ABC Counters Palin SNL Success with How She's 'Damaged Carrier'

Twisting in the knife. While Barack Obama gets gushing coverage (ABC's Jake Tapper marveled on Monday's World News over Obama's “rather unbelievable weekend where he had his largest campaign crowd ever -- 100,00 in St Louis -- he announced record-breaking fundraising, $150 million in September and, of course, he secured the endorsement of that Republican Secretary of State, retired General Colin Powell”), ABC and CBS took gratuitous shots at John McCain and Sarah Palin, twisting upbeat events and a Joe Biden gaffe into negatives for the Republican ticket while NBC skipped over Biden's warning Obama's election will invite “an international crisis.”

ABC reporter Ron Claiborne cited McCain's “concentrated attack on Obama as not just a tax raiser, but someone whose policies are socialist. McCain never utters the S-word himself. That's left to his running mate.” But, he warned, “Palin may be a damaged carrier of the McCain message.” Claiborne then paired her Saturday night success with a negative poll finding as he noted “her appearance this weekend on Saturday Night Live was a boost for the show's ratings, but an ABC News poll finds that 52 percent of voters said McCain's choice of Palin made them less confident of his judgment.”
Over on the CBS Evening News, Chip Reid highlighted how a CBS News poll determined “over the last month, 23 percent of voters say their opinion of McCain has gotten worse. Why? 32 percent of those blame his attacks on Obama.” Reid proceeded to bury the Biden misstep under a McCain attack: “Late today, McCain added a new attack to his stump speech, seizing on a recent remark by Obama running mate Joe Biden who suggested that foreign powers would create an international crisis to test the mettle of a President Obama.”

ABC's World News didn't mention Biden's suggestion, at a Sunday fundraiser in Seattle, that the election of Obama will lead to “an international crisis,” though Tapper put it in his blog, and only the NBC Nightly News aired any audio of Biden -- though edited to avoid airing the more damaging portion.  

In his Political Punch blog on ABC News.com Tapper reported:
"Mark my words," the Democratic vice presidential nominee said at a Seattle fundraiser Sunday, "it will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We're about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don't remember anything else I said. Watch, we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy."
But instead of airing that prediction of how Obama's election will lead to a crisis, Andrea Mitchell's NBC Nightly News story featured a clip which painted Obama as tough: “They're going to want to test him, just like they did young John Kennedy. They're going to want to test him. And they're going to find out this guy's got steel in his spine.”

Portions of the Monday, October 20 ABC, CBS and NBC stories:

ABC's World News:
RON CLAIBORNE: ...In his latest campaign mantra, McCain once again invoked Joe the Plumber as someone he says would have his taxes raised by Obama. This despite questions whether Joe Wurzelbacher would really face a tax increase under Obama's proposals. In Columbia, he met with some small business owners who McCain claims will also suffer under Obama's tax proposals, and his campaign invited the public to send him 30-second home videos to explaining why they, too, are like Joe. It's all part of a concentrated attack on Obama as not just a tax raiser, but someone whose policies are socialist. McCain never utters the S-word himself. That's left to his running mate.

SARAH PALIN: Now is not the time to experiment with socialism.
....

CLAIBORNE: But these days, Palin may be a damaged carrier of the McCain message.

[SNL clip]

CLAIBORNE: Her appearance this weekend on Saturday Night Live was a boost for the show's ratings, but an ABC News poll finds that 52 percent of voters said McCain's choice of Palin made them less confident of his judgment...
 
CBS Evening News:
CHIP REID: ...Over the last month, 23 percent of voters say their opinion of McCain has gotten worse. Why? 32 percent of those blame his attacks on Obama. Late today McCain added a new attack to his stump speech, seizing on a recent remark by Obama running mate Joe Biden who suggested that foreign powers would create an international crisis to test the mettle of a President Obama.

JOHN McCAIN: We don't want a President who invites testing from the world in a time when our economy is in crisis and Americans are already fighting in two wars.

REID: McCain is now spending most of his time in states like Missouri, states that were once reliably Republican but to you could go ert way. Tomorrow he heads for Pennsylvania, one of the few Democratic states he's still contesting. Chip Reid, CBS News, Missouri.

NBC Nightly News:
ANDREA MITCHELL: ...Sunday McCain's long-time friend Colin Powell endorsed Obama and criticized the choice of Sarah Palin.
 
COLIN POWELL, ON MEET THE PRESS: I don't believe she's ready to be President of the United States, which is the job of the Vice President.

MITCHELL: Powell could boost Obama's foreign policy credentials. But today the McCain camp seized on something Joe Biden said, that Oama would be tested in his first months in office.

AUDIO OF JOE BIDEN: They're going to want to test him, just like they did young John Kennedy. They're going to want to test him. And they're going to find out this guy's got steel in his spine.

JOHN McCAIN: We don't want a President who invites testing from the world at a time when our economy is in crisis.

MITCHELL: Meanwhile, McCain's running mate, fighting the image war, confronted her double on Saturday Night Live... 
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