Sunday, April 24, 2005

Bob Schieffer, Hear Thyself!

This is Bob Schieffer's commentary from the end of "Face the Nation" this morning:

"Finally today, when journalism students ask me to define what news is, I always say it depends on the day it happens and what else is happening. I learned that during the 23 years that I anchored the weekend news. The minor disaster that is the Saturday news lead story may warrant only brief mention during the week when it has to compete for space with a lot more things that are making news. I remember one long ago Sunday when it was so quiet, I could think of no better way to start the newscast than by saying, 'The largest grass fire in the history of Orange County swept through Southern California today.'

Sometimes it's just the opposite. There is so much news that important developments are all but ignored, as it was last week when it was all pope, all the time. There buried in the back pages of the
Washington Post, a story in which Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said the run-away federal deficit was getting out so bad, he expected taxes would have to be raised to bring it into line. To let it go unchecked, he said, would cause the economy to stagnate or, in his words, cause something even worse.

The red ink so out of control we may have to raise taxes? There's been no shortage of Washington bluster and bombast lately, but we haven't heard much about that story, have we? That's the real filibuster here, the way both sides have figured out how to keep changing the subject by pandering to the special interests as they refuse to make the hard choices on taxes and spending necessary to fix the nation's increasingly perilous financial state. Weekend or weekday version, that's the news

Well said, to be sure, and absolutely on target. Wouldn't it be great if he had an "in" with one of those three main network news anchors and could persuade them to start talking about the problem of the deficit, or report about what Greenspan said on Thursday?

Waaaaait a second ...

That's right. Not a word. According to National Journal's "Network Newscasts" feature, following Greenspan's appearance before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday, neither Bob Schieffer at CBS, Brian Williams at NBC nor Elizabeth Vargas at ABC (sitting in for Peter Jennings) said a single word about Greenspan's testimony, not even mentioning this stark warning from the Fed chairman:

"Under existing tax rates and reasonable assumptions about other spending ... projections make clear that the federal budget is on an unsustainable path, in which large deficits result in rising interest rates and ever-growing interest payments that augment deficits in future years." [His entire testimony is available here].

In fact, according to "Network Newscasts," Schieffer has not mentioned the federal budget deficit once on the CBS Nightly News during the entire month of April. Four times so far this month (totaling 5.5 minutes) CBS has covered high gas prices; three times mortgage and tax rates have come up (totaling 3.25 minutes), and aside from that, the economy was not discussed. Do you think maybe it's time for a little bit of journalistic activism? Schieffer and the others shouldn't be waiting for the politicians to start talking about the deficit, they ought to be talking about how they're not talking about it.

Bob, I strongly agree with your conclusions. But you've got the power to do something about it! You say there "isn't time" some nights ... and yet Thursday (the day Greenspan spoke) you took thirty seconds to do a story called "Pair Of Penguins Had To Go Through Airport Security For Flight," and used one minute twenty seconds on "Smoking Chimp Picked Up Habit From Watching Zoo Visitors." If you feel as you say you do about the importance of Greenspan's comments, shouldn't you devote at least as much time on your newscast to them as you give to the profiled penguins or the smoking South African ape?


At 5:48 PM, Blogger EG said...

Everyone knows the economy and the national deficit are less important than Michael Jackson's trial, Paris Hilton's hacked cell phone, the Washington Nationals opening game, and other 'more important' issues. That's why network news viewership is growing!

Can't something so obvious be lost on a group of educated people?

At 6:51 PM, Blogger TRES CEE said...

The only thing that counts to the Major Networks andindeed the Public Broadcasting system, is Money for the North East MegaManiatical Ceos of Mega Corporations which have effectively Swallowed up the World Corporations or Been Swallowed up by European Counterparts and have also simoultaneously been Bought up by Oil Barons in Middle Eastern Oil Producing Countries as well as by European Kingdoms and Owners of oil Corporations, and Is now in Competition with Japanese magnates and Hong Kong Former Citizens who also Own Mega Corporations as well.,

Further the Mega Corporations own NBC, CBS, the Major ones and most Jet Plane Engine Manufacturers and atomic generation Plants as well as those in Europe like Rolls Royce, Siemens, total Of Electronics Manufacturers in Far east as well as In U.S. while many Broadcasts n Public Broadcast Systems is controlled by them as well because they live and work in and around Friends of the Kennedys, the CEO of GE etc and whatever you call CBS or Westinghouse, today, one was a witness at the Trial of the Kennedy Convictee, and the Kerry seems to have been a plant shortly after Vietnam War, when He Boldly Opposes Warin Vietnam started by JFK Kennedy President, Jack, and guess what now Kerry is Forcefully Backed by NBC CBS, by artful seeming Foreplay with Public while Turning Blind Eye to bush if not downright Falsifying Info to Get his Goat, eh what say ou media, Medusa we need a Greek hero or is it Roman to Cut off head of Medusa and give us an independen t Media without Medusan Snakes in every part of Newsdom and Society, eh 32@ clay, belay me bebe arsita,

At 11:49 PM, Anonymous Jaime Frontero said...

tres cee -

Well yes... I'll drink to that, too.

Let's just keep in mind that the paychecks for every single employee in each of the news departments of the major networks is generated by the...

...entertainment division.




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