White House chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel made the rounds of the TV anchors Wednesday. Though President Obama has exploited the economic problems to push his big spending plans, ABC’s Charles Gibson empathized with how he inherited a bad economy as he ran Emanuel’s explanation about “how the President handles the severe problems he's inherited” and then cued up Emanuel to agree it’s “fair to say though that he ran for one job and got another given the condition of the economy as he takes office?”
Turning to George Stephanopoulos for an assessment of Obama’s first 100 days, Stephanopoulos trumpeted how “his number one accomplishment has been to inspire a sense of confidence in the country,” as evidenced by how the “right direction” polling number as now at “the highest level in six years,” and so that confidence “not only gives President Obama a political cushion, but it could have a real world economic impact.” That spin nearly exactly matched what Emanuel told CBS’s Katie Couric, as both forwarded the “sense of confidence” phrase, when she asked him to name the administration’s “greatest accomplishment?” Emanuel answered:
A renewed sense of hope in America and a sense that we can actually meet these challenges. They weren't so big that we couldn't do 'em. And we've helped give America that sense of confidence again, that we can meet these challenges and this country is headed, finally, in the right direction.
So, did Emanuel channel Stephanopoulos’ advice on how best to tout Obama’s achievements or did Stephanopoulos just repeat Emanuel’s talking point he heard in one of their regular phone conversations? Or is it just a coincidence the press corps and the Obama White House think alike?
Once again, in its quest for a scapegoat for a crisis facing society, the media has set its sights on a large corporation.
A segment on the April 28 "World News with Charles Gibson" by ABC correspondent Jeffrey Kofman, reporting from La Gloria, Mexico, went after Smithfield Foods, Inc. (NYSE:SFD) for operating a pig farm near the city where the swine flu pandemic is believed to have originated.
"When people heard here that a case of swine flu had been traced to this area, few were surprised," Kofman said. "And in the next breath they'll tell you they think they know where it came from."
The evening newscasts on Tuesday night attributed Senator Arlen Specter's motivation for changing parties to how he realized he wouldn't win the Republican primary in Pennsylvania, but they also, just as they did with Senator Jim Jeffords in 2001, eagerly relayed -- without any challenge -- Specter's spin that, in the words of the TV journalists, he “had been driven out by the right-wing of the Republican Party,” the GOP's “increasingly conservative tilt” and “the fringe of the party.”
CBS framed its story around that convenient target as the Evening News showcased Specter's charge in its tease: “The party has shifted very far to the, to the right.” Katie Couric noted that Specter “acknowledged he cannot win the Republican primary, so he's becoming a Democrat. But as Chip Reid reports, Specter says there were other reasons behind the switch.” Setting up the same Specter soundbite as in the tease, Reid reported the “moderate” Specter “says he's leaving the Republican party because the Republican party left him.” Reid bolstered Specter's concern by asserting “200,000 Pennsylvania Republicans have registered as Democrats in just the past year. Specter blames the party's increasingly conservative tilt.” Specter exclaimed: “There ought to be a rebellion. There ought to be an uprising.”
On NBC, Kelly O'Donnell described how “he would be facing a much more conservative challenger” in the primary and “couldn't risk” losing, before she related Specter's rationalization “that voters who tend to turn out in the primaries tend to be on the fringe of the party, not a moderate Republican like he is.” ABC's Jonathan Karl highlighted how “Specter said he had been driven out by the right-wing of the Republican Party.” Then viewers were treated to Specter scolding conservatives: “They don't make any bones about their willingness to lose the general election if they can purify the party. There ought to be a rebellion. There ought to be an uprising.”
Earlier on Monday, my colleague Tim Graham previewed a study from the Center for Media and Public Affairs finding that Barack Obama received more television coverage in his first 50 days in office than George W. Bush and Bill Clinton did through similar points in their presidencies combined.
The final report has now been published, and the results are even more absurd.
Instead of providing any suggestion President Barack Obama's hectoring of credit card company executives, with the not-so-subtle threat of further regulation, is an improper strong-arm tactic, the network evening newscasts on Thursday night hailed Obama's efforts to “protect consumers” -- in stories each complete with a sympathetic victim of jacked-up interest rates, but barely any time, if any, for a view contrary to Obama's.
ABC's Charles Gibson teased: “Tonight, tough talk. A stern warning from the President to credit card executives. If you don't protect the consumers, the government will.” CBS's Katie Couric fretted about the impact of “the credit card fees, penalties, and rising interest rates” which led the President to tell “the credit card companies: enough.” Reporter Anthony Mason began: “Clean up your act. That was President Obama's message to credit card issuers today.” NBC anchor Brian Williams trumpeted how Obama has come to the rescue: “Today the President admonished the credit card companies and came down on the side of consumers.”
It just wouldn't be Earth Day without a catastrophic global warming segment from the network news, so ABC correspondent Bill Blakemore delivered just that April 22.
Blakemore warned viewers of "World News with Charles Gibson" that carbon emissions were causing disastrous changes in the air and the sea and blamed the United States in his one-sided report, even though the U.S. recently dropped to second place in global carbon output.
"To understand the state of the planet today, you need to look at the air and under the water," Blakemore said. "The air is getting warmer, faster. Carbon emissions are now rising faster than worst-case scenarios projected just a few years ago. China just surpassed the U.S. as the biggest culprit, though China's got four times as many people."
April 17 marked the 13th annual "Day of Silence," a gay rights protest event sponsored by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) that takes place in schools across the nation. Of course, gay groups can afford to be silent for a day, because they have the mainstream news media to speak for them.
"Day of Silence" is, according to the event's Web site, "a student-led national event that brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools ...the event is designed to illustrate the silencing effect of this bullying and harassment on LGBT students and those perceived to be LGBT."
Predictably, the media covered this year's event in a positive manner, leaving little room for discussions of it as an indoctrination tool pushed on students by gay activists. And they certainly didn't report that the LGBT community and its allies don't have a problem with "name calling, bullying and harassment" when it's directed against people who disagree with them.
In the midst of conservative criticism that President Barack Obama, at the summit in Trinidad over the weekend joked around with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and was uncritical of a 50-minute anti-American screed from Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega, ABC decided to defend Obama's foreign policy mettle -- with his only failure coming where he has followed Bush's policy. Martha Raddatz began by trying to undermine the pictures of a jovial Obama with Chavez: “Today, cell phone video images emerged of a stern and serious President Obama during a brief encounter with Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez. The image counters the cordial hand shake with Chavez who once called Mr. Obama an 'ignoramus' and George Bush 'a devil.'”
She noted that “it should not be a surprise that President Obama is reaching out to friend and foe after promising a stark change,” before she recited, interspersed with Obama soundbites, how in a mere 90 days “he has reached out to the Iranian people...Muslims worldwide...And the Russians.” She asked: “And where has all this gotten him?” Her one expert, former Chicago Sun-Times and New York Daily News executive James Hoge, who now runs Foreign Policy magazine, hailed Obama's approach: “I think he's doing it very sequentially, so that he's got a better chance of getting deals with people, getting some of the things we want to have done, done.”
Conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh says the mainstream media attitude on President Barack Obama is that he is too big to fail. What CNN has planned for the night of April 29 is one of several signs that could be the case.
"CNN is marking President Barack Obama's 100th day in office with prime-time coverage that will recall last year's primary and general election nights, right down to John King's magic wall," the AP article said. "The network says it will compile a national report card of Obama's performance, using opinion polls and a series of viewer surveys. The big night is April 29, a week from this Wednesday, pre-empting regular programming."
ABC's Charles Gibson, Jan Crawford Greenburg and George Stephanopoulos all stressed Thursday night how, Bush administration Justice Department memos clarifying what techniques interrogators could use with suspected terrorists, included what Stephanopoulos described as “torture with an insect” -- a method ABC failed to note was not ever employed. “Tonight, secret memos,” anchor Charles Gibson teased World News, “new documents reveal in vivid detail just how far the Bush administration went in interrogating terror suspects, using insects, confinement boxes, water-boards and more.”
Reporter Jan Crawford Greenburg characterized the memos as “chilling in their detail,” citing how “they approved prisoners placed in a cramped confinement box with an insect...” Following Greenburg, Stephanopoulos marveled: “Even some congressional officials who had the highest security clearances were surprised by some of the details today, especially that detail about the fact that Zubayda was tortured with an insect in a confinement box.” Let that formulation sink in: “Tortured with an insect.” The horror! (Audio: MP3 of the three insect comments)
Zubaydah, however, was never forced to spend time near a caterpillar, Pete Williams reported on the NBC Nightly News: “In the case of al-Qaeda figure Abu Zubaydah, who feared insects, interrogators were given permission to put a harmless one like a caterpillar in a box in which he was confined, but that technique was never used.”
The broadcast network evening newscasts on Wednesday provided prominent coverage of the “Tea Party” rallies across the nation with time for the views of participants, but they tried to discredit the protests as a front for “corporate interests” or a “fistful of rightward leaning Web sites” -- a concern for motives and hidden agendas the same programs lacked when championing the 2006 pro-illegal immigrant marches. All three also cited polls to undermine the premise the public shares the concerns on taxes and spending espoused by the “tea party” protesters.
“Cheered on by Fox News and talk radio, the hundreds of tea parties today were designed to protest the bailouts, the stimulus plan, and President Obama's budget,” Dan Harris explained on ABC before asserting: “But critics on the left say this is not a real grassroots phenomenon at all, that it's actually largely orchestrated by people fronting for corporate interests.” Harris proceeded to argue that “while the Boston Tea Party in 1773 was about taxation without representation, critics point out that today's protesters did get to vote -- they just lost. What's more, polls show most Americans don't feel overtaxed.”
CBS's Dean Reynolds noted a tea party organizer “insisted these events were non-partisan,” but, Reynolds maintained as if it were an embarrassment, “a fistful of rightward leaning Web sites and commentators embraced the cause.” Reynolds stressed how “it's important to keep in mind that fresh polling indicates there is not all that much passion about high taxes in the country at large right now. Gallup this week found 61 percent of Americans see their federal income taxes as fair.” (What percent surveyed even pay income taxes?)
I could of course be commenting on the poor quality of the alleged journalism. But in this case I'm talking about their ratings, which is of course largely caused by said poor journalism.
Three weeks ago (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that the Big 3 networks' evening newscasts' combined ratings had dropped about 17% since the collective high they achieved during the week of January 26, the first full week after Barack Obama's nomination.
Make that 21%. In the 25-54 demographic, the drop has been 30%. And it's not just a seasonality thing. The collective drop compared to last year is over 4%, continuing a long-term decline the nets surely hoped they might prevent if they could just get their guy elected to the White House. No dice, guys.
Here is an updated week-by-week graph for each network since the first of the year, followed by some demographic and overall info (based on info found at the Evening News Ratings Category at Media Bistro's TV Newser):
It may well be that a growing share of the American public favor expanding interaction with Cuba, but in reporting President Barack Obama's decision to allow Cuban-Americans unlimited travel and money transfers to the island, ABC's Jeffrey Kofman and NBC's Andrea Mitchell characterized opponents in a belittling manner -- while Mitchell also advanced complaints Obama did no go far enough. “With today's announcement,” Kofman asserted on ABC's World News, “President Obama is making it clear he is not going to do business as usual.” Kofman then declared: “It is now only the very hard line who want the policy to stay as it is.”
Mitchell, on the NBC Nightly News, acknowledged “some Cuban-Americans...still argue that the Obama White House is only helping Raul Castro and his ailing brother Fidel,” but she dismissed those opponents as “a dwindling number.” She emphasized the view Obama came up short: “President Obama did not propose a far more sweeping step, getting Congress to lift the trade embargo that has lasted for half a century, disappointing opponents of the policy.” Mitchell concluded by adopting that complaint as her own: “For the past year, European countries and the Vatican have been getting Cuba to release political prisoners, but the Obama administration still refuses to negotiate directly with Havana.”
On Friday’s World News with Charles Gibson on ABC, substitute anchor Diane Sawyer previewed the same night’s special on guns in America, "If I Only Had a Gun," and, on World News, ran a report focusing on how challenging it is to react to a gunman when taken by surprise, even if one is armed. ABC News enlisted the services of police officers to train college students in firearm use and then had the students react to one of the officers as he pretended to be a crazed gunman and burst into a small lecture room. Sawyer informed viewers: "Our training is already more than almost half the states in the country require to carry a concealed weapon."
The report documented that all of the trained students performed poorly in trying to defend themselves. Sawyer narrated a clip of one such botched attempt at self-defense: "Joey struggles to get his gun out, but it's stuck in his shirt. He can't even get it out to aim it. Had this event been real, police say Joey would have been killed in the first five seconds." Each of the students taking part appeared to be wearing a T-shirt which the concealed handgun was tucked underneath.
But the report only focused on this one narrow scenario in which the law-abiding citizen is taken by surprise by a skilled gunman, while the report ignores other scenarios and crime situations when the record shows that armed citizens do sometimes succeed when forced to confront criminals.
In the May 31, 1999, National Review article, "Why New Gun Laws Won’t Work," University of Chicago Professor John Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime, wrote about two then-recent school shooting sprees that were cut short when an armed citizen in each case used his own weapon to capture the gunman. Lott:
Assessing President Barrack Obama's overseas trip, ABC's George Stephanopoulos proposed it was “a real test for the President” and, no surprise, decided “he passed it pretty easily” since “he was confident, he had a sense of command in his personal and his public diplomacy, forged strong relationships with his European counterparts...” Furthermore, Stephanopoulos admired Obama's “strong” unannounced visit to troops in Iraq, touting how the President “capped off” his travels “with this critical visit to the troops. When you've got American troops fighting on two fronts, you have to end that visit with a strong visit with the troops, and he did.”
Asked by anchor Charles Gibson to list some minuses, Stephanopoulos acknowledged “good feelings with your allies don't guarantee agreement,” citing Obama's inability to secure help in Afghanistan and with North Korea, but the host of ABC's This Week wrapped up with how the White House is pleased with the trip -- as if it were possible they wouldn't be: “They feel this trip went exactly as they planned. They couldn't be happier. Now they're going to come back home and focus again on the economy.”
Hard to imagine how they could be any happier with the media's reverential coverage.
One night after ABC's World News featured Diane Sawyer and Pierre Thomas fretting over the lack of interest by Congress in passing new gun laws in response to recent shooting sprees, Thomas appeared on World News Saturday and again treated as problematic the statistic that there are "more than 250 million legally registered guns in this country," and seemed to complain that Congress is not planning to enact more gun laws. After recounting several incidents of mass shootings in the past month, Thomas fretted: "Even with all that carnage, there's no major gun control legislation pending before Congress." And earlier on ABC's Good Morning America, co-anchor Bill Weir had also brought up the statistic that there are more than 250 million guns in America as he recounted mass murder statistics from various decades.
In a q and a with George Stephanopoulos on Saturday's World News, ABC anchor David Muir decided to sum up President Barack Obama's week in Europe by displaying a picture of jovial Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arm-in-arm with President Barack Obama during the G-20 group photo session, an image Muir contended showed how “other heads of state are seemingly trying to get close to the head of the class, or the cool kid in the class, if you will, President Obama.”
Muir cued up Stephanopoulos: “Have you seen much of this in recent history?” Stephanopoulos put style over substance as he declared “the President's stagecraft on this trip and his star power have really held up all through his trip to Europe.” Though he acknowledged that “on the substance the President hasn't gotten all he wanted either at the G-20 or at this NATO summit,” the host of ABC's This Week decided “he's done a good job of managing expectations.” As Stephanopoulos demonstrated, Obama has certainly met and exceeded media expectations.
Of the three network evening newscasts, ABC's World News, substitute hosted by Diane Sawyer, uniquely seemed to lament the lack of political interest in enacting new gun laws to combat what correspondent Dan Harris earlier called "a signature American disaster, a shooting rampage," referring to the shooting spree in Binghamton, New York.
Sawyer introduced a discussion with correspondent Pierre Thomas by reading a statement from the Brady Campaign complaining about the government's lack of interest in more gun control compared to "salmonella poisoning in peanut butter crackers," and then the two fretted over the large number of guns in circulation in America and the unlikely prospects of more gun laws being passed by Congress. Sawyer: "We keep hearing there is a gun for every man, woman and child in this country, and now they have gone up by that much more. But what about Congress? Is there any move in Congress to try to take some kind of action?"
Thomas responded: "Well, one of the reasons why you heard that frustration from the Brady group today is that there's not a lot of sense of urgency on gun control." After mentioning Attorney General Eric Holder's recent expression of interest in a new assault weapon ban, Thomas continued: "But since that time, no real urgency from the White House or from Congress to take any meaningful gun control legislation to fruition."
The broadcast networks continued their infatuation Thursday night with Michelle Obama as ABC anchor Charles Gibson teased: “Center stage. With substance and style, the First Lady steps onto the world stage, becoming something of a mega-star.” He soon equated her popularity with Jacqueline Kennedy, the last First Lady to so enchant the press. On NBC, Dawna Friesen trumpeted how “she has dazzled Britain with her style and her substance. From the palace to the streets, she has taken London town.” Highlighting the First Lady's appearance before a largely-minority group of school girls, Friesen hailed: “To such a diversity of girls from such an inspirational woman, the message couldn't have been more powerful.”
Two noteworthy quotes from the CBS Evening News:
> In a wrap-up piece on the G-20 summit, anchor Katie Couric decided it was relevant to stress: “The people of London treated the Obamas like rock stars, the kind of reception an American President has not received in some time.”
> CBS reporter Chip Reid, over video of many waving raised hands from journalists trying to catch Obama's attention, pointed out how excited Obama made the press corps during his news conference: “The President continued his charm offensive with the nearly two thousand members of the international press corps who literally begged to ask questions.”
“There is so much to cover on this day,” ABC anchor Charles Gibson announced Tuesday night from London as the network anchors and reporters reflected their awe over how, as NBC anchor Brian Williams put it, “In a marathon, the President meets with the leaders of Britain, Russia, China, then the Queen, and the summit hasn't started yet.” NBC's Chuck Todd then admired how “the President was able to do a diplomatic decathlon, packing in a week's worth of international diplomacy into 12 hours,” before he hailed how “America's unofficial royalty, the President and First Lady, reconnected tonight for more ceremonial duties, including a private audience with actual royalty, the Queen herself.”
CBS and NBC devoted full stories to what the CBS Evening News dubbed on screen as “Michelle Mania.” Katie Couric teased: “The British give America's First Lady a welcome fit for a Queen.” On NBC, Williams echoed: “There is no denying the Obamas from America are receiving a rock star reception on this trip. One London paper today called them 'American royalty.'”
From London, Williams opened the NBC Nightly News with a list of President Obama's “marathon day” of activities:
The day President Barack Obama arrived in London, the broadcast network evening newscasts on Tuesday night noted that he faces some tough challenges from other leaders who are not as enthralled with him as are their citizens, but ABC and CBS went out of their way to point out how Obama is more popular than was former President Bush. From London, ABC anchor Charles Gibson highlighted the American perception, mostly formed by the media, of how those abroad view the U.S.:
The President comes here with firm backing from the American people. According to our ABC News/Washington Post poll, 43 percent of Americans say the country's image abroad is improving under President Obama. That number was just 10 percent under President Bush. And the President continues to get high marks at home, as well: 64 percent say they are confident the President's programs will improve the economy.
Also from London, CBS anchor Katie Couric stressed how foreigners are pleased Obama's not Bush:
What he represents to many countries overseas is a departure from the Bush administration which alienated some foreign governments early on with its rejection of global warming initiatives and its national security positions. It may be a fresh start, but the current President's approval ratings will only take him so far.
In recent weeks, both the NBC Nightly News and ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson repeated charges that Israeli troops had witnessed the deliberate killing of Palestinian civilians by fellow troops during the Gaza War. In recent days, the New York Times has informed its readers that, after investigation, the Israeli military concluded that the incendiary claims were untrue and that the soldiers in question had actually been repeating rumors rather than describing events they had witnessed. But so far, neither NBC nor ABC has updated their viewers on the story. And in the case of ABC, even though some of the allegations had already been debunked, as reported in the conservative Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, March 24, the original inaccurate accounts were still repeated two days later on the Thursday, March 26, World News.
Anchor Charles Gibson introduced the March 26 story: "There is a debate under way right now throughout Israel about soldiers, war and morality. Two months after the war in Gaza, Israeli soldiers are providing the accounts of what they saw and did on the battlefield. And some of those accounts are deeply disturbing."
After recounting that Palestinians had previously made accusations of war crimes against the Israeli military, ABC’s Simon McGregor-Wood continued: "The army denied it. And the public accepted the denial. But now, for the first time, disturbing evidence from Israeli soldiers themselves. Personal accounts from the front line, published word for word in the newspapers. From Aviv, a squad leader. "One of our officers saw someone walking on a road, an old woman. He sent people up onto the roof, and, using machine guns, they took her down."
On the March 19 NBC Nightly News, correspondent Martin Fletcher had similarly charged: "The Israeli army insisted during the war they were extra careful to avoid unnecessary damage and to protect Palestinian civilians. But today Israelis were shocked by reports of soldiers speaking out, saying they intentionally destroyed Palestinian property and killed civilians." (Complete transcripts follow)
On the March 28 World News Saturday, ABC correspondent John Hendren observed that the "pure adulation" formerly shown for President Obama in Europe has now faded as the President prepares for the G-20 summit in London to convince the group of economic superpowers to adopt his plans to increase spending to stimulate the economy. After anchor Dan Harris introduced the report noting that "Mr. Obama is facing a huge challenge on this trip, convincing reluctant European leaders to rescue the global economy his way," Hendren began his piece:
JOHN HENDREN: "The last time President Obama came to Europe, it was pure adulation. But now, Mr. Obama is President in the midst of a global economic crisis. Next week, he will try to persuade 19 other heads of state that they must sign on to his rescue plan and increase government spending in their own countries as he has here, signing a $787 billion rescue plan. Germany's Angela Merkel has criticized the plan and European Union chief Mirek Topolanek calls it-
Monday's World News concluded with a story touting how a school in Japan, which ABC failed to note is affiliated with the Washington Post Company, uses President Obama's speeches to help teach English. Anchor Charles Gibson poured on the flattery:
Finally tonight, there's the old saying that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Well if that is the case, hundreds of students in Japan are flattering President Obama no end. That's because they're busy imitating him, all for a good reason.
After clips of adult students saying “Yes, we can,” reporter Clarissa Ward explained from Tokyo: “This is the Obama workshop at the Kaplan English School in Japan. Every week, as many as 200 students attend” where “they learn the President's speeches line by line, reciting them to their teacher.” That teacher seems to have a preference for those on the left, as Ward relayed how he “has also used speeches by Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy for his classes, but he says his students are particularly inspired by the message of Mr. Obama.”
ABC on Sunday night jumped to beat the other networks with the news that a judge in Spain may issue arrest warrants charging several former Bush administration officials with violating the Convention Against Torture. World News Sunday anchor Dan Harris announced: “Six former high level officials of the Bush administration are being targeted tonight by a court in, of all places, Spain. This court is considering whether to open a criminal investigation into allegations that the six officials gave legal cover for the torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.”
Narrating off-camera from London, reporter Hilary Brown began with how “the six officials named in the case include Alberto Gonzales, the former Attorney General who famously described parts of the Geneva Convention as 'quaint' and 'obsolete.'” She outlined the case: “The Spanish judge, Baltasar Garzon, says he has the right to prosecute American officials because four Spanish citizens formerly held at Guantanamo say they were tortured there. And Garzon says the U.S. officials broke international law, specifically, the 1984 Convention Against Torture, which the U.S. signed.”
Brown conceded it's unlikely any arrest warrant would be enforced by the U.S., but she saw a benefit, nonetheless, as she suggested “this case may end up putting pressure on the Obama administration to open its own investigation, something it has resisted so far.”
President Barack Obama doesn't have to do too much to impress ABC News. A little more than five weeks after the fill-in anchor of World News effused over two-week-old photos of Obama “serving cookies” on Super Bowl night while an awed George Stephanopoulos glowed over how “these are just remarkable....we've never really seen anything like this before in real time,” on Thursday night the newscast devoted a full story to “a White House first” of answering questions via the Internet. (NBC Nightly News didn't air a syllable about the stunt and the CBS Evening News allocated 38 seconds centered around Obama's response to whether marijuana should be legalized in order to boost the economy.)
ABC anchor Charles Gibson excitedly announced:
At the White House today, something never done before. As a candidate, Barack Obama was adept at using the Internet to raise money and get his message out. Now, as President, he's using the Internet again in a way that no President ever has before.
“In lieu of boarding carbon-unfriendly Air Force One to hold town hall meetings around the country,” reporter Jake Tapper relayed, “today President Obama brought the mountain to Mohammed.”
All that cheerleading for Obama-Biden, and all they got was a continuation of their lousy long-term ratings drop.
Perhaps one reason why Big 3 network coverage of the 2008 presidential election was so heavy on fawning favoritism towards Barack Obama and Joe Biden combined with all-out attacks on John McCain and Sarah Palin was that the belief that an Obama presidency might revive interest in their declining evening newscasts.
If so, that strategy has spectacularly failed. Nine weeks into Obama's presidency, it's clear that after a short-lived revival, the audiences for NBC's Brian Williams, ABC's Charles Gibson, and especially CBS's Katie Couric are smaller than ever, and that (with the exception of NBC's Williams) the remainder who are still tuning in are older than ever.
After a significant post-election rise that peaked during the first full week after Obama's inauguration, the viewership drop at all three networks has been steep, to the point where all three have fewer people tuning in than they did a year ago at this time (source: the Evening News Ratings page at Media Bistro):
Just under 90 minutes before President Barack Obama's Tuesday night news conference, ABC's World News set out to support his contention that his policies have already led to economic improvement. Picking up on how Obama planned to announce at the start of the session that thanks to his economic policies “we are beginning to see signs of progress,” anchor Charles Gibson asked: “Well, is the President right? And are things turning around? We asked David Muir to look at two key sectors of the economy, jobs and housing.”
Muir decided in Obama's favor: “The report card on the economy does show glimmers of hope.” He pointed to how “last month, 651,000 more jobs were lost, a lot of workers. But just two months earlier, that number was 681,000.” Muir proceeded to highlight how because of the “stimulus,” there “are now signs that money is trickling down.” (I thought the media line was that “trickle down” doesn't work?) Specifically, “the U.S. Forest Service is among the first government agencies to hire. Melina Vasquez is among the 1500 people who will now be restoring the parks.” Plus, “outside Portland, Oregon, one contractor fixing U.S. Highway 26 is bringing back 30 laid off workers and hiring ten more.”
The Obama administration is just flummoxed by the burdens of power, ABC's George Stephanopoulos fretted on Monday's World News. Discussing the public backlash over how AIG used bailout funds to pay bonuses, Stephanopoulos related that the White House feels “caught in a bind” between “populist anger” and appeasing the business community which only causes negative public reaction. “It's a tough dilemma,” he concluded.
They feel caught in a bind. When they respond to this populist anger, they feel they get a very negative reaction from the business community and the stock market. When they try to appease the business community and the stock market, the public rises up. It's a tough dilemma.