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?
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.
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.
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”:
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.
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: