Tag Archives: CBS

Now it’s just embarassing

CBS CBS oh what happened to CBS (well, we all know, but I like to lament sometimes). Back in the day, the news operations of the networks were considered loss leaders. The best reporting brought the most audience and advertisers liked that. News itself didn’t make money, but it increased viewership numbers which helped the network big time.

Of course those days are over and of course the 22 minute half hour of network news today is little more than a string of press releases followed by a story about a four year old who dialed 911 and saved her mommy and her puppy. Great stuff.

But once in a while they make an effort. And certainly there are still some superb people working for the nets, people like Richard Engel on NBC.

CBS News – once called The Tiffany News Network – decided to do a big serious story about the economy. Here’s Steve Benen at The Washington Monthly (my linker gizmo isn’t working! Wonder what that’s about) :

CBS News sent around a press release yesterday afternoon about a special “In Focus: Debt and Deficit,” hosted by Katie Couric.

The release noted, “With this year’s record-breaking deficit of $1.5 trillion — the biggest ever in U.S. history — and the national debt reaching a whopping $14 trillion, Americans are now faced with making tough choices in order for the country to dig itself out of its national financial mess.”

The press release happened to be wrong. The deficit isn’t $1.5 trillion; it’s $1.29 trillion. The deficit also isn’t “the biggest ever in U.S. history,” neither in real terms nor in percentage of GDP. The national debt hasn’t reached a “whopping $14 trillion” yet, either. All of these errors were in the first paragraph.

WaPo: Editors? Bah humbug.

Here’s a perfect example of the casual use of equivalency in today’s media. Chris Cilizza, a columnist at the Washington Post and a regular on MSNBC, writes about Saturday’s Beckapalooza. He says no one really knows how many attended, saying:

You do know it's all about me, don't you?

“Estimates on the size of the rally have varied widely. According to one commissioned by CBS News, 87,000 people attended the event. Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (R), who also spoke at the event, told a reporter afterward that she thought more than 100,000 people had attended.  Beck said that the crowd was between 300,000 and 650,000, and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), speaking at her own event after the rally, said that no fewer than 1 million people had been in attendance’

From CBS in their own report: “The company AirPhotosLive.com based the attendance on aerial pictures it took over the rally, which stretched from in front of the Lincoln Memorial along the Reflecting Pool to the Washington Monument. . . .  AirPhotosLive.com gave its estimate a margin of error of 9,000, meaning between 78,000 and 96,000 people attended the rally. The photos used to make the estimate were taken at noon Saturday, which is when the company estimated was the rally’s high point.

So what we learned from Chris Cilizza this morning (and passed as perfectly good reporting by the Post’s ‘editors’) is this: crowd size guesses pulled from the a**es of the sponsors carry the same weight as  those arrived at by outside professionals hired by a news organization. Okay.

So, let’s just review. Estimates by Beck et al, as seen by Cilizza, worthy of reporting (at least they weren’t colluding – obviously), were:

Palin – 100,000

Beck – 300,000 – 650,000 (lottsa wiggle room in this one – either one thing or double that one thing. Somewhere in there.)

Bachman –  1 million by jeebus

Howard Kurtz????

Why is Howard Kurtz on CBS Sunday Morning with a verbal essay about politics? (One might indeed ask why is Howard Kurtz.) Howard Kurtz is not good at politics, either reporting it or opining on it.

Why, in his essay, did he illustrate a point about filibusters with video of stuff that was NOT filibusters. Really how hard would it be to do it correctly? This audience notices such things. Contrary to Kurtz’ talking down to it, this is an informed audience.  He also seemed to be attempting a humorous take on the news, which is always welcome ( see Stewart, Jon). Howard Kurtz is not funny.

His beat is the media, media analysis and media criticism. A great job for an independent voice, were he such a thing. The Washington Post and CNN seem to think there is no conflict of interest in having him work for them both. (Ever see him criticize CNN at the Post or the Post at CNN? Of course not.)

And now CBS has invited him in. Charles Kurault RIP is rolling over in his grave.