After years of agitation over what they saw as President George W. Bush's self-righteous moral certitude, journalists on Thursday night embraced President Barack Obama's vilification of those working for Wall Street firms who got a bonus last year. “Shameful,” NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams teased his newscast, “that's how President Obama labels those Wall Street types paying themselves big bonuses while getting billions in tax dollars.” Reporter Chuck Todd referred to how Obama was “channeling his inner populist” as he “got upset about something that the public has been angry about for weeks.”
CBS's Katie Couric led with how “we found out what it takes to get Barack Obama angry,” that “employees of financial companies in New York collected nearly $18.5 billion in bonuses last year” and “the President called it 'shameful.'” Chip Reid related how “the President told advisors the anger rose straight from his gut” before Reid relayed that another liberal politician, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, “said the President's remarks are 'a welcome breath of fresh air.'”
Former President George W. Bush reinstated a policy in 2001 that restricted foreign countries using American dollars for abortions. CBS political consultant Craig Crawford called the action "red meat to the Bible Belt conservatives."
Just three days after taking office, President Barack Obama rescinded the Mexico City Policy, a policy set into place by Ronald Reagan that prohibited American funding for foreign abortions. Have the media called it red meat for liberals? No. They've mostly been silent.
Shortly after the House on Wednesday passed President Barack Obama's $825 billion “stimulus” package, ABC and CBS commiserated with Obama over his unsuccessful efforts to woo Republican votes. “Not one Republican voted for it,” ABC anchor Charles Gibson announced on World News with “Rescue Plan” as the on-screen heading, “turning a cold shoulder to the President's appeal for bipartisan support.” Reporter Jonathan Karl fretted: “So much for the President's charm offensive. Today it was all partisan rancor and name-calling.”
CBS reporter Chip Reid related how “the White House says this is a victory for the President, but certainly there is also some disappointment that he worked so hard to get bipartisan support and couldn't get a single Republican vote.” Reid soon chafed over how “Republicans relentlessly attacked the bill despite the President's extraordinary efforts to get bipartisan support.” Katie Couric noted how “the President went up to the Hill to personally appeal to Republicans already,” so, she pleaded, “what more can he do?”
Catching up on an item from Friday night, the three broadcast evening newscasts aired virtually nothing on January 23 about President Obama’s executive order permitting federal funding of abortions, overturning orders signed by President Bush in his first week in office back in 2001. Both CBS and NBC’s White House reporters squeezed in a single sentence about Obama’s action during stories about the economic stimulus bill, while ABC’s World News said nothing about the orders on Friday.
But on Sunday’s World News, ABC’s Dan Harris highlighted conservative criticism of Obama’s abortion decision, arguing that it showed how “despite his desire to reach out to people who disagree with him, the new President may find that on some issues, it may be impossible to find common ground.” Correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi also painted the President -- whom she said hoped “not to provoke” conservatives by banning photographs of the signing -- the victim of a “brutal” reaction from conservatives:
ABC and CBS on Friday night delivered glowing assessments of President Barack Obama's first three days in office, with ABC's George Stephanopoulos declaring “this first week was disciplined and strategic” enabling “sweeping change.” Fill-in anchor Diane Sawyer pronounced: “Change the tone and change it at warp speed.” CBS's Bob Schieffer relayed how “I think he's off to a very good start” and marveled at how -- given “the severity of the problems” -- any “human” could “live up to the expectations,” yet Obama “has laid out an ambitious program” and by closing Guantanamo and deciding to “outlaw torture” he “has told the world that we will practice what we preach.”
Admiring how Obama's discipline is meant to demonstrate he's “moving on all fronts to bring change,” Stephanopoulos trumpeted how on day one and day two he's used executive orders to bring “sweeping change to open government,” “sweeping change in foreign policy” and “then day three, today, two promises kept.”
Liberal pastor and civil rights leader Joseph Lowery’s strange benediction prayer hoping that one day "white will embrace what is right" wasn’t ignored on the Tuesday night news, but it wasn’t portrayed as at all controversial. CBS skipped over it. But ABC, NBC, and PBS’s NewsHour all featured it, often without interrupting their gauzy promotional tone. Here’s a brief tour of how it unfolded.
ABC: In the first half-hour of a 60-minute World News, Charles Gibson recalled a legend praying:
GIBSON: The Reverend Joseph E Lowery, the legendary civil rights leader, delivered the benediction.
Rev. JOSEPH LOWERY: We ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man and white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.
GIBSON: As hundreds of thousands on the Mall savored what they had just seen.
ABC's World News on Wednesday night used limited news time to feature a silly piece with soundbites from naive kids around the world sputtering beauty pageant-like simplicities about how President Barack Obama will bring “world peace” and inspires them to say “yes, we can!” Reporter Jim Sciutto touted how “we heard children around the world expressing hope and fascination with the new American President.” Viewers heard a boy in Russia yearn for “peace, democracy and friendship” and a girl in the United Arab Emirates assert “he's interested in giving peace to the world and stopping wars,” all before a boy from Indonesia promised: “He's going to change the world and make world peace.” From Gaza, a kid hoped Obama will “prevent Israel from attacking us.”
From Pakistan, Sciutto relayed, “hope for an American President with a Muslim father.” A boy then wished “he can make the citizens of the U.S. recognize that we, not all Muslims are terrorists and not all terrorists are Muslims.” And what story on foreign reaction would be complete without input from France? A French girl: “I think that he may stop the war in Iraq. At least I hope he will.”
Offering the most hyperbolic take of the night on the crowds who attended President Obama's inauguration, on World News ABC's Bill Weir delighted in wondering “can national pride make a freezing day feel warmer?” He decided it can indeed since “never have so many people shivered so long with such joy” while “from above, even the seagulls must have been awed by the blanket of humanity.” Weir was certainly awed.
Meanwhile, over on the NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams must have been as awed as those seagulls since he contended he could “feel” the masses watching from around the nation: “While it was unfolding today here in Washington, you could feel the millions around the country who were watching it all.”
Is there anything President-elect Barack Obama's very aura cannot make better? Apparently, he has eliminated road rage -- and even honking.
ABC's David Muir, over video of stuck traffic followed by the sound of singing, in a Monday World News story on the crowds coming to Washington, DC:
So many of the streets are closed those that are open are clogged. But there were no car horns, no shouting. Instead, the San Francisco Boys and Girls choruses practicing for their Inaugural moment on the steps of the Capitol.
On World News Saturday, during the show’s "A Closer Look" segment, ABC anchor David Muir gave attention to those who question whether CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta has sufficient qualifications to be Barack Obama’s surgeon general. Muir even played a clip of David Letterman poking fun at Gupta twice during the show: "The choice, it was between a Gupta, Dr. Phil, and a guy on Scrubbs. I don’t know what the hell-" He also recounted that Muir was forced to apologized to liberal filmmaker Michael Moore after making errors in a report fact-checking Moore’s film Sicko. As Muir gave voice to those in the pro-Gupta camp who believe it is important for the surgeon general to be well known to the public, the ABC anchor reminded viewers that Dr. C. Everett Coop talked about AIDS while President Reagan was "largely silent," and that President George W. Bush’s surgeon general resigned in protest in 2006 charging he had been "muzzled by the White House."
Correction (Feb. 10, 2009): Corrected from original reporting attributing AP and Getty with the photo editing. In fact it was ABCNews.com, not AP or Getty Images that overlaid the Bush photo on the Gaza rubble photo. AP and Getty Images supplied the respective photos. Thanks to the folks at StinkyJournalism.org for pointing out the error.
I guess, since flat-out fauxtography as practiced in 2006 in the Middle East has become so difficult, and has been shown as likely to be detected, that the press has decided to go with "creative" image placement to do the dirty work that must be done to create sympathy for Hamas and antipathy towards President Bush and the United States.
For "some reason," the editors at ABCNews.com placed President Bush's image at its bottom right. The photo compilation (shown above) accompanied a report by Miguel Marquez and Simon McGregor-Wood that appears to have also run on the network's "World News" program.
The wreckage in the photo purports to be "the destroyed house of Hamas leader of Nizar Rayan following an Israeli air strike the day before in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip" (given the state of reporting out of the region, one never knows for sure).
There is no good reason for Mr. Bush's picture to be included, since:
Prompted by the CBO's forecast of a $1.2 trillion annual federal budget deficit, the NBC Nightly News on Wednesday commiserated with the challenge ahead for the incoming President. “On our broadcast tonight, facing facts,” Brian Williams teased, “President-elect Obama confronts the hard realities he's up against, deficits as far as the eye can see.” A dire Williams proceeded to lead with how Obama will take over “during one of the most challenging times in the modern history of the United States.”
From the White House lawn, Chuck Todd piled on: “You know, it's becoming a cliche to say that the problems Obama is inheriting are among the worst ever, but I tell you, the realities of the situation on the economy hit home hard today. As Obama took the podium, he was greeted by the dire news that before he spends one dollar to stimulate the economy, he'll be adding to a deficit that is now 13 digits long...”
Do you think Ronald Reagan got such empathetic treatment in January of 1981 when he was about to assume office at a time of soaring interest rates, raging inflation (12%), high unemployment (7.5%) and a declining GDP? Or, just maybe the media were more concerned about his proposed “tax cuts for the rich”?
Why can't everyone just settle down, get out of the way, get rid of the "distractions," and let Barack Obama do his magic? That seems to be a recurring media meme during this presidential transition period.
Here are just a few examples in just the past 30 days:
In a December 12 "analysis" piece at Reuters, Steve Holland opened by telling readers that "A political scandal that led to the arrest of Illinois' governor has become an unwelcome distraction for President-elect Barack Obama as he tries to keep his focus on preparing to run the country."
Amanda Paulson's Christian Science Monitor report on December 23 about Obama's internal investigation of contacts between his team and Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich fretted that "As the saga of Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his alleged “political corruption crime spree” has played out over the past two weeks, it’s been an unwelcome distraction for another politician from Illinois: President-elect Obama."
And yesterday, Brent Baker of NewsBusters caught ABC World News Tonight anchor Dan Harris worrying that Bill Richardson's unexpected withdrawal as Commerce Secretary nominee might be "a distraction in the key early days."
ABC anchor Dan Harris led Sunday night's World News with Commerce-nominee Bill Richardson's unexpected withdrawal, but framed the story around worries over Richardson becoming a “distraction” from Barack Obama's agenda. George Stephanopoulos, however, assured him it will only “be a blip.” Harris recited how “Obama is facing trouble abroad, trouble at home, and now trouble in his own cabinet.” So, “this is another major challenge” for the besieged Obama, Harris empathized, “at a time when the economy is reeling and war is raging between the Israelis and Palestinian militants.”
Following a report from Jake Tapper, Harris went to George Stephanopoulos: “Obama's coming into office with a very ambitious agenda, and if you add together what's going on with Richardson right now with the Blagojevich scandal, is that going to be a distraction in the key early days?” Stephanopoulos assured him, given all the issues on Obama's agenda including “the panoply of national security challenges he's going to face when he takes office,” that “this is likely to be a blip.”
On Monday’s World News, ABC showed a letter written to Barack Obama that made a snide crack charging that President Bush and Vice President Cheney had left Obama a "hell of a mess to clean up," and sarcastically expressing hope that Bush and Cheney would not steal furniture from the White House, as correspondent Kate Snow filed a report about a former school teacher, B.J. Hill, who has spent a year walking across the country collecting letters from Americans for the next President. Of the five letters Hill was shown reading during the report, all came across as either pro-Obama or at least phrased from a liberal point-of-view, one even expressing a desire that the next President would "save science, including stem cell research," presumably referring to federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. But while no letters expressed any concerns about what Obama would do from a conservative point of view, one of the letters did take a shot at President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Hill, reading: "You have one hell of a mess to clean up after Bush and Cheney. I hope they leave some of the furniture."
On the Monday, December 22 World News, ABC host Charles Gibson took a moment to relay the latest milestone in good news from Iraq regarding how much violence has diminished in the country. Gibson: "From Iraq today, good news. Military authorities say violence is way down. A year ago, there were an average of 180 attacks a day. Last week, it was just 10. And the murder rate in Iraq last month was below pre-war levels for the first time."
Last week, Gibson similarly noted that the number of U.S. troops killed in combat in Iraq in December so far may signal that the month will turn out to "have the fewest U.S. casualties since the war began." Gibson, from the Thursday, December 18 World News: "Good news from Iraq today. There were no bombings reported anywhere in the country. Two U.S. troops have been killed in action so far this month. That puts December on a pace to have the fewest U.S. casualties since the war began."
"We're going to turn next to some of the extreme measures that some Americans are taking because of the faltering economy," Gibson said. "According to an ABC News Poll, more than one in four people say someone in their household has been fired, faced a cut in pay or a reduction in work hours. Facing mounting debts and dwindling finances, some people are deciding to put their bodies at risk."
ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday night hailed President-elect Barack Obama's cabinet, pointing to how his national security team is made up of “coalition builders,” including Hillary Clinton, before praising Obama for how “he has also kept his promise of reaching out beyond Washington for change with younger reformers like Shaun Donovan at HUD, Arne Duncan at Education and Lisa Jackson at the EPA.” (All could just as well be described as big city Democratic political hacks.) Thus, ABC's chief Washington correspondent decided:
He’s managed to get this diversity and competence without engaging in any tokenism.
But then Stephanopoulos recited Obama's political tokenism, pointing out how he “picked people in the cabinet with an eye towards fast-growing voter groups” as two cabinet nominations went to Hispanics and two to Asians and three choices were purely about electoral politics, not competence: “The Southwest has been a real prime target area, and look what the President-elect has done. He’s picked Governor Napolitano of Arizona, Governor Richardson of New Mexico, Senator Salazar of Colorado, trying to lock in gains in those three key states.”
Plugging how “Vice President Cheney sat down with ABC's Jonathan Karl for an exclusive interview,” fill-in World News anchor Elizabeth Vargas on Monday night asserted Cheney “made a startling admission about the questioning of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.” But Vargas failed to explain what Cheney said to Karl that represented “a startling admission” and Karl didn't point out any “startling admission” from Cheney in the interview excerpt which followed the Vargas set up.
In fact, Cheney didn't really say anything new as he stood by the “remarkably successful effort” to get intelligence from captured terrorists, affirmed the decision to waterboard KSM and denied he's “changed.” Apparently, the “startling admission” came in his acknowledgment, hardly unknown or not previously reported, that in “the tactics that were used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed,” he allowed: “I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared, that is, as the agency, in effect, came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn't do, and they talked to me as well as others to explain what they wanted to do. And I supported it.”
Usually rude protesters who disrupt events by throwing objects at state leaders don't earn media celebrations, but instead of being embarrassed by their Iraqi media colleague who, as he spewed venomous hatreds, dangerously threw his shoes at President Bush on Sunday in Baghdad, ABC and CBS on Monday night championed his popularity amongst Iraqis. ABC put “Folk Hero?” on screen as fill-in anchor Elizabeth Vargas trumpeted how Muntathar al-Zaidi has “become an instant celebrity to many of his countrymen” while CBS anchor Katie Couric hailed how “many Iraqis are calling him a hero” before reporter Elizabeth Palmer snidely concluded: “Al-Zaidi should do jail time, said the Iraqi bloggers, because he missed.”
From London, ABC's Jim Sciutto maintained: “Shoes have become a new symbol of anti-Americanism in the Arab world. And the Iraqi reporter who threw them, Muntathar al-Zaidi, a folk hero.” Sciutto touted how “more than 100 lawyers volunteered to defend him. It was a heroic way to say goodbye to Bush, said one Iraqi.” Though Sciutto at least noted how “some Iraqis are embarrassed,” he countered: “Still, in news coverage, on new fan Web sites, in Arabic text messages, the overwhelming sentiment: giddy satisfaction.”
Less than a week after a new report from the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works committee showcased hundreds of scientists who disagree with the United Nations' alarmist take on global climate change, ABC’s World News Sunday featured a report devoted solely to cheering Barack Obama’s new “green team” — the promotional term was embraced by ABC News — and laying the groundwork for radical action on global warming after what ABC termed “censorship” and “stonewalling” by the Bush administration.
The story by ABC’s Bill Blakemore offered a manipulative presentation, asserting that “wildfires, droughts and downpours [are] increasing exactly as predicted for global warming” — but not mentioning that global temperatures are actually lower now than in 1998 — and scolding how the Bush White House allowed “political assistants in their 20s to rewrite the conclusions of leading climate scientists” — as if the liberal political opinions of scientists could not be second-guessed.
The three broadcast networks started their evening newscasts on Tuesday with stories on Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's arrest and corruption charges. All of the newscasts mentioned Blagojevich's Democratic affiliation, but only in passing. And, only ABC's World News questioned the details about the Illinois Governor's relationship with President-elect Barack Obama, while NBC and CBS brushed over the President-elect's connections with Blagojevich and seemed content to end their investigation of this relationship by reporting on Obama's statement that he was not aware of what was going on.
ABC and NBC both identified Blagojevich as a Democrat early in their reports. NBC "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams's introduction to the report by Lee Cowan described the charge as "that the two-term Democratic governor tried to sell a seat in the US Senate to the highest bidder." Brian Ross, reporting for ABC's "World News," identified the Illinois governor as "the boyish looking Democrat branded a greedy, foul mouth politician who tried to sell a US Senate seat to the highest bidder."
The CBS "Evening News," however, did not identify Blagojevich as a Democrat until the very end of Dean Reynolds's report when an on-screen graphic identified the governor as "(D) Illinois" and Reynolds claimed that "fellow Democrats worry that whoever he might pick could wind up tainted politically and could ultimately cost the party a valuable seat in Congress."
Much as when then-New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was caught with a prostitute last March, the arrest Tuesday of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich on allegations he was trying to sell Barack Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat raises the issue of whether or not the Big Three networks will forthrightly tag him as a “Democrat.”
Among wire services, the Associated Press has included the “Democrat” label in its round-up, but not in the lead paragraph, while Reuters linked Blagojevich to "fellow Democrat President-elect Barack Obama."
So what would happen if the corruption charges were flung at a Republican Governor of Illinois?
Of the broadcast network newscasts Thursday evening, only the NBC Nightly News took a few seconds to note some more good news from the war front as fill-in anchor Lester Holt reported “combined deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan in November” stood at eleven, “the lowest total since the U.S. invaded Iraq.”
ABC's World News devoted more than two minutes to LBJ tapes, which showed him “anguished about the Vietnam war,” while the CBS Evening News also had no time for the improving news out of Iraq and Afghanistan as the program aired a full story on how the recession is impacting the rich in Beverly Hills who, in Katie Couric's formulation, are being “forced to hawk what they own to pay what they 90210.”
In the interview for Wednesday’s Barbara Walters Special on ABC with Barack and Michelle Obama, excerpts of which were also shown on Wednesday’s World News with Charles Gibson, Walters asked few questions that put the Obamas on the defensive, in contrast with her January 2001 interview, aired on 20/20, with then-President-elect Bush in which she challenged him on a number of fronts. Most notably, she seemed to chide Bush for choosing John Ashcroft as Attorney General because he "openly opposes abortion," and claimed that Ashcroft was "not considered a friend to civil rights." She asked Bush about reports that, as governor of Texas, he "spent relatively little time studying specific issues," and "only does a few hours of work" a day. The ABC host also challenged Bush from the left on the trade embargo against Cuba, and even asked Laura Bush if her more "traditional" plans for her time as First Lady would be a "setback for women." It is also noteworthy that Walters asked Bush about his plans for dealing with Saddam Hussein and cited "people in the know" who contended that the Iraqi dictator was "stronger than ever."
Less than 12 hours after George Stephanopoulos, on Good Morning America, glowed that “we have not seen this kind of combination of star power and brain power and political muscle this early in a cabinet in our lifetimes,” he popped up on World News to hail how Barack Obama's team recognized the Bush administration's “vacuum” and so decided to “step in and fill” it by showing “the President-elect taking action on the economy” day after day.
Anchor Charles Gibson set up Stephanopoulos by marveling: “George, I don't think I've ever seen a President-elect getting so involved in policy so early. It does seem like we've got, at the moment, two Presidents.” Stephanopoulos admired Obama's take charge actions:
I think what the Obama team saw -- starting last week with all of that uncertainty in the markets, in the dropping stock markets -- is they had to step in and fill a political vacuum. It began with that leak of Tim Geithner's name as Treasury Secretary on Friday, an announcement of a jobs plan on Saturday, carrying through to today, and there will be announcements both tomorrow and Wednesday to show the President-elect taking action on the economy.
In short items Thursday night, ABC anchor Charles Gibson and FNC anchor Brit Hume both noted how House Democrats voted to replace Congressman John Dingell of Michigan -- as Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce -- with Congressman Henry Waxman, but only Hume identified Waxman as a liberal: “Waxman is a strong liberal and environmental advocate.” Gibson left out any ideological tag as he echoed Hume's environmental “advocate” language in benignly describing the Californian, who now chairs the Government Reform Committee, as “a strong advocate of environmental issues.”
ABC News wasn't so reticent about labeling former Republican Congressman Dan Burton who, after the GOP's 1995 takeover of the House assumed the chairmanship of the same committee Waxman now leads (Government Reform). In a story on the April 10, 1994 edition of the long-defunct prime time ABC News magazine show Day One, reporter John McKenzie marginalized Burton as “an ultraconservative Republican from suburban Indianapolis” who “is a favorite of the far right.”
Waxman, who represents Beverly Hills, Malibu and much of coastal Los Angeles County, is certainly a favorite of the far-left.
Eight years ago when incoming President George W. Bush named Senator John Ashcroft as his choice for Attorney General, the broadcast network evening newscasts applied ideological labels and highlighted opposition to him from liberals, but Tuesday night with President-elect Barack Obama's pick of Eric Holder for the same position, the anchors avoided any ideological tags or controversies and hailed him as an “historic” pick which fulfills Obama's promise of “diversity.”
ABC's Charles Gibson noted Obama's promise of “diversity of political party, of gender, of geography and of race” and reported “Eric Holder would be the first African-American” Attorney General. In December of 2000, the late Peter Jennings stressed how Ashcroft is “from the conservative wing of the Republican Party. And some of the positions he's taken as a politician have galvanized liberal opposition to his nomination today.”
Katie Couric, on CBS, trumpeted Holder as “another historic choice,” but eight years ago Dan Rather decided “anti-abortion groups and the self-described Religious Right could not be happier” with Ashcroft who is “known for his tough anti-abortion stand. Planned Parenthood immediately urged Congress not to confirm him.”
On NBC, Brian Williams simply summarized Holder's resume as “a veteran lawyer, former U.S. Attorney, number two person at the Justice Department during the Clinton administration. If confirmed, Eric Holder would be the first African-American to become the nation's top law enforcement officer.” Filling in for Tom Brokaw in 2000, Williams referred to Ashcroft as a “conservative Missouri Republican Senator” and asserted the selection “calms the far right politically.”
There's economic trouble in the land with people unable to afford proper health care or heat for their homes ABC and NBC contended on Wednesday night. And where did the network journalists travel to find the heart-rending anecdotes of people in pain thanks to the awful Bush economy? Some Republican area with harsh conservative politicians who have slashed government funding to the poor? No, to Boston, a veritable liberal nirvana of big government for decades, the home of John Kerry, with a Democratic Mayor in a state with an Obama ally, Deval Patrick, as Governor.
ABC's Gigi Stone looked at how “many Americans” supposedly now “find themselves...forced to choose between short-term survival and long-term health.” She asserted: “Doctors here in Boston say they're seeing an increasing number of patients who cannot afford the most basic preventive health measures.” So much for the wonders of the Bay State's mandatory health insurance law.
NBC anchor Brian Williams acknowledged “record levels of government help available” for heating bills, yet “communities around this country are worried people will simply not have enough money to keep warm in the cold winter during this cold economy.” Michelle Kosinski showcased a Normandy veteran in Boston who “sometimes” can't afford to eat before she turned to John Drew of Action for Boston Community Development who fretted people “do not have enough income,” so there are “infants who are at risk” and “as a national government, as a national priority, we've got to do better.”
Friday night stories on ABC's World News and the NBC Nightly News ran a clip of President-elect Barack Obama's gaffe at his press conference in which he related he had talked to all of the “living” former Presidents, as “I didn't want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about, you know, doing any seances.” But both newscasts failed to note it was Hillary Clinton, not Nancy Reagan, who reportedly had seances in the White House. ABC's Jake Tapper called Obama's comment “a lighter moment” while NBC's Lee Cowan described it as “the only awkward moment of his first meeting with the press.”
FNC's Jim Angle, however, managed to point out in his 6 PM EST story: “It was actually Hillary Clinton who was reported to have engaged in seance-like sessions in which she communed with the spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt.”
In his book, The Choice, Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward described how Clinton consulted with a spiritual adviser who led her through imaginary conversations with her personal hero, Eleanor Roosevelt. Newsweek magazine, which was promoting the book, characterized the visits as “seances,” a term that White House officials quickly tried to squelch.