Several media outlets used the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina as an excuse to promote the 2008 Democratic candidates. On CNN, right after running a glowing piece on Democrats such as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, anchor Soledad O’Brien sermonized that "no event has damaged the Bush White House more than Katrina." Over on ABC, "Good Morning America" co-host Robin Roberts claimed that candidates from "both parties" would travel to New Orleans to "point out the Bush administration's shortcomings in fixing many problems that still exist, like those being forced to still live in trailers."
"Hardball" regular David Shuster managed to combine both the Katrina coverage with the scandal over Senator Larry Craig. He bizarrely claimed that the Craig incident "adds moral insult to the injuries being suffered today by the victims of Hurricane Katrina."
On Friday’s "Good Morning America," ABC’s anchors and reporters reacted to Fred Thompson’s entry in the 2008 race with negativity and sarcasm. Co-host George Stephanopoulos asserted that the former senator’s campaign is "never going to catch up on organization." Rattling off Thompson’s problems, the former Clinton aide critiqued, "But he didn't raise as much money as he’d hoped to over the summer. His speeches were a little bit flat. He had a lot of staff shake-ups."
Earlier in the segment, reporter Dan Harris pointedly mentioned the "consternation over the very active role of his wife, Jeri Thompson, a former political consultant 24 years his junior." Both Harris and Stephanopoulos speculated over whether Thompson’s entry into the race is "coming too late."
Additionally, the journalists on GMA treated the former actor’s announcement as a relatively boring, expected event. Harris jokingly asked, "Big surprise, right?" He then went on to deride Thompson’s entry into the 2008 race as "blazingly obvious."
On Thursday’s "Good Morning America," guest host George Stephanopoulos’s close ties to the Clinton administration were again on display. The ABC anchor interviewed the ex-boyfriend of Chelsea Clinton about his new book on the subject of teaching American history in Iraq. Just last month, Stephanopoulos, a former top aide to Bill Clinton, gave a softball interview to Kristin Gore, the daughter of former Vice President Al Gore.
In that segment, the GMA substitute host misleadingly characterized the drug arrest of Albert Gore III as getting "in trouble speeding." The Vice President’s daughter also joked that she modeled a character in her new novel about Washington politics after Stephanopoulos. During the August 30 piece, the network anchor introduced author Ian Klaus by glowingly announcing, "...Some people might be watching today and saying, 'You know, I've seen him somewhere before. I've heard his name before.' And that's because you were actually dating Chelsea Clinton when you went to Iraq."
On Tuesday’s "Good Morning America," weatherman and liberal global warming activist Sam Champion featured tennis star Billie Jean King in his latest attempt to hype the danger of climate change. In a new segment entitled, "Just One Person," King vaguely described her new environmental charity, GreenSlam, in such a way that it appeared to confuse GMA audience members standing behind her. At Champion’s prompting, she bemoaned all the "green noise," a term she never explained, in today’s society. Equally confusing were her constant references to "green collar studies."
Most bizarre, however, was when the tennis star appeared to be distracted, much in the way a five-year old would be upon seeing a butterfly. King noticed a tennis ball wedged in an adjacent camera and fixated on it as an example of recycling (as seen above). Apparently bewildering even Champion, she rambled, "We want to use things again. Okay? You see this tennis ball? You have one on your camera over there so that you don't whack somebody. It’s protection. There’s one at the end of, there’s one at the end of the camera there. That’s reusable. [Points to GMA camera.] All these little things we can do. I’m taking shorter showers. I’m worrying about the plastic bags now."
Tuesday’s "Good Morning America" used the arrest of Senator Larry Craig in a men’s bathroom as an excuse to again herald the end of the Republican Party. Guest co-host Bill Weir teased a story on the Idaho legislator by wondering, "Is the GOP losing its grip?" Reporter David Kerley saw this as a case of Republican hypocrisy. He pointedly observed that "Craig is a conservative who lists among his goals to defend and strengthen the traditional values of the American family."
In early summer, the ABC morning show found another reason to predict doom for the GOP. Co-host Chris Cuomo, introduced a June 25 story on new polling data by claiming that the Republican candidates were "hitting some serious bumps in the road." He then ominously added, "So now the question is, can any of them beat the eventual Democratic nominee?"
On Monday’s "Good Morning America," co-host Robin Roberts interviewed Barack Obama in New Orleans and asserted that politicians from "both parties" would be coming to the formerly hurricane ravaged region to "point out the Bush administration's shortcomings in fixing many problems that still exist, like those being forced to still live in trailers." While the ABC co-host didn’t explain who was forcing the residents to live in trailers, she did offer the 2008 Democratic candidate a softball interview where the only tough questions came from the left.
GMA guest co-host Bill Weir teased the segment by optimistically spinning Obama’s "plan to bring New Orleans back." Roberts proceeded to ask the senator about friendly topics, such as his desire to "reach out to Republicans." In fact, the only time she challenged the candidate was with a query from the left. Responding to Obama’s goal of forcing insurance companies to pay into a national disaster reserve, Roberts complained, "A lot of people are going to say, ‘Senator Obama, the insurance company, they have laid many roadblocks, many people think, in this recovery role.’ Is it realistic to think that they would be a part of something like this?" The GMA co-anchor pressed with a follow-up, claiming, "But that's how it's been. How can you change that?"
NBC’s "Today" show continued its global warming alarmism this week. Reporter Bob Dotson profiled a polar explorer who is teaching, or indoctrinating, today’s youths about global warming. The "Today" crew couldn’t refrain from gushing over this "sobering," "beautiful" message from an "impressive guy." However, NBC doesn’t want viewers to get excited over every issue. Correspondent Andrea Mitchell recently told viewers that "internet writers" need to take "a breath" over reports that Michelle Obama was attacking Hillary Clinton during a campaign speech.
"Situation Room" reporter Jack Cafferty, CNN’s answer to Andy Rooney, this week concluded that conservatives are dumb and George Bush should be impeached. Discussing a new poll on American reading habits, Cafferty claimed, "Liberals read more books than conservatives. Why?" Earlier in the week, he railed against Democratic Senator Chris Dodd’s statement that impeaching President Bush would be counterproductive.
On Friday’s "Good Morning America," reporter David Wright sought out a socialist, a liberal activist and a Democrat to bash President Bush for failing, thus far, to visit Vermont during his two terms in office. However, he didn’t discuss how President Clinton similarly neglected Nebraska for nearly eight years. Following up on a CNN report about Bush’s "snub," co-host Robin Roberts began the segment by asking why the Commander in Chief was giving the state a "cold shoulder." An ABC graphic continued the complaining, it read, "Vermont Feeling Left Out: Why Won’t The President Visit?
While Wright found time to note that the northern state is "eco-smart and gay-friendly," he managed to ignore the fact that Bill Clinton didn’t visit Nebraska until a little over a month before his term ended. (In its report, CNN did mention this point.) The ABC correspondent spent much of his segment discussing Bush’s absence with Vermont Senators Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy, one a Democrat, the other a self-described socialist, and also Ben Cohen, a liberal activist and founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.
On Wednesday’s "Good Morning America," anchor Chris Cuomo completely glossed over the health care implications of a Canadian mother giving birth to quadruplets in America and not her home country. According to Cuomo, Karen Jepp and her husband, the new parents of identical quadruplets, had to be flown 300 miles from Calgary to Montana on August 16, because "every neo-natal unit in their country was too crowded to handle four preemie births."
Apparently, it didn’t occur to Mr. Cuomo to wonder why all the hospitals in Canada, a nation with universal health care, were full. During a subsequent interview with Jepp and her husband J.P., the co-host continued with this unquestioning explanation. He elaborated, "...Towards the very end, it gets even more complicated....You know, they're not ready for them at the hospital. Your doctors have to make calls. You have to fly 300 miles to have [the children]." Considering that back in June, "Good Morning America" co-anchor Diane Sawyer announced "a commitment to take a hard look at the health insurance industry," it seems odd that unusual circumstances, which forced a very pregnant mother to fly to another country and give birth, would be of such little interest to Mr. Cuomo.
On Tuesday’s "Morning Joe," MSNBC host Joe Scarborough mocked the very concept of CNN’s upcoming specials on Muslim, Christian and Jewish extremism. Anticipating the possible moral relativism that the Christiane Amanpour-hosted series may take, Scarborough sarcastically observed, "They’re going to study Muslim extremism, then Christian extremism, because we know Christians have, have slaughtered thousands of people across the globe in bombings..."
Comparing the CNN anchor to a liberal talk show host, an incredulous Scarborough added, "Is this Rosie O'Donnell or is this Christine Amanpour?" (In 2006, O’Donnell famously claimed that "radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam...") Returning to the subject later in the 7am hour, Scarborough derided the cable network again. He complained, "But to say, as CNN appears to be saying, that Muslim extremism and Jewish extremism and Christian extremism, sort of, is equal, that there is moral equivalence...between those three, that’s just ridiculous."
On Monday, "Good Morning America" reporter John Berman ignored any role that journalists might have in the developing scandal of anonymous individuals altering Wikipedia entries. On the ABC program, Berman alerted viewers to the fact that companies such as Wal-Mart and Starbucks have changed sections in their Wikipedia bios. However, he skipped the recent revelation that both the BBC and New York Times have been linked to derogatory, childish alterations in President Bush’s entry. (CNN covered the story on August 16.)
Berman began the segment by asking viewers how they would feel if they knew "the entry on Wal-Mart was edited by someone inside Wal-Mart? The Starbucks entry? By someone inside Starbucks." He also noted that the CIA has changed its section. However, the ABC reporter failed to explain that a new computer program, which can determine who alters Wikipedia information, traced the culprit behind the addition of the words "jerk, jerk, jerk" to President Bush’s Wikipedia profile. The source? A New York Times computer. There was also no discussion of a similar incident involving the insertion of the word "wanker" to Bush’s entry from a BBC computer.
Cable host Chris Matthews reacted to the resignation of top Bush aide Karl Rove by calling the political operative a "bum" and speculating as to whether he would tell all in an autobiography. Matthews sneeringly wondered if "you have to pay to get the truth from Karl Rove." In general, he contributed to the media frothing by hungering for the scalp of the Bush aide.
Dan Abrams, MSNBC host and general manager of that cable network, continued the political savaging by labeling Rove the "Constitutional Crippler." Abrams went on to slam Rove for "hypocrisy. He also asserted that he wouldn’t "shed a tear at his farewell bash." (I wouldn’t expect an invitation.) The Rove rage wasn’t limited to MSNBC, however. ABC managed to inaccurately blame the Bush operative for the 2004 Swift Boat ads.
Of the three morning shows, only ABC’s "Good Morning America" has reported the comment by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama that part of the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan is made up of "air-raiding villages and killing civilians." Both CBS’s "Early Show" and "Today" on NBC have ignored the August 14 comment. On Friday’s GMA, however, reporter David Wright filed a report on the statement and wondered if Obama is ready to be president. An ABC graphic pointedly asked, "Obama’s Foot in Mouth Disease? Too Inexperienced For Campaign?"
After playing a brief clip of the Illinois senator’s comment, which he made during a speech in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Wright mentioned previous impolitic statements by Obama, such as threatening to invade Pakistan. The ABC journalist noted that Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, raised the issue of civilian casualties with President Bush. He asserted, "...Presumably, Hamid Karzai used language that was more diplomatic, more presidential."
According to ABC’s John Berman, one reason that crooks in Texas have been bilking hospitals out of money is because they’re "fed up" with the health care system. During a segment on Wednesday’s "Good Morning America," the correspondent filed a report on successful, financially stable individuals who pretend to be poor in order to avoid paying their health insurance related hospital fees. Berman couldn’t help but give their actions a political motive:
John Berman: "As egregious as this sounds, it may be another example of how fed up people are with the health care system. One survey found one in ten people believe it's okay to submit false claims or collect when you don't deserve it."
According to ABC’s Terry Moran, Karl Rove’s brand of politics can be defined by a mixture of "divisiveness, anger" and "ruthlessness." During a segment on Monday's edition of "Nightline," the co-anchor derided the "era of Karl Rove" as one that exhibited "bitterly polarizing politics."
Moran also left the impression that it was Rove, the Deputy Chief of Staff to President Bush, who was behind the 2004 Swift Boat Veterans For Truth ads against John Kerry:
[File footage from 2004] George W. Bush: "The architect, Karl Rove."
Terry Moran: "That was back in 2004 and President Bush was thanking Rove for planning and executing his reelection strategy. But look around at American politics today and you see that there is much, much more that Karl Rove built."
Clip from Swift Boat Veterans ad: "John Kerry cannot be trusted."
On Tuesday’s "Nightline," co-anchor Martin Bashir filed a report on businessman Tom Monaghan, founder of a Catholic university in Florida and a community that will attempt to embrace traditional Christian values. Bashir regurgitated a two-year-old criticism that the town has "been described as a Catholic Jonestown, a kind of Catholic Iran, where individual rights and liberties are curtailed."
The various network news shows have come to this shocking conclusion: It’s summer and it’s hot. Could global warming be to blame? Ann Curry, guest anchoring NBC’s "Nightly News" on Tuesday, speculated, "Record heat and drought in the United States and Europe. New fears tonight that it's all the result of global warming." Harry Smith, over on CBS’s "Early Show," had the same idea. The morning show anchor definitively asserted, "Before we do anything else, there is in fact, global climate change.
On Friday’s "Good Morning America," ABC host George Stephanopoulos raved about singer Melissa Etheridge’s hosting of Thursday’s Democratic debate on gay issues. He enthused, "Melissa Etheridge is the new Ted Koppel!" Stephanopoulos, a former top Clinton aide and now the host of "This Week," also framed the debate from a decidedly pro-gay rights angle:
George Stephanopoulos: "...This is remarkable that a forum like this is happening. It would never happen on the Republican side, at least not yet."
Would Stephanopoulos spin a GOP debate on defending the Second Amendment as something the Democrats wouldn’t be interested in, at least not yet?
On Thursday’s "Good Morning America," anchor Diane Sawyer gushed over new photos of 2008 Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards renewing his wedding vows with wife Elizabeth. Sawyer touted having "the very first pictures of a very personal backyard ceremony."
Reporter David Muir also found the pictures to be "incredibly personal," despite the fact that the Edwards campaign provided them to both People magazine and ABC News. And, of course, Sawyer couldn’t resist mentioning the story, highly touted in the media, that the couple spends their wedding anniversaries at Wendy’s. The GMA host enthused, "And we should say, however, they did also have their ritual anniversary Wendy's burger." This observation came only nine days after the last story on the Edwards’s trip to Wendy’s:
On Tuesday’s edition of "Nightline," anchor Martin Bashir interviewed businessman Tom Monaghan, founder of a new Catholic university in Florida and also a community called Ave Maria that will be based around Catholic values. Bashir parroted criticism that the town has "been described as a Catholic Jonestown, a kind of Catholic Iran, where individual rights and liberties are curtailed."
Earlier in the segment, Bashir asserted that the community, which will encourage traditional values but be open to all,has "been called a Disney World for Catholics, a country club Christianity."
On Tuesday’s "Good Morning America," reporter Jake Tapper used the story that Rudy Giuliani’s daughter had joined a pro-Barack Obama Facebook group as a segue to recount the travails of other presidential children. Somehow, his list of wayward youths included only the offspring of famous Republican politicians, while ignoring Democratic embarrassments, such as the recent drug arrest of Al Gore III.
Additionally, GMA anchor Diane Sawyer closed the segment by discussing parent/child relationships with guest host George Stephanopoulos. Sawyer mentioned how she fought with her father, a Republican judge, over politics:
Diane Sawyer: "...I remember what a hard time I gave my father about politics."
On Monday’s "Good Morning America," guest host George Stephanopoulos pressed 2008 Republican candidate Mitt Romney over whether he will "do more to address" the issue of his Mormon faith.
This is the same ABC program that has repeatedly raised questions about whether the former Massachusetts governor’s religion could damage his ‘08 chances. In June, reporter Dan Harris speculated on how "uncomfortable questions" about Mormonism could harm the campaign.
In contrast, GMA gushed over a CNN sponsored event in June where Democratic candidates discussed their faith. An onscreen graphic wondered, "Are evangelicals embracing Democrats? New party of God?" For that segment, co-host Robin Roberts marveled, "...Senator Obama out on the campaign trail has, has freely talked about his faith." She also played an extended clip of Hillary Clinton discussing the important role faith played in her life.
Larry King, best known recently for his scintillating interviews with thinkers such as Paris Hilton, proved that he can still ask tough questions, to conservatives that is. In an interview with Vice President Cheney about Guantanamo, he wondered, "You have to torture them when they’re there?" Former VP Al Gore, on the other hand, received puff questions about Madonna and penguins.
Speaking of media coddling, "Good Morning America" anchors Diane Sawyer and Robin Roberts appeared to be infatuated with the story that 2008 Democratic candidate John Edwards and his wife Elizabeth spend their wedding anniversaries at Wendy’s. Roberts even promoted the former senator by referring to him as "Presidential nominee" John Edwards.
On Friday, the network morning shows downplayed or ignored 2008 Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s muddled comment that nuclear weapons shouldn’t be used in "any circumstances" in Afghanistan or Pakistan. On CBS, the "Early Show" didn’t cover the story at all. During the three hour broadcast of the "Today" show, NBC found time for only one brief anchor read.
ABC’s "Good Morning America" provided the most coverage, but that simply amounted to a solitary anchor brief and then a quick, defensive summery of Obama’s statement by "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos:
George Stephanopoulos: "...Barack Obama, appearing to rule out the use of nuclear weapons in going after al Qaeda or the Taliban in Pakistan....What he's drawing fire for though is talking about it. A lot of nuclear strategists say you should never talk about how or when you're going to use nuclear weapons. The Barack Obama people though say they make no apologies. They're not going to back down at all and that they’re saying, uh, the correct policy that people need to hear."
On Wednesday’s "Good Morning America," ABC reporters offered advice to Dick Cheney on how to resuscitate his "rock bottom poll numbers." The network featured clips from a Bush-bashing cartoon and correspondent Cokie Roberts even suggested that if the Vice President wants to change his image, he needs to do it on "Jon Stewart and maybe talk to Doonesbury."
The Claire Shipman-hosted segment, which played like a media victory lap over Cheney’s unpopularity, also featured snarky comments, such as this dig about the Vice President briefly taking over for George W. Bush during his colonoscopy in July:
Claire Shipman: "He was even acting president for a few hours during the President's recent colonoscopy. Did he dream about taking on Iran? No, he says. He wrote a letter for his grandkids and then made it public."
On Tuesday’s "Good Morning America," anchors Robin Roberts and Diane Sawyer touted the marital relationship between Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards and his wife. Co-host Robin Roberts recounted the often repeated story of how the Edwards couple spend their wedding anniversary, including their recent 30th, at the restaurant Wendy’s.
Roberts, perhaps in a Freudian slip, even referred to the former North Carolina Senator as "presidential nominee John Edwards." Sawyer gushed that the candidate and his wife "are going to renew their vows." "Happy anniversary," she added.
Yet, this is the same morning show that has vastly underplayed stories that aren’t quite so cute and endearing for the '08 contender. For instance, during a recent GMA town hall with John Edwards on the subject of poverty, Ms. Sawyer only managed to mention the trial lawyer’s 28,000 square-foot mansion once.
On Friday’s "Good Morning America," and again on Sunday, ABC anchors eagerly touted the idea that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales could be fired at any second. On July 27, GMA host Chris Cuomo discussed sworn Senate testimony given by Gonzales and wondered if the Attorney General had been "caught in a lie with the whole nation watching?" (An ABC graphic helpfully asked, "Is Atty General lying?")
Mentioning claims that Gonzales testimony has been contradicted by FBI Director Robert Mueller, Cuomo, whose brother is the Democratic Attorney General of New York, asked "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos, "...Bottom line, is Alberto Gonzales out of a job at end of business today?"
On Wednesday’s "Good Morning America," the ABC program actually reported on Elizabeth Edwards’s attack that ‘08 contender Hillary Clinton may not be a strong advocate for women. However, correspondent Claire Shipman managed the feat of somehow turning the story into a positive for both women. She also engaged in the standard media practice of identification bias.
Shipman gushed that the spouse of former Senator John Edwards is "popular" and then later referred to her as "very popular." Before playing a clip of Hillary Clinton sounding tough on terrorism, the ABC reporter asserted, "...There is striking gender role reversal on the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton by far the toughest politically and stylistically."
Appearing on Monday’s special town hall edition of "Good Morning America," 2008 presidential candidate John Edwards endured a much tougher line of questioning from Diane Sawyer than Hillary Clinton received during a similar event in March.
Although Edwards received more air time, 38 minutes to almost 27 minutes, Senator Clinton had the advantage of friendly questions from the audience and a less critical interviewer in Robin Roberts. Below are a sampling of Sawyer’s queries to John Edwards during his July 16 appearance. The subject was the former trial lawyer’s plans to withdraw from Iraq:
Diane Sawyer: "What does that say to the Iraqi people? Where does that leave them? What if ethnic cleansing begins? Do you send troops back in? What do you do?" ...
Sawyer: "Do you think there is a real possibility though of a regional calamity if American troops pull out of Iraq, which is the White House’s argument." ...
Sawyer: "What is the plan to control civil war, except going back in?"
Did "Good Morning America" physically remove a man who appeared to be dozing off during Democratic Senator John Edwards's town hall meeting on Monday? Early in the 7am hour, the man (pictured at right) appeared to be sleeping, or at least dozing, while Edwards discussed his plan for Iraq.
Around 7:11, the individual, who was seated to the back and right of Edwards, mysteriously disappeared (see video below). Diane Sawyer even remarked how audience members for the New Orleans-based event had "gotten up early" to join him. Perhaps the network found it unacceptable that someone might perceive the former trial lawyer to be less than enthralling?
On Monday’s "Good Morning America," ABC devoted 38 minutes of air time to Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards in a town hall special. This is in addition to the over 26 minutesthey provided fellow ‘08 contender Hillary Clinton back in March. That’s a grand total of 64 minutes of publicity for Democratic candidates and zero for Republicans.
Now, to be fair to "Good Morning America," GMA host Diane Sawyer did ask tougher, harsher questions than her colleague Robin Roberts did when she interviewed Senator Clinton on March 26. However during the July 16 program, Sawyer found no time to ask Edwards about the hateful anti-Christian bloggers that the campaign hired, and then was forced to fire, earlier this year. Instead, the ABC anchor did manage these tough queries:
Diane Sawyer: "What’s the worst meal you’ve had on the road?"
Sawyer: "Do you listen to an iPod? Does it relax you on the road?"