Look Out Below: Nets’ Evening Newscasts Hit 2nd Straight Collective All-Time Low

EveningNewsLogosHow the once-mighty have fallen. In the midst of covering the performance of the broadcast networks last week, David Bauder at the Associated Press noted the following (HT Kevin Alloca at Media Bistro):

Meanwhile, the NBC, ABC and CBS evening newscasts combined for a dubious record last week: the average of 18.7 million people who watched one of the three shows last week was the smallest audience those three telecasts have reached collectively on record, since the infancy of television, Nielsen said.

During the slow news period of late August, the broadcasts broke their previous record — set just last week.

Little did I know that my post last week (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) also covered a negative record-breaker.

The news actually got worse from there, Media Bistro’s Chris Ariens separately reported:

And not a good sign from the younger viewer department — none of the shows broke the 2 million viewer average in the A25-54 demo. That’s the first time that’s ever happened.

I don’t find the contention by the AP’s Bauder about the “slow news period of late August” very convincing. Political campaigns are already heating up, and family vacation season was mostly over, as the large majority of children were back in school last week. The networks’ collective performance was down almost 8% from a year ago for all viewers, and over 14% in the 25-54 demo.

I think it’s more likely that more and more viewers and news consumers are tuning out because they agree with this sentiment.

It will be interesting to see what if any kind of fall recovery there will be at the Big 3 networks’ evening newscasts.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

WSJ and IBD, on Obama and the End of OIF

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 8:13 am

Both financial papers’ editorial boards made astute observations about the President’s posture and the war’s meaning, one before and one after he spoke last night.

The Wall Street Journal had this to say after the speech (bold is mine):

Oval Office Ambivalence
Obama’s address focused too much on the costs of the Iraq war and not enough on what U.S. troops achieved.

President Obama has often struck us as an ambivalent Commander in Chief, and last night’s 19-minute Oval Office address will do little to change that perception—especially abroad, where an American President’s determination is most carefully parsed.

In announcing the end of “our combat mission” in Iraq, the President sounded the right notes of gratitude to our troops, a continuing “commitment to Iraq’s future,” and even a salute to President George W. Bush, albeit to his predecessor’s patriotism rather than to his most significant achievement, which was persevering as a war leader until our goals were reached.

But to our mind—and we suspect to the foreign ear—he also focused too much on the “huge price” and burdens of the last seven years, rather than on what our troops accomplished, or on the strategic opportunities that their sacrifice now allows. He gave short shrift to Iraq as a potential democratic example in the autocratic Middle East, or as an ally against Iran’s regional ambitions. Nor did he say whether, or even how, our ultimate success in Iraq had informed his own decision to surge troops to Afghanistan.

The problem, of course, is that saluting Bush’s perseverance would require acknowledgment that his courageous 2007 decision to pursue the “surge” strategy when almost everyone in Washington was screaming for withdrawal was correct, worked as David Petraeus predicted, and led to victory. Obama strongly opposed that strategy, even saying, as AP accurately paraphrased (HT Gateway Pundit), “that preventing a potential genocide in Iraq isn’t a good enough reason to keep U.S. forces there.”

Virtually every other Democrat in congressional leadership at the time bitterly opposed the surge strategy, no matter how much Robert Gibbs, the President’s other peeps, and the DNC try to otherwise spin it. It’s on tape, and it’s irrefutable. You guys don’t get to play the “we were all really Cold Warriors” (no you weren’t) game this time.

Investors Business Daily weighed in shortly before the speech with commentary on the cost, financial and otherwise. Then it made what seemed to be a strange turn into discussion of the war’s cost vs. the stimulus:

IBDonOIFandStimulus083110

It might have seemed odd to hit on domestic economic policy before what one would have expected to be an entirely foreign policy-oriented speech, but the folks at IBD were prescient enough to know that this president can’t stay outside of his far-left “progressive” comfort zone for more than about 15 minutes. Sure enough, he didn’t last night, moving into the economy by roughly the 20th paragraph of 28. In doing so, he comes across as less than serious about achieving legitimate success in foreign policy that advances the interest of America and the cause of freedom. In that sense, he’s coming across as he really is.

Your Weekly Rob Portman Counterpoint: Still A Toss-up; Now Rasmussen Says So

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:31 am

This post has been carried forward from last night.

_____________________________________

Rasmussen is the latest to move the Ohio U.S. Senate race to a toss-up

This is happening because Rob Portman won’t address the issues in the June post to which I linked back last week — not because I raised them, but because they are legitimate issues, period.

It’s a toss-up because Rob Portman won’t get out of the comfort zone from which he is currently campaigning. Has anyone asked him how he would have voted on Elena Kagan? If so, I haven’t found it; I’d like to hear otherwise.

It may also be a toss-up because he’s letting others carry out “his” ad strategy. With millions in the bank, why is he letting the U.S. Chamber of Commerce carry the load?

Portman may limp across the finish line, but if it really is close, his chances for higher office, which would appear to be the reason he’s not spending his own money, will be hurt. Aha, maybe I’ve happened onto something that might actually motivate him or his inner circle. Since May, when I brought it up, it seems that nobody has been pushing Portman. Anyone who has played or watched sports knows that you don’t let an outclassed opponent hang around within striking distance of taking a lead. The longer it stays close, the hungrier and more dangerous they become.

Latest Pajamas Media Column (‘It’s the Spending, Stupid’) Is Up

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:20 am

It’s here.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Friday morning (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

The column’s key point is that, despite appearances to the contrary, fiscal 2010′s spending and deficit will come in higher than that of fiscal 2009.

Specifically, on spending, building on info I put together a couple of years ago, here’s the real record (all dollar amounts are in millions):

UncleSamSpendingRecord2001to2010at0810

Last year’s final Monthly Treasury Statement said that “outlays” were $3.520 trillion, while the Congressional Budget Office projects that “outlays” will come in at $3.485 trillion this year. Well, it all depends on what you mean by “outlays.” Go to the column to find out. why spending was really $115 billion lower than reported last year, and will really come in $115 billion higher than reported this year.

“Minor” matter: CBO’s projections say that spending was $3,518 trillion last year vs. the $3.520 trillion noted in the previous paragraph. Hey, what’s $2 billion between friends?

Positivity: Commemorative stamps celebrate Pope’s UK visit and Newman beatification

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:43 am

From London:

Aug 31, 2010 / 03:22 pm

The post office of the Isle of Man, a small independently-governed island near the U.K., issued a set of commemorative stamps this month honoring Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman, along with Pope Benedict XVI. The Pope will officially beatify the English cardinal at the end of his visit to England and Scotland from September 16 to 19.

The stamps were part of a miniature sheet issued on August 11, the 120th anniversary of Cardinal Newman’s death. Since then, the Isle of Man’s department for stamps and coins has been working with the Vatican Post Office to produce additional commemorative materials for the September 19 beatification.

Since Newman’s beatification was originally scheduled to take place at Coventry Airport, the stamps give the original location for the announced ceremony rather than the new site at Cofton Park in Birmingham. Stamp collectors, however, often increase the level of an artifacts’ value to apparent discrepancies of this kind.

Newman is depicted in two photographs, one taken in his residence at the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in 1883, when the cardinal was 82. The other was taken around 1866, just over two decades after his conversion from Anglicanism and reception into the Catholic Church. The photograph of Pope Benedict XVI was taken during a General Audience in St. Peter’s Square on June 10, 2009.

Among the materials to be produced jointly by the Isle of Man Post Office and the Vatican, will be a special welcome message to the Pope from Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Scotland and Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster.

Announcing the stamps in a press conference earlier this summer, Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham said that they “highlight the importance” of the “first time a Pope has been welcomed to the United Kingdom on a State Visit.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.