NBC Raises 9/11 & Pushes Quote to Hurt McCain, ABC Ties in Iraq

Notes on Friday night coverage of the Wall Street bail out:

On the NBC Nightly News, the always hyperbolic Jim Cramer saw “Great Depression II” avoided by the rescue effort, anchor Brian Williams raised 9/11 as he contended “this was the kind of jittery week in New York a lot of people had to go back to 9/11 to remember how they felt then,” prompting an “oh, wow” from CNBC's Maria Bartiromo, and Williams passed along how “a Democratic politico said to me this week, if the Democrats do their job, they'll make this 'fundamentals of the economy' quote to McCain what 'mission accomplished' was to President Bush.”

ABC's World News brought up Iraq as David Muir referred to how a man in Manhattan “asked today what about the more than $600 billion already spent on Iraq?” Muir also read an e-mail: “Why make the little people bail out these companies?” Of course, the “little people” won't since they barely or don't pay any income tax. One-third of those who file pay nothing or get money back while the bottom 50 percent ($32,000 down), who earn 12 percent of the total income, pay less than 3 percent of taxes collected. The top 25 percent ($65,000 up) pay 86 percent and the top 1 percent ($389,000) pay 40 percent, so maybe the wealthier will get something for all they put in.

Fuller quotes from the September 19 NBC and ABC evening newscasts, in sequence:

NBC Nightly News:
JIM CRAMER OF CNBC: This is about avoiding the Great Depression II. This is about going to your automatic teller machine and having money still come out. This was necessary. I've been a relentless critic of this administration, not today. This was well done.

...

BRIAN WILLIAMS: This was the kind of jittery week in New York a lot of people had to go back to 9/11 to remember how they felt then. How do you feel going into this weekend?

MARIA BARTIROMO OF CNBC: Oh, wow. Well, you know, I'm feeling optimistic, Brian. I think that the regulators are on this issue. I think we will get through it. I think there are a lot of reasons to feel good about things, even though we will see layoffs, and that is going to have ripple effects throughout the economy. Things are pretty slow right now. But this economy is resilient. We'll get through it.

....

WILLIAMS TO CHUCK TODD: A Democratic politico said to me this week, if the Democrats do their job, they'll make this “fundamentals of the economy” quote to McCain what “mission accomplished” was to President Bush. I presume when you and I see each other in a week ast the first presidential debate it will come up.

ABC's World News, latter part of Muir's story:
DAVID MUIR: ...Not acting, economists say, would have made things far worse. The grease that keeps the economy going would have dried up. Stocks tumbling, 401 k's taking huge hits. They say banks could have collapsed, putting personal savings in danger. And there could have been a freeze on loans for homes, cars and so much else. Still, the scope of this bailout is unsettling for so many Americans. One viewer e-mailed us: “Does the government just look at this as Monopoly money? Why make the little people bail out these companies?”And this man asked today, what about the more than $600 billion already spent on Iraq?

MAN IN MANHATTAN: We are bankrupting this nation, but I don't know what choice we have.

MUIR: Though necessary, economists acknowledge many Americans will see this as hypocritical: Don't help home owners struggling to make mortgage payments, but step in when the big guys start to fail.

JOESEPH STIGLITZ, PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS, COLUMBIA U: It's one thing for, to have some safety net for very poor people. It's a different thing to have safety net for some of the biggest corporations in America.

MUIR: He calls it corporate welfare. Whatever you call it, today the Treasury Secretary said it will cost Americans far less than the alternative. David Muir, ABC News, New York.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center