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."
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.
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]
In a report for Tuesday's CBS Evening News, correspondent John Blackstone touted California passing a law to ban plastic bags from grocery stores as "a victory for those who've declared the single-use plastic bag an environmental enemy." Leading off a similar segment on Wednesday's CBS This Morning, he declared: "You see them everywhere, plastic bags by the road, by the water, in landfills. But now you won't see them at any California grocery stores."
After Blackstone's This Morning report, co-host Norah O'Donnell excitedly endorsed the nanny state government overreach: "You know, in Washington, D.C. they did this several years ago. They didn't ban them outright, but they said if you want a bag, you gotta pay the extra five or ten cents and that money would go to cleaning up the Anacostia River. And it's worked. People use less plastic bags." Fellow co-host Gayle King chimed in: "I think it's a great idea." [Listen to the audio]
On Tuesday, NBC's Today seized on accusations of anti-Muslim bias in the NFL after Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah was hit with a 15-yard penalty after appearing to pray in the end zone after scoring a touchdown against the New England Patriots Monday night. This was the same network that censored any mention of the Islamic extremism of an Oklahoma man who beheaded a co-worker on Thursday.
After ignoring criticism on Monday of President Obama's claim to 60 Minutes that the intelligence community was to blame for having "underestimated" ISIS, Tuesday's CBS This Morning finally caught up with the story as co-host Norah O'Donnell declared: "...intelligence officials sort of brustled [sic] at hearing the President say that the intelligence community may have underestimated this threat. I mean, publicly, there's a paper trail of intelligence officials before Congress saying ISIS is a problem."
Fellow co-host Charlie Rose added: "We're also now hearing from high-level intelligence officials off the record, you know, that they think that it was wrong in a sense, as to some are suggesting, to throw intelligence community under the bus. I'm not sure the President meant to do that. But clearly, there is a push-back on the part of the intelligence community saying, 'We tried to tell you.'" [Listen to the audio]
In an interview with Ben Affleck on Monday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer observed that the actor's new murder mystery thriller Gone Girl was "a little hostile to the institution of the media." Affleck agreed but reassured Lauer: "Yeah, it's not media broadly. It's not you guys or The New York Times or even the news. It's about that stripe of media that's the sort of the cable, 24-hour, 'Who killed somebody today?,' you know, kind of hustle."
Affleck – who plays a husband suspected of murdering his wife amid a media frenzy in the film – listed various real-life murder cases the press became obsessed with: "...Scott Peterson or Laci Peterson or whatever, Amanda Knox, or that girl whose daughter died. You know, whatever horrible thing happens, there's somebody kind of really sanctimonious running a show twenty four hours a day trying to make money off of it..." Of course NBC was saturated with sensational coverage of all of those stories as well.
Even as President Obama clearly attempted during a Sunday 60 Minutes interview to blame others for his failure to recognize ISIS as a growing threat in the Middle East, Monday's NBC Today spun the buck-passing as a "very candid" admission by the commander-in-chief.
Co-host Matt Lauer opened the morning show by proclaiming: "Underestimated. The President admits his administration and U.S. intelligence officials misjudged the threat of ISIS." While that headline suggested to viewers that Obama was taking responsibility for the failure, a soundbite ran of the President distancing himself from blame: "I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria."
Of the three broadcast evening newscasts Thursday night, only the CBS Evening News offered a full report on the resignation of controversial Attorney General Eric Holder. NBC Nightly News only offered a news brief on the topic, while ABC's World News amazingly skipped the news completely – though it did find the time to provide a full segment on Yankees captain Derek Jeter retiring.
On Friday's morning shows, the pattern was similar. CBS This Morning featured another full story on Holder's contentious tenure at the Justice Department while NBC's Today and ABC's Good Morning America each included mere seconds of coverage. However, both NBC and ABC devoted full reports to Jeter.