All three network evening newscasts on Thursday found time to cheer the JFK Library Foundation announcing former President George H. W. Bush would the 2014 recipient of its annual Profile in Courage award. So what specific accomplishment did the organization cite from the Republican's decades of public service? His decision to hike taxes in 1990 that cost him re-election and paved the way for Bill Clinton to become president. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On NBC Nightly News, fill-in anchor Lester Holt proclaimed: "Bush had famously said, 'Read my lips. No new taxes.' His decision to break that promise not only took courage, as the award says, it also may have cost him re-election."
On Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer couldn't resist mocking a nice gesture from House Speaker John Boehner to Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. News reader Tamron Hall explained: "...the House Speaker knows that his Democratic counterpart Nancy Pelosi just loves chocolate. So, for her 74th birthday on Wednesday he gave her something sweet, pints of chocolate gelato." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Moments later, Lauer remarked: "If there's ever a need for a food taster, that would be it right there." After a chorus of "ohs" from his fellow hosts, he added: "I'm kidding."
During coverage of President's Obama meeting with Pope Francis on Thursday, both NBC's Today and CBS This Morning hoped the papal visit would boost the commander-in-chief's sinking poll numbers. Today co-host Matt Lauer wondered: "The Pope, enormously popular....Is there something in just rubbing elbows with the Pope for President Obama?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd observed: "I think that the President, particularly right now where his own approval ratings are not so hot, just being seen with the Pope, particularly in some places where there are a lot of Catholic voters in the United States, it's not gonna hurt. So, yes, I think the White House sees this as a potential political up side."
Thursday's network morning shows tripped over themselves in their rush to fawn over President Obama meeting Pope Francis for the first time at the Vatican. At the top of ABC's Good Morning America, co-host Robin Roberts touted how the President "feels a special bond with the Pontiff." On NBC's Today, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd spoke of an "ideological comfort level" between the two leaders, while on CBS This Morning, White House correspondent Major Garrett described their "genuine connection." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
While ABC, NBC, and CBS provided a combined 14 minutes 30 seconds of coverage to the papal meeting on Thursday, only 2 minutes 21 seconds of that air time referred to the fundamental disagreements between Obama and the Pope on a host of issues. Instead, the morning broadcasts chose to play up the "common ground" between the two men on issues of "income inequality" and "social justice."
Introducing a story on Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer touted the Washington Post publishing the resignation letter of Massachusetts kindergarten teacher Suzi Sluyter, who decided to quit her job after being "frustrated by what she says is too much emphasis on test scores and testing instead of the kids themselves." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the report that followed – amid clips of Sluyter reciting her letter on camera – correspondent Ron Mott declared: "A sobering assessment about standardized tests, how children are damaged by what she calls a broken system more focused on scoring them." He soon found who to blame: "When President George W. Bush signed No Child Left Behind into law in 2002, supporters applauded the sweeping reform for holding schools and teachers accountable for student performance. But it wasn't long before complaints surfaced."
On Wednesday, all three network morning shows repeated the White House line that the reason for delaying the March 31 ObamaCare enrollment deadline was due to a last-minute "surge" of people signing up. In a 20-second news brief on NBC's Today, fill-in news reader Tamron Hall announced "a reprieve this morning for people who've been trying to sign up for ObamaCare," before noting that "the Health and Human Services Department says there has been a last-minute surge in demand." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
During a 17-second news brief on ABC's Good Morning America, fill-in news reader Amy Robach gently described the law's new setback as a sign-up "grace period" and declared: "...the White House predicts a crush of applicants in the final hours could cause a computer traffic jam."
On her 12 p.m. ET hour MSNBC show on Tuesday, host Andrea Mitchell interrogated attorney Mark Rienzi for representing Hobby Lobby in the Supreme Court case against the ObamaCare contraception mandate: "What right do they have, again, to interfere with medical decisions by women?...I mean, this gets to the whole issue of women's health and why should women be discriminated against in ways that other medical beneficiaries are not?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Rienzi pushed back: "No one's discriminating against women, Andrea, all they're saying is that, you're right, these are personal decisions, these are things that people can come to different judgments about. But the government is trying to say – they're gonna force people to be involved in it whether they want to or not."
On Tuesday's CBS This Morning, co-host Gayle King adopted liberal spin on the ObamaCare contraception mandate being challenged in the Supreme Court: "It pits the rights of a woman's access to contraception against a company's religious freedom." That description of the case was nearly identical to the false framing of the issue in Monday's New York Times. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the report that followed on This Morning, correspondent Jan Crawford teed up the faulty argument: "Women's rights groups and doctors say the cases are about women's health." A clip ran of American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists president Jeanne Conry ranting: "As a physician, I need a number of ways to treat women, and treat them appropriately. And I don't need an employer coming into my exam room and telling me how to treat a patient."
With one week to go before the March 31 ObamaCare enrollment deadline, Monday's NBC Today completely skipped any reporting on the latest sign-up numbers still being below administration projections. Instead, the hosts of the morning show devoted air time to discussing rumors that President Obama may trade in his BlackBerry for a new smart phone. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Co-host Matt Lauer announced to viewers: "Is President Obama finally ready to part with one of his most prized possessions?....Since he first took office back in 2008 [sic], Mr. Obama said there were two habits he could not kick, smoking and using a BlackBerry. Well, he ditched cigarettes a long time ago and now his beloved smart phone could get the boot."
In a report for Monday's NBC Today, political director Chuck Todd described how "Democrats seem comfortable with the idea of a coronation of Hillary Clinton" in 2016, as "many of them are almost begging her to run." Meanwhile, he asserted that Republicans, "nervous about the influence of the Tea Party," were looking to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush as a potential candidate. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
The segment played a clip of one of Clinton's adoring fans pleading for the former secretary of state to run: "If you don't represent women in politics in America as future president, who will?" Moments later, Todd warned that Bush "has family matters to consider" given that "his own mother has said she doesn't want him to run." A sound bite ran of Barbara Bush remarking on the Today show in 2013, "We've had enough Bushes."
In a full report for Friday's Today, White House correspondent Peter Alexander proclaimed: "This trip is really focused on building good will. White House aides are confident that the First Lady's personal story will also resonate with the Chinese people....It's a highly anticipated visit to a country whose relationship with the U.S. is complicated at best." All the more reason to allow American journalists to go along. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On Thursday, NBC's Today and CBS This Morning dutifully parroted the White House line that First Lady Michelle Obama's trip to China was "not political" but ignored the fact that the press corps was banned from traveling with her on the overseas junket. ABC's Good Morning America skipped the topic. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
During a report on Thursday's NBC Today about the impact of NCAA March Madness office pools on worker productivity, correspondent Kerry Sanders casually touted: "March Madness, an American distraction....Even the President takes a break from world affairs to fill out his bracket." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
At no point did Sanders offer any criticism of Obama taking a "break from world affairs" during the Ukrainian crisis. Co-host Savannah Guthrie introduced the segment by wondering: "Does March Madness really interfere with getting actual work done?" Amid clips of employees filling out their brackets, Sanders declared: "If you're calling a business today, don't be surprised if your call goes unanswered."
On Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie touted an exclusive preview of Fortune magazine's list of the world's 50 greatest leaders and wondered about one name that was absent from the ranking: "Bill Clinton comes in at number five and makes the cover. There are a lot of other notable names here. Tell you what, though, there may be some talk about one leader who did not make the list, the leader of the free world, President Obama. Fortune tells us he was not overlooked, he just did not make the cut." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Co-host Matt Lauer reacted: "Yeah, that's surprising." He then noted leaders who "did make the cut": "Pope Francis takes the top spot. Congratulations to him....Some other folks you may recognize, Bono, Derek Jeter – yes! – Angelina Jolie, and Malala Yousafzai."
Appearing on NBC's Late Night on Tuesday – aired early Wednesday morning – New Yorker editor and former Washington Post Moscow correspondent David Remnick defended Barack Obama's poor handling of the Ukrainian crisis by bashing George W. Bush: "I think President Obama was elected not to get into more wars....his predecessor, President Bush, foolishly, at the very best, got into a war in Iraq that was a disaster." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Remnick continued: "And by the way, it gives [Russian President Vladimir] Putin some justification [to invade Ukraine]. He says, 'Don't lecture me. Don't lecture me about invasion,' and so on. No matter how justified or not that may be, that's a point he goes out and makes in front of his own people."
Interviewing Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on MSNBC's Daily Rundown on Wednesday, host and NBC political director Chuck Todd desperately tried to paint the GOP as anti-woman by ironically citing the top woman in the Texas Republican Party observing that men are better at negotiating higher salaries in the workplace. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Todd melodramatically proclaimed: "...you talked about figuring out better ways to talk to women....But here's the executive director of the Texas Republican Party....I know you're going to say you can't speak and defend everybody's comments, but this is somebody representing the Republican Party in the state of Texas. These things accumulate."
On Monday's MSNBC News Nation, host Tamron Hall teed up Michael O'Loughlin from The Advocate to promote his screed against the St. Patrick's Day parade organizers in New York and Boston for not allowing gay demonstrations at the respective events. Hall wondered: "What do you believe is the hold up at this point?...you see polls across the country where people, in their views of same-sex marriage of people who are gay and lesbian, greatly changed over the past ten years or so." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
O'Loughlin ranted: "You know, no one loves tradition like the Irish. And unfortunately, part of the tradition of Irish Catholicism was a bigotry against LGBT people." Moments later he predicted: "Give it a year and who knows where we'll be." Hall agreed: "Absolutely. And give it a year and the list of sponsors who may pull out of these parades could be longer as well."
Following the release of new ObamaCare enrollment numbers on Monday showing five million sign-ups – still two million short of the original seven million goal set by the administration – fill-in CBS This Morning co-host Anthony Mason spun the news as positive: "This morning, the White House is closer to a crucial goal ahead of a key deadline for the health care law." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
The headline on screen announced: "ObamaCare Milestone; Five Million Enrolled Ahead of March 31 Deadline." Mason continued: "As of yesterday, 5 million people are now enrolled for either state or federal insurance. The administration's goal is 6 million. The open enrollment deadline is March 31st."
ABC News completely ignored the Monday death of heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, who used her wealth to help conceal the mistress of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards. CBS and NBC both noted the passing of the 103-year-old and her connection to Edwards, but failed identify Edwards as a Democrat. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On Tuesday's CBS This Morning, co-host Norah O'Donnell touted how Mellon "was a horticulturist who redesigned the White House Rose Garden at Jackie Kennedy's invitation." However, when it came to her involvement with Edwards, O'Donnell only vaguely mentioned: "In later years, she gave money to help presidential candidate John Edwards."
On Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, moderator David Gregory touted the United Nations slamming the "human rights record" of the U.S. as it condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine: "You know, when we deal with Vladimir Putin, this issue of hypocrisy comes up....The United Nations pointedly criticized the U.S.'s human rights record over drone strikes, NSA surveillance, the death penalty." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Turning to Democratic Illinois Senator Dick Durbin and Republican Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, Gregory worried: "Does it make it hard to deal with the likes of Putin and Lavrov when you've got the U.N. criticizing the U.S. that way?"
NBC, ABC, and CBS marked the one-year anniversary of Pope Francis being elected leader of the Catholic Church with positive stories about the Pontiff's personal style while impatiently pleading for him to reject the moral values he swore to uphold. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On Thursday's NBC Today, correspondent Anne Thompson summed up a discussion she had with a group of students at Loyola University by proclaiming: "Now, these young Catholics don't expect change on the divisive issues of contraception, gay marriage, or abortion. But they are thrilled that that's not all the Pope talks about." She added that they were happy avoiding such social issues and "getting back to the original message of Jesus Christ."
Reacting to Idaho passing a law to allow teachers and students to carry guns on college campuses, Thursday's NBC Today promoted a Boise State University professor opposed to the legislation who authored a New York Times Op/Ed absurdly titled: "When May I Shoot a Student?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Co-host Matt Lauer hyped how the satirical essay was "spurring debate over guns on campuses." Fill-in co-host Tamron Hall fretted over the "controversial measure" to let citizens exercise their Second Amendment rights and declared professor Greg Hampikian's Times article to be "eye-opening."
Talking to Donald Trump on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer complained about the Celebrity Apprentice host and CPAC speaker criticizing President Obama's poor handling of the Ukranian crisis: "You've been critical of the President and his handling of the situation with Ukraine and Crimea. I think you said, I'm paraphrasing here, but basically Putin was playing with or toying with Obama. That is kind of a common refrain of yours....you always think that Obama is being weak." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Trump, on to promote the 2014 Miss USA pageant set to air on NBC in June, pointed out that "a lot of other people" had been equally critical of Obama's foreign policy. Lauer countered: "What would you have done differently than he did in the days before Russian troops went into Crimea?" Trump replied: "Well, first of all, it should have never happened." Lauer pressed: " But what would you have done immediately?"
On Wednesday, the network morning shows gave a combined 53 seconds of air time to Democrats losing a bellwether congressional election in Florida and just 37 seconds to bad poll numbers for President Obama. Meanwhile, Obama shopping at the Gap and pushing regulations to force businesses to pay employees overtime wages got 3 minutes and 36 seconds of coverage. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On NBC's Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie gushed: "You're at the Gap, you're trying to decide between the cranberry or maybe the indigo t-shirt, you look over and who is sizing up the same items but the leader of the free world....It happened to a store full of shoppers here in New York on Tuesday, President Obama popped in."
In fawning puff piece aired on Tuesday's NBC Today, correspondent Craig Melvin was delighted by three Democratic congresswoman – including left-wing bomb-thrower and DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz – sharing a Washington D.C. townhouse when Congress is in session: "For Florida's Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Alabama's Terri Sewell, and New York's Carolyn Maloney, it's all business during the day. They're congresswomen. Oh, but by night....This is like a sorority house." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Schultz declared: "It's a sisterhood, for sure." Melvin observed that New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney "is less a house mother and more the landlord." Maloney explained: "Well, when I was first elected, I lived alone....I was used to a husband and two children and a cat and pandemonium, chaos at home. So I decided to buy a house and fill it up with friends, which is exactly what I did."
On Tuesday, all three network morning shows dutifully touted a fake interview President Obama conducted with comedian Zach Galifianakis designed to help the commander-in-chief hock ObamaCare to young people. On NBC's Today, social media co-host Carson Daly gushed: "It's over six minutes long...all of it is really, really funny....You know, the First Lady's been everywhere showing her comedy chops and it's been great. But boy, the President, he is amazing in this. So check that out this morning if you have time." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Later in the show's 9 a.m. ET hour, weatherman Al Roker praised Obama's comedic genius: "It's about the delivery and the President shows he's got the comedy chops." Co-host Tamron Hall declared: "Yes, yes. Which he shows at the White House Correspondents' Dinner every year." Co-host Willie Geist explained: "It was part of a – this concerted effort to promote the Affordable Care Act. Because they get into that and the President's allowed to explain it."
While NBC eagerly touted Colorado legalizing marijuana at the start of the year, even promoting one Denver store that hoped to become the "Costco of weed," on Monday's Today, correspondent Miguel Almaguer finally noticed a downside to legalized drug use: "More than half of Colorado's 61 arrests made in January for impaired driving involved someone who was high." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
NBC joins ABC and CBS in belatedly covering the negative consequences of legalizing pot after initially promoting the move. CBS This Morning hyped Colorado's "marijuana munchies" before discovering pot contaminated with mildew and e-coli. ABC's World News proclaimed an "historic" "pot revolution" in the state before reporting on the legal marijuana trade becoming a popular target for criminals.
On Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, host David Gregory wondered if New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's 2016 presidential chances were "done" following the Bridgegate scandal. In response, National Journal's Ron Fournier cited Christie's Friday CPAC address: "Ironically, he might have done himself some good with the Republican primary audience because he now can beat up on the media." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Gregory joked: "Thank God the media's still here because what else would they talk about CPAC if we weren't here to kick around?" Fournier replied: "It's all we're good for sometimes."
Appearing on Thursday's CBS Late Show aired early Friday morning, former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw discussed the Russian invasion of Ukraine with host David Letterman and observed: "...when chemical weapons were used in Syria and they were discovered, I didn't think it was President Obama's finest moment. He said there's a red line, then he kept moving that sucker....[Vladimir Putin] might have taken the measure of President Obama and said, 'I may be able to test this guy'....it has that appearance." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
That analysis was prompted by Letterman noting: "And people are saying this [Russian invasion of Ukraine] is because of the negotiations, or the unilateral negotiations regarding Syria, when he [Putin] stepped in looking for weapons of mass destruction...and Obama had to sort of acquiesce that because it was not a bad idea. So now he [Putin] feels like he can get away with this. Is that part of it?" Brokaw replied: "Well, I think that's pretty astute."
Introducing a gushing interview with HBO Girls star Lena Dunham aired on Friday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie eagerly proclaimed: "You know, to call her the voice of her generation might actually be underselling her abilities. At just 27 years old, she isn't just starring in the hit HBO show Girls, she created it, writes it, produces it, and she also directs it. And now she can add something else to that impressive resume, she'll be the host of Saturday Night Live this weekend." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]