On Friday’s World News, ABC correspondent Ron Claiborne filed a report recounting some of the unreasonable problems faced by school systems when trying to lay off bad teachers as a result of hurdles put up by teachers unions. Claiborne noted one example of a Los Angeles teacher who was fired after five years of effort by the school system, costing $3.5 million. ABC anchor Diane Sawyer, who later admitted to having come from a family of teachers, gave voice to complaints over the system as she introduced the report:
Almost every one of us, parent and child, has been frustrated by a teacher who probably should not be teaching, but is protected by tenure or seniority, and the unions have been blamed. Well, now, for the first time under growing public pressure, a big teacher's union says they're ready to change that.
Claiborne’s report notably included a soundbite of former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee complaining about the difficulty of firing bad teachers, although the ABC correspondent did not note the role that organized labor played in defeating the mayor who appointed her, Adrian Fenty, in the Democratic primary in 2010, resulting in her dismissal in spite of impressive achievements.
On Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Michael Isikoff claimed a prank phone call on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker "provided his critics with evidence that his real motivation is what they've been saying all along, to crush public unions." On Thursday's CBS Early Show, co-host Erica Hill declared the "embarrassing" call revealed Walker's "plan for putting pressure on the big unions."
Isikoff suggested that Walker's private phone conversation with Ian Murphy of the left-wing Buffalo Beast website (who was pretending to be billionaire donor David Koch) ran counter to the Wisconsin Governor's public statements on his budget-cutting proposal: "Publicly, Governor Scott Walker has insisted the standoff over union rights in Wisconsin is all about saving money." On the Early Show, correspondent Dean Reynolds proclaimed: "Walker is heard discussing strategy to force Democratic senators to return to Wisconsin and vote. In another exchange, he tells of plans to punish state workers with layoffs."
Wednesday's nightly newscasts and Thursday's morning shows completely ignored video of a Massachusetts congressman exhorting union protesters in Wisconsin to "get a little bloody" in the fight against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
ABC's Good Morning America, NBC's Today and CBS's Early Show all skipped the extreme rhetoric by Democratic Representative Michael Capuano. Fox News on Wednesday and Thursday did cover the remarks.
[See video below of Capuano on Thursday's Fox and Friends. MP3 audio here.]
Catching up on an item from last weekend, Friday’s World News on ABC, Saturday’s Good Morning America on ABC, Saturday’s CBS Evening News, and Saturday’s NBC Nightly News all highlighted California Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier’s defense of partial birth abortion as a procedure she had herself gone through as she berated New Jersey Republican Congressman Chris Smith for describing the horrific nature of the procedure during a debate over federal funding of Planned Parenthood. The sympathetic treatment of Speier's outrage over having to hear the technique's description contrasts with media eagerness to describe rough interrogation techniques used on detainees in the War on Terrorism during the Bush administration.
These same shows devoted little to no time to showing Smith’s description of the controversial abortion technique or his reading from the book, Unplanned, by Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director who famously turned against abortion after observing the ultrasound of an abortion as it was carried out. Rep. Smith had given a speech on the House floor that was over eight minutes long.
Human Rights Watch released a hardly comprehensive report, one “based on interviews with 64 parents across the country,” which complained: “Just three countries definitively offer no legal guarantee of paid maternity leave: Papua New Guinea, Swaziland—and the United States.” Picking up on that, Diane Sawyer announced on Wednesday’s World News:
And now, family leave. A new report from Human Rights Watch found 178 nations guarantee paid leave for new mothers and many new fathers -- as much as 16 months in Sweden. So where does America fall? At the bottom of the list with Swaziland and New Guinea.
Reporters also portrayed this as a national union issue, but mostly failed to point out the national problem of pension underfunding.
Actually, the battle is the result of Republican Gov. Scott Walker's attempts to balance the state budget by asking roughly 300,000 state employees to contribute more to their pension funds and health insurance and give up the ability to negotiate more than their wages. According to CNNMoney, the state faces a $3.6 billion budget deficit.
Only 1 out of 24 network evening stories about the Wisconsin "feud" since Feb. 16, reported a critical number relating to union pensions: $1 trillion. That's the huge deficit facing public workers' pensions in America and the reason Walker and other state governors are facing tough choices including demanding public workers contribute more.
Loud protests by Wisconsin public employee unions against a budget reform proposal from new Governor Scott Walker have drawn considerable national network news attention since Thursday, the day Democratic state senators fled the state in a last-ditch gambit to prevent the bill from becoming law. A story-by-story analysis by the Media Research Center shows the Wisconsin protests are a perfect case study in the media’s longstanding double standard favoring left-wing causes while demonstrating much more hostility to the Tea Party and conservative protest.
Last March, as thousands protested on Capitol Hill in the days before the passage of ObamaCare, CBS’s Nancy Cordes slammed it as “a weekend filled with incivility,” while World News anchor Diane Sawyer painted the Tea Party as a violent gang, with “protesters roaming Washington, some of them increasingly emotional, yelling slurs and epithets.” In August 2009, ABC anchor Charles Gibson complained how “protesters brought pictures of President Obama with a Hitler-style mustache to a town hall meeting,” failing to mention that the signs were produced by Lyndon LaRouche’s wacky fringe movement, not the Tea Party or conservatives.
The same networks that assailed the allegedly extreme invective from the Tea Party have, thus far, not found anything interesting about signs implying that Scott Walker, Wisconsin's Republican governor, is a Nazi or a dictator in the style of Egypt's Hosni Mubarak.
On Thursday's newscasts and Friday's Today, Good Morning America and the Early Show, the extreme rhetoric of some of the signs went unremarked. Some of the images, which included pictures of Walker as Adolf Hitler and signs that read "Scott Mubarek [sic]: Get Out," were seen briefly during crowd shots.
But, none of the programs raised any objections to the hateful rhetoric surrounding Wisconsin's plan to reform collective bargaining and force federal workers to pay for part of their retirement.
ABC on Thursday night championed a “mutiny in America” by public employees in Wisconsin whom NBC’s Brian Williams trumpeted for “rising up and saying no to some of the most extreme cuts in the nation.” ABC’s Diane Sawyer teased: “Tonight on World News, a mutiny in America. Public workers take to the streets as governors try to cut their pay and perks.” Sawyer framed coverage from the grievance of the unionized workers:
Today, we saw America's money trouble meet a reality, a human reality, as teachers, nurses, tens of thousands of state workers took to the streets in this country protesting cuts by the governors, saying to these governors, a promise is a promise. One lawmaker looked out at the crowds gathered in the Wisconsin capital today said it's like Cairo moved to Madison. [Audio available here]
NBC’s Williams also offered a comparison to “citizen uprisings” overseas: “Tonight after watching citizen uprisings now across the globe for weeks, how about a big one here in the United States.”
Though Governor Scott Walker is merely asking the coddled workers for a slight increase, from six to twelve percent, in the portion of the generous health coverage they must pay, ABC reporter Chris Bury painted it as a dire burden, citing how Walker is “demanding that public employees pay more for their pensions and health care, the equivalent of a seven percent pay cut,” adding that “what really upsets state workers is a budget that strips away nearly all of their union bargaining rights over health care, pensions, and work rules.”
Just a few years ago, double-digit unemployment seemed like a crazy idea. But when the economy began to stumble, it was fear of high unemployment and a promise to prevent it that the Obama administration used to usher in the $787 billion stimulus package. As The New York Times reported on Oct. 22, 2009, "The Obama administration's forecast at the start of the year, which predicted that unemployment would not climb much above 8 percent."
A big promise to be sure and a claim that proved false as unemployment climbed higher and higher reaching 10.2 percent at its peak. Yet, ABC, CBS, and NBC referenced this promise just nine times in two years in stimulus stories mentioning unemployment.
Unemployment still exceeds the Obama-guaranteed 8 percent unemployment rate two years after the bill's passage. In the same time period, network news barely reported that the stimulus failed to halt the sharp rise in unemployment. ABC 'World News,' CBS 'Evening News' and NBC 'Nightly News' all paid plenty of attention to the stimulus and its accomplishments, but more than 98 percent of those evening broadcast stories skipped over the administration's failed prediction.
The three nightly news broadcasts on Monday touted Barack Obama new spending as "investments," highlighted victims of White House cuts and ignored key facts about the President's 2012 budget.
Evening News reporter Chip Reid used the preferred White House language, asserting, "But the President unveiled his budget at a technology school to highlight new investments, especially in education and innovation, including funding for 100,000 new math and science teachers, $32 billion for biomedical innovation and a doubling of funding for green energy research."
On ABC, Jake Tapper pointed out that the White House budget adds seven trillion dollars to the debt over the next decade. But, he also found a victim of the White House's planned cuts. Tapper identified University of Colorado Junior Derrick Dash as someone who "pays tuition with help from the Pell Grant program for low income students and he was planning on enrolling in summer classes."
Over the past couple of weeks, as prominent Muslim Brotherhood members tried to sell themselves as harmless in interviews shown on the evening newscasts on ABC, NBC, and CNN, Eliot Spitzer of CNN’s Parker-Spitzer managed to coax spokesman Mohammed Morsy into defending violence against Israel by Palestinians, contradicting the Brotherhood spokesman’s claims in the same interview of being opposed to violence.
Earlier in the interview, which was first seen on the Thursday, February 3 Parker-Spitzer, Morsy had also sidestepped the question of whether the Muslim Brotherhood would support adherence to Egypt’s 30-year treaty with Israel, as he suggested that such matters would be in the hands of the parliament.
CNN correspondent Mary Snow replayed some of the interview on the next day’s Situation Room on CNN. After a clip of Morsy claiming that his organization would support freedom for all religions in Egypt, the piece continued:
On Thursday’s Last Word show on MSNBC, host Lawrence O’Donnell trashed conservatives for raising concerns about the possibility of a Muslim Brotherhood takeover of Egypt as the MSNBC host claimed that, "The Muslim Brotherhood is the latest excuse for the right wing to whip up anti-Islamic hysteria, including the old standby that President Obama is secretly a Muslim." Minnesota Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison, who appeared as a guest for the segment, even referred to the Muslim Brotherhood as a "scarecrow," and dismissed concerns about whether a new government might adhere to the peace treaty with Israel as the Democratic Congressman asserted that, "You haven’t seen one Israeli flag. You haven’t seen one."
But, while the overwhelming majority of Egyptian demonstrators may be motivated by a desire for better economic conditions and more freedom, it would be incorrect to claim that there is a complete absence of anti-Israel sentiment. On Sunday, January 30, the NBC Nightly News showed an image of one sign held by a protester that tied then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to Israel by placing the Jewish Star of David over his face. And, on Saturday, January 29, ABC's World News Saturday showed a second sign with a similar image of Mubarak with a smaller Star of David on his forehead, as if to attack the Egyptian leader as being too friendly to Israel and Jews.
On the Friday, January 28, NBC Nightly News, correspondent Richard Engel even recounted concerns by some Egyptians that the Muslim Brotherhood would "hijack" the anti-government movement to take power:
On the February 12 World News Saturday, ABC correspondent David Kerley highlighted claims by Bob Greenstein of the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy that the Democratic-controlled Senate and President Obama would block Tea Party-backed cuts from this year’s federal budget, thus protecting Republicans from their "less than responsible actions."
After Kerley began his piece by recounting that Tea Party Republicans in the House had pressured House Speaker John Boehner to support a plan cutting $100 billion in planned spending from the current fiscal year's budget, calling the cuts "broad and very deep," the ABC correspondent included a clip of Greenstein asserting that "they’re bigger than people think" without informing viewers of the liberal lean of his organization.
After a second clip of Greenstein in which the former Carter administration member contended that Republicans are "protected from the consequences of their own, I think, less than responsible actions here," Kerley continued: "Protected from the consequences, he says, because the Democratic Senate and the President will not go along."
All three evening newscasts on Wednesday and the morning shows on Thursday identified disgraced former Congressman Chris Lee as a Republican. On the February 10 Today, Kelly O'Donnell twice tagged the ex-representative, who resigned after shirtless photos of him surfaced online, as "conservative."
The NBC reporter asserted, "The former Congressman is a former businessman, considered an up and coming conservative." Just seconds later, as a picture of the politician appeared, she added, "This is the image, shirtless and flexing, that tanked the political career of Chris Lee, a conservative, Republican Congressman from Western New York."
Continuing to made ideological references, O'Donnell pointed out: "He had even been given the plum job of delivering the weekly Republican address last spring."
On Monday’s CBS Evening News, as anchor Katie Couric read a short item on AOL’s purchase of the left-wing Huffington Post Web site, she neglected to mention the ideological lean of the Web site as she merely called it "one of the leading news Web sites."
NBC’s Brian Williams did tag the Web site as "liberal" as he also read a an item on the acquisition. Williams: "A big payday for Arianna Huffington as AOL becomes the new owner of Huffington Post, the liberal Web site she created six years ago."
ABC’s World News, which devoted much of its program to anchor Diane Sawyer’s interview with former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, did not mention the deal.
Ronald Reagan endured harsh, vitriolic rhetoric from journalists throughout his career, but that hasn't stopped some in the media from lecturing present-day conservatives on who best represents the legacy of the 40th President. This occurred even as the country celebrated Reagan's 100th birthday.
On Saturday's World News, John Berman filed a sarcastic report where he knocked 2012 hopefuls for trying to align themselves with the former President: "There is Reagan Airport, the Reagan Building, the Reagan Library. Then there is the church of Reagan, where candidates worship."
He critiqued, "In fact, you might say there is a Republican primary and a Reagan primary. Who can be the most Reagan-y?" Andrea Mitchell appeared on Meet the Press and fretted, "People are trying- Republicans in particular, obviously- trying to appropriate Ronald Reagan for their own political purposes now."
On World News Saturday and on Sunday’s Good Morning America, ABC continued to quote liberal commentator Ron Reagan’s recent criticisms of Sarah Palin without reminding viewers of his liberal political views and history of attacking conservatives as both shows recounted Palin’s speech in commemoration of former President Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday.
On World News Saturday, after playing a clip of Palin’s speech, anchor Sharyn Alfonsi continued: "Reagan's outspoken youngest son Ron told the Associated Press that Palin, quote, 'is a soap opera who has nothing in common' with his father."
And on Sunday’s GMA, a piece by correspondent David Kerley used a clip of Ron Reagan from one of his recent appearances on GMA promoting his book, My Father at 100, when he had negative words to say about Palin. After relating that Palin had charged that America is "on a road to ruin because it has strayed from Reagan’s values," and after a clip of the former Alaska governor comparing her own political views to those of President Reagan, Kerley continued:
Speaking to physicist Michio Kaku on Wednesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge fretted over the recent series of severe winter storms and wondered: "...nine storms in seven weeks, why is this happening?...a lot of people want to talk about global warming and thinking that that may actually come into play here. Is that accurate? Is that having an effect on what's going on?"
Dr. Kaku agreed with the suggestion: "Yes. It seems to violate common sense, but as the Earth begins to heat up, that means more moist air in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico on average. Which creates more precipitation, and eventually more snow." Wragge followed up: "Is this going to continue?" Kaku argued: "...on average, temperatures are going to rise. Remember, last year was the hottest year ever recorded in the history of science, next to 2005, since 1880. So the Earth is heating up. We can debate exactly what's driving it. But, hey, get used to it. We're going to have more energy sloshing around the Earth, more extremes, and swings."
ABC, CBS and NBC on Monday night devoted more than half of their evening newscasts to the turmoil in Egypt, but while CBS and NBC squeezed in brief mentions of how a federal judge agreed with 26 states that the entire ObamaCare law is unconstitutional, ABC’s World News didn’t utter a syllable about the major setback for the Obama administration. Anchor Diane Sawyer, however, made room for a full story on an impending snowstorm and four minutes for a new series, “Families on the Brink: What to Do About Mom and Dad?”
While CBS anchor Harry Smith provided a short summary of the development, the CBS Evening News allocated four times more time to new USDA dietary guidelines which call for less consumption of salt. Smith tried to downplay the significance of the ruling:
After ABC’s World News ignored the March for Life pro-life event last week, the January 30 World News Sunday did find time to run a report highlighting complaints by gay rights activists over Chick-fil-A -- a family-owned restaurant chain known for its Christian-based social advocacy -- supplying food to a socially conservative group in Pennsylvania that promoted a ban on same-sex marriage in the state that was enacted in 1996.
The piece, by correspondent Steve Osunsami, featured soundbites from four different people who had words of disapproval for Chick-fil-A, including a member of the liberal Human Rights Campaign. But Osunsami did not include clips from anyone outside the company to support the restaurant chain or the concept of traditional marriage, although he did use a soundbite and a statement from company president Dan Cathy toward the end of the report defending his family's position.
Anchor Dan Harris framed the issue from the point of view of gay rights activists declaring "enough" as he set up the piece. Harris: "We're going to take a look tonight at a budding controversy that pits a wildly popular fast food chain against the gay community. The owners of Chick-fil-A have proudly built Christian principles into their corporate culture, but when one of its outlets donated food to a group that has worked to block same-sex marriage, gay rights groups said: Enough."
To add an exclamation point to Brad Wilmouth's great post last night ("ABC Pushes for Tax Hike on Capital Gains, Ignores Likelihood of Tax Revenue Loss") -- in ignoring the likelihood that raising the capital gains tax rate would reduce capital gains tax collections, the network also "somehow" forgot now-retired World News Tonight anchor Charles Gibson's aggressive questioning on the topic during an April 2008 Democratic Party presidential debate.
That night, ABC, represented by Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, who was then the host of ABC's Sunday morning news show, drove leftists crazy (noted at the time in NewsBusters posts here and here), because, as NB's Brent Bozell noted, "For once it veered from liberal orthodoxy."
One of Gibson's "veers" consisted of questions he asked presidential contenders Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton about capital gains taxation. The now-defunct New York Sun characterized it as "Gibson's Finest Hour" (I would suggest that it might really have been "Gibson's Only Fine Hour"), and wrote it up thusly (internal link added by me; bolds are mine):
On Friday’s World News, and again on Saturday morning’s Good Morning America, ABC ran reports highlighting hedge fund manager John Paulson’s "jaw-dropping" 2010 income from capital gains, fretting that he will not pay as high a tax rate as many regular income earners, and referring to Paulson’s lower tax rate as a "loophole" or a "tax break." GMA co-anchor Dan Harris even relayed complaints of "extreme unfairness."
Both reports ignored the historical evidence - recounted below - that raising capital gains tax rates leads to revenue losses for the government, and instead concentrated on the complaints of those who want to see a tax increase. Both reports also misleadingly referred to "so many Americans" or "the typical American" paying income tax rates of "up to 35 percent," without noting that many lower-income Americans pay no income taxes while the 35 percent rate only applies to higher-income earners. And the idea of cutting the income tax rate on many Americans to move it closer to 15 percent certainly was not mentioned.
On Friday’s World News, anchor Diane Sawyer set up that show’s piece:
Of the three evening newscasts, only NBC's Chuck Todd on Wednesday offered no critical analysis of Barack Obama's call for both new spending and deficit reduction. ABC's Jake Tapper actually investigated the proposed plans and concluded, "...It almost looks like a wash between his new ideas for cutting and his new ideas for spending."
CBS's Chip Reid also highlighted Republican opposition and the fact that the deficit reduction plan doesn't include Medicare or Social Security. Yet, Todd, appearing on Nightly News, simply parroted, "The President was reinforcing a call he made last night for greater investment and innovation and infrastructure to keep America competitive."
On Sunday’s Good Morning America on ABC, during a discussion of President Obama’s upcoming State of the Union Address, as guest Mike Paul of MGP and Associates PR argued that Obama needs to talk about forming a "partnership" with businesses and cutting taxes, co-anchor Dan Harris fretted that there would be "political risk" in Obama getting too close to business. Harris: "Isn't there some political risk here, though, for the President getting too cozy with the business community, given the fact that there are a lot of people in this country who are still very, very, angry at the CEOs and at Wall Street for helping create this mess in the first place?"
After Paul alluded to Obama utilizing business leaders as "experts," Harris continued: "Yeah, but there are a lot of people who say these are the experts who got us in trouble in the first place."
On Friday’s World News on ABC, correspondent Linsey Davis filed a one-sided report in which she cited the views of climate scientists who blame the recent cold temperatures and high amounts of snowfall on global warming. After recounting the recent extreme weather around the country, Davis continued:
If this winter seems especially brutal, scientists say you're right. ABC News contacted 10 climate scientists to ask their take, if an extreme winter like the one we're having is the way of the future. The consensus? Global warming is playing a role by shifting weather patterns in unpredictable ways. Many say the forecast for the future calls for record-breaking precipitation and extreme temperatures year round. And that means winters with more snow.
The ABC correspondent concluded the report by noting the unusually cold temperatures in Boston:
On the January 23 World News Sunday, ABC News Senior Washington Editor Rick Klein used President Obama’s euphemism for spending as "investments" as he and anchor Dan Harris discussed how Republicans will likely respond to Tuesday’s State of the Union Address. Although the setup piece by correspondent David Kerley did allude to Obama’s word choice to call his plan "cut and invest" as having significance, noting that it "worries Republicans," after the piece had ended, Klein twice used the term "investments" as if it were straight, nonpartisan terminology. Klein:
But when you get down to the policy, the President talking about the targeted new investments, that is going to be such a tough sell in the current environment. Republicans are busy preparing long lists of budget cuts. That's going to be their focus. So, regardless of what the applause looks like on Tuesday night, it's going to be very difficult for the President to get any Republican support for any even very targeted new investments.
Kerley’s report had played a soundbite of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s skeptical response to the term "invest":
“The health care law may not be popular, but many of the provisions now in effect are,” ABC’s Jonathan Karl asserted in his Thursday night look at the House vote to repeal ObamaCare as he highlighted one beneficiary of it without a balancing opponent or list of detrimental provisions: “To Kris Cambra, whose four-year-old son has a heart condition, the law is a life changer, and repeal would be a disaster.”
Karl touted: “Already, seniors are getting more money to pay for their prescription drugs. Children can stay on their parents' insurance until age 26. And children with pre-existing conditions can't be denied coverage.”
On the NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams proposed the vote matched the public perception of Republicans as more inflexible than President Obama: “And just today, kind of as we speak, the Republicans in the House pretty much straight up and down party line vote to repeal ObamaCare, knowing it's dead on arrival in the Senate where the Democrats run things.”
On Saturday, both ABC and NBC ran stories fretting over the Crossroads of the West Gun Show that was held over the weekend in Tucson, Arizona. On ABC, at one point, correspondent David Wright seemed surprised that the large number of people showing up at the event were customers instead of protesters. After relaying that some members of Congress want more gun control laws and cautioning viewers that they should not "hold your breath for them to pass," he continued: "If you wonder why, just check out the crowd at today's gun show. These aren't protesters, they're customers."
Over on the NBC Nightly News, correspondent Kristen Welker noted that it is legal to carry concealed weapons in Arizona, "just as Loughner did last Saturday," as if a person with homicidal intent would decide to obey a law against carrying concealing weapons:
KRISTEN WELKER: Guns are permissible almost anywhere in the state, including many public buildings, and it is legal for people to conceal those weapons and carry them around, just as Loughner did last Saturday.
PAUL HELMKE, BRADY COMMISSION PRESIDENT: Arizona is only the third state in the country to allow people to carry loaded, hidden guns without any permitting process at all.