Hours before ABC's Wednesday prime time special with President Obama from the White House, Questions for the President: Prescription for America, a World News piece conveyed the public's doubts that Obama will achieve his goals, but also endorsed Obama's premise that something must be done as reporter David Wright focused on concern over rising costs and a family without insurance before concluding: “Expectations are low, but the need is obvious.”
From Lynchburg, Virginia, Wright reported how “some folks here clearly have their doubts President Obama is going to be able to fix the health care system” as “some worry about big government programs, others that they'll pay higher taxes in the end.” But, he stressed, “Democrats and Republicans alike here told us they hope he can fix it because something needs to be done. Kimberly Gambiladi (sp?) is a stay at home mom. Her husband got laid off two months ago. Now the whole family has no insurance.”
Wright moved on to “a civil engineering firm with 85 employees” where “business has dropped off during the recession. But health premiums haven't.” After the stay at home mom with no insurance admitted “I don't have the answer. Hopefully, somebody will,” Wright delivered his closing line: “Expectations are low, but the need is obvious.”
Media Bistro broke it Tuesday morning, and gave us all of the details shortly after noon. The news: CBS and ABC's evening newscasts both came in with record low viewerships during the week of June 15.
ABC's fall to less than 6.5 million total viewers is probably more of a surprise than CBS's plunge below 5 million. Is there a health care propaganda backlash?
But the biggest news, as usual, is the combined audience drop, this time to barely 19 million. As usual, Media Bistro didn't note that.
Here's a chart comparing the overall and 25-54 demographic audiences during the week of June 15, 2009 to those of the previous week, January 26, 2009 (a combined high-water mark during the first week after Barack Obama's inauguration) and June 16, 2008:
Friday's World News carried a 15-second promo, the first I've seen, for Wednesday night's controversial prime time special, “Questions for the President: Prescription for America.” Over video of President Barack Obama, ABC exulted in how “Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer take you inside his house” for “a television event” where “President Obama answers all of your tough questions about your health care.”
(Below the jump: Look at how ABC News has incorporated Obama's image into their graphic plugging the June 24 special.)
Script of the narration:
What's more important than having good health care when you need it? Nothing. That's why Wednesday at 10 on ABC Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer take you inside his house: The White House, for a television event as President Obama answers all of your tough questions about your health care.
ABC found itself in hot water this week after it announced on June 15 it would be airing a primetime special, "Questions for the President: Prescription for America," on June 24 from the White House. ABC also said "Good Morning America" and "World News" would also be broadcast from the White House that day.
ABC News' senior vice president Kerry Smith defended the network against critics saying in a letter the hour-long special from the White House will be "devoted to exploring and probing the President's position and the giving voice to questions and criticisms of that position."
Smith also claimed the network has "had many critics of the President's health care proposals on the air - and that's before a real plan has even been put before the country. In the end, no one watching, listening to, or reading ABC News will lack for an understanding of all sides of these important questions."
MRC's Business & Media Institute fact checked that claim and found that from January 20 to June 16 those quoted in health care stories on ABC's morning and evening news shows favored ObamaCare by a 3-to-1 margin (55 supporters to 18 critics).
President Barack Obama created “a very tender moment,” as he addressed the American Medical Association in Chicago, and “was right on target at reaching out to the heart of most physicians” ABC's Dr. Tim Johnson beamed on Monday's World News in reaction to fill-in anchor George Stephanopoulos paraphrasing how Obama told the doctors “our health care system should let them be healers, again, instead of bean counters.”
Johnson is a long-time advocate for a major expansion of the government's role in health care. On the March 1 World News, Johnson complained: “We spend more than twice as much per person on health care in this country as the average of all other industrialized countries, yet we’re the only one that doesn’t have universal coverage. That’s a national shame.” A few days later, Johnson participated in Obama’s health care forum, then expressed awe: “I was blown away by President Obama’s grasp of the subject, how he connected the dots, how he answered the questions without any script.” More in the MRC BiasAlert by Rich Noyes, “ABC Picks Universal Health Care Fan for Obama Health Care Special.”
On World News Sunday, ABC News anchor David Muir read a brief story relaying to viewers an attack on former Vice President Cheney by CIA Director Leon Panetta which appeared in the New Yorker magazine. In the interview, Panetta suggested that Cheney may desire to see terrorists hit America again for his own benefit. Muir recounted:
Which way is it? Highlighting three murders this year, ABC's Pierre Thomas on Thursday night delivered an ominous and speculative story on how “radicals of the ultra-fringe, filled with rage about illegal immigration, fear of losing their guns, abortion and race making law enforcement increasingly nervous about a potential wave of domestic terror.” In contrast, on the NBC Nightly News, Pete Williams noted that “Barack Obama's election has stirred the passions of some white separatists,” but he stuck with the facts of what has occurred: “A former FBI official, who tracked hate groups, said overall there's been no spike in activity.”
Thomas began his World News story: “A cold-blooded murder at the Holocaust Museum by a white supremacist. An abortion doctor gunned down in a church two weeks ago. January 21st, Brockton Massachusetts, a day after inauguration, a man who police say had a plan to kill as many blacks, Hispanics and Jews as he could, rapes a minority woman and kills two.” He proceeded to cite the April Homeland Security bulletin, which “warned, quote: 'The economic downturn and the election of the first African-American President present unique drivers for right wing radicalization and recruitment.'”
If you stand in the way of President Barack Obama's agenda, beware because there may be a litany of consequences that could result from your act - regardless if the obstacle is legitimate or not.
On June 8, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a stay to review an appeal by a trio of Indiana pension and construction funds that own a part of Chrysler's secured debt. They claimed the administration's handling of the deal that would have sold Chrysler's assets to Italian automaker Fiat (BIT:F) arbitrarily threw 150 years of bankruptcy law out without process of law.
ABC gave pro-abortion advocates free advertising last night with its "World News Sunday." During the report, an abortionist unequivocally stated that late-term abortion is "really a miscarriage of a stillborn fetus."
Anchor Dan Harris framed Steve Osunsami's segment as a look at why doctors risk their lives to perform abortions given the "constant threat" of violence they face, as evidenced by last week's murder of abortionist George Tiller and recent comments from Tiller's accused killer that "similar attacks are planned all over the country."
Harris teased the segment "Tonight, we talk to late-term abortion providers who fear they are targets. Why do they do it?" He stated in his introduction, "Why would a doctor take that risk? And why would a woman make that choice?"
Two weeks after ABC's Laura Marquez blamed California's budget deficit on an “unwillingness to raise taxes” tied to 1978's Proposition 13 “mandating an almost unachievable two-thirds vote by the legislature to raise taxes,” on Tuesday night she repeated herself as she lamented “education and social services continue to end up on the chopping block” because “it's a lot easier to make cuts than it is to raise taxes” since Prop 13 requires “the approval of two-thirds of the legislature to raise taxes, a virtual impossibility.”
In fact, though personal income tax collections “dropped 14% last year,” a May 19 Wall Street Journal article noted they “soared 70% from 2002 to 2007.”
World News anchor Charles Gibson emphasized the victims in teasing the upcoming story: “Governor Schwarzenegger's dire warning to California: The poor, the hungry, the very young -- all facing painful cuts.”
The networks, which saw the apparently politically-motivated murder of a Kansas doctor who performed late term abortions as a major story, haven't been so interested in a Muslim convert who specifically targeted and shot two Army privates outside a Little Rock recruiting office, killing one, William Long. None mentioned it on Monday night and on Tuesday evening, as all aired follow-up pieces on Dr. George Tiller, only NBC gave it a few seconds.
A Tuesday Arkansas Democrat-Gazette post reported Abdul Hakim Muhammad was “on a mission to 'kill as many people in the Army as he could,' police said” and targeted the “soldiers 'because of what they had done to Muslims in the past.'” (The Little Rock paper noted both victims “had recently completed basic training and had never seen combat.”)
George Tiller, the Kansas doctor notorious for his commitment to performing late-term abortions, was killed May 31 while attending a Sunday morning church service.
By his count, Tiller performed 60,000 abortions. His clinic, Women's Health Care Services in Wichita, was one of only three clinics in the United States that offered abortions after the 21st week of pregnancy.
Loss of human life is a tragedy and should be reported as such, and premeditated murder is always wrong - something all the mainstream pro-life groups were quick to affirm in the wake of the killing. But in reporting this tragic story, the news media have much to say about a man who helped provide women with the "right" to end their pregnancies, but have little to say about lives he helped to end. In failing to highlight what Tiller's work actually entailed, reporters do nothing to help their audience understand why this man was targeted.
NBC and ABC on Thursday night framed stories around concerns of “abortion rights” advocates who want proof Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is on their side, but both cloaked their pieces around the proposition “both sides” of the debate are equally worried.
With “Where Does She Stand?” as the on-screen heading, as if there is genuine belief Obama would have selected the judge without knowing she'd uphold Roe v Wade, NBC anchor Lester Holt set up a story through the prism of pro-abortion activists as he announced that White House “spokesman Robert Gibbs says the President did not specifically ask her about the right to privacy, a key issue in the abortion debate.” Reporter Pete Williams proceeded to declare that Sotomayor's stand on abortion is “a mystery” as “both sides on the abortion issue agree...they're eager to know exactly what Sonia Sotomayor thinks about abortion and the constitution.” Viewers then heard only from one side, an “abortion rights advocate.”
The Big 3 networks' evening newscasts probably turned in their worst ratings week since TVs became a household staple during the week of May 18.
Last week (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), based on the ratings for the week of May 11, I noted that the shows' combined audience had plunged a stunning 25% from their late January post-inauguration peak to a level barely above the 20 million mark.
At the time, I thought that we wouldn't see a sub-20 million week until sometine during the summer.
Well, it's not summer yet, and they're below a combined 20 million already. What's more, the results are even worse in the coveted 25-54 demographic.
Nobody can accuse the broadcast networks of objectivity when it comes to gay "rights."
ABC, CBS and NBC combined devoted nearly 11 minutes of air time during their evening and morning news shows to the May 26 California Supreme Court ruling that upheld Proposition 8, the 2008 state constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage. The networks gave gay rights activists more than seven minutes of air time, through interviews and footage of their protests, while they gave Prop 8 supporters less than one minute to talk about their victory.
Amazingly, after showing no reluctance in 2005 to describe John Roberts and Sam Alito as “conservative” or worse, the Tuesday network evening newscasts, particularly ABC and NBC, applied more “conservative” tags to Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's critics than “liberal” labels to her, as the coverage suggested calling her a liberal was a hasty judgment from accusatory partisans. In total, ABC's World News and the NBC Nightly News combined for a piddling two uses of the “liberal” term while issuing a “conservative” tag eight times. (CBS viewers heard “liberal” four times and “conservative” just once.)
Setting up a look at Sotomayer's record, ABC anchor Charles Gibson fretted about how conservatives had “already” assessed her: “Even before the President announced his decision, conservatives were reviewing Judge Sotomayor's judicial record and were already saying she would be an activist on the court.” Jan Crawford Greenburg then framed any notion of Sotomayer as liberal as based on accusations from conservatives: “...which conservatives have called code for,” “...conservatives today seized on this comment” and “already, conservatives have jumped on the decision.”
Over on NBC, Pete Williams presumed a conflict between her rise from poverty and being liberal: “Despite her remarkable personal odyssey, Judge Sotomayor is already being called a liberal activist by some conservative groups.” (That sentence included NBC's only liberal label utterance during four segments.)
Network anchors and reporters didn't hesitate to apply strong ideological labels (not just quoting others) to President Bush's two Supreme Court nominees, John Roberts and Samuel Alito. Will they be as willing to tag President Obama's nominee, U.S. Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor, as “staunch,” and “hardline” and “ultra” liberal, or at least as “very liberal”?
In July of 2005, on the night Bush announced Roberts, ABC's George Stephanopoulos and Ted Koppel both described him as not just conservative, but as “very conservative.” NBC's Brian Williams called Roberts “a kind of 'bedrock conservative,' not what is called a 'movement conservative.'”
The next night, CBS Evening News anchor John Roberts (now with CNN) wanted to know of his namesake: “Has President Bush attempted to move the court further to the right with this pick?” On NBC, Chip Reid (now at CBS) highlighted how one liberal activist “says he worries that Roberts might be a stealth candidate, moderate on the outside but as conservative as Justices Scalia and Thomas on the inside.”
ABC and CBS, which two weeks ago gave short-shrift to Dick Cheney choosing Rush Limbaugh over Colin Powell as the better representative of the Republican Party (brief anchor-read items), both led Sunday night with Powell push back against Cheney and Rush Limbaugh. “Colin Powell hitting back at Dick Cheney and other Republican critics, saying he's still a member of the party, a party he says has to change,” ABC anchor Dan Harris teased Sunday's World News. On CBS, Russ Mitchell announced: “Tonight, Colin Powell versus Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh. The former Secretary of State defends his Republican credentials.”
In the lead CBS Evening News story, Kimberly Dozier made Powell's case, reporting how on Sunday's Face the Nation “he said the criticism he faces points to what's wrong with his party” and “he pointed out the party's recent poor track record, losing the presidency by ten million votes and losing a majority in Congress.” Dozier had noted that Powell endorsed Barack Obama over John McCain last year, but failed to suggest any hypocrisy in then fretting about the Republican candidate, the most liberal since Gerald Ford, losing or then complaining the party is too conservative. Instead, Dozier proceeded to highlight how “moderate Republicans worry that the party is perceived as embracing only a few narrow issues -- anti-abortion, anti-tax and pro-gun rights.”
ABC, CBS and NBC all led Wednesday night with the Senate's overwhelming 90 to 6 bi-partisan vote to withhold funding for the closing of Guantanamo and block any detainees from being moved to the U.S., but ABC anchor Charles Gibson was uniquely flummoxed: “What's the problem here?...We have terrorists in U.S. prisons, so why not the guys from Guantanamo?”
Gibson alluded, in setting up his question to George Stephanopoulos, to Jake Tapper's reference to how “several convicted terrorists are currently in U.S. 'super-max' facilities, including shoe bomber Richard Reid,” and how Dianne Feinstein (one of the six Senators on Obama's side) argued “there is ample evidence that the United States can, and in fact does, hold dangerous convicts securely and without incident.”
But in being confused about the reasoning of the vast majority, Gibson overlooked how Tapper had already answered his question: “FBI Director Robert Mueller today said putting these detainees in U.S. prisons could be dangerous.” Viewers then heard from Mueller: “There is a potential for radicalization in a number of ways, whether it be for gang activity, for terrorist groups, for other extremists.”
A Tuesday story on ABC's World News, which ignored soaring state spending, reflected frustration with California voters for the anticipated rejection of ballot initiatives to raise taxes as reporter Laura Marquez blamed the Golden State's budget deficit on an “unwillingness to raise taxes” stretching all the way back to 1978's Proposition 13. In fact, though personal income tax collections “dropped 14% last year,” a Tuesday Wall Street Journal article noted they “soared 70% from 2002 to 2007.”
In the story pegged to Tuesday's vote on a series of initiatives to raise or extend an income-tax surcharge, a big hike in the car tax and one point sales tax jump to 9 percent, Marquez fretted that “polls show five of six initiatives aimed at reducing the budget gap are likely to be voted down,” leading Schwarzenegger, Marquez relayed, to warn “the defeat of these measures will mean billions of dollars in cuts to social services and education, and will force thousands of layoffs from the state rolls.” From San Francisco, Marquez rued:
Coast to coast, state governments are swimming in red ink, overwhelmed by the tanking economy. Here in California, the problem is even worse because of its sheer size and an unwillingness to raise taxes. Thirty years ago, Californians passed Proposition 13, mandating an almost unachievable two-thirds vote by the legislature to raise taxes.
Since its announcement in March, the University of Notre Dame's decision to invite President Barack Obama to give this year's commencement address and receive an honorary doctorate in law has been a big story for American Catholics. Pro-life Catholics were outraged and more than 366,000 people signed a petition urging Notre Dame to rescind the invitation. Somehow, though, the controversy didn't merit notice by the broadcast networks. They refused to cover it.
Yet after the fact, Obama's commencement address led ABC and NBC's evening news programs on May 17. (CBS' "Evening News" was preempted by golf, but anchor Russ Mitchell did offer a newsbreak that included a brief mention of Obama's address.) The broadcast networks' morning news programs, including CBS, also discussed Obama's speech. In each case they praised his words and ignored what had stirred so much controversy: the president's history of supporting even the most extreme abortion rights measures. And they turned to mostly liberal Catholics to provide context and perspective on the debate.
A night after the CBS Evening News ignored CIA Director Leon Panetta's rebuke of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Saturday's newscast continued the blackout as anchor Jeff Glor only mentioned Pelosi in setting up a question by explaining she “put herself in a very awkward position” when “she said the CIA lied to her or misled her about water-boarding,” before he asked Time magazine veteran John Dickerson: “Is this something that's over for the Speaker now or does this continue?”
Though the whole topic is apparently already over for CBS News, Dickerson maintained “it's not over for the Speaker” as he proceeded to empathize with her plight by suggesting she's “got to hope another issue...blows her off the front pages” and that “when Congress goes home for their recesses that somehow she gets out of the news cycle because she's still in a fix.” But not one that interests CBS News.
Nor NBC, which like ABC on Saturday night, didn't utter Pelosi's name – possibly because all three evening newscasts were so exited about what they made their lead stories: President Obama naming Utah's Republican Governor, Jon Huntsman, ambassador to China. “A political masterstroke” declared ABC's George Stephanopoulos on World News in repeating the same phrase applied moments earlier by reporter Jonathan Karl. Stephanopoulos even managed to get in a dig at conservatives as he hailed the pick as “one more sign that this is a party [Republican] where the reformers -- the moderates -- are looking for an exit.”
After ignoring for three weeks House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's denial she was briefed by the CIA about how water-boarding was being used, only to decide it was news on Thursday when Pelosi at a press conference accused the CIA of “lying” and of “misleading” the Congress, on Friday the CBS and NBC evening newscasts fell silent again despite the backlash from CIA Director Leon Panetta, a former Democratic Congressman. He issued an emphatic statement about how “it is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress” and declaring: “CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaida, describing the 'enhanced techniques that had been employed.'”
That was enough of a news hook for ABC's World News to make it the Friday night lead, as fill-in anchor George Stephanopoulos teased his top story: “Tonight, firing back: The CIA Director toe-to-toe with the Speaker. He says Congress was told the truth about interrogations.” Reporter Jonathan Karl recounted how Panetta is “pushing back hard against the Speaker of the House” and that Republicans are raising her hypocrisy in advocating punishment for those who authorized a technique of which she was aware.
He concluded by undermining her latest spin of claiming she was misled by Bush administration political operatives.
After three weeks of virtual silence, all three broadcast networks provided full reports last night (Thursday) about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s shifting story about what she knew about the interrogation methods used against al Qaeda terrorists, methods that liberals have decried as criminal torture. This morning (Friday), NBC and CBS also provided full reports, but ABC’s Good Morning America weirdly relegated Pelosi’s rant that the CIA “misleads us all the time” to a brief, 28-second report during the 8am ET hour.
That’s about as much time as the newscast gave to the rescue of a kangaroo caught in deep water off an Australian beach.
NBC’s Today was by far the toughest on Pelosi this morning, with co-host Matt Lauer opening the show by demanding: “What did she know and when did she know it? The CIA claims in a 2002 briefing, they told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi they were using harsh interrogation techniques. She says that’s a lie. So who’s telling the truth?”
Chrysler announced plans to eliminate 789 Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealerships across the nation, yet on Thursday night ABC, CBS and NBC all showcased the very same upset Long Island dealer, Jim Anderer of Island Jeep in Lindenhurst, New York, while two other dealers also on the closing list were each featured on two of the three evening newscasts.
ABC's World News and the CBS Evening News both ran soundbites from Stanley Balzekas of Chicago's Balzekas Motor Sales; CBS and the NBC Nightly News gave airtime to Howard Sellz of Big Valley Dodge in the Van Nuys area of Los Angeles.
But only Anderer, who must have had a busy day in front of film crews from the national and local media, earned the triple play on the broadcast networks. Following a piece from Chris Bury in Chicago, ABC's World News ran a “1st Person” segment with Anderer railing against Chrysler. The CBS Evening News put two bites from Anderer in a piece narrated from Atlanta by Mark Strassmann and NBC slid a clip of Anderer into a Nightly News story from Lee Cowan in Los Angeles.
“The problem for Republicans right now is the party doesn't seem big enough for conservatives like [Rush] Limbaugh and moderates like Colin Powell and Senator Arlen Specter,” ABC's Jonathan Karl contended in a Wednesday night World News story on the plight of the GOP which, though framed by anchor Charles Gibson as exploring “whether it can attract new voters by becoming more conservative or more moderate,” came down, no surprise, on the side of those who think the party is already too conservative. Gibson pointed out: “The number of voters who have left the party is growing. In 2003, 31 percent of Americans identified themselves as Republican, 31 percent as Democrat. Now, only one in five say they are a Republican.”
Instead of considering the possibility the party lost support by moving too far to the left by being identified with President Bush's big spending policies or that the congressional leadership is hardly inspiring to conservatives, Karl presumed it's a problem that Dick Cheney, “the most visible Republican in the country these days,” has declared “his preference for Rush Limbaugh over Colin Powell.” Karl featured “Republican strategist” Mark McKinnon who ridiculed Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh: “If the Republican party does not expand its tent, it's going to turn into a circus, and it's going to become a minority freak show that sort of features Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney.” Karl followed up with how “Senator Lindsey Graham says more moderates is exactly what the party needs.”
The food police are at it again telling us what and how to eat. This time, they're attacking the restaurant industry under the premise the general public is too ignorant to determine what is healthy and what isn't.
"A well-known health group is out with a new warning about America's most popular chain restaurants saying many of their meals have dangerous amounts of salt," "World News" anchor Charles Gibson said. "The Center for Science in the Public Interest checked 102 meals and found 85 of them had more than a day's worth of sodium."
During his first 100 days as President, Barack Obama has pushed an audaciously liberal agenda which, if enacted, would have radical consequences for America for decades. With Democrats enjoying monopoly control of the House and Senate, the news media have a professional duty to scrutinize those policies, and give audiences both sides of the story — not just the perspective of a powerful Chief Executive.
Unfortunately, a Media Research Center analysis of ABC, CBS and NBC evening news coverage of President Obama’s first 100 days in office shows network reporters have failed as watchdogs. The networks have raised few doubts about Obama’s left-wing agenda and showered each of Obama’s major policy initiatives with positive press.
MRC analysts looked at all 982 broadcast evening news stories about Obama and his administration from Inauguration Day (January 20) through April 29. Key findings: