It used to be a cliche that a threatened federal shutdown would send liberals and journalists scurrying to show people harmed by highlighting a closed Washington Monument and disappointed tourists – a cliche ABC’s Jake Tapper turned into a reality Wednesday night. He, however, shamelessly went even further, invoking not only how “landmarks will close” – citing the Washington Monument, the Liberty Bell and the National Zoo – but also “medical research and hope for desperate patients,” including “children with cancer.”
After illustrating the implication of closed landmarks with video of upset 6th graders from rural Massachusetts, one of whom proclaimed “the government is mean,” Tapper wasn’t done with his parade of victims supposedly to be hurt by a shutdown, which hasn’t yet happened and could last just a matter of days, as he found a 4-year-old refugee from Ethiopia to exploit. Really. Warning that “for those who sent in their taxes by mail, tax refunds may not arrive,” Tapper relayed:
In Louisville Kentucky, J.T. Henderson and his wife had to file their taxes by mail so they could receive the adoption refund after 4-year-old Teddy, from Ethiopia, joined their family last summer.
In an argument which would make his ex-NPR colleagues proud, Juan Williams took to Fox News Sunday to push for tax hikes to reduce the deficit. Scolding Brit Hume, an exasperated Williams contended: “You’re going on as if, ‘you know what, we don't know in America how to help our own deficit problems.’ We do. We just have to tax people.”
Moments before, in assessing Republican Congressman Paul Ryan’s expected plan on how to slow budget growth, Williams insisted “tax increases should not be off the table,” chastising Ryan for, during an interview with Chris Wallace earlier on the show, rejecting a tax increase: “I don't know why it is that he somehow suggests the rich in the country have no obligation to support the country.”
The broadcast evening news anchors all got ten minutes with President Barack Obama on Tuesday afternoon in New York City to press him about contradictions in his Libya policy, ceding authority for foreign entities and how he’s a hypocrite after his criticism of President Bush for unilateral actions and not getting congressional approval, but instead they simply prodded him to provide arms to the rebels and pushed him to take action in Syria.
But ABC’s Diane Sawyer stood out for her obsequiousness as the Kentucky native ended by giddily bringing up the college basketball tournament: “How much do you think Kentucky will win by?” Before that, she cued him up to agree he’s as burdened as Abraham Lincoln:
What about the famous quote from another beleaguered President, Abraham Lincoln, who said he had been driven many times to his knees because his own wisdom and that around him “was insufficient for the day”?
Wednesday’s CBS Evening News celebrated the one-year anniversary of ObamaCare by touting its benefits before Katie Couric, who devoted half her newscast to Elizabeth Taylor’s passing, fretted: “What about the legal battles? Could they actually derail health care reform altogether?”
Neither ABC nor NBC touched ObamaCare on Wednesday night but, in contrast to CBS, on FNC’s Special Report Carl Cameron noted “the latest Gallup poll suggests it’s less popular than a year ago” and raised how Obama allies are trying to escape it, citing “requests for over a thousand waivers, half of which went to labor unions letting them and some other organizations and businesses opt out of the plan until at least 2014.”
Couric began by asking Jan Crawford “what changes has the law made in the health care system so far?” Crawford recited:
NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, who after a 2008 presidential debate hailed Barack Obama’s foreign policy knowledge (“boy, he did show a command of foreign policy in terms of the nuts and bolts of it”), on Sunday’s Meet the Press trumpeted now-President Obama’s Libya action: “This was pretty remarkable – bringing this whole coalition together and getting the Arab League” to back military action.
Mitchell also proclaimed Ambassador Susan Rice “did a remarkable job at the UN” where she delivered “some very adept diplomacy.”
Mitchell’s praise for Obama came in the context of acknowledging “the problem that the President has in projecting American values is that he first of all believes in a multi-lateralist policy,” but instead of seeing that as a negative, she declared “on that score he has really accomplished that. This was pretty remarkable – bringing this whole coalition together and getting the Arab League.”
David Gregory is best-known as the calm, if liberal, host of NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday mornings.
But he’s also a fan of the Washington Capitals hockey team and as a local celebrity, along with Pat Sajak, he volunteered to help cheer on the team with its “Unleash the Fury!” in-game presentation centered around actor Tom Green reprising the line from the same scene he played in the movie Road Trip.
Here, so you can see a different side of Gregory this Sunday morning, is a three-second video clip of Gregory screaming “Unleash the Fury!”
Diane Sawyer allocated all but 1:37 of World News to Japan on Wednesday night, committing 33 seconds of that limited time to touting President Obama’s NCAA basketball picks provided to ABC corporate cousin ESPN.
“Despite all the troubles around the world” Sawyer rationalized – as if there’s much evidence Obama, who’s hardly been engaged in the Libyan or Japanese situations and who went golfing last weekend, is devoting much time to any of it – “the President kept his annual appointment to fill out his bracket for college basketball's March Madness. The basketball Fan-in-Chief got together with our sister network ESPN's Andy Katz.”
Following a clip of Obama revealing a couple of his selections, Sawyer trumpeted: “You heard it here first. The President is going with Kansas!” Then, with “BARACK-ETOLOGY” at the top of the screen above ESPN graphics, Sawyer plugged: “And you can see all of his picks on ESPN’s Sports Center and at ESPN.com.”
ABC’s Bill Weir inaccurately lectured Friday night: “Consider Japan's state of the art undersea sensors and tsunami gates, protecting key ports, while just last month, our House of Representatives voted to slash funding for the Hawaiian tsunami warning center that issued last night's alarm.”
Then on Saturday’s World News, reporter Clayton Sandell found it newsworthy to highlight how “Democrats accuse Republicans of being irresponsible for proposing budget cuts to NOAA, the federal agency that provides forecasts and early warnings of natural disasters.”
Sandell cued up a California Democrat with a loaded question: “NOAA's budget gets cut, are people's lives more at risk?” The Congressman, who represents the state’s northern coast, naturally, agreed: “Absolutely.”
Actor Alan Cumming (IMDb page), who was born in Britain and plays the scheming campaign manager “Eli Gold” on CBS’s The Good Wife, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last week: “I wanted to become a U.S. citizen so that I could vote for [Barack] Obama.” Cumming also has a voice role in the upcoming The Smurfs movie.
The Post-Gazette’s Patricia Sheridan explained in the interview published March 7: “Cumming, 46, is a citizen of both Great Britain and the U.S. Once married to a woman -- he's now with a man -- Mr. Cumming has described himself as bisexual and is outspoken about gay rights issues. He will be in Pittsburgh March 16 for the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force benefit at the O'Reilly Theater.”
Demonstrating how the mainstream media are an obstacle to any efforts to make any cuts to any federal spending, NBC and ABC on Wednesday night resorted to citing Sesame Street characters as potential “casualties in a war over culture and spending cuts,” without any regard for how the Children’s Television Workshop is a huge generator of revenue from corporate donations and product sales, as NBC’s Lisa Myers went so far as to exploit the kids of the nation:
With American children already falling behind, public broadcasting supporters fear Bert and Ernie could become a casualty of the political wars.
With House conservatives hoping to eliminate funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds PBS and NPR stations and production projects, Myers warned: “Officials say some stations would go under. Also at risk, programming like Sesame Street.”
Picking up on an argument made by economist Mark Zandi -- whom the Washington Postdescribed as “an architect of the 2009 stimulus package” and who last year pushed for a second stimulus bill -- ABC’s Christiane Amanpour on Sunday morning, presuming there is an ongoing “recovery,” plugged a This Week roundtable topic:
Up next, Washington's answer to the job crisis. Will the deep budget cuts on the table stick a fork in the recovery?
In the subsequent segment, Amanpour forwarded: “$61 billion in budget cuts. Mark Zandi says 700,000 jobs will be lost.” Panelist Chrystia Freeland, global editor-at-large for Thomson-Reuters, agreed: “I think he's right.”
Echoing Amanpour’s theme, over on Meet the Press NBC’s David Gregory cited a poll to show “people want that focus on immediate job creation,” not budget cuts, “and that gets the President's point, which is you've got to get the balance right. You can't grow if you keep cutting so much.”
Last May when a CBS News poll first asked about Arizona’s immigration enforcement law and found majority support for it (52 percent), the CBS Evening News didn’t report the finding. Two months later, when backing jumped five points higher, the newscast gave it a sentence. And a month after that, when those favoring the Arizona law had risen to 59 percent in August, the evening newscast ignored that number and instead focused on how “Americans oppose building a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero,” a story the network used to castigate Americans, pivoting to how that opposition and “controversies over new mosques in Wisconsin and Kentucky have led some to question is America becoming Islamophobic, a prejudice against Muslims?”
Now, with a CBS News/New York Times survey finding the public in sync with the CBS newsroom, and out of sync with conservatives, Katie Couric trumpeted in teasing Monday’s program: “Our new poll finds most Americans oppose cutting the pay, benefits and union rights of public employees.” She soon announced: “In a CBS News/New York Times poll out tonight, 56 percent of Americans say they oppose cutting the pay and benefits of public workers to reduce state budget deficits and 60 percent oppose taking away collective bargaining rights.”
Catching up with a Thursday night appearance by Senator Rand Paul to plug his new book, Paul’s segment on the Late Show exposed David Letterman as an arrogantly ill-informed ally of Wisconsin’s public employee unions: “Why don't we just raise the taxes and let these folks have their collective bargaining, have their union representation and go back to their jobs? Raise the taxes on the wealthy.”
When Paul tried to educate Letterman about how a small percent of the wealthy pay far more than their fair share, Letterman was an oblivious student as he baselessly countered: “I think there's something wrong with those numbers. I don't know what it is exactly, but I'm pretty sure there's something wrong with them.”
Paul had outlined his wish to reduce government spending, prompting Letterman to retort: “What would be so wrong then in terms of leaving the public sector alone and reducing tax benefits for the wealthy and large corporations? Why couldn't you make up your money that way?” (Audio: MP3 clip)
CBS’s Bob Schieffer hit Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie from the left on Sunday’s Face the Nation, claiming he has “demonized” teachers and urging him to give some “straight talk” about the necessity to raise taxes.
After asking if he thinks “Governor Walker out there in Wisconsin has gone too far?” in trying to end collective bargaining, Schieffer ludicrously asserted “everybody in this country on all sides of this thinks we need education reform,” but he wanted to know if Christie realized his stance has “demonized teachers and will raise questions in young people's minds as to whether they want to go into the profession?”
“Banal Bob” soon implored Christie with his standard plea: “You have a reputation as a straight talker, I think. Do you believe that the budgetary problems across this country can be resolved without raising taxes?”
Tuesday night’s episode of The Good Wife on CBS gave prime time legitimacy to the presumption the Tea Party is racist as a lawyer in a courtroom tried to discredit an expert witness (Gary Cole as Sarah Palin supporter “Kurt McVeigh”) who testified against a since-exonerated black defendant, by demanding he admit he’s “a member of the Tea Party.” The lawyer asserts “it is our contention that my client’s prosecution was racist,” citing McVeigh’s “membership in a racist organization,” namely the Tea Party.
To illustrate, the program created a photo taken at “a Tea Party rally in Milwaukee last January” showing a man near “McVeigh” holding up a “Go Back to the Jungle” sign which the lawyer asks McVeigh to confirm “refers to our current President.” (large jpg image of the picture)
The February 22 episode marked the return of Cole’s ballistics expert “Kurt McVeigh” character as the love interest for Chicago law firm partner “Diane Lockhart,” played by Christine Baranski, a liberal who knows Hillary Clinton and has disdain for Palin. (Audio: MP3 clip)
Human Rights Watch released a hardly comprehensive report, one “based on interviews with 64 parents across the country,” which complained: “Just three countries definitively offer no legal guarantee of paid maternity leave: Papua New Guinea, Swaziland—and the United States.” Picking up on that, Diane Sawyer announced on Wednesday’s World News:
And now, family leave. A new report from Human Rights Watch found 178 nations guarantee paid leave for new mothers and many new fathers -- as much as 16 months in Sweden. So where does America fall? At the bottom of the list with Swaziland and New Guinea.
CBS on Monday night tried to corroborate the case for the position on protesting Wisconsin state union workers, claiming without citing any source that they earn less than comparable private sector works, while FNC put the union workers in a less oppressed light, showing how “apparent doctors” were “handing out doctor’s notes for sick days. Our undercover producer got a medical excuse, no illness necessary.”
CBS’s Cynthia Bowers touted “high school history teacher Amanda Bazan, of Deerfield Wisconsin,” who “took a personal day to get her students to the protests.” Bazan insisted: “They were learning about democracy firsthand.” Bowers relayed how “the single mom has been teaching 13 years and earns $41,000,” and while “public sector workers in Wisconsin do make slightly more in salary and benefits than the average private sector worker,” that's “because nearly twice as many of them have college degrees necessary for high-skilled jobs.” Without any citation from her or on screen, Bowers maintained:
When education and other factors are considered, two recent studies found public sector employees end up earning less than their counterparts in the private sector. In Wisconsin, nearly five percent less. Nationally seven percent less.
Last October, ABC’s Christiane Amanpour characterized the Tea Party as “extreme,” declaring “people are looking at the Tea Party and saying this is not conservatism as we knew it but it's extreme.” On Sunday, however, with “People Power” plastered on screen over video of union members in Wisconsin, she saw only a genuine “populist” outpouring of “people power” in Madison.
“This week” she announced in conflating the union grievance in Madison with protests against Arab dictators, “people power making history. A revolt in the Midwest and a revolution sweeping across the Middle East.” She touted how “populist frustration is boiling over this week...in the middle of this country” as “a budget war threatens to shut down the federal government. And now union workers fighting back.”
“On the broadcast tonight, the uprising at home,” teased NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, touting “another day of fury in Wisconsin. Workers angry about what they call a plan to balance the budget on their backs.” Williams set up his Friday newscast by equating the left-wing protests with those against Arab dictatorships: “From the Mideast to the American Midwest tonight, people are rising up. Citizens uprisings are changing the world,” he championed, citing what “we’ve witnessed from Tunisia to Egypt” and now Wisconsin where “the state capitol has been taken over by the people.”
Without ever mentioning the involvement of President Obama’s Organizing for America, reporter John Yang trumpeted from Madison how “tens of thousands of public workers have come here to make their voices heard.” Scolding incivility certainly didn’t interest Yang, who cued up a protester to trash Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker without making any note of the sign he was holding which showed a hammer and sickle below “Scott Stalin.”
ABC and CBS on Friday night, as they did on Thursday night, ignored the instigation by Organizing for America as CBS’s Cynthia Bowers, who never identified anyone as liberal, concluded: “More protests are planned for tomorrow and for the first time conservative activists are calling upon their supporters -- including Tea Party groups -- to hold rallies of their own.”
ABC on Thursday night championed a “mutiny in America” by public employees in Wisconsin whom NBC’s Brian Williams trumpeted for “rising up and saying no to some of the most extreme cuts in the nation.” ABC’s Diane Sawyer teased: “Tonight on World News, a mutiny in America. Public workers take to the streets as governors try to cut their pay and perks.” Sawyer framed coverage from the grievance of the unionized workers:
Today, we saw America's money trouble meet a reality, a human reality, as teachers, nurses, tens of thousands of state workers took to the streets in this country protesting cuts by the governors, saying to these governors, a promise is a promise. One lawmaker looked out at the crowds gathered in the Wisconsin capital today said it's like Cairo moved to Madison. [Audio available here]
NBC’s Williams also offered a comparison to “citizen uprisings” overseas: “Tonight after watching citizen uprisings now across the globe for weeks, how about a big one here in the United States.”
Though Governor Scott Walker is merely asking the coddled workers for a slight increase, from six to twelve percent, in the portion of the generous health coverage they must pay, ABC reporter Chris Bury painted it as a dire burden, citing how Walker is “demanding that public employees pay more for their pensions and health care, the equivalent of a seven percent pay cut,” adding that “what really upsets state workers is a budget that strips away nearly all of their union bargaining rights over health care, pensions, and work rules.”
Obama is...rebooting his operation to what he knows best: wizard of all things to all people and master of warm healing. He is acting as a multi-hued, but blank, canvas upon which a swath of Americans can project its diverse hopes and dreams. President Barack Tabla Rasa.
President Barack Obama is “a pragmatic centrist,” Norah O’Donnell, NBC News reporter/MSNBC chief Washington correspondent, insisted Friday night on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, though not even Maher bought the claim Obama is a centrist. O’Donnell noted “they're trying to make inroads” into the business community with outreach to it as evidenced by hiring Bill Daley and speaking to the Chamber of Commerce, but she contended “other than that tonal switch, he's still the same centrist he’s always been.”
Maher countered: “But he's not really. If you woke him up in the middle of the night, of if you gave him sodium pentothal, I think he’s a centrist the way he’s a Christian – not really.” O’Donnell pleaded: “Don't you think it's a pragmatist?” To which, Maher recognized: “Yes, that’s different, he’s pretending to be a centrist.”
ABC, CBS and NBC on Monday night devoted more than half of their evening newscasts to the turmoil in Egypt, but while CBS and NBC squeezed in brief mentions of how a federal judge agreed with 26 states that the entire ObamaCare law is unconstitutional, ABC’s World News didn’t utter a syllable about the major setback for the Obama administration. Anchor Diane Sawyer, however, made room for a full story on an impending snowstorm and four minutes for a new series, “Families on the Brink: What to Do About Mom and Dad?”
While CBS anchor Harry Smith provided a short summary of the development, the CBS Evening News allocated four times more time to new USDA dietary guidelines which call for less consumption of salt. Smith tried to downplay the significance of the ruling:
In picking Mark Whitaker, Washington Bureau Chief for NBC News, as its new Executive Vice President and Managing Editor (TVNewser post), CNN has selected someone with a liberal outlook who presumes not raising taxes can be blamed for an increase in the deficit.
On election night last year, Whitaker channeled a liberal argument in favor of hiking taxes, declaring during live NBC News coverage: “The fact is right now the Republican numbers do not add up” since House Republicans want to roll back “spending to 2008 levels, which gets you about a $100 billion, but extending all the tax cuts. And the Congressional Budget Office has said that ends up adding $270 billion, at least, to the deficit.”
ABC’s Christiane Amanpour hailed President Obama’s State of the Union address as “very Reaganesque,” but in October, holding herself up as some kind of protector of Reagan’s legacy, she discovered “a long and venerable tradition of conservatism in this country” exemplified by Ronald Reagan and William F. Buckley and “all of that sort of intellectual conservatism,” yet now, she feigned distress, “people are looking at the Tea Party and saying this is not conservatism as we knew it but it's extreme.”
Asked for her “take” on Obama’s address, Amanpour trumpeted his “Sputnik moment” as “remarkable,” heralding Tuesday night on ABC:
Two signs Sunday morning of how the Washington press corps are dismissive, disdainful and befuddled by the Tea Party.
On This Week, Christiane Amanpour fretted that though the New York Times has discredited the Tea Party’s rationale (“a new report today in the New York Times, they say that in fact TARP will cost maybe $28 billion to the taxpayer, instead of the $700 billion”), she told Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas “you yourself have been facing, even though you’re a reliable conservative, Tea Party competition in Texas. Are they outflanking you?” Amanpour empathized that Tea Party activists “said that you personally signify everything that the Tea Party is fighting.” A flummoxed Amanpour wondered: “What on earth do they mean by that?”
Over on CBS's Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer, echoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, asked Senator John McCain about a Senate vote to repeal ObamaCare: “Do you think...that that's a waste of time, that the time in the Senate could be better spent working on something that has a chance of passing?”
In the guise of a status report on ObamaCare, Katie Couric on Thursday night derided Republican efforts to repeal it just as it’s “starting to kick in.” She pleaded for viewers to give it a chance as she rationalized “the law is vulnerable because of the complex way it tries to fold 30 million uninsured people into the system,” fretting “damage could be inflicted by choking off funding for programs that support the law, but a greater threat is the legal storm that's brewing.”
“The health care law may not be popular, but many of the provisions now in effect are,” ABC’s Jonathan Karl asserted in his Thursday night look at the House vote to repeal ObamaCare as he highlighted one beneficiary of it without a balancing opponent or list of detrimental provisions: “To Kris Cambra, whose four-year-old son has a heart condition, the law is a life changer, and repeal would be a disaster.”
Karl touted: “Already, seniors are getting more money to pay for their prescription drugs. Children can stay on their parents' insurance until age 26. And children with pre-existing conditions can't be denied coverage.”
On the NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams proposed the vote matched the public perception of Republicans as more inflexible than President Obama: “And just today, kind of as we speak, the Republicans in the House pretty much straight up and down party line vote to repeal ObamaCare, knowing it's dead on arrival in the Senate where the Democrats run things.”
“The country is pretty unified behind the idea that President Obama found the right words, the right tone at the right time,” ABC’s George Stephanopoulos announced Monday night in touting how a new ABC News/Washington Post poll found “78 percent approve of how he handled” the Tucson shooting, in contrast to Sarah Palin, “not so much, only 30 percent approve of her response.”
When Stephanopoulos noted “the support for stricter gun control has dropped over the last few years,” anchor Diane Sawyer expressed astonishment: “Stricter has dropped?” Instead of detailing that trend, Stephanopoulos concentrated on some specific policies with overwhelming support.
The ABC duo ignored how their poll advanced a false media narrative in asking: “As you may know, a gunman shot a U.S. Congress member and 18 other people in Arizona late last week. Is it your impression that the political discourse in this country did or did not contribute to this incident?” [PDF rundown of the poll]
Picking up on “a family feud” fueled by a decision by ABC News to promote Ron Reagan Jr’s new book in which he insists his father displayed symptoms of Alzheimer’s while in his first presidential term, ABC anchor David Muir, who failed to identify Ron Jr. as a liberal, reported “Ron's conservative half-brother Michael Reagan is blasting him.”
Muir highlighted Michael’s devastating tweet: “My brother was an embarrassment to his father when he was alive and today he became an embarrassment to his mother.” After citing another tweet in which Michael charged “my brother seems to want to sell out his father to sell books,” Muir tried to attribute Michael’s disgust to a rivalry: “Michael Reagan, now angry with his brother, also has a book out this week.”