ABC Allows Jeremiah Wright to Spin Himself as Victim of Media

"Good Morning America" co-host Diane Sawyer on Friday uncritically highlighted an address given by the Reverend Jeremiah Wright on Thursday and parroted his talking points about being a scapegoat. In a tease for the segment, she recited, "Reverend Jeremiah Wright is now speaking out again. He says he was turned into a weapon of mass destruction."

Regarding his speech, given in a church in Milford, Connecticut, Sawyer blandly added that Senator Barack Obama "distanced himself from Reverend Wright during the campaign and labeled some of his sermons divisive." She then proceeded to play a 47 second long clip of Wright complaining that the media intended to use his sermons to destroy Obama. An ABC graphic almost apologetically read, "First Comments From Rev Wright: Media's 'Weapon on Mass Destruction'"

And yet, it was shows like "Good Morning America" that largely ignored many of Wright's more extreme sermons, such as in April of 2003 when he erroneously asserted, "The government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color!"

In fact, far from trashing Wright, "Good Morning America" reporter David Wright cooed on April 25, 2008, "But the soft-spoken man who sits down with [journalist] Bill Moyers couldn't seem more different from that fire-brand preacher we've all seen in those sound bites."

On April 30, 2008, Wright followed up and sympathetically discussed Obama's very public break with his pastor: "Imagine having to publicly denounce the minister who married you, who baptized your kids, who prayed with you the day you announced your candidacy for president."

A transcript of the November 7 segment, which aired at 7:12am, follows:

7am tease 

DIANE SAWYER: And also, this morning, the man who created such an explosion during the campaign, then went silent. Reverend Jeremiah Wright is now speaking out again. He says he was turned into a weapon of mass destruction. And he tells how he feels about the election of Barack Obama.

7:12am

DIANE SAWYER: And now, last night, President-elect Obama's controversial former pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, reemerged, debating race, religion and American history at a Connecticut church. Senator Obama, of course, had distanced himself from Reverend Wright during the campaign and labeled some of his sermons divisive. Last night, Wright reflected on that and how the coverage of him affected, he says, his family.

ABC GRAPHIC: First Comments From Rev Wright: Media's "Weapon on Mass Destruction"

REVEREND JEREMIAH WRIGHT: My youngest child came home from school and said to me, "Are you and Barack cool? I said, "Of course, we are. Why do you ask that?" "I just had kids talking in school." I said, "Now, that's a media thing." 90 percent of people sitting in church do not agree with everything their pastor is saying. What I say or don't say, it is not an index in terms of what Senator Obama believed or believes. The media did not want that sermon heard. Their intention was to use me as a weapon of mass destruction to destroy that man's candidacy. Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Barack Obama, their successes individually should not lull us to sleep to think this is now it's all over. Everything is solved. There are some serious structural problems that keep people locked into poverty.

SAWYER: And, so, we hear from Reverend Wright once again.

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