CBS's Bob Schieffer on Wednesday night offered the hindsight that everyone knew the Democratic gubernatorial candidates in Virginia and New Jersey would lose, they did lose and so the losses mean nothing. “I think what we saw last night were snap shots. I don't think we saw predictors,” Schieffer declared on the CBS Evening News in absolving President Obama of any culpability. “I don't think they told us much except that people are very frustrated out in the country.” And that, apparently, has nothing to do with Obama.
Schieffer recited what happened with remarkable prescience: In Virginia, “they run someone for Governor [Creigh Deeds] who is a rural candidate who's little-known in Northern Virginia and who could not seem to connect with the African-American voters. So he got beat and he got beat bad. Most people thought that was going to happen and it did.” Up Interstate 95 in New Jersey, Governor Jon Corzine “was just so unpopular that I think he just didn't have a chance from the get-go.”
Following a Monday night look at Tuesday's special election to fill New York's 23rd congressional district seat in which Republican Dede Scozzafava dropped out after falling behind the Democrat and the Conservative Party nominee, ABC anchor Charles Gibson -- instead of wondering why the GOP establishment failed to pick a candidate who upholds basic Republican principles -- delivered the usual liberal media upset over the GOP's lack of a “big tent,” a phrase you never hear when Democrats pick left-wing candidates:
A liberal Republican gets forced out of the race by a more conservative guy who was actually not a Republican, was running on the Conservative ticket. What happened to the big tent in the Republican Party?
John Berman framed the preceding story on the “moderate” Scozzafava “who supports abortion rights and the President’s stimulus plan,” around the premise that going with a conservative candidate will hurt in the long run: “A Republican drops out of a race which might guarantee Republicans keep the seat, which might be bad for the Republican party long term.” Berman concluded with how the conservative candidate, Douglas Hoffman, “says not all views are welcome” as he suggested “there's always boundaries.” To which Berman intoned: “The question for Republicans is will those boundaries become a burden?”
ABC anchor Charles Gibson on Wednesday night had time to convey President Barack Obama's praise of Edward Brooke for “breaking barriers” as the first popularly-elected black U.S. Senator, but not to inform viewers he broke that barrier as a Republican. On NBC, however, David Gregory noted Brooke's party affiliation: “The Massachusetts Republican urged the lawmakers who gathered to congratulate him to put aside partisan differences and work together.”
Neither Gibson nor Gregory pointed out that after two terms representing Massachusetts, in 1978 Brooke, a fairly liberal Republican, was challenged and beaten by one of the media's liberal heroes, the late Paul Tsongas -- a Democrat who was a white guy.
Hard to imagine that if George W. Bush were still in office journalists would hesitate a moment to invoke his name in identifying a culprit for the current shortage and delay in delivery, well beyond the schedule promised by HHS's Centers for Disease Control, of the vaccine for the H1N1 “swine flu” virus. Remember Katrina? Coverage Monday night matches what I've seen over the past several days with no mention of Obama or his administration, beyond reporting his issuance of a “national emergency” decree, as journalists instead cited “federal officials” and “the government.”
On the CBS Evening News, fill-in anchor Harry Smith reported: “Now to the H1N1 flu. Federal health officials admitted today their projected timetable for producing the vaccine was way off. They originally said there would be about 40 million doses by the end of the month. But as of today, there's less than half that number.” Subsituting on the NBC Nightly News, Ann Curry blandly announced: “President Obama declared the swine flu pandemic a national emergency over the weekend, but still the amount of vaccine to protect against it is running way behind what the government had promised.”
Demonstrating the media never tire in coming up with new rationales to tout President Barack Obama's popularity, ABC led Monday night with a polltimed to the night before Tuesday's nine-month mark of the Obama presidency -- as if that's some kind of important anniversary, and spent as much time on how it found record low affinity for Republicans. Anchor Charles Gibson announced “the President has a 57 percent approval rating, his rating rising for the first time since April. And only 20 percent of the country now consider themselves Republican. That is the lowest level of support in 26 years.”
In “perhaps the biggest surprise,” Gibson suggested, “57 percent support one of the [health] plan's most controversial elements -- perhaps the most controversial -- a government-sponsored insurance option,” though “fewer than half those polled agree with” Obama on health care as “45 percent approve of his plans for health care reform, 48 percent opposed.”
Emphasizing Obama's popularity compared to the GOP, George Stephanopoulos relayed how “we asked Americans 'who do you trust to make the right decisions for the country's future?' 49 percent said President Obama, only 19 percent said Republicans in Congress.” Stephanopoulos also contended “one of the most interesting numbers in the poll, Charlie, the President's highest ratings on how he's handled his responsibilities as Commander-in-Chief: 57 percent.”
After months of investigation, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) released a report addressing accusations from some humanitarian groups that its use of white phosphorus (WP) munitions in the Gaza War was a violation of international law, as the report distinguishes between the use of WP as a weapon and the more common non-weapon purposes such as providing smoke screens to conceal troop movements. The pro-Israel group CAMERA recently quoted from the report in the article, "Did Israel’s Use of White Phosphorus Constitute a War Crime?" by Steven Stotsky, on its Web site. The report not only argued that the military's decision to explode the munition in the air was safer for civilians than it would have been to explode it on the ground, but it also suggested that the use of WP to facilitate troops movements also meant civilian casualties were lower than they otherwise would have been by making attacks on Hamas more accurate.
Last January, evening newscasts and some morning newscasts on the broadcast networks and on CNN and FNC reported on accusations from humanitarian groups – with varying degrees of accuracy – with CBS even referring to WP as a "banned weapon," and a "horrific new weapon, " and contending that the IDF may have committed "war crimes." At one point, CNN similarly incorrectly identified WP as a "banned substance." ABC showed a clip of a wounded Palestinian boy charging that Israelis have "no mercy" even for children. (MSNBC does not have a morning or evening newscast equivalent to NBC’s Today show or the NBC Nightly News, so MSNBC coverage was not examined.) But, according to a Nexis search, none of these news programs showed any interest in updating viewers once the Israeli military had made public its say on the matter.
As previously documented by NewsBusters, the January 22 CBS Evening News ran a report (video here), introduced by anchor Katie Couric, which left the impression that the Israeli military had used a "banned weapon," without informing viewers that there are non-weapon uses for WP, and passed on accusations of "war crimes." Couric: "Hamas just ended a bloody war with Israel in Gaza, and tonight there is growing evidence the Israelis may have used a banned weapon. Some even accuse them of war crimes."
On the January 25 World News Sunday on ABC, as he introduced a report by correspondent Simon McGregor-Wood, anchor Dan Harris played up complaints against "both sides" in the war, and even suggested that the Israeli side may have been worse in its conduct of the war as he highlighted that there was "especially tough criticism" leveled at Israel. Harris: "Both sides are being dogged now by complaints that they violated the rules of war. Israel has come under especially tough criticism for its use of a chemical agent."
Heck of a job, kid. ABC's Charles Gibson on Thursday night showcased what he described as “an interesting” question President Barack Obama got from “a fourth grader” during a friendly town hall session in New Orleans: “Why people hate you, and why? They're supposed to love you.” Viewers were treated to a lengthy soundbite of Obama's appreciative response:
That's what I'm talking about! Well, now, first of all, I did get elected President, so not everybody hates me. You know what is true is, if you were watching TV lately, it seems like everybody's just getting mad all the time. And I, you know, I think that you've got to take it with a grain of salt. Some of it is just what's called politics. And so you just got to keep on going, even when folks are criticizing me, because, as long as you know that you're doing it for other people. All right? So, thank you, you're a fine young man.
You might think that the three major networks would look favorably upon the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) breaking through the symbolic 10,000 mark. After all, it they could use it as an opportunity to spin the news as a victory for Barack Obama and his economic policies.
But that wasn't the case. Instead ABC, CBS and NBC used the occasion to point out that the rich on Wall Street are getting bonuses for the performance of the stock market, while others across the country are suffering.
"Now, if an economic recovery is under way, not everyone is sharing in it equally," "CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric said. "Pick up today's Wall Street Journal and you'll read banks and securities firms are on track to pay their employees record amounts this year. And, you pick up The New York Times and you'll see some workers are being forced to take huge pay cuts."
ABC's Charles Gibson and CBS's Katie Couric led their newscasts on Tuesday night in a manner which suggested they are along for the ride with President Barack Obama as they celebrated how a Senate committee's vote moved Obama's quest to impose ObamaCare closer to reality.
“In 1912, almost a hundred years ago,” Gibson trumpeted at the top of World News, “Teddy Roosevelt called for universal health care. It now may be closer than at any time since then.” Couric championed “a major victory for President Obama” and how “health care reform cleared a major hurdle today” so “health care reform is closer than it's ever been,” but, she warned, “the battle is still far from over.”
Gibson teased: “Tonight, vital vote. A key Republican joins with Democrats in an historic move forward on health care. We cover today's vote, and talk with Senator Olympia Snowe.” With “Crucial Vote” on screen, he led:
ABC, CBS and NBC all led Friday night with the “surprise” pick of President Barack Obama for the Nobel Peace Prize after less than a year in office and acknowledged the choice was meant as a slap at former President George W. Bush, but that didn't prevent the network journalists from touting the honor of the selection and, in one case, worrying about how critics will use the award against him.
“He has been in office nine months,” ABC anchor Charles Gibson observed as ABC plastered glowing praise on screen: “The Nobel committee citation seemed to take note of that, saying, 'only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope.'” Katie Couric exclaimed: “Talk about an October surprise!”
Despite the obvious politicization of the award, NBC's Brian Williams championed how it's “one of the last remaining towering honors on Earth.” Williams also fretted over how Obama's advisers will deal with “knowing that critics of the White House will use this, oddly, as a tool against him.” On CBS, Jeff Greenfield saw vindication for Obama after losing the Olympic bid:
Wednesday’s CBS Evening News With Katie Couric and Thursday’s Early show completely ignored any mention of the fact that the deficit has risen to a staggering $1.4 trillion, triple what it was a year ago. The Early Show, however, did find time to report the incredibly important news that Levi Johnston will be posing for Playgirl.
Just one year ago, on October 7, 2008, Katie Couric made sure to single out the "record federal deficit." She intoned, "Today the Congressional Budget Office reported the red ink totaled $438 billion for the budget year that ended last week. Now, that's nearly three times last year's deficit." Apparently, tripling the deficit is only interesting when it’s done by a Republican.
ABC and NBC’s morning shows all managed to report the new numbers, though mostly in news briefs only. On Wednesday, however, World News anchor Charles Gibson highlighted the report by the Congressional Budget Office on Barack Obama’s health care bill, but skipped the deficit.
BMI's Julia A. Seymour appeared on FNC's "America's News Headquarters" to discuss her latest report, "Networks Flip Flop on Jobs."
During Seymour's Oct. 4 appearance, she told host Shannon Bream some of the findings of her report.
"Let's talk about who was the president 26 years ago, Ronald Reagan. So how were his unemployment numbers, or what happened under his watch covered as compared to how we see them being covered now under President Obama?" Bream asked.
The broadcast evening networks all led Friday night not with the jump in the unemployment rate to 9.8%, but with the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) rejection of Chicago's bid, stories which reflected the premise Chicago lost “despite” or “in spite” of the “star-studded U.S. appeal from Oprah to the Obamas,” while ABC's Charles Gibson absolved President Barack Obama by pressing for confirmation of “some anti-American sentiment here?” and whether “this is seen as a poke in the eye to the President himself or...to the U.S.?” George Stephanopoulos assured viewers:
If the President gets a health care bill this fall, if the economy starts to turn around, if he can build an international coalition to take on Iran's nuclear program, none of this will matter.
A lot of ifs.
On Wednesday night, CBS anchor Katie Couric had declared “the 'Dream Team' pushing Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympic summer games is nearly complete” and was just awaiting “team captain” President Barack Obama who “arrives Friday ahead of the final vote.” After the vote, Couric remained impressed by the effort, teasing Friday's CBS Evening News: “Tonight, Chicago hope dashed. Despite a high-powered, star-studded U.S. appeal from Oprah to the Obamas, the Olympics are awarded to Rio.”
With First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey now in Copenhagen, CBS anchor Katie Couric on Wednesday night declared “the 'Dream Team' pushing Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympic summer games is nearly complete” and is now just awaiting “the team captain” -- that would be President Barack Obama, who “arrives Friday ahead of the final vote.”
On ABC, reporter Yunji de Nies marveled at her discovery that members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are not as impressed by President Obama as are those in the American press corps: “Even the prospect of meeting President Obama on Friday leaves some of them unfazed.” She then showed a clip of herself asking an unidentified man: “So, you're not impressed by the President?” The man, who per a scan of the IOC site's pictures most-resembles Japan's Chiharu Igaya, confirmed: “Never, never.”
“It is possible to have a very good health insurance system without a public option,” ABC's Dr. Tim Johnson acceded on Tuesday's World News in the wake of the Senate Finance Committee's bi-partisan rejection of the liberal quest, but without it we must follow Switzerland and Germany which have “no public option” yet impose “very heavy government regulation” on the health insurance industry. “One way or another, public option or regulation, the government has to play a role,” Johnson, who in March declared it a “national shame” that the U.S. lacks universal coverage, maintained. [audio here, video below page break]
ABC anchor Charles Gibson actually issued a liberal tag in setting up the segment on “a set-back today for the President and liberal Democrats.” Gibson relayed how “the President says we need this public option to keep insurance costs in line. Now with that gone,” he fretted in accepting the view of public option advocates, “do we face escalating insurance costs?”
President Barack Obama's last-minute decision to fly Thursday to Copenhagen to pitch Chicago's bid for the 2016 summer Olympic games excited broadcast network journalists Monday night. “The Olympic motto is 'swifter, higher, stronger,'” fill-in CBS Evening News anchor Harry Smith reminded viewers before trumpeting: “Apparently, President Obama is taking that to heart. In a change of plans today, the President decided he will go to Denmark to try to win the 2016 summer games for his hometown.” On NBC, Savannah Guthrie championed Obama's credentials:
From his candidate days to earlier this month on the White House lawn, where he picked up some pointers on fencing, the President has established himself as a kind of Olympics super-fan. Now with Chicago locked in a tight battle with Tokyo, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro, and their heads of state making the trip to Copenhagen, the hometown pressure for Obama to go was intense.
ABC, which pointed out how “no President has ever made such an appeal,” even led with the development. “Olympic bid,” Charles Gibson teased, “the President decides to travel thousands of miles for a last-minute personal pitch, hoping to bring the 2016 Olympics to Chicago.”
Perhaps ABC is just over-eager to find some of those "green shoots" of economic recovery we're supposed to be seeing. Despite the nationwide unemployment rate of 9.7 percent - a 26-year high - the network still managed to find some "welcome news" on the jobs front.
On September 23, "World News'" Charles Gibson reported that a whopping 12,000 people are being hired in the "recession-battered city" of Las Vegas. While Gibson did mention that "160,000 people applied" for those jobs, Gibson failed to contrast the 12,000 against the 14,988,000 other Americans still out of work.
ABC, CBS and NBC all led Wednesday night with President Barack Obama's address at the United Nations, but Katie Couric was the most effusive in trumpeting how Obama marked the end of the Bush era as she teased the CBS Evening News: “Tonight, the President tells the world America's 'go it alone' policy is over.” Her glowing lead:
Good evening, everyone. President Obama says we have reached a “pivotal moment.” In his UN debut today, he challenged the world to work together to solve the problems facing all of us. And in a break with the “go it alone policies” of his predecessor, he said the United States is ready to begin a new chapter of international cooperation.
On NBC, Andrea Mitchell followed a similar script: “It was the President's first speech to the United Nations and it marked a very stark departure from the policies of George W. Bush, as the President called for a new era of engagement with the rest of the world, reaching out to new friends and old foes.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's decision to go to the Senate floor on Tuesday to call out the Obama administration for using the full power of a federal regulatory agency to suppress free speech -- specifically, to silence Humana's predictions about the impact of proposed ObamaCare cuts to the Medicare Advantage program -- led ABC, but not CBS or NBC, to air a story on the “gag order.”
ABC's story began with a McConnell soundbite (“'Shut up,' the government says, 'don't communicate with your customers. Be quiet and get in line,'”), before reporter Jonathan Karl explained McConnell was referring to the “Department of Health and Human Services, telling insurance companies who serve Medicare recipients, to stop 'misleading' and 'confusing' mailings, saying, quote: 'We are instructing you to immediately discontinue all such mailings, and remove any related materials from your Web sites.'”
Karl continued: “The extraordinary order comes in response to a mailing the Humana insurance company sent to customers in the Medicare Advantage program. The Humana mailing warned that because of Medicare cuts in the health care reform bills, quote, 'millions of seniors and disabled individuals could lose many important benefits and services.'”
A lover's quarrel emerged Tuesday night in the media's love affair with President Barack Obama. He disappointed NBC by failing, at the UN's “Summit on Climate Change,” to go far enough on global warming. “President Obama's being accused of falling short on the environment today with the whole world watching,” Brian Williams teased NBC Nightly News. Williams framed his lead story through the prism of the left as he fretted that, “in the eyes of a lot of environmentalists,” Obama “fell short.” Worse, while other nations are “ready to change, ready to get cleaner, President Obama's speech left a lot of people wanting more.”
Reporter Anne Thompson wistfully recalled that “when Barack Obama became President, many in the world hoped the U.S. would take a leadership role in stopping climate change” and so “that led to big expectations for today's speech -- expectations that were quickly dashed.” Thompson asserted “the world wanted to hear President Obama make a commitment to specific cuts in carbon dioxide emissions. Instead of action, it got talk” and, in the ultimate insult a journalist can deliver, she rued how Obama had “one line that sounded a lot like his predecessor, George W. Bush, who refused to agree to emission cuts without similar actions from India and China.”
ABC's "World News" is supposed to be above the fray, right? According to "World News" executive Jon Banner, his program didn't jump into covering the recent ACORN scandal because it is "not in the business of noise."
Earlier in the day, on four Sunday morning network news programs, President Barack Obama had urged the media not to engage in Taibbi's specialty. The networks shouldn't air rude, angry political behavior, because that only encourages it, the president said. ABC must have missed that memo.
Television network journalists on Friday night marveled at President Barack Obama's planned “media blitz” for health care reform even as they, the enablers, reveled in it as they made the very “blitz” and clips from the interviews (conducted Friday afternoon for airing on Sunday morning) their top story of the day. Based on those excerpts, the Sunday hosts were most interested in getting Obama's take on the “tone” of the health care debate (Obama blamed cable TV and blogs) and whether opposition is driven by racism. The teases:
♦ ABC's Charles Gibson at the top of World News: “Tonight, mass media. The President launches another media blitz on health care, and addresses whether race might be behind some of the criticisms of his plan.” (Gibson led by admiring: “On five, count them, five Sunday morning talk shows the guest will be Obama, Obama, Obama, Obama and Obama. That's never been done before...”)
♦ CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric: “Tonight, from Sunday morning to Monday night, the President's TV blitz for health care reform.”
♦ Brian Williams at the start of the NBC Nightly News: “On our broadcast tonight, an extraordinary media blitz by the President and now the First Lady steps in and tonight our own David Gregory asks the President directly about race and President Carter's charges.”
After a summer swoon, you would think that the evening newscasts of the Big 3 networks would start to recover a bit now that many Americans are back from vacations, kids are back in school, and fall routines are getting established or re-established.
So far, you would be wrong.
It's early, and there's still plenty of time this fall to recover, but during the time period after Labor Day, the broadcasts primarily anchored by Brian Williams at NBC, Charles Gibson at ABC, and Katie Couric at CBS:
Are down a combined 28.5% from their peak in late January during the first full week of Barack Obama's presidency.
Have lost a combined 37.7% of their audience in the 25-54 demographic during the same time period.
Are down year-over-year compared to September 1, 2008, the week after Labor a year ago, by 8.9% overall and 18.1% in the 25-54 demographic.
At 19.55 million, are basically drawing audiences no larger than they were during this past (for them) miserable summer.
In light of the revelation that ABC News anchor Charles Gibson had not even heard of the recently revealed evidence of corruption by ACORN, comedian and FNC contributor Dennis Miller zinged Gibson as he alluded to the fact that the ABC anchor had famously quizzed Sarah Palin on her knowledge of the Bush doctrine during the 2008 campaign, but himself is now failing the test of keeping abreast of newsworthy current events.
During his regular "Miller Time" appearance on FNC's The O'Reilly Factor on Tuesday, when host O'Reilly brought up the tapes showing ACORN employees giving advice on how to break the law to those they believed to be a pimp and underage prostitute, Miller brought up Gibson's embarrassing lack of knowledge of the scandal. Miller: "Before I go on, did you hear Charlie Gibson today? He had not heard of this at all." After he and O'Reilly both praised Gibson as a good man, Miller continued: "He's got to wake up, though. He's got to pay attention to the story and not put it off on the cables. If he paid attention to this like he accuses Palin of paying attention to the Bush doctrine, he would have known about it."
Referring to ACORN, he later added: "These people have to be brought down. I think these two kids deserve Pulitzers, quite frankly."
In the first story on CBS since the scandal broke last week, on Tuesday’s Evening News, anchor Katie Couric reported: "The grassroots community organization called ACORN helps low-income Americans find affordable housing and gets tens of millions of dollars in government funding. But as Cynthia Bowers reports, that may be coming to an end after a scandal caught on tape."
After showing undercover video of ACORN workers across the country advising filmmakers James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles, who posed as a pimp and prostitute, on how to run an underage prostitution ring, Bowers explained: "ACORN says the workers caught on tape were fired but contends the videos were illegally obtained, doctored and deceptive, and is threatening legal action against the undercover filmmakers posing as the couple...No matter who’s to blame, long-term damage to the reputation of the poverty rights organization may already be done." The CBS story failed to identify ACORN as a liberal organization.
NBC did not get to the ACORN story on Tuesday’s Nightly News, but did cover the scandal on Wednesday’s Today, with co-host Meredith Vieira reporting: "And now to the scandal involving the community organizing group known as ACORN. Over the years, it has received tens of millions of dollars in federal housing money, but now hidden camera videos have led to the U.S. Senate voting to cut off funds to the group."
ABC and NBC on Tuesday night joined the effort to undermine the anti-Obama tea party participants by smearing them as racists as ABC framed a story around the proposition “some prominent Obama supporters are now saying” the opposition to Obama is “driven, in part, by a refusal to accept a black President,” while NBC anchor Brian Williams touted how “former President Carter spoke up and spoke out about” the supposed racism. Williams alleged “a certain number of signs and images at last weekend's big tea party march in Washington and at other recent events have featured racial and other violent themes and President Carter today said he is extremely worried by it.” (MP3 audio of Williams, Video below)
With “OUT OF LINE?” on screen beneath what appeared to be pictures from the August town halls, ABC anchor Charles Gibson set up the piece from Dan Harris who recited a litany of liberal presumptions:
They've waved signs likening President Obama to Hitler and the devil, raised questions about whether he was really born in this country, falsely accused him of planning to set up death panels, decried his speech to students as indoctrination and called him everything from a fascist to a socialist to a communist. And all that was before Mr. Obama's speech was interrupted by a Representative who once fought to keep the Confederate flag waving over the South Carolina state house. Add it all up, and some prominent Obama supporters are now saying that it paints a picture of an opposition driven, in part, by a refusal to accept a black President. (MP3 audio,Video below)
Katie Couric’s CBS Evening News on Friday omitted any mention of the murder of pro-life activist Jim Pouillon in Michigan, despite having discussed the murder of abortionist George Tiller on the June 1, June 2 and June 9 newscasts (and then referencing the killing as a recent “hate crime” in a June 10 report on the shooting at Washington, D.C.’s Holocaust Museum).
Both ABC’s World News and the NBC Nightly News, in contrast, offered full reports on the killing of Pouillon and a local businessman, but offered different explanations. According to NBC’s John Yang, prosecutors said the killer, Harlan Drake, had grudges against his victims and another intended target but “none of them were specifically related to anti- or pro-abortion beliefs.”
Over on ABC, however, reporter Chris Bury showed a soundbite from the Owosso police chief that sure sounded like a grudge against Pouillon’s protests: “Mr. Drake did not believe the children should view the graphic material that was on the signs that Mr. Pouillon carried.”
And ABC’s Bury claimed Friday’s killing of the peaceful protester represented “the flip side of the troubling violence surrounding the abortion debate,” and equated the pro-life activist with the doctor who performed late-term abortions: “George Tiller and Jim Pouillon, on opposite sides of the abortion divide, but both victims of the hate that too often surrounds it.”
Media minds think alike. ABC: “It was the shout heard 'round the world.” CBS: “It was the shout heard 'round the world.” NBC, slightly creative: “The outburst heard 'round the world” and the “heckle heard 'round the world.” Congressman Joe Wilson's “you lie” shout during President Obama's Wednesday address to Congress on health care animated the Thursday evening newscasts, though it at least prompted ABC and NBC, but not CBS, to grudgingly take up, briefly, Wilson's contention illegal immigrants would receive health benefits.
“As the President spoke last night, there was a stunning moment. As the President tried to refute criticisms of his health care reform, a Republican Congressman from South Carolina yelled out 'you lie,'” ABC anchor Charles Gibson announced. On CBS, Katie Couric maintained “Presidents appearing there as respected guests have been interrupted before by boos and hisses, but this was different. A Congressman last night calling a President an outright liar to his face. Just the latest indication of how ugly the debate over reforming health care has gotten.”
Brian Williams teased the NBC Nightly News: “On our broadcast tonight, the speech on health care and the outburst heard 'round the world.” In the subsequent story Kelly O'Donnell portrayed “a stunning outburst. South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson accused the President of lying in a fit of anger that reverberated today.”
ABC's World News on Tuesday night bemoaned the impact of conservatives and citizen journalists in derailing President Barack Obama's agenda. Pivoting from the reaction to Obama's address to students, anchor Charles Gibson observed “today's speech was really the latest target of some conservative groups taking on the President” and “their tactics are having an impact.”
Reporter Dan Harris asserted “the conservative echo chamber is not new, but,” he fretted, “this White House is operating in a vastly accelerated media environment where you no longer need to be in the presence of reporters to make news, as we saw with the health care furor at those town hall meetings.” Journalistic veteran Tom Rosenstiel marveled: “Today you can arrange that protest yourself, photograph it with a hand-held cell phone, and if you can then generate enough views of that video on YouTube, you can make something into national news.” That's because, Harris insisted, “the mainstream media love a good fight, even if the charges are unfounded.”
Though Harris acknowledged “some of the conservative complaints do play into larger concerns” about Obama, he relayed how “critics say the White House has been simply unprepared to deal with the ferocity of the conservative push-back.”
Instead of focusing on how the Obama administration found it appropriate to hire a man who added his name to a petition asserting the Bush administration deliberately allowed the 9/11 attacks to occur -- or the incompetence displayed in not knowing about it -- ABC and NBC on Sunday night painted Van Jones as a victim, “a target for conservatives,” while “the Republican Right” claimed “its first scalp in this administration.” [audio available here]
With “Under Fire” on screen by a picture of Jones, as if he's the aggrieved party, World News anchor Dan Harris fretted that “at this crucial moment,” with President Obama planning to take up health care, “the White House is now dealing with a sudden overnight resignation of a controversial adviser.” Reporter Stephanie Sy stressed how Jones' remarks on various topics “were all made before he joined the Obama administration, but made him an easy target for conservatives.” She acknowledged Jones “in fact did describe himself as an aspiring communist revolutionary in his youth,” but, she highlighted, “he said he is the victim of a 'vicious smear campaign of lies and distortion.'” Sy featured Howard Dean lamenting Jones will no longer be able “to help this country,” before she concluded: “Democrats worry that Van Jones is only the first of Mr. Obama's so-called policy czars...that will be targeted by Republicans.”
Inadvertently, presumably, NBC anchor Lester Holt conceded the mainstream media's malfeasance: “I don't think most Americans had heard of him before this.” Holt then asked John Harwood: “Can the Republican Right claim its first scalp in this administration?” Harwood pointed to how Obama “lost” Tom Dashle, and proceeded to agree that “yes, it is a victory for the Republican Right,” though he insisted “Jones was not an especially important figure within the administration. His job wasn't that big.”