The Obama administration launched its air war against Moammar Qaddafi’s Libya after a vote of the UN Security Council, but without any congressional authorization — and apparently not even very much consultation with congressional leaders. A review of the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts from Friday night through Monday night finds virtually no network interest in Obama’s bypassing of Congress — an attitude in stark contrast to their approach to the Bush administration during the run-up to the Iraq war in late 2002. (Video montage below jump.)
With Libya, only the NBC Nightly News has even mentioned the controversy over the Obama administration’s decision to cut Congress out of the decision-making. On the March 20 Nightly News, White House correspondent Chuck Todd offered one sentence taking note of John Boehner’s objections in a laundry list of other congressional complaints:
The Media Research Center is out with another edition of our bi-weekly Notable Quotables newsletter, a compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media. Highlights from this issue include: Network reporters contrasting left-wing union protests in Wisconsin with recent uprisings against brutal Middle Eastern dictators, and journalists suggesting a “coordinated” Republican “assault on unions,” with MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski badgering Governor Scott Walker: “How this is not an attempt to crush the unions.”
In other NQ news, we think we’ve finally fixed the problems that have plagued MRC’s e-mail newsletters over the past few weeks, so if you’d like to subscribe (or unsubscribe) to Notable Quotables or any of the MRC’s other fine newsletters, click here.
Now, here’s a sample of our best quotes from the past two weeks, including six video clips — for the full edition (Web page or full-color, printer-friendly PDF), visit www.MRC.org.
Loud protests by Wisconsin public employee unions against a budget reform proposal from new Governor Scott Walker have drawn considerable national network news attention since Thursday, the day Democratic state senators fled the state in a last-ditch gambit to prevent the bill from becoming law. A story-by-story analysis by the Media Research Center shows the Wisconsin protests are a perfect case study in the media’s longstanding double standard favoring left-wing causes while demonstrating much more hostility to the Tea Party and conservative protest.
Last March, as thousands protested on Capitol Hill in the days before the passage of ObamaCare, CBS’s Nancy Cordes slammed it as “a weekend filled with incivility,” while World News anchor Diane Sawyer painted the Tea Party as a violent gang, with “protesters roaming Washington, some of them increasingly emotional, yelling slurs and epithets.” In August 2009, ABC anchor Charles Gibson complained how “protesters brought pictures of President Obama with a Hitler-style mustache to a town hall meeting,” failing to mention that the signs were produced by Lyndon LaRouche’s wacky fringe movement, not the Tea Party or conservatives.
On Saturday morning, TVNewser summarized the news networks’ plans for covering former President Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday tomorrow — Fox News plans a documentary for Sunday night, CNN will have live programming Sunday afternoon and NBC’s Meet the Press will originate from the Reagan library with guests including James Baker, Reagan’s first White House chief of staff.
The effort seems a bit modest for the most successful conservative president of the 20th century, who re-invigorated the American economy and helped bring the Soviet Union’s communist empire to its knees. The best contrast is with late January 1982, when the towering liberal president of the 20th century, Franklin D. Roosevelt, reached his 100th milestone.
For that anniversary, NBC carved out an hour of primetime on Sunday, January 24, for a documentary narrated by newsman John Hart: “Nothing to Fear — The Legacy of FDR.” And ABC worked up a three-hour documentary, "FDR," which aired on Friday, January 29, 1982, the day before Roosevelt’s actual birthday.
Every two weeks, the Media Research Center compiles the most outrageous liberal media quotes for our Notable Quotables newsletter. For the issue dated Monday, January 24, it’s a special edition, “Conservatives in the Crosshairs,” documenting the smarmy attempt by the liberal media to link conservatives — especially Sarah Palin, talk radio and the Tea Party — to the horrific shooting of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords that left six others dead.
After the jump, you'll find some of the choicer quotes we’ve uncovered, including three video clips. The full issue will be is now available at www.MRC.org by 9am Monday:
Almost immediately after the shooting in Tucson that killed six people and left Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords severely wounded, the media establishment linked the attack with a debate about “civility,” suggesting an association between Jared Loughner’s rampage and the words and phrases used in national political debates.
Many of these network news stories offered ambiguous references to, as CBS’s Bob Schieffer put it on the January 9 edition of Sunday Morning, “the mean and hateful tone that now marks our modern politics.” Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter, in a soundbite on NBC’s Today the next morning, pointed his finger at “the left and the right” as contributing to what he termed “the climate of violence.”
There’s certainly no shortage of instances of the Left deploying violent rhetoric, but how evenly did the media divide the blame during the first few days of this national debate about civility? MRC analysts reviewed all 55 broadcast network stories or segments discussing the discourse from just after the shooting (January 8) through the evening of the national memorial service on January 12, reviewing the ABC, CBS and NBC morning, evening and Sunday talk shows.
Three days after a mentally-deranged man — whose backyard in Arizona featured a bizarre shrine decorated with a human skull and rotted oranges — killed six people and severely wounded Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the liberal media continue to cynically link Sarah Palin, the Tea Party and mainstream conservatives with the crime.
There is, of course, absolutely no evidence that “heated rhetoric” in any way motivated Jarred Loughner’s shooting spree, but the media’s repeated association of political speech with the attack suggests an attempt to exploit the tragedy to discredit mainstream conservatives by smearing them as somehow culpable.
As scornful as the media were of conservatives last year, they were just as adoring of top liberals, as documented by the MRC's Best Notable Quotables of 2010. Topping the MRC's annual "Media Hero Award," ABC's World News anchor Diane Sawyer fawned over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after the passage of ObamaCare in March:
“All agree she gets credit for locking up this vote, one of the biggest since Medicare in the 1960s. And she’s said to have done it with an epic blend of persuasion, muscle and will, even when half the town said it couldn’t be done....Their indefatigable, unwavering almost 70-year-old Speaker, mother of five, grandmother of seven....[to Pelosi] What do you think your dad and your mom would have said about this moment?”
The liberal press likes to scold what it sees as lapses in civil rhetoric, usually from conservatives who fail to properly respect the icons of the Left. But as documented by the MRC's Best Notable Quotables of 2010, the media elite itself lurched into some pretty uncivil rhetoric this year — especially when the targets were Rush Limbaugh, the Tea Party and other conservatives.
Condemning everyday Americans as racist, anti-immigrant Islamophobes was a favorite media theme in 2010, as documented by the Media Research Center's year-end Best Notable Quotables of 2010. Polls showed most Americans supported Arizona's effort to curb illegal immigration and opposed building an Islamic center near the site of the destroyed World Trade Center towers — but on both scores the media elite stacked their coverage against the public.
Winning the "Hazing Arizona Award for Denigrating Immigration Enforcement" was longtime New York Times Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse, who summoned images of resistance to Nazi occupation in an April 27 op-ed hoping for protests of the "police state" she claimed Arizona had become for trying to protect itself from illegal immigration.
Every year, the Media Research Center invites a distinguished panel of expert judges to sift through the dopiest, wackiest quotes of the year, and every year it seems the honor roll of idiocy gets longer and longer.
This year, top honors in the MRC's "Audacity of Dopes Award for the Wackiest Analysis of the Year" went to the Boston Globe Magazine's Charles Pierce, for a January 10 column he addressed to Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown just days before the Massachusetts special election. In Pierce's highly-esteemed opinion, Brown's cause was hopeless:
Even as the public grew increasingly disenchanted with Washington's full-throated liberal policies in 2010, the media elite's partisanship remained on full display. The Media Research Center's Best Notable Quotables of 2010 captured the highlights, as journalists continued to blame America's misfortunes on George W. Bush, even as they also insisted that Barack Obama deserved more credit for his amazing accomplishments.
In the MRC's "They Don't Miss Him Yet Award for Still Bashing Bush," Time's Joe Klein took the prize for insisting that the April 2010 Gulf oil spill was really Bush's fault: "This is more Bush’s second Katrina than Obama’s first,” Klein lamely insisted on The Chris Matthews Show. Klein made his crack on May 30, nearly 500 days after Bush left the Oval Office.
Late last week, CNN announced its plan to team up with the Tea Party Express to co-sponsor a Republican presidential debate in September. While this creates the possibility that Republican candidates will actually face questions of interest to Republican primary voters (as opposed to the typical liberal media agenda), it’s also probably the first time a media organization will partner with a group that its on-air correspondents and commentators have trashed over the past two years.
CNN’s liberal commentators have been savage to the Tea Party. Back in 2009, longtime CNN house liberal Paul Begala slammed the Tea Party as “a bunch of wimpy, whiny, weasels who don’t love their country.” A couple of weeks before this year’s election, CNN’s 8pm ET co-host Eliot Spitzer said the Tea Party was “vapid” and leading America “down a dangerous road....They’re going to destroy our country.”
But CNN’s supposedly objective correspondents and anchors have showcased a similar hostility to the Tea Party, attacking them as racist, extremist, pawns of Fox News, or using the vulgar “tea-bagging” nickname favored by left-wing activists to disparage the group. A few of the choicer examples from the MRC’s archive (including video):
With all but one of the House races now resolved, Republicans have picked up at least 63 seats, the most in a midterm election since 1938. So, it might be fun on this Thanksgiving Day to recall how, just 18 months ago, Time's Michael Grunwald was arguing in a big cover story that demography and its "extremely conservative" philosophy meant the Republican Party could be on the verge of extinction.
Back in May 2009, Newsbusters Brent Baker picked up on Grunwald's piece for the ridiculous way he painted the GOP as extremist:
They are extremely conservative ideas tarred by association with the extremely unpopular George W. Bush, who helped downsize the party to its extremely conservative base.
But re-reading the piece today, it's even more striking how Grunwald's "analysis" was based on liberal wishful thinking that small government conservative policies were like political arsenic, and how Republicans had to drop tax cuts and cultural conservatism if they ever hoped to come back from the wilderness.
In other words, move left. But the GOP instead moved right, and was rewarded by voters. Which is why conservatives should probably not take strategic advice from their ideological adversaries in the media.
While the broadcast networks have generally empathized with the distress of airline passengers over the TSA’s new and intrusive airport searches, they have not — thus far, at least — gone so far as to impugn the Obama administration as launching a war against Americans’ civil liberties.
Indeed, NBC’s Matt Lauer on Monday even sympathized with TSA Administrator John Pistole: “I hate to even think of what happens if the government caves in on this, and relaxes these procedures, and someone manages to get something on board a plane and causes harm. Imagine the questions you'll be asked at that point.”
But that’s not the approach those networks took when it was the Bush administration taking steps to protect citizens against potential attack. Instead, as a 2006 analysis by the Media Research Center documented, the networks firmly aligned themselves with those who saw the Patriot Act and the electronic surveillance of international phone calls as a dire threat to civil liberties.
As a Monday morning treat for NewsBusters readers, here is a sampling of the quotes from the latest edition of MRC’s Notable Quotables newsletter, a compilation of the most outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media. All of the quotes, plus past issues going back to 1988, can be found at www.MRC.org.
Forget What Voters Said, It’s Time for Higher Taxes
Host Christiane Amanpour: “There are many economists who simply say the math does not add up, if you’re not going to agree to raising taxes. Do you agree that taxes will have to be raised, as well?” Senator-elect Rand Paul: “Well, I think it’s not a revenue problem. It’s a spending problem.” Amanpour: “But it is a revenue problem according to so many economists.”
— ABC’s This Week, November 7.
CNN has launched a new advertising campaign, claiming to be the only cable network without an ideological ax to grind. “If you want to keep them all honest, without playing favorites, the choice is clear: CNN, the worldwide leader in news,” the on-screen message argues.
So, did CNN “play favorites” during the midterm campaign? MRC analysts reviewed all of the guests and commentators on CNN’s primetime weekday programs from October 4 through October 29, the last four full weeks before the November 2 elections. Guests were grouped into three categories: “Democrat/liberal,” “Republican/conservative,” and “Other.” The latter category included all non-political guests, as well as guests who were not associated with a clear political point of view.
Shortly after ABC News projected the Republican takeover of the House of Representative, co-anchors George Stephanopoulos and Diane Sawyer, plus Democratic contributor Donna Brazile, waxed effusive of Nancy Pelosi, the object of so many voters’ ire. “President Obama called her a rock, the rock for the White House,” Sawyer enthused.
Sawyer also twice admired how Pelosi once said she took the job “to be in the arena,” exclaiming: “She will not be a footnote in history, no matter what happens.” Stephanopoulos quickly agreed: “That is absolutely right.” He invited Brazile to offer her testimonial:
She has been a phenomenal Speaker, regardless of what the Republicans and Tea Parties have said....This is a woman who fought to restore America’s families. I have full support of Speaker Pelosi, and I'm very sad tonight.
The actual voting results are just part of what makes for an Election Night in today’s mass media world. Perhaps as important — in some years, more important — are journalists’ first stab at interpreting the results, telling audiences what they voted for (and against).
If history is a reliable guide, listen for: smug journalists slamming “angry” or stupid voters; claims that there’s no mandate for conservative policies; slams that the Republican winners are “extremist” or “radical;” and arguments that the Democrats failed to follow through on their liberal agenda. Oh, and don’t forget the racism.
Sixteen years ago, the Republicans picked up 54 seats in the House of Representatives, taking control of that chamber for the first time since the 1950s. So how good were the media’s predictions back then? Trolling through the MRC’s archives, I came across these quotes from coverage just before the 1994 vote:
After a week of silence, NBC Nightly News finally mentioned that President Obama, in an interview with Univision Radio last Monday, October 25, encouraged Hispanic voters to not sit out the election, but say “we’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us.”
But correspondent Savannah Guthrie failed to see that as a divisive and unpresidential statement that had been burning up conservative talk radio for the past week, but merely as a “potential attack” that Obama was trying to “head off” by now “saying he should have used a different word.”
One day before Election Day, the MRC has a fresh new edition of Notable Quotables posted over at MRC.org. Topics this week include: the liberal media’s pre-election meltdown, with MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann frothing that the election of “unqualified, unstable” Tea Party Republicans “would destroy America from within,” and Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter engaging in open electioneering: “The GOP’s agenda has to be stopped.”
To read it online, posted with five videos with matching MP3 audio, plus a sixth quote with a matching audio clip, go to www.MRC.org.
For NewsBuster’s readers, here are some of the choicer quotes from the last couple of weeks, reflecting liberals’ increasing desperation as the election clock ticks down:
The Democrats’ strategy to salvage the 2010 campaign was to distract voters from their record over the past two years and paint their opponents as wacky extremists. Win or lose, the Democrats got a lot of help from their friends in the supposedly objective “news” media. MRC analysts reviewed the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts from September 1 through October 25. Key findings:
■ Only conservative/Tea Party candidates cast as “extreme.” Congressional Democrats and President Obama are facing voters’ wrath because of their extreme agenda over the past two years: government-run health care; massive unsupportable spending; a proposed “cap-and-trade” tax on energy, higher income taxes, etc. But MRC analysts found 35 evening news stories which conveyed the Democratic spin point that conservative and Tea Party candidates are “extreme,” “fringe,” or “out of the mainstream,” vs. ZERO stories conveying the charge that left-wing Democrats are “out of the mainstream.”
With less than two weeks before Election Day, the media elite continue to disparage the GOP’s Tea Party candidates while saluting the greatness of the über-unpopular Democratic Congress and its leader, Nancy Pelosi.
On This Week, ABC’s Christiane Amanpour — apparently oblivious to the decades of liberal mockery hurled at Ronald Reagan and William Buckley — cited those leaders as exemplifying “a long and venerable tradition” of “intellectual conservatism.” Her goal was to insult today’s conservatives: “People are looking at the Tea Party and saying this is not conservatism as we knew it, but it’s extreme.” Conservative George F. Will educated Amanpour: “Which is exactly what they said about Bill Buckley...”
The frequently-maudlin Ann Curry outdid herself on Wednesday's Today show. Narrating a short video item about Russia unveiling a new set of inflatable weapons designed to fool spy satellites, Curry chirped: "Wish all weapons were like that." (Video below the fold.)
Her flower-child moment brought to mind how another morning show anchor, ABC's Charles Gibson, confided to Larry King shortly after the 2003 invasion of Iraq how he and his wife had “a little framed sign hanging in our bedroom, my wife and I, that said, ‘War is not good for children and other living things,’ and I believe that. So I don’t like covering war and I hate to see them occur.”
If Democrats are going to stem their losses, CBS’s Jeff Greenfield opined on Monday’s Evening News, they need to “convince the voters that this election is a choice” and “Republicans are just too extreme.” Greenfield’s probably right about this strategy being Democrats’ best hope — and his fellow reporters are already hard at work fulfilling their role in painting Republicans as “extreme.”
On Monday’s Good Morning America, Jonathan Karl characterized as astonishing how “Alaska’s Joe Miller talked about rolling back the power of the federal government further than Republicans have talked about for more than 70 years.” Even more jaw-dropping to ABC: “Miller and other Tea Party candidates also favor eliminating the Department of Education.” How is that more radical than Democrats’ takeover of private-sector health care?
CNN’s Don Lemon hosted pornographer Larry Flynt on Sunday’s Newsroom, ostensibly to talk about an upcoming Supreme Court case in which the 1988 case of Hustler Magazine v. Falwell is being cited as a precedent. But Lemon quickly turned to politics, asking the Hustler publisher to regurgitate tawdry details of Republican Senator David Vitter’s prostitution scandal (as if CNN wasn’t in the process of actively rehabilitating a Democratic politician caught in a similar scandal) and begging Flynt to reveal “tips” and “hints” about other politicians who might be exposed.
Showing greater restraint than the CNN anchor, Flynt replied, “I can’t do that.”
There’s little pretense of media fairness as the 2010 elections approach. Last Thursday, ABC’s World News ran as “news” a video produced by the Obama White House. Diane Sawyer excitedly touted how “we got to listen in on a phone call today,” as viewers saw a brief clip of President Obama talking to a cancer patient who thanked him for the government takeover of health care.
Then on Monday, NBC Universal donated a 30-minute commercial-free interview to Obama, shown not just on NBC’s Today, but on the corporation’s other networks (including USA, SyFy and Bravo). Matt Lauer informed the President how other Democrats (including Bill Clinton) don’t think he’s been “rigorous enough in pushing back against some of the Republican attacks.” Lauer implored: “Do you intend to change your tone or your emotion in terms of your pushing back?”
Monday brings the debut of CNN’s new “Parker Spitzer,” an 8pm ET political discussion program hosted by columnist Kathleen Parker and the ex-Democratic Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer, who resigned two years ago in the midst of a prostitution scandal.
The new show was championed by then-CNN President Jonathan Klein, who was fired by the network on Friday. “Eliot Spitzer still has a lot of ideas to contribute and a lot of things to say. And I think our viewers are going to find him a very interesting person to tune into every night,” Klein enthused back on June 27 on CNN’s Reliable Sources.
As a reality check on CNN’s effort to rehabilitate this scandal-scarred liberal, MRC intern Alex Fitzsimmons and I pulled together quotes from CNN’s coverage of Spitzer’s scandal back in March 2008. MRC video editor Bob Parks turned the clips we found into a polished video presentation documenting how the infamous “Client #9” was mocked and derided by the anchors and correspondents who are now his colleagues. (Video after the jump)
All three broadcast evening newscasts on Thursday covered the formal unveiling of the Republican ‘Pledge to America,’ a campaign document calling for the repeal of ObamaCare, no tax hikes and balanced budgets. CBS’s Nancy Cordes cast it as pro-Tea Party, “littered with references to the Constitution and promises to reduce the federal debt,” and Tea Party members as “grateful” for its policy prescriptions.
But ABC’s Jonathan Karl said the Pledge was “hardly a Tea Party manifesto. The 45-page document includes more photographs than specifics on spending cuts. No mention of controlling Social Security or Medicare. No mention of eliminating any federal departments. Not even a promise to eliminate earmarks or pork barrel spending.”
Karl even hit GOP Representative Mike Pence from the right: “There aren’t enough cuts in this thing that I see to get anywhere near a balanced budget.”