Last Thursday, Andrew Engeldinger finished his shift at Accent Signage Systems in Minneapolis, where he'd worked since the late 1990's. In the afternoon, Engeldinger was called into the front office and told he no longer had a job.
According to police, Engeldinger was armed at the time and began to open fire with a 9mm Glock semi-automatic pistol. He killed the company's founder and sought out three other sign-making coworkers for execution. The 36-year old shooter also killed a local UPS deliver man who got caught up in the on-site rampage.
When Engeldinger was done, he'd murdered five people. Then he went down into the firm's basement and shot himself in the head. When police arrived they described the scene as chaotic and the carnage as "hellish." When they searched the shooter's apartment, police found packaging for 10,000 rounds of ammunition.
"He obviously had this gun and was practicing how to use this gun," said Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan, describing the deadliest workplace shooting in Minnesota since the state began tracking these types of attacks two decades ago.
For the past two years Engeldinger's family had feared he was slipping into bouts of delusion and mental illness and had urged him, in vain, to seek treatment.
Incredibly, that mass murder story wasn't considered to be especially newsworthy by major news organizations. The shockingly small amount of press coverage the story has received (the New York Times has printed just two clipped AP reports on the shooting, buried in Section A and totaling less than 500 words) highlights the shoulder-shrugging response so many gun rampages now generate inside national newsrooms.
Arctic sea ice is declining much faster than scientists expected, which has important implications for the rate and impacts of climate change. But the major TV news outlets have largely ignored the record sea ice loss this summer, while making ample time to cover Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan's physical fitness.
From the September 23 edition of ABC's This Week:
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From the September 16 edition of ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos:
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From the September 2 edition of ABC's This Week:
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Scientists say that human-induced climate change made this year's record heat more likely, and project that extreme heat will become more common in the United States. But a Media Matters analysis of media coverage of record-breaking heat in July finds that major television outlets rarely made the connection between heat waves and a changing climate.
Fox's Paul Gigot today claimed that Mitt Romney's tax plan was not overly friendly to the wealthy because it would eliminate deductions on the rich. But Gigot's claim is pure speculation, since Romney has said that he will not release specifics as to what deductions would be eliminated under his tax plan before the election.
On ABC's This Week, Fox News host and Wall Street Journal editor Paul Gigot claimed Romney's tax plan was not regressive because it it will "eliminate deductions" on "the well-to-do" and attacked the Tax Policy Center's analysis, which found that his plan would reduce the tax burden on the wealthy and increase it on middle-income taxpayers, as "made on false assumptions."
The Tax Policy Center and FactCheck.org have both found it impossible to concoct a revenue-neutral tax plan based on Romney's desire to dramatically reduce marginal income tax rates without increasing the tax burden on middle-income taxpayers. They have been hindered in their efforts because, as FactCheck.org noted, while Romney has said he will pay for his tax cuts by reducing tax deductions and credits, "he has steadfastly refused to say which tax preferences would be cut or reduced."
From the August 12 edition of ABC's This Week:
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A Media Matters analysis of wildfire coverage in July finds that nearly 14 percent of articles and segments mentioned climate change -- over four times more than in previous months.
Fox News' Greta van Susteren last night became the sixth journalist to interview Mitt Romney without asking him about the conservative conspiracy theory alleging that the Muslim Brotherhood is using supposed ties to an aide for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to infiltrate the U.S. government. Two surrogates for Romney's campaign have defended that conspiracy during the past week, while Republican leaders like John Boehner and John McCain have condemned it.
American television news outlets continue to devote sparse time to one of largest banking scandals in history. The controversy over whether major banks have been manipulating the LIBOR, a crucial interest rate that banks use to borrow money from one another, has been gathering steam for more than a month since U.S. and U.K. regulators fined British bank Barclays $450 million for its role in trying to rig the rate.
CNN's Erin Burnett has explained that LIBOR is "an interest rate at the core of our entire economy," adding, "It's really not wrong to say that if you can't trust LIBOR, you can't trust anything in banking." According to The Economist, the LIBOR is used "as a benchmark to set payments on about $800 trillion worth of financial instruments." Baltimore City filed a lawsuit against major banks in the first of what may be a wave of such actions, alleging that the LIBOR manipulation potentially cost it millions of dollars in investment returns.
Despite the enormous implications of the scandal, ABC's World News and NBC's Nightly News both ignored the story in the 16 days after news of the Barclays fine broke, as we documented earlier this month. In the 16 days following the period of our original study, the LIBOR blackout has continued on ABC and NBC's flagship evening news programs. Those programs have gone more than a month without mentioning the controversy.
CBS Evening News devoted more than five and a half minutes to the story in the first 16 days following the Barclays fine, but has not returned to the scandal in the subsequent 16 day period despite a host of new developments.
After spending roughly six and a half minutes combined covering the scandal on their evening newscasts and opinion programming between June 27 and July 12, MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News devoted less than 32 minutes to stories related to the controversy from July 13 to July 28, with more than two-thirds of that coverage coming from CNN.
These same news outlets spent significantly more time on trivialities like shark sightings and the Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes divorce than on the banking scandal. For context, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN spent 44 minutes combined on the LIBOR scandal during their evening programming from June 27 to July 28. By contrast, these same outlets devoted nearly 65 minutes to stories about sharks for only the first sixteen days of that period.
Far from being a dormant story, fallout from allegations that the LIBOR has been manipulated has been steady.
On July 14, the New York Times reported that the U.S. Justice Department had "identified potential criminal wrongdoing by big banks and individuals at the center of the scandal" and was building criminal cases "against several financial institutions and their employees." The Times explained that the "prospect of criminal cases" was expected to "rattle the banking world."
The scandal has also reached Capitol Hill, with both Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke being questioned about regulators' response to allegations that banks were manipulating the LIBOR. During his appearance in front of the Senate Banking Committee, Bernanke said the LIBOR is "structurally flawed" and called the controversy "a major problem for our financial system."
The story has gotten major coverage in financial press and on shows like Current TV's Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer and MSNBC's Up with Chris Hayes, but, with a few exceptions, has still received little attention on major American television news outlets their during evening newscasts and primetime programming. Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple has urged media outlets considering LIBOR coverage to "Get on it," providing "Nine reasons to cover" the scandal.
ABC again invited CNN contributor and conservative pundit Dana Loesch to be part of its This Week roundtable, even though she has promoted a conspiracy theory that her CNN co-workers described as "McCarthy-like."
On her radio show earlier this week, Loesch promoted the fringe idea that Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin "is essentially a member of the female version of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Muslim Sisterhood." The comment was the subject of a letter circulated by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) attacking Abedin.
From the July 29 edition of ABC's This Week:
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Instead of covering one of the largest banking scandals in history, American television news outlets have focused on the divorce of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, shark sightings, and a chimpanzee attack.
Last week, we documented how television news outlets are practically ignoring an emerging controversy over whether major financial institutions have been manipulating the LIBOR, a key interest rate banks use to borrow money from each other that is "used as a benchmark to set payments on about $800 trillion worth of financial instruments." MIT professor of finance Andrew Lo told CNN Money that the LIBOR-manipulation story "dwarfs by orders of magnitude any financial scams in the history of markets."
In the fifteen days after news broke that U.S. and U.K. regulators had fined British multinational bank Barclays $450 million for its role in trying to rig the LIBOR, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC spent only 12 minutes combined reporting on the story during their evening newscasts and opinion programming.
With few exceptions -- notably MSNBC's Up with Chris Hayes and Current TV's Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer -- the scandal has been largely relegated to financial outlets. In a post chiding ABC and NBC for ignoring LIBOR entirely during their flagship nightly news programs, Washington Post media writer Erik Wemple joked that ABC "[c]an't bump complicated, clunky old LIBOR for fins protruding from the ocean."
Wemple's suggestion that the networks' failure to cover LIBOR was not caused by their preference for other important hard news stories is depressingly accurate. The same outlets that found only 12 minutes of time to report on LIBOR from June 27 to July 12 during their evening programming devoted nearly 65 minutes to stories about sharks during that same time period.
The numbers are even worse when comparing LIBOR coverage to coverage of the divorce of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. ABC, NBC, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC devoted almost 91 minutes to stories related to the celebrity divorce, which is more than seven times longer than they spent on LIBOR during the same period. Only CBS' Evening News, which was the only network newscast to cover LIBOR during the time of this study, ignored the divorce.
Similarly, a story about chimpanzees attacking an American student at an animal sanctuary in Africa received more than 20 minutes of primetime coverage.
CBS was the only network to devote more coverage to LIBOR than to these trivial stories during the study.
Major news networks have largely ignored Republican obstruction of a regulation addressing the recent resurgence of black lung, a disease caused by coal mine dust. By contrast, media coverage of the Republican narrative about "job-killing regulations" has been abundant, indicating that news outlets let the Republican Party define the media discourse about regulation of the coal industry.