Network Morning Shows Rage Against BP CEO's Yachting Trip, Ignore Obama's Golf Outing

All three morning shows on Monday railed against BP CEO Tony Hayward for attending a yachting race in England on Saturday, but they found no such anger for Barack Obama's golf outing on the same day, ignoring the story. The pattern was nearly identical on Sunday, with only Good Morning America briefly mentioning the President's recreational activities.

On Monday's Early Show, Katie Couric appeared and derided, "But that image of Tony Hayward participating in that yacht race over the weekend probably hurt his image even more, as if that's possible." Good Morning America's Sharyn Alfonsi indignantly reported, "...Tony Hayward goes sailing, but residents weren't the only ones wondering what was he thinking?"

The morning shows even repeated the White House's assaults on Hayward's yachting trip, hypocritically ignoring Obama's golfing. On the June 20 Sunday Morning (CBS's weekend equivalent of the Early Show), host Charles Osgood parroted, "White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel labeled Hayward's outing another PR gaffe."

On Monday's GMA, ABC reporter Alfonsi featured a clip of Emanuel mocking, "Tony Hayward is not going to have a second career in PR consulting." The PR problems for the President went unmentioned by Alfonsi.

Today on Monday featured Matt Lauer asserting that Hayward is "under renewed fire, this time for attending a glamorous yacht race." On Sunday's GMA, Alfonsi chided the event as a "ritzy yacht race."

In total, Monday's Today, Good Morning America and Early Show all ran full reports on Hayward's activities. On Sunday, Today and GMA did the same thing. Sunday Morning ran an anchor brief on the race.

The only mention of Obama's golfing came during an exchange between Sunday GMA co-host Bill Weir and guest Jake Tapper, anchor of This Week:

BILL WEIR: I understand after your interview with Emanuel there, the White House announced that the President was spending his day golfing with vice president Biden. So, some might criticize that since the President has made clear he is ultimately the man in charge. The White House responded to those criticisms?

JAKE TAPPER: Well, I don't think they would see it exactly the same thing, yachting in a pristine environment by the man who runs the company responsible for this great environmental disaster is not the same thing as the President taking in some holes at a military base golf course, they say. Although Republicans say people on golf courses shouldn't throw stones.

If it's poor form to yacht while the Gulf Coast suffers one of the worst environmental and economic disasters in history, one would think the same would be true for the President. Viewers who watched the network morning shows wouldn't know that, however.

For more on this double standard, see a NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard.

(Thanks to Matt Balan and MRC interns Alex Fitzsimmons and Matt Hadro for transcript assistance.)

A transcript of Monday's GMA segment on Hayward, which aired at 7:04, follows:

ROBIN ROBERTS: Meanwhile, though, BP's CEO Tony Hayward is under mounting pressure to resign. So, what did he do this time? Sharyn Alfonsi is in Louisiana with more than on that. Good morning, Sharyn.

SHARYN ALFONSI: Good morning, Robin, Well, just when you think people here couldn't be positive more outraged, Tony Hayward goes sailing but residents weren't the only ones wondering what was he thinking? Today, this image of Tony Hayward racing ace 50-foot yacht off the coast. [Talking to a resident.] What does that say to you?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: That he really doesn't give a flying flip about any of us That's amazing.

ALABAMA GOVERNOR BOB RILEY (R): I don't know how many yachts are over there. But put a skimmer on the back of them, bring them back over here because we certainly need them.

ALFONSI: A spokesman for BP says Hayward's day off was a rare moment of private time. And said that "no matter where he is, he's always in touch with what's happening within BP." But, critics say he's clearly out of touch with everyone else.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: He wants his life back. Maybe he's trying to go on with his normal life, you know? It's unfortunate we can't do that.

RAHM EMANUEL (White House chief of staff): Tony Hayward is not going to have a second career in PR consulting.

ALFONSI: Exactly what Hayward's job is these days is unclear. BP's chairman told Britain's Sky News that Hayward was being relieved from the day-to-day operations dealing with the leak.

CARL HENRIC SVANBERG (Chairman, BP): He's now handing over the operations, the daily operations, to Bob Dudley. And he will be more home then be here.

ALFONSI: But, a day later, a BP spokesman said until the leak is capped, Tony Hayward is very much in charge. [A picture of him on his yacht appears onscreen.] Hayward at the helm, now navigating hot water. And Tony Hayward did issue a statement of sorts this weekend by twitter. He said, "The oil spill is still my top priority." That message came after that race. That is a real hard sell down here in the gulf right now. George?

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