On Thursday's Squawk Box on CNBC, host Joe Kernen cited the Media Research Center's latest study showing the Big Three network evening newscasts have barely noticed the anti-Obama midterm election of 2014 but provided wall-to-wall coverage in 2006: "...they breathlessly reported the Democratic takeover of Capitol Hill in the anti-Bush election of 2006....the coverage of this current situation, 6 to 1 disparity. There were 159 stories about the Democrats taking over in 2006. There have been 25 on the Big Three this [year]."
Kyle Drennen is a Media Research Center news analyst and serves as a contributing writer to NewsBusters. He joined the MRC in 2007 after graduating from Providence College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and political science.
On Wednesday, Today co-host Matt Lauer began an interview with Bill O'Reilly by citing liberal New York Times columnist Frank Bruni actually criticizing the Obama administration's handling of the Ebola crisis: "One dimension of the disease's toll is clear. It's ravaging Americans' already tenuous faith in the competence of our government and its bureaucracies."
O'Reilly agreed with Bruni's "very perceptive" analysis and declared that Americans "should be angry at their government, because they blew it! Blew it, blew it, blew it!"
At the end of Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, moderator Chuck Todd led his panel of guests in warning Republicans against any effort to oppose ObamaCare if they win the Senate majority in the upcoming midterm election: "...the biggest, I would argue, false promise of the...midterm campaign has been about [repealing] the Affordable Care Act....[Mitch McConnell's] never gonna have the ability to do it."
Politico's Manu Raju asserted: "That's right. Even if he gets the majority, it's going to be a 51-49 majority." Todd wondered: "Are Republicans over-promising here? Because their base is gonna expect to see that and it ain't gonna happen." Raju agreed: "It isn't gonna happen."
In less than two weeks, voters head to the polls in midterm elections that seem certain to yield strong Republican gains, if not outright control of the U.S. Senate. Such a political sea change is big news, but a new Media Research Center study finds that, in contrast to their enthusiastic coverage of the 2006 midterms when Democrats made big gains, the Big Three broadcast evening newscasts are all but ignoring this year’s political contests.
In a report for Tuesday's CBS This Morning on the political fallout from the Obama administration's mishandling of the Ebola crisis, correspondent Chip Reid touted a Democratic attack line being used against Republicans in the midterm campaign: "Some Democrats are firing back, claiming that Republican spending cuts have made the problem worse....An independent liberal group called The Agenda Project has even released a new ad with the tag line, 'Republican Cuts Kill.'"
Appearing on Friday's CBS This Morning, Republican pollster Frank Luntz reacted to the latest CBS News poll showing Americans having a "crisis of confidence" in government institutions: "The problem is that the institutions that have the greatest impact on us, the CDC, the FDA, the EPA, those that are responsible for our health and safety, are the ones that have had the biggest collapse. In fact, in some cases it's 20-30-point drop in just the last 15-18 months."
After citing numerous Republicans on the campaign trail criticizing the Obama administration's handling of the ebola crisis, on Thursday, MSNBC Daily Rundown host Craig Melvin condemned such criticism as "the politics of fear" and "irresponsible."
In an interview with Ann Romney aired on Tuesday's NBC Today, special anchor Maria Shriver couldn't help getting in a dig at Republicans: "The Republican Party is viewed by so many women as having a gender problem, a women's problem. Do you believe that?"
The question came amid a segment that was largely focused on the Romneys funding the creation of a new medical center to research multiple sclerosis – which Ann Romney suffers from – as well as other neurological diseases.
After their cameraman Ashoka Mukpo contracted ebola while covering the epidemic in Africa, NBC chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman and her team of reporters were supposed to be under a voluntary 21-day quarantine. Instead, Snyderman herself was recently spotted in public in her New Jersey neighborhood, reportedly getting take-out.
In response to the growing controversy over the clear violation, Snyderman released a statement on Monday in which she completely dodged any personal responsibility: "While under voluntary quarantine guidelines, which called for our team to avoid public contact for 21 days, members of our group violated those guidelines and understand that our quarantine is now mandatory until 21 days have passed."
On Monday's NBC Today, 9 a.m. ET hour co-host Willie Geist actually tried to spin top Democratic Party surrogates like Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton mispronouncing the name of Iowa Senate candidate Bruce Braley as a boost to Braley's campaign: "But now he's getting a lot of name recognition. Maybe it was like evil genius move, who knows?"
So his biggest supporters not knowing his name helps with name recognition? In the clip of the First Lady that was featured, she even went so far as to direct people to the wrong website: "You need to elect Bruce Bailey to the U.S. Senate....vote.BruceBailey.com, that's vote.BruceBailey.com."
Glossing over the vulnerability of Democratic candidates in the upcoming midterm election, a story on Friday's NBC Today downplayed President Obama's unpopularity and instead touted him jetting to a star-studded California fundraiser to raise money for his ailing political party. White House correspondent Chris Jansing proclaimed: "While his job approval ratings have mostly kept him away from candidates, he can still raise a lot of money for the November election."
Jansing detailed Obama's latest quest for campaign cash: "President Obama headed to his 53rd fundraiser of the year, at Gwyneth Paltrow's house....Inside, Paltrow gushed over the President while introducing him, saying, 'I am one of your biggest fans, if not the biggest.' And, 'You're so handsome that I can't speak properly.'"
In the only coverage of the upcoming midterm election on Thursday's network morning shows, CBS This Morning offered a surprisingly positive profile of Mitt Romney's popularity on the campaign trail contrasted with President Obama's absence amid sinking poll numbers. Correspondent Nancy Cordes opened the report by proclaiming: "You could almost call it the Romney redemption tour. Two years after his crushing loss, he is now the most sought after Republican on the campaign trail."
Cordes announced: "In all, Romney has headlined 44 fundraisers and campaign events this year, in 21 states....clearly the center of attention. Posing for pictures, signing books. The crowd at this diner in Atlanta applauded when he sat down to have a hot dog."
In an interview aired on Wednesday's CBS This Morning, co-host Charlie Rose lectured former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on criticizing President Obama in a new memoir: "There are those who say, you know, he appointed you to two of the highest positions that this country has to offer, just wait until he's out of office before criticizing."
Panetta pushed back: "Do you know what? It's exactly because I am very loyal to this president and because I want him to succeed that I think it's important to raise these issues now....And besides that, I don't think you put a hold on history. I think the American people are entitled to understand history and what's involved in the policy decisions that this country makes..."
While ignoring any mention of the pivotal midterm election less than a month away that could decide control of the United States Senate, on Tuesday, NBC's Today instead devoted a full two-minute segment in its first hour to newly discovered photos of John and Jackie Kennedy's wedding – from 61 years ago.
Co-host Matt Lauer introduced the segment by announcing "a stunning series of never-before-seen photographs from the wedding of John and Jacqueline Kennedy." In the report that followed, correspondent Peter Alexander proclaimed: "It was one of the most celebrated American weddings of the 20th century, the handsome young senator and his beautiful bride....Now more than six decades since Camelot, a never-before-seen glimpse at that historic wedding day, September 12th, 1953."
During an interview with former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer cited Panetta's criticism of President Obama in a new memoir and made a surprisingly tough observation: "So did the President put the vital interests of the United States on a lower priority than fulfilling a campaign promise to end the war and pull out all troops?"
Panetta tried to soften the accusation: "No, you know, I wouldn't say that about the President. I think he really did want to try to do what was right. But his feeling was if [former Iraqi Prime Minister] Maliki doesn't want it, you know, why should we keep pushing on this?...But the fact was, unless we had that presence there, we would lose the leverage on Maliki to keep him in the right place."
While interrogating Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday, host Chuck Todd spat out a nasty attack line against the GOP regarding a new Texas law requiring abortion clinics to have hospital-level medical standards: "One of the things about the Republican Party is you don't like a lot of regulation on businesses, except if the business is a abortion clinic."
Todd continued his rant: "80% of these abortion clinics in Texas are going to be basically out of business because of this new law. Too much regulation? Is that fair? Why regulate on the abortion issue now?...Why restrict a business now in the state of Texas?"
Appearing on Monday's NBC Today, ex-CNN host Piers Morgan kept up the anti-gun crusade that caused his ratings to plummet, denouncing his colleagues in the press: "I wish more American media people, American news anchors stood up. Because so many of them privately to me would say, 'I love what you're doing. Keep going, it's really important.' But I never heard that on air. And I think there's a certain moral cowardice in the media in America that needs to be addressed about guns."
Co-host Matt Lauer began the interview by asking Morgan if he had spent the five months since being fired from CNN in March "thinking about what went wrong." Morgan argued: "Yeah, I mean, not a lot went wrong from where I sit. I had a fantastic time at CNN." He explained: "...you had the two big gun massacres in Aurora and Sandy Hook and something inside me just exploded, I guess. And then for the next year, it became a kind of war of attrition on air between me and the NRA and the gun lobbyists and the show changed as a result."
On Friday's CBS This Morning, co-host Gayle King promoted protests in Colorado designed to silence local school board members who were considering whether to have a discussion about possibly changing the history education curriculum to reflect a more positive view of the United States: "High school students outside Denver promise more protests today against the Jefferson County School Board. The panel refuses to drop a controversial plan reassessing how the district teaches American history."
In the report that followed, correspondent Anna Werner hyped "an incredibly contentious meeting" of the school board where "Audience members called for the board's three conservative members to resign after they voted in favor of curriculum review." The headline on screen throughout the segment read: "Censoring History? School Board Votes to Review Lessons Amid Outrage." [Listen to the audio]
In a contentious interview with Benjamin Netanyahu aired on her 12 p.m. ET hour MSNBC show on Thursday, host Andrea Mitchell badgered the Israeli Prime Minister by repeatedly parroting a nasty attack line from the Obama administration: "...the White House and the State Department say that the new settlements in Arab East Jerusalem undercut your commitment to peace. That it could poison the atmosphere, it could turn the world against you. What is your response to that, when the President says that to you?" [Listen to the audio]
After Netanyahu explained that the supposed "new settlements" were already existing Jerusalem neighborhoods, Mitchell repeated the White House talking points: "But what do you say when the President says that this undercuts your commitment to peace and is poisonous to an agreement with the Palestinians?"
Appearing on MSNBC's Jose Diaz-Balart on Thursday, former talk show host and retired Marine Montel Williams scolded the Obama administration for not taking action to free Marine Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi, held in a Mexican prison for six months on a trumped up weapons charge: "...what I found out was extremely disturbing....Jill Tahmooressi has had a son in prison for six months who is ill. No one from the White House has reached out to her to say, 'We're going to do something.' The State Department hasn't even called her directly to say, 'We're going to do something.'"
Williams, who testified on behalf of Tahmooressi at a congressional hearing on Wednesday, pointed out the President's hypocrisy on the issue: "Remember, when [Sergeant Bowe] Bergdahl was let out, the President said he did so because he was in imminent risk of medical danger. Sergeant Tahmooressi's in the same position. The President should do the same thing. And not trade anybody, just make the call to the president of Mexico." [Listen to the audio]