By on February 17, 2009

After watching my local news tonight (and stay tuned for Seinfeld, next, on Fox 5), and the 6th-grade bailout coverage, I’m eager to hear what the mainstream media will say about the bailout plans tomorrow. During GM’s press conference, one intrepid reporter asked “How long will $4 billion last?” and the response was Fritz Henderson having a Coke and a Smile. The bailout itself has taken on such epic persona that it’s tough for the mainstreamers to capture. But it will be difficult, still, for them to understand the intricacies of the hogwash from Chrysler and GM’s reports. I mean, they’re so full of BS that I could do an entire between-the-lines editorial made up of 800 single-word sentences.

To those of you that read this before the morning portion of the 24-Hour Bemuse Cycle: What are they going to botch and how?

To those reading this after it’s covered by the big 3 cable news companies (CoNN; the media wing of the Conservative Party—known as FoxNews; and the alliance of Seattle-Boston-Chicago-New York-Ithaca-Burlington newsies (also known as MSNBC)), what did they say that you found flagrantly offensive and factually incorrect?

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36 Comments on “Late Night Question of the Day: How Will Today’s Bailout Requests Play in the Mainstream Media Tomorrow?...”


  • avatar
    Bridge2far

    “CoNN, the media wing of the Conservative Party — known as FoxNews, and the alliance of Seattle-Boston-Chicago-New York-Ithaca-Burlington newsies (also known as MSNBC), what did they say that you found flagrantly offensive and factually incorrect?”

    I believe you meant to say Clinton News Network and MSLSD. Let’s leave Fox alone as they are the only fair and balanced source of news we have left.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    I only saw a blurb from Fox. Nothing at all insightful. The press no longer really tries to get at the news. Unless someone can make a loud enough stink that the plans are for invisible royal clothing, then the press will be happy to report both sides without doing any actual checking of the facts.

  • avatar
    DanM

    Everyone at this point is so used to trillion-dollar bailout packages, that a mere 4, 8, or 20 Billion to bailout the auto industry will probably be covered similarly to an increase in the price of corn — “The bailout cost increased by 12% this quarter, corn down 7%, milk up 5%, and soybeens even.”

    99% of the world is so jaded that 99.9% of the world will ignore the new bailout news. My prediction: News on the bailout, required funding, and general status of the auto industry will take 2nd bill tomorrow to some other more pedestrian news story — probably the great peanut recall.

  • avatar
    chris123

    Justin, how do you think they are going to cover it? The news networks will find one thing to latch onto, then their talking (screaming) heads will find something to latch onto that proves their point / conforms to their agenda and yell at one another about it; nothing of any consequence will be advanced in the discussion and 90% of america will loose another few brain cells watching that crap.

    Do the executives at the domestics deserve to be dismissed with prejudice for managing their companies into the ground? Yes.

    Does the Union leadership deserve the same for their transgressions? Yes

    Do the thousand of white and blue collar wage-slaves caught in the middle deserve to go down with the ship? Probably not.

    The MSM will wring hands over the numbers of jobs cut, the amount of money involved; they’ll mention something about eco-crap wagons and how they’ll save us all from ourselves and nothing intelligent or constructive will be discussed.

    Time to give up on it all – the 24 hour news cycle has doomed us to life in the echo chamber where pop eats itself and the noise becomes magnified to the point of becoming pointless. The rational voice in the wilderness can no longer cut through. The news only tells us what we want to hear.

    ———

    EDIT – BBC World New leads with “Its worse than anyone thought” but that the White House is in their corner – they’ll do what they can. SAAB, Vauxhall and Opel are SOL.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    It’ll be something about Heath Ledger or other z-graders or maybe Miley Cyrus hasn’t been spotted for 2 minutes, or maybe someone in Florida got their cat cloned in Korea.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    Bridge2far :

    I believe you meant to say Clinton News Network and MSLSD. Let’s leave Fox alone as they are the only fair and balanced source of news we have left.

    Sir, a mirror. Please.

    All the cable news networks are biased, each one is worse than the others, except the others, which are worse. This is why I made fun of all of them…

  • avatar
    Qwerty

    Let’s leave Fox alone as they are the only fair and balanced source of news we have left.

    I cannot tell if this is sarcasm or a joke.

  • avatar
    npbheights

    On MSNBC they are showing ancient stock auto footage while they talk about the numbers of the bailout. GMT800 SUVs and an Oldsmobile Alero driving down a road. Well I guess that’s what GM means to most people.
    It also seems like they enjoy breaking out footage of 1999 Expeditions on the assembly line when talking about Ford.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    “Late Night Question of the Day: How Will Today’s Bailout Requests Play in the Mainstream Media Tomorrow?”

    Poorly. Probably with a lot of human interest anecdotal crap like interviews with assemblers or dealers. I saw a CBS news clip that actually mentioned the issues of too many dealers and UAW work rules and couldn’t believe my eyes.

    Bridge2far:

    Really, are they fair and balanced? Have they reported that the Detroit automakers have no viability and need bankruptcy? The Wall Street Journal, a legitimate conservative news source has repeatedly argued for bankruptcy, but Fox News new puts ratings ahead of integrity, so they might not be willing to admit the obvious.

  • avatar
    Runfromcheney

    Knowing the MSM here in Detroit, it will be “Detroit got a bailout. Fuck all them Republicans that shot down the bailout, they all drive foreign cars and can’t hold erections! The big three are good. With this bailout they will all survive and prosper. We need to save the jobs! Chapter 11 is failure, they will never file Chapter 11!” Or some kind of big three ass-kissing bullshit like that. But it is understandable. Since the big three are THE ENTIRE Michigan economy, I can understand with the Michigan politics and MSM have their lips glued to the big three’s ass.

  • avatar
    Stu Sidoti

    I gotta agree with chris123 and npbheights about their observations…I don’t think the bailouts will barely get a blip on the news radar because of the Stimulus Package will probably take up the 24-hour news cycle for the next week or so.

    Besides, when is the Administration scheduled to announce their findings about said bailout plans and funding requests ? Then, it might be news.

    Lastly, the MSM is rarely equipped to cover real business news stories, especially as one so complicated and interwoven as the auto industry issues-think about it-how rare is it that a MSM talking bobblehead says anything on the air that A: they are right about or B: informs you of something you didn’t already glean from the Web much earlier?

  • avatar
    Rix

    Probably won’t get covered at all.

    If a young girl gets abducted it certainly won’t get covered.

    Unless she’s fat or black, in which case probably the networks would rather go with autos.

  • avatar
    picard234

    I’m with PeteMoran. People are too busy talking about Rhianna getting beaten up by Chris Brown, or what Michelle Obama is wearing today, or the latest American Idol vote to care about a couple billion dollars.

    Although I read the Chrysler viability plan and I am intrigued. 24 new vehicles in the next 48 months? That’s 6 new vehicles per year. Let’s see what they’ve got up their sleeve.

  • avatar
    mountainman

    It will go like this:

    Obama’s plan includes bailout money for GM and Chrysler. This is small potatoes compared to the overall “stimulus” plan. Like the spending plan, however, we, the taxpayers are throwing away our hard earned dollars on wasteful spending not only on bailing out banks, but also a failed American auto industry.

    How about we let capitalism take hold and ditch for good all that is wrong in this country. Bad things will happen? YES. Long term viability and growth – YES. Seriously, Barack Hussein Obama? My grandfather would have a shiat if he were alive.

    Am I happy that the American Auto Industry is going under – NO. Seriously, what do we make here? Besides corn? Nobody is buying American cars. That is a fact. The Japanese and Germans, to the point of some reviews earlier, have “it”. No doubt about that. I just hope that someone with some big, hard, impenetrable balls can build another American car company that can thrive in this country. One that is built on quality and customer service (of equal parts). Is that too much to ask?

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “Let’s leave Fox alone as they are the only fair and balanced source of news we have left.”

    Surely you jest.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Timely topic, Justin.

    I watched the local news (Fox) for the first time in months last night. Of the hour long broadcast, they dedicated 20 minutes to the weather (it’s been raining a lot out here in the land of fruits and nuts). I recall a 40 second or so blurb about the bailout for GM and Chrysler, just a bit less time than they spent covering:

    - a few high speed chases
    - yet another update on octomom
    - more useless crap about Chris Brown
    - something about a gorilla attacking a woman
    - a story about a transgender wife who killed her husband by making him swim to death… literally.

    Most people couldn’t give 2 shits about the bailout because they don’t get that it’s THEIR money. Our electorate is woefully ignorant, and they’ve numbed their brains with this absolute crap.

    My hope is that the move to digital TV shuts down all broadcasts and forces people to read a freaking news paper or website.

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    I call the local news the “Who Got Shot Today Report”. I live in the Los Angeles media market. Something like 15 million people live in greater LA. Somebody amoungst those 15 million people got shot today. Probably several somebodies. And, frankly, unless I personally know the shooter or shootee, I don’t give a shit. At all. But that crap takes up about half of the local news. Add in commercials, the entertainment guy sucking up to movie stars, sports, and the wacky weather guy, and you have maybe five minutes to cover national and international news. Maybe.

  • avatar
    Luther

    “The Wall Street Journal, a legitimate conservative news source has repeatedly argued for bankruptcy…”

    Strange because the WSJ is owned by Dow Jones and GM is a big Dow component…Maybe GM is going to be delisted and sent to the Pinksheets where they belong.

  • avatar
    Qusus

    Guys guys guys, of course Fox News is fair and balanced. In fact, that’s EXACTLY what the graphic says at the opening of their broadcasts; can’t you guys read? Jesus, you must all be illiterate illegals to not see this. Fox News tells me this country is full of them.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    I rarely defend the mainstream media – not much to defend. But one thing they won’t do is write angry screeds about how unprincipled it is to give money to industry. Not that there is anything wrong with taking a pure free market position – but the mainstream media will be doing something called reporting – as distinct from writing an essay for Econ 101.

    The main problem is they wont analyze anything. They’ll just report that GM/Chryco got XXB dollars and that Saturn is going away after 2011.

  • avatar

    Come, come, what we have here is not just another round of Bailout Looney Tunes, but a whole new level of MBA achievement. We have long watched from the sidelines or the innards of American commerce as the MBAs turned it from selling decent products at a reasonable price to an engine for their compensation. Armed with spreadsheets, they built the illusion of ever increasing profits, now and forever amen, so they could be fabulously compensated. Had they actually produced a stream of killer products, like Jobs, this would be feasible, but since they collectively have the creativity of a flatworm, they did it by all kinds of illusions, the hollowing out of American commerce and the shafting of veryone but themselves. The shareholders didn’t see the pointy thing at the end of the road, only the ever increasing “value” of their holding. Now they too, along with the employees, customer base, communities, etc. etc, are holding the bag, and we move to the next act:
    Fleecing the taxpayers and milking a bailout find-the-pea-under-the-shell game. Is profit under this shell? No. oh. Another cash infusion. Is it under this shell? No. oh. Another cash infusion. And repeat to the death.
    What’s necessary is putting the management in a hermetically sealed room with rationed food and water. If profit isn’t delivered, they get less and less. Finally, it and the air is cut off.
    This would incentivize the recovery for a real outcome. Of course, the managment hasn’t a clue and this is a death sentence. What a pity.
    Game over, and a whole lot of money saved. The MBA management culture (not restricted to the auto industry) has neither the wit or inclination to serve commerce, merely to exploit it. Without consequence, there will be nothing but exsanguination for everyone else.

  • avatar
    creamy

    @mountainman
    Seriously, what do we make here? Besides corn? – which is also subsidized up the wazoo.

    i believe the news folks will report the numbers and then, as previously noted above, the talking heads will either yell “tax cuts” or “more spending” depending on which bailout/stimulus bill they are talking about.

  • avatar
    shaker

    Website headlines: (snapshot in a 2-minute period)

    Foxnews: “Buy-Buy Burris”

    CNN: “Facebook backs down, reverses user info policy”

    MSNBC: “Obama’s war on terror may resemble Bush’s”

    CBSNEWS:”Clinton In Indonesia, Mending The Fence”

    ABCNEWS: “Help Is on the Way? Obama to Outline Mortgage Rescue Plan”

    Fox is loving the Burris scandal – surprised?

  • avatar
    IGB

    If you’ve already been laid off, what’s going on in the auto industry is low priority.

    If you haven’t been laid off yet, you’re watching your 401k retest it’s lows, the value of your home continues to plummet and where you were once worried about paying for your kids college, you’re now worried about keeping a roof over their heads for another year.

    If you haven’t been in either of the above situations, then you still live with your parents.

    Whatever your situation, unless you’re a writer for TTAC, news about the auto bailout is noise in the background.

  • avatar
    Bridge2far

    ‘Really, are they fair and balanced? Have they reported that the Detroit automakers have no viability and need bankruptcy?”

    No, that is not reporting. That is editorializing. See MSNBC for that tactic.

  • avatar
    mikey

    @IGB Good comment, and if might, add, as soon as folks hear words like billions and trillions the message gets lost.The MSM is aware of this.CNN HN is reporting on reaction to the auto bailouts this morning.I’m shocked that the comments are not all negative.Its certainly a lot better recieved then the December bailout. The economy Is in tatters,the job losses are mounting.The last thing we need is a million more jobs gone.

    When your just barely making ends meet one tends to tune out the doom and gloom.The MSM also takes that into consideration.

  • avatar

    Bridge2far :

    ‘Really, are they fair and balanced? Have they reported that the Detroit automakers have no viability and need bankruptcy?”

    Yes, that is reporting. It’s the truth.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    Just to defend for a moment the notion that the nebulous “media” can be hoped to be impartial–

    Remember that there are dozens of intentionally editorial/opinionated news-like programs on tv. These range from the farcical (Hannity and Colmes, Keith Olbermann) to the more serious and even more seriously criticized like 60 Minutes or McLaughlin.

  • avatar

    I think Justin’s larger point is that the public reacts only to what is in the media, spanning the entire spectrum (including TTAC). Unfortunately, it seems that human nature is to pay more attention to the latest murder/kidnapping or Paris Hilton newsbyte than to legitimate news. The “news” is no longer news, but just another form of entertainment designed to sell advertising. It has in thirty years gone from being a public service loss leader for networks to a profit generator, and therein lies the rub. As a profit generator, the networks must then concentrate on those items which will draw the maximum number of viewers.

    Imagine a dictionary based on presenting only those words which will draw an audience and you will have some feel for the filter which is on the media news stories.

    Although “bias” is a secondary issue, the primary issue is that these programs are ceasing to have anything to do with reporting the news.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Just to defend for a moment the notion that the nebulous “media” can be hoped to be impartial–

    The problem with the media is that it does claim objectivity and impartiality. Postwar, we saw the media repackage itself, changing from the mouthpiece of it’s publisher to an allegedly-objective source of information. Depending on who you talk to, this was either a reaction the the rising awareness of the middle class (who were thusly less easily hoodwinked and more resentful of amateur propaganda) and/or an attempt to garner and hold larger audiences.

    What’s worse is that people believe it, or at least parts of it, giving it more trust than it really deserves.

    At best, you end up milquetoast reporting that attempts to show two (or more) sides of every issue, often granting fringe or farcical side far more weight that they really deserve, while declining to ask tough questions, call a spade a spade, or tackle more morally problematic issues. The attempt to appear unbiased actually introduces more bias, or simply weakens reporting.

    At worst, you get demagoguery wrapped up as objective (or at least “silent majority”) opinion. This is a bad thing, because it doesn’t just bias media, it distorts truth.

    The real problem, though, is both tendencies erode critical thinking in society, which is dangerous. Whether you agree or disagree with a particular media outlet’s bias, you shouldn’t simply accept what they’re reporting as the whole truth. And you certainly ought not to just because they’re the media and they claim objectivity.

  • avatar
    geeber

    shaker: Fox is loving the Burris scandal – surprised?

    Yes, because as we all know, possible corruption in the nation’s legislative body is nothing to worry about, and should be ignored completely.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Unfortunately, it seems that human nature is to pay more attention to the latest murder/kidnapping or Paris Hilton newsbyte than to legitimate news

    If given the choice between what passes for legitimate news, I’ll wait for the next Paris Hilton nipple slip, thanks.

    To be serious, the reason those stories are popular is because they’re easy. You don’t need to ask tough questions about murder or Paris Hilton’s anatomy/judgement. It’s cheap meat for the press, and it doesn’t offend, or at least it doesn’t offend and result in lost readership.

    That said, the press will hit critical mass in terms of it’s uselessness very soon. Much like, say, GM, they’ve weakened and diluted themselves to the point where they’re no longer a worthwhile product. They can’t ask the tough questions that would make the intellectually stimulating without offending part of their audience, so they’re resorting to more and more shock-and-awe reporting, which makes them vulnerable to faster, more agile, less restrained content producers who can do that better.

    The collapse of several papers is just the beginning of this.

  • avatar
    Aegea

    The Washington Post has a fairly good (i.e., pessimistic) piece. Here’s the lead sentence: “Only one thing lies at the end of the pothole-strewn road for America’s automobile industry: smaller companies making fewer cars with fewer workers and dealers.” Another quote: “whether the restructuring process the ailing giants undertake is called bankruptcy may be largely a matter of semantics.”

    And here’s one I really like (from Toyota): “in the end . . . what you’ll see is a much more competitive market and two models of automobiles: one as an appliance for people who don’t care about cars, and the next as a social icon much like the iPhone and iPod.”

    So, would you rather drive a PC or a Mac?

  • avatar
    geeber

    People are getting their news from different sources. Just as people no longer automatically go to GM, Ford or Chrysler when it comes time to buy a new car, they no longer automatically turn on ABC, CBS and NBC (or pick up Time and Newsweek) to receive their daily dose of the news.

    This is good and bad. It’s good because it highlights the shoddy job that our mainstream media outlets have done in reporting on various subjects. It’s bad because people on both sides of the ideological spectrum are increasingly turning to sources that reaffirm their pre-existing biases.

  • avatar
    shaker

    geeber: “Yes, because as we all know, possible corruption in the nation’s legislative body is nothing to worry about, and should be ignored completely.”

    No, it’s just not news. :-)

  • avatar
    Bridge2far

    “Really, are they fair and balanced? Have they reported that the Detroit automakers have no viability and need bankruptcy?”

    Yes, that is reporting. It’s the truth.”

    No, that is not reporting. That is giving an opinion. Just because you agree with the opinion it is acceptable as reporting?
    Reporting is laying out the facts and letting the reader/viewer form their own opinion. As is “we report, you decide.”


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