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."
A couple at the "cross roads" of a "complicated" love story. That's how Diane Sawyer set up the feature on a transgendered Microsoft executive, his/her wife, and their son in the 8:00 half-hour on "Good Morning America."
The socially progressive bent of GMA was evident in the lack of context or perspective given to the family's story. No consideration was given to the glaring social issues raised. It was reported as just another human-interest story.
The five-minute feature, reported by Neal Karlinsky, explained the conflict Michael Wallent had with his identification as a male, his decision to become a female and the ramifications of that decision in his workplace and at home.
"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?"
Sorely DispleasedIt seems it all depends on who is doing the asking.
ABC News spent a good portion of last week's morning programming in deep prostration and self-analysis in response to criticism that their journalistic presentation suffered from partiality.
Could it be? Had we at the Media Research Center (MRC) -- after twenty-one years of protracted press analysis and serial and sober exposition of liberal bias in all manner of broadcast and print reporting -- finally saturated the consciousness of a member of the Network Big Three?
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.
Barack Obama had a rough night in Texas and Ohio, and some are even taking a contentious press conference he recently endured as a sign the MSM might be turning on him. But the junior senator from Illinois can still count on one MSMer in his corner: Robin Roberts. A few weeks ago, as I noted here, the GMA co-anchor conducted a softball session for the ages with Obama.
Today, Hillary Clinton made the rounds of all the morning network news shows. The toughest questioning by far came from Roberts, in this exchange.
ROBIN ROBERTS: What do you think the negative ad factor, how did that help you in this race? Because leading up, you did have some negative attack ads, and can we expect to see more of that in the days and weeks ahead?
Has the Clinton campaign been caught engaging in ethnic stereotyping of Latinos? Jake Tapper suggests it has. ABC News' Senior National Correspondent reported from Texas this morning. After airing footage of Hillary on the stump reminiscing about her days in Texas back in 1972 working on the McGovern campaign, Tapper continued.
JAKE TAPPER: That experience may the reason why Clinton's campaign asks supporters in Spanish-language TV ads to show up at tonight's caucuses 15 minutes earlier than it asks supporters in English ads, suggesting to some Hispanic political observers that the Clinton campaign thinks Latinos might be a little tardy.
"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."
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.
The worm has certainly turned when Bill Clinton's former press secretary goes on a local TV show, calls Hillary a b---- in so many words . . . and a national news show then chooses to air the footage. It happened on today's Good Morning America in the course of a conversation that co-anchor Robin Roberts conducted with Cokie Roberts and Matt Dowd.
ROBIN ROBERTS: Many are wondering how far she can go in attacking Barack Obama. Even President Clinton's former press secretary Dee Dee Myers made a comment about it being harder for a woman to walk that fine line. This is what she said.
Cut to clip of Myers in a recent appearance on NY1, the NYC cable news channel.
DEE DEE MYERS: I think so many women in positions of authority -- and she's certainly one of them -- have to walk that fine line between being authoratative and being a bitch [worded bleeped during GMA airing]. And she you know, she hasn't always succeeded. I think it's hard for a woman to succeed.
If that sound isn't the fat lady clearing her throat, it might be the MSM humming Hillary's dirge. Consider, for example, ABC national political correspondent Jake Tapper's Good Morning America segment today on the differences in tone between the Obama and Clinton campaigns. After playing footage of an angry Hillary waving allegedly misleading Obama campaign literature and then of a relaxed Obama laughing it off, Tapper had this to say.
JAKE TAPPER: There's a difference between a winner's confident stride and the strained scurrying of the also-ran.
The network morning shows this year haven't always been tough questioners with the presidential candidates. But it bothered me on Wednesday when ABC's Good Morning America interviewed John McCain (the day before the New York Times unleashed its underbaked "romantic" hints-and-whispers story), and co-host Robin Roberts dragged out the old-age issue against McCain using late-night comedians to mock him. Can you imagine Hillary Clinton sitting still for that tactic?
ROBERTS: You brought up a number of good points in your speech last night. And it was well received. You got a lot of applause when you said you are clearly the most experienced, as you put it. You're 71. You would be 72 on Election Day and the late night comics have taken note of your age as well. I want to get your reaction to this.
JAY LENO (clip): Do you realize when Castro came to power in 1959, John McCain was only 61 years old?
"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:
The New York Times "scoop" strongly suggesting a romantic relationship between John McCain and a lobbyist drew heavy coverage from all three morning shows Thursday. All three featured interviews with McCain staff members on the defensive. Critical scrutiny of the Times story was mostly left to the McCain aides, as the networks presented the tone of a real crisis for McCain, not for the newspaper.
On NBC’s Today, at least its opening allowed the idea that an outrage had taken place: "Good morning, bombshell or hatchet job? A New York Times report out this morning raises questions about John McCain's relationship with a female lobbyist eight years ago. He is outraged and he is fighting back. Will it turn the presidential campaign upside down?"
There has been significant speculation in the MSM that an upshot of the NYT's McCain piece could be to rally support for McCain from conservatives like Rush Limbaugh who heretofore have been, shall we say, less than enthusiastic about the Arizona senator.
Typical was this exchange from today's Good Morning America, which followed an appearance by McCain campaign advisor Charlie Black.
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.
Bill Clinton’s yelling at pro-life protesters in Steubenville, Ohio didn’t get processed by the networks as a sign of bad temper, or of sour and hyperbolic attacks on pro-lifers. On Monday’s Good Morning America, reporter Jake Tapper’s quick summary of what was going on with the top presidential candidates only noted he "took on some anti-abortion protesters" and ran this soundbite: "We disagree with you. You want to criminalize women and their doctors and we disagree!"
That is clearly a sentiment that media liberals support, but it’s only a fraction of what he yelled. ABC’s Political Radar blog carried more detail, but in neither report did ABC seem to ponder the the political oddity of Clinton’s angry retort: that he and Hillary were in effect more pro-life than the pro-lifers – not to mention it’s always odd to hear Clinton yelling at others to "Tell the truth! Tell the truth!" Over a cheering liberal crowd, Clinton said:
"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?"
Rush Limbaugh read the first two paras of this item during his first half-hour today, citing "our buddies at NewsBusters." Thanks, Rush! Audio here.
If a supremely prominent Republican who was John McCain's chief surrogate had gotten into an angry confrontation at a campaign event, do you think the broadcast networks would have promptly let us know his interlocutor was African-American?
I do. But none of the broadcast network's morning news shows, at least during this morning's crucial first half-hour, disclosed the African-American identity of the man with whom Bill Clinton got into just such an argument yesterday in Ohio.
Not a word of any incident whatsoever at GMA or the Early Show, at least during the first half-hour. Today did mention that Clinton "showed his temper . . . after an Obama supporter tried to disrupt his speech in Canton," but nothing about the man's identity.
This is too perfect! Barely an hour after Pat Buchanan proclaimed on NBC that the MSM is full of "out-of-the-closet Obamacans," ABC's David Wright provided a perfect illustration of the genre.
In fact, I'm nominating the GMA segment Wright narrated this morning as the single most slanted episode of the MSM primary season. The screen graphic "On the Attack," set the theme: Hillary is unfairly attacking Obama, and to the extent Barack's gone negative, it's only to rebut Clinton's unfair criticism. Oh, and Hillary's demographic is crumbling. And by the way, Bill's dissing Obama supporters.
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."
Three voices of the Clinton campaign, three distinctly different takes on its fortunes. James Carville is candid about the pickle Hillary's in. Hillary, true to form, utterly evades the question. Ah, but there's always Terry McAuliffe. The proud graduate of the Baghdad Bob School of Flackery this morning declared that he's "more confident than he's ever been" about winning the nomination.
Carville, appearing on last night's Larry King, couldn't have been more succinct.
LARRY KING: If Hillary loses Texas or Ohio, is it over?
The media loves campaign metaphors. Yesterday, some MSM wag delighted in pointing out that Mike Huckabee's campaign van had twice run out of gas. Today, it was Hillary Clinton's turn. In the wake of her devastating defeats in the Potomac primaries, Good Morning America rolled an extended clip of her struggling up an airplane stairway.
Speaking with Diane Sawyer, George Stephanopoulos had just finished opining that if in Texas Obama cuts into Hillary's coalition of women and Hispanics the way he did last night, he will be the nominee.