In the midst of media hype for “insider” Scott McClellan's attacks on the Bush White House, ABC's Martha Raddatz and CBS's Katie Couric prompted a revelation from McClellan that undermines the presumption he's any kind of partisan Republican or conservative ideologue. They asked a question NBC's Meredith Vieira did not in two lengthy live segments on Thursday's Today show: Will he vote for John McCain? He told both Raddatz and Courtic that he's “intrigued by Senator Obama's message,” also confirming to Couric that he's no conservative as he praised John McCain as “someone who has certainly governed from the center, and that's where I come from.” So why not vote for him over the left-wing Obama? But Couric wondered: “There's some feeling this will tarnish the candidacy of John McCain. Do you support John McCain?” McClellan conceded: “I haven't made a decision....”
On ABC's World News, Raddatz touted the ambivalence as a “change” though McClellan's self-identification as a centrist may suggest otherwise: “To show how truly big a change McClellan's made, he's even considering voting for a Democrat.” After he told her “I'm intrigued by Senator Obama's message,” she followed up: “So you haven't made up your mind about a candidate, which means you haven't decided whether you'll vote Democratic or Republican?” McClellan demurred: “I haven't made any decision.”
When France 2 TV helped stoke a new wave of anti-Semitism and anti-Western sentiment and violence by presenting the world footage it claimed to show the Israeli military targeting and killing a Palestinian boy, Mohammed al-Dura, a scene that has been invoked by Osama bin Laden and many other terrorists and suicide bombers, the American news media also ran the story, showing the footage numerous times on major television news shows. But evidence has mounted over the years that Israeli troops likely were not the ones producing the gunfire seen in the video. And the sources of the footage at France 2 TV are under increasing fire for their role in the matter, last week losing a court battle to media critic Philippe Karsenty, who goes so far as to charge that the al-Dura footage was actually a staged scene, and that the boy may still be alive, part of what has become a reportedly common practice of Palestinian film makers as they record scenes of fake violence to be used as propaganda. A look at such filmmaking and acting has been examined in the documentary Pallywood, complete with a corpse in a fake funeral procession that gets up on its own after falling off the stretcher after the "Jenin massacre" hoax, and an ambulance that arrives immediately next to the body of a man literally two seconds after he is supposedly shot. CBS's 60 Minutes was among those accused of being duped into using scenes of staged violence as if they were real. (Transcripts follow)
"The downward slide for home prices is only picking up speed," CBS correspondent Anthony Mason said on the May 27 "Evening News." "The 14 percent plunge nationally was led by Las Vegas, where prices have fallen more than 25 percent over the past year. Miami is down more than 24 percent, Phoenix - 23 percent. Among the 20 major cities surveyed, only Charlotte showed a meager gain and analysts can't see a bottom yet."
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show" evening news anchors, ABC’S Charles Gibson, NBC’s Brian Williams, and CBS’s Katie Couric, were all on to promote an upcoming cancer research telethon, but near the end of segment, co-host Harry Smith asked about former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s new book in which McClellan claims the media did not ask tough questions leading up to the Iraq war and Couric agreed:
I think it's a very legitimate allegation. I think it's one of the most embarrassing chapters in American journalism. And I think there was a sense of pressure from corporations who own where we work and from the government itself to really squash any kinds of dissent or any kind of questioning of it. I think it was extremely subtle but very, very effective. And I think Scott McClellan has a really good point.
Perhaps a better example of "one of the most embarrassing chapters in American journalism" would be Couric’s predecessor, Dan Rather, using fraudulent National Guard memos to attempt to smear President Bush just prior to the 2004 election.
On tonight's broadcast of ABC's "World News with Charles Gibson" reporter Ron Clairborne reiterated a popular term that liberal blogs often use to refer to Sen. John McCain (R- Ariz). The news story was on the fundraiser President Bush held for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee tonight. Clairborne stated in his report, "At every opportunity the Democrats label McCain "McSame," a virtual clone of George Bush. The strategy makes sense. Bush's approval ratings are at an all time low."
The only Democrats known for constantly calling Sen. McCain "McSame" are those who write in the progressive blogosphere. View video here.
Despite ABC News's concerns about Republican presidential candidate John McCain's health, 1,173 pages of medical records just released to the press show the Arizona senator "appears cancer-free, has a strong heart and is in otherwise general good health."
This is in stark contrast to a segment on Thursday's "World News with Charles Gibson" (reported by my colleague Brent Baker) which addressed concerns about McCain having suffered "physical" and "psychological damage" while "he was in captivity in North Vietnam," and him having "about a 30 percent chance of developing serious memory loss or even dementia."
Makes you wonder if Gibson will do a follow-up report Friday evening to address the medical information just analyzed by the Associated Press (emphasis added):
Not waiting until the actual Friday release of John McCain's medical records, on Thursday's World News anchor Charles Gibson (who's 65) and Dr. Tim Johnson (who at 72 is older than McCain) speculated about McCain's health. Gibson wondered about “psychological damage” from his POW captivity. Assured there's no evidence of that, Gibson jumped to wonder how much longer McCain has to live, a question which led Johnson to warn, that while McCain may live another 16 years, there's a decent chance he'll develop “dementia.”
Gibson asked: “There's also an enormous amount of medical records involving the time that he was in captivity in North Vietnam to check to see what physical damage he suffered and maybe what psychological damage.” Johnson replied that Navy psychiatrists monitored McCain “for many years after his release. They found no evidence of any serious problem. And he strongly denies any symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.” Gibson pounced with a new line of fear: “But he's 71 years old. What do the actuarial tables say about a man who's 71 years old?” Johnson explained they say he should live to 87, but:
Much more difficult, of course, to predict any change in mental acuity. At age 71, there's about a 30 percent chance of developing serious memory loss or even dementia.
According to Marc Ambinder of theatlantic.com, former ABC News Capitol Hill correspondent Linda Douglass, also a former correspondent for CBS and NBC News, will be leaving her position at National Journal to join the Barack Obama presidential campaign as a senior strategist. Ambinder quotes Douglass: "I see this as a moment of transformational change in the country and I have spent my lifetime sitting on the sidelines watching people attempt to make change. I just decided that I can't sit on the sidelines anymore."
Ambinder's article, which can be seen here, further describes Douglass as having grown "disillusioned with the partisanship she saw first hand" during her journalistic career.
Six days after ABC's World News fretted over a New Jersey woman who said she must skip breakfast to put $4 a day toward gas, Monday's newscast featured an even more hapless woman, a Massachusetts resident who to afford gas sacrifices a “much needed” $45 prescription, says she can “no longer take joy rides on my days off” and, horror of horrors, has been forced into “buying store brands instead of name brands.” Now, Rosaria Giamei complained in a soundbite: “I don't get out and enjoy things anymore. I just kind of sit at home and only go to and from work and, like, grocery shopping and that's it.” How about taking a walk or riding a bike?
“Tonight, gas and diesel hit another record,” anchor Charles Gibson teased his lead story, “people tell us they're sacrificing food, health, and their lifestyle just to fill the tank.” Dan Harris reported:
The pain is being felt all over the country. We here at ABC News are getting flooded with messages from people like Rosaria Giamei, who says, "I even stopped filling a much needed monthly prescription that costs $45 so I will have more money for gas." We found Rosaria in Massachusetts today fuming at the oil companies and bemoaning the changes she's had to make in her personal life.
Monday provided a great example of a network correspondent advancing Barack Obama's political cause by treating him as a victim of a nefarious GOP attack, thus allowing him to appear virtuous in his reply, an answer the other networks then highlighted to enhance the victimization theme. ABC, CBS and NBC on Monday night showcased Obama's scolding of the Tennessee Republican Party for posting a video on You Tube contrasting Michelle Obama's February admission that “for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country,” with people declaring their pride in the U.S.
(As detailed, with video, in the earlier NewsBusters posting by Scott Whitlock, on Monday's Good Morning America ABC's Robin Roberts asked if he is “prepared” for “more and more” such attacks. Obama called the ad “low class” and ominously warned his opponents should “be careful” in making his wife an issue “because that I find unacceptable.”)
Monday night, ABC's David Wright reported that “Obama tried to subtract one potential issue from the general election -- his wife.” But without playing the February Michelle Obama soundbite to remind viewers what she said, Wright asserted “certain Republicans have already questioned her patriotism.” As if the concern is baseless. On CBS, Dean Reynolds played the February clip before relaying how Barack Obama “blasted a Republican Internet ad which uses a controversial statement she made about her husband's campaign to question her love of country.” Lee Cowan, on NBC, related Obama's “Rule Number One: lay off his family. When asked on ABC's Good Morning America about this Republican ad criticizing his wife for saying that 'this was the first time' that she'd been 'proud of her country,' he fired back.”
The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts on Friday conveyed Barack Obama's charge of hypocrisy by John McCain on dealing with Hamas, all based on one January 28, 2006 soundbite fed to them by the Obama campaign via the Huffington Post -- “They're the government, and sooner or later we're going to have to deal with them in one way or another” -- though, in fact, in an interview that same day with CNN, in the same snowy setting, McCain made clear the U.S. could deal with Hamas only if it were to “renounce” its “commitment to the extinction of the state of Israel. Then we can do business again.”
CBS's Dean Reynolds presumed Obama had caught McCain in a flip-flop: “Obama called McCain a hypocrite for backing Bush, and pointed to an earlier statement McCain had made about Hamas, which runs the Gaza strip.” After the “they're the government, and sooner or later we're going to have to deal with them in one way or another” McCain soundbite, Reynolds reported that “today McCain clarified,” as if he had to adjust his earlier view. On NBC, Lee Cowan highlighted how “Obama pointed to this interview two years ago when the Arizona Senator seemed to hint that eventually talking with Hamas might well be a political necessity.” Following the clip, Cowan allowed: “McCain says, though, that quote was taken out of context.”
Trumpeting the “major endorsement” from John Edwards for Barack Obama, the day after Obama was trounced by 40 points in West Virginia all three broadcast network evening newscasts led Wednesday night with the “dramatic” announcement of the “political prize” that gives Obama a “major boost.” Katie Couric returned at the end of the 6:30 PM EST CBS Evening News feed to reiterate “our top story tonight” as she effused over live video of Edwards speaking at the rally: “John Edwards endorses Barack Obama, saying he's one man who knows in his heart that it's time to create one America, not two.”
ABC was so excited that its 6:30 PM feed of World News went live at about 6:40 PM to Grand Rapids, Michigan for 90 seconds of Obama introducing Edwards, compete with a Bruce Spingsteen song as Edwards bounded on stage. Gibson then acknowledged:
Timed for maximum exposure, timed to coincide with the evening newscasts, timed to give Barack Obama a needed boost after his bad defeat yesterday in West Virginia. George Stephanopoulos, this is the kind of publicity that you can't buy.
Indeed, no need to pay for it when ABC News is eager to give it to you for free.
"You are staring into the face of one thing scientists say you can do to fight climate change," ABC correspondent Dan Harris said as the face of a cow filled the screen. "Leave this cow alone and eat less beef. According to the United Nations, 18 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions comes from sending beef and dairy products to your kitchen table."
A week after ABC focused a story on two pitiable Minnesota families living in the dark because higher energy and food prices mean they “can no longer afford to pay for electricity,” Tuesday's World News highlighted the replies from sad case stories solicited on ABCNews.com, starting with a woman who says she must skip breakfast to put $4 a day toward gas. ABC displayed “FEELING THE PAIN” on screen as Charles Gibson set up the story that David Muir started by fretting about “the price of a gallon of gas jumping more than a dime in just the last week” -- which is a piddling $2 more to fill a 20-gallon tank. Nonetheless, he asserted “the e-mails we've received show the pain is being felt far and wide. Single mother Caroline Saunders wrote to us from New Jersey.” He read aloud from her e-mail with her quote on screen:
I now skip breakfast to save the extra $4 per day. That gives me an extra $20 added to my gas budget.
Muir proceeded to recite two less ridiculous complaints, a trucker upset about a 60 percent hike in diesel fuel over the past in two years and a woman who found a job that requires $110 a week in gas to commute 140 miles round trip.
On World News Saturday, during a story about young Israelis seeking to enjoy life in Tel Aviv to forget about the constant danger of terrorism, ABC's David Muir seemed to suggest that most Israeli cities could be described as relatively "militant" as he compared Tel Aviv to other cities: "Some have called it the 'Tel Aviv Bubble.' But not in a bad way. Other Israeli cities are more religious and more militant."
Then came a soundbite of an Israeli woman who referred to "extremists on both sides," presumably referring to both Palestinians and Jews: "I think it has some kind of stabilizing effect in the country. If it didn't exist, all of the country would be swept by extremists from both sides." (Transcript follows)
“Senator Hillary Clinton is multimillionaire former First Lady with a solid liberal voting record,” ABC's Jake Tapper observed in a rare story applying an ideological label to a Democrat but, he pointed out Monday night, “you wouldn't necessarily know that from catching up with her on the campaign trail” where she plays a barbecue-eating populist on trade to the right of Barack Obama on guns and the gas tax.
From Indiana, Tapper marveled at how the Democratic presidential candidate now bashes Wall Street though she “has taken millions from Wall Street,” and then explained some other campaign spins which don't match her record, including the rarely recalled fact that Bill Clinton raised the tax on gas:
The National Rifle Association says Clinton's name is synonymous with gun control. But here, in Indiana, in a new mailer, she suggests Obama would outlaw guns. She has distanced herself from trade deals her husband signed into law and she worked to pass. And while her husband raised gas taxes, she wants to give consumers a summer without them.
Last Wednesday, ABC's "World News with Charles Gibson" exposed a serious flaw in a television advertisement Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is running in Indiana (video embedded right, h/t Gateway Pundit).
In fact, Indiana newspapers began pointing out the former first lady's mistake almost three weeks ago after she spoke at a school in that state.
Yet, according to LexisNexis, no other television network felt this issue deserved any coverage, nor did many major newspapers outside of Indiana.
ABC reporter Jake Tapper on Wednesday night undermined Hillary Clinton's campaign trail tale blaming the Bush administration for allowing a Valparaiso, Indiana manufacturer of magnets for smart-bombs to move to China, costing 200 jobs and giving the technology to the communist regime. Tapper, however, pointed out that the sale occurred in 1995 and was approved by....the Clinton administration. “Senator Clinton decries how the company Magnequench moved from Indiana to China in 2003,” Tapper reported, “but there's one key part of the story Senator Clinton tends to leave out: Her husband's role.” He elaborated:
Over and over again, Clinton blames President Bush for dropping the ball on a national security issue -- including in a new TV ad....What Clinton does not say is that her husband could have stopped it because the Chinese bought Magnequench in 1995 when he was President. And his administration approved the deal despite national security concerns...
As for “one of Senator Clinton's main arguments” -- that “the Chinese now know our secrets” -- Tapper relayed how “former Magnequench Vice President Andrew Albers says that's false. By the 2003 move, he says, the Chinese already knew everything” so no secrets or intellectual property were transferred to China.
Tuesday night the broadcast network evening news shows centered their coverage, of Barack Obama's repudiation of Jeremiah Wright, from Obama's point of view with “'I'M OUTRAGED'” (ABC) or just "OUTRAGED" (CBS) plastered on screen by an Obama image, interest in whether Obama has now put the “controversy behind him” (ABC and NBC) and only an afterthought about whether anything Wright said Monday was any different than what he had over the previous 20 years Obama has known him. (NBC chose “FIRING BACK” as the on-screen heading)
Brian Williams asked Tim Russert: “Do you think this stops the damage?” Similarly, CBS's Katie Couric wondered to Jeff Greenfield: “Is today's repudiation enough to kind of control the damage?” Echoing NBC's Lee Cowan, ABC's David Wright relayed how Obama is “hoping it will finally put the Wright controversy behind him.”
NBC aired a clip of Obama maintaining “I have known Reverend Wright for almost 20 years. The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago,” but Cowan did not challenge that premise. At least CBS's Dean Reynolds pointed out that “yesterday's wording did not differ markedly from the sermons Wright delivered in the past” and ABC anchor Charles Gibson noted Wright “really didn't say anything different than he said in some of those sermons that have been played over and over again.”
At his National Press Club appearance on Monday, Reverend Jeremiah Wright re-affirmed several of his past incendiary allegations -- and added at least one new one equating U.S. troops to the Roman legions who killed Jesus -- but only ABC's World News noted that as the network journalists preferred to paint Barack Obama as a “victim” of Wright and all three evening newscasts highlighted Wright's attack on Dick Cheney for not serving in the military.
CBS's Dean Reynolds, who spent more time on Wright's attack on Cheney than on anything crazy Wright said Monday, explained that “as for questions about his patriotism, Wright pointed to his Marine service compared to Vice President Cheney's five deferments from duty.” Wright: “I served six years in the military. Does that make me patriotic? How many years did Cheney serve?”
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams set up the story from Andrea Mitchell by stressing how “one veteran politico today” dismissed Wright's comments as “a 'circus' and a 'sideshow.'” Mitchell soon repeated how “Obama supporters described the whole thing as a media circus.” Viewers then heard from former Senator Bill Bradley followed by Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart, the man who in March hailed Obama's speech on race as “a very important gift the Senator has given the country.” Monday night Capehart lamented how “the victim in all of this is going to be Senator Obama's campaign.”
Barack Obama's pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, suggested in an interview with Bill Moyers that Obama agreed with his comments which stirred a furor in March, but instead of framing their stories around evidence Obama may be in sync with Wright's paranoid and America-hating rants, the network evening newscasts on Thursday stressed Wright's claim his sermons were unfairly distorted.
CBS's Jim Axelrod relayed how Wright asserted “parts of his sermons were publicized by Obama's opponents to damage Obama, but that they fundamentally misrepresented Wright's ministry and Wright himself.” NBC anchor Brian Williams related how “Wright says he does not think he's been treated fairly,” before reporter Andrea Mitchell began with Wright's insistence “his sermons were taken out of context to hurt Barack Obama.” Leading into a soundbite from Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart, who in March hailed Obama's speech on race as “a very important gift the Senator has given the country,” Mitchell asserted “some analysts agree that Wright was taken out of context.”
The Media's Reaction to George and CharlieCall it the Audacity of Journalism.
ABC's Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos slipped and let a bit of actual reporting seep into their Democrat Presidential debate moderation efforts on April 16. They mistakenly engaged in fifty minutes worth of pertinent inquiry, largely regarding the patriotic perspectives and numerous troubling relationships of Illinois Senator Barack Obama -- and to a lesser extent examining the fact that New York Senator Hillary Clinton has a Herculean ability to create her Living History out of whole cloth.
The response from the Left has been withering and unremitting.
A day after Barack Obama and many of his liberal media compatriots complained about ABC's Wednesday debate questioners daring to ask him about William Ayers, Jeremiah Wright and not wearing a flag pin, Friday's World News featured a story championing Obama's “bandwagon” momentum with his campaign “firing on all cylinders.” Anchor Charles Gibson teased, “Obama Bandwagon: The candidate picks up three big name endorsements, including the backing of a long-time Clinton friend.” Neither CBS or NBC were so excited over the endorsements.
ABC reporter David Wright, whose Thursday evening story was dominated by criticism of ABC's debate topics, trumpeted: “Despite all the focus on bitterness this week and the debate, the Obama campaign seems to be firing on all cylinders, gaining in the national polls, today gaining these endorsements...” Wright touted how Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich “was one of three elder statesmen to endorse Obama today, along with former Senators Sam Nunn and David Boren, both conservative Democrats with strong defense and foreign policy credentials.” With Nunn's words on screen, Wright heralded:
Today Nunn said: "I believe Senator Obama has a rare ability to restore America's credibility and moral authority and to get others to join us in tackling serious global problems."
"It's become part of the American landscape - synthetic turf, durable and soft," ABC correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi said. "It's everywhere, from stadiums to neighborhood soccer fields. But now, questions over whether those fields are safe. Health officials in New Jersey randomly tested synthetic turf fields across the state. Two of the fields had lead levels so high they closed them."
In a bunch of presidential debates this season the Republicans have come under tougher scrutiny than the Democrats, but the mainstream media didn't care. However, when Barack Obama and some left-wing journalists complained about questions to him during Wednesday's debate on ABC, the network evening newscasts found the kvetching newsworthy. CBS plastered “Debate Backlash” on screen as Katie Couric touted an upcoming Thursday night story.
CBS reporter Dean Reynolds explained: “He was even grilled about his flag pin, or lack thereof. A series of questions that aides say left him dispirited. But the debate, hosted by ABC News, came in for scathing criticism. Its own Web site logged more than 15,000 hits, most of them negative.” Reynolds concluded by feeling Obama's pain: “Obama said today that what you saw during the debate was the rollout for the Republican campaign against him in the fall. So it must have been painful for him to have it come out during a debate with a fellow Democrat.”
ABC hardly stood by Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos. David Wright cited “a grueling round of questions focused on issues such as Obama's patriotism, and his more controversial friends” -- though Wright only highlighted Jeremiah Wright and ignored William Ayers. After a clip of Obama complaining about how it was “45 minutes before we heard about health care. 45 minutes before we heard about Iraq. 45 minutes before we heard about jobs,” Wright ran four comments, three of the four critical of ABC: “Today, in Philadelphia's Redding market, we met plenty of others who shared those views.” A man declared: “I felt they wasted a whole hour, a good hour, talking about nothing.” Wright then read this e-mail: “This so-called debate will be shown to my communications students as an example of what shoddy journalism looks like.”
Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos actually asked some tough questions of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama during Wednesday's Democrat presidential debate on ABC.
Yet, the Washington Post's television critic Tom Shales wasn't happy about this, and actually felt the event represented "another step downward for network news" wherein the moderators "turned in shoddy, despicable performances."
What follows are some of Shales' key criticisms (emphasis added throughout, picture courtesy NYT):
If you didn't know any better, you might think ABC correspondent Lisa Stark has a personal vendetta against airline mergers.
For the second consecutive night, Stark gave viewers every reason to oppose a merger between Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) and Northwest Airlines (NYSE:NWA) on the April 15 "World News with Charles Gibson." This time it came in the form of opposition on Capitol Hill.
"But there was swift opposition," ABC correspondent Lisa Stark said. "A powerful lawmaker from Minnesota, where Northwest is based, called it one of the worst developments in aviation history."
All three broadcast networks on Tuesday led their evening news programs with Pope Benedict XVI’s arrival at Andrews Air Force Base to begin his visit to the U.S., as well as his comments during a press conference on the plane about the priest sex abuse scandal. ABC’s "World News" and CBS’ "Evening News" especially focused on the scandal. In addition to this, "World News" also highlighted what the Pope said about illegal immigration during the press conference and gave a false impression of what the Pope had said on the issue.
ABC correspondent Dan Harris gave the following spin on Benedict XVI’s comments on immigration. "Also on the plane, the Pope addressed another hot issue, immigration. Hispanics are the fastest-growing part of the American church right now, and the Pope said he would discuss this issue with the President, particularly the 'dangerous' impact of families of illegal immigrants being separated."