Does Mitt Romney believe atheists should enjoy freedom? "Good Morning America" co-host Diane Sawyer apparently isn't too sure. On Friday's edition of the ABC program, the co-host discussed the 2008 presidential candidate's speech on his Mormon faith and wondered about Romney's comment that "freedom requires religion." "Is there going to be a question whether humanists or even atheists, agnostics deserve freedom," she asked "This Week" host, and former Clinton operative, George Stephanopoulos. (This is the same Diane Sawyer who has repeatedly objected to '08 contender Mike Huckabee using the phrase "Christian leader" in a campaign spot. She derided that as "heavy handed" and possibly crossing a line.)
In response to the loaded question, Stephanopoulos simply replied, "I think that's a fight that Romney is willing to pick." In a segment setting up the interview, reporter Dan reiterated the same themes and fretted, "What about non-believers?" He then negatively spun the speech: "Did Romney go too far in blurring the line between church and state?"
Diane Sawyer and other "Good Morning America" journalists offered a surprisingly substantive look into religion on Thursday's edition of the ABC program. The show featured a three part, 12 minute-plus series of segments on Mitt Romney, Mormonism and his faith's relationship with evangelical voters.
The discussion wasn't perfect, certainly. GMA co-host Diane Sawyer simply couldn't let go of her discomfort in regards to Mike Huckabee's use of the phrase "Christian leader" in a recent Iowa campaign ad. On November 27, she wondered if the spot might have "crossed a line" and called it "heavy-handed." On Thursday's program, while talking to the Southern Baptist Convention's Dr. Richard Land, Sawyer pointedly noted that "many people thought [the ad's point] was unmistakable, what he was doing. Do you think that was fair?"
On Wednesday's "Good Morning America," reporter Brian Ross's story on Mike Huckabee featured a misleading onscreen graphic that claimed the then-Arkansas governor pardoned a rapist who went on to murder two women in Missouri. In fact, Huckabee didn't pardon Wayne Dumond, the man in question. The ABC graphic read, "Huckabee's Pardon: Rapist Struck Again After Release." The inaccurate information appeared beneath the December 5 segment for two minutes and 50 seconds of a three minute plus segment. (Hat tip to NewsBusters reader TE.)
On "Fox and Friends," which got the story right, co-host Steve Doocy explained that the governor lobbied the Arkansas parole board to release Dumond. They did so. He then played a clip of Huckabee on FNC in November in which the governor pointed out, "I did originally support parole, but governors don't parole anybody." "The Early Show" on CBS also refrained from using the term "pardon." NBC's "Today" ignored the story completely.
ABC investigative reporter Brian Ross on Wednesday continued his habit of offering up critical takes on Republican front-runners and ignoring Democratic scandals. So far this year, the correspondent has featured four hard-hitting segments on GOP candidates and only one on a Democrat.
During a piece on "Good Morning America," Ross investigated a developing story of whether then-Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee used his influence to secure the release of a convicted rapist who went on murder two women. The story has received major play on the left-wing blog site Huffington Post, a point Ross mentioned, but he left out any attribution of the web page's very liberal leanings.
While interviewing the young Clinton staffers who suffered through a hostage situation in New Hampshire last week, "Good Morning America" co-anchor Chris Cuomo used an interview on Tuesday's program to gush over their zeal for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Almost unable to contain himself, the ABC journalist extolled, "They come out of this experience lucky to have their lives, more dedicated than ever to Senator Hillary Clinton."
Now, most Americans would freely admire the calm and collected manner in which Graham, Katherine and Morgan (GMA provided no last names) handled the obviously stressful situation of having to deal with a disturbed man claiming to have a bomb. However, some of Cuomo's comments seemed to go over the top. He approvingly explained to co-host Diane Sawyer, "They said they want to campaign harder then ever, because of this experience. If she wins, they should go right into the cabinet."
Did the New Hampshire man who took several Hillary Clinton staffers hostage on Friday do so because of a lack of health insurance? That's what "Good Morning America" reporter David Kerley seemed to imply during a segment on Monday's show. First, he pointed out that the individual, Leeland Eisenberg, was turned away from a mental health support due to a lack of "money or insurance."
Then, after playing a clip of a Clinton campaign ad in which a man lauds the New York senator for helping to save his son's life by absorbing medical costs, Kerley revealed that Eisenberg targeted Clinton "because he saw this Clinton ad in which a New Hampshire supporter says the candidate helped him get health insurance." Kerley closed the segment by observing that the hostage-taker stormed the office and demanded to see Senator Clinton. The GMA correspondent intoned, "That didn't happen, but he may finally get the help he was pleading for."
From CNN's perspective, what would be the perfect addition to its YouTube Republican debate? Why, someone who is on a steering committee for the Hillary Clinton campaign! Keith Kerr, a retired, gay general was in the audience for the November 28 debate and grilled the Republican candidates over the issue of homosexuals in the military. Somehow, CNN forgot to mention his connection to "LGBT Americans For Hillary Steering Committee." The next day, network anchors even tried to cover up their knowledge that the general was an "activist."
CNN's audience, however, probably shouldn't be surprised at the network's actions. Prior to the debate, anchor Anderson Cooper defended the usage of such plants by asserting, "Well, campaign operatives are people, too. We don’t investigate the background of people asking questions…that’s not our job..." The cable channel's tricky tactics marred an otherwise commendable debate. As noted on NewsBusters, a majority of the YouTube questions aired by CNN were from a conservative perspective.
On Friday's "Good Morning America," reporter Kate Snow continued her habit of happily spinning Hillary Clinton's campaign maneuvering as nothing less than brilliant politics by the presidential candidate. She parroted talking points from the '08 contender's campaign about how smart it would be to target South Carolina voters who frequent hair salons. Sitting in a sylist booth, a smiling Snow gushed, "It makes a lot of sense, actually. Because women, when you think about it, we talk about everything in the hair salon from family to politics."
The segment, which focused on the battle between Obama and Hillary over the black vote, then cut to a quote from Kelly Adams, the South Carolina director of Clinton's campaign, who, unsurprisingly, expressed the same sentiment: "We talk politics....But, you know, there's a lot of conversations had in hair salon, serious political conversations and decisions are made there." The story, first reported over a month ago in the Washington Post, continued a template developed by Snow: Laud any action by the Clinton camp as political gold. On October 1, she reported on the former First Lady's laugh, which many found odd and off-putting. However, according to the GMA correspondent, the cackle is representative of someone either having a great time or "she's the master of a shrewd political skill, disarming her critics with a gleam in her eye and a roar straight from the belly." (A gallery of Snow, always smiling as she commits bias, can be found below.)
Laura Ingraham brought up Diane Sawyer’s umbrage at Mike Huckabee yesterday for his ad stressing he was a "Christian leader" as somehow crossing a line of decency (see Scott Whitlock's blog here), and how Sawyer pressed Newt Gingrich with Peggy Noonan’s quote that we’re looking for a leader, not a Bible study teacher. After noting that Sawyer doesn't usually find anyone crossing a line on the Angry Left, Ingraham wondered: how often does Sawyer cite Noonan? Is it usually just to prod and poke Republicans?
A quick review of the Nexis database shows that ABC’s Good Morning America has interviewed Noonan quite a bit on her expert subjects, first on her old job of presidential speechwriting, and more recently, on her biography of Pope John Paul II. But in the Bush era, on the few occasions when Noonan’s writing is quoted by ABC anchors or reporters, it’s almost always to prod the GOP.
Wednesday's editions of the CBS "Early Show" and NBC's "Today" show both ignored Bill Clinton's incredible assertion on Tuesday that he opposed the Iraq war from its inception. Only "Good Morning America" correspondent Jake Tapper pointed out the obvious fact that Clinton was no vocal critic of the military action. Filing a report on the subject, Tapper incredulously wondered, "Bill Clinton opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning?"
After acknowledging that the ex-President did call for the U.N. weapons inspectors to have more time, Tapper clarified the record: "...[Bill Clinton] was hardly, at least publicly, an opponent of going to war against Saddam Hussein." The ABC journalist then read from a 2003 speech on the Clinton Foundation's website that featured the former Commander in Chief asserting, "I supported the President when he asked the Congress for authority to stand up against weapons of mass destruction in Iraq." So, despite the fact that ample information exists calling into question the validity of Clinton's recent statement, only GMA covered the story.
"Good Morning America" host Diane Sawyer apparently has a significant problem with 2008 GOP contender Mike Huckabee's new ad that identifies the candidate as a "Christian leader." On Tuesday's program, Sawyer fretted over whether "we crossed a line here" and asked guest Newt Gingrich if the campaign spot is "just too heavy-handed about specific denominations?" The GMA host also speculated that Huckabee might be playing the "religion card."
Sawyer simply couldn't let go of the "Christian leader" phrase, which appeared in an onscreen graphic of a new ad for the Arkansas Governor. After playing a clip of the spot, Sawyer sputtered, "He put up there on the screen, Christian, Christian leader. Not spiritual leader, Christian leader." She then asked the former House Speaker, officially appearing to promote a pro-religion documentary he worked on, if Huckabee's usage of the term would "backfire" on him. After pointing out the political benefit that the 2008 candidate might receive, Gingrich dryly noted, "You know, he's not running in New York State." Not to be deterred, Sawyer pressed for specifics. "But do you approve of that 'Christian leader' on his ad," she wondered.
"[O]ne of the last parts of our travel survival guide, our Thanksgiving survival guide, of course, is the rising cost of the Thanksgiving dinner," "GMA" host Diane Sawyer said on the November 20 "GMA.". "As we said, the average price of a Thanksgiving dinner is up 11 percent from last year. So are there some ways to stretch the dollars and have no one know."
Also included in the segment was a story meant to tug at your heartstrings - a grandmother being forced to cut corners to make enough for her family's Thanksgiving feast.
According to ABC anchor Diane Sawyer, a new Oklahoma law making it a felony for U.S. citizens to knowingly provide shelter or transportation to illegal immigrants goes "across the line," "too far," and turns people into "vigilantes." Interviewing Lou Dobbs, CNN host and noted opponent of illegal immigration, on Tuesday's edition of "Good Morning America," Sawyer appeared to be aghast at what she considered "turning people in" for offering assistance to illegals.
The GMA host even quizzed Dobbs about whether his problem is with Hispanics in general. After noting a new Census Bureau report that found last names such as Garcia and Rodriguez are increasing in number, she guardedly wondered, "To Lou Dobbs, is this a good thing or a bad thing?" After Dobbs responded in favor of legal immigration, Sawyer plowed ahead with her question about the new Oklahoma law. She incredulously queried, "People are vigilantes about transportation and shelter? Isn't that going too far?"
Sam Champion hyperventilated about the threat of extreme weather on Monday's "Good Morning America" and, once again, ignored the leftist connections of two cited experts. Scientists Michael Oppenheimer and Daniel Schrag, both of whom have vigorously slammed Republicans in the past, appeared in the segment to warn that global warming would only continue to cause unusual weather patterns as long as greenhouse gases keep increasing.
GMA identified Oppenheimer simply by his connection as a scientist for Princeton University. However, he has previously slammed Republican disagreement about climate change as "uniformed rambling." In the piece, Schrag scarily warned, "It's hard to overstate how big a change [climate change] could be in the weather we experience every day." This is same man who, in a Boston Globe column from December 2006, smeared GOP Senator James Inhofe, then the Chair of a Senate environmental committee, for using skeptical witnesses that Schrag derided as "a gathering of liars and charlatans, sponsored by those industries who want to protect their profits." To further make the point, the article is entitled, "On a Swift Boat to a Warmer World."
If you don't buy into a Goresque view of global warming, you're not just wrong -- you're immoral. That was ABC's implication this morning.
The notion came from Good Morning America co-anchor Bill Weir at the end of his interview of Jim Gooch. The Dem state representative from Kentucky recently had the audacity to hold hearings with witnesses who cast doubt on global warming theories.
On Tuesday, "Good Morning America" reporter Bianna Golodryga hyperventilated about high gas prices and highlighted a man who alleged that the cost of fuel is keeping him from going to church and that it could ruin Christmas. Golodryga piled on, suggesting that some Americans would be forced to eat "cheaper foods" such as pasta and peanut butter instead of fruits and vegetables.
Only a few days later, Golodryga, who covers business and economic issues for GMA, proved her journalistic independence by gushing over liberal billionaire Warren Buffet, or "Robin Hood," as she called him. While Golodryga lobbied for holding on to the death tax (or, as she called it, the estate tax), co-host Diane Sawyer rhapsodized over how Buffet is battling "on behalf of fairness in taxes." (The leftist billionaire has claimed recently that he pays less taxes, percentage-wise, than his receptionist.)
Liberal journalists George Stephanopoulos and Kate Snow spun ABC's coverage of Thursday's Democratic debate as a roaring comeback for Hillary Clinton and charitably described the 2008 contender's shifting position on the issue of driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. Reporting on Friday's "Good Morning America," Snow slyly claimed that Clinton has "simplified her opinion" on the matter and now opposes licenses.
"Simplified" is one way to describe the senator's change of heart. A less friendly variation, one that might be handed to a Republican, is that she flip-flopped. On November 1, the Boston Globe reported, "Hillary Clinton came out yesterday in support of a plan by Governor Eliot Spitzer of New York to offer limited driver's licenses to illegal immigrants..." So, on November 1, she was for the program. She's now against it and that's simplifying a position? "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos, a former Bill Clinton operative, appeared on GMA to gush that the headline from the debate is "Hillary's back." He enthused, "And the subhead, I guess, would be 'no more Madam Nice Guy.'"
ABC's "Good Morning America" devolved into outright advocacy on Thursday as the morning program openly lobbied for more taxes, misled viewers about how much the wealthy pay and passed off an economic advisor to Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign as an impartial observer. Correspondent Bianna Golodryga filed a report on liberal billionaire Warren Buffett and his assertion that he pays a lower percentage in taxes than his receptionist. GMA co-host Diane Sawyer turned the story into a class warfare campaign as she promised that the show would be battling "on behalf of fairnessin taxes." The host lauded Buffett for taking "your side over taxes and fairness." Additionally, Golodryga fawned over the billionaire for advocating that Congress should retain the estate tax, another leftist position.
At no point in the misleading report did any GMA host or reporter mention a fundamental fact: The wealthy already pay a disproportionately high amount of taxes. According to information just released by the IRS, the top one percent of earners paid 39.4 percent of all federal income taxes. The top five percent pay almost 60 percent of federal taxes. Golodryga did, however, make time to compare Buffett to Robin Hood, complete with an onscreen graphic, and harass other billionaires over the salaries of their receptionists. Sawyer claimed that most of these wealthy individuals were "hiding" and that GMA would call them on "[Buffett's] behalf."
It's probably not surprising to learn that when ABC correspondent Claire Shipman convened a panel of women voters to discuss Bill Clinton defending his candidate wife, the ladies mostly gushed over the political couple. Shipman, who reported on the segment for Tuesday's "Good Morning America," found one voter who lauded, "As a strong woman, like, there's a part of her that appeals to me, even though I don't agree...even though I'm, I'm a Republican." Not one of the females selected by ABC harshly criticized the '08 contender.
Shipman also spun Bill Clinton's comments in the wake of the last presidential debate, in which he accused fellow Democrats of swift boating Hillary, in the most generous terms. The GMA reporter fretted that "[Bill Clinton's] support could muddle her so far successful image of independent strength." Shipman recited the usual talking points that Bill Clinton is "obviously" a "brilliant strategist for her campaign." (The media always ignore pesky facts that would contradict the notion of Bill Clinton's brilliance, such as the fact that he never received 50 percent of the popular vote or that he was impeached.)
On Sunday's "Good Morning America," ABC co-host Kate Snow reported on the growing controversy over the Clinton campaign's planting of friendly questions at political events. At the same time, she ignored her own network's role in creating a similar cozy setting for the 2008 Democrat. In March of this year, GMA hosted a town hall event where Doctor Steve Eckstat, who was on Hillary Clinton's 1993 health care task force, just happened to be in the audience for the ABC event.
Co-anchor Robin Roberts, who hosted the March 26 event, spun it this way: "Somebody that was there, and wants to ask you what is different now, between what happened then, and he is Dr. Steve Eckstat. He is, he works at the free clinic of Iowa. Doctor?" Eckstat's challenging question to the Democratic front-runner? He wanted to know if the former First Lady would be "willing to try again to provide universal health care coverage for all Americans and make that at priority for your administration?"
In one of the more hyperbolic segments to air on "Good Morning America," ABC reporter Bianna Golodryga fretted that November's unusually high gas prices could lead to poor health, less church and no Christmas. On Monday's program, Golodryga warned viewers that unnamed "reports" allege that "some people are foregoing routine visits to the doctor and are opting for cheaper foods, like pasta and peanut butter, as opposed to protein, fruits and vegetables, in order that they can save as much money as possible" at the pump.
The ABC reporter also managed to find an extreme example and introduced America to Juan Martinez of Phoenix, Arizona. According to Golodryga, the spike in prices has taken "a toll on the family's relationship with God." It seems as though the Martinez clan is cutting back on religious attendance due to the 40 mile journey trek to their church. (Are there no closer places to worship in the Phoenix area?) Additionally, GMA featured footage of Golodryga shopping with Martinez as she lamented, "...Even holiday gift shopping won't be the same." Apparently, there will be less Christmas presents this year.
It's getting hard to exaggerate the left-wing rantings of MSNBC host Keith Olbermann. This week, he railed against the "criminal conspiracy to cover the ass" of the "fascist" Bush administration. It probably won't be long before he's dropping the F-word on-air. Olbermann also attacked the "nightmare presidency" of the current commander in chief and mocked Bush's "cynical exploitation" of 9/11. It's really a shame this guy won't have Rosie O'Donnell to follow him on MSNBC, huh?
Speaking of liberal MSNBC hosts (sorry for being redundant), Chris Matthews on Tuesday took credit for a line that Hillary Clinton recently used about leadership. Last week Mathews offered her some free advice and seemed pleased that she took it. "Well done," he enthused.
In the past six years, any time someone wrote a tell-all book about George W. Bush or a member of his administration, they were given the royal treatment by the press with lavish interviews offering them the perfect platform to market their work as well as their politically charged opinions.
Consider for example all the attention given to Valerie Plame Wilson just recently when her book "Fair Game" was released, or the focus on George Tenet and his "At the Center of the Storm" exposé back in April.
With this in mind, if a former female White House aide published a new book implicating a former president -- whose wife just so happens to be the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination in 2008 -- in rape and other possible crimes, shouldn't she be welcomed with open arms by evening television magazines like "60 Minutes" and morning shows like "Today?"
After all, given Kathleen Willey's shocking statements about her new book "Target: Caught in the Crosshairs of Bill and Hillary Clinton" to WOR radio's Steve Malzberg Thursday, one would think such programs would be all over this like white on rice, assuming of course their goal was journalism and not political activism (audio in two parts available here and here, highlights of the interview follow):
"Good Morning America" viewers may have been surprised to see someone wearing a "Fred '08" t-shirt on Wednesday's show. No, it wasn't liberal co-host Diane Sawyer or Chris Cuomo, the brother of New York's Democratic Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo.
Rather, it was John Rich, a singer/songwriter for the band "Big & Rich" and a Tennessee native. He performed on the program sporting a big grin and a shirt that promoted Fred Thompson's 2008 presidential bid. Here he can be seen standing next to Sam Champion, GMA weatherman and a supporter of Al Gore's liberal climate change policies.
Over a span of three days, "Good Morning America" has devoted almost 19 minutes of air time to promoting "Lions For Lambs," the left-wing, anti-war drama starring and directed by Robert Redford. The promotional push continued on Thursday's show as one of the film's other stars, Meryl Streep, attacked Bill O'Reilly for what she apparently saw as questioning the patriotism of liberals. After co-host Diane Sawyer played a clip of O'Reilly wondering if Democrats really want to win in Iraq, the actress sarcastically stated, "It was my favorite thing that I ever saw Bill O'Reilly do. And so I lifted it out of his show and put it in the movie."
Streep derided O'Reilly's comments as the "wife beating question" and, in an annoyed tone, asked, "Are you still beating your wife? There's no way to answer it." Sawyer's interview came after a segment on Wednesday with the actress, director Redford and fellow star Tom Cruise. That followed yet another piece on Tuesday solely with Redford. On Thursday, Sawyer continued to laud what she saw as a brave film. The co-host gushed that "Lions For Lambs" wonders how "you strengthen the muscles of your convictions?" She fawned over the film, which involves a journalist lobbying other reporters to oppose the government's plans for war, by describing Streep's character as "a middle-aged reporter, facing the question of her job or her convictions. What does it take to be brave?"
A Pew Research Center poll released late last month found that while four out of five American adults (81%) could name one of the Democratic presidential candidates, far fewer (just 59%) could recall any of the GOP candidates. Even among self-described Republican voters, Pew found “Clinton and Obama are much more visible than Giuliani or any other GOP presidential candidate.”
One reason may be that the big broadcast networks have treated the Democratic frontrunners like celebrities worthy of intense coverage, while the Republican candidates have received far less TV time. A new Media Research Center study of the ABC, CBS and NBC morning news shows has found that in the first 10 months of 2007, the networks spent more time covering the Democratic race and spent far more time interviewing the Democratic candidates than the Republicans. And those interviews were much friendlier to the Democrats, with the morning show anchors emphasizing a predominantly liberal agenda.
Al Gore. Michael Moore. Robert Redford. On Wednesday, the actor/director became the third prominent left-winger to appear on "Good Morning America" this year and berate journalists for not being liberal enough. Redford, in his second GMA interview this week, Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep stopped by to promote "Lions For Lambs," their new anti-war drama. During the interview, co-host Diane Sawyer played a minute-long clip of the movie in which Cruise's character berates a journalist for being a "windsock" to the Bush administration during the Iraq War. The clip featured Cruise haughtily complaining, "Your network led every report about the invasion of Iraq with the digital screen-sized flag to the square-jawed saluting Marine and the bald eagle soaring to Aaron Copland."
Sawyer then sycophantically begged, "Speaking as your resident windsock, what would you have us do?What would this film have us do?" Being a tough journalist, Sawyer then allowed Redford to get away with responding that when "we found out the cause behind the war was a lie, that's when I think everybody should have stood up, wakened up, and moved forward." At no point did the GMA host point out that, in regards to Iraq, Bill Clinton said the same thing about WMDs as President Bush.
According to Robert Redford and ABC co-host Diane Sawyer, you're either a liberal activist or you are apathetic. Those are the two options. The famous left-wing actor/director appeared on Tuesday's "Good Morning America" to promote his new anti-war film, "Lions For Lambs." After playing a clip of the movie that shows Redford's character, a college professor, deriding a student for not opposing his government, Sawyer breathlessly asked the star, "You've been touring colleges. Is it true? Are they not awake out there? Are they waking up? What's the difference? What's it going to take?"
Redford, who also directed the film, asserted that "the pendulum is beginning to swing back" and repeated the cliched liberal claim that young people aren't aggressively opposing the war because "the fact that there wasn't a draft...let a lot of people off the hook and they didn't get involved." So, essentially, young people either support a liberal agenda or they simply don't care?
ABC's "Good Morning America," which aired two gushing profiles this summer on the 30th wedding anniversary of John and Elizabeth Edwards, has found no time to air a similar story on the 30th anniversary of George and Laura Bush. The presidential couple celebrated three decades together on November 5, 2007, but GMA made no mention of it on Monday or Tuesday.
In contrast, on July 31, 2007, the ABC program fawned over the well known story of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards and his wife celebrating their 30th anniversary at the restaurant Wendy's. As pictures of the couple at the fast food outlet appeared onscreen, "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer lauded, "And they are going to renew their vows. Happy anniversary."Less then two weeks later, GMA reported on the story again. Sawyer crowed over the fact ABC would be showing photos of the vows ceremony, what she called, "the very first pictures of a very personal backyard ceremony." Reporter David Muir described the pictures, which also appeared in People magazine, as "incredibly personal." Again, there was no such gushing, or even a mention, of the Bush's anniversary on Monday or Tuesday's show.