The Big Three Networks and Their Plan to Protect Obama (PPO)Why did it take until Thursday March 13, 2008, for the nation to begin to learn about Barack Obama's pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright? The man whose Trinity United Church of Christ Obama has attended and generously funded for seventeen years? Whom he had publicly and repeatedly cited as his mentor and had named as a campaign advisor? Whom he chose to perform his wedding and baptize his two daughters?
Because, until then, we were in the midst of Phase I -- preventative medicine -- of the media's version of campaign health care for the Senator's Presidential bid. Call it the Plan to Protect Obama (PPO).
The Reverend Wright story had been percolating beneath the surface for several years. It finally broke through to widespread dissemination last week. A picture is worth a thousand words -- moving pictures with audio of Wright's anti-American, paranoid rantings from the pulpit have finally inspired many more than that.
"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?"
As media continue to report current economic conditions as being almost Depression-like, they conveniently forget which political party has controlled both chambers of Congress since January 2007 as well as who was in the White House when key financial services deregulation was enacted.
Such a well-timed amnesia hit ABC's Claire Shipman Sunday when during the panel discussion segment of "This Week," she blamed the current financial crisis on Republicans.
Color me unsurprised.
After host George Stephanopoulos asked Shipman's husband, Time magazine's Jay Carney, "How does John McCain fix his problem on the economy," the following ensued:
With Eliot Spitzer gone, Chuck Schumer moves to the head of the list of smugly self-righteous New York pols. So it was particularly satisfying to see Sen. Jon Kyl [R-AZ] put Schumer is his place on This Week with George Stephanopoulos today.
A guest with Kyl for purposes of discussing the economy, Schumer clearly came in with a game plan: to analogize President Bush to the man who presided over the beginning of the Great Depression: Herbert Hoover. After Schumer tried it twice, Kyl had had enough and unleashed a riposte as devastating as it was reasoned.
The "Big Three" networks’ evening newscasts, marking the fifth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq on Wednesday evening, all chose to air news briefs on the anti-war protests across the United States. The news briefs all aired within the first ten minutes of each program. CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric, as part of the first report on her program, used the protests as "evidence" of one of their recent poll results, that "more than half of Americans [59%] believe going to war in Iraq was a bad idea." "There are 155,000 troops in Iraq right now, and today, protesters in Washington and other U.S. cities reflected our poll. Nearly half the respondents [46%] said most U.S. troops should be pulled out within a year."
Five minutes into NBC "Nightly News," anchor Brian Williams chose to focus on the protests in Washington, DC. "There were anti-war protests today in several U.S. cities, including the nation's capital, where police arrested more than 30 people when they tried to block the entrance to the IRS, and they also tied up Connecticut Avenue, a major thoroughfare. There were also protests in New York's Times Square, downtown San Francisco, and in smaller towns as well, in places like Ohio and Vermont."
ABC’s "World News" anchor Charles Gibson, as part of his retrospective on the past five years of the Iraq war, mentioned the anti-war protests as well. "For some Americans, this is the fifth anniversary of a war they do not support. There were marches in California, and in the nation's capital, a dozen people were arrested for blocking the entrances of the Internal Revenue Service. The protesters oppose being taxed to help fund the war."
Are Reverend Wright’s anti-American sermons simply taken out of context? According to "View" co-hosts Sherri Shepherd and Barbara Walters they are. Sherri Shepherd first made excuses for Wright claiming "he suffered racism full force,"and then added viewers are not getting the full context and any of "The View" co-hosts could be tagged as racist with a sound bite.
Barbara Walters concurred noting that in Joy Behar calling Barack Obama "literate" could be taken as a racial slur. Elisabeth Hasselbeck struck back challenging the co-hosts to "put [Reverend Wright’s inflammatory remarks] in a context that sounds good. It doesn’t."
Joy Behar, who does not even know the Constitution and its history, took a shot at President Bush’s intelligence labeling him illiterate and claiming if he were to give a speech about race, "it would be about NASCAR."
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."
Exactly five years ago, an international coalition of troops led by the U.S. invaded Iraq, overthrowing Saddam Hussein's tyrannical dictatorship in just three weeks. Since then, Iraqis have voted in free democratic elections to seat a representative parliament; Saddam and several of his henchmen have been tried and convicted in public war crimes trials; and a bloody insurgency fomented by al Qaeda in Iraq is in retreat after a surge of U.S. troops and a shift to more aggressive counter-insurgency tactics.
Analysts at the Media Research Center have studied TV news coverage of the Iraq war from the beginning, even before the first bombs fell on Baghdad in March 2003. The record shows the networks have trumpeted bad news — setbacks for the U.S. coalition and allegations of misdeeds by American troops — while minimizing good news such as the success of the 2007 troop surge and acts of heroism by U.S. soldiers.
"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.
Barack Obama’s pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, made excuses for Obama’s association by comparing it to her family remaining loyal to the Catholic Church despite the sex abuse scandal. Barbara Walters called Obama a "uniter" and hopes the pastor’s words do not "taint" Obama’s presidential aspiration.
Joy Behar made an apples and oranges comparison that members of her family should not be "indicted" for continuing attendance at the Catholic Church after the sex abuse scandal. Behar excused Obama’s long time relationship with an anti-American minister, but scolded John McCain for a random supporter calling Hillary Clinton a "bitch." Does Behar grant more leeway for a Democrat than a Republican, or is she more offended by anti-Hillary comments than anti-American ones?
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.
Could this photo be a first? It shows a card-carrying member of the MSM shooting a handgun. That's Jan Crawford Greenburg, an ABC News legal correspondent. The clip, pun intended, of Greenburg on the firing range was part of a segment she narrated on today's Good Morning America on a case to be argued before the Supreme Court today. At issue is the District of Columbia's law banning handguns. The case comes before the Supreme Court after the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. invalidated the law. The decision could be a landmark, potentially the first time the Supreme Court rules squarely on the issue of whether the Second Amendment establishes an individual right to bear arms.
The segment was surprisingly respectful of the right to bear arms. Beyond Greenburg's personal marksmanship demonstration, the segment began with a sympathetic depiction of the plight of Shelly Parker, the DC resident who started the case by suing the city over its gun ban.
"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.
How much trouble is Barack Obama in over the extremism of Jeremiah Wright? Enough that Dem strategist Donna Brazile has been reduced to arguing that as black preachers go, Wright is relatively moderate. Enough that the normally affable Brazile got a bit short with Time editor Mark Halperin, he of the infamous memo to his subordinates during the 2004 presidential campaign while serving as ABC News political director.
The comments came during the panel discussion on today's This Week with George Stephanopoulos on ABC.
David Petraeus was diplomatic in his language and careful to honor the primacy of civilian authority over the military. But the commanding general of multi-lateral forces in Iraq has left little doubt that if a new president wanted to withdraw from Iraq faster than would reflect Petraeus's considered military opinion, his family would be happy to have him home.
ABC's Bill Weir interviewed the Gen. Petraeus as part of a Good Morning America special today marking the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq. The opening segment focused almost exclusively on the costs of the war. Some producer had apparently calculated that the war has cost 19 times the annual budget of Los Angeles. Who knew? But a subsequent segment did highlight some of the progress that has been made, notably in terms of former insurgents now come over to the multi-lateral side. Then came the Petraeus interview, which ended with this exchange.
BILL WEIR: You serve at the pleasure of the president. If our new president, a year from now, says general, I want out of here in a year. What do you say? Is that even feasible?
Rev. Jeremiah Wright has been Obama's pastor for 20 years. Obama named his book, "Audacity of Hope" after a sermon of his, and he and his wife were married by the pastor. He is even a part of Obama's campaign.
“The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no, God damn America, that’s in the Bible for killing innocent people,” he said in a 2003 sermon. “God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme.”
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.
According to Media Life Magazine, the three big network evening news broadcasts have slipped badly in the key 18 to 34 age bracket. At the same time, though, the Cable news nets have picked up among that same demographic. All three network newscasts have lost numbers since last year, with Katie Couric having the worst slide of the three.
According to Media Life, the main reason the evening news shows have been losing so steadily is because the Internet and Cable can give news at any time the viewer is ready to take their news whereas the evening news must be specifically scheduled into the viewer's lives. Media Life claims that the 18 to 34 age group just "never got into the evening news habit" -- a pretty plausible point.
Everyone is a whore according to "View" panelist Joy Behar. Discussing the identity of Governor Eliot Spitzer’s call girl, Ashley Alexandra Dupre, Behar appeared sympathetic and portrayed the woman as a victim. Later in the show, in conversing about former "American Idol" contestant David Hernandez’s alleged background as a stripper, Behar hypothesized that "everybody is a whore, a little bit."
Crackpot theories are not new to daytime personality. Behar previously suggested that the saints of the past would be mental patients today. Joy Behar continued that "every time you say ‘yes’ when you want to say ‘no,’ you’re whoring yourself." Whoopi Goldberg opined "it depends what you think whoring is. You know, what’s whoring to one person is not whoring to another."
At the end of a Good Morning America segment today about Barack Obama's pastor, the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., an Obama campaign representative complained that John McCain's pastor had not been similarly "vetted." If that's true, then ABC or some other media outlet surely should and will do so.
Let's imagine that upon vetting, McCain's pastor is found to have made statements that were the mirror-image of those that Rev. Wright has made. How long would McCain remain a viable candidate? Judge for yourself, based on Rev. Wright's statements as exposed in the GMA segment that was the result of work by ABC's chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross. GMA aired a number of clips from sermons Rev. Wright gave at his Trinity United Church of Christ.
JEREMIAH WRIGHT: "The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law, and then wants us to sing God Bless America? No, no, no! Not God bless America. God damn America! It's in the Bible, for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating its citizens as less than human!"
In a striking resemblance to a pair of recent "Saturday Night Live" skits, the March 12 edition of "Good Morning America" began with a fawning interview of Barack Obama, then grilled Hillary Clinton supporter Geraldine Ferraro.
Co-host Chris Cuomo first congratulated Obama for his Mississippi victory, then questioned if it "seals the deal." Cuomo added he is "sure you’re [Obama] gaining the confidence that you have a very good change of winning the ticket." Cuomo then pressed for an Obama/Clinton or Clinton/Obama ticket then asked Obama for a reaction to Geraldine Ferraro’s allegedly racially charged comments. To conclude the interview, inquired into Obama’s familial for the next six weeks leading to Pennsylvania.
"You have six weeks now before Pennsylvania. You have some time to see your wife, see your kids, play a little ball. You going to take it to the hoop? You going to pretend that you're Michael Jordan trying to take it into the basket a little bit?"
Immediately following the interview, co-host Diane Sawyer spoke with Ferraro herself on her controversial statement that "if Obama was a white mane, he would not be in this position." The tone and the questions were noticeably tougher. Sawyer challenged Ferraro’s assertion that she is not directly involved with the Clinton campaign. Sawyer also noted Obama’s popular vote totals and the 11 senators that support him, asking if they’re just caught up in "the concept." In the end, Sawyer asked if Ferraro is "sorry" for her statement.
Democrats dialing for damsels don't get labeled with the big "D"
Changing His MindRonald Reagan often said "I did not leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me."
For floundering and foundering New York Governor Eliot Spitzer -- a twist on the Gipper's words. Spitzer didn't leave the Democratic Party: the Media just didn't see the need to mention the fact that Spitzer was - at least until noon Wednesday -- one of the most powerful Democrats in the nation.
On Monday afternoon, the Big Three Networks (NBC, ABC and CBS) and the Associated Press led the charge of the wall-to-wall coverage of the breaking news that Spitzer was involved with an interstate prostitution ring. And with near unanimity they failed to mention that Spitzer is a Democrat.
Spitzer - who since his years as the Big Apple's swashbuckling anti-capitalist Attorney General the Press has glowingly called the Champion of the Everyman -- was caught on one or more wiretaps dialing for damsels to the tune of $5,500 an hour.
Only the press can fail to see the irony of calling someone who inherited $500 million - and who hires ladies of the evening at hourly rates equal to a semester's tuition at a state university - a champion of the everyman.
Anti-male sexism once again became a topic on the March 11 edition of "The View." Discussing New York Governor Eliot Spitzer’s prostitution scandal, Joy Behar, who called men "idiots" who "think with Mr. Happy," shouted "I am sick of men and their sexual proclivities." Sherri Shepherd quickly responded "don’t put it on men." Elisabeth Hasselbeck noted the prostitute was a woman and "there are two people to blame there, two people that tangoed here." Later in the conversation Behar claimed "I don’t hate men. I hate politicians."
Behar also added "it seems as though power and sex go together with men." She also said she "would like to see a scandal where a woman is getting great sex." Whoopi Goldberg then inquired what kind of reaction would ensue if a female politician was caught with a male prostitute. Behar theorized that "they’d burn her at the stake."
The relevant portions of the conversation are below.
ABC News has a photo montage of political sex scandals, featuring both Republicans and Democrats. But a few bloggers have noted that the captions for these photos often ignore the Democratic Party affiliation of Democrats while highlighting the GOP affiliation of Republican.
Out of 13 pols featured, there were five Democrats, four of whom (80 percent) were unidentified by party. Of the eight Republicans, only two (25 percent) were unidentified by party. Jay Tea at Wizbang has the breakdown here:
Here's a rundown of the disgraced pols, with party affiliations as ABC notes:
By now, most people have seen or heard about Hillary Clinton’s 3:00 AM ad implying that the world would be safer if she rather than her opponent Barack Obama was to answer an emergency phone call to the White House in the dead of night.
In a truly delicious twist of fate, the young girl pictured in the ad is now an active Barack Obama supporter.
On Sunday, ABC’s “Good Morning America” team interviewed Casey Knowles, who depicted the ad as “fear-mongering” and a “cheap hit to take”:
"The View" co-hosts, typically very loose with the facts, demonstrated that again on the March 10 edition. Ironically accusing the Bush administration of lying to take America into war with Iraq, Whoopi Goldberg put out false information herself.
GOLDBERG: Let me say, let me say this. Now, when it all went down at 9-11 and he said "we’re going get him." I was like "come on Georgie, let’s go."
GOLDBERG: But he didn’t go where he said we were going. See, that’s where I got, because I woke up the next morning, we were in Iraq. I was like, what? I don’t think we’re in Afghanistan. So, for me-
Ads like Hillary's "it's 3 AM" work--and that's a problem. At least in the view of David Wright it is. As I described here, the ABC reporter doesn't work particularly hard to keep his Obama light under a basket.
Wright-the-ABC-Obamacan was back at it today. GMA ran a segment featuring Casey Knowles, whose image as an eight-year old was used in Hillary's ad. Knowles has since grown up to be an active, 17-year old Obama supporter. To set up the interview with Knowles by Bill Weir and Juju Chang, Wright narrated a segment about the ad itself.
Wright spoke as a brief clip of the ad played in the background.
ABC's "World News Tonight" had a hard time on Friday without normal anchor Charles Gibson, as in its segment about the employment numbers released by the Labor Department, guest host George Stephanopoulos said the figures were from January 2008.
This was stated as a graphic came on the screen reading "JOBS LOST, January 2008, 63,000." Of course, Labor's report was for the month of February.
Sadly, that wasn't the only mistake "World News" made concerning this crucial piece of economic data, for just as the Associated Press had done earlier in the day, ABC's Business Correspondent Betsy Stark claimed (video available here, h/t NBer Gary Hall):