Is one who conspires to conceal a husband’s affair really "an icon of strength"? ABC’s Deborah Roberts seems to think so. In a story about women who fell victim to a cheating husband, Roberts segued into the segment with the news of John Edwards’ admission.
Failing to mention that Mrs. Edwards participated in her husband’s lie throughout his entire 2008 presidential run, Roberts portrayed the first lady contender as choosing "to weather yet another storm with her husband," comparing it to their experience of their son’s death. Roberts even glowed over Mrs. Edwards’ liberal activism as she continued "championing causes like universal healthcare, America’s war on poverty, and cancer research."
Digging back to the past Roberts played an archived 1992 sound bite of Hillary Clinton defending her husband. Deborah Roberts underscored "how hard it was for Hillary Clinton when her husband was running for president." Of course, there was no mention of Senator Clinton’s famous 1998 "vast right wing conspiracy" interview.
Monday’s CBS Early Show, came up with a list of excuses for John Edwards cheating on his wife, including co-host Harry Smith suggesting that the woman Edwards had the affair with, Rielle Hunter, targeted the former Senator: "This woman in question has a very interesting history...knowing her as this kind of bar fly who had this kind of crazy past... From reading everything I read it seemed to me that she targeted Edwards."
The bashing of Hunter began during a segment in the 7am half hour of the show when co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to David Perel, the editor-in-chief of the National Enquirer, which broke the story, and asked: "...your impressions of this woman, Rielle Hunter, who's being trashed in New York papers today. On the cover of this one, it says 'Rielle Cruel,' saying that she trashed Elizabeth Edwards. Said she was a woman who had bad karma. What can you tell us about her?"
In the later segment, during the 7:30am half hour, Smith talked to psychologists Robi Ludwig, from Cookie magazine, and Frank Farley, from Temple University. Smith began by posing the question: "Why do politicians like John Edwards risk their careers by having extramarital affairs?" Ludwig decided to blame Elizabeth Edwards’s cancer: "What was the trigger? So I wonder if there was something about his wife's illness that somehow got him to cheat or contributed at least." When a skeptical Smith asked: "You're cutting him a break then it sounds like?" Ludwig replied: "Well, you know, I think that we get so caught up in good or bad, you know. Is somebody a good person or a bad person. Cheating is wrong...But I think that there are multiple factors. Was he doing it because he had a fear of losing his wife? I mean, there are lots of different reasons." Smith then conceded: "No, I hear that...there may be legitimacy to that."
So, why did the Old Media seem to miss the John Edwards Love Affair story? Well, maybe it was because the Old Media hadn't deigned to decide for us that it was "news" until after the New Media had chewed up and spit out the story for days and days? Apparently, that is what David Carr of The New York Times thinks, anyway. In an interview with CNN he alludes to the fact that he is used to the Old Media deciding when something is officially "news" and that maybe he and his contemporary journalists have lost that level of control they were used to enjoying. This fall from grace is being seen most readily in the Edwards story that the New Media had digested for a week before the Old Media got to it
The CNN piece cites many factors from the fact that the Old Media has a disdain for National Enquirer stories to a claim that the Old Media is reticent to exploit sex stories. The former is a sensible precaution and the later an outright laugher. After all, the Old Media had no problem whatsoever in exploiting the rumors of George H.W. Bush's affair, Newt Gingrich's affair, Newt's successor to be Bob Livingston’s affair, the John McCain affair story, Larry Craig's restroom stall story, or Mark Foley's Page Scandal... but then again, THOSE are Republican sex scandals. The same delicacy the Old Media handles sex stories with as claimed by CNN does not exist for those sorts of stories.
Yesterday, in a stinging indictment of his Old Media colleagues' la-la-la treatment of the story of John Edwards's affair with Rielle Hunter, Los Angeles Times columnist Tim Rutten asserted that Edwards "may have ended his public life but he certainly ratified an end to the era in which traditional media set the agenda for national political journalism."
I'll get to Rutten's mostly perceptive points in a bit.
That's because recent developments indicate that Edwards may still be believe he can eventually re-enter public life, and they are relevant to Rutten's assertion:
Many of you will remember New Jersey Governor James McGreevey who ended up having to admit he gave his gay lover an undeserved State job -- even as the gay lover claimed sexual harassment -- and that he was cheating on his wife and family with that very gay lover. Many will also remember that disgraced Governor James McGreevey was a Democrat. "Many" apparently doesn't include the Associated Press because they are still publishing stories about James McGreevey leaving out that one little fact that he was a Democrat.
To the AP, McGreevey is merely the "Former Gov." who has succeeded in winning a recent court case brought by his ex-wife who was seeking alimony. Oh, the AP gives us all sorts of information about our friend James McGreevey. The AP tells us that he was an acknowledged "gay American," we find out he was "the nation's first openly gay governor," and that McGreevey is now oddly a "seminary student."
But, not once does the AP let us know he was a Democrat.
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.
The Big Three networks continued to ignore the party affiliation of the now-incarcerated Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick on Friday morning, just as they had done in their evening news programs the previous night. The Early Show on CBS chose to ignore the story of Kilpatrick’s arrest on a bail violation entirely, while ABC’s Good Morning America devoted one 16-second news brief to the story near the beginning of its 7 am Eastern hour.
Ironically, NBC’s Today show, which is devoting most of its programming to the Summer Olympics in Beijing, spent the most time on the subject. It first aired a 12-second news brief just after the top of 7 am Eastern hour, and devoted an entire segment to the story at the beginning of the 8 am Eastern hour. The report by correspondent Ron Allen was just shy of 2 minutes long, but still ignored Kilpatrick’s Democratic affiliation.
When Bob Herbert, a columnist for the New York Times since 1993, recently charged in his column that the Republican Party deliberately targets black Democrats using ads featuring attractive white women to exploit racial resentment, and claimed as proof that the GOP does not run such ads against opponents who are white, the liberal columnist could have disproved this thesis by consulting a 1994 article in the paper he writes for regarding that year's Virginia Senate race involving former Senator Charles Robb, a white Democrat. The New York Times article, titled "THE 1994 CAMPAIGN: THE AD CAMPAIGN; The Senate Race in Virginia: Robb and North Trade Barbs," from October 15, 1994, describes an ad run by Republican Oliver North's campaign depicting the Playboy cover image of Tai Collins, a young blonde with whom Democrat Robb was romantically linked. (Transcript follows)
Showing the kind of intrepid journalism that morning news is known for, on Monday’s CBS "Early Show" co-host Harry Smith led a panel discussion about some recent celebrity divorces, when publicist Marvet Britto observed: "...men are, you know, patting each other on the back when philandering happens. Sad as it may be...You know, look at Bill Clinton. It's not like he's -- you know, we're walking down the street thinking, ‘oh, look what he did.’"
The topic came up when Smith and the other panelists, divorce attorney Raoul Felder and clinical psychologist Robi Ludwig, were discussing Christie Brinkley’s divorce from her husband, who had an affair. In response, Smith awkwardly laughed and quickly moved on.
Does the media treat hypocrites of differing political preferences similarly? The evidence would suggest not. When noted Christian televangelist Jim Bakker was found to have committed adultery and mail fraud back in 1986, the national media were beside themselves with glee, running hundreds of stories about Bakker's hypocrisy. The same pattern repeated itself with other Christian evangelists, including George W. Bush supporter Ted Haggard in 2006, a case that Wikipedia admits "may have affected voting patterns in the 2006 elections". The media made sure to feature the haggard case as a front-page story during the run-up[ to the election, probably hoping (correctly as it turned out) that it would help the Democrats take control of Congress. However, the shoe is now on the other foot.
Famed left-wing radio personality Bernie Ward of San Francisco, a former priest who had one of the loudest and most consistently anti-George W. Bush voices in the entire nation, was found guilty of possessing and distributing child pornography on Friday and will serve at least five years in prison. ward tried to argue that he was "doing research" on child pornography, but as the San Francisco Chronicle reported:
Years before she admitted her own affairs with married men, ABC's Barbara Walters pressed Monica Lewinsky about her affair with a married Bill Clinton: "Did you ever think about what Hillary Clinton might be feeling?" [audio available here]
At the time, the public wasn’t yet aware of Walters’ own affairs. Now, more than nine years later, Barbara Walters has come forward with stories of her affair in her new book "Audition" something former "The View" co-star Star Jones has publicly denounced saying, "It is a sad day when an icon like Barbara Walters in the sunset of her life is reduced to publicly branding herself as an adulterer, humiliating an innocent family with accounts of her illicit affair […] It speaks to her true character."
This new information on Walters sheds some interesting light on her 1999 "20/20" interview with Monica Lewinsky regarding her affair with President Clinton. As MRC Director of Media Analysis Tim Graham said, "It might have helped viewers process that interview with some on-screen graphics that said 'Barbara Walters has been a mistress just like her interviewee.'"
In a remarkable example of "Name that Party," the Associated Press, in an unbylined report about the beginning of his divorce trial appearing in USA Today, failed to name the party of former New Jersey Governor James McGreevey, who resigned in 2005, or of his former "male staffer."
Beyond that, AP did not accurately describe the circumstances that triggered McGreevey's resignation.
Here's how the report began (bold is mine; HT to an e-mailer):
After two tell-all books, tawdry sex claims and 3½ years of living apart, New Jersey's gay ex-governor and his estranged wife showed up for court Tuesday morning to begin the process of ending their marriage.
..... The issues to be decided in the divorce settlement involve custody, alimony and child support, and whether McGreevey, now openly gay, committed fraud by marrying a woman.
As readers of NewsBusters are no doubt aware, we've tracked how the media have regularly refused to acknowledge the political party affiliation of indicted Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (D).
Well, today, Associated Press reporter Julie Carr Smyth did acknowledge Kilpatrick is a Democrat, albeit in a roundabout sort of way in an article about Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann being the latest in a series of Democrats to find themselves in legal hot water due to sexual indiscretion.
Oh, you've never heard of Dann? That may be because the Ohio AG's scandal lacks the tech savvy of text messages or the sleaze factor of high-priced call girls. But now that it appears that the nuclear option of impeachment may come into play, Time.com is picking up on AP's May 6 article:
Why does it seem that, when a Democratic politician's career is on the line, Old Media reporters find a way to make it look like it's only Republicans who want to push him or her out the door?
Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann, who for a while was seen as the Buckeye State's version of New York's now-disgraced former governor Eliot Spitzer, is fighting for his political life.
In a Friday press conference statement (a JPG transcript of statement, opening in a separate window, is here), Dann admitted to an extramarital affair with an unidentified employee and announced that he was discharging three of his closest advisers over formal complaints of sexual harassment. Storm clouds potentially loom over the fallout from this, plus other events and incidents too numerous to detail here, occurring on Dann's watch.
Dann declared Friday that he has no plans to resign.
By mid-Saturday, two of Ohio's major newspapers, and many of its smaller ones, had issued editorial calls for Dann's resignation. It was clear that many others would follow on Sunday -- and they did. Ohio's left-leaning blogs are also mostly in the Dann-must-go camp.
Four, count them, four ABCNews.com reporters hacked out a three-page April 30 article for the alphabet network's Web site that dealt with new steamy text messages between Democratic Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his then-chief-of-staff Christine Beatty. Kilpatrick, indicted on twelve criminal counts including perjury and obstruction of justice, could see time in prison thanks to these text messages which would prove he lied under oath about his affair with Beatty.
Here's how the Kwame Quartet of Vicki Mabrey, David W. Scott, Mary-Claude Foster and Katie Escherich opened their story:
More steamy text messages sent between Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his former chief of staff reveal intimate details about their relationship, and further indicate the mayor played a part in the dismissal of a police officer whose lawsuit brought their affair to light.
When you're a Clintonite, you're a Clintonite all the way. From your first Monicagate defense, To Hil's last primary day.—with apologies to Leonard Bernstein*
Look next to the definition of "Clinton loyalist" in the dictionary, and you're likely to find a photo of Lanny Davis. The man who would have put Baghdad Bob to shame for his unflinching flackery during Bill's Monica mess is back on the beat for Hillary. Yesterday, Davis wrote a HuffPo column purporting to set forth 10 Undisputed Facts showing Obama's weakness as a general election candidate against John Mccain. As Jake Tapper has observed, some of those "facts" are "both disputed and not facts," including the risible notion that Hillary didn't run any negative ads. Guess the commercial featuring Osama Bin Laden slipped Lanny's mind.
Davis was back at it on today's Morning Joe. After repeating his claim from the HuffPo column that Obama is in a dead heat with McCain in super-blue in Massachusetts while Hillary's up by 15%, Davis took his anti-Obama argument a giant step further. Davis claimed that Barack is on track to lose in a blow-out of epic, McGovernesque, proportions.
Well, this time the AP has really done it. Dateline Custer County, Oklahoma: Sheriff Mike Burgess resigns after authorities charged him with running a sex-slave operation out of his jail using female inmates he bribed for the purpose. So, which party did the AP tell us our crafty entrepreneur was from? Well, they seem to have forgotten to mention it... shocking, I know.
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to liberal priest, Fr. Thomas Reese, who also appeared on Monday’s show, and asked about the sex abuse scandals in the American Catholic Church as well as the comments of Pope Benedict XVI regarding the issue: "We heard from some victims' families that a mea culpa is not enough. That merely saying you're "deeply ashamed" is not enough. Do you think anything more will come of this?"
This question followed a report by correspondent Jeff Glor, who began by declaring:
It's believed the Pope could address the issue even further on his visit, either here in Washington or in New York, but some are wondering, why not Boston? For Gary Bergeron, the Pope not going to Boston on this trip is like saying the Pope's not Catholic. It just doesn't make sense... Bergeron was abused and still lives in New England, the epicenter of the scandal.
Glor also played clips of Bergeron, who said of the Pope: "I think it's an opportunity he missed...I would hold out my hand to him so that he could shake it, understand that I'm not the demon here." Of course, the Pope has not "demonized" any victims of abuse, but Glor still decided to use the quote for his report. Despite Rodriguez’s claim that "not enough" had been done, Bergeron actually helped win an $85 million dollar lawsuit for church abuse victims and met personally with Vatican officials.
All three broadcast networks on Tuesday led their evening news programs with Pope Benedict XVI’s arrival at Andrews Air Force Base to begin his visit to the U.S., as well as his comments during a press conference on the plane about the priest sex abuse scandal. ABC’s "World News" and CBS’ "Evening News" especially focused on the scandal. In addition to this, "World News" also highlighted what the Pope said about illegal immigration during the press conference and gave a false impression of what the Pope had said on the issue.
ABC correspondent Dan Harris gave the following spin on Benedict XVI’s comments on immigration. "Also on the plane, the Pope addressed another hot issue, immigration. Hispanics are the fastest-growing part of the American church right now, and the Pope said he would discuss this issue with the President, particularly the 'dangerous' impact of families of illegal immigrants being separated."
Cindy McCain granted an interview to Access Hollywood anchor Nancy O’Dell, and NBC’s Today picked right up on it Friday morning – shamelessly repeating O’Dell’s questions recycling the unsubstantiated New York Times story alleging Sen. John McCain had a sexual relationship with lobbyist Vicki Iseman. (Access Hollywood is produced by NBC Universal.)
Some might wonder why Mrs. McCain would agree to an interview with that topic on the menu, even if she forcefully denied the adultery charges. But here’s where it gets interesting. When Access Hollywood’s Maria Menounos interviewed Hillary Clinton on January 7, Menounos asked softballs, and NBC only used footage of Mrs. Clinton talking about free time on a Saturday: "I find, like, cleaning closets and drawers to be extremely gratifying."
Today led off the show with a plug for the adultery smear, as if it was a hot story, and not a dated embarrassment for the New York Times: "Standing by her man. Cindi McCain speaks out about that report suggesting her husband had an improper relationship with a lobbyist. The candid interview, today, Friday, April 11th, 2008."
About halfway into the 7 am half hour, NBC delved deeper:
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith discussed a question being asked of Chelsea Clinton about Monica Lewinsky on the campaign trail with Washington Post reporter Sally Quinn, who was baffled by the media’s refusal to ask Chelsea tough questions: "Frankly, in all of my years of journalism, I have never seen the press lie down like this before. This is -- this is not what the American public thinks of as the critical and sort of -- killing, marauding, press corps – " Smith responded by admitting that: "Yeah, we're not exactly -- we're not exactly watchdogs here." [Audio available here]
Those comments were sparked by Smith asking Quinn: "As a press, though, we have basically, you know, said, 'okay, if those are the rules, you know, that's fine.' Have we sort of -- you know, have we laid down?"
Prior to talking to Quinn, Smith interviewed the Butler University college student, Evan Strange, who asked Chelsea the question at a campaign forum on campus. Strange, as it turns out, is a Clinton supporter:
On Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to Khym Worthy, the prosecutor in the perjury case against Detroit’s Democratic Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, and asked about sexually explicit text messages that proved Kilpatrick lied under oath about having an affair: "We know that in these thousands of text messages they talk about being madly in love and dreaming of spending days making love. But texting and actually doing are two different things. Is innuendo evidence?"
Worthy explained that there was vast amounts of other evidence in addition to the text messages and that there were other crimes involved. Rodriguez was incredulous: "Do you really believe someone would go so far to cover up an affair?"
Rodriguez also went on to portray Kilpatrick as the victim of selective prosecution when she asked Worthy: "And so what -- I mean, yesterday you spent 24 minutes when you made this announcement scolding the Mayor for lying. He faces 15 years in prison for perjury alone. Are you trying to make an example?"
Here at NewsBusters yesterday, Brent Baker, Ken Shepherd, and Scott Whitlock noted now the TV networks, with rare exception, avoided calling indicted Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick a Democrat.
On the print and online side of Old Media, the Associated Press also avoided identifying Kilpatrick's party (HT to an anonymous e-mailer). This follows on the heels of another such example almost a week ago.
AP writer Corey Williams, in a 400-plus word article carried at Breitbart and posted just before noon yesterday, missed clear opportunities in at least the first, second, and sixth paragraphs of his report to tell readers that Kilpatrick is a Democrat:
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.
On Monday, the same morning that the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal broke, Bob Owens at Confederate Yankee posted an e-mail from the Associated Press which explained the newswire's policy against blogs using AP photos. The long and short of it: unless you have a license from AP, you're violating copyright to use an AP photo.
But today, blogger Jules Crittenden informed me, the AP is defending its policy of lifting from her MySpace page copyrighted photos of Spitzer call girl Ashley Alexandra Dupre:
My colleague Brent Baker has painstakingly documented how the big three broadcast networks have gone out of their way to avoid labeling scandal-scarred New York Governor Eliot Spitzer as a “Democrat.” An examination of the fifteen ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news shows through Wednesday night finds Spitzer was called a Democrat just 20% of the time — twice on CBS, once on ABC, and never on NBC.
So how do the networks treat Republicans involved in sex scandals? Always, always as Republicans, and as problems for their party.
Last July, Louisiana Senator David Vitter’s name surfaced in the phone records of the “DC Madam,” Deborah Jean Palfrey. Over the next week, ABC talked about Vitter twice on World News and twice on Good Morning America, labeling him as a “Republican” or “conservative Republican” all four times.
Finally: a news network that made Gov. Eliot Spitzer's party affiliation clear. Chances are you've never heard of it, however.
During live coverage of Spitzer's resignation announcement, Washington, D.C.-area News Channel 8 informed viewers of Spitzer's party affiliation in an on-screen graphic reading "Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) NEW YORK." (see screen grab at right)
NewsChannel 8 is carried on D.C.-area cable systems and is owned along with ABC affiliate WJLA by the Allbritton Communications Company.
Maybe it takes one to know one, but CNN is nonetheless a little red in the face over the gaffe of turning to a man with a troubled past in "adult entertainment" -- so to speak -- as an analyst for the Elliot Spitzer prostitution story. CNN has apologized for offering up as an analyst one Kendall Coffey, a fellow who had to resign as a U.S. attorney over an incident in 1996 when he attacked a topless dancer during a visit to an adult club.
When it came to getting informed comment Tuesday on New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's involvement in a sex scandal, CNN got a real expert -- with more experience in the field than he let on. Billing him only as "a former U.S. attorney," without any reference to how he achieved his former-ness, the network interviewed Miami's Kendall Coffey, who had to resign the job in 1996 after biting a dancer during the process of running up a $900 bill at a strip club.
Coffey told CNN that Spitzer should find major trouble with this incident, especially when money changed hands. After all, Coffey ought to know.