Forget about how cold it is outside — according to ABC, there’s no longer a debate about global warming: manmade greenhouse emissions have put Earth “under non-stop stress from the heat,” with deaths from global warming “conservatively” estimated at 150,000 per year.
In a stupendously one-sided story that aired on Thursday’s “Good Morning America” — a longer version of which will be shown tonight on “Nightline” — reporter Bill Blakemore announced that unless “serious greenhouse gas emission cuts” are underway within the next ten years “the Earth will start to experience temperatures higher than it has known in half a million years.”
Such cuts in emissions, however, would cause massive damage to the world economy. Financial columnist James Glassman recently highlighted a study from the International Council for Capital Formation which tried to assess the impact on just four European countries – Germany, Spain, the UK and Italy:
If you’re old enough, you may remember the howls of media protest in the fall of 1981 over a never-adopted bureaucratic rule that would classify ketchup as a vegetable for purposes of calculating the nutritional value of a school lunch. Liberals went into campaign mode, holding up the proposed change as somehow symbolic of the Reagan administration’s lack of concern for the poor.
The October 2, 1981 New York Times provides a window into the media mindset of the time, with a reporter posing this question to President Reagan at a press conference the day before:
“The style of your Administration is being called millionaires on parade. Do you feel that you are being sensitive enough to the symbolism of Republican mink coats, limousines, thousand-dollar-a-plate china at the White House, when ghetto kids are being told they can eat ketchup as a vegetable?”
Sadly, the identity of the person who posed this particular question was not reported in the Times, but this was a spin heard in various forms throughout the media landscape in the early 1980s.
Exactly one year ago tonight (Friday), Brian Williams took over the NBC Nightly News after Tom Brokaw’s 21-year run as anchor. Of the three men who dominated network news during the 1980s and 90s, Brokaw wasn’t the most biased, but he still reflected the liberal prejudices of his profession.
A year later, the same could be said of Brian Williams. Bob Schieffer’s CBS Evening News is no friendlier to conservatives than Dan Rather’s Evening News, and the medley of ABC anchors who have replaced Peter Jennings haven’t altered World News Tonight’s liberal slant. Indeed, the only big change in network news content in 2005 has been a continuation of the move towards softer, general interest stories and away from more serious topics like U.S. politics and foreign news, a trend that’s been underway for years.
Several times over the past few weeks, Katie Couric has used her Today show to push the idea that the United States is now a country that abuses human rights. But this morning’s Today saw a dead human corpse, stripped of his skin and with his skull removed, located just a few feet from where Katie was sitting next to co-host Matt Lauer on the couch.
The corpse was from a traveling exhibit on human bodies, where the preserved remains are dissected to show different aspects of human anatomy. But according to Friday’s New York Times, human rights groups are extremely concerned that the bodies on this exhibit — presumably including the one that showed up on Today’s set — could be dissidents executed by China’s communist regime:
The national media worked overtime last week insisting that Democratic victories in governor’s races in New Jersey and Virginia were huge setbacks for the Bush administration and national Republican party. Apparently, the liberal media spin was enough to hoodwink an unsuspecting headline writer at the Albany Herald in Albany, Georgia.
The claims that Mary Mapes is now making on her Truth and Duty book tour are as obtuse and embarrassing as those made by CBS News in the 10 days after the 60 Minutes hit job on President Bush aired back on September 8, 2004.
This morning on Fox & Friends, Mapes told co-host E.D. Hill that when she was first given the now-infamous memos, “I assumed they were forgeries,” but became convinced of their reliability by comparing them to official records and talking to others in the National Guard at the time.
Those arguments were laughable back in 2004, and only Mapes (and Dan Rather) seem in utter denial of the obvious: that they were victims of a not-very-convincing hoax.
Democrats won yesterday’s gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia, both offices they held going into Tuesday’s voting, and Democrats lost the Virginia lieutenant governor’s race, a switch in favor of the GOP. That’s hardly an impressive show of electoral strength.
But journalists today spun the results like Howard Dean, claiming voters had handed the Republicans “stinging defeats,” as the New York Times hyped on today’s front page.
Eight years ago, when Republicans held those same two governorships during off-year elections, the media didn’t tout Democratic defeats or unhappiness with Democratic President Bill Clinton. Instead, they saw the election of Republican governors as a voters’ approval of the “status quo” under Clinton.
We interrupt our regular programming for a left-wing blast at American foreign policy.
About three-fourths of the way through last night’s ERon NBC, a character giving a dinner table blessing began her prayer with rhetoric that could have been lifted from MoveOn.org's Web site: “Thank you, Lord, for the blessings we are about to receive. Look over those now who cannot be with us, including the countrymen who fight to protect us in an overseas war founded on lies told to us by our government.”
Up to that point, there had been no discussion of the war or politics at all (the main plot line was about a sick baby monkey being treated secretly by the ER docs). After the anti-war protest, the story resumed without any further political references.
As soon as network reporters heard of his nomination, they began to brand Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito a right-wing extremist. During live coverage Monday morning, ABC's Charles Gibson termed Alito "very conservative" and "the most conservative member" of an otherwise "liberal appellate court." Over on CBS's Early Show, Gloria Borger dubbed Alito "quite conservative," the same label applied on CNN's Daybreak by Carol Costello. On Good Morning America, ABC's Jessica Yellin labeled Alito as "conservative" five times in 50 seconds.
Monday's evening newscasts carried the same message. On ABC, anchor Elizabeth Vargas called Alito a "staunch conservative," while Terry Moran found him "deeply conservative." CBS's John Roberts said that "if confirmed, Alito would wipe out the swing seat now occupied by Sandra Day O'Connor, tilting the Supreme Court in a solidly conservative direction." In contrast, NBC's Brian Williams, agreed Alito was "dependably conservative" but he also saw an "independent streak," as did reporter Pete Williams.
Yesterday, Harriet Miers withdrew as a Supreme Court nominee. Today, Lewis Libby has been indicted by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. So how do Keith Olbermann and Craig Crawford explain the lack of any terror alerts to distract the public from this bad news?
Maybe the "coincidence" of a terror alert being issued each time there's a bad news story about the Bush administration isn't as "consistent" as Olbermann declared just a couple of weeks ago when he posited that the liberal Republican mayor of New York was launching a panic over a potential subway attack to distract from the Plame investigation.
On ABC’s Good Morning America on Thursday, co-host Charles Gibson seemed mystified why a pro-life group would be disturbed by Harriet Miers’ formulation that the abortion debate is between those who would “criminalize abortions” or “guarantee the freedom of the individual woman’s right to choose.” Gibson thought that such liberal language was perfectly neutral: “That sounds to me, when I read it, as if she’s setting out alternatives and not taking a stand.”
His guest, Concerned Women for America’s Wendy Wright, told Gibson that someone who was genuinely pro-life would have framed the debate very differently: “Those who believe in the sanctity of human life speak in terms like that, respect for unborn children, respect for life. And so by her phrasing of criminalizing abortion as contrasted to freedom, that does speak to a philosophy that’s a bit troubling.”
As Geoff Dickens just pointed out, Today’s Matt Lauer just smiled and laughed when left-wing radio host Al Franken predicted the execution of Karl Rove and Lewis Libby. But a few weeks ago when Pat Robertson called for the assassination of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, an anti-American dictator who has cozied up with Iran’s ayatollahs and Cuba’s communists, Today was outraged enough to lead the show with Robertson’s supposed transgression.
“We fine broadcasters for using four-letter words, we say that’s offensive. So is it offensive to call for the assassination of a world leader?” NBC’s Matt Lauer castigated back on August 23. But a left-wing host talks about executing top ranking officials of the executive branch — that’s just a joke, right? Or perhaps Today’s indignant reaction to Pat Robertson was, shall we say, a little “staged.”
For weeks now, the media have breathlessly hyped the possibility that presidential advisor Karl Rove might be indicted by the grand jury looking into the leak of CIA employee Valerie Plame’s identity to columnist Robert Novak. Or, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald could choose not to indict anyone, and instead issue a detailed report of who knew what, when they knew it, and from whom they heard it.
Given the ridiculously overwrought coverage of the last month, if Fitzgerald’s report confirms media suspicions that Rove and/or vice presidential aide Lewis Libby talked to reporters about Valerie Plame and weren’t completely forthcoming to investigators, you can expect the networks to go absolutely nuts, whether anyone is indicted or not.
Maybe somebody at NBC wasn’t too happy that this morning’s Today hosted FNC star Bill O’Reilly. Right at the start of O’Reilly’s interview with Katie Couric, the on-screen graphic included the words: “No Spine Zone,” maybe a mere misspelling of O’Reilly’s trademark “No Spin Zone,” or perhaps a derogatory shot at their cable news competitor. We'll report, you decide.
Either way, the words were quickly taken off the screen and replaced a few moments later with “No Spin Zone.” Later in the interview, though, Couric did seem to chastise O’Reilly: “Is there any way, though, that you could do this job and be more conciliatory?” She wondered, “Could we have more intelligent conversations about these divisive issues?”
As Brent Baker noted last night, the networks were far more excited about the supposed scandal of the administration having “a staged event” where the President talked by satellite with soldiers serving in Iraq. (Speaking of “staged,” how often do you think Brian Williams or Bob Schieffer sit down in the anchor chair and just wing it?)
Andrea Mitchell pretty much gave it away on Thursday’s Nightly News, allowing that “Many administrations, Democrat and Republican, stage-manage events. And often the news media ignore the choreography.” But the networks didn’t want to “ignore the choreography” yesterday, because it didn’t fit their spin. Mitchell preferred to expose what she called “a rare look behind the curtain of a White House trying to sell an increasingly unpopular war.”
If the Iraq war is “increasingly unpopular” — and polls suggest it is — one reason may be because the broadcast networks have heavily skewed their news agenda toward the bad news coming out of Iraq: car bombings, U.S. casualties, terrorist attacks, squabbling among Iraqi politicians, etc., etc.
I just finished a study of every Iraq story aired on the three broadcast network evening newscasts this year, from January 1 through September 30, nearly 1,400 stories. (More)
Back on Monday, I blogged about an NBC Nightly News story by Kevin Corke that raised the idea that the President could be called “a political opportunist” for his hands-on approach to Hurricane Rita. On Wednesday, Mr. Corke posted a comment right here on NewsBusters, disagreeing with my take on his report. I was out of the office yesterday, but I have since replied to his reply here, in case anyone is interested.
Even though we’re probably going to continue to disagree, I would like to thank Mr. Corke for his comment. It’s not one of those flip “we’re never biased” retorts that you might get from some in the media elite, but a detailed, point-by-point explanation of his story. As I said in my reply, the discussion of media bias is much improved when reporters take criticism seriously and respond as he did.
Too slow on Katrina, too quick on Rita? During Saturday’s special hour-long NBC Nightly News, reporter Kevin Corke suggested President Bush ran “the risk of looking like a political opportunist” with Hurricane Rita by taking exactly the active hands-on approach demanded by media critics in the days after Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast last month.
The liberal media are never satisfied.
MRC news analyst Mike Rule caught Corke’s reasoning:
The misery and loss of life following Hurricane Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans make it the worst calamity to hit the United States since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. But after 9/11, many journalists insisted that their correct stance was rigid neutrality, refusing to call terrorists "terrorists" and insisting objectivity would be compromised by wearing lapel pins with the American flag. In contrast, journalists showed no similar desire for neutrality in covering this disaster.
The big three broadcast networks have been mostly silent during the run-up to the Senate's hearings on Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, with just a handful of evening news stories over the last five weeks. But big papers such as the Washington Post have been busily poring over Roberts' writings, hunting for the legal brief or memo that might put his seemingly-assured confirmation in doubt. No "smoking gun" has emerged, but that hasn't stopped some journalists from trying to tar Roberts as a kooky far right-wing extremist. Recall:
-- On July 20, the day after President Bush announced he'd picked Roberts, ABC's Barbara Walters suggested the judge's Catholicism might be a problem for pro-abortion liberals. "How important to him is his religion?" she wondered on Good Morning America. "Do you think it might affect him as a Supreme Court Justice?"
Tuesday's morning shows, especially NBC's Today, trumpeted as scandalous Monday's comment by Pat Robertson that "the time has come" for the United States to think about assassinating the communist and virulently anti-American Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, saying the option was better than "another $200 billion war."
"We fine broadcasters for using four-letter words, we say that's offensive. So is it offensive to call for the assassination of a world leader?" NBC's Matt Lauer castigated. Today began its show by showing Robertson, with the words "Thou Shalt Not Kill?" at the bottom of the screen. In spite of the top-of-the-broadcast hype, Today's coverage consisted of two brief stories read by news anchor Natalie Morales during the 7am and 9am updates.
NBC seems to be lending even more support to the far-left Air America radio network. As MRC noted last year, NBC news shows like Today gave lavish coverage of Air America’s launch, and — so far, at least — NBC News hasn’t uttered a single word about the growing scandal surrounding Air America, as New York City investigators and New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer probe how $875,000 from a boys and girls charity ended up in Air America’s bank accounts.
Now, NBC has booked Air America hostess Janeane Garofalo to appear in three episodes of the political drama West Wing this fall. From the About TV blog:
I have been struck by the way the same network reporters who tripped all over themselves to suggest "Bush knew" about 9/11 in advance and could possibly have prevented the whole thing are practically mute on Congressman Curt Weldon's charge -- seconded by a U.S. military intelligence official -- that civilian law enforcement agencies felt they could not act when the military figured out that Mohommed Atta and three other men were al Qaeda operatives in the U.S.
Could the networks' unenthusiastic approach be because the lapses Weldon is talking about happened during the Clinton era?
This afternoon I put together a Media Reality Check fax report laying out the ways the TV networks approached both stories. The network piece that really struck me as most over the top was one by CBS's Michelle Miller for the April 12, 2004 Early Show, who showed off a widow who insisted her husband (in Miller's paraphrase) “might have escaped the 76th floor of the South Tower, she says, if key facts in the August 6th memo were released to the public.”
As Mark Finkelstein accurately noted earlier this morning, NBC’s Today gave big play to the supposed havoc that rising fuel prices are having on American society. But the hype reached ridiculous levels when Katie Couric insisted during Monday’s show opening that “I had to take out a loan to fill up my minivan. It’s crazy.”
Couric makes at least $15 million a year co-hosting Today.
Here’s how Couric and co-host Matt Lauer teased their upcoming segment on the “pain” of “sky high” gas prices:
One of the more maddening aspects of the Cindy Sheehan story is the implicit argument that her virulent anti-Bush, anti-war attitudes represent a lot of military families, and perhaps even the secret views of soldiers themselves.
But during last year’s election campaign, the Annenberg Public Policy Center (definitely not part of the VRWC), polled members of the military and their families. While the October 16, 2004 press release (written by NYT alumnus Adam Clymer) stressed issues where service members and their families disagreed with the President, there was this gem back in the data tables:
Just 16 days ago, CBS reporter Trish Regan did a story for the Evening News premised on the idea that the “reality” of the U.S. economy is far gloomier than the positive comments from experts such as Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. As MRC’s Brent Baker noted in the July 21 CyberAlert, Regan preferred to trust the offhand comments from people she met on the streets of New York City to all of the statistical evidence that the economy is growing at solid pace and creating jobs.
CBS showed Regan prompting a woman on a Manhattan sidewalk: “Alan Greenspan says the economy is doing fine, we’re seeing a lot of growth. What do you think of that statement?”
This morning's (Thursday's) New York Times has a front-page "news analysis" of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts' world view, with the headline branding Roberts: "An Advocate for the Right."
So for yesterday's TimesWatch, MRC's Clay Waters went back to 1993 to see how the Times assessed onetime ACLU attorney Ruth Bader Ginsburg when Bill Clinton nominated her for the Supreme Court. Sure enough, the June 27, 1993 headline on Ginsburg: "Balanced Jurist at Home in the Middle."
In an interview taped a couple of days ago but aired on this morning's (Thursday's) show, Katie Couric asked Bill Clinton whether he thought Executive Branch employees should be fired for any ethical lapse, whether or not it was criminal:
"President Clinton as you well know President Bush has been under fire recently because Karl Rove allegedly released the identity of a CIA agent to reporters. President Bush has said it's a fireable offense now if a crime was committed but in your view is the ethical violation enough to warrant dismissal?"
The funniest part -- Couric seemed oblivous to the irony of asking this question of Bill Clinton, the walking, talking poster boy of getting away with "ethical violations," and even perjury and obstruction of justice, because the media would let him get away with anything short of a criminal conviction.
As the MRC's CyberAlert noted on Thursday, an assistant editorial page editor with the St. Paul, Minnesota Pioneer Press, Mark Yost, has written a column, headlined "Why They Hate Us," castigating his reporters for omitting positive developments and emphasizing violence and negativity in their coverage of the Iraq War.
But apparently Yost is now taking a lot of heat from other journalists for expressing his own views in a clearly marked opinion column, which I think says a lot about the low threshhold for dissent that many journalists seem to have. Stephen Spruiell has a good round-up on National Review's media blog about how some journalists are trying to shout Yost down.
Monday's Washington Post and Washington Times each write about the latest Center for Media and Public Affairs content analysis of presidential news. The headline is that ABC, CBS and NBC awarded the current President Bush with mostly bad press during the first 100 days of both his first and second terms, what used to be a normal honeymoon period for freshly-elected presidents.
I was at CMPA and helped set up its project tracking presidential news back in 1989. As both papers noted today, those same networks gave the first President Bush mostly good press during his first 100 days -- 61 percent good press for the father, compared to 67 percent bad press for the son in his second term (and 71 percent bad press in his first term).