Reporters at the White House on Feb. 27. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Good news about bad news


Everyone knows TV political journalism failed us during the 2016 campaign.

Everyone knows TV news was clueless about Donald Trump voters and blue states swinging red. Everyone knows anchors let lying candidates roll them. Everyone knows TV coverage hyped the horse race and gave issues the cold shoulder. Everyone knows the cable news default frame for covering controversy is he-said/she-said food fights. Everyone knows local news is all about crashes, crime and fluff. Everyone knows investigative reporting is a luxury local stations can’t afford. Everyone knows down-ballot races are ratings poison.

Well, sometimes something everyone knows is wrong.

Those charges aren’t baseless. I could program a YouTube channel 24/7 with clips that make me cringe. But I also can beat the drum for TV newsmen and newswomen who know what excellence is, who go for it every day and who make me hopeful that at a dangerous moment, TV news can countervail against propaganda, paranoia and a president who calls news media “the enemy of the people” and “scum.”

I say that confidently because over the past couple of months, together with a few dozen USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism faculty colleagues, staff and journalists, we’ve been screening the nearly 100 entries for the ninth biennial Walter Cronkite Awards for Excellence in TV Political Journalism.

Pick a knock on TV news — ignoring blue voters turning red, say — and it’s contested by Cronkite entries such as Ask Ohio, a “60 Minutes” report listening to laid-off workers talk about trade, or like the Pennsylvania and North Carolina swing voters profiled on “PBS NewsHour Weekend.” I’m glad it was so hard to narrow down the entries — there’s that much good work to celebrate.

The award’s recipients were just announced. If you want to be optimistic about journalism as advocate for accuracy, an instrument of accountability and a prompt toward civic engagement, check out online what some of these Cronkite winners are up to.

– Jake Tapper, CNN anchor and chief Washington correspondent, tenaciously asking Donald Trump about his comments regarding Judge Gonzalo Curiel: “[Saying Curiel] can’t do his job because of his race, is that not the definition of racism?” Or Tapper fact-checking whoppers in Trump’s and Hillary Clinton’s stump speeches.

– Katy Tur, on the road with Trump for 17 months for NBC News and MSNBC, master of her subject matter and unflappable despite an onslaught by the candidate and supporters he got to taunt her.

– Univision News and Fusion anchor Jorge Ramos’s intimate portrait of a divided America in a chillingly candid encounter with an unmasked member of the Ku Klux Klan, and an interview with a Muslim woman beaten in a Minnesota restaurant.

– Brian Stelter’s essays grappling with post- and alternate-fact media and politics, the assault on truth and the path for journalists to regain public trust on his CNN program, “Reliable Sources.”

– Investigative reporting on Texas’ border war on drugs by KXAN in Austin; on denial of mental health benefits to veterans by WXIA in Atlanta; on the human story of medical cannabis by Sabrina Ahmed at WOI in West Des Moines; on forged voter signatures by Marshall Zelinger at KMGH in Denver; on judicial elections by Brandon Rittiman at KUSA in Denver, whose work also won KUSA a fact-checking prize, the Brooks Jackson award, which went to the Scripps chain, as well. Public station KCETLink in Los Angeles was commended for Val Zavala’s 60-second animated explainers of 17 propositions on the California ballot.

– More than 500 hours of original political programming across Hearst Television’s 32 stations and the E.W. Scripps Company’s 33 stations, a direct consequence of those chains’ executives asking the stations they own to commit resources and air time to quality political news.

In 1972, a poll of voters in 18 states asked trust thermometer questions about a list of candidates for the presidency and statewide offices; Walter Cronkite’s name, a ringer, was included. His 73 percent rating topped the list and led to him being called “the most trusted man in America.” Sure, maybe the competition was lousy. But he earned the public trust they lacked by doing his work so well. Before he said on the air that the Vietnam War was unwinnable, he went to Vietnam, he asked questions of everyone, he saw with his own eyes what was going on, he weighed the evidence, he told the truth — and people, including President Lyndon Johnson, listened.

Since then, sources for news and definitions of news have proliferated. Hostility toward news, never absent, is being stoked to serve a nihilistic itch to blow up the state. The trust thermometer is below freezing. “Public trust in media at all time low,” says the Financial Times about an Edelman poll. “Americans’ Trust in Mass Media Sinks to New Low,” says Gallup. An AP-NORC Media Insight Project poll finds that “only 6 percent of people say they have a great deal of confidence in the press, about the same level of trust Americans have in Congress.”

It’s always worth celebrating good journalism. But I can’t think of a more urgent hour than this to honor journalists for stepping up to their civic responsibility to face reality.


MARTY KAPLAN directs the Norman Lear Center at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, which administers the Walter Cronkite Awards for Excellence in TV Political Journalism. Reach him at martyk@jewishjournal.com.

CNN apologizes for banner questioning ‘if Jews are people’


CNN apologized for  a banner flashed onscreen during a segment on white supremacist groups which read, “Alt-right founder questions if Jews are people.”

The segment was aired Monday on “The Lead,” which was being guest-hosted by Jim Sciutto.

On Tuesday, CNN said in a statement concerning the banner, known as a chyron: “It was poor judgment and we very much regret it and apologize.”

The Monday segment concerned statements made over the weekend by Richard Spencer at an event of the white supremacist think tank the National Policy Institute. Spencer suggested that the news media had been critical of presidential candidate Donald Trump in order to protect Jewish interests. “One wonders if these people are people at all, or instead soulless golem,” Spencer said.

Sciutto referred to Spencer’s remarks as “hate-filled garbage,” and the rest of the panel also expressed disgust after seeing a clip of Spencer’s remarks.

The Lead’s regular host, Jake Tapper, who was on vacation, criticized the chyron in several tweets.

He also tweeted in response to a complaint that the alt-right was given a platform on CNN: “they were not given a platform. The chyron was, however, unacceptable and will not happen again.”

Anti-Semitism, Israel and the Olympics: What to take away


The original Olympics in Ancient Greece, the games that inspired the modern recreation that just ended in Rio, showcased the greatest Grecian athletes stretching from the Peloponnese to the Mediterranean colonies. In the Grecian Olympics, only those of pure Greek decent could participate, making the old games far more exclusive than the modern games that have come to celebrate international diversity. There are several differences between the original and the modern games; however, the similarities between two games are far more striking and relevant. Greek city-states agreed to an Olympic Truce during the celebration of the games to allow athletes safe travel to Olympia, which is now an implied aspect of the games. The Olympics in Ancient Greece also, like in modern times, developed into a political tool for city-states to claim dominance over rivals through athletics. The modern Olympics are meant to foster a sense of international unity and cooperation through the love of athletics, a passion shared universally across international borders and cultural boundaries. Comparable to the old games, The Olympic Games in Rio were not devoid of political opportunism and cultural discrimination. And Israel, expectedly yet baselessly, found itself at the center of the controversy.

Before the opening ceremonies could even begin, members of the Lebanese Olympic delegation barred Israeli athletes from boarding a bus headed to the ceremony. Salim al-Haj, head of the Lebanese delegation, told the Agency France-Presse (AFP) that he demanded the door be closed before the Israeli athletes could enter, but the Israelis “insisted on getting on.” What a potentially scarring experience for the Lebanese delegation: they were almost forced to participate in the Olympic spirit of international camaraderie. The Israelis eventually boarded a separate bus to “avoid an international and physical incident” but Udi Gal, an Israeli athlete, pondered on Facebook, “How could they let this happen on the eve of the Olympic Games? Isn't this the opposite of what the Olympics represents?” He is, of course, absolutely right; no intelligent individual would oppose this statement. Yet, predictably, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) only warned al-Haj that a similar situation would not be tolerated in the future. Apparently blatant anti-Semitism is passable as long as it is the first offense, according to the actions of the IOC.

This incident, of course, was just the start of the harassment Israeli athletes faced at the Rio Olympics. A female Saudi Arabian judo athlete allegedly forfeited her first-round match to avoid an Israeli competitor in the proceeding round. The Saudi Arabian Olympic delegation denied the claim and instead offered an injury as a legitimate excuse. Curiously, Saudi Arabia does not recognize the legitimacy of the state of Israel; far more interesting, though, is why the Saudi athlete’s injury only became a limiting factor once the draw—and her potential Israeli competitor—was determined.

If you do not regularly keep up with Israeli news or watch Fox News, you likely haven’t heard about these detestable and flagrant acts of discrimination against Israeli athletes. For those who haven’t received news of these incidents, it is not due to your own inattentiveness, but rather the  main stream media’s (MSM) lack of interest with overt anti-Semitism at the Olympics. Neither CNN nor MSNBC published articles on either of the aforementioned discriminatory incidents. When I scoured Google for other articles and quotes regarding these episodes, nearly all the articles on the individual incidents were published by conservative news sources, such as Breitbart and Fox News, or Jewish newspapers, such as the Jewish Post and Haaretz. After I noticed the disparity between the attention conservative publications gave the incidents as opposed to liberal agencies, I deliberately searched the archives of CNN and MSNBC for articles on these two incidents and found nothing. I find it greatly unsettling that these liberal publications would refrain from posting pieces on anti-Semitic incidents at the Olympics at a time when the world—especially champions of equality on the left—seems devoted to ending discrimination. Some on the left enjoy attacking conservatives for their cultural insensitivity and lack of “political correctness,” but, in this case, CNN and MSNBC seem to miss the mark.

This is not to say, however, that CNN or MSNBC are not concerned with the equal treatment of all athletes at the Olympics. In 2014, after the Sochi Winter Games, MSNBC published an article titled “IOC Makes non-Olympian Sized Move on Gay Rights, Critics Say”. and, just a few weeks ago, CNN posted an article titled “In Testament to U.S. Sports Progress, Women Lead Rio Medal Count for Team USA”. As all Americans should be, I’m glad that our country has news agencies that object to social injustices and inequalities and praise the accomplishments of women. However, in my eyes, CNN and MSNBC lose all credibility in standing up for equality when they arbitrarily select which groups deserve their defense in the face of severe unequal treatment. If CNN and MSNBC, and other like news agencies, truly stood for equality and not for political pandering, they would have given equal coverage to the undisguised anti-Semitism practiced by the Lebanese delegation and the Saudi Judo competitor.

To claim that CNN directed no attention to anti-Semitic incidents at the Olympics would be unfair and false; apparently CNN was able to ignore the first two anti-Semitic incidents but just couldn’t bring itself to neglect the final and most flagrant incident. Egyptian Judo fighter El Shehaby was booed after he refused to shake the hand of his Israeli competitor, Or Sasson. After Sasson defeated Shehaby in the opening match, he extended his hand to the Egyptian, who refused and barely gave a nod as opposed to the traditional and compulsory bow after a Judo match is completed. CNN’s article is devoid of even a hint of disapproval towards Shehaby’s actions. At the end of the article, CNN attempts—and fails—to address the earlier bus incident with the Israeli and Lebanese athletes, stating “Reports have surfaced that Lebanese athletes refused to let Israel's competitors share a bus with them to the opening ceremonies.” At the latest, the story was confirmed by both the Lebanese and Israeli delegations by August 8th, yet the CNN article, dated August 18th, merely states that “reports have surfaced”, as if the incident is merely an illegitimate piece of gossip. Shockingly, but not surprisingly, MSNBC published no articles on any of the anti-Semitic incidents. Even more unbelievable was the response from the International Judo Federation, which absurdly claimed that it was “…already a big improvement that Arabic countries accept to (fight) Israel”. Supposedly sportsmanship between athletes is just too much to ask for when one of them is a Jew.

The Israeli athletes, and Jews around the world, do not require the sympathies of CNN, MSNBC, or any other news agencies or organizations to succeed, at the Olympics or anywhere else. (CNN practically ran a propaganda war against Israel during the 2014 Gaza war, and Israel yet again prevailed.) The Jewish people have stood up to and beaten far greater injustices than what the Israeli athletes faced at the Olympics. That commendable fact does not justify the actions of the Muslim nations that treated Israeli athletes with inhuman disdain, nor does it excuse the laughable or absent responses from organizations globally. It does, however, point to the strength of the Israeli athletes, something that should not be forgotten or overlooked after the Muslim athletes’ failed attempts to beat down the morale of the Israelis.

This year at the Olympics, the United States Olympic delegation included its first Muslim athlete to wear a hijab during competition, fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad. CNN wrote three separate articles on the momentous occurrence, which points to the cultural acceptance practiced in the United States. CNN has posted multiple opinion pieces on Islamophobia, including one (offensively) titled, “America’s Islamophobia Problem”. By no means am I suggesting that unjust discrimination against Islam and Muslims should be tolerated: it should be defeated, as should all ignorant discrimination. But where is the CNN opinion piece entitled “Arab Countries’ Anti-Semitism Problem”? Although the actions of a few athletes from Arab countries do not represent the views of those countries (Egypt actually sent El Shehaby home after he refused to shake Sasson’s hand), CNN has no qualm posting an opinion piece insinuating all of America has a problem with Islamophobia. I can only wonder what CNN would have titled their article if it had been a Jewish athlete who had refused to shake a Muslim’s hand.

At face value, much has changed in regards to the original games’ homogenous nature. The International Olympic Committee has successfully transformed what was once known for is exclusivity into a celebration of athleticism and international inclusivity. A clear and foreboding lesson of Rio, though, is that the Olympics’ original prejudicial environment is far from defeated so long as our world refuses to universally condemn discrimination.


Ethan Katz is a first year political science student at the University of Florida. He is dedicated to exploring political and international issues through his writings from an analytical and impartial viewpoint.

Trump surrogate: Trump just has to prove that ‘he’s not Adolf Hitler’


Donald Trump will have an easy task courting voters in the general election by proving he’s not Adolf Hitler, a media surrogate for the Republican presidential front-runner said on Monday.

“If Donald Trump is going to win the general election, he’s going to have to prove to the public that he’s not Adolf Hitler, which is going to be easy for him to do,” KKABC radio host John Phillips, a Trump surrogate said on CNN’s “New Day” program Monday morning. “If Hillary Clinton is going to win the nomination, she’s going to have to prove that she’s not Hillary Clinton. That’s going to be much harder to do.”

Phillips’ comments were in reference to Cruz’s recent claim that Trump and Clinton are the “flip sides of the same coin” on domestic and foreign policy issues alike.

Cruz’s surrogate on the program, Steve Lonegan, responded to Phillips’ comments by saying, “If I had said something like that I would have been attacked.”

Raw Story first 

Not every celebrity endorsement is a welcome one.

The saga of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling took yet another bizarre turn when he went on national television this week and started touting the virtues of Jewish mutual aid organizations.

In a CNN interview that aired Monday night, Sterling’s attempt to apologize for the inflammatory racial remarks that may cost him his team veered into a tirade against Magic Johnson. The Jewish tycoon argued that the basketball legend, who has a charitable foundation that addresses HIV/AIDS issues, is insufficiently philanthropic, and Sterling invoked the tradition of Jewish free loan associations to make his point.

“What does he do for the black people? He doesn’t do anything. The Jewish people have a company, and it’s for people who want to borrow money at no interest,” Sterling told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “They want to give them a fishing pole. We want to help people. If they don’t have the money, we’ll loan it to you. You don’t have interest. One day you’ll pay us back.”

Earlier in the interview, during another attack on Johnson, Sterling said, “Jews, when they get successful, they will help their people. And some of the African-Americans — maybe I’ll get in trouble again — they don’t want to help anybody.”

What Sterling was describing — and thrusting rather uncomfortably into the media glare — is a more than century-old communal institution that has helped both Jews and non-Jews with interest-free loans.

His words were not exactly welcome news to the professionals who run these organizations.

“I’m sorry that he mentioned us,” said Cindy Rogoway, executive director of the Hebrew Free Loan Association of San Francisco and vice president of the International Association of Jewish Free Loans. “I just think he’s a disgrace to himself.”

Sterling’s remarks,  however, do shed light on what has been a quiet corner of the Jewish charitable world.

Jewish free loan societies grew out of the landsmanschaften, or mutual benefit societies, organized by Jews from Central and Eastern Europe in the 19th century and transported to America when they immigrated.

Drawing on the biblical admonition not to charge interest to fellow Jews, the interest-free loan societies became a key financial resource for immigrants, providing funds for housing and education, as well as capital for small business expenses such as pushcarts and sewing machines.

“One of the main reasons that Hebrew free loan societies became so popular in the United States is that many immigrant Jews used these as access to capital for business,” said Shelly Tenenbaum, a professor of sociology at Clark University and the author of “A Credit to Their Community: Jewish Loan Societies in the United States.” “Business was a very important vehicle for Jewish immigrant mobility.”

Free loan societies proliferated. According to Steven Windmueller, an emeritus professor of Jewish nonprofit management at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles, a 1927 survey by the American Jewish Committee counted more than 500 Jewish free loan societies in the United States.

But by the mid-1940s, free loan societies were on the decline. Banks began to provide better access to capital through personal loans and the needs of growing Jewish businesses outstripped the societies’ resources.

The website of the International Association of Jewish Free Loans lists more than 30 Jewish free loan associations in the United States that belong to its network, along with others overseas.

Interestingly, the two largest American Jewish free loan societies, in New York and Los Angeles, were founded more than 100 years ago as nonsectarian institutions, giving loans to Jews and non-Jews. San Francisco, the third largest, has been sectarian since it was founded in 1897, but it has just launched a pilot program to offer student loans on a nonsectarian basis.

The Jewish free loan societies now fund an array of programs ranging from loans for education and small business, but also for camping, adoption and even fertility treatment. Borrowers are required to have one or more co-signers. All the free loan societies boast repayment rates of more than 99 percent.

A number of free loan societies have seen their assets and loan pools grow in recent years — the Jewish Free Loan Association in Los Angeles, for example, has some $18 million in assets and approximately $11 million circulating in loans, a figure it estimates has risen by about $1 million a year in the past few years.

The organization said Sterling has not been a donor but declined to comment further on his remarks.

Recent economic turbulence also has returned free loan societies to their roots as a last-resort safety net for American Jews and others.

The San Francisco association recently implemented an unemployment loan program. Rachel Grose, an associate director for the Los Angeles group, said that starting with the recession, her organization has seen its applicant pool expand from the poor and working classes to include more middle-class people.

“You had a lot of people who lost their jobs,” Grose said. “They weren’t necessarily living extravagant lifestyles, but they weren’t our typical caseload.”

Jewish free loan associations have inspired other ethnic groups to emulate their model. In San Francisco, the Hebrew Free Loan Association has been working for more than a decade with members of the local black community, including former Mayor Willie Brown, to help establish the African American Interest Free Loan Association.

Timothy Simon, the board chairman of the AAIFLA, said his organization is restructuring but hopes to begin making loans later this year pending approval by the state, with the San Francisco Hebrew Free Loan Association helping to evaluate, serve and process loans.

The city’s Hebrew Free Loan Association “has been not only extremely supportive but overwhelmingly empathetic to the needs of underserved communities in San Francisco,” Simon told JTA. “Our alliance is very strong.”

Donald Sterling rambles about blacks, Jews, Magic Johnson and Jewish free loan societies


Donald Sterling showed that he is the same person in public and in private.

The world got to know this crazy old billionaire with offensive views via leaked audio of him ranting about black people.

[TRANSCRIPT/VIDEO: Donald Sterling's interview on CNN]

The same crazy old billionaire with offensive views showed up to rant about black people in his interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

And just as he had on the tape — no doubt much to the chagrin of his co-religionists — he dragged his fellow Jews into his semi-coherent ramblings.

[Related: Former Microsoft CEO to buy LA Clippers for $2 billion]

“Jews, when they get successful, they will help their people. And some of the African Americans — maybe I’ll get in trouble again — they don’t want to help anybody,” Sterling said.

To similar effect, he also launched into a paean to the tradition of Jewish free loan societies.

“The Jewish people have a company and it’s for people who want to borrow money for no interest,” he said. “We want to give them a fishing pole. We want to help people. if they don’t have money, we’ll loan it to them. There is no African-American…. I’m sorry. They all want to play golf with me, everyone wants to be with me.”

Sterling reiterated his antipathy toward Magic Johnson, who had posed in the photo with Sterling’s lady friend V. Stiviano that helped spark the Clippers owner’s original taped rant.

On CNN, Sterling questioned the extent of Johnson’s charitable activities and knocked his past philandering, veering wildly between criticism and praise of the former Lakers star. He even recounted praying in shul for Johnson’s health:

Here’s a man I don’t know if I should say this, he acts so holy. He made love with every girl in every city in America, and he had AIDS, and when he had those AIDS, I went to my synagogue and I prayed for him. I hoped he could live and be well. I didn’t criticize him. I could have. Is he an example for children? You know, because he has money, he’s able to treat himself. But Magic Johnson is irrelevant in this thing. He didn’t do anything harmful to anybody and I respect him and I admire everything that he does. I’d like to help even more if he would offer me an opportunity to help. I like to help minorities.

Sterling broke down crying when talking about V. Stiviano: “I thought she cared for me. I was stupid. How could a girl care for a man 51 years older?”

All in all, it was a sad spectacle at the media circus.

As Netanyahu arrives in L.A. for show premiere, Israeli consulate’s absence is felt


On the morning that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was due in Los Angeles for the beginning of a three-day trip to California, Israel's Foreign Ministry labor union went on strike to protest its wages, shifting management of Netanyahu’s trip, at the last minute, from the local consulate to the Prime Minister’s office.

But that didn’t stop the Israeli leader from attending the March 4 premiere of “Israel: The Royal Tour,” the latest in the PBS television series hosted by CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg, in which heads of state give Greenberg a tour of their country.

The premiere was held at Paramount Studios and was hosted by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

In the hour-long show, [Related: CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg discusses “Israel: The Royal Tour” before the show's premiere Mar. 4 in Los Angeles.

Netanyahu also let the crowd in on an almost unheard of bit of information—his office agreed to give Greenberg full editorial control over the final product.

“I haven’t seen the film,” Netanyahu admitted, before ending his remarks and walking into the screening theater with the crowd following behind him.

Although the Foreign Ministry’s strike is not expected to throw a wrench into Netanyahu’s California plans, the sudden bow out from the local consulate did confuse some of the evening’s arrangements, which were supposed to include a press screening of the film—but didn’t.

In an email Tuesday from David Siegel, Israel’s Consul General in Los Angeles wrote, “The Foreign Ministry’s labor union was forced to announce a major labor dispute relating to critical issues involving the future of Israel’s Foreign Service.”

Among other things, the strike means that Israeli consulates around the world will suspend services to visiting Israeli dignitaries and most consular services to Israelis abroad

Netanyahu will be in California until Thursday, traveling north on March 5 to meet with Silicon Valley executives and Gov. Jerry Brown before returning to Los Angeles for his final leg on March 6.

It is the first time since 2006 that a sitting Israeli Prime Minister has visited California.

Before the event, the Journal caught up with Peter Greenberg, who said that despite having been to Israel dozens of times since he began reporting in 1970, touring the country with Netanyahu made this trip entirely different.

“You are seeing the country through the Prime Minister’s eyes and places that are important to him and experiences that are important to him,” Greenberg said, adding that his time on Masada with Netanyahu was his favorite part of the trip.

“He is such an eloquent storyteller and he actually, really, is a historian.”

“Israel: The Royal Tour” will premiere on Thursday, March 6 at 7 p.m. on PBS SoCal

Terminally ill teen who covered Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’ loses fight with cancer


Olivia Wise, the Jewish teenager from Toronto whose cover of Katy Perry’s “Roar” became a viral hit, died of brain cancer on Monday, CNN reports. She was 16.

Wise made the moving recording in September after learning her condition was untreatable. She was wheelchair-bound, unable to stand or walk, but her spirit was evident nonetheless.

The video touched many — including Perry, who shot back a video message of her own.

“I love you, a lot of people love you, that’s why your video got to me,” Perry said. “And it moved everyone who saw it.”

Perry responded to Wise’s death late Monday night. “Olivia Wise, I can hear you singing with the angels now,” the pop star tweeted. “Your spirit & strength has inspired me & so many others… May you rest in peace.”

Named in her honor, the Liv Wise Fund has so far raised over $90,000 in support of brain tumor research. You can make a donation here.

Marty Kaplan: No news is bad news


If you think the widening chasm between the rich and the rest spells trouble for American democracy, have a look at the growing gulf between the information-rich and -poor.

Earlier this year, a Harvard economist’s jaw-dropping study of American’s beliefs about the distribution of American wealth became a “>new Pew study of the distribution of American news consumption is just as flabbergasting. 

According to the Harvard study, most people believe that the top 20 percent of the country owns about half the nation’s wealth, and that the lower 60 percent combined, including the 20 percent in the middle, have only about 20 percent of the wealth.  A whopping 92 percent of Americans think this is out of whack; in the ideal distribution, they said, the lower 60 percent would have about half of the wealth, with the middle 20 percent of the people owning 20 percent of the wealth.