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.”
On Monday’s World News, ABC’s Charles Gibson channeled the worry of liberal activists over the Obama administration’s seeming retreat on government-run health insurance, the so-called “public option.” Gibson fretted about Obama to White House correspondent Jake Tapper: “Will he go to the mat for a public option?” Gibson exposed how one-sided his universe of experts is: “We talked to several health care experts today, and they all said if you take out the public option in terms of insurance, there's going to be no restraints on the cost of insurance.”
Conservative health care experts see empowering individuals, not government or insurance company bureaucrats, as the key to creating a more sensible health care marketplace.
MRC’s Brad Wilmouth caught Gibson’s exchange with Tapper, which followed Tapper’s piece on how the White House backpedaling was upsetting liberals:
Sunday’s Los Angeles Times had an update on Dan Rather’s continuing lawsuit against CBS News over what Dan might call the “forged-memos-to-torpedo-Bush’s-re-election-in-2004 scandal.” Rather scalded CBS with language he used to save exclusively for conservatives: “Their strategy is to string it out, wear me out, suck the will from me, and make it so painful on the pocketbook that I want to give up....But I don't think anybody who knows me would say that there's any give-up in me.”
But media writer Matea Gold said CBS had also “made available several executives who spoke acidly about the anchor whose work they once touted.” 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager trashed Rather’s work as deficient: “I hate to say it in public, but many of [his] stories were not even close to the standards we expect at 60 Minutes.”
Gold also said that Rather’s pursuit of CBS has brought to light the fact that the ex-Evening News anchor was turned down for jobs at: ABC, NBC, CNN, A&E, History, HBO, Discovery and National Geographic.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow “apologized” on Friday for her false report the previous night that conservative public relations executive Craig Shirley was somehow behind a Web site that hosted incendiary anti-Obama video, a site funded by a group called Grassfire.org. “I apologize for saying that they [Shirley & Banister Public Affairs] were still currently involved in representing Grassfire. They are not,” she admitted.
Undeterred, Maddow then ludicrously tried to impugn Shirley & Banister by connecting them to the anti-ObamaCare protests (as if that would be a bad thing) through a convoluted set of associations. She then displayed Friday’s NewsBusters’ article on her wrong reporting as evidence that “right-wing Web sites” were using “threats and intimidation” to pressure Maddow to back off.
“I will not and we will not be intimidated out of covering the news,” Maddow pompously declared.
On her MSNBC show last night, the left-wing Air America host Rachel Maddow took a swipe at the conservative Shirley & Banister Public Affairs firm, specifically President and CEO Craig Shirley. Maddow accused Shirley of being behind a grassroots Web site funded by the group Grassfire.org, based on a research provided by the “independent watchdog group Public Citizen,” and she showed still images from an incendiary “Obama=Hitler” video that’s posted on the Grassfire’s ResistNet.com Web site.
But Maddow was wrong. The Public Citizen web page she cited is several years old. Shirley & Banister hasn’t represented Grassfire.org since 2004. And Diana Banister, a partner and Vice President at Shirley & Banister, told NewsBusters that Maddow’s false report has led to hate mail and even death threats to the public relations firm. (Let’s see if the left-wing thuggery gets any attention from the MSM.)
With the Obama administration and their friends in the media denouncing the sometimes loud dissent that liberals are facing in town hall meetings on health care, it’s worth recalling how some of those same journalists celebrated the anti-Bush dissenters and denounced what they claimed was the Republican administration’s attempts to stifle dissent.
Back in 2006, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann attacked what he called President Bush’s “portable public chorus” (does President Obama have one of those?) For telling “those who dissent...[that] we are somehow un-American.” PBS’s Bill Moyers in 2003 found it “galling” to see “all those moralistic ideologues in Washington...attacking dissenters as un-American.”
In 2003, Olbermann saluted protests: “It is political dissent that created this country and sustained it and improved it.” But on Friday’s Countdown, Olbermann called the anti-Obama protests “societal sabotage,” determined that the grassroots groups are “fake” and insisted that “the protestors are not interested in hearing any voices other than their own.” (But the anti-Bush protesters were open-minded?)
From time to time, our analysts at the Media Research Center have compiled in one location the research we have in our files on a major news celebrity. By pulling all of the worst quotes and video clips into a single Web page, we hope that these “Profiles in Bias” can be a useful resource for anyone looking into the topic of media bias or looking for background on a network news personality.
This summer, we’re pulling together reports on the big morning news anchors. MRC’s Kyle Drennen, who watches The Early Show for us, has assembled all of the worst bias from CBS’s Harry Smith, who has co-hosted the show since 2002. Previously, Smith co-hosted CBS’s This Morning from 1987 to 1996; he also occasionally fills in as host of Face the Nation and anchor of the CBS Evening News.
The package Kyle assembled, “A Smattering of Harry Smith’s Liberal Smugness,” contains the worst quotes from the past 20 years. A sample of what he uncovered in his research follows the jump; for the full package, including nearly a dozen video clips, visit www.MRC.org.
Would you believe that Dan Rather is calling on former President George W. Bush to lead a blue-ribbon effort to reform the news media? Well, obviously, the disgraced ex-CBS News anchor is not trusting the future of journalism to Bush, but in an op-ed in Sunday’s Washington Post, he is asking President Barack Obama “form a commission to address the perilous state of America’s news media.”
Rather insists he is not asking for any kind of a “government bailout” or “government control” of the media, just a high-profile discussion of the state of the media:
Why bring the President into it? Because this is the only way I could think of to generate the sort of attention this subject deserves. Academia and think tanks generate study after study, yet their findings don't reach the people who need to be reached....
There’s something deeply wrong with journalism that scrutinizes and criticizes the institutions of free and successful nations, but produces puff pieces on the supposed achievements of totalitarian dictatorships. On Thursday, CNN aired a piece of Communist Party propaganda about how Cuba could serve as “a model for health care reform” in the United States, complete with an authoritative sound bite from an American medical expert, identified only as someone “who’s lived and worked in Cuba for decades.”
But the expert, Gail Reed, is a longtime admirer of the Cuban revolution, married to the Cuban official who served as ambassador to Grenada in the early 1980s when U.S. troops liberated the island from hardline communists who had executed the leftist Prime Minister Maurice Bishop. She's also worked at Granma, Cuba’s official communist party newspaper.
Correspondent Morgan Neill also recited all of the standard tropes about how Cuban health care is the best in Latin America, is completely free, and “no one falls through the cracks.” While he acknowledged that “critics charged that conditions in Cuban hospitals are appalling and that Cubans had to pay bribes to get decent care,” nearly all of the August 6 report was positive.
In Friday’s Washington Post business section, columnist Steven Pearlstein — who last week condemned the conservative “fantasy” that raising taxes is damaging to the economy — blasted Republicans as “political terrorists” who are “poisoning the political well” by peddling “lies” about liberal health care plans, lies that are “so misleading, so disingenuous, that they could only spring from a cynical effort to gain partisan political advantage.”
"As a columnist who regularly dishes out sharp criticism, I try not to question the motives of people with whom I don't agree," Pearlstein claimed before warning: "Today, I'm going to step over that line."
But the “facts” Pearlstein uses to slam the anti-ObamaCare “terrorists” line up better with Democratic talking points than the analysis of non-partisan sources such as the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). For instance, Pearlstein claims it is a lie that the Democratic bills would push people out of private insurance, that it is a lie that the price tag is $1 trillion, and trumpets “offsetting savings” as bringing the cost down to “less than 1 percent of a national income that grows at an average rate of 2.5 percent every year.”
ABC was embarrassed last week by NewsBusters’ exposure of how their new senior medical editor, Dr. Richard Besser of the federal Centers for Disease Control, donated $400 to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008, presumably an indication of his political sympathies. An ABC News spokeswoman, Cathie Levin, defended Besser to the Associated Press, arguing that he’s a doctor “whose job it is to give impartial and unvarnished advice and he’ll be able to do the same for a television audience.”
Maybe Besser can indeed separate his political views from his reporting on health care, but a review of campaign finance records at OpenSecrets.org finds that CBS’s Dr. Jon LaPook and NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman have also chipped in their own cash to Democratic — but never Republican — candidates. And both correspondents, along with Besser’s future ABC colleague, Dr. Tim Johnson, have showered the liberal Obama health care plan with fawning press. Details:
So how unusual is it for a new President to be featured seven times on Time’s cover, as Barack Obama has been (with First Lady Michelle Obama snagging her own solo appearance)? A look back at Time’s covers finds Bill Clinton matched Obama’s celebrity in 1993 — seven covers for himself, one for Hillary. But the last three Republican Presidents — Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush — were given relatively short shrift. (Larger images below the jump.)
Indeed, looking at the covers from when those three Republicans won the presidency through early August of their first year in office, Reagan and the two Bushes combined were only featured seven times — and it would have been only six if Reagan hadn’t been shot by an attempted assassin (April 13, 1981 cover story).
Liberal hopes for a quick health care bill are in collapse, as Senate Democrats push any floor action off until the fall, a move House Democrats may match this week. But if the Obama White House is upset that their plans for a huge expansion of government health care have been delayed, they surely cannot complain about the media coverage.
Last week, a new study by the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute (BMI) found broadcast coverage during the first six months of 2009 tilted heavily in favor of Barack Obama’s big government plan. BMI’s Julia Seymour and Sarah Knoploh looked at 224 health care stories on the ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news shows from Obama’s January 20 inauguration through his June 24 prime time special on ABC.
The TVNewser blog alerted me to Katie Couric’s “Notebook” item yesterday, in which she mocks the New York Times for making “not one, not two, but seven errors” in their remembrance of the late Walter Cronkite last week. TVNewser suggested Couric may have trying to get “payback” for an anti-Couric piece that the Times’s Alessandra Stanley wrote four years ago when Couric worked at NBC:
Wow. This is good. In her 'Notebook' on CBSNews.com, Katie Couric takes down New York Times columnist Alessandra Stanley, and she does it in the cruelest of ways: without mentioning her by name....There is no love lost between the anchor and the columnist. The most memorable Stanley story on Couric may be this 2005 take-down of the then-Today show anchor: "At the first sound of her peremptory voice and clickety stiletto heels, people dart behind doors and douse the lights," Stanley wrote about Couric.
Well, this might be Couric's payback. And just look at the smile on her face during the segment...
Couric sounded pretty high and mighty in her take-down of the Times: “As we say goodbye to the dean of TV news, let's all remember as journalists when as we say, 'That's the way it is,' it really is.” But a few years ago, Couric utterly embarrassed herself in a Today interview with Democratic presidential candidate Bob Graham, as she quoted extensively from an obvious parody of Graham’s habit of diary-keeping. Apparently clueless to the fact that she was quoting a made-up story, Couric confronted Graham: “What, what do you do this for?!” (Video above; audio available here.)
Former Clinton campaign operative George Stephanopoulos generally tries to put a happy face on big Democratic Party initiatives, but on Tuesday’s Good Morning America the ABC chief Washington correspondent was gloomy about the prospects for Barack Obama’s health care bill. He told co-host Diane Sawyer that “the votes are not there right now” for the White House to get a bill before the August 8 recess, as the President has demanded, and thought polls showing dwindling support for Obama and rising anxiety about the deficit were a “big problem” for the Democrats.
But he did argue that Obama has the chance to turn the situation around by stressing how the massive bill will be “paid for” — even though another stumbling block he cited was more conservative “Blue Dog” Democrats upset by the massive tax increase embedded in the House bill.
“Whether they're going to be able to get there [to a health care bill by the end of the year] is still unclear, Diane, but I think those who are counting it out right now, who are saying there is no way this is going to happen because July is tough, I think they are wrong as well,” Stephanopoulos gamely argued.
While the big liberal media usually find it hard to skip any news related to the Kennedy family, ABC, CBS and NBC breathed not a word about Saturday’s 40th anniversary of Chappaquiddick. On the night of July 18, 1969, Senator Edward Kennedy left a party with 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne and later drove off a bridge. Kennedy left the scene with Kopechne still in the submerged vehicle; he did not call the police until the following morning.
The Saturday and Sunday New York Times and Washington Post also had nothing about Chappaquiddick. Several newspapers did carry a brief, if inadvertent, mention, since on Saturday the Associated Press made it the day’s “Highlight in History” in their re-cap of big news events that happened on a July 18, beating out the start of the Great Fire of Rome in A.D. 64 and the death of naval hero John Paul Jones in 1792.
Earlier this week, ABC, CBS and NBC all noted the tenth anniversary of the death of John F. Kennedy, Jr. That Kennedy was an “icon” according to CBS’s Harry Smith, and “the Prince of Camelot” to ABC’s Chris Cuomo, a former cousin-in-law. Today marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, killed July 18, 1969 after leaving a party with Senator Edward Kennedy. That night, Kennedy drove his car off a bridge, and left the scene with Kopechne still in the submerged vehicle; he did not call the police until the following morning.
Over the course of the past four decades, the media elite have touted Kennedy as a “liberal lion,” spending far more time celebrating his ideological agenda than reminding people of his behavior that night in 1969. As my colleague Brent Baker noted in an op-ed back in 1999, the media have come to refer to Chappaquiddick as a “Kennedy tragedy,” not a “Kopechne tragedy.”