Of the three morning shows, only ABC's “Good Morning America” highlighted the implications of a new report on pork barrel spending by the group Citizens Against Government Waste [CAGW]. GMA was the sole network morning program to mention that Democrats broke their campaign promise to cut such pork projects in half. On Wednesday, NBC's “Today” show skipped the subject completely and although CBS's “Early Show” covered the report, correspondent Sharyl Attkisson ignored the $296 and $97 million, respectively, in pork spending that Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are responsible for.
GMA reporter Jake Tapper, while discussing the just released Pig Book, a CAGW compendium of wasteful government spending, announced, “Congress stuffed into the fiscal year 2008 spending bills 11,610 pork barrel projects, the second highest total ever.” Tapper alone highlighted this salient point about the differences between Clinton, Obama and Republican Senator John McCain: “Senator Hillary Clinton is the biggest porker of the three. 281 earmarks worth $296 million. Senator Obama is next. 53 earmarks worth $97 million. Senator John McCain has never requested an earmark.”
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.)
"Good Morning America's" liberal meteorologist Sam Champion continued his crusade of turning the weather report into an environmental lecture on Friday. Champion, the man who once hosted a segment that warned "billions" could die from global warming, devoted over eight minutes of the program to climate change. Reporting live from Colorado, he promoted the Aspen Institute's conference on the environment.
Champion interviewed the executive vice president for the think tank, Elliot Gerson. (The Aspen Institute hosts seminars on various subjects, including environmental and economic.) And while Gerson promised a "diversity of opinions" at the conference, no such diversity appeared on "Good Morning America." Champion touted the conference throughout the show's entire two hours, but never once featured anyone skeptical of global warming's dire effects.
It seems as though NBC is now expanding its bias to include paid supplements. In a print promotional distributed by NBC News, reporter Lee Cowan enthused, "When NBC News first assigned me to the Barack Obama campaign, I must confess my knees quaked a bit." This is the same journalist who in January famously confessed to "Nightly News" host Brian Williams that it's "almost hard to remain objective" when covering the "infectious" energy surrounding the Illinois senator. [Updated below fold with embed video from January]
Cowan's latest quote appeared in a NBC advertising section entitled "The Peacock." The first person article, which recounts Cowan's excitement over covering the Obama campaign, also featured the correspondent bubbling, "The task seemed daunting. Not only would the Illinois senator land me square in the center of rough and tumble presidential politics, but his campaign was truly historic. I wondered if I was up to the job. I wondered if I could do the campaign justice. I wondered if the experience would swallow me whole."
(The eight page spread, which featured several articles on or from NBC News personnel, appeared as a supplement to the March 23-29 edition of American Profile, a magazine distributed with newspapers across the country.) Cowan described Obama as "a whirlwind of activity, and being caught in that tornado is a challenge every day."
"Good Morning America" co-host Chris Cuomo offered "practical" advice on how a man, who used to be a woman and is now pregnant, could safely bring a pregnancy to term. After recounting the story of Thomas Beatie, formally Tracy LaGondino, the medical procedures he's undergone and his artificial insemination, Cuomo segued into an interview with obstetrician Lisa Masterson.
The GMA co-host asked, "All right, so, let's go from the bizarre to the practical here." In a story that could be filed under "news you can't use," Cuomo asked about the risks that hormone therapy could pose to such an individual. This "practical" discussion led to medical warnings unusual for morning television:
LISA MASTERSON: Well, a lot of times, the transgenders will take testosterone injections and especially since Thomas has a female baby right now, that can cause male type characteristics in the female fetus' sexual organs. So, the clitoris can get larger. Actually, the vaginal folds can come in and sort of mimic the scrotum or the male genitalia. So, it's really important that he doesn't take any testosterone, especially early on in the pregnancy, but even later on in the pregnancy when it can cause the clitoris to enlarge.
"Good Morning America" co-host Chris Cuomo somehow managed to make it through an entire segment on Kwame Kilpatrick, the scandal-ridden Democratic mayor of Detroit, without mentioning his political affiliation (other than a brief, non-verbal video graphic). Cuomo described Kilpatrick as the "beleaguered mayor," a "prominent politician," and, simply, "the mayor."
In contrast, while GMA's report on Kilpatrick was a rather straight forward recitation of the facts, the morning program wondered in August of 2007 if Senator Larry Craig's bathroom scandal could spell doom for the Republican Party. On August 28, 2007, guest co-host Bill Weir gravely wondered, "Is the GOP losing its grip?"
On Wednesday's "Good Morning America," various hosts and reporters could barely restrain their glee and admiration for Senator Barack Obama's Tuesday speech about race and the incendiary comments of his pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Co-host Robin Roberts hyperbolically claimed that "some" believe "his speech was not only important for his campaign but also for the future of the country." In a tease for the program, she put the onus on America and asserted, "Barack Obama challenges voters and the country..."
Fellow co-host Chris Cuomo set up an "exclusive" interview with the presidential candidate by labeling the speech "historic." "Nightline" co-host Terry Moran, who talked to Obama, prefaced his segment by bubbling, "Well, as you know, one of the hardest things to do in American politics, in American society, is to talk honestly about race. And it's clear that's what Barack Obama was trying to do in that remarkable speech."
"Good Morning America" economic reporter Bianna Golodryga narrated a segment on Tuesday's show that featured grainy black and white footage from the 1930s and two references to the Great Depression. The ABC journalist also featured clips from Democratic presidential contenders Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to amplify the warnings of impending economic doom.
While discussing the collapse of investment bank Bear Stearns, grainy footage of panicked '30s bankers appeared onscreen as Golodryga intoned, "The problems are so massive that the Fed is taking measures not seen since the Great Depression..." And while President Bush was briefly highlighted, assuring Americans that the United States will rebound, Paul McCulley, the managing director of the investment company Pimco, continued the comparison to the worst economic crisis the United States ever faced. Referencing impending action by the Federal Reserve, he asserted, "...You could have the Fed with great intentions but still a downward spiral in property prices that would give you a modern day depression." For comparison's sake, during the Great Depression, almost 25 percent of Americans were unemployed.
While investigating legal brothels in Nevada, including the famous Moonlite Bunny Ranch, "Good Morning America" host Diane Sawyer received a bathrobe, the same one that the prostitutes wear. It was embroidered, "Diane: Trainee," this according to a report in Monday's New York Daily News.
Sawyer will host a two hour "20/20" special onMarch 21 that examines the world of prostitution. The Daily News quoted Bunny Ranch head Dennis Hof, who gave Sawyer the bathrobe, as saying the GMA host "really hit it off with all my girls." The article went on to note that the project languished for two years before finally being scheduled to air. Apparently, disgraced ex-Governor Elliot Spitzer's call girl controversy prompted ABC to finally broadcast this investigation.
"Good Morning America" co-host Robin Roberts interviewed Bill Clinton for nine minutes over two segments on Monday and somehow managed to avoid discussing the disgraced Eliot Spitzer and controversial Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Instead, GMA again featured another positive look at the Clinton Global initiative and its plan to fight poverty and get young people involved. Roberts gushed, "It's got to warm your heart 'cause this is something that's very-- has always been very dear to you about getting them involved."
Roberts found no time to ask the ex-president, who was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice in relation to a sex scandal, for his thoughts on former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's entanglement with a prostitution ring and his eventual resignation. The segment, which was highly edited, featured the ABC journalist making only a glancing reference to Wright, Senator Barack Obama's incendiary former preacher and the man responsible for racially charged statements. She mildly added, "...Geraldine Ferraro, Reverend Wright. I mean, both sides-- things that are being said by surrogates." Roberts then shifted the conversation back to a much older topic, Clinton's South Carolina comments linking Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama.
While members of the media are often pleased when Republicans fight amongst themselves, it's apparently not so fun to see Democrats do the same thing. On Friday's "Good Morning America," George Stephanopoulos appeared and pleaded for calm in the increasingly contentious battle between Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The ABC journalist and former top aide to Bill Clinton proclaimed, "Well, the bottom line is that it's time for a time-out."
Later in the piece, as though refereeing a fight, he declared, "I think there's going to have to be a pulling back from this kind of rhetoric." Co-host Robin Roberts shared that assessment. Earlier, she lamented, "You're just watching this and you're shaking your head a little bit...I mean, it just seems like it's getting a little bit out of hand."
"Good Morning America" correspondent Chris Connelly talked with horror novelist, turned religious fiction writer, Anne Rice on Thursday about how friends reacted to her becoming a "Jesus freak." Though the interview was a friendly one, Connelly did ask, in a jovial tone, what it was like when friends said, "'Oh, my gosh. She's out of her mind. Oh, no. Look, she's become a 'Jesus freak.'"
Now, he did attempt to distance himself from the phrase "Jesus freak" by using air quotes, but would any reporter employ a similar term when dealing with a member of another faith? Continuing the over-the-top "conversation" that Connelly assumed people had with her, he imagined, "'She's gone over to the bright side. Where is our empress of vampiric alienation?'"
"Good Morning America" co-host Diane Sawyer peppered guest James Carville about the possibility of a "dream solution," an Obama/Clinton or Clinton/Obama presidential ticket. The ABC journalist was so insistent on the subject that she posed the question to the Democratic strategist four times.
Without adding modifiers, such as "so-called or "alleged," Sawyer began the discussion of the two Democratic candidates coming together by cheerfully wondering, "Let me go to the other dream solution." It seems unlikely that members of the media would refer to a McCain/Romney or a McCain/Huckabee (the top GOP vote-getters) as a "dream solution." The GMA host then segued into a question that she would repeat over and over: "Knowing Hillary Clinton, as you know Hillary Clinton, will she ever run for vice president with anyone?" Sawyer insistently followed up by asking, "You think she would do it and you would recommend her to do it?"
Despite the fact that John McCain officially clinched the GOP nomination on Tuesday, the three network morning shows on Wednesday devoted almost a full hour of air time to covering the Democratic presidential race and barely nine minutes for the Republicans. Additionally, the Arizona senator did not appear on NBC's "Today" show, ABC's "Good Morning America" or the CBS "Early Show." Democratic Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, however, showed up on all three programs.
The network morning shows featured the Democratic presidential candidates for a grand total of 59 minutes and 12 seconds. McCain and his remaining rival, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, received a mere nine minutes and ten seconds of coverage. Now, obviously, the Democratic race is a close, hard fought contest. So, it's natural that it would receive more attention. However, McCain's very act of winning the nomination should be a well covered event, especially considering the candidate's remarkable rise from the political dead. The networks, apparently, saw it a different way.
"Good Morning America" co-host Chris Cuomo joked on Monday's show that Britain's Prince Harry "has been over in Afghanistan fighting because he's expendable." Fellow host Robin Roberts appeared somewhat shocked by the comment and sputtered, "What did you say?" Cuomo, who was previewing an ABC special on the royals, didn't back off his assertion and reiterated, "It's true. The reason that Harry is allowed to be in Afghanistan is because he's not the heir to the throne. William's not allowed to be there."
While Harry may not be next in line to be king, it's in very poor taste for a professional journalist to make such a snide remark. After all, Prince Harry went to Afghanistan to bravely serve his country, not because he's "expendable." And perhaps it should be pointed out that it was Chris Cuomo's brother, Andrew, who entered politics and carried on the legacy of father and former New York Governor Mario Cuomo. Is Chris Cuomo's career in journalism, by extension, a reflection of the fact that he's "expendable?"
"Nightline" host Terry Moran appeared on Monday's "Good Morning America" with a segment in which he repeatedly quizzed Senator Barack Obama on the subject of his relationship to indicted political operative Tony Rezko, now facing corruption charges. Moran persistently asked the Democratic presidential candidate if he would release all information relating to the role Rezko played in a house purchase by Obama.
After several evasive answers, Moran scolded, "...You call yourself a reformer?You talk about your judgment?" He then bluntly followed-up by wondering, "And yet, how could you enter into this transaction with a long-term contributor who, at that time, was known to be under investigation for corruption? What does that say about your judgment?" This is quite a change for the anchor, who, in 2006, skipped Rezko and gushed over Obama as "an American political phenomenon" and someone who might be "the savior of the Democratic Party."
"Nightline" correspondent Cynthia McFadden filed another fawning profile on "rock star" Hillary Clinton for Thursday's program. The journalist, who has developed a long history of gushing over the former first lady, recited lines that read like Clinton press releases. Discussing the presidential candidate's Ohio campaign, she asserted, "...Clinton relishes the chance to talk concretely about the real problems in real people's lives."
Describing Clinton's appearance at a fast food diner, McFadden enthused, "Clinton is greeted like a rock star by patrons at the Bob Evans restaurant." During the interview, the ABC journalist asked penetrating questions such as inquiring, "So, how are you?" In an attempt to gingerly address Clinton's string of 11 straight primary losses to Senator Barack Obama, McFadden seemed to echo a famous Beatles song. "Can you really let go of yesterday," she queried.
Thursday's "Good Morning America" featured a group of liberals talking about whether the press favored one liberal over another liberal and several leftist journalists were cited as proof. Specifically, co-host Diane Sawyer continued the program's self flagellation over whether the media is biased in favor of Barack Obama and against Hillary Clinton.
The ABC anchor discussed the issue with Arianna Huffington, editor of the extremely liberal Huffington Post web page. But, in a perfect example of actual bias, the GMA host never mentioned either Ms. Huffington or her site's leftist affiliation. Instead, Sawyer breathlessly worried about the Clinton campaign's charges that the media have been unfair. In an intro, she fretted, "And we turn the tables on ourselves. Have all of us in the media used boxing gloves on Clinton and kid gloves on Obama? Have we been unfair?" Co-host Robin Roberts also teased the segment as a brave example of self examination: "The media. Too tough on Clinton? Not tough enough on Obama? We'll take up that debate."
According to "Good Morning America" co-host Robin Roberts, Chelsea Clinton is so impressive, she just might be able mount a comeback for her presidential candidate-mother. On Wednesday's program, Roberts gushed over the first daughter and asserted, "[Hillary Clinton is]leaning more and more on Chelsea, who has taken on a new role as Clinton's biggest campaigner and, some say, her last, best hope for a comeback."
GMA reporter Kate Snow, who filed a segment on the topic, has a long history of rhapsodizing over the entire Clinton family. She marveled at Chelsea for being "there with a smile and hug" and also acting as "her mother's fiercest defender." Using fawning language, Snow commented, "Gone is the shy girl with frizzy hair and braces....Now she's spouting policy details, standing her ground against hecklers." It was only slightly more than a month ago that Snow narrated another piece about Chelsea's impressive campaigning. On January 18, she expounded on the "spotlight" shy Clinton. The ABC journalist claimed then, "To be honest, [Chelsea] doesn't like cameras much...She doesn't want to be in the spotlight."
"Good Morning America" host Diane Sawyer and ABC's George Stephanopoulos, a former top aide to Bill Clinton, discussed media bias on Wednesday's show. The topic, however, wasn't liberal spin. Instead, Sawyer wondered if "the media is, in general, easier on Barack Obama than they are on [Hillary Clinton]?"
After playing a clip of a February 23 "Saturday Night Live" sketch that mocked reporters for gushing over Senator Obama, Stephanopoulos came to the aid of the wife of his former boss, "I do think, though, Senator Clinton has a point. She's being treated like the front-runner, even though she's... the underdog in this race right now." Of course, while Sawyer and Stephanopoulos worried about unfairness to the former first lady, it should be pointed out, this is the same program that in early 2007 described the Clinton/Obama race as one between "hot factor" and "fluid poetry."
"Good Morning America" co-host Chris Cuomo used an interview with Geraldo Rivera on Tuesday to once again showcase his liberal views on illegal immigration. Touting the Fox News host's new book "His Panic," Cuomo gushed over the "beautiful" title and immediately accepted the premise of the book by stating, "But it is about why Americans fear Hispanics in the U.S.--You believe to be the case."
Later in the segment, he again dropped any objectivity and opined, "There is a lot of history, a lot of fact in this book. Interesting in a discussion that's usually fueled by passion--" In comparison, the host offered no such accolades to Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo, a foe of illegal immigration. During a June 2007 interview with the then-presidential candidate, Cuomo asked if Tancredo, who fought for tough border security bills, was "driving anti-immigrant sentiment?" He also chided Tancredo for using "scary" words in regard to the contentious subject.
"Good Morning America" host Diane Sawyer found an astoundingly gentle way to ask Hillary Clinton about the possibility of not being the Democratic nominee. On Friday's program, the ABC journalist wondered if such a victory was even necessary. She soothingly suggested, "The question is, are you in a new place about winning? Have you decided that you can accomplish what you want to accomplish, even if you don't win the presidency?"
Sawyer's question, in reference to a comment made at the debate in which Clinton claimed she would be "fine," whatever happens in the election, led to more softballs. The GMA host lauded the Democratic presidential contender for something as simple as having her daughter at the debate. "...We noticed that Chelsea came up and immediately slipped your hand into yours, last night. What was that about? What was going on between the two of you?"
On Friday, ABC correspondent David Wright continued to make it clear that his affection lies with Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton. Covering Thursday's Democratic debate for "Good Morning America," Wright slammed the New York senator for "an absolute clunker of an attack line." And, at one point, the journalist completely misstated a comment by Clinton about American military troops.
Discussing a question from CNN debate host Campbell Brown about overcoming crises, Wright asserted, "Clinton went on to compare her suffering to soldiers wounded in Iraq." In fact, she said quite the opposite. Wright only played a brief snippet of the former first lady's answer, in which she observed, "The hits I've taken in my life are nothing compared to what goes on every single day in the lives of people across our country." But even that makes it clear that Clinton was not drawing a parallel between her life and wounded veterans. For context, here is Clinton's response to the query:
Appearing on Thursday's 1pm hour of MSNBC News Live, "Hardball" host Chris Matthews couldn't resist taking a few swipes at Rush Limbaugh. After anchor Peter Alexander played a clip of the conservative talk show host discussing the New York Times story on Senator John McCain, Matthews irritably claimed, "Rush Limbaugh is irrelevant here. Irrelevant. He doesn't know anything more than what he read in the New York Times."
The radio clip, which was from Thursday's edition of Limbaugh's program, featured the host urging the GOP presidential candidate to learn a lesson from the front-page New York Times story speculating about a improper relationship with a D.C. lobbyist. Matthews's apparent annoyance at Limbaugh might have something to do with being mentioned in the clip. At one point during the monologue, Limbaugh asserted, "[McCain] has thought Chris Matthews and these other people in the drive-by media are his friends. They aren't."
The reporters at ABC's "Nightline" continued to outdo themselves in their glowing adoration for Senator Barack Obama. Correspondent David Wright, filing a story on Tuesday about the swelling crowds at the Democratic presidential contender's rallies, advised viewers to think of the events as "Springsteen concerts, but the tickets are free."
Describing those who waited outside in the cold for such a rally, he bubbled, "...Everyone waited patiently, because inside...they felt the warm glow of hope." Wrighteven wondered if the candidate can "redeem politics from mere partisanship."
While covering the breaking story on Tuesday of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro's decision to step down from power, various "Good Morning America" anchors and reporters soft peddled the communist leader's crimes. In a profile piece that narrated a brief history of his life, co-host Diane sawyer enthused, "Castro knew life is a stage and played the part of the dashing revolutionary coming to New York, getting rock star treatment."
Now, she did add that many people overlooked the "ferocity of his communism, even as he bankrupted his country and history passed him by." But over the course of five segments, GMA managed to completely ignore Castro's record of firing squads, jailing dissidents, imprisoning AIDS patients and other crimes. Instead, Sawyer found time to romantically state, "The world'slongest-serving political leaderis leaving on his own terms, having survived efforts by ten different U.S. presidents to bring him down..." Note the use of the term "political leader" rather than dictator.
"Good Morning America" co-host Chris Cuomo presented a decidedly one-sided segment on Monday about the "gender discrimination" expressed by a private religious school in Kansas that refused to allow a female basketball referee the chance to call a boy's varsity game. Cuomo announced, "many" think that "religious belief does not give the school the right to discriminate."
The ABC host offered almost no consideration to the argument, made by St. Mary's Academy, that men are best equipped to guide boys and prepare them for future life endeavors. (The referee in question, Michelle Campbell, asserted that she was not allowed to call the game because the school believes women shouldn't have authority over men.) Instead, he offered loaded questions to Campbell, who appeared on the show: "Gender discrimination is not something new. We know about it. But were you surprised that something this obvious still confronted you today....Were you surprised?"
ABC's "Good Morning America" should be commended for a segment on Thursday's show that actually turned attention to the face of radical Islamic fundamentalism on Arab television. GMA correspondent Lama Hasan reported on a Hamas children's program entitled "Tomorrow's Pioneers" that routinely "murders" cartoon look-alikes of Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse and blames their deaths on Jews.
Co-host Robin Roberts introduced the subject of "using cartoons to teach children to hate" and Hasan explained how the show features a vile-spewing Bugs Bunny character that threatening to kill Jews. She also noted that a previous episode featured a bumblebee who the series asserted "couldn't get to the hospital because it was blocked by the Israelis." This particular episode followed one in which a Mickey Mouse look-alike is stabbed to death by a Jew trying to buy his land. Hasan didn't mince words, labeling "Tomorrow's Pioneers" "Hamas's latest attempt to brainwash kids."
"Good Morning America" weatherman and resident environmental alarmist Sam Champion wondered on Friday if global warming could cause "the ultimate climate disaster" and force humanity to abandon Earth and live in space. (Throughout the day's themed program, various GMA hosts filed reports on space and astronauts.)
So, as a transition to a piece on liberal environmental issues, Champion segued, "And now to our series 'Global Warming: Global Warning.' Could global warming one day force us into space to live?" (The ABC weatherman appeared in a pool as part of a previous space segment on weightlessness.) Champion used the segment to preview a new documentary called "Six Degrees" that will air on the National Geographic Channel on Sunday. He failed to inform viewers that the author upon which the special is based on, Mark Lynas, is a hard-left environmentalist who once threw a pie in the face of Bjorn Lomborg at a reading of Lomborg's book, "The Skeptical Environmentalist."
On Thursday's "Good Morning America," ABC reporter Cynthia McFadden suggested that the aging, liberal singer Cher might want to think about running for office. After discussing the performer's new Las Vegas show, McFadden asked Cher about politics.
Explaining why she's pro-Hillary Clinton and not supporting Barack Obama, the performer segued into discussing the "saint" known as Jimmy Carter and how "all he talked about was what he wanted to do for this country. And because of his inexperience, they cut him off at the knees." McFadden's response to this glowing assessment of the one term president was to assert, "Maybe you should run for office."