The revelation Saturday that Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid's use of the word "Negro" to refer to then-Senator Barack Obama in 2008 -- Reid said the candidate had "no Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one" -- has been heavily covered by the broadcast media, but the tone of coverage has emphasized how the President has accepted Reid's apology, with the implication that that should be the end of it.
It's hard to imagine any top Republican officeholder being so lightly treated if they used the word "Negro" at any point over the past 20 or 30 years. Indeed, the word is in such disfavor, it usually only makes the news when researchers dig into archival footage from the 1960s or early 1970s -- or when the networks are reporting on today's violent haters.
On CBS and NBC, the most recent instance (prior to Reid) of using the word "Negro" in a modern news story was in reporting on the June 2009 shooting at the Holocaust museum in Washington, carried out by a white supremacist. On ABC, the word appeared back in January 2009, as part of an insult flung by al-Qaeda's Ayman al Zawahiri towards the new President Obama.
The latest media buzz is that longtime Nightline anchor Ted Koppel, who left ABC News back in 2005, might soon return to the network to replace George Stephanopoulos as host of This Week. Here’s a hint of the perspective Koppel might bring with him to his potential new job: appearing last night as an analyst on BBC’s World News America, Koppel insisted that President Obama’s first (non)reaction to the attempted bombing of a U.S. airline on Christmas Day “was the right one,” but media “yapping” and “24-hour cable channels going at it, hour after hour after hour” pressured Obama into an “overreaction.”
Of course, the successful smuggling of a bomb onto a U.S. passenger jet — by an al-Qaeda operative who was already known to intelligence officials — exposed significant problems in the government’s security process, a fact which even Obama himself now concedes. “This was a failure to connect and understand the intelligence that we already had,” the President confessed yesterday.
But rather than scrutinize the government’s failing, Koppel apparently prefers that nothing happened: “Doing something is exactly what the terrorists want. They want to feel as though they control our actions, rather than we controlling them ourselves.”
The official announcement will apparently come tomorrow morning (NewsBusters’ Scott Whitlock reported on the early leaks last week): former Clinton campaign operative George Stephanopoulos will start Monday as co-anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America. He’ll also keep his job as the host of ABC’s This Week, at least for the time being.
Here’s one yardstick for measuring the media’s response: Back in 1997, CBS announced that ex-GOP Representative Susan Molinari (pictured at right) would take over as co-host of Saturday Morning. Journalists quickly howled at the breaching of the sacred “barricade that is supposed to exist in journalism between the political people and the officials on the one hand, and the reporters on the other.” NPR’s Mara Liasson said it was “disturbing” of CBS to hire a Republican; Nina Totenberg exclaimed: “This really makes me want to puke.”
Molinari’s Saturday CBS show avoided politics, so she spent most mornings talking about movies and toys and vacation ideas. But according to the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz, “Stephanopoulos, now ABC's chief Washington correspondent, had told network executives he wanted to inject GMA with a harder-news focus as a condition of taking the job.”
ABC’s Good Morning America maintained its blackout on ClimateGate this weekend, even as Sunday’s show carried a preview of this week’s climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark. Reporter Clayton Sandell showcased two scientists, both of whom argued that the U.S. was failing to do enough to combat global warming, and seemed distressed that public faith in the claims of a human-caused catastrophe are on the decline in spite of “growing scientific evidence.”
Despite growing scientific evidence that humans are to blame for warming the planet — rising sea level, melting glaciers, more intense droughts — polls show the number of Americans who believe global warming is happening is at its lowest point in 12 years.
It should be noted that the Washington Post/ABC News poll Sandell cited was conducted between November 12 and 15, before the revelations of e-mails from Britain’s Climatic Research Unit which suggest conniving among left-wing scientists to manipulate data and silence critics.
Two weeks ago, unnamed whistleblowers exposed years of e-mails from scientists working at Britain’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU). The CRU’s Web site describes it as “one of the world's leading institutions concerned with the study of natural and anthropogenic climate change,” but the e-mails paint the CRU as more of a political “war room” for radical environmentalists.
As Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby observed Wednesday: “Assuming the e-mails are genuine, they are nothing short of scandalous. They reveal celebrated climate scientists apparently conspiring to corrupt the peer-review process, to suppress or finesse temperature data at odds with global-warming alarmism, to silence or discredit climate experts who criticize their work, and to hide or eliminate the raw data on which their own much-trumpeted claims have been based.”
Yet since the story broke, the MRC’s Business & Media Institute (BMI) discovered just one broadcast news reference to the “Climategate” e-mail scandal, on ABC’s This Week November 29; CBS and NBC have yet to inform their viewers.
The broadcast networks still haven’t uttered a single word about the revelations late last week of e-mails showing scientists on the left-wing side of the global warming debate plotting to hide data and silence those on the other side in an effort prop up the notion of a “consensus” on the issue. But when the liberal side of the debate charged that their opponents were involved in a “conspiracy” to tilt the debate in their favor, those same networks eagerly jumped on the story and castigated the evil “deniers.”
In 2007, as Brent Baker chronicled at the time in the MRC's CyberAlert, the broadcast network evening newscasts jumped to hype a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing meant to publicize a report from two far-left groups about how the Bush administration supposedly suppressed science about the dire threat of global warming — as if that view wasn’t getting plenty of play in the mainstream media.
Over the weekend, Newsweek assistant managing editor Evan Thomas offered an intriguing insight into the MSM’s approach to the liberal health care bill slowly rolling its way through the Democratic-controlled Congress. After conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer accurately pointed out how the Senate bill only pretends to be “deficit-neutral” by front-loading the tax collection process while delaying the payouts, Thomas agreed: “Charles is right. This bill is a fiscal fraud.”
But he quickly added: “I’d still vote for it.” (Video here.)
NPR’s Nina Totenberg attempted to defend the Senate bill as one that “actually tries to do something about costs.” But she, too, was insistent on the need for congressional passage: “I am not saying it’s ideal. But we have to start this. But if we don't get a health care bill this time, it is probably the last chance.”
ABC’s Good Morning America finally picked up on the deep bow President Obama performed for the Emperor of Japan over the weekend. Co-host Diane Sawyer ran through how other U.S. Presidents have greeted either Emperor Akhito or his father, the late Emperor Hirohito over the years — some bowing, some not. Sawyer claimed that Americans are “not trained to greet royalty” and “it’s just too confusing.”
Actually, the government employs lots of experts on culture and protocol to make sure that our presidents are fully “trained” on what to do when they represent our government overseas — which is not to say that all of our presidents perform these duties flawlessly.
Missing from Sawyer’s run-down is a tidbit that ABC White House correspondent Jake Tapper posted on his “Political Punch” blog Sunday afternoon. Tapper said he received a note from an old friend whom he described as “an academic with expertise about the Japanese Empire, and in general a supporter of President Obama.” According to this expert, it wasn’t necessarily incorrect for Obama to bow, but the President’s “forward lurch” was “jarring and inappropriate.”
Noting tomorrow’s 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on Sunday’s Today show, former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw claimed East Germans were “still adjusting to the harsh economic realities” of life after communism. But a recent poll of former East bloc countries by the Pew Research Center actually discovered that the people of what was East Germany are actually the biggest enthusiasts of the shift to capitalism, with 82% approving, higher than any other ex-communist country.
Brokaw did note, however, that the current “center-right” Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, was “born and raised in East Germany,” implicitly acknowledging that her youth spent under communism obviously did not make her a fan of leftist economic policies.
The suggestion that capitalism is somehow “harsh” compared to communism echoes what many liberal journalists argued after the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago. “The transition from communism to capitalism is making more people more miserable every day,” CBS reporter Bert Quint argued in 1990.
On June 12, 1987, as the liberal media elite were toasting the leader of the Soviet Union as a great champion of progress, President Ronald Reagan stood at the Berlin Wall and challenged Mikhail Gorbachev to put his money where his mouth was: “General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” (Video.)
Gorbachev did not open the gate or tear down the Berlin Wall, but two years later the people of East Germany did. News broke in the U.S. late in the afternoon (Eastern Time) on November 9, 1989 that the communist government would no longer restrict travel to West Berlin. Just a few hours later, ABC’s PrimeTime Live hosted former President Ronald Reagan to celebrate what would turn out to be the death blow against communism in Eastern Europe. We found the tape in our archives, and posted a video excerpt at right. (Audio excerpt here.)
As readers of Cal Thomas’s latest syndicated column already know, the Media Research Center is releasing a new report today on the media’s coverage of communism, timed to coincide with the 20 anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on Monday. Sad to say, but before, during and after those momentous events two decades ago, many in the liberal media continuously whitewashed the true nature of communism, or suggested free-market capitalism was somehow worse.
For our report, Better Off Red?, Scott Whitlock and I combed through the MRC’s archives; the quotes (and 19 audio/video clips) we pulled together show some liberal journalists utterly failed to accurately depict communism as one of the worst evils of the 20th century, and often aimed their fire at those who were fighting communism rather than those who were perpetuating it. The full report has more than 70 quotes; here's a sample from the Executive Summary:
■ Before it collapsed, these journalists insisted those enslaved by communism actually feared capitalism more. "Despite what many Americans think, most Soviets do not yearn for capitalism or Western-style democracy," CBS anchor Dan Rather asserted in 1987.
Back on October 7, when the Congressional Budget Office reported that the federal deficit had ballooned to a massive $1.4 trillion during President Obama’s first year on the job, Katie Couric’s CBS Evening News did not tell viewers. But Couric finally caught up to the bad news after the Obama White House put out its final numbers on Friday afternoon.
Couric disclosed the news in a brief item that never mentioned The One by name: “It's the biggest IOU Uncle Sam has ever written. Government figures out today show for the last fiscal year, which just ended, the United States spent a record 1.4 trillion dollars more than it took in. That's three times more than the year before.”
New York Times reporter Jackie Calmes this morning noted that Obama’s deficit is much larger as a percentage of GDP than during the 1980s, when Democrats attacked Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts as fiscally reckless:
The quotes were widely cited as real by several sports writers and on CNN and MSNBC in the past week as proof that Limbaugh was a racist who did not deserve to own part of the St. Louis Rams football team. But the Huffington Post has now removed them, saying the author has not been able to substantiate them.
[UPDATE: CNN's Rick Sanchez also, apologizes, sort of, via Twitter: "our bad."]
This editor’s note appeared early this evening on the 2006 blog by the liberal Huberman, who was pitching his then-new book, 101 People Who Are REALLY Screwing America:
The Weekly Standard’s John McCormack has a fine run-down of CNN’s use of the discredited claim that Rush Limbaugh once said of slavery “it had its merits.” McCormack also reports that the Huffington Post, which originally ran the quote (and another preposterous quote about Limbaugh saying that MLK assassin James Earl Ray deserved “the Congressional Medal of Honor”) in a 2006 post by left-wing author Jack Huberman, might pull the quotes from their Web site as early as today.
McCormack contacted the Huffington Post, and was told by a spokeswoman that “now that the issue has been raised,” Huberman has now been asked to back up the quote. “When a question of accuracy is raised with us, we give our bloggers 24 hours to either back up the claim or correct the record. If not, we remove the post.”
McCormack, playing off the fact that CNN’s Rick Sanchez has yet to retract the statement, says: “So around 6:00 p.m. tonight we'll get to find out whether the Huffington Post has higher editorial standards than CNN.”
Today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch has an “Editor’s Note” on their sports pages about the false quote attributed to radio host Rush Limbaugh, that Limbaugh had supposedly said that slavery “had its merits.” The paper says the quote came from a left-wing book that offered “no specific details” about its origins and that “the Post-Dispatch continues to research the origin of the quote.”
Back on October 7, Post-Dispatch sports writer Bryan Burwell was the first to inject the quote into the debate about whether an investment group including Limbaugh should be able to buy the St. Louis Rams; in his column today, Burwell suggested it didn’t really matter if the quote was a “fabrication.”
So what are we left with? Well, essentially, I think we just threw a deck chair off the Titanic. There is still a huge pile of polarizing, bigoted debris stacked up on the deck of the good ship Limbaugh that he can't deny or even remotely distance himself from.
That doesn’t sound very contrite for a writer who jump-started a nasty round of character assassination with a quote that his own newspaper says needs further “research” to confirm.
Moments after President Obama’s remarks in the Rose Garden this morning, NBC anchor Brian Williams took a weird shot at the blogosphere as the “comic element of our society,” suggesting perhaps that Obama or the Nobel committee would face three days of mockery over what Williams in the same broadcast himself termed the “bizarre” selection of Obama as this year’s Peace Prize Winner.
In his typically overblown and convoluted fashion, Williams argued to White House reporter Chuck Todd that “the way our society and civilization is set up now,” the “comic element of our society -- the blogosphere, pundits, the opinion-based economy in the United States” would “just get a free shot and have at it for the next three days at least.” [MP3 audio available here]
Even Barack Obama’s fan club on NBC’s Today were stunned at the President’s winning of the Nobel Peace Prize. Co-host Matt Lauer found it baffling: “We’re less than a year into the first term of this president and there are no -- I'm not trying to be, you know, rude here -- no major foreign policy achievements, to date.”
Meet the Press moderator David Gregory felt the need to point out the “left-leaning” impulse of the Europeans who christened Obama as the world’s leading peacemaker for 2009: “This is a lot more about tone than it is substantive accomplishment. In many ways, this is a European body who is more left-leaning, certainly, and opposed to the administration of George W. Bush.”
Lauer followed up: “So, what you're saying in some ways and, again, not to be rude here or sarcastic, that in some ways he wins this award for not being George W. Bush?”
A Gallup poll released late last week confirms that few Americans trust the media and about three times as many see the press as liberally biased as opposed to pro-conservative. Far more Democrats express confidence in the media than Republicans, but even a slight plurality of Democrats describe the press as liberally biased (21%) rather than having a conservative bias (20%).
For the media, Gallup’s news is not good: Only ten percent of Americans say they have a “great deal” of trust in the media, while “about 2 in 10 Americans (18%) have no confidence in the media at all — which is also among the worst grades Gallup has recorded.” Three out of four Republicans (74%) and nearly half of independents (45%) join one-fifth of Democrats (21%) in seeing the press as “too liberal.”
Among the key findings, as written up by Gallup’s Lymari Morales in an October 1 report:
Barack Obama’s bumbling of Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics is a test for the Washington press corps, the Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes argues. Liberal reporters may refuse to see the controversy in Obama’s far-left agenda, but the President’s high-profile Olympic flub offers a non-ideological story of White House incompetence.
Now is the time for the mainstream media to show it’s not totally in President Obama’s pocket. The Washington press corps will never fault Obama for pushing hyper-liberal policies in a moderate-to-conservative country. Ideological criticism by the press is reserved for Republican presidents.
But the media is faced with three facts as a result of Obama’s embarrassing failure in Copenhagen. 1) The failure itself. 2) The incompetence. 3) The lack of persuasive ability. There’s nothing ideological about any of these items....
The perils of punditry: On Monday, CNBC chief Washington correspondent and New York Times political writer John Harwood predicted that the Massachusetts legislature would not pass a law enabling Democratic Governor Deval Patrick to pick a temporary successor to the late Senator Ted Kennedy. “I don’t think so. Doesn’t look like it,” Harwood announced on CNBC’s Squawk Box.
The very next day, the Massachusetts Senate passed the bill that would partially reverse the law Democrats passed in 2004 to prevent a Republican governor from naming a Senate replacement if Senator John Kerry had been elected president. The bill reached Governor Patrick yesterday, and today, Patrick announced the selection of former Democratic National Chairman Paul Kirk to become Senator until the state’s voters pick a permanent replacement in January.
A new Investor’s Business Daily poll of more than 1,300 physicians finds that nearly two-thirds (65%) don’t back ObamaCare, more than 70% say the government cannot provide insurance coverage for 47 million additional people and save money without harming quality, and 45% of doctors say they “would consider leaving their practice or taking an early retirement” if the liberal health care plan passes.
Earlier this week, as the front-page story in today’s Investor’s Business Daily noted, the Los Angeles Times ran a front-page story touting the American Medical Association (AMA)’s backing of President Obama’s health care plans, while a National Public Radio publicized a poll funded by a pro-ObamaCare group to claim that “nearly three-quarters of doctors said they favor a public option.”
The IBD/TIPP poll of 1,376 physicians suggests that the AMA does not represent most doctors as it advertises and lobbies on behalf of the administration’s plan, and offers a second opinion to the poll (of 991 physicians) originally published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggesting strong support for a bigger government role.
Big liberal protests, such as the Million Mom March (for gun control), the 2006 demonstrations in favor of illegal immigrants’ “rights,” and numerous anti-war marches all garnered heavy play and adoring coverage from the broadcast networks, cable news outlets, and big papers like the New York Times. So how did those news outlets react to Saturday’s huge protest with conservative themes? MRC’s analysts scrutinized the coverage; here’s their report card:
■ ABC, CBS and NBC: The broadcast networks did not offer any pre-rally coverage before Saturday’s protests, but offered decent coverage of the event itself. ABC’s World News on Saturday was pre-empted by college football, but Good Morning America offered full reports on both Saturday and Sunday, as did NBC’s Today. Both the NBC Nightly News and CBS Evening News led with the rally on Saturday night, although CBS’s morning news shows gave the protest almost no attention.
The tone of coverage, however, was largely antagonistic.
Katie Couric’s CBS Evening News on Friday omitted any mention of the murder of pro-life activist Jim Pouillon in Michigan, despite having discussed the murder of abortionist George Tiller on the June 1, June 2 and June 9 newscasts (and then referencing the killing as a recent “hate crime” in a June 10 report on the shooting at Washington, D.C.’s Holocaust Museum).
Both ABC’s World News and the NBC Nightly News, in contrast, offered full reports on the killing of Pouillon and a local businessman, but offered different explanations. According to NBC’s John Yang, prosecutors said the killer, Harlan Drake, had grudges against his victims and another intended target but “none of them were specifically related to anti- or pro-abortion beliefs.”
Over on ABC, however, reporter Chris Bury showed a soundbite from the Owosso police chief that sure sounded like a grudge against Pouillon’s protests: “Mr. Drake did not believe the children should view the graphic material that was on the signs that Mr. Pouillon carried.”
And ABC’s Bury claimed Friday’s killing of the peaceful protester represented “the flip side of the troubling violence surrounding the abortion debate,” and equated the pro-life activist with the doctor who performed late-term abortions: “George Tiller and Jim Pouillon, on opposite sides of the abortion divide, but both victims of the hate that too often surrounds it.”
In his health care speech last night, President Obama cast himself as a truth-teller combating “bogus claims” and “misinformation” about his big government health care plan. “If you misrepresent what’s in the plan, we will call you out,” Obama warned his critics.
But within hours, the Associated Press had “fact-checked” the President’s speech and found the Fact-Checker-in-Chief is guilty of misrepresenting a few facts himself. AP writers Calvin Woodward and Erica Werner said the President uttered “a variety of oversimplifications and omissions,” and used “only-in Washington accounting” to claim his plan would not add “one dime” to the deficit.
As President Obama prepares to deliver his 29th speech on health care, this time before a joint session of Congress, it recalls Bill Clinton’s September 22, 1993 speech to Congress on the same topic. Back then, media liberals hit some of the exact same points journalists are making today: “reform” would end the “shame” of America being the only industrialized nation without universal coverage; that a bigger role for government would cost nothing or even save money in the long run, and that government bureaucrats were preferable to insurance companies.
After a year of media cheerleading, however, Congress finally scrapped Clinton’s health care ideas. But the unpopularity of Clinton’s government-based solutions contributed to the election of the first Republican-led House of Representatives in more than four decades. That’s not to say history will play out the same way this time, but the media spin on behalf of ObamaCare certainly echoes the language of the 1990s. A review:
ABC News has just announced that Good Morning America co-anchor Diane Sawyer is taking over as the anchor of World News when the current anchor, Charlie Gibson, retires in January. Coincidentally, the MRC has just finished a new report, “Good Morning, Bias,” on the liberal spin Sawyer brought to Good Morning America (and previously as co-anchor of the network’s 20/20 and Primetime Live newsmagazines).
As our ABC analyst Scott Whitlock uncovered, Sawyer has repeatedly lauded high-profile liberals, including Nancy Pelosi (“galvanized steel with a smile”) and Hillary Clinton (“political mastery,” “dazzling”), while in her infamous 20/20 interview, Sawyer targeted Ken Starr’s report on Bill Clinton as “demented pornography, pornography for Puritans.” Here are some of the highlights of what Scott uncovered in his research; for the full package, including eight video clips, visit www.MRC.org.
The death of Edward Kennedy was undeniably a big political story, but the five days of intense media coverage also exposed how journalists see the Senator's ardent liberal agenda as an unquestionable good for America, not as controversial policies that fueled high-tax big government at the expense of the free market.
Reporters painted Kennedy as Mother Teresa. "Over five decades, Ted Kennedy carried the torch passed on by his brothers, for civil rights, for the poor, and for the sick," CBS's Harry Smith opened The Early Show on August 26, just hours after Kennedy's passing. "For nearly half a century in the Senate, Ted Kennedy spoke for the people who had no voice — the poor and the disabled, children and the elderly," anchor Katie Couric echoed on that night's CBS Evening News.
Amid all of the tributes to Ted Kennedy’s lengthy career of expanding the scope of government and its cost to taxpayers, CNN’s American Morning on Friday dug up a six-week old op-ed from the Tax Policy Center’s Len Burman warning that massive trillion-dollar deficits are a catastrophe that could lead to the end of the U.S. as a great power “or even a mediocre one.”
With the on-screen graphic reading “Higher Taxes Inevitable?” business correspondent Christine Romans announced to viewers “I’ve just got to tell you about this handwringing that's happening, and what it's going to mean for you. We're spending vastly more than we take in. We will for the foreseeable future. We're racking up these deficits, we pay interest on all of this debt.”
The network morning news shows could not have cared less about the passing of conservative columnist Robert Novak. While ABC, CBS and NBC all ran obituaries during their August 18 evening news shows, ABC’s Good Morning America and CBS’s The Early Show completely skipped over Novak this morning, not once mentioning his death.
Over on NBC’s Today, fill-in news anchor Hoda Kotb squeezed in a brief item during the 7am update: “Friends and fellow journalists are remembering famed columnist and TV commentator Robert Novak. He died Tuesday in Washington after a battle with brain cancer. Robert Novak was 78 years old.”
With President Obama and congressional liberals facing loud protests over their big government health care plan, journalists are casting the anti-ObamaCare forces as “ugly,” “unruly,” “nasty” mobs, with reporters presenting the most odious images (like pictures of Obama drawn as Hitler) as somehow representative. But when President George W. Bush faced left-wing protests, the media scrubbed their stories of radical voices and depicted demonstrators as mainstream, and even “prescient.”
In January 2003, all of the broadcast networks touted an anti-war march organized by the radical International ANSWER, an outgrowth of the communist Workers World Party. Signs at the rally read: “USA Is #1 Terrorist,” “Bush Is a Terrorist,” and “The NYPD Are Terrorists Too.” National Review Online quoted several protesters who claimed 9/11 was a Bush plot, “like when Hitler burned down the Reichstag,” and argued Bush would “build a worldwide planetary death machine.”
Reporters bypassed all that hate and showcased the protesters as everyday Americans. On ABC, Bill Blakemore stressed how the protest attracted “Democrats and Republicans, many middle-aged, from all walks of life,” while CBS’s Joie Chen saw “young, old, veterans and veteran activists — all united in the effort to stop the war before it starts.”