Five weeks ago (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the Big Three Networks' combined evening news audiences dropped to below 20 million -- an audience about 5% less than what Matt Drudge in the summer of 2006 headlined as “TV’s Lowest Week.”
Three weeks ago (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), their combined audience came in at 19.61 million, down over 12% from the previous year.
For the week of May 3, the combined total fell further, to the point where they're one more really bad week away from hitting an all-time low -- a low that was "achieved" in mid-June of last year (Source -- Media Bistro, week of May 3, 2010; week of May 4, 2009):
In quite a contrast to the immediate tagging of the Bush and Obama Supreme Court nominees as “conservative” (and that includes Sonya Sotomayor), on Monday night ABC and NBC refrained from applying any ideological description to Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan while CBS snuck in one. CBS's Jan Crawford declared “her career has put her solidly on the left,” but contended “she will have significant conservative support among academics and lawyers” and warned “that support alarms some liberals.”
Amongst the non-ideological superlatives: ABC's Diane Sawyer trumpeted the “historic nomination” of the “five foot three inch powerhouse,” CBS's Crawford insisted “her interests reflect her openness. She loves softball and poker” (poker reflects “openness”?) and NBC's Pete Williams hailed her as an “accomplished poker player, opera lover.”
ABC, CBS and NBC all highlighted Kagan's high school yearbook picture of her in a robe and holding a gavel (ABC's Moran: “Even in high school, check out her yearbook photo here, she had her sights set on the high court”), but none pointed out the explicitly very liberal polemical points she made just a year or two later, nor did CNN's The Situation Room.
Liberal political pundits frequently remind Americans that words matter, which makes broadcast network reporters' coverage of Arizona's new crack down on illegal immigrants so appalling.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a law on April 23 that would make it a misdemeanor for immigrants to not carry documentation proving they are in the country legally. The bill gave state law enforcement the power to determine the immigration status of any person during "any lawful contact." Amid allegations that this law would lead to "racial profiling," Brewer later amended it to allow law enforcement to only check the immigration status of those involved in a "lawful stop, detention or arrest."
Reporters on ABC, NBC and CBS misled the American people about the law by calling it "anti-immigration" twice as often as correctly identifying the law as "anti-illegal immigration" and reporting, as ABC's Bill Weir did on the April 24 "Good Morning America, "Police [in Arizona] now have the power to stop anyone and make them prove they are legal."
Before “a disturbing change” of character in early 2009, arrested terrorist Faisal Shahzad, ABC's Chris Cuomo asserted Tuesday night, “seemed to be living the American dream” with a wife whose Facebook page “says she loves Everybody Loves Raymond and Friends” while “his signature seems to suggest optimism -- it appears a heart is dotting the 'i' in Faisal” in a job application found outside his foreclosed house. (larger jpg image)
The “big question” for a befuddled Cuomo: “Why did someone, with apparently so much to live for, simply decide to throw it all away?”
“Angry backlash from coast to coast,” ABC’s David Muir teased Saturday’s World News, “huge rallies across this country tonight against that new controversial immigration law.” On CBS, Jeff Glor teased: “May Day Message. Immigrant right groups rally from coast to coast against Arizona's controversial new law.”
ABC reporter Eric Horng touted how “this is the fifth year in a row that nationwide immigration rallies have been held on May 1st, but this year emotions are particularly raw. They came by the thousands. A sea of demonstrators armed with a message.” He soon claimed “the state has been lampooned by comedians” and as evidence played the very same clip from the left wing Jon Stewart as had NBC’s Andrea Mitchell earlier in the week when she asserted Arizona had become “a laughing stock.”
From Phoenix, CBS’s Bill Whitaker began with how “the many citizens here say that if the politicians don't hear their voices today they might hear them at the ballot box a little louder in November,” but moments later in his story Whitaker showcased an admitted illegal:
Gerardo, who asked us to conceal his identity, crossed illegally from Mexico to Arizona four years ago. With the new law he knows there's a greater chance he’ll be arrested and deported...He has a daughter, a state job, a home which his an American born partner Jessica is packing up, fearing they might have to flee...So they joined the protest in Phoenix, fighting to overturn the law. [video below, MP3 audio]
Given the contentious debate over the proper role of religion in American public life, you'd think an important Supreme Court ruling on the issue would be a big story to the network news. But the Court's April 28 finding regarding a cross on a World War I memorial in the Mojave Desert elicited a yawn from CBS's "Evening News," a 78-word report from NBC's "Nightly News," and a one-sided segment from ABC's "World News with Diane Sawyer" that fretted if the Court "move[d] the bar on the separation of church and state."
The cross in question is part of a memorial built in 1934 in the federal-owned Mojave National Preserve to honor fallen WWI veterans. Lower courts ruled the cross unconstitutional and had it covered with a box, despite efforts taken in recent years by Congress to avoid constitutional questions over it by transferring that portion of the Preserve to private owners.
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled this was not a clear-cut violation of the separation of church and state.
"The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm," wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy in the majority opinion. Kennedy noted specifically about this cross that it "evokes far more than religion. It evokes thousands of small crosses in foreign fields marking the graves of Americans who fell in battles, battles whose tragedies are compounded if the fallen are forgotten."
Extending the kind of respect they never provided the Tea Party activists, ABC and NBC on Tuesday night promoted what NBC anchor Brian Williams embraced as “the growing national backlash against the state of Arizona over its tough new immigration law that says police can stop people just on the suspicion they might be there illegally.”
ABC’s Barbara Pinto touted how “the call for an economic boycott here has caught fire on the Internet” while NBC’s Andrea Mitchell trumpeted how “anger over the law has gone viral,” as both pointed to how the American Immigration Lawyers Association had canceled a conference – of a mere 400 attendees -- scheduled for the state.
NBC’s Mitchell played clips from two left-wing comedians, as she asserted: “It's now gone beyond protest to threats of a boycott, as Arizona becomes a laughing stock to some.” Viewers then heard a joke from Saturday Night Live about “fascism” followed by The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart: “It's not unprecedented, having to carry around your papers. It's the same thing free black people had to do in 1863.” After showcasing a Facebook page (“Arizona, the Grand Canyon State, welcomes you unless you're a Mexican or look like one”), Mitchell cited “a slap in the face” from Mexico which, ironically, warned its citizens about traveling to Arizona.
Arizona officially joined the South this month. In other words, it became for our Northeastern media elitists a state dominated by backward, slack-jawed racists. The Associated Press marked the passage of a tough new anti-immigration law with the leftist version of a Welcome Wagon: “The furor over Arizona's new law cracking down on illegal immigrants grew Monday as opponents used refried beans to smear swastikas on the state Capitol.”
Disagreeing with the left – and more importantly, handing them a political defeat – brings a lot of ugliness these days from the forces of “tolerance.” Character assassination is required. A citizen of Arizona cannot be concerned about higher rates of crime and strained government budgets without being Mexican-food-smeared as an adorer of Adolf Hitler.
But what’s truly outrageous if not surprising is that the same media that visibly quivered with anger that anyone would draw a Hitler moustache on their hero Barack Obama now present these Nazi smears as not an embarrassment to the left, but as a way of augmenting the left. The “furor was growing” over the tough new law, they dutifully report.
Fox News's Megyn Kelly Tuesday featured a marvelous comparison of how the media cover Tea Parties versus immigration protests.
As NewsBusters' Scott Whitlock reported Monday, ABC News logged dramatically different reports about the ObamaCare protests on Capitol Hill in March and the virtual riots that happened in Arizona after that state's governor signed a strict anti-illegal immigration law last Friday.
The former was depicted as "very ugly" while the latter, despite the number of riot police and arrests, was described as "mostly peaceful."
With this in mind, Kelly invited liberal talk radio host Mark Levine and conservative talk radio host Mike Gallagher to debate the disparity.
As you might imagine, Levine hysterically saw both reports as being accurate (video follows with commentary):
While America's media continue to depict the Tea Party as homophobic, angry racists, they shamefully ignore the REAL hate speech going on in our nation, namely what's being regularly hurled at this movement by its opponents.
Take for example the absolutely shocking voice-mail messages that have been left at the offices of FreedomWorks, a non-profit organization that has supported the Tea Party since its inception.
In response to a video that fired GEICO announcer Lance Baxter aka D.C. Douglas created last week that included messages he received from non-supporters after his termination, the folks at FreedomWorks on Monday published a collection of their own.
This video contains astonishingly vulgar and hateful voice-mail messages left for FreedomWorks employees that likely would be front-page and headline news if this was a liberal organization (video follows with commentary, STRONG vulgarity and content warning, h/t Right Scoop):
On Saturday's Good Morning America, reporter Mike Von Fremd downplayed the violence of protesters against Arizona's new immigration law. He spun, "Riot police were called in to try and control demonstrators protesting outside the capital. Most were peaceful. A handful threw bottles at police and were arrested." Yet, ABC derided March's Tea Party rallies as "very ugly," despite the fact that there were no arrests.
In contrast, on March 20, World News host David Muir scolded, "Protesters against the [health care] plan gathered on the streets of the capital where late today we learned words shouted turned very ugly, reports of racial and homophobic slurs, one protester actually spitting on a Congressman." Continuing to fret over those opposed the bill, he complained, "Late word from Washington tonight about just how ugly the crowds gathered outside the Longworth office building have become."
ABC's weekend coverage of a tough immigration bill in Arizona focused mostly on the anger and outrage against it, minimizing supporters of the legislation. Talking to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a fierce critic of illegals, Good Morning America co-host Bill Weir on Sunday berated, "But with this new law, will you ramp it up?...Will you grab people on street corners? I mean, what will you do with this new law?" [Audio available here.]
He also challenged Arpaio about his own fight against illegal immigration and derided, "...How is it possible to enforce these sorts of laws without sweeping up innocent citizens in the process?"
On World News Sunday, ABC anchor Dan Harris gave attention to the latest example of disrespect that one has come to expect to see aimed at the Catholic Church as he recounted that a British foreign ministry official had made a crack about Pope Benedict opening an abortion clinic or marketing condoms, prompting an apology from the British government. On the April 25 show, Harris relayed the incident:
Arizona’s new law hardly earned a friendly reception Friday night from any of the network newscasts, but CBS went the furthest in presenting it from the perspective of its “victims” as anchor Katie Couric, over video of “Veto Racism” and “Stop the Hate” signs, teased: “Tonight, Arizona's controversial new immigration law. Police will now be able to make anyone they choose prove they're here illegally. It triggers demonstrations by both sides and a warning from President Obama.” (Presumably, she meant “prove they’re here legally.”)
Reporter Bill Whitaker suddenly found wisdom in the Catholic Church, plastering “mean-spirited” on screen:
In Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony, head of the country's largest Catholic archdiocese, called the law “mean-spirited” and compared it to Nazi repression. Today at a ceremony for new citizens, President Obama criticized Arizona's actions.
On ABC, Diane Sawyer teased: “Tonight on World News, Crackdown. Arizona targets illegal immigrants. The toughest new law in the country. Protesters hit the streets.”
Never missing a chance to highlight events that make Team Obama seem to be loveable characters, ABC and NBC on Thursday night showcased endearing and cuddly moments with Joe Biden and First Dog Bo. You can decide which one is endearing and which one is cuddly.
ABC’s Diane Sawyer took time to marvel at how “we heard on The View today that it was the President who told” Joe Biden “we heard” Biden calling “the health care reform a big you know what deal” when “of course he didn't know that his microphone was so sensitive,” and NBC’s Brian Williams showed video of Bo barking at First Lady Michelle Obama:
If you're a dog owner, then you know there are times when they want your attention and they do not like that you're talking to other people or doing something else. It only means that you are not loving them at that given moment. Well, that's pretty much what happened today with the Obama's dog Bo while the First Lady was talking about her life and her job with some visiting students.
(Later, Williams featured a full story on Google's “earth-friendly lawn care” solution -- goats -- as Anne Thompson gushed “this is one time speed doesn't matter at Google as it opts for an animal footprint instead of a carbon one.”)
Horror of horrors, at least to ABC, last week Sarah Palin suggested the U.S. is a “Christian nation,” hardly an unusual presumption, but the network discovered “controversy” as anchor Diane Sawyer announced: “Tonight, a question about religion and America, occasioned by comments by Sarah Palin that are getting a lot of attention.” A lot of attention from liberal groups with a specific agenda on the subject, a fact left out of the World News story, but revealed in an ABCNews.com article which led with how “two groups dedicated to the separation of church and state are now speaking out against her, arguing that she is misreading the founders' intent.”
Dan Harris began his Tuesday report: “This latest Palin-provoked controversy is the result of these comments on YouTube.” Palin, in poor-quality bouncing video, could be heard saying “God truly has shed his grace on thee, on this country.” Harris quoted Palin as asserting it is “mindboggling to suggest that America is not a Christian nation.” He countered: “Mainstream historians say no, that if you look at the early documents, including personal letters, it's very clear that the founders did not want to make Christianity the official religion.”
Palin, however, never said anything about an “official” religion, so could just mean that as a practical matter the nation is Christian since it was founded on Christian principles espoused the majority of the Founding Fathers, that nearly all current elected officials pay homage to Christianity no matter their level of faith and that the vast majority of Americans who are religious adhere to a Christian faith.
Two weeks ago (noted at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the combined audience for the Big Three Networks' Evening News shows for the week of March 29 fell to just below 20 million.
That audience was about 5% less than what Matt Drudge in the summer of 2006 headlined as "TV's Lowest Week."
The Big Three's combined audience crawled back above 20 million during the week of April 5. But Chris Ariens of Media Bistro noted earlier today that the figures for the week of April 12 were more reflective of "summertime viewing patterns" than what is supposedly peak spring viewing season.
“Watch your words,” fill-in ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas scolded in teasing Friday's World News, as she trumpeted: “Former President Clinton warns harsh anti-government talk could lead to violent acts, like the Oklahoma City bombing.”
Introducing the subsequent story, Vargas identified talk radio and Tea Party participants as the culprits:
There is a lot of attention tonight on comments made by former President Bill Clinton, who has weighed in on the angry anti-government rhetoric, ringing out from talk radio to Tea Party rallies. He warns that sometimes firing people up with caustic comments can have unintended and dire consequences.
“There aren't a lot of African-American men at these events,” NBC News reporter Kelly O'Donnell, a white woman, told Darryl Postell, a black man at a Tea Party rally held Thursday in Washington, DC, pressing him, in an exchange she chose to include in her NBC Nightly News story, to address her prejudiced assumptions: “Have you ever felt uncomfortable?” Postell rejected her loaded premise that race must divide Americans: “No, no, these are my people, Americans.”
O'Donnell's story noted “skepticism over how the Tea Party is judged and labeled,” letting an attendee assert: “We're not racists, we're not any of the above that people claim us to be. We're ordinary citizens that love our country, and we're fighting for it.” O'Donnell soon wondered if it all may peter out, asking a man in the crowd: “Do you think this has enough energy to really last to November and to make a difference?”
Over on ABC, Jonathan Karl highlighted how “many of them blamed us, the news media.” A woman demanded: “We want honesty from you. We want fair time from you. We want you, the media, to represent all the people, not just a certain portion of the people.”
On Monday evening and Tuesday, ABC, CBS, and CNN all highlighted a Catholic priest's call for Pope Benedict XVI's resignation due to his alleged mishandling of the Church sex abuse scandal, labeling him "outspoken," and even going so far to compliment him as "brave" and "gutsy." All three networks, however, ignored the priest's affiliation with a liberal group and his dissension from Church teaching.
During a report on the wider abuse scandal on Monday's World News With Diane Sawyer, ABC's Dan Harris mentioned Father James Scahill's public call for the Pope to step down during a recent sermon at his parish in Massachusetts. Before playing a clip from Father Scahill, Harris stated that "anger is clearly rising within the [Catholic] Church. In his Sunday sermon this week, Father James Scahill of Massachusetts called for the Pope to resign." The ABC correspondent did not give any details on the priest's background.
Father Scahill is the pastor of St. Michael's Catholic Church in East Longmeadow. In 2004, he accepted the "Priest of Integrity Award" from Voice of the Faithful. The organization, which purports to be Catholic, achieved some visibility in the media after the 2002 revelation of the sex abuse in the Boston archdiocese. It has taken heterodox positions on Church issues, such as calling for an end to priestly celibacy, and endorsed liberal dissenting theologians such as Rev. Charles Curran. CNN featured Dan Bartley, the president of VOTF, during a March 26, 2010 segment which also featured two other liberal Christians who advocated radical changes inside the Catholic Church.
Wrapping a look at those whom President Obama may nominate to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, ABC’s Terry Moran worried Friday night if Obama can “even hold” the liberal ground espoused by Stevens given “today’s bitter political climate.” He fretted that “the real question for President Obama” is:
Could a nominee with positions as liberal as Justice Stevens on abortion, gay rights, presidential power -- could that nominee even get confirmed in today's bitter political climate?
Moran, from New Orleans, site of the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, on the Friday, April 9 World News:
Words, just words. But which ones excite journalists and which ones don't? A test case Wednesday night as ABC and NBC, matching the focus of CNN and MSNBC throughout the day, aired segments on controversy over Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell leaving condemnation of slavery out of a proclamation issued last week calling April “Confederate History Month,” but neither had any time for an AP report about how the Obama administration plans to eliminate from the National Security Strategy terms such as “militant Islamic radicalism.”
FNC's Special Report with Bret Baier managed to cover outrage generated against both actions. Shannon Bream reported the administration may be:
[C]hanging language in the National Security Strategy, a document which was last modified under President George W. Bush in March 2006 and reads, quote: “The struggle against militant Islamic radicalism is the great ideological conflict of the early years of the 21st century.” The Obama White House will not comment on reports that a new version of the NSS could drop language like “Islamic radicalism.” But critics of the possible modification call the idea political correctness run amok...
Diane Sawyer teased at the top of the April 7 World News: “Virginia's Governor wants to celebrate Confederate history and not mention slavery?”
The broadcast networks couldn't ignore Holy Week, the pinnacle of the Christian calendar, so instead they used it this year to smear the Catholic Church as a harbor for abusive priests.
ABC, CBS and NBC featured 26 stories during Holy Week about Pope Benedict's perceived role in the sex abuse scandal the Catholic Church is now facing. Only one story focused on the measures the church has adopted in recent years to prevent abuse. In 69 percent of the stories (18 out of 26) reporters used language that presumed the pope's guilt. Only one made specific mention of the recent drop in the incidence of abuse allegations against the Catholic Church.
After a bit of a respite primarily due to NBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics, the audience desertion from the Big 3 networks' evening news broadcasts has again resumed.
Not that the first quarter of 2010 was all peaches and cream. Last week, Media Bistro noted that ABC's "World News Tonight" had "its lowest-rated first quarter ever."
But the results for the first week of the second ratings quarter are beyond awful. The total audience for all three evening news shows came in under 20 million. For context, recall that during a traditionally low-audience summer week in 2006, Drudge headlined ("TV's Lowest Week") a disastrous drop -- to 21 million viewers. Now it appears that what was once considered a really bad summer week four years ago (noted at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) might be a typical week during 2010's prime spring viewing season.
“The Cold War ended more than two decades ago, and today American nuclear strategy finally caught up with history,” as the Obama administration has recognized “the greatest threat is no longer all-out nuclear war, but the chance that just one weapon will fall into the hands of a terrorist or rogue state,” an effusive David Martin declared on Tuesday’s CBS Evening News.
His story, unlike those on ABC and NBC, assumed the new policy -- that ends the threat of using nuclear weapons against a nation that attacks the U.S. with chemical or biological weapons so long as they don’t develop nuclear weapons – reflects unchallenged wisdom and has no detractors.
“For the first time ever,” Martin trumpeted, “the new policy limits the circumstances under which the U.S. would resort to nuclear weapons, assuring nations which do not have them and do not try to get them they have nothing to worry about.” As if they now have a legitimate fear of the U.S. annihilating them with a nuclear attack.
ABC’s Jake Tapper, in contrast, recognized not all are thrilled with eliminating a threat which has kept America safe for decades as he also noted the new policy contradicts what Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said in 2008:
This week, the MRC’s regular Notable Quotables newsletter, documenting the latest outrageous quotes from the liberal media from the past two weeks, could not fit in its normal 3-page format, so we created a super-sized special edition, “Celebrating ObamaCare, Demonizing Its Opponents.” It’s chock full of quotes touting the wonders of the liberal health care scheme, and slamming the Tea Party and other opponents as vicious racist thugs. The whole thing is posted at www.MRC.org; here’s a sample:
If You’re Anti-ObamaCare, You Must Be a Bigot
“What are the Tea Partiers really angry about? Health care reform, or the fact that it was an African American President and a woman Speaker of the House who pushed through major change?” — MSNBC’s Chris Matthews at the top of Hardball, March 29.
ABC anchor Diane Sawyer, who in February demanded to know who will “keep insurance companies from jacking up premiums while making huge profits?”, on Friday found her champion in the Superintendent of Maine’s Bureau of Insurance, hailing Mila Kofman as a “super-cop” and a “gladiator” for rejecting a rate hike requested by Anthem Blue Cross.
Kofman proclaimed “we are the super-cops on the street. I take that responsibility as an insurance regulator very seriously,” a self-promotional description Sawyer adopted in her introduction, touting “a woman in Maine who is acting as a super-cop, and telling the insurance companies ‘no.’”
Reporter Bill Weir recounted how Kofman turned down an 18 percent increase in premiums for individual policies, allowing “11 percent. Enough for Anthem to cover their rising costs, but not enough to make a profit. She says they're doing just fine.” Presuming nefarious motives by insurance companies, Weir asserted the new health care law “depends on state regulators to keep them honest every day.”
New fuel standards make both the left and the media happy. It's easy to tell. There wasn't a single voice of opposition criticizing the latest act of Big Government on major prime-time news outlets ABC, CBS or NBC.
"Environmentalists are hailing the move as nothing short of historic," NBC's Lee Cowan said of the federal government's new fuel efficiency standards. The networks did much the same. Broad consensus from NBC's "Nightly News" and CBS's "Evening News" reflected praise for the Obama administration's latest regulatory efforts.
The federal government took a historic step April 1 to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. As part of a joint proposal by EPA and Transportation Department officials, the government implemented new fuel efficiency standards for all vehicles.
"This ends a debate that lasted nearly a decade," Cowan kicked-off the "Nightly News" segment. "But now that these so-called ‘clean-car standards' are going to be mandatory across the board, it makes it the first time ever that the federal government has limited greenhouse gas emissions."
"Nightly News" featured the opinions of three individuals who praised the new regulations. "This is sort of the first time that the United States government has stepped forward, to take the biggest single step forward to solving global warming," Bernadette Del Chiaro of Environment California said.
NBC on Monday night squeezed in a few seconds for the arrest of “a Philadelphia man for threatening the life of the number two Republican in the House of Representatives, Eric Cantor of Virginia.”
Yet after the networks led last week with less-immediate threats against Democrats, they weren’t so interested in a real case of a death threat against a Republican as neither CBS nor ABC aired a word about the arrest and NBC’s Brian Williams gave it short-shrift after leading last Wednesday with Democrats as the victims: “It's getting ugly as anger over health care reform erupts into some over-the-top rhetoric, including threats now against members of Congress.”
The next night, Williams still portrayed opponents as the only ones with miscreants amongst their ranks: “While the White House continues to celebrate its largest-ever legislative victory, opponents of health care reform have reacted to the final vote with anger, a few of them with threats of violence.”
CBS last week started with “threats of violence against Democrats who voted for health care reform” as Nancy Cordes relayed how “Democrats complain Sarah Palin is also using violent words and imagery.” On Monday, the CBS Evening News devoted a full story to fretting over a “loophole” which insurance companies may use to delay providing coverage to kids with pre-existing conditions and Katie Couric spent half a minute on how the New York Yankees are “the best-paid team in all of sports,” with the NBA “the highest-paid league” followed by cricket’s Indian Premier League.