Thursday, January 20, 2022

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Civic Skinny

Branstad, TV stations play with the numbers.


Before Terry Branstad got to the real news on Iowa Press the other day — the sigh-of-relief-news that Floppy won’t be in the Historical Building’s doghouse for too long — he said:

“We’ve created over 100,000 jobs” since retaking Terrace Hill in January of 2011.

The Des Moines Register’s Kathy Obradovich — who asked, “Quickly, what’s the count on job creation to date?” — didn’t challenge that, and neither did reporter Kay Henderson or moderator Dean Borg.

They should have. For the Governor was playing with the facts or toying with the reporters. Or both. The net gain in nonfarm jobs in Iowa since the Branstad administration took office is 36,900. That’s based on numbers from the Legislative Services Agency, the nonpartisan government bureau that produces data before it goes through the political paint shop.

So if the Governor is taking credit for creating 100,000 jobs, then he must take the blame for losing 63,100. It’s as simple as that. It would be just as accurate — and just as misleading — for Jack Hatch or Tyler Olson or whoever takes on the suicide mission of opposing him next year to say “Iowa has lost 63,100 jobs since Terry Branstad was elected” as it is for the Governor to claim creation of 100,000 jobs.


But that’s his story, and he’s sticking to it. …

A jury last week decided who gets the $250,000 or so from the sale of 181 items of Elvis memorabilia that fell into the hands of a Des Moines woman through a long and tortuous route. The stash included “two dried white roses from Elvis’ funeral” (sale price: $1,400), “a large quantity of Elvis’ hair that was cut for his Army tour of duty” ($5,000) and a “set of Elvis’s concert-used handkerchiefs” ($600). It was a complicated case — if you’re truly interested, go back to the Cityview of Aug. 9 of last year — and the jury decided the proceeds should go to the Des Moines woman, Jenny Jorgensen, and her relatives.

After the final arguments and after the jury was sent off to decide, Judge Jim Gritzner spoke to the lawyers. He asked that they leave with the court their cellular phone numbers so the court could reach them if a question arose from the deliberating jurors. Dick Lyford, who has been practicing law in Des Moines for 40 years and who was representing the eventual winners, confessed to Gritzner that he didn’t own a cellular phone. He looked kind of sheepish. Gritzner, amused, looked at him and said:

“It goes without saying you’re a dinosaur.” …

Channel 8 last week issued a press release saying “KCCI sweeps May 2013 Nielsen ratings sunrise to sunset.” And Channel 13 issued one saying “Channel 13 News Now #1 in Morning AND 6 PM.”


It’s all in the fine print. First of all, the stations are talking about news viewership, not sports or entertainment or afternoon talk shows. And KCCI is referring to “the highly coveted demographic of viewers 25-54” while WHO is referring to viewers 18 to 49. In fact, if you consider news viewers in all 427,860 households with TV sets in the Des Moines-Ames market, KCCI is the clear winner.

CVA_27PAGE 6KCCI leads in every half-hour segment from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m., when the network shows come on; from noon to 12:30; from 5 p.m. to 5:30; from 6 p.m. to 6:30, and from 10 p.m. to 10:30. And local viewership of the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley has jumped by 20 percent in the past year while viewership of the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams has fallen nearly 10 percent. A year ago, the NBC Nightly News had a significant lead over CBS; now, CBS is the clear winner.

“It’s been very close in recent years, but usually NBC has been winning,” Channel 8 News Director Dave Busiek told Cityview. One possible factor in CBS’s gains: Two years ago Scott Pelley took over from Katie Couric as the anchor at CBS.

Late last year, Dan Winters succeeded the retiring John Bachman as 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. anchor at Channel 13, and he may be pulling in some younger viewers at 6. Channel 13 and Channel 8 were evenly matched among the 18-to-49-year-olds at 6 a year ago, but now Channel 13 has a significant lead. But at 10, Channel 8 built on its already-strong lead with that young demographic, with its viewership rising more than 18 percent while Channel 13’s rose around 11 percent.

WOI-TV, the ABC affiliate on Channel 5, did not issue any press release. It was the first TV station in central Iowa, going on in 1950 and having the market to itself for four years, but for decades it has in effect been the third station in a two-station market. At 10 p.m., for instance, 5.3 percent of the TV sets that are turned on are tuned to Channel 5. About 25 percent are tuned to Channel 13 and 36 percent to Channel 8. …

You kind of wonder if Microsoft would have chosen West Des Moines as the site for a $677 million expansion if the company knew that Roxanne Conlin and Tom Miller were still hanging around. Both have kind of sentimental ties to the company, which is getting around $25 million in state and local subsidies for the expansion.

Conlin was the main lawyer in a class action suit that Microsoft and the state settled in 2007. Iowans got $179 million as a settlement — much of which ended up being used to purchase computers and computer equipment for Iowa schools — and the lawyers who worked on the case for seven years got $75 million in fees, which Microsoft also agreed to pay. According to one report, Conlin’s share was $22 million. She might want to show up just to gloat.

And after a court found against Microsoft in 2000, Attorney General Miller issued a long statement blasting Microsoft as a monopoly, saying it had harmed consumers, blocked innovation, engaged in predatory conduct and targeted “threats to its monopoly power wherever they appeared.”

“Do you suppose,” asked a guy who remembered all that, that “Miller will be there near Kim Reynolds for the ceremonial turning of shovels?” CV

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