As of June 2, 2014, it's been 200 days since Nightline, the once-vaunted news program, covered ObamaCare. In the 28 and a half weeks since November 14, 2013, the show has continued its descent into tabloid oblivion, focusing on topics such as celebrities, weight loss and pop culture. As a consequence, the program has skipped the myriad of problems associated with ObamaCare.
When the White House quietly announced on May 20 what amounted to a bailout for insurance companies that might lose money on the new health care law, Nightline didn't notice. When the Associated Press on May 16 reported a new "cost control strategy" called reference pricing that would put a limit on what health plans pay for expensive surgeries, the ABC program avoided the story. On April 24, Vox explained that the administration was trying to "stamp out" certain health plans, "a decision that industry officials say could trigger yet another wave of cancellation notices." Again, Nightline was silent. But what were the show's hosts covering instead? See a video montage below to find out. [MP3 audio here.]
On Thursday, the day before a double resignation at the White House, ABC's Jon Karl grilled Jay Carney over Barack Obama's confidence in Eric Shinseki. Less than 24 hours later, the press secretary and Veterans Administration head had both quit. During the back-and-forth, Karl pressed, "But does the President right now have confidence in Sec. Shinseki, yes or no? It's a very simple yes or no question. You told us last week he did have confidence, does he have confidence now?" [See video below.]
Carney dodged and responded, "Jon, the President addressed this question from the podium." The journalist pointed out, " But he wasn't asked directly if he had confidence in him." The now-ex-press secretary dismissed this as "word play." Karl continued to push, insisting, "It's a basic question. It's not wordplay. Its a central question: Does he have confidence in a member of his cabinet?"
Much of the network coverage on the Veterans Affairs scandal has been light on questioning Barack Obama. It took former football player Michael Strahan to come up with a tougher query for the President. During an interview on Live With Kelly and Michael, Strahan lectured, "But a lot of the soldiers haven't been given the treatment, veterans, that they should have got when they come home." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Strahan continued, "And there's been calls for resignations and Shinseki... says he's not going to resign. Do you think that he should and if he doesn't, would you be inclined to remove him?" (Just hours after the interview aired, Eric Shinseki quit as head of the VA.) Obama first shifted topics, insisting, "Well, let me first say that the greatest honor I have is serving as commander in chief."
CBS journalists on Thursday morning investigated the latest details of the expanding Veterans Affairs scandal. Yet despite calling the newest revelation "ugly," correspondent Nancy Cordes somehow managed to avoid using Barack Obama's name or to discuss the White House. Instead, she focused on congressional culpability: "But the Inspector General's report points out Congress and the VA have known about similar manipulations and delays for nearly a decade." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Cordes talked to a GOP House member and pressed: "Florida Republican Jeff Miller is the chair of the House VA committee. If you've known about problems like this for years why are you only now calling on the V.A. Secretary to resign?" NBC skimped on discussing how much this issue could hurt the President personally. At the very end of a Nightly News discussion, Kelly O'Donnell briefly noted, "From the White House, NBC's Kristen Welker reports the President considers Secretary Shinseki to be on probation."
John Kerry appeared on all three network news programs, Wednesday, but it was an interview on CNN that provided a surprise. New Day anchor Chris Cuomo actually grilled the Secretary of State on pulling troops out of Afghanistan and whether Barack Obama is showing "weakness" internationally in dealing with countries such as Russia.
On the ending of America's military presence in Afghanistan, the host pressed, "How is it a way forward when, as you well know, as soon as the U.S. leaves there, the chances that the place descends back into chaos are very high? Isn't that backwards, not forwards?" A testy Kerry complained that Cuomo was trying to "find the most negative, gloomy prediction." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Although the journalists at Good Morning America on Tuesday found no time to discuss what NBC called a "potentially dangerous mistake" by the White House, reporter Jon Karl devoted a report to promoting Michelle Obama's latest efforts on healthy lunches. Co-anchor George Stephanopoulos touted it as a "a rare political move now from First Lady Michelle Obama." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Stephanopoulos hyped the First Lady's "full-scale campaign against the food industry and members of Congress who are trying to roll back the healthy school lunch standard she fought so hard to pass." Karl insisted, "Well, the First Lady believes passionately that school lunches simply have to be healthier and she is prepared to wage a big political fight over this issue." He added, "She is going to be speaking out against this effort for Republicans to roll back standards that were put in place in 2010."
The liberals at Google honored radical environmentalist Rachel Carson on their home page, Tuesday, in honor of what would have been her 107th birthday. With the Google logo in the background, an illustration featured the late Carson in the wilderness, next to birds, turtles and butterflies. Clicking on this picture will bring web browsers to a search of all things Carson. Journalists, Al Gore and Hollywood have long lauded the activist. But few of them have questioned her accuracy or impact.
Carson's claim to fame came when she published Silent Spring in 1962. The book warned of the dangers of pesticide to birds and lobbied for banning the chemical DDT. However, this contention turned out to be flat-out wrong and has had deadly consequences. As San Jose State University entomologist J. Gordon Edwards explained: "This implication that DDT is horribly deadly is completely false. Human volunteers have ingested as much as 35 milligrams of it a day for nearly two years and suffered no adverse effects. Millions of people have lived with DDT intimately during the mosquito spray programs and nobody even got sick as a result."
All three morning shows on Tuesday deemed it news worthy to listen to audio excerpts from Hillary Clinton's upcoming book. On the same day that Good Morning America ignored the leaking by the White House of a CIA station chief in Afghanistan, news reader Amy Robach parroted Democratic talking points: "In the book's audio version, Mrs. Clinton describes making choices with her head and her heart." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Robach made sure to advertise a one hour interview Diane Sawyer will conduct with Clinton on June 9th. The primetime special will be followed by yet more promotional time with the Democrat on the June 10th GMA. On CBS This Morning, Tuesday, Anthony Mason assured viewers that the "upcoming memoir has nothing to do with politics." He added that in an author's note, "the potential presidential candidate says the book will not engage in political finger pointing."
An ABC program that aims to expose the secret bigotry of ordinary Americans returned to the airwaves on May 23. Would You Do? Is a hidden-camera show hosted by John Quinones and focusing on contrived situations of Americans discriminating against gays, Muslims and illegals immigrants, to name a few.
In a June 14, 2013 episode, an actor portrayed a white man wearing an American flag t-shirt. An Arab man (another actor) entered the restaurant where ABC had set up hidden cameras. The white actor began a tirade, screaming, "Since when are they hiring Muslims around here?...Bet you go home and learn how to make bombs....I don't want a terrorist touching my food or taking my order." [See video below.]
CBS This Morning co-host Charlie Rose scored an exclusive interview with Chuck Hagel on Friday. But rather than grill the Secretary of Defense on the latest details of the Veterans Affairs scandal, the journalist repeated talking points and wondered about whether it was "premature" for a top Obama official to resign.
Rose began by noting that there is "quite a concern" over the growing controversy and that some "argue that we need to know the facts." Talking to Hagel, the host then wondered, "Some in your party are calling for the head of the Veterans Affairs department to resign, General Shinseki. Is it 'Premature' to ask for his resignation?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
In nearly four and a half weeks, the ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news shows have offered 110 minutes to an evolving Obama administration scandal involving secret lists designed to keep veterans from receiving proper medical treatment. Back in January, it took those same network shows just four and a half days to churn that much coverage for Chris Christie's Bridgegate.
Since the VA story broke on April 23 with the news that as many as 40 veterans seeking treatment at one Phoenix facility died while on secret waiting lists, CBS has provided the most coverage, 48 minutes and 46 seconds. NBC allowed 44 minutes and 53 seconds and ABC came in last with a scant 16 minutes and 44 seconds. None of the networks bothered covering the story until May 6, almost two weeks after it broke. (This is despite heavy investigative reporting by Fox News and CNN.)
World News anchor Diane Sawyer, who once summarized Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign by connecting the Democrat to Jesus Christ, has landed the exclusive first interview as the potential 2016 candidate promotes her book, Hard Choices. Sawyer will talk to Clinton for a one-hour special airing on June 9. According to Politico, the former Secretary of State will also appear on the same day's World News and live on the June 10 Good Morning America.
A look back at Sawyer's reporting on Clinton reason reveals the reason she was chosen. On June 4, 2008, as the politician's presidential bid ended, the then-Good Morning America host quoted from a 17th century poem about Christ: "This woman, as we said, forged into determination and purpose her whole life. As someone said, 'No thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.'' [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
NBC and CBS on Wednesday hyped a win by Senator Mitch McConnell as an example of a major setback to the Tea Party movement. But it was only ABC's Good Morning America that highlighted the "big loss" suffered by Bill and Hillary Clinton as their candidate went down to defeat. CBS This Morning co-anchor Charlie Rose lectured, "Tea Party backers are reeling this morning from primary election results in six states." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
He added, "Tea Party favorites lost in all of the most important Republican races heading into the November midterms." The journalist trumpeted, "...A CBS News poll out this morning show that Tea Party support fell over nine point this past year." Surprisingly, it was former Clinton operative George Stephanopoulos on GMA who exposed a "House race in Pennsylvania that was a big loss for both Clintons."
The idea that Good Morning America is a superficial show is not in doubt. On Tuesday, the show's hosts devoted 12 minutes and 22 seconds to full reports on a college student stripper, a super model trying to lose weight and Dancing With the Stars. But the frivolous nature of the program often masks its liberal bias. GMA on May 20 completely ignored the revelation that Barack Obama was warned five years ago of the substandard conditions at Veterans Affairs medical facilities and that soldiers were struggling to obtain decent treatment.
That development was also avoided on ABC's World News, Monday night. What did the hosts of GMA cover instead? Juju Chang played footage of an exotic dancer and breathlessly informed: "This is how she pays her tuition. Essentially, you're a student by day and stripper by night?" Robin Roberts highlighted the efforts by super model Molly Sims to lose weight. [See below for a video montage of the morning show's most insipid news stories. MP3 audio here.]
Good Morning America is a profoundly superficial show. The ABC program on Monday devoted air time to Full House star Jonathan Stamos responding a blogger's criticism of the '90s show. So, what does it take for the program to cover the 2014 midterm elections? A Republican scandal helps. GMA reporter Mara Schiavocampo highlighted the revelation that Oregon GOP Senate candidate Monica Wehby's ex-boyfriend in 2013 called police, accusing her of stalking.
Referring to her former boyfriend, Andrew Miller, Schiavocampo made sure to note: "The millionaire timber executive claiming the rising Republican star is a stalker..." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] To underline the point, the journalist reiterated, "So far, Wehby has been leading her Republican opponent in the polls."
The journalists at CBS This Morning on Monday actually showcased the growing problem of suppression of speech on college campuses, in this case at commencement addresses. Reporter Don Dahler even featured a representative from a conservative group fighting for open dialogue. However, the segment avoided hinting that this is primarily a problem on the left. Dahler featured former Princeton President William Bowen. While speaking at Haverford, he lectured those students for pressuring another speaker to withdrawal.
Bowen complained, "I regard this outcome as a defeat, pure and simple, for Haverford. No victory for anyone who believes, as I think most of us do, in openness to many points of view and mutual respect." He added, "In my view they would have encouraged him to come and engage in a serious discussion." Regarding the cancellation of other speakers, Greg Lukianoff from the Foundation of Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) worried, "It's reaching the point where these purity tests are so strict that it's hard to imagine who will allowed to speak on the campus in the future." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Since a massive scandal involving the Veterans Affairs department became public, the three networks have devoted a combined 71 minutes and 55 seconds (or 38 stories) to investigating a secret list delaying treatment to military personnel. That total time included a scant five seconds of criticism for Barack Obama. Instead, ABC, CBS and NBC focused their stories on Secretary Eric Shinseki and to assuring Americans that the President was on top of the situation.
NBC dedicated 32 minutes and 25 seconds to the revelation that up to 40 patients in Arizona died due to lack of care. CBS managed 28 minutes and two seconds and ABC allowed 11 minutes and 28 seconds. In addition to avoiding culpability for the White House, the networks got to the story late. The story broke on April 23, but NBC didn't get around to it until the May 6 Nightly News. CBS and ABC discovered the controversy for that day's morning programs.
An agitated Chris Matthews on Wednesday fumed over Karl Rove's recent questioning of Hillary Clinton's medical condition. Throwing all the invective he could at the Republican strategist, Matthews reduced Rove's comments to this: "My theory is he could be almost like a kamikaze pilot in World War II. He could blow up the ship and blow himself up." The host continued, " Who cares if Karl Rove is known as an SOB? He already is known as an SOB." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Closing out the segment, Matthews insisted, "I really do think he's a kamikaze. And I'm not knocking previous kamikazes...They're patriotic people. [Rove's] a killer dog." He's not "knocking" "patriotic" kamikaze pilots? All this was a lead-up to the MSNBC anchor's praise of the "power" of Comedy Central hosts have to take on conservatives: "...The fiercest of them all, Jon Stewart, is tearing the inside out of those on the right, Limbaugh, Rove, and the rest."
Wolf Blitzer and his fellow journalists on Wednesday thrilled over how Bill Clinton responded to comments by Karl Rove about Hillary. His reaction was "well done," "effective" and there's "nobody better." Regarding an appearance by Mrs. Clinton, Blitzer enthused, "She does look great, you've got to admit."
On the subject of the former President's defense of his wife, Gloria Borger touted, "There's nobody better to do it...There's there's nobody better to answer the charges about brain damage than Bill Clinton." She added, "He's a very good surrogate for Hillary Clinton." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
According to Chris Matthews, the American Revolution is an example of liberalism in action, on par with fighting for gay marriage. In a new Lean Forward ad, the Hardball host appeared at Philadelphia's Independence Hall. Matthews equated, "It took 22 months of men debating in this room to achieve the Declaration of Independence. Progressive change takes time."
Claiming the ending of slavery as a "progressive" cause, Matthews continued, "Abolition would take a great Civil War, but it came." Of course, it was the Republican President Abraham Lincoln and Republicans in Congress who freed the slaves and then passed the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. Democrats opposed these civil rights actions. The host lectured, "Liberalism always wins eventually, just as it did here in Philadelphia, in the sweltering summer of 1776." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
No Hillary Clinton news is too unimportant for the liberal hosts on MSNBC. Anchor Ronan Farrow on Monday used part of his show to listen to Clinton's new audio book, enthusing over its touching nature. Stopping a discussion cold, the host instructed, "Take a listen to one bit that we all found particularly moving in the office about her mother."
The possible 2016 presidential contender could then be heard repeating her mom's advice: "Never rest on your laurels, never quit, never stop working to make the world a better place." Talking to a Republican consultant, Farrow demanded, "Robert Traynham, do you think that's enough to melt the coldest of GOP hearts on Hillary Clinton?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Tim Geithner appeared on Good Morning America, Monday, to promote his new book. While co-host George Stephanopoulos avoided negative comments about the Obama administration, he made sure to tout praise of Hillary Clinton and to lobby for an endorsement. After the former Treasury Secretary explained how he recommended Clinton as a possible replacement, the GMA anchor enthused, "Is she your candidate for president next time around?"
Geithner dodged and the host repeated, "Is she your candidate for president next time around?" Stephanopoulos also pressed the ex-cabinet official from the left, wondering, "So, what's the simple answer, then, to critics like Elizabeth Warren, the senator from Massachusetts, who say you focused too much on big financial institution, not enough on family?"
The House on Thursday voted to create a select committee to investigate Benghazi, but NBC's Today, a four hour program, on Friday totally ignored the story. In contrast, the show spent two minutes on the topic of how many times a week should people shower. ABC's Good Morning America allowed a mere 12 seconds for the latest details. News reader Amy Robach emphasized, "Republicans on Capitol Hill are opening an eighth investigation into the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi." She added, "Today, Democrats are meeting to decide whether to boycott the new investigation, calling it election year politics."
CBS This Morning offered a scant 15 seconds. Co-host Charlie Rose quickly derided, "Thursday's vote to create the committee stayed mostly along party lines with 225 Republicans voting in favor. Only seven Democrats backed the probe." On Thursday, CBS's Nancy Cordes featured Democrats such as Congressman Gerry Connolly complaining, "For political reasons, to keep the base fired up between now and the midterm elections." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
After ignoring a massive health care scandal at Barack Obama's Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), NBC finally offered substantial coverage on Wednesday night. But the network failed to make any mention of how this controversy would impact the President or his handling of health care. Nightly News anchor Brian Williams announced that VA Secretary Eric Shinseki is "trying to fix this and hang on to his job."
Ongoing revelations have exposed the fact that as many as 40 veterans died after being placed on a secret list to hide delays. Reporter Jim Miklaszewski talked to Shinseki and pressed, "Are you willing, as Secretary of Veterans Affairs, to accept full responsibility?" He added, "But Shinseki indicated today he's going nowhere. They [veterans groups] want you to resign or be fired. Will you resign?" The only reference to Obama came when the Secretary noted that he "serves at the pleasure of the President." Miklaszewski never mentioned Obama.
ABC on Thursday morning highlighted more of Robin Roberts’ fawning interview with Hillary Clinton. On the issue of Benghazi and the revelation that the White House had a direct hand in creating false talking points about the 2012 terrorist attack, Roberts could only manage this lame effort: “Benghazi. The new investigation. Are you satisfied with the answers and are you content with what you know what [sic] happened?” [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
That was it. No follow-up. No interrogation about Clinton’s handling of the incident that left four Americans dead, including a U.S. ambassador. Instead, Roberts moved right on to this 2016 gossip: “And the question I took straight from the audience, were you to run for president in 2016, would you consider Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren or San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro as a running mate?” Continuing the softball questions, the Good Morning America host wondered, “You're going to be a grandma?”
After a big promotional push by ABC and NBC, Democratic House candidate Clay Aiken leads his primary opponent by 372 votes out of 28,000 cast on Tuesday. According to Good Morning America on Wednesday, the "American Idol congressional candidate" may pull out a razor thin victory. Co-host Lara Spencer enthused, "Clay Aiken in the public eye for almost a decade, making headlines for his songs, his personal life and now a run at the United States Congress." [MP3 audio here.]
Spencer stated the obvious, noting, "He was considered by many the underdog. [Primary opponent Keith] Crisco outspent him by nearly a half million dollars." However, the liberal candidate has had a lot of help from journalists. On February 6, Mara Schiavocampo enthused, "Well, simply put, he is a long shot but that hasn't stopped Aiken from throwing his hat in the ring."
The hosts of CBS This Morning on Tuesday featured Lynne Cheney to talk about her new book on James Madison. However, predictably, the topics drifted towards a grilling on gay marriage and her daughters' public spat over the subject. Additionally, Norah O'Donnell rather obviously quizzed Cheney on whether being a Secretary of State, like Madison, would still be a good path for the president in 2016.
On the subject of Liz Cheney's Senate run, O'Donnell lectured, "I do think this was an interesting story, not because it's two daughters of a prominent vice president, but also because Mary then said that her sister was on the wrong side of history." She added, "Was Liz on the wrong side of history?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Obviously, it was a painful thing for a mother to see her two daughters fighting publicly. If Hillary Clinton runs for president in 2016, will the co-host bring up painful, personal topics from her marriage?
In another example of censoring a Barack Obama scandal, NBC has ignored the brewing controversy impacting American veterans and a shocking lack of access to hospital care. Though the news of up to 40 patients dying in Arizona has been going on for months, ABC finally covered the story on Tuesday's Good Morning America, offering a scant 29 seconds. Reporter Amy Robach informed that the President is "standing by his Secretary of Veterans Affairs," despite a call by the American Legion on Monday for his ouster. CBS This Morning gave it 18 seconds.
Robach explained that the nation's largest veterans group has accused "Secretary Eric Shinseki and his top aides of, quote, 'poor oversight and failed leadership,' after reports that as many as 40 patients in Phoenix may have died because of delays in care and allegations that hospitals have tried to cover up other delays." Despite the controversy, this was the first time Shinseki's name has been uttered on ABC since his nomination on December 6, 2008. Fox News and CNN have both covered the scandal, but NBC has avoided it. [See video of CNN's coverage below. MP3 audio here.]
MSNBC anchor Ed Schultz on Monday made inaccurate claims about Donald Trump, insisting that during an April 28 Fox News interview, the real estate CEO did not denounce Donald Sterling in the wake of the NBA owner's racist rant. Trump has complained that journalists spun his comments about Sterling and his "girlfriend from hell," V. Stiviano. Schultz asserted,"Donald Trump shredded Stiviano. Trump criticized Sterling's answers, but he [Trump] never touched his character." This is false.
A look at the April 28 Fox and Friends, the interview in question, finds Trump proclaiming, "What [Sterling] said was terrible and despicable and very strong action is going to be taken. There's no question about it." At another point, Trump denounced, "He is on tape and the tape is horrible and...I don't think he's got an answer for it. There's really no answer." He continued, "What he said was despicable and everybody, I think, agrees with that. I think probably very strong action is going to have to be taken by the commissioner." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
In April, CBS and NBC found no time to cover the protests against Michelle Obama's planned graduation speech to high school students in Kansas. But both networks on Monday hyped the bullying of Condoleezza Rice from speaking to Rutgers University. Some of protest signs included an ugly caricature of the first female African American Secretary of State. Instead of discussing this, CBS This Morning journalist Elaine Quijano reported that "some felt" Rice "didn't deserve the honors because she championed war in Iraq and supported harsh questioning of detainees." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Quijano included two clips of liberal students chanting, "Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Condi Rice has got to go!" She then featured a clip of a professor deriding, "A person who has condoned and been involved in torture is not an appropriate person to receive an honorary degree of laws, no less."