ABC’s “Good Morning America” program on Wednesday led their 7 am Eastern hour with three positive reports about Judge Sonia Sotomayor, highlighting her judicial background and personal story.
Anchor Diane Sawyer began the program with a promo of this coverage: “The battle begins: How will President Obama’s Latina powerhouse handle the opposition?...And we also go home to bring you personal details about the girl from the housing projects, nominated for the Supreme Court.”
Correspondent Claire Shipman went so far as to play up trivial details from the nominee’s personal life: “She’s also an avid Yankees fan, a mean guacamole maker, and a fierce biker.” None of the coverage explained how making a killer chip dip adds to her qualifications for the Supreme Court.
After Sawyer’s initial promo, fellow anchor Chris Cuomo immediately chimed in and highlighted the presence of Sotomayor’s mother at the president’s press conference: “Now, I know that the selection of a nominee to the Court is supposed to be about the law and philosophy, but what a human moment to see Sonia Sotomayor talking about her mother. It was really a great human moment yesterday. There’s her mom, literally brought to tears by such a special occasion.”
CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin on Tuesday twice labeled President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor a “moderate liberal.” On American Morning, minutes after the Latina judge’s name emerged near the bottom half of the 8 am Eastern hour, Toobin predicted that she would “probably have very little trouble getting confirmed, and who will be a voice like David Souter for moderate liberalism.” Hours later, during The Situation Room program, he predicted that Sotomayor, if confirmed, would rule as a “moderate liberal, like Ginsburg and Breyer.”
American Morning anchor T. J. Holmes brought on the legal analyst to discuss the Obama nominee. Toobin first outlined that Sotomayor was “a very eminent judge....She brings a certain bipartisan aura, because she was originally appointed to the federal district court by the first President Bush....[T]his looks like a very solid pick, someone who will probably have very little trouble getting confirmed, and who will be a voice like David Souter for moderate liberalism.” Minutes before on the CNN program, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz referred to the nominee as “moderate and to the left.” Holmes followed up on this note, and asked, “Is that about right?”
ABC News didn’t use any labels such as liberal or progressive to describe Judge Sonia Sotomayor during its Tuesday morning coverage of her nomination to the Supreme Court. On the other hand, when President Bush nominated Justice Samuel Alito to the high court in 2005, the network’s correspondents repeatedly used the conservative label to describe the nominee.
During the first segment of the 7 am hour of Good Morning America, before Sotomayor’s name emerged, This Week anchor George Stephanopoulos summarized who was on President Obama’s short list for the court nomination, including Sotomayor, describing the former or current occupations they have, but no ideological descriptions. When anchor Diane Sawyer asked about “what kind of fight is the White House anticipating” from Republicans in the Senate and “how do they plan to deal with it,” Stephanopoulos further explained that “Republicans and conservatives have already prepared dossiers on all three of the top candidates....I’ve talked to several Republicans in the Senate about this -- that the chances they’re going to defeat President Obama’s nominee are very, very low. The bar they’re trying to set -- they’re trying to have a debate over the future of the court, over the ideological direction of the court.” But he never mentioned Sotomayor’s judicial philosophy or political leaning.
CNN correspondent Joe Johns included a seeming lament in his report on Friday’s Situation Room about the inclusion of an amendment to the so-called credit card reform bill which expands gun owners’ rights in national parks: “How in the world did the credit card bill get so hijacked?” He also only included one pro-gun rights sound bite in his report, as opposed to three from proponents of gun control [audio clips from the report are available here].
Johns introduced his report by juxtaposing beautiful imagery of Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Mount Rushmore with a picture of a handgun on a rack: “Just imagine: along with the sweeping views of natural beauty at Yellowstone and Yosemite, mixed in with history at Mount Rushmore, that some of the tourists toting diaper bags and binoculars might also be packing heat.” He continued by labeling this juxtaposition, and outlining how congressional opponents of the provision felt about its inclusion and passage: “Extreme perhaps, but absurd is in fact how it looks to some congressional Democrats -- they’re almost apoplectic about how the gun lobby slipped a provision into, of all things, the credit card reform bill, a provision that really has nothing to do with the rights of credit card holders, and a lot to do with the right to bear arms.”
Anchor Anderson Cooper grilled Dick Cheney’s daughter Liz Cheney on his CNN program on Thursday evening about her father’s defense of the Bush administration’s anti-terror tactics. At one point, he asked, “Is it appropriate, though, for your father, who has had access to high-level intelligence for -- for eight years, to be very publicly waving a flag, saying, we’re much weaker now than ever before? Isn’t that, in fact, emboldening our enemies? Couldn’t you make that argument?”
Cooper later asked the former State Department official, “If a Democrat was doing this in a Republican administration, wouldn’t be the Republicans be saying, this is traitorous?” The anchor also questioned whether the CIA actually took care in implementing its enhanced interrogations: “But -- more than 100 people are known to have died in U.S. custody. Twenty -- I think about 20 of those have been ruled a homicide. I mean, if -- if these were just tightly-controlled things, how come so many people are being murdered in U.S. custody?”
Time magazine’s senior editor Amy Sullivan, who, like most of her peers in the mainstream media, is an amateur when it comes to religion, twice implied in May that the pro-life Catholics in the U.S. who are upset about President Obama’s recent commencement address at Notre Dame are more Catholic than Pope Benedict XVI. In a May 16, 2009 article on Time.com, Sullivan, the former aide to Democrat Tom Daschle, and the author of an entire book on how Democrats could appeal to Christians, snarked that the Pope “may find his next trip to the U.S. dogged by airplanes overhead trailing banners with images of aborted fetuses,” due to his purported silence on the matter.
Less than a week later on May 21, after outlining on Time’s “Swampland” blog that the semi-official Vatican news has been “calm” and “fairly positive” towards the Democratic president, “in stark contrast to the furious reaction of many conservative Catholics here,” the editor quipped, “Uh, oh. It sounds like the Vatican newspaper ‘doesn’t understand what it means to be Catholic.’” Sullivan, like the rest of the media, was also selective in the articles she chose to emphasize from the newspaper.
CNN anchor Rick Sanchez and Dallas Morning News political writer Wayne Slater agreed on Tuesday’s Newsroom program that former President George W. Bush appeared to be “controlled by a bunch of bullies,” or that he was “presiding over a reign of bullies, with [Dick] Cheney and [Donald] Rumsfeld and Karl Rove pushing a partisan agenda.” Later, as President Obama was getting ready to speak at a meeting with small business owners, Slater sought to correct the conservative critics of the administration’s economic policy: “You have the right wing pounding on him day after day for the...bail-outs...a liberal, a socialist -- and yet, here you have a guy who really is tracking a fairly moderate line.”
Sanchez first had the Dallas Morning News writer on just after the bottom half of the 3 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program to discuss a recent article in GQ magazine which alleged that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld “held up military aid to New Orleans in the days after Hurricane Katrina.” The CNN anchor first asked, “Why would Donald Rumsfeld not want to help the people of New Orleans in this situation, given that he had his finger on the military relief?”
Minutes after she praised President Obama for his “courageous” decision to accept the invitation to speak at Notre Dame, CNN anchor Fredricka Whitfield played the role of liberal advocate for the president’s commencement address, grilling one Catholic guest who questioned the university’s decision, while going easy on her other guest who was happy to see Obama speak there. Just as MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell had done on May 14, Whitfield equivocated between the issues of abortion and the death penalty, along with war, in her question to Raymond Arroyo of the Catholic television network EWTN: “So does the death penalty fall into that and also wars...does that fall into that as well?”
Later, when Arroyo brought up how the Catholic teaching on abortion wouldn’t change, even if most of the Notre Dame graduates agreed with the decision to bring the president to campus, the CNN anchor replied, “Well, might it suggest something else, that perhaps the Catholic majority has evolved in its opinion of certain things....Perhaps, it means that there’s a greater understanding in some of the areas that you say...once upon a time there wasn’t.” [Due to the large amount of transcript, the entire text of both segments of the two segments can be read here. Audio clips from both segments are available here.]
CNN anchor John Roberts failed to catch former Vice President Al Gore make a significant exaggeration about his criticism of the Bush administration in its early years during an interview on Friday’s American Morning. When asked about former Vice President Dick Cheney’s recent criticism of the Obama administration, Gore claimed that he had “waited two years after I left office to make statements that were critical, and then of the policy.” In reality, he made a significant policy speech denouncing the Bush administration’s pre-war policy towards Iraq in September 2002. CNN itself reported on the speech, which was made in San Francisco in front of the Commonwealth Club. Later, when Gore said that he didn’t “want to get dragged into an argument with Dick Cheney about what he’s getting into,” Roberts joked sarcastically, “Oh, Mr. Vice President, you know I would never try to do that with you.”
Roberts’s taped interview of Gore aired in three parts, and his questions to Gore about Cheney came during the second part, which began at the bottom half of the 7 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program. The anchor asked the former vice president, “You were a big critic of the previous administration, particularly in the run-up to the war and thereafter. What do you think of Vice President Cheney’s statements that the Obama administration’s policies are leaving this country less safe?”
On Friday’s American Morning, CNN anchor Kiran Chetry used the liberal talking points about Wanda Sykes and Rush Limbaugh, the two “Wingnuts of the Week,” according to John Avlon of The Daily Beast, Tina Brown’s Huffington Post knock-off site. After playing clips from Sykes’ now-infamous routine which bashed the talk show host and wished him dead, Chetry replied, “So, some would say, wait, she’s just a comedian, and she was trying to get laughs at the correspondents’ dinner. So what’s the harm in her joke, and why do her comments qualify her for wingnut of the week?” Later, the anchor asked Avlon concerning Limbaugh, “He’s certainly really dominated the voice of the GOP for -- for the past several months, and, you know, the left has been saying he’s the new voice of the Republican Party. Why did you pick him as the wingnut of the week?” [audio excerpt available here]
The CNN program began the “Wingnut of the Week” last week with Avlon, as a proposed regular segment on Fridays targeting, in his words, “the professional polarizers, the unhinged activists, the folks who are trying to always hijack our debates and divide us.” His picks last week were Representative Michelle Bachmann, for her recent anti-Jimmy Carter remark, and former Representative Cynthia McKinney, for comparing herself to Rosa Parks and referring to Washington, DC as a “Zionist-occupied government.”
Instead of performing as an anchor, MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell became a liberal sparring partner to the Cardinal Newman Society’s Patrick Reilly on the network’s Thursday afternoon programming over President Obama’s upcoming commencement address at the University of Notre Dame. Invoking her Catholic upbringing, she used the common left-wing tactic to equate the Church’s unequivocal teaching against abortion with its skepticism of the death penalty, and asked if former presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan shouldn’t have addressed prior commencements for their support of capital punishment. O’Donnell also inquired as to why Reilly was “advocating a Catholic Church that advocates division” [audio clips from the segment available here].
Before introducing Reilly, the MSNBC anchor began the segment, which started 20 minutes into the 3 pm Eastern hour, by reading recent poll numbers from Quinnipiac University which found that 60% of Catholic voters answered negatively when asked if Notre Dame should disinvite President Obama. She then turned to her guest and asked, “What’s your point? Why are you organizing this protest?” Reilly answered, “The protest has nothing to do with the president in particular. This is a concern that Catholics have had for decades now, that many of our Catholic institutions have lost a sense of Catholic identity, and Catholics are drawing a line in the sand, saying that the Catholic University of Notre Dame ought to be choosing those who it honors based on its Catholic principles and values.”
Anchor Andrew Mitchell presented radical homosexual activist Dan Savage, most famous for licking doorknobs in the campaign office of Republican Gary Bauer in an attempt to infect him with the flu, as an expert on the Catholic Church and Catholic issues during her MSNBC program on Wednesday afternoon. She introduced Savage, who writes a graphic sex-advice column called “Savage Love,” as the “editorial director for Seattle’s weekly newspaper, The Stranger...political commentator and social critic.” Mitchell lead into her question about President Obama’s commencement address at the University of Notre Dame by stating that the editor was also “sensitive and very well aware of the cultural fault lines within the Catholic community.” She did not mention the Bauer incident during the segment, nor the fact that Savage is an atheist who thinks the Catholic Church is a “criminal organization.”
Mitchell had Savage on as a guest just before the bottom half of the 1 pm Eastern hour of her Andrea Mitchell Live program. She brought up President Obama’s upcoming commencement addresses at Arizona State University and Notre Dame as a topic, and how in the case of his speech at the Catholic school, “critics are taking issue with the president’s positions on gay rights, abortion rights, and stem cell research.” After giving her introduction of the “editorial director...political commentator and social critic,” Mitchell asked, “Why is Notre Dame, which has long, you know, had this tradition from Theodore Hesburgh on -- especially, you know, during the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement, of being a broad tent -- why is the Notre Dame commencement so controversial this time?”
During a segment on Tuesday’s Situation Room program, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer characterized the ongoing post-election identity struggle in the Republican Party as being between moderates who are “more tolerant on fiscal and social issues” and “staunch” conservatives “who don’t want the party to become more moderate.” Later in the same segment, Gloria Borger, one of the network’s senior political analysts, labeled some of the moderate Republicans being considered for 2010 congressional races as being “very pragmatic choices.”
Blitzer introduced Borger’s analysis by highlighting the “serious battle...brewing in the Republican party....On the one side, moderates more tolerant on fiscal and social issues -- on the other side, staunch conservatives who don’t want the party to become more moderate.” The analyst herself focused on how this struggle was affecting statewide races, specifically in the northeastern states of Connecticut and Delaware. She argued that Republicans in Connecticut “need to put up a moderate candidate in that state to go against Chris Dodd.” She also cited unnamed conservative recruiters in the GOP who were supposedly saying, “we need moderates in the state of Connecticut.”
Three CNN personalities and one regular commentator on Monday’s No Bias, No Bull program all tried to get Republicans Bay Buchanan and Kevin Madden to disown former Vice President Dick Cheney, and agree with some unnamed Republicans who call for him to “just shut up.” Host Roland Martin characterized Cheney’s multiple media appearances recently as “turning into a big problem for the family of Republicans” and that “some Republicans wish the former V.P. would just shut up.”
Correspondent Jessica Yellin and Drew Griffin saw no good in the politician’s media tour, with Yellin labeling Cheney “one of the least popular figures in the Republican Party, aside from Rush Limbaugh.” She asked Buchanan, “Why is it good for him to speak out as such an unpopular guy?” TruTV’s Lisa Bloom agreed with the unnamed Republicans: “I think a lot of Republicans probably wish Cheney was secured in an undisclosed location right about now.”
On CNN’s Sunday Morning program, anchor John King revealed that he thought comedian Wanda Sykes’ barb at Rush Limbaugh at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner was in poor taste: “You know, I don’t give personal opinions that often, but I give you one here. I think that one was probably a tad over the taste line, and you could sense that around the room. Even Democrats, who are no fan [sic] of Rush Limbaugh -- a lot of them had a little bit of a cringe at that moment.” King later brought up the issue with Republican operative Mary Matalin and the Huffington Post’s Hilary Rosen on his own State of the Union program, where Rosen defended Sykes’ off-color joke.
King brought up Sykes during a segment with anchors T.J. Holmes and Betty Nguyen just before the bottom half of the 8 am Eastern hour. After briefly mentioning some of President Obama’s act at the dinner, King mentioned how the comedian “did cause some groans and some -- some uncomfortable moments in the room.” Nguyen replied that “we’ve gotten a lot of traffic on our Twitter and Facebook pages” about Sykes’ attack on Limbaugh, and asked how her act went over. The State of the Union anchor answered:
KING: Some people were laughing because most of the jokes leading up to it were very funny, and people were laughing, and then you could sort of sense a little bit of the oxygen come out of the room -- people start to cringe a little bit. You know, I don’t give personal opinions that often, but I give you one here. I think that one was probably a tad over the taste line, and you could sense that around the room. Even Democrats, who are no fan [sic] of Rush Limbaugh -- a lot of them had a little bit of a cringe at that moment.
Two Catholic priests who appeared as guests during back-to-back segments on Thursday’s No Bias, No Bull program were treated noticeably differently by CNN’s on-air personalities. Father Michael Pfleger of the Archdiocese of Chicago, who is best known for his racially-charged rhetoric against Hillary Clinton during the 2008 Democratic presidential race, as well as his defense of former Obama pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright, faced only a couple of pointed questions, most notably about his recent decision to fly an American flag upside-down. In the following segment, Father Mitch Pacwa of the orthodox Catholic TV network EWTN faced a more skeptical and sustained line of questioning from the CNN panel about the practice of priestly celibacy.
Anchor Roland Martin brought on Father Pfleger 43 minutes into the 8 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program to talk about his continuing push against street violence in Chicago, especially when it involves minors, as 36 school-aged children so far this year have been violently killed . He only introduced the priest as the “pastor of the faith community of Saint Sabina from the South Side of Chicago.” Neither he nor any of the other journalists participating in the panel mentioned any of Father Pfleger’s past controversies during the segment.
Correspondent Jim Acosta, “carrying the CNN flag” on the island of Cuba, filed several reports for the American Morning program during the first week of May which slanted favorably towards an end to the trade embargo with the communist country. His May 1 report on the policy that allows Cuban-Americans to travel to their homeland featured no critics of the Castro regime, nor did it mention the government’s human rights abuses. This was also the case during a May 4 report about tourism to the island and how economic competitors of the U.S. are taking advantage of the country’s resources. Acosta even referred to the ailing dictator emeritus Fidel Castro as a “Cuban icon.”
Acosta’s May 1 report, which aired 21 minutes into the 6 am hour of the CNN program, highlighted the Obama administration’s loosening of restrictions for Cuban-Americans who wish to return to the native soil. The correspondent featured one woman who was “taking bundles of food, clothing, and even toys back to her brother and sister on the island,” and emphasized the popularity of charter flights back to Cuba.
During the first hour and a half following Senator Arlen Specter’s announcement that he was switching from the Republican Party to the Democratic, CNN pushed the “big message” behind the defection, that “the Republican Party has moved so far to the right, that it is making itself uncompetitive in significant parts of the country, like the Northeast,” as the network’s senior political analyst Bill Schneider (shown at right) put it. He continued that the “Democrats, under President Obama, are really moving to claim the center of American politics.” Anchor Kyra Phillips even used the “center” label as an apparent synonym for Democrat.
Phillips’ fellow anchor Tony Harris turned to Schneider three times over the course of fifteen minutes during the 12 pm Eastern hour of the Newsroom program on CNN. During the first appearance 22 minutes into the hour, Harris asked the senior political analyst, “Could we see more of these defections and switches?” Schneider answered, “Tony, this has been going on for years. Republicans in the Northeast have been defeated....They’ve been losing general elections. The Republican Party -- there’s a big message here, which is that the Republican Party has moved so far to the right, that it is making itself uncompetitive in significant parts of the country, like the Northeast. This is really a cannon shot at them, saying this party is no longer competitive in lots of the country.”
US News’s on-staff radical feminist Bonnie Erbe returned to attacking pro-lifers, her favorite subject of ire, in a blog entry on Monday. This time, she singled out “20-something abortion foe” Lila Rose, a junior at UCLA, for her “dishonest” and “pointless” undercover videos which she has taped at several Planned Parenthood locations. She seems to be most upset by how Rose has “created a public relations nightmare” for the abortion-mongering group, and called for the young woman’s prosecution for “trespassing, fraud, and whatever other law she violated” for impersonating a 13-year-old statutory rape victim. The blogger later told pro-lifers to just “go away,” since they will “will never succeed in banning abortion.”
Erbe began by excerpting Robin Abcarian’s fair profile of Rose in the Los Angeles Times on Sunday, introducing her as a “20-something abortion foe who videotapes counseling sessions at Planned Parenthood clinics in which she poses as a 13-year-old impregnated by an older man.” The blogger saw two large “crimes” in this activity -- it has gained Rose quick notoriety in the “netherworld” of the pro-life movement, and it has given Planned Parenthood a few headaches:
CNN’s resident curmudgeon Jack Cafferty blamed Republican losses in the 2008 election, in part, on their use of the “socialist” label against Democrats during his regular commentary on Friday’s Situation Room. After reporting on a “conservative faction of the Republican National Committee” wanting to use this label against their opponents, and how they petitioned RNC Chairman Michael Steele to consider a resolution about it, he continued by labeling this faction “hardliners.”
Before reading some of the viewer responses to his commentary, he returned to gushing over Michelle Obama, suggesting that she might be president in the future. Cafferty also told one apparently conservative respondent who used the fascist and communist labels to “lighten up.”
The commentator made his regular “Cafferty File” commentary seven minutes into the 5 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program. He began immediately with his swipe at Republicans: “Wolf, it seems like some Republicans still have not figured out that they lost big-time last November, in part, because the American people are sick and tired of their style of politics. Exhibit A: a conservative faction of the Republican National Committee wants the party to brand Democrats as socialists.”
CNN correspondent Alina Cho went out of her way to highlight First Lady Michelle Obama’s “meteoric rise to style icon status” and how it has inspired the fashion industry during a report on Thursday’s American Morning. After detailing how a dress Mrs. Obama wore on the cover of Essence magazine ended up selling well, she commented that “the bottom line is designers are looking at Michelle as a muse now.” Cho also detailed how the apparent Obama-inspired fashion craze has expanded to cosmetics and fitness classes.
Co-anchor Kiran Chetry introduced Cho’s report, which began 17 minutes into the 6 am hour of the CNN program, by trumpeting how “nearly a 100 days into her role as first lady, it’s become clear that she’s really a one-woman stimulus package for the fashion industry.” The CNN correspondent continued with similar lofty language: “Michelle Obama’s meteoric rise to style icon status has surprised even those in the fashion industry. For months, we’ve been watching everything she wears, and in many cases, we’re going out and buying it. So designers are sitting up and taking note. They’re thinking it’s time to cash in.”
During a panel discussion on Tuesday’s No Bias, No Bull program, Jane Velez-Mitchell, the Headline News anchor who replaced Glenn Beck after he switched over to the Fox News Channel, vehemently defended Perez Hilton’s crude remarks against Miss California USA Carrie Prejean. After TruTV’s Lisa Bloom blasted Hilton’s use of “the ‘B’ word and the ‘C’ word, that rhymes with ‘rich and runt,’” Velez-Mitchell replied, “Why is it that people should be very polite when they’re told that they’re second-class citizens?...If someone said to you...I don’t think you should have the right to get married, wouldn’t you be ticked off?”
The panel discussed the controversy between Prejean and Hilton, and besides Bloom and Velez-Mitchell, included CNN correspondents Erica Hill and Jessica Yellin, and anchor Roland Martin. Despite her criticism of Hilton, the TruTV anchor twice expressed her support for gay marriage. Velez-Mitchell herself is not an uninterested party on the wider issue of same-sex “marriage,” as she is an open lesbian who defended anti-Proposition 8 protesters during her Headline News program in November 2008: “I believe that gay marriage should be a right for all Americans. In other words, this should be ok across the country” [video available here; her remarks start 5:25 in].
Michael Lindenberger of Time.com, in a April 20 article titled “Ten Years After Columbine, It’s Easier to Bear Arms,” found it “odd” that “whatever momentum the Columbine killings gave to gun control has long since petered out,” despite the “massacres perpetrated by deranged gunmen” in the following decade. He also quoted extensively from a young gun control advocate in the online article, without including any arguments from the opposing viewpoint.
Lindenberger first gave his reflection on the anniversary: “Monday April 20 marks 10 years since Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold permanently etched the words Columbine High School into this nation’s collective memory. What happened that day in 1999 also seemed to wake America up to the reality that it had become a nation of gun owners — and too often a nation of shooters. The carnage in Littleton, Colorado...seemed to usher in a new era of, well if not gun control, then at least gun awareness.”
The Time.com writer continued with a seeming lamentation: “In the decade since, massacres perpetrated by deranged gunmen have continued — including the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre in which Cho Seung-Hui killed 32 people and wounded many others. But something odd has occurred. Whatever momentum the Columbine killings gave to gun control has long since petered out.”
CNN has displayed a double standard in its coverage of the difficulties involving the extended family of Sarah Palin versus that of President Barack Obama. Two programs on the network on Thursday evening used multiple soap opera references to describe recent occurrences in the “Palin family saga.” This contrasts with two incidents involving the aunt and half-brother of the president, which have received minimal coverage from the network.
Anchor Roland Martin began the soap opera imagery in his promo for a segment about Palin on the No Bias, No Bull program: “Folks, talk about ‘The Young and the Restless’ -- these days Governor Sarah Palin must be feeling like she’s living in a soap opera. It’s everything from her daughter’s unplanned pregnancy, to a family member ending up behind bars, and it’s not over yet. We’ll catch you up with all the real-life Palin family drama.” After a commercial break, a CNN graphic referenced another daytime TV title at the beginning of the segment: “Palin: The Days of Her Lives.” The anchor also used a similar line, speaking of the “days of the Palin lives.”
On Wednesday’s Anderson Cooper 360 program, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour and Jeffrey Toobin voiced their skepticism about the hundreds of Tea Party protests across the U.S., with Toobin stating how it was “disturbing” that there was a “edge of anger at the government” at the rallies. He continued, “There is a real -- a real hostility that is not just politics as usual among some of these people....I think it’s indicative of trying to tap into an anger that’s beyond rationality on a part of a small group of these people.” Amanpour also asked if the protesters were “really out of step with the majority of Americans.”
Amanpour, filing in for host Anderson Cooper, began the segment just after the beginning of the 10 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program. Before turning to Toobin, she brought on the network’s senior political analyst David Gergen and asked him a cynical question about the Tea Parties: “David -- is this, David, a grassroots movement, or is it something just whipped up for this moment?” Gergen began with an admission: “Well, Christiane, at first, I must confess, I did not take these very seriously. But they do seem to have gained traction in the last couple of weeks. And they have -- I think they are giving expression to what is a groundswell of a vocal minority, who are increasingly alienated and opposed to what the president is proposing -- is putting forward, the agenda he’s advancing.”
CNN anchor Anderson Cooper followed his colleague David Shuster into the gutter on his Anderson Cooper 360 program on Tuesday in making a vulgar “tea-bagging” joke about Republicans/conservatives. After CNN’s senior political analyst David Gergen remarked that Republicans were “searching for their voice” after two electoral losses, Cooper quipped, “It’s hard to talk when you’re tea-bagging.” [audio available here]
Cooper had Gergen and chief business correspondent Ali Velshi on to comment on President Obama’s economic speech earlier that day at Georgetown University. Cooper had asked Gergen about the Republicans’ “positioning” in response to the speech. The analyst touted how the GOP was “in disarray” and that they “have not yet come up with a compelling alternative, one that has gained popular recognition.” Cooper replied, “Tea-bagging. They’ve got tea-bagging.”
CBS anchor Harry Smith and Bill O’Reilly traded light blows with each other on Tuesday’s Early Show, as the Fox News Channel host marked his 100th consecutive month at the top of cable news ratings. Smith jabbed his guest about his 12 years on the same network: “Couldn’t hold a job at any other place?...Is this the longest continuous employment you have ever had?” O’Reilly didn’t take it lying down, however, and got in his own hits at Smith, such as joking about how the CBS anchor apparently hangs out with President Obama.
After beginning with his employment jab at O’Reilly, Smith asked the Fox News anchor about the piracy off the coast of Somalia. O’Reilly replied by recommending the arming of merchant ships and the posting of security guards onboard. He also got his first ribbing in at Smith: “A few security guards? Look, you got more security around you, Smith...here than they have in the boats.” The CBS anchor quipped back, “I need it....We’ve got guys like you coming in and I never know what’s going to happen.” O’Reilly further recommended that a blockade be initiated off the Somali coast.
On Wednesday’s No Bias, No Bull program, CNN anchor Roland Martin forgot the first part of his show’s title and featured three “progressive Christian” guests who all criticized the “religious right” and affirmed his view that you can “love God, go to church every Sunday, and not be a die-hard social conservative.” He did not host one religious conservative on his panel. The anchor even promised to check up on the three and “see if you guys are able to put this [progressive Christian] movement together, and we’ll follow it to the conclusion.”
Martin began the segment, which started 41 minutes into the 8 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, with his usual criticism of social conservatives: “I’m an evangelical, but I think the faith should focus on more than just abortion and whether marriage should just be between a man and a woman. As police brutality, poverty, funding inequality in our schools, the high infant mortality rate in our inner cities -- they’re all issues that I, as a Christian, care about, but they rarely top the religious right’s agenda.” He then asked as his general question to his guests, “So, is there a place for progressive evangelicals in this country?”
As you might expect, all three of his guests -- the Reverend Joel Hunter, pastor of Northland Church, Reverend Serene Jones, president of the Union Theological Seminary, and Frank Schaeffer -- all answered this question affirmatively, and each one had their criticism of religious conservatives. Martin first asked Schaeffer if he believed that “progressive Christians have been meek and silent, and frankly, being bullied by social conservatives into submission.” Schaeffer not only acknowledged that he believed this, but later went so far of blaming the “religious right” for the Iraq War and the bad economy. He even accused them of being “anti-American,” because in his view, “they hate pluralistic diverse America. What they want is a homogenous white America most of the time.”
In a promo on Thursday’s Early Show, CBS asked if same-sex “marriage” is “inevitable in all 50 states,” and during their segment on the issue, seemed to answer this rhetorical question affirmatively. The network also lined up four sound bites from three individuals who supported the legalization of such unions against one from a leader of a conservative organization. Additionally, correspondent Priya David made one factual error about California’s Proposition 8 during the report.
David began the segment by outlining which states had passed same-sex civil unions, which states permit domestic partnerships, and which states “offer full marriage rights for same-sex couples.” She continued by actually using a political label for the “marriage” states: “In allowing same-sex marriage, Vermont has joined its neighbors in the north, Massachusetts and Connecticut, which are traditionally liberal states. But now there’s support in a place you might not expect.”
CNN’s Rick Sanchez returned to blasting conservatives on Wednesday’s Newsroom program, blaming the recent murder of three Pittsburgh police officers on the Fox News Channel and other media on the right: “That weekend tragedy involves a man who allegedly shot and killed three police officers in cold blood. Why? Because he was convinced, after no doubt watching Fox News and listening to right-wing radio, that quote, ‘Our rights were being infringed upon.’” He tag-teamed with Media Matters fellow Eric Boehlert to argue that conservative media personalities like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity were offering “garden-variety fear and hate mongering...night in and night out.”
One could be sure that Sanchez would be pointing his finger squarely at his competitors on the right from the first moment he mentioned the gun issue, which was 13 minutes into the CNN program. After playing audio of gunshots from the Pittsburgh murders, he gave the following promo: “What you’re hearing there is three police officers killed by a man who thought President Obama would take away his guns. Who put that thought in his head? And how many more Americans believe that? Could it be 1.2 million Americans? You’re going to see why I’m asking that question.” Sanchez gave a further hint that his target was Fox News during another promo ten minutes later: “Are Americans being fed a pack of lies about President Obama and guns laws? And is it creating a gun buying panic? ‘We’ll report, you decide.’ That’s not too obvious is it?”