J. D. Heyes
April 14, 2013
Most Americans know that the three major broadcast networks – ABC, CBS, and NBC – are well-oiled echo chambers and propaganda arms of the current White House regime, but more are likely to become convinced by this latest example of what I like to call “talking points reporting.”
You may have heard that the U.S. economy is in trouble. In fact, it is continuing to flounder under the policies of Barack Obama (no, it is no longer the “Bush economy”), a fact reflected by the still-anemic job growth (only 88,000 new jobs were created in March, while 495,000 Americans simply dropped out of the workforce completely) [http://www.foxnews.com].
In response to this, our chivalrous president, claiming “solidarity” with struggling workers, announced April 3 that he would take a 5 percent pay cut. While we can debate the impact of that cut – the president lives, eats and travels and the expense of the U.S. taxpayer – the real “story” here is how the three major broadcast networks framed the announcement.
Which is to say, the reporting was virtually identical. From NewsBusters.org:
On Good Morning America, Josh Elliott trumpeted, “[Obama] says he wants to show solidarity with government workers who face a furlough because of budget cuts.”
Over on NBC’s
Over on NBC’sToday, Natalie Morales touted, “In an attempt at solidarity with federal workers feeling the sequester spending cuts, President Obama is giving himself a 5 percent pay cut on his $400,000-a-year salary.” Offering a remarkably similar thought, World News anchor Diane Sawyer rounded up the amount to a year’s total: “That’s $20,000,to show solidarity with government employees who will be furloughed.” In an impressed tone, the host praised, “The White House says Obama will personally write a check to the Treasury.”
There’s more. CBS Evening News‘s Scott Pelley said during his broadcast later in the day, “President Obama will return 5 percent of his salary each month as a show of solidarity with federal workers whose pay was reduced by those recent across-the-board budget cuts.”
NewsBusters.org noted that while the term solidarity wasn’t uttered, well-known Obama fan and co-host of CBS This Morning, after recounting his announcement, gushed, “Thank you, President Obama!”
Remarkably similar, wouldn’t you say?
“Over the last four years, journalists have been parroting Obama’s talking points. Usually, however, they rephrase the words slightly. On Wednesday and Thursday, all three networks somehow settled on ‘solidarity,'” NewsBusters.org noted.
There was at least one voice of sanity among the mainstream media, and it came from – surprisingly – the Washington Post. In a blog post examining Obama’s plan to return $1,700 a month of his annual $400,000 salary to the U.S. Treasury, Lisa Rein and Ed O’Keefe wrote:
Obama cannot claim true solidarity with most federal employees. He has published two best-selling autobiographies and the vast majority of his income comes in the form of royalties. According to tax returns, the president and Michelle Obama made $750,000 in 2011. In the previous year, the couple made $1.8 million and in 2009 they reported an annual income of $5.5 million.
A free press failing to fulfill the role of – a free press
That’s true. It’s tough to be a millionaire and credibly claim “solidarity” with folks making $40,000 to $50,000 a year. And besides, no one is saying it’s not fair for the Obama’s to earn so much (except the Obama’s, who have been pushing class warfare since taking office). Is the president’s gesture postulating or noble? You be the judge.
What’s notable here is the full-court press coverage of the announcement – the similarity in language, the nothing-but-positive tone of the reporting and the obvious favoritism shown to this president by an adoring media that can hardly contain its worship tendencies.
That’s not the role our founders envisioned when they wrote, and states adopted, the First Amendment. A free press, they argued, was needed as a check and balance on government excesses and abuses, policies and laws, as a way to ensure the people were well-informed about what their elected leaders are doing on their behalf.
Talking points reporting is not conducive to this role.
Sources for this article include: