ABC's David Wright Again Touts Obama; Bashes Hillary

ABC reporter David Wright used a segment on Monday's "Nightline" to once again fawn over Barack Obama and also take a swipe at Hillary Clinton. Discussing the New York senator's fund-raising woes, Wright mentioned Clinton's unpaid campaign debts and snidely observed that they included "a debt of $292,000 for health insurance premiums for her campaign staff. Ironic for a candidate promising health care for everyone."

Wright, who spent the day with Obama while he campaigned in Pennsylvania, asked the candidate no tough questions and, after mentioning the Democratic presidential contender's now-famous bowling excursion, even skipped over the fact that the senator bowled a lowly 37. (Although there was video of Obama rolling a gutter ball.)

Rather then press Obama with tough questions, Wright seemed content to perform stenographer duties and regurgitate where the candidate went. "Barack Obama's campaign schedule over the past few days seemed almost like a five-year-old's birthday party," the ABC reporter extolled. He then mentioned important details such as the fact that, while campaigning, the senator "ate hot dogs and French fries. He toured a chocolate factory" and " went to a petting zoo." By the time Wright got around to asking Obama about his bowling skills, a goofy grin could be seen on the correspondent's face. (See picture below.)

Wright's pro-Obama bias is so strong that it extends all the way to bashing the politician's opponent. In addition to Monday's dig at the New York senator's campaign funds, on February 22, the journalist actually distorted the meaning of a comment by Mrs. Clinton. Filing a report for that day's "Good Morning America, Wright discussed a quote about the difficulties of campaigning and alleged, "Clinton went on to compare her suffering to soldiers wounded in Iraq." In actuality, the former first lady said the exact opposite, that the struggles in her life are nothing in comparison to that of our soldiers.

On another occasion, Wright enthused that Obama rallies were like "Springsteen concerts." So, it wouldn't seem like much of a stretch to suggest that this is a reporter who has made his choice in the Democratic primary.

A transcript of the segment, which aired at 11:35pm on March 31, follows:

MARTIN BASHIR: Good evening. We thought it was close, but a new poll shows Barack Obama way out in front in the race for the Democratic nomination. According to a new national Gallup poll released today, Obama is now leading 51-43 percent over Hillary Clinton. Now, to give you a sense of how far he's come just eight weeks ago in that same poll, Clinton was leading Obama by 13 points. With all eyes on the Pennsylvania primary in three weeks' time, David Wright spent the day with the Obama campaign.

DAVID WRIGHT: Good evening, Martin. Things just might be looking up for Obama here in Pennsylvania even though the polls do show him trailing Senator Clinton. He spent the weekend pounding the pavement here, doing the kind of retail politics we haven't seen since Iowa. Barack Obama's campaign schedule over the past few days seemed almost like a five-year-old's birthday party.

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: We're gonna have some root beer.

WRIGHT: He ate hot dogs and French fries. He toured a chocolate factory.

OBAMA [Talking to some elderly women]: Now I don't see any old ladies. I see some very sweet ones.

WRIGHT: He went to a petting zoo. Actually, a farming academy, associated with Penn State University. But for Obama, the highlight seemed to be feeding a one-month-old calf.

OBAMA [As he feeds a calf]: Oh, there you go. That's what I'm talking about. Is she gonna drink this whole thing?

STUDENT (PENN STATE UNIVERSITY): Yes, she will.

OBAMA: Scott, I need a shot of this for my nine and six-year-old. Just because every day they say what did you do today? Well, I gave speeches, boring.

WRIGHT: And the main event, the main event wasn't the town hall meeting. It wasn't the news conference with his new best friend Pennsylvania's junior Senator, Bob Casey. You guys are going bowling later. Are you much of a bowler?

OBAMA: I am a terrible bowler.

WRIGHT: The main event was the bowling.

OBAMA: Those are some nice bowling shoes.

WRIGHT: Obama and Casey went bowling for votes. Trying as best they could to keep it out of the gutter. All of this of course aimed at the white, working class voters, Clinton's strongest constituency here in Pennsylvania. What is the rhyme and reason of the places that you've gone together and the activities that you've done?

SENATOR ROBERT CASEY: I think it's just a way to connect with real people. Have them meet him, hear him - listen to his message of hope.

WRIGHT: At the same time, Obama is outspending Clinton two to one here, hoping not so much to win the state, but to keep Clinton from winning too big.

PROFESSOR RICHARD JOHNSTON (Political Science, University of Pennsylvania): Well he's got to play a delicate game. He can't blow it off. He's got to take it seriously. He has to earnestly spend as much money to get as many votes as he can, and yet, he doesn't want to raise expectations unduly. Indeed, you know, if he can come into Election Day with relatively low expectations then outperforming expectations is the critical thing.

WRIGHT: If he can do that, he would effectively blunt Clinton's expected victory in Pennsylvania. Tonight, Clinton held a rally in Fairless Hills.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON: I see that sign out there which says please don't quit. Well one thing you know about me is I do not quit.

WRIGHT: For her part, Clinton now says she plans to stay in the race all the way through primary season. And after, until what happens to Michigan and Florida gets resolved.

CLINTON: You know, there are some folks saying, well, we ought to stop these elections. I didn't think we believed that in America. I thought we of all people knew how important it was to give everyone a chance, to have their voices heard and their votes counted and we're going to give Indiana that chance on May 6.

WRIGHT: But it's now coming to light she may be running out of money. According to the Federal Election Commission, her campaign has nearly $9 million in unpaid bills, including a debt of $292,000 for health insurance premiums for her campaign staff. Ironic for a candidate promising health care for everyone. She also owes $3,000 to her former high school. Obama has a huge financial advantage.

OBAMA: 90 percent of our donations came through the internet in February. I don't know yet what the percentage is in March, but it's a lot easier to, you know, maintain a budget when you've got a million small donors who are there with you and believe in what you're doing, compared to if you're raising $2,300 checks from people who at some point tap out.

WRIGHT: Here in Pennsylvania, does he have a shot at winning?

CASEY: Well, it's tough. He's the underdog now, and that would be - that would be very tough. But I do think he can make progress, and I think if you're making progress in a state like this it helps - I think it helps long term.

WRIGHT: In the long term, he needs to support not just of the voters of Pennsylvania, but of the super delegates who will ultimately decide the nomination.

JOHNSTON: In some sense, Pennsylvania voters now are a kind of an exhibit in the display for the consumption of super delegates.

WRIGHT: The polls do show Clinton with a significant lead in this state, but Obama is hoping to chip away at that lead. And remember, he's not just pitching his message to the voters of Pennsylvania, but also those key, undecided super delegates, hoping to lure them his way.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org