CNN.com Asks If America Is Dumber Than A 16 Year Old In The Most Depressing Article Ever

When I read on CNN.com that they had an article in which analysts describe how President Obama’s speech was written at a 10th-grade reading level and, therefore, went “over the heads” of most Americans, I was all ready to be outraged. How dare CNN besmirch the education level of my beloved US of A. However, when I read the article, I found it surprisingly interesting. After that, I found it depressing. Very, very depressing.

Admittedly, the basic thesis of the article is ridiculous. CNN contacted a “language guru” to rate the president’s speech compared to the grade-based reading levels educators use. It found that the speech rated at a 9.8th-grade level (Aw, 9.8th grade. That one was my favorite! I still remember taking little Susie Johnson to the 9.8th Grade Formal) and that was the reason why it was poorly received. Sorry, CNN, but there were many things wrong with that speech and the number of big words wasn’t exactly one of them.

However, the idea of rating presidential speeches that way interested me as did the comparisons that the analyst, Global Language Monitor president Paul J.J. Payack, made to Obama’s other speeches.

“At a micro level, the average word in the speech contained 4.5 letters, a bit longer than is typical for the former constitutional law professor, Payack said.
Obama’s nearly 10th-grade-level rating was the highest of any of his major speeches and well above the Grade 7.4 of his 2008 “Yes, we can” victory speech, which many consider his best effort, Payack said.”

As interesting as those stats are, I just couldn’t accept Payack’s theory that the speech was too “smart” for most Americans. In a great write-up of the CNN piece, Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey found the actual data and had some strong words to say about the findings.

“It’s not easy to find data on the American average reading level. A 1993 study put it somewhere between 8th and 9th grade reading level, which would have been just short of the 9.8 level found by CNN’s expert. That seems rather low, however, when the US high school graduation rate was 69.2% in 2006. Granted, not everyone who graduates from high school has a reading level commensurate with the 12th grade, but one has to assume that they do better than middle-school rankings in order to get a high-school diploma.

If they don’t, doesn’t that indict the education system? We have steadily increased federal spending on education through the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations. If all that gets us is an electorate who mysteriously can’t comprehend a speech given at a writing level equivalent to that of an average 15-year-old kid, then we’ve spent money on the wrong things, and let the wrong people benefit from it.”

I expected easy outrage from the CNN piece and I didn’t get that. I also didn’t get what the writer intended (an explanation for the Obama speech’s failure). What I did get, however were some very depressing facts about America’s literacy level.

Maybe I’ve become desensitized to the images of dying, oil covered birds after 60 whole days of them, but the idea that the average education level of Americans is stuck in middle school seems, to me, to be an equal-sized catastrophe as the disaster in the Gulf.

(via Reddit)

Anderson Cooper Overreacts To BP’s “Small People” Remark

Someone needs to get Anderson Cooper a sense of humor. Hours after BP Board Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg, who speaks English as a second language, addressed the press following his meeting with President Obama and made his now infamous “small people” remark, Anderson decided to treat the moment with a dramatic flair worthy of a diplomatic international crisis.

Now it’s entirely possible he used the wrong word, maybe he meant to say little people, though that would have been just as insulting…a lot of people around here were understandably insulted, I gave him the benefit of the doubt, he’s from Sweden, he’s not a native English speaker. And in fact hours later he issued an apology [actually about one hour later later]…[however] it’s almost common for BP to put out statements apologizing for or restating their own statements. If by chance the BP chairmen doesn’t know this, which I’m sure he does, we think it’s worth mentioning: there aren’t any little people down here.

We know Anderson! Cooper then offered to introduce Svanberg — who has turned down requests thus far — to the actual ‘heroic’ people who are not “small or little people” who live in the Gulf. For Svanberg’s benefit Cooper offer really nice profiles a number of them, all of who deserve the attention and support. But geez, apart from the nation not needing to be reminded that people living on the Gulf are bearing the heavy load, heroically…..sometimes the lighter touch is more effective than the furrowed brow. Watch below.

Fox News Wins Cable News Obama Oval Office Speech Ratings; CNN #2

Cable news ratings, June 15, 2010: Check out the highlights, and see the full ratings below:

• Fox News was the clear winner Tuesday night in coverage of Pres. Obama’s Oval Office speech. For the 18-minute address, FNC averaged 694,000 in the A25-54 demographic and 2,971,000 total viewers. CNN was the clear #2 in demo with 469,000, and had 1,298,000 total viewers. MSNBC was 3rd in demo 397,000, but slightly ahead in total viewers with 1,308,000. In prime time the breakdown was similar – FNC, CNN, MSNBC in first, second, third in all categories.

• The biggest ratings on all of cable news came post-speech, for Bill O’Reilly’s shortened live show. Top non-FNC show in both categories was CNN’s post-speech analysis.

TV NEWS RATINGS: 25-54 DEMOGRAPHIC (L +SD)
Fox News CNN MSNBC CNN Headline News
5 pm

Beck

516

Blitzer

142

Matthews

73

Showbiz

85

6 pm

Baier

391

Blitzer

143

Ed Show

145

Prime

114

7 pm

Shep

407

King, USA

169

Matthews

168

Issues

189

8 pm

Speech/O’R.

694/874

Speech/Post

469/531

Speech/Olb.

387/305

Grace

324

9 pm

Hannity

575

King

323

Maddow

228

Behar

175

10 pm

Greta

417

Cooper

259

Speech/Olb.

227/190

Grace

185

11 pm

Speech/O’R.

415/359

Cooper

233

Maddow

144

Showbiz

128

TOTAL DAY 314 161 115 140
PRIME TIME 606 365 252 223
Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.
TV NEWS RATINGS: TOTAL VIEWERS (L +SD)
Fox News CNN MSNBC CNN Headline News
5 pm

Beck

1808

Blitzer

572

Matthews

436

Showbiz

231

6 pm

Baier

1826

Blitzer

507

Ed Show

620

Prime

285

7 pm

Shep

1596

King, USA

592

Matthews

537

Issues

534

8 pm

Speech/O’R.

2971/3669

Speech/Post

1298/1570

Speech/Olb.

1308/1081

Grace

973

9 pm

Hannity

2499

King

965

Maddow

865

Behar

632

10 pm

Greta

2005

Cooper

790

Speech/Olb.

670/530

Grace

615

11 pm

Speech/O’R.

1222/1092

Cooper

457

Maddow

364

Showbiz

335

TOTAL DAY 1187 475 386 333
PRIME TIME 2650 1057 860 727
Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.

Rep. Michele Bachmann Explains Why She Doesn’t Think BP Should Be ‘Fleeced’

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann made possibly the most favorable comments towards BP the company has heard in the past 57 days, suggesting they refuse to “be fleeced” by the Obama administration. Tonight she sat down with CNN’s John King to defend those comments, opening her defense with “I’m not here to shill for BP.” Instead, she argued, she was defending the greater free market from the big government tendencies of the Obama administration.

Bachmann’s tone was calm and her she left her most incendiary vocabulary at home, asserting that “as long as people are getting their claims paid, everyone is happy.” That said, she continued, she didn’t want to see a politicization of the claims payments in the Gulf oil disaster by having the government oversee all the payments. Beyond the political aspect, Bachmann also noted that she was prone not to trust the government because of the experience with the White House in the past year and a half:

“This is a complete difference in the way that the United States was run 18 months ago. But today, it seems like the automatic effort from the government is ‘let’s have the federal government take over private industry.’ We don’t want that to be the automatic response from government because we are a free-market economy. And, unfortunately, the Obama administration hasn’t been making any efforts to unwind the government out of these private industries.”

Without having to use the magic word (“socialism”), Bachmann managed to calmly argue that Obama’s approach involved something too close to nationalization to be in her comfort zone, and indicate that BP needs to stand up against those efforts. Those who were expecting Bachmann to sound a little like her comrade-in-arms Sarah Palin did last night were disappointed: she managed to rephrase a message that initially sounded adamantly pro-BP into reasonable-sounding anti-socialist commentary.

Video from tonight’s John King USA below:

Cable Ranker Equation #1: Did CNN + MSNBC = FNC?

We’ve been publishing the cable rankers for a few weeks now, and they usually look pretty similar – FNC in the top 5 on all of cable in prime time and total day (total viewers) and MSNBC and CNN somewhere in the 20s or 30s.

Let’s play a game. Can CNN + MSNBC = FNC? Our first week – last week, June 7.

No.

In prime time, FNC = CNN + MSNBC + 761,000.

In total day, FNC = CNN + MSNBC + 279,000.

We’ll check back next week.

Overall, FNC was #3 in prime time and up week-to-week (#7 in total day, up slightly). CNN was #32 in prime, down slightly (#26 total day, down slightly). MSNBC was #24 in prime, up slightly (#32 total day, just about even).

Check it out – prime time:

Total day:

Sean Hannity And Glenn Beck Split #2 On Friday

Cable news ratings, June 11, 2010: Check out the highlights, and see the full ratings below:

Bill O’Reilly was the top rated cable news host Friday night, in both categories, but the #2 spot was a split. Glenn Beck was #2 in the A25-54 demographic, but finished 5th in total viewers. Sean Hannity was #2 in total viewers and 3rd in demo.

• The top non-FNC show in the demo was MSNBC’s 11pmET doc block hour, while MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann had the #1 non-FNC show in total viewers.

TV NEWS RATINGS: 25-54 DEMOGRAPHIC (L +SD)
Fox News CNN MSNBC CNN Headline News
5 pm Beck

496

Blitzer

121

Matthews

86

Showbiz

142

6 pm Baier

396

Blitzer

88

Ed Show

96

Prime

112

7 pm Shep

283

King, USA

126

Matthews

114

Issues

129

8 pm O’Reilly

592

Brown

112

Olbermann

223

Grace

194

9 pm Hannity

425

King

180

Maddow

150

Behar

99

10 pm Greta

340

Cooper

168

MSNBC Investigates

138

Grace

195

11 pm O’Reilly

386

Cooper

178

MSNBC Investigates

296

Showbiz

118

TOTAL DAY 309 148 129 132
PRIME TIME 452 154 171 163
Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.
TV NEWS RATINGS: TOTAL VIEWERS (L +SD)
Fox News CNN MSNBC CNN Headline News
5 pm Beck

1743

Blitzer

598

Matthews

537

Showbiz

287

6 pm Baier

1818

Blitzer

420

Ed Show

590

Prime

279

7 pm Shep

1387

King, USA

430

Matthews

525

Issues

421

8 pm O’Reilly

2669

Brown

431

Olbermann

955

Grace

706

9 pm Hannity

2012

King

638

Maddow

582

Behar

449

10 pm Greta

1760

Cooper

491

MSNBC Investigates

315

Grace

519

11 pm O’Reilly

1379

Cooper

371

MSNBC Investigates

477

Showbiz

348

TOTAL DAY 1165 429 400 305
PRIME TIME 2147 520 617 552
Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.