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?"
On "CNN Newsroom," correspondent Cal Perry asserted that Hamas is fighting for "independence" from Israel. Somehow, he failed to mention that the organization has often called for the destruction of that country.
Dan Harrison, a senior VP of NBC, this week asserted that his network’s over-the-top coverage of Al Gore’s Live Earth concert wasn’t a "political issue" because "everyone" agrees global warming is happening. And the networks wonder why they’re losing viewers? Additionally, MRC intern Michael Lanza noted that this same not-"political" concert featured video of distraught children, wailing about the impending death of the Earth.
Thursday’s edition of "Good Morning America" featured a Diane Sawyer anecdote that revealed the low opinion Americans have of journalists. After wrapping up a segment on people who avoid jury duty, the ABC co-host recounted the "hurtful" experience she had in a courtroom:
Diane Sawyer: "You know, I wanted to sit on a jury once and I was taken off the jury. And the judge said to me, 'Can, you know, can you tell the truth and be fair?' And I said, 'That's what journalists do.' And everybody in the courtroom laughed. It was the most hurtful moment I think I've ever had."
"Good Morning America" has scheduled a second town-hall style special with a presidential candidate and, unsurprisingly, the recipient is another Democrat. 2008 contender John Edwards will appear on Monday, July 16 to discuss poverty with ABC co-host Diane Sawyer.
Readers of NewsBusters will remember that the last such event, anchored by Robin Roberts and airing March 26, featured Hillary Clinton for almost 30 minutes worth of softball questions. Also, the New York senator spoke, unchallenged, for 18 of her 26 minutes of air time. Co-host Roberts told Clinton that "many" thought her 1993 plan for universal health care was "ahead of its time." Two questions come to mind: Will John Edwards receive similarly easy queries? And when will "Good Morning America" feature a Republcian presidential candidate in this forum?
For those NewsBusters readers interested in participating, GMA’s website allows viewers to submit questions and videos to Mr. Edwards.
Kristin Gore, daughter of former Vice President Al Gore and author of a new political satire set in Washington, appeared on the Tuesday editions of "Good Morning America" and "The Early Show." Both shows only gingerly addressed the subject of Kristin’s brother, Albert Gore III., and his arrest for marijuana and prescription-drug possession after being pulled over last week in California. GMA guest host George Stephanopoulos misleadingly characterized the incident as getting "in trouble speeding." "Early Show" host Harry Smith didn’t mention the drug angle at all.
Stephanopoulos, a former top Clinton aide who worked in the same White House as Al Gore, conducted an extraordinarily cozy interview with the former Vice President’s daughter. Apparently completely oblivious to any conflict of interest, he hyped "Sammy’s House," calling it "very funny." The ABC anchor even joked with Kristin Gore about whether the main character, Sammy Joyce, was based on him:
Kristin Gore: "Have you recognized yourself yet? ‘Cause I should come clean and let you know you’re Sammy."
Last August, a federal judge ruled that it was unconstitutional to monitor overseas conversations with suspected terrorists. On August 18, 2006, ABC’s "Good Morning America" treated the decision as a monumental event. However, Saturday’s GMA greeted the overturning of that decision by a federal appeals judge with a solitary 13 second news brief.
In contrast, reporter Jessica Yellin described the original ruling last August as a "stinging setback" and the program highlighted a professor who said it could ultimately lead to President Bush’s impeachment. Yellin, who colorfully described the decision as "essentially accus[ing] the President of acting like a king,"also highlighted this comment about Bush from George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley:
Jonathan Turley: "He could be impeached. And people should not be underestimating that."
[Update at bottom of post] On Tuesday’s "Good Morning America," the ABC program featured two segments on President Bush’s commutation of Dick Cheney aide Lewis Libby. Substitute co-host David Muir opened the program by wondering, "This morning, above the law?" and GMA glossed over Bill Clinton's infamous pardon of Marc Rich. Instead, various anchors found time to twice highlight Senator Dick Durbin’s comment that "even Paris Hilton had to go to jail."
Although reporter David Kerley's segment did feature a quote from Republican strategist Rich Galen, both pieces seemed more interested in Democratic outrage. Kerley and Muir seemed taken with Senator Dick Durbin’s comparison to Paris Hilton:
Kerley: "But one of the most stinging statements came from Senator Dick Durbin, who said, quote, ‘Even Paris Hilton had to go to jail. No one in this administration should be above the law.’"
David Muir: "Not surprisingly, the Democrats are jumping on this. We heard from the Democratic candidates there. Senator Durbin saying even Paris Hilton went to jail. Some real red meat for the other party."
On the Friday edition of "Good Morning America," "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos appeared to discuss the June 28 Democratic debate in Washington D.C. Stephanopoulos alternatively described Senator Hillary Clinton as giving a "solid debate performance," "spirited performances," and "solid performances."
Considering that the ABC host is a former top aide to Bill Clinton, his objectivity might be somewhat suspect. Additionally, Stephanopoulos appeared to go out of his way to attack obscure Democratic candidate Mike Gravel as "the skunk at the party." Perhaps not so coincidentally, Gravel has been a strident critic of Senator Clinton, among others, at recent debates.
On the Thursday edition of MSNBC’s "Morning Joe," host Joe Scarborough slammed media outlets, such as AP and The Hill for misrepresenting what Ann Coulter said in her now famous on-air debate with Elizabeth Edwards. He also attempted to set the record straight by playing an extended clip of her appearance on the June 25 "Good Morning America," which started the whole controversy.
But first, Scarborough and contributor Willie Geist derided the misrepresentations of Coulter’s statements from various media outlets:
Joe Scarborough: "I want you to read, Willie, from The Hill, really quickly. Just read this line from The Hill. This is what The Hill and the Associated Press and what other wires are saying about what Ann Coulter said on GMA. Read it, Willie."
Willie Geist: "This week Coulter proclaimed, quote, ‘If I’m going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I’ll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot,’ end quote."
Elizabeth Edwards appeared on the Thursday edition of "Good Morning America" and was portrayed by co-anchor Chris Cuomo as simply the wife of Democratic ‘08 contender John Edwards. However, Cuomo singled out columnist Ann Coulter, who debated Mrs. Edwards via phone this week on MSNBC’s "Hardball," with descriptions such as "professional provocateur."
He also wondered why the wife of the North Carolina Democrat would want to spar with "someone like Ann Coulter." Additionally, Cuomo failed to mention the provocative actions that the Edwards campaign has taken. After allowing Elizabeth Edwards to expound on how her phone call to "Hardball" was simply an attempt to get Coulter to stop being hateful, the GMA anchor did not bring up the liberal, anti-Christian bloggers hired by the Edwards campaign.
On Wednesday’s "Good Morning America," co-anchor Chris Cuomo portrayed the previous day’s on-air debate between Elizabeth Edwards and Ann Coulter as a one sided lecture from the ‘08 contender’s wife. The ABC program edited out or didn’t play either of Coulter’s best verbal barbs.
The conservative author’s zinger, that John Edwards’ use of her name to raise money is better"than giving $50,000 speeches to the poor," was bluntly cut out. And although GMA found time to play Mrs. Edwards’ denunciation of the conservative commentator as hateful, the program skipped over a retort by Coulter that described Mr. Edwards’ law practice as "bankrupting doctors by giving a shyster, Las Vegas routine."
In a related note, MSNBC’s "First Read" page now admits that the ambush by a 2008 candidate’s wife was a preplanned event between the network and the John Edwards campaign:
On Tuesday’s "Good Morning America," reporter David Wright narrated a sarcastic segment about Vice President Dick Cheney and his refusal to hand over classified documents to the National Archives. In order to amplify the portrayal of Cheney as dark and scary, Wright featured clips from liberals such as Jon Stewart, left-wing blogger Ana Marie Cox and the Comedy Central program "Lil Bush." The GMA reporter helpfully added that "the Vice President's noncompliance plays right into the perception that he's some sort of shadowy super villain." Video: Real (1 MB) or Windows (1.25 MB) plus MP3 (176 KB)
Of course, Wright never identified the liberal, anti-Cheney leanings of the above individuals. Instead, he framed the Vice President’s refusal to hand over the documents as indicative of an out of control politician who won’t listen to anyone:
David Wright: "Quick civics quiz for you: Is the Vice President part of the executive branch of government? You might think the answer is obvious, but apparently not to the Vice President. The man who is a heartbeat away from the Oval Office thinks that some of the rules that apply to everyone else who works here do not apply to him."
On Monday’s "Good Morning America," for the second time in less than two months, the ABC program featured a gushing segment on a liberal environmentalist’s "noble experiment" of forgoing toilet paper and all other modern amenities in order to have "no impact" on the Earth.
GMA weatherman Sam Champion, who is himself a promoter of extremist environmental beliefs, touted how the year-long project could be "fun." Co-anchor Chris Cuomo marveled at how Colin Beavan, or No Impact Man, as he likes to be called, is trying to "do nothing to hurt the environment." "Ooh, respect that," he murmured in a tease for the segment. In an unintentionally funny moment, when Cuomo noted that he couldn’t "go without" toilet paper, this exchange followed:
Chris Cuomo: "Can’t go without [toilet paper]. Can’t be that green, Sam. Can’t be that green."
Barbara Walters, who sometimes plays an objective journalist on TV, chose this week to endorse "Sicko," Michael Moore’s left-wing screed about the health care industry. The veteran news anchor enthused, "Everyone should see it." Conservatives shouldn’t be surprised by this type of propagandizing, however. Last year, Walters endorsed Al Gore’s "An Inconvenient Truth." (See blog for link.)
Speaking of the "The View," an ex-host from that program, Meredith Vieira, gushed on Monday’s edition of "Today" that Hillary Clinton is "unbeatable" and a "teflon candidate." Later in the week, Matt Lauer, a co-anchor on the NBC program, touted Mrs. Clinton’s "Sopranos" parody. He declared it "a hit" and "clever." The other network morning shows were similarly impressed.
For the third time in 2007, ABC has used its "Good Morning America" program to deride the United States for not being generous enough in providing paid leave for employees. On the Thursday edition of the show, reporter David Wright complained that "the U.S. doesn't make it easy" for working parents. He used a 2007 study to claim that, on this issue, America is no better then several Third World nations.
At no point did the ABC reporter mention that countries who provide generous leave, such as France, also have extremely high taxes and high unemployment. (The French are currently at 8.7 percent.)
After an introduction by host Robin Roberts that explained how Congress is considering legislation to expand federal and medical lave, Wright cited a recent Harvard-McGill study that lumps the U.S. in with third world countries such as Swaziland:
On Tuesday’s "Good Morning America," the ABC program used an attack by an aide to presidential candidate Sam Brownback on fellow contender Mitt Romney to delve into the former Massachusetts governor’s religious beliefs and whether bigotry will derail his campaign.
Comparing the treatment of Romney’s religion to past campaigns, Dan Harris asserted that this sort of thing "happened for orthodox Jews when Joe Lieberman ran for vice president in 2000."
But unlike in 2000, when Joe Lieberman ran for vice president on a liberal Democratic ticket, Mitt Romney is running a social conservative. And thus, Harris alternated from wondering if "a resurgence of the type of bigotry the church has faced since it was founded 177 years ago" might torpedo Romney’s bid, to speculating on the "uncomfortable questions" about Mormon beliefs:
On Monday’s "Good Morning America," the ABC program shifted into full advocacy mode as anchor Chris Cuomo investigated the health insurance industry. A week after the network promoted Michael Moore’s new documentary "Sicko" for over 21 minutes, co-host Diane Sawyer announced that, regarding health care, the program was demanding "some answers" with a new segment. According to Sawyer, the series is "for you, for all of us." At the close of the report, the ABC anchor even pleaded with the audience for examples of nefarious health care companies:
Diane Sawyer: "...If you have an insurance company policy, a question that you want to raise, you want us to tackle something that you think the insurance companies are doing, you write to us. You let us know about it. ABCNews.com. We are on the case."
And while Cuomo was "on the case" of a woman who had difficulty getting her insurance company to approve a much needed eye surgery, there has been no similar look at Canadian horror stories where government run health care made one woman with breast cancer wait three months for radiation treatment.
On June 12, all three morning shows parroted DNC talking points and declared President Bush a "lame duck." "Good Morning America" solemnly noted that the phrase would likely follow Bush throughout his trip to Capitol Hill. (Apparently this is the theory that if the networks say something enough, everyone will believe it.)
Speaking of "Good Morning America," co-anchor Chris Cuomo conducted a groveling interview with Michael Moore in which he backtracked from calling the liberal filmmaker’s new movie a stunt. "Look, I like the stunt," he corrected.
Filmmaker Michael Moore’s appearance on Wednesday’s edition of "Nightline" wrapped up a two day, two show tour of various ABC programs. Between "Nightline and "Good Morning America," the network gave the outspoken leftist almost 21 and a half minutes of air time to promote his new health care documentary, "Sicko."
In addition to looking at the softer side of Moore and asking about his faith, co-anchor Terry Moran offered a generally friendly interview. For the most part, the ABC host only challenged the filmmaker when he made truly outrageous comments, such as asserting that Cuba is a country of "artistic freedom":
Michael Moore: "They have an excellent health care system, probably the best in the Third World. There is not religious persecution. There's artistic freedom. I went–"
Terry Moran: "There's artistic freedom in Cuba?"
Moore: "Oh, yeah. I hung out with artists who are critical of Castro and, and, and very freely speak their minds."
As the MRC’s Tim Graham noted earlier today, Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales provided conservatives with quite a laugh when he asserted in Wednesday’s edition of the paper that "even critics of Rather" would have to admit the man has firm "integrity." Appearing on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe," he went even further. According to Shales, Rather’s comments about Katie Couric "tart[ing]" up the news couldn’t have been sexist, because "liberals, so called, don't go around calling women names like that."
Does the name Don Imus ring any bells? "Morning Joe," with host Joe Scarborough, even airs in the exact same time slot, on the same network. How quickly people forget.
Does "Good Morning America" have a masochistic streak? On Wednesday, GMA host Chris Cuomo allowed liberal filmmaker Michael Moore to claim that due to the failure of journalists in challenging President Bush’s claims about pre-war Iraq intelligence, ABC and other networks are "complicit" in the deaths of American soldiers:
Appearing on Tuesday’s edition of "Your World With Neil Cavuto," former "CBS Evening News" anchor Dan Rather talked to guest host David Asman and defended his "tarting it up" comment about successor, Katie Couric. He dismissed the "insulting" assertions by CBS President Les Moonves that his comments were sexist.
Additionally, Rather, who left CBS after famously trying to smear President Bush’s National Guard record, lamented how the network used to be "the champions of hard news." Now, he added, "They know about entertainment, but they don’t know about news." He also hoped for the continuance of "quality news with integrity."
Finally, Rather snuck in this little slam at the Bush administration. Minimizing the Couric controversy, he mentioned all the more important topics that should be discussed:
Dan Rather: "We’re talking about something infinitesimally small here. We’ve got the war. We’ve got a presidential election underway. We have the dismantling of the civil rights division of the Justice Department. These are important things."
On Tuesday’s "Good Morning America," Chris Cuomo conducted part one of a mostly softball interview with "Sicko" filmmaker Michael Moore. (Another segment will air on Wednesday.) But despite a flowery introduction where the GMA anchor asserted "[Moore’s] critics are struggling to fight his basic premise that America's health care system is in trouble," Cuomo still found himself backpedaling after labeling the liberal filmmaker’s Cuba trip a stunt. The ABC host, son of Mario Cuomo, quickly exclaimed, "Look, I like your stunt."
The stunt in question, Moore’s escorting of 9/11 Ground Zero workers to Cuba for treatment, resulted in this retort from the director:
As already noted on NewsBusters, former CBS anchor Dan Rather appeared on Monday’s edition of "Morning Joe" and lobbied for a "a strategic withdrawal from Iraq." He also found time to twice bash his "Evening News" successor Katie Couric for dumbing down and tarting up the news. After giving the standard caveat that Couric is a "nice person," he went in for kill. Speculating on the program’s declining ratings, Rather complained to MSNBC host Joe Scarborough that "the mistake was to try to bring the ‘Today’ show ethos to the evening news and to dumb it down, tart it up in hopes of attracting a younger audience."
Rather vociferously derided the media’s obsession with celebrities, in particular the hyperbolic coverage of the Paris Hilton affair. (This is a fair point, but it’s a little odd to be making it on MSNBC, one of the worst offenders in Hilton overkill.) For a second time in the 7:30am hour, he attacked the "superficial changes" made in his absence:
Appearing on the Monday edition of MSNBC’s "Morning Joe," former CBS anchor Dan Rather slammed the war in Iraq as a "strategic catastrophe of historic proportions." Talking via phone with host Joe Scarborough, the veteran journalist freely advocated the Moveon.org position, calling for a "a strategic withdrawal from Iraq."
On Wednesday’s "Situation Room," liberal anchor Jack Cafferty argued that, perhaps, it's President Bush, not Vladimir Putin, who is attempting to reignite the Cold War. However, Cafferty might want to consider the fact that fewer pesky journalists seem to mysteriously disappear in the United States than they do in Russia.
During this week’s Republican debate, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer had a suggestion for the national GOP: Be more like liberal Arnold Schwarzenegger. Now, this is an idea he’s peddled four times since the midterm elections. Isn’t it sweet when left-wing journalists offer advice to the Republican Party?
Speaking of liberal cable hosts, Keith Olbermann suggested this week that the unraveling of a terror plot at JFK airport was politically timed to help the Bush administration. Yes, Keith, and the Paris Hilton media soap opera is a cover by the White House to distract from the immigration debacle.
On Friday’s "Good Morning America," co-anchor Chris Cuomo, the son of former Democratic Governor Mario Cuomo, slammed conservative immigration hawk Tom Tancredo for using "scary" words and wondered why he chose to "rip" down the Senate’s immigration bill. The GMA anchor slyly asked if the Congressman was "driving anti-immigrant sentiment."
Cuomo’s overall tone fit the very definition of loaded questions and a liberal agenda. The ABC anchor, whose brother is the Democratic Attorney General of New York, began the segment by aggressively inquiring, "Why did you feel the need to rip a bill like this down?"
On Thursday’s “Good Morning America,” reporter Claire Shipman portrayed the simmering tensions between Russia and the United States as a replay of the Cold War and also took President Bush, who is meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at this week’s G8 summit, to task for missing a “critical diplomatic opportunity” to cooperate with the Russians over the placing of a proposed missile defense system in Poland.
Additionally, Shipman, while noting Putin’s rollback of democracy, contended that Russia’s president is “wildly popular at home” and hyperbolically claimed that “everybody is very happy with Vladimir Putin there.” While it’s true that Putin’s autocratic nature appears to have done him no harm in the polls, it’s quite silly to say that “everybody” is happy in a country where journalists and spies continue to die mysteriously.