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.
On World News Sunday, ABC correspondent Terry McCarthy filed his first report in a weeklong series, "Iraq: Where Things Stand," which will give a progress report on the six-year anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom's beginning. After anchor Dan Harris introduced the story by relaying that McCarthy had found "optimism" in Iraq, McCarthy began his report by informing viewers of some positive effects of the country's lower violence levels, and that Iraqis are now more concerned about the economy than security. The ABC correspondent continued: "Iraqis are slowly discovering they have a future. We flew south to Basra, where 94 percent say their lives are going well."
Media outlets preyed upon people's emotions this week in its reporting of President Barack Obama's decision to overturn the Bush Administration ban on federally-funded embryonic stem cell research.
Embryonic stem cell research is a hot topic among pro-life advocates because it involves the destruction of human embryos in order to obtain the stem cells needed.
CBS' Chip Reid said of embryonic stem-cells during the March 6 Evening News "Scientists believe that by turning them into cells damaged by injury or disease, they can treat or even cure everything from spine cord injuries to Alzheimer's disease to diabetes."
Typical of ABC's Lisa Stark's weekend reporting on the issue was her explanation during the March 6 World News with Charles Gibson: "The president's move will free up federal dollars for more widespread research on embryonic stem cells, the so-called master cells of the body. Supporters say it may lead to cures for diseases, such as diabetes, Parkinson's and Alzheimers."
What these reports ignore is that embryonic stem cell research has not produced any positive results Daniel S. McConchie, vice-president of government affairs for Americans United for Life, wrote, "Ten years after the first isolation of embryonic stem cells, there is not a single disease that these cells can cure." He adds, "Scientists have been conducting research on mouse embryonic stem cells for over 25 years and are yet unable to cure mice."
NBC and ABC on Tuesday night marked President Barack Obama's first 50 days -- not by pointing out all his unfilled executive positions, failed nominations or the long wait for the stimulus spending in the “stimulus” bill -- but by heralding his “whirlwind” of action and “whirling dervish of activity,” though both noted criticism that the administration is trying to do too much. “The President's first seven weeks have been a whirlwind with often dramatic movement in all directions, on all fronts. The economy, health care, two wars and today education reform,” NBC anchor Brian Williams breathlessly announced.
Noting the “accusation that he's taken on too much all at once,” NBC's Savannah Guthrie relayed how Obama “took some time to answer his critics.” Viewers then heard Obama invoking Abraham Lincoln: “You may forget that Lincoln helped lay down the transcontinental railroad and passed the Homestead Act and created the National Academy of Sciences in the midst of civil war.”
On ABC, Jake Tapper contended “you can disagree with what President Obama has done, but you cannot accuse him of dragging his feet. His first 50 days have been marked by presidential action on nearly every issue under the sun. Of course, for his critics, that's precisely the problem.” Tapper soon asserted: “Seven weeks ago, just minutes after taking the oath of office, President Obama formally nominated his cabinet. He's been a whirling dervish of activity ever since.”
Correspondent Lisa Stark’s report on ABC’s World News on Sunday almost completely slanted in favor of President Obama’s decision to overturn the ban on federal funding of stem cell research which destroys human embryos. Stark minimized the controversial nature of the research, devoting only one sound bite out of four to a critic of the president’s move.
Anchor Dan Harris introduced Stark’s report by selling the apparent promise of embryonic stem cell research: “President Obama is going to fulfill one of his campaign promises by ending restrictions on federally-funded research using embryonic stem cells. This could lead to better treatments and possibly cures for many diseases. But it will not end a visceral debate.” Despite this mention of the “visceral debate,” the report almost entirely focused on the hype from supporters of the research.
CBS anchor Katie Couric on Friday night used the jump in the unemployment rate to 8.1 percent to cheerlead for how the “stimulus” bill is “creating” jobs, an impact her newscast illustrated with two full stories after reporter Anthony Mason declared: “It's the government that's going to have to pull us out of this recession.” (On ABC's World News, Betsy Stark similarly saw salvation in the stimulus spending. Citing predictions of even higher unemployment, she contended: “That's why the stimulus plan is so important. If it's successful, those huge job losses should slow down.”)
Couric teased the CBS Evening News: “The recession has now cost nearly four-and-a-half million Americans their jobs. We'll show you the new jobs his stimulus plan is creating.” She then led by promising: “In a moment we'll be telling you about all the jobs the stimulus plan is creating, but first, why those jobs are so desperately needed.”
President Obama's health care summit at the White House played into receptive television news hands Thursday night as NBC displayed “Fixing Health Care” on screen before reporter Chuck Todd appropriated the coach who inspired “win one for the Gipper” by touting how “the President's drive to pass health care got a Knute Rockne-like boost with a surprise appearance” by Senator Ted Kennedy, while ABC's Dr. Tim Johnson, who on Sunday had decried as a “national shame” America's lack of universal health care, effused: “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.”
CBS's Chip Reid corroborated Obama's point about soaring costs by citing a business where “in 2005, it cost $75,000 to cover about 25 employees. In 2008, it cost $148,000,” as if more government involvement to expand the number of people covered will lower costs. Reid also hailed Obama's fresh approach: “Instead of doing battle with insurance companies, drug companies, hospitals, and doctors, this time all those groups are in the room, most agreeing that now is the time for shared sacrifice.”
“Ultimately,” President Barack Obama will get his way on “universal” health coverage, because of “just one fact” ABC's Dr. Tim Johnson declared “I want to let everybody hear,” and that is the “national shame” of how “we spend more than twice as much, per person, on health care in his country as the average of all other industrialized countries, yet we're the only one that doesn't have universal coverage.”
Answering a question from World News anchor David Muir on Sunday night about the likelihood health care reform will pass, Johnson predicted:
I think there's going to be an intense, partisan debate. But ultimately, David, there is just one fact I want to let everybody hear: We spend more than twice as much, per person, on health care in his 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 and I think ultimately that's what's going to unite Democrats and Republicans.
In Friday night stories on President Barack Obama's plan to reduce troops in Iraq by 90,000, neither the CBS Evening News nor NBC Nightly News mentioned a key factor raised by ABC reporters Jake Tapper and Martha Raddatz.
On ABC's World News, over video of Tapper standing at Camp Lejeune with the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Tapper noted: “Defense Secretary [Robert] Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen today credited President Bush's surge, opposed by then-Senator Obama, with helping to pave the way for today's announcement.” Viewers then heard a short soundbite from Gates: “It clearly has put us in a very different place in terms of where Iraq is.”
Up next on the February 27 newscast, Raddatz addressed the military's reaction, and shared her assessment:
I think if there hadn't been a surge, if there hadn't been such success, you wouldn't have seen those Marines clapping today. It would be a very different kind of speech.
ABC, CBS and NBC reporters over the past two days have relayed how the Obama administration proposes to cut the annual federal deficit from $1.3 trillion to $533 billion in four years by cutting spending on the war in Iraq and raising the income tax rate for those earning more than $250,000. Not considered: How since the Bush tax cuts the revenue paid by the richest -- and their share of total income taxes collected -- have been rising year-by-year. So will a tax hike, from 35 to 39.6 percent, really increase the amount the wealthiest pay, or will they find ways to avoid reporting income and thus the government will see little, if any, additional revenue -- to say nothing about the wisdom of alerting investors during an economic downturn that their tax rate will soon jump?
Monday night, CBS's Chip Reid reported: “Most of the savings would come from winding down the war in Iraq, ending the Bush tax cuts for people making over $250,000 a year and cutting spending.” Jake Tapper, also Monday night, on ABC: “Another source of revenue being proposed -- allowing the Bush tax cuts for a family earning over $250,000 a year to expire in 2011, increasing that tax rate from 35 percent to 39.6 percent.”
ABC's World News on Tuesday night celebrated President Obama's signature on the 'stimulus' package by devoting a full story to how mayors will supposedly use their portion to create 1.6 million jobs. Fill-in anchor Diane Sawyer recited “the wish list” of “nearly 19,000 infrastructure projects -- roads, bridges, mass transit -- costing some $150 billion” and “the mayors argue that the projects are ready to go and will bring along 1.6 million jobs.” No word about the inevitable corruption as reporter David Muir trumpeted: “Across this country, mayors and governors tonight are pouring over wish lists -- broken bridges, schools, libraries -- all of which need help.”
Justifying the spending, Muir cited replacing “old boilers” at a high school which Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm insisted would create jobs. Jumping to Elkhart, Indiana, Muir listed worthwhile projects and specific numbers of jobs each would supposedly create: “Fixing one of their main streets would cost $34 million and create 858 new jobs. Fixing the city's pumping facility, $9 million, 225 new jobs and upgrading an airport runway: $5.5 million, 138 people to work.” He moved on to Hoboken, New Jersey's $36 million plan to prevent flooding, a project the mayor declared will lead to “several hundred employees being hired immediately.”
Muir concluded by seeing a harmonious match of money and need: “Here, and across the country, a flood of requests from cities in need of help and workers in need of jobs.”
Get Diane Sawyer together with George Stephanopoulos on World News and they can't contain their giddiness over President Obama. Back on Friday, January 23, when Sawyer last anchored, Stephanopoulos hailed Obama's first three days as “disciplined and strategic,” thus enabling “sweeping change,” while Sawyer gushed over “change...at warp speed.” Monday night, Sawyer returned to the anchor chair and excitedly announced how “the trillion dollar week has begun” and so “finally,” as if it's been too long of a wait, “the stimulus starts to flow.” She soon heralded how “we embark on a week like no other in American economic history” with “a presidential whirlwind of spending against a recession.”
After a story from David Muir on the “dizzying and daunting amount of federal spending that President Obama will tackle this week,” Sawyer brought Stephanopoulos aboard to admire what Sawyer described as a “scrapbook, if you will, of the President's journey on the road to the stimulus package.” In other words, photos released by the White House. Nonetheless, she effused: “I want to show everybody at home, because there is the President, it's Super Bowl night, and he's serving cookies to congressional leadership in the White House screening room.” (jpg of the photo as shown by ABC.)
The narration switched to an awed Stephanopoulos: “These are just remarkable, Diane. We've never really seen anything like this before in real time.” Over a picture of Obama leaning back in a chair he oozed: “You see the President taking a little bit of a well-deserved rest right there.” Sawyer matched Stephanopoulos' smile: “Yeah, I wonder how often they'll take that scrapbook out and look through those pictures.”
ABC World News Sunday gave face time to supporters of divisive spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle, but brushed over those “Christians” who say Tolle is ‘dangerous.’”
The Feb. 15th broadcast of ABC’s Sunday evening news featured Eckhart Tolle, a widely touted spiritual leader to stars such as Cher and Paris Hilton. While his books have, with Oprah’s help, sold more than 10 million copies, many Christians believe his teaching on “spiritual awakenings” is dangerous.
“Paris Hilton took his book with her to prison,” reporter Dan Harris quipped. “Cher swears by him… so does Meg Ryan. Oprah Winfrey even hosted an unprecedented ten-part online series with him.” Viewers were treated to videos of Tolle’s superstar supporters and crowds of people listening intently with Harris saying, “His many fans say he has changed their lives.” But when Tolle’s Christian opposition is briefly mentioned, the segment literally takes a dark turn.
ABC, CBS and NBC centered their Thursday night stories, on Senator Judd Gregg's decision to withdraw as Commerce Secretary-nominee, around his disagreement with the Obama administration's “stimulus” plan -- with only passing mention, if any, of the administration's wish to move the 2010 census count from Commerce to the White House.
CNN's Jessica Yellin reported at the top of the 6 PM EST Situation Room that “sources close to Senator Gregg say the bigger issue for him was the White House's effort to take control of the census,” yet that politicalization of the census wasn't mentioned at all in a full CBS Evening News story from Chip Reid, who found time to relay how “a top Democratic source on Capitol Hill was more blunt, saying Gregg actively campaigned for the job, then 'erratically dropped out without warning,'” nor in a Katie Couric-Bob Schieffer discussion.
On ABC's World News, George Stephanopoulos offered a clause about the census, but couched as merely a GOP allegation: “Since the nomination became public there were two public issues over who would administer the census -- that was getting politicized according to Republican officials -- and also over the stimulus bill.”
Tuesday’s NBC Nightly News presented a more whitewashed view of prospects for better relations with Iran compared to ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson as NBC’s Brian Williams portrayed Iranians as receptive to Barack Obama’s recent call for talks between the two nations as long as there was "mutual respect." Williams: "President Obama called on Iran to send a signal that it was ready to talk, and it turns out the Iranians were apparently listening. Today President Ahmadinejad, at a rally marking the 30th anniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, said he would welcome talks with the U.S. as long as they were based on what he called ‘mutual respect.’"
By contrast, on the same night’s World News, correspondent Jim Sciutto relayed the presence of anti-America sentiment in Iran – recounting chants of "Down, down with America," that were shouted during the day’s Islamic Revolution commemoration – and the Iranian public’s support for the country’s nuclear program. And while the ABC correspondent did allude to Ahmadinejad being a less likely prospect for successful negotiation than the more moderate former President Khatami who is running for office again, even Sciutto did not remind viewers of Ahmadinejad’s past anti-Israel rhetoric and the country’s support for terrorism not only against Israel but against American troops in Iraq.
In excerpts aired on Tuesday's World News, of Terry Moran's interview with President Barack Obama for Nightline, Moran was as sycophantic toward Obama as he was during the campaign, lamenting Obama “got no honeymoon” and bemoaning the new President had been “too nice” to Republicans. “Mr. President,” Moran rued in overlooking the ongoing honeymoon from the media, “you got no honeymoon. Not a single Republican vote in the House on your first major piece of legislation.” Moran speculated: “I wonder in coming into the presidency, maybe you were too nice? If I'm a Republican Senator or a Republican Congressman, I think you're a very nice guy but maybe I don't have enough reason to fear you.”
Earlier, Moran cued up Obama: “How close do you think the country is to the kind of economic catastrophe that you're warning about?” In the ABCNews.com transcript, which does not include the “honeymoon” lament, the tri-anchor of Nightline suggested the banks should just be nationalized: “There are a lot of economists who look at these banks and they say all that garbage that's in them renders them essentially insolvent. Why not just nationalize the banks?” (That did not air on World News, but was part of what Nightline ran later.)
Audio:MP3 clip which matches the video (45 secs, 275 Kb)
All of the broadcast and cable network anchors challenged President Barack Obama in some questions during their Tuesday afternoon Oval Office interview sessions, but CBS's Katie Couric and NBC's Brian Williams also painted Obama as a victim of Washington's culture which forced HHS Secretary nominee Tom Daschle's withdrawal. “You campaigned to change the culture in Washington, to change the politics as usual culture here,” Couric noted as she empathized: “Are you frustrated? Do you think it is much, much harder to do that than you ever anticipated?”
Williams noted “you lost two nominees, two appointments today,” so, as if Obama were an uninvolved casualty of unfairness: “Did that make you angry, I imagine?” Echoing Couric, Williams fretted: “How do you prevent the lesson from being that, no matter how lofty the goals of the new guy coming in, Washington wins, in the end?” Maybe it was just following the law and paying a penalty for avoiding taxes which won in the end.
An epochal media moment Monday night on ABC’s World News? In an upbeat story about the election in Iraq “with virtually no violence,” reporter Jim Sciutto raised the possibility the war is now over -- just in time to enable President Barack Obama to fulfill his promise to reduce troop levels -- as Sciutto asked a member of Iraq's parliament: “Is this the end of the war?” Mahmoud Othman cautiously predicted: “If the Iraqi leaders could get together and work together sincerely, yes, this could be the end of the war.”
Anchor Charles Gibson set up the story by asserting the Saturday elections “mark a major turning point in the Iraqi effort to move forward and the U.S. desire to pull back.” Sciutto began with a woman who agreed with his premise “Iraq is ready to move on without the Americans.” Sciutto described how “almost every day there's another handover from American to Iraqi authority” and that “it was Iraqi soldiers who kept polling stations remarkably safe” while check points “used to be manned by American soldiers. Today, they are almost exclusively Iraqi security forces.”