ABC broadcasted two completely one-sided reports on Thursday's World News and Nightline on the supposed "huge spike in the number of Americans operating in the shadows, trying to take down the U.S. government even with violence," as anchor Diane Sawyer put it. Correspondent Dan Harris's main external source for his reports was a media favorite, the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center [audio clips available here].
As she introduced Harris's first report on World News, Sawyer trumped that "a new study finds there are now nearly 1,300 militias and other extremist groups in this country, an increase from 149 groups in 2008. And one of the fastest-growing groups is called 'sovereign citizens.'" However, an examination of the SPLC's report in question find that many of these supposed "extremist" groups have been around for longer than four years, and the only change is that the leftist organization recently designated them as such.
[Update, 09:27 pm Eastern: audio added above; video below the jump]
According to Nightline co-anchor Juju Chang, Diane Sawyer's interview with the President on Thursday was "exclusive and candid." Although Sawyer didn't find time for questions about scandals such as Solyndra or Fast and Furious, she did manage to squeeze in queries about the Super Bowl and the President's singing.
At one point, the World News anchor enthused, "And speaking of sports teams, we asked the fan-in-chief, what is it, Giants/Pats?" After wasting one question on this topic, she followed-up: "Two years ago, we talked. You had the Saints [as Super Bowl winners]."
The journalists on ABC often sound like they are plagiarizing Barack Obama's talking points. On Tuesday night, this was literally true. During live coverage after the State of the Union, George Stephanopoulos informed, "...Vice President Biden just before the speech gave a call to Democrats. And he summed up the speech with this phrase, Bin Laden is dead, General Motors is alive." [See video of the two clips below. MP3 audio here.]
On the same day's Nightline, with no explanation that he was stealing Biden's line, co-anchor Terry Moran parroted, "Osama bin Laden is dead. General Motors is alive. Those points folded neatly into another of the President's goals, to wrap himself in the American flag." Good thing the Democrats, Stephanopoulos and Moran are all coordinating.
Barack Obama’s invitation to Warren Buffett’s secretary, Debbie Bosanek, to tonight’s State of the Union Address is bound to please not only Bosanek’s boss but also the liberal media that has allied with Buffett in his mission to raise taxes on the rich. For over 10 years the Berkshire Hathaway CEO has campaigned to sop the wealthy with burdensome taxes, and his friends in the media have been all too willing to advance his myth that secretaries pay more in taxes than their boss.
The following articles from the MRC’s archive represent just a few of the more recent and obnoxious examples of Buffett and Obama’s friends in the media carrying water for their crusade to soak America’s job creators:
ABC trotted out the "best of" Newt Gingrich slams on Thursday, finally revealing the results of an exhaustive Brian Ross interview with Marianne Gingrich, the former Speaker's ex-wife. Ross boasted that his scoop could be seen as a "January surprise" to harm Gingrich. Recycling old attacks, Ross eagerly prompted the ex-Mrs. Gingrich: "You know his secrets. You know his skeletons." [UPDATED: See video below. MP3 audio here.]
How bereft of new information was the segment? According to reports that broke on Wednesday, Ross sat down with Marianne Gingrich for two hours. In the eight minute segment, ABC only used two and a half minutes of actual footage from that interview. But Ross breathlessly hyped, "And we begin tonight with a story at the white-hot intersection of presidential politics, private lives and character."
Nightline co-anchor Terry Moran on Tuesday huffed that Rick Perry's "controversial" ad, combined with a presidential campaign that could be seen as "denigrat[ing]" "non-Christians" and "gay veterans," might spell doom for the Republican candidate. [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
The program's other anchor, Cynthia McFadden, teased the segment by proclaiming, "Plus, God and country. Who would Jesus vote for? Rick Perry's on the campaign trail casting himself as the populist Christian candidate."
Nightline co-anchor Terry Moran delivered a surprisingly positive assessment of Tim Tebow on Monday night, lauding the Christian quarterback as "inspired," "lifted up" and "strengthened" by "a power beyond his understanding."
Moran also highlighted, "Psychologists are increasingly finding that the very fact that a person has religious faith can help lead to the kind of success Tim Tebow has had." It wasn't all complimentary, however, the program's journalists repeatedly went out of their way to assert just how "controversial" Tebow is.
ABC's John Berman on Thursday continued his habit of trying to force stale, anti-conservative jokes into his reporting, mocking the pronunciation habits of former President George W. Bush. In a segment on subliminal ads that "mess with your brain," the correspondent rehashed Bush's 2000 "rats" ad.
While playing the 11-year-old spot, which featured the word fragment "rats" on-screen for 1/30th of a second, Berman narrated, "You may have missed it, but this Republican ad for George W Bush in 2000 seemed to label Al Gore a rat. Now, that's subliminal, even if George Bush wouldn't admit it." Offering a not-at-all fresh joke, the ABC reporter added that Bush "couldn't pronounce [subliminal]."
All three network morning shows on Tuesday led with Herman Cain's response to allegations of sexual harassment in the 1990s and even speculated the scandal could end his candidacy, with NBC Today co-host Ann Curry proclaiming: "Damage control. Herman Cain changes his story....Will the controversy and his reaction to it derail his presidential campaign?"
On ABC's Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos announced: "24-hour flip-flop. Republican front-runner Herman Cain now admits he's been accused of sexual harassment and settlements were paid. His bizarre series of conflicting interviews.... what will it mean for his campaign?"
ABC's Jake Tapper on Tuesday pressed Barack Obama on the Fast and Furious gun scandal, but his network didn't allow the question to appear on Nightline, World News or Good Morning America. (All played clips of the interview.) Instead, ABC found time to air Tapper and the President playfully discussing children's books and the greatness of Dr. Seuss.
During the two-segment long Nightline interview, Tapper hyped, "At the school where we spoke, the President showed off his personal knowledge of children's books." The journalist informed Obama, "I'm a big Dr. Seuss guy." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
"Good Morning America's" George Stephanopoulos on Thursday invited retired Supreme Court Judge John Paul Stevens to bash the audience of a GOP presidential debate. The ABC host repeatedly offered up softballs to the liberal Stevens, asking at one point, "I don't know if you saw it, but there was actually a moment in one of the presidential debates where's the number of executions in Texas was cited and the crowd cheered."
After cutting to a clip from the debate, Stephanopoulos prompted the ex-justice of the nation's highest court to offer a critique on a political party: "What did you think?" The segment also aired on Wednesday's "Nightline."
In what can only be described as ABC's attempt to show endless shots of large breasts, Nightline on Wednesday investigated the growing number of women in Venezuela who are having surgery to become more well endowed. In fact, it was the outcry of the country's socialist leader who brought the story to their attention.
Reporter Matt Gutman explained, "Five years ago yesterday, he called President George W Bush the devil in an appearance at the United Nations. But now [Hugo] Chavez has managed to say something that's got him in real hot water on his own turf, in his own country."
For more than a month now, the nation has buzzed with controversy about the first transgender “star” to appear on “Dancing With the Stars,” Chaz Bono. ABC’s “Nightline” ran a segment on Chaz Bono on September 19, also the same night as the Season 13 premiere of DWTS, highlighting the controversy and featuring commentary from MRC’s Culture and Media Institute Vice President, Dan Gainor.
Nearly ten years ago, Elizabeth Smart became a household name when she was abducted from her family's home in Utah and sparked a nationwide media frenzy. As a 23-year-old, she has just inked a deal with ABC to cover missing person cases on a number of programs, including "Good Morning America" and "Nightline."
Nightline co-anchor Bill Weir on Monday couldn't help but fawn over former Obama White House social Secretary Desiree Rogers, lauding her as a "fashionable, vivacious, interesting, telegenic person in a town with not a lot of that, frankly."
The journalist failed to offer much in the way of tough questions. Regarding the 2009 fiasco of having Michaele and Tareq Salahi crash a state dinner with the President, Weir gently wondered, "...What are your thoughts now that that night won't be remembered for [being a success]?"
Instead, he hyped, "But in those heady days of Obama mania, how could anyone ignore the well heeled woman in charge of the guest list? The one who fit right in with Anna Wintour, Kanye West at fashion week, the one who beat the First Lady into the pages of Vogue?"
Nightline's Yunji de Nies on Thursday offered a laudatory segment on the sex columnist Dan Savage. She has previouisly fawned on Twitter that the writer/activist was "hilarious." De Nies offered almost no mention of the outrageous statements Savage has made, including referring to Antonin Scalia as a "c–ksucker" and once asserting, "F–k John McCain."
The only hint about the radical nature of Savage came when de Nies explained, "Savage doesn't hide his politics. He famously went after Republican Rick Santorum after the former senator compared homosexuality to bestiality. Savage responded by calling on his fan base to redefine the word Santorum online."
Instead of pressing the syndicated gay columnist about his remarks, she blandly wondered, "Have you had a chance to talk to [Santorum] personally?...Do you have any interest in engaging with him on this?"
ABC anchor Diane Sawyer on Tuesday interviewed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for World News and Nightline, but offered no questions about the Obama administration's failure to seek congressional approval for air strikes in Libya. Instead, the journalist seemed fascinated by the decision-making process, repeatedly asking about Clinton's "decisive" role in going ahead with the bombing.
Sawyer quizzed, "We have read, repeatedly, that you were decisive in this. Did you persuade President Obama? Was yours the voice that turned around the opponents?" The intrigued World News anchor followed-up by asking if Secretary of Defense Robert Gates "opposed" her.
A vague Clinton prompted Sawyer to press, "So, you're not going to characterize yourself in the hierarchy?" Two parts of the interview aired on World News. A replay aired on Nightline. In all of this, Sawyer never wondered about Obama bypassing Congress. This was a topic journalists were keenly interested when it related to George W. Bush and Iraq.
If they ever take a break from publicizing Charlie Sheen’s cocaine dos and dont's, or detailing the power politics within his Beverly Hills harem, the networks should grab a copy of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics. And they may want to pay special attention to this entry: “Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.”
From Feb. 1 through March 6, the three networks distinguished themselves by devoting 20 times more broadcast time to Charlie Sheen’s porn stars and drug issues than to the Planned Parenthood video scandal and the subsequent vote in the House of Representatives to defund the organization.
What do oil refineries and rental cars have in common? They will probably kill you, at least according to ABC's Brian Ross.
Ross is either bored with his job or just doesn't seem to care about frightening his viewers with exaggerated reports. But either way, ABC's chief investigative correspondent is breathing new life into the term yellow journalism.
Those who are familiar with Ross's work might notice an emerging pattern of sensationalism. The latest case studies concern oil refineries in Texas, which Ross's colleague described as the "toxic threat next door," and rental cars, which Ross himself cautioned are like "a consumer's version of Russian roulette."
According to Nightline anchors Terry Moran and Bill Weir, new Republican Senator Rand Paul is "radical," "controversial" and longs to take a chainsaw to the Department of Education. Using hyperbolic language, Weir profiled Paul for Wednesday's program.
Co-anchor Moran previewed the segment by attempting to isolate the Kentucky politician: "Up next, even the most conservative Republicans balk at his proposals for slashing government." As a cartoon graphic of a crazed-looking Paul appeared onscreen wielding a chainsaw, Weir hyperventilated, "So, while the President argues for a budget scalpel, Rand Paul would use a chainsaw, shutting down the Departments of Energy and education."
The journalist continued, "He would kill the Consumer Product Safety Commission, shrink the Pentagon and cut off all foreign aid." Dismissing Paul's call for spending restraint, the ABC anchor challenged, "Does the richest nation in the history of nations have a responsibility to take care of its weakest?"
According to ABC's Christiane Amanpour, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy is "eerily relevant" to the attempted killing of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords less than two weeks ago. Talking to President Kennedy's sister on Thursday's Nightline, she wondered if the "political atmosphere" between the two acts of violence was the same.
Amanpour, the host of This Week, was highlighting the 50th anniversary of JFK's inaugural address and offered the standard liberal praise for Kennedy, asserting that his "face still has a powerful grip on the American psyche." Interviewing Jean Kennedy Smith, the journalist connected, "It's an episode eerily relevant today in the wake of the assassination attempt against Gabrielle Giffords less than two weeks ago."
Like many other journalists, Amanpour indicated that even if gunman Jared Loughner wasn't motivated by politics, a connection could still be made: "A congresswoman was targeted. No matter what the reason, how would you describe the atmosphere, the political atmosphere today in the country?"
On the Wednesday, December 22, Nightline on ABC, inspired by recent extreme weather, correspondent Dan Harris filed a report on global warming in which he gave attention to the views of a proponent of global warming theory, while giving a lesser amount of attention to two skeptics, one of whom he labeled "controversial."
Harris related that, "despite all that compelling evidence" of global warming, climate scientists "feel more embattled than ever," taking heat from "politicians on the right." He even went so far as to highlight examples of reported harassment of climate scientists, including anti-Semitic insults.
Harris also concluded his report passing on a warning from scientists that there will be more "extremely deadly weather" in the future "if the world doesn’t act very quickly":
Corbyn is now predicting a mini ice age in the coming years. However, the vast, vast majority of climate scientists disagree and say, if you like this year’s extreme and extremely deadly weather, you’ll likely get much more if the world doesn’t act very quickly.
ABC's "Nightline" touted a PolitiFact story Thursday that rated the five biggest lies of 2010 in politics. The number one lie? Republicans calling the health care bill a "government takeover of health care."
When asked why the claim received the status of biggest lie of the year, PolitiFact.com editor Bill Adair answered that it was "so pervasive" and "just not true."
"It was so pervasive. It was said by the Republican leadership, by Republicans running for Congress, said by Republicans running for governor. And it's just not true. This is a plan that uses the private health insurance system to expand health care coverage."
While the bill does not constitute a single-payer health care system, the 2,200 pages of legislation nonetheless contain countless new rules and regulations enforced by the Department of Health and Human Services, among other federal institutions.
While NBC on Tuesday focused on the "funny" and "intelligent" side of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Nightline's Brian Ross conducted a tough, hard-hitting investigation into the questionable finances of the man attacked by colleagues as a "dictator."
Ross used the December 14 ABC program to raise questions about "what's happened to the group's money" and to highlight former colleagues who say Assange "has turned the website into a cult of personality."
While many of the individuals Ross talked to were just as committed to Assange's leftist cause of leaking military documents, they did raise serious accusations about the organization's finances. [MP3 audio here.]
Asking a wife if she loves her husband isn't exactly the most insightful question, but that's one of the softballs that Barbara Walters tossed to Michelle and Barack Obama during an hour long edition of 20/20 on Friday. She also asked the President if he curses and what Lincoln means to him.
At one point, the journalist lauded Michelle Obama as "comfortable" and "outspoken." Walters then cooed, "You love him very much, don't you?" (The First Lady's unsurprising answer? "Yes, I do.")
Digging for answers, the reporter investigated Mr. Obama, "Do you ever curse?...You pray?" Walters also allowed the President the chance to attack the internet, bringing up insinuations that he's a Muslim: "Why do you think it is that so many people think you're a Muslim and why is that confusion?"
On Monday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann used his latest "Special Comment" to respond to former ABC anchor Ted Koppel’s inclusion of him and MSNBC in his recent Washington Post op-ed criticizing the modern news industry. After praising former news man Edward R. Murrow for taking a stand on Senator Joseph McCarthy and Walter Cronkite for doing the same on the Vietnam War and Watergate, Olbermann complained that, unlike himself, Koppel had "worshiped before the false god of utter objectivity" instead of going after the Bush administration over the Iraq war, and claimed that last week he criticized President Obama more than Fox News primetime did President Bush in eight years. Olbermann:
Moreover, while Fox may be such, we are not doctrinaire. I cannot prove it, so I'll have to estimate it here, and if I'm proved wrong I'll happily correct it, but my intuition tells me I criticized President Obama more in the last week than Fox's primetime hosts criticized President Bush in eight years.
And, even though Olbermann has a history of distorting the words of conservatives to portray them in the worst possible light, and of passing on incorrect information without retraction, Olbermann congratulated himself for recently deciding not to include misinformation about President Bush on his show, and suggested that FNC or CNN would not have made sure not to include such incorrect information. Olbermann:
During four days of coverage, ABC skipped the conservative perspective while reporting on Keith Olbermann's suspension. The network also used the liberal label only once. Good Morning America covered the story on Saturday and Monday and never used the word.
Friday's Nightline briefly highlighted the story. Anchor Bill Weir referred to Olbermann as MSNBC's "liberal star" and someone who has "leftward leanings." On Monday's GMA, co-host Robin Roberts pontificated on the cable host, suspended because he made political donations to three Democrats.
She fretted, "It's a move that raises questions about the changing role of journalism and whether cable news networks and others are abandoning the goal of impartial reporting." (Conservatives would probably argue that MSNBC long ago stopped caring about such things.)