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.”
ABC's "World News Sunday" found a new twist on the obesity crisis Feb. 1. Apparently, recession can "lead to a spike in obesity."
Anchor Dan Harris introduced the "counterintuitive" report saying, "Americans are cutting back on food spending which could actually lead to a spike in obesity." Why? Because "eating healthy can cost more," ABC's Stephanie Sy reported.
Sy worried about "cheap treats" "that many public health experts fear may cause obesity rates to rise in the recession."
Interviewing shoppers in Aldi, a discount food chain, Sy said "most folks are stocking up on processed foods high in fat and sugar." Acting as the food police, Sy teased one customer about cinnamon Danishes in his cart saying, "What are these about? Very high in fat, very high in sugar."
But like many other media reports about obesity, Sy did not present the argument that ultimately every person is responsible for his or her own food choices.
Within the first few days of Israel’s campaign in Gaza, the Israeli military struck the Islamic University of Gaza, charging that the school served as a weapons research facility for Hamas. But while CNN, FNC and MSNBC all at some point reported on the school’s links to Hamas, CBS and NBC ignored the terrorist group’s connection in all its reports, while ABC vaguely noted that it was popular with Hamas students while still calling it a "non-military target." CBS, which had initially ignored the strike when it happened in late December, ran a report on the Friday, January 30, CBS Evening News in which correspondent Alan Pizzey, instead of informing viewers of the school’s reported role in terrorism, seemed more concerned that the damage would delay students from graduating, and relayed that "even the Islamic University" was bombed, suggesting it was an unreasonable target. After beginning the story focusing on a college-aged Palestinian man who was collecting explosive material to build bombs for revenge against Israel, Pizzey continued: "It will go in Qassam rockets – payback, the bomb maker says, for the destruction that has been part of his life since birth. Even the Islamic University was pounded by airstrikes, putting students' chances of graduating in jeopardy."
Then came an anti-Israel soundbite from one female student, named Nasser Barakat: "It's clear for us they want to attack everything, single thing in our life and every place in Gaza in order to destroy the whole community – not only the fighters, but the whole community."
By contrast, on December 29, during the 9:00 hour of MSNBC News Live, correspondent Tom Aspell reported: "Starting in the early hours of this morning, [the Israelis] attacked a building belonging to the Islamic University inside the Gaza Strip. The Israelis saying that the Hamas activists had been using it as a laboratory to develop weapons."
The mainstream media hasn't bothered to hide its infatuation with President Obama. They get physical thrills at the sound of his voice. His inauguration caused them to reach for religious imagery. Now that he's in the White House, they want us to know us what a breath of cultural fresh air he is - more informal, healthier and family-centered. Unwittingly, though, they're also showing a man who listens to hateful rap music, scarfs fatty foods and doesn't practice what he preaches on environmental responsibility.
Take for example the fluffy pieces that closed ABC and NBC's Jan. 29 evening news programs. On "Nightly News," Brian Williams gave nearly three minutes to the new White House dress code. "It was an article in this morning's New York Times that told the wider world what folks in Washington were already buzzing about," Williams said, "the change in style surrounding the Obama White House."
Obama has relaxed the "jacket required" policy of President Bush's Oval Office, and has been photographed at his desk in shirtsleeves. The reason? He keeps the Oval Office very warm.
Over on ABC, reporter Jake Tapper also noted the temperature change as part of his larger report on the president's typical day. "America's first Hawaiian-born president keeps the Oval Office warm causing economic advisor Larry Summers to break out in occasional sweat."
Seven weeks after his arrest for allegedly attempting to peddle Barack Obama’s Senate seat, Rod Blagojevich was removed as governor of Illinois on Thursday. ABC, CBS and NBC all offered full reports last night and this morning, but none of the anchors or reporters provided any hint that Blagojevich was a Democrat.
Back on December 9, reporting on the then-governor’s arrest, NewsBusters noted how all three of the evening newscasts had properly referred to Blagojevich as a Democrat. NBC reporter Lee Cowan described the charge as “that the two-term Democratic Governor tried to sell a seat in the US Senate to the highest bidder,” while ABC’s Brian Ross stated that “the boyish-looking Democrat branded a greedy, foul mouth politician who tried to sell a US Senate seat to the highest bidder.”
But now that the scandal was ending Blagojevich’s political career (he’s now banned from ever serving in public office in Illinois), the networks have dropped the (D) from the story. A round-up of some of the coverage, starting with Thursday’s evening newscasts:
After years of agitation over what they saw as President George W. Bush's self-righteous moral certitude, journalists on Thursday night embraced President Barack Obama's vilification of those working for Wall Street firms who got a bonus last year. “Shameful,” NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams teased his newscast, “that's how President Obama labels those Wall Street types paying themselves big bonuses while getting billions in tax dollars.” Reporter Chuck Todd referred to how Obama was “channeling his inner populist” as he “got upset about something that the public has been angry about for weeks.”
CBS's Katie Couric led with how “we found out what it takes to get Barack Obama angry,” that “employees of financial companies in New York collected nearly $18.5 billion in bonuses last year” and “the President called it 'shameful.'” Chip Reid related how “the President told advisors the anger rose straight from his gut” before Reid relayed that another liberal politician, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, “said the President's remarks are 'a welcome breath of fresh air.'”
Former President George W. Bush reinstated a policy in 2001 that restricted foreign countries using American dollars for abortions. CBS political consultant Craig Crawford called the action "red meat to the Bible Belt conservatives."
Just three days after taking office, President Barack Obama rescinded the Mexico City Policy, a policy set into place by Ronald Reagan that prohibited American funding for foreign abortions. Have the media called it red meat for liberals? No. They've mostly been silent.
Shortly after the House on Wednesday passed President Barack Obama's $825 billion “stimulus” package, ABC and CBS commiserated with Obama over his unsuccessful efforts to woo Republican votes. “Not one Republican voted for it,” ABC anchor Charles Gibson announced on World News with “Rescue Plan” as the on-screen heading, “turning a cold shoulder to the President's appeal for bipartisan support.” Reporter Jonathan Karl fretted: “So much for the President's charm offensive. Today it was all partisan rancor and name-calling.”
CBS reporter Chip Reid related how “the White House says this is a victory for the President, but certainly there is also some disappointment that he worked so hard to get bipartisan support and couldn't get a single Republican vote.” Reid soon chafed over how “Republicans relentlessly attacked the bill despite the President's extraordinary efforts to get bipartisan support.” Katie Couric noted how “the President went up to the Hill to personally appeal to Republicans already,” so, she pleaded, “what more can he do?”
Catching up on an item from Friday night, the three broadcast evening newscasts aired virtually nothing on January 23 about President Obama’s executive order permitting federal funding of abortions, overturning orders signed by President Bush in his first week in office back in 2001. Both CBS and NBC’s White House reporters squeezed in a single sentence about Obama’s action during stories about the economic stimulus bill, while ABC’s World News said nothing about the orders on Friday.
But on Sunday’s World News, ABC’s Dan Harris highlighted conservative criticism of Obama’s abortion decision, arguing that it showed how “despite his desire to reach out to people who disagree with him, the new President may find that on some issues, it may be impossible to find common ground.” Correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi also painted the President -- whom she said hoped “not to provoke” conservatives by banning photographs of the signing -- the victim of a “brutal” reaction from conservatives:
ABC and CBS on Friday night delivered glowing assessments of President Barack Obama's first three days in office, with ABC's George Stephanopoulos declaring “this first week was disciplined and strategic” enabling “sweeping change.” Fill-in anchor Diane Sawyer pronounced: “Change the tone and change it at warp speed.” CBS's Bob Schieffer relayed how “I think he's off to a very good start” and marveled at how -- given “the severity of the problems” -- any “human” could “live up to the expectations,” yet Obama “has laid out an ambitious program” and by closing Guantanamo and deciding to “outlaw torture” he “has told the world that we will practice what we preach.”
Admiring how Obama's discipline is meant to demonstrate he's “moving on all fronts to bring change,” Stephanopoulos trumpeted how on day one and day two he's used executive orders to bring “sweeping change to open government,” “sweeping change in foreign policy” and “then day three, today, two promises kept.”
Liberal pastor and civil rights leader Joseph Lowery’s strange benediction prayer hoping that one day "white will embrace what is right" wasn’t ignored on the Tuesday night news, but it wasn’t portrayed as at all controversial. CBS skipped over it. But ABC, NBC, and PBS’s NewsHour all featured it, often without interrupting their gauzy promotional tone. Here’s a brief tour of how it unfolded.
ABC: In the first half-hour of a 60-minute World News, Charles Gibson recalled a legend praying:
GIBSON: The Reverend Joseph E Lowery, the legendary civil rights leader, delivered the benediction.
Rev. JOSEPH LOWERY: We ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man and white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.
GIBSON: As hundreds of thousands on the Mall savored what they had just seen.
ABC's World News on Wednesday night used limited news time to feature a silly piece with soundbites from naive kids around the world sputtering beauty pageant-like simplicities about how President Barack Obama will bring “world peace” and inspires them to say “yes, we can!” Reporter Jim Sciutto touted how “we heard children around the world expressing hope and fascination with the new American President.” Viewers heard a boy in Russia yearn for “peace, democracy and friendship” and a girl in the United Arab Emirates assert “he's interested in giving peace to the world and stopping wars,” all before a boy from Indonesia promised: “He's going to change the world and make world peace.” From Gaza, a kid hoped Obama will “prevent Israel from attacking us.”
From Pakistan, Sciutto relayed, “hope for an American President with a Muslim father.” A boy then wished “he can make the citizens of the U.S. recognize that we, not all Muslims are terrorists and not all terrorists are Muslims.” And what story on foreign reaction would be complete without input from France? A French girl: “I think that he may stop the war in Iraq. At least I hope he will.”
Offering the most hyperbolic take of the night on the crowds who attended President Obama's inauguration, on World News ABC's Bill Weir delighted in wondering “can national pride make a freezing day feel warmer?” He decided it can indeed since “never have so many people shivered so long with such joy” while “from above, even the seagulls must have been awed by the blanket of humanity.” Weir was certainly awed.
Meanwhile, over on the NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams must have been as awed as those seagulls since he contended he could “feel” the masses watching from around the nation: “While it was unfolding today here in Washington, you could feel the millions around the country who were watching it all.”
Is there anything President-elect Barack Obama's very aura cannot make better? Apparently, he has eliminated road rage -- and even honking.
ABC's David Muir, over video of stuck traffic followed by the sound of singing, in a Monday World News story on the crowds coming to Washington, DC:
So many of the streets are closed those that are open are clogged. But there were no car horns, no shouting. Instead, the San Francisco Boys and Girls choruses practicing for their Inaugural moment on the steps of the Capitol.
On World News Saturday, during the show’s "A Closer Look" segment, ABC anchor David Muir gave attention to those who question whether CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta has sufficient qualifications to be Barack Obama’s surgeon general. Muir even played a clip of David Letterman poking fun at Gupta twice during the show: "The choice, it was between a Gupta, Dr. Phil, and a guy on Scrubbs. I don’t know what the hell-" He also recounted that Muir was forced to apologized to liberal filmmaker Michael Moore after making errors in a report fact-checking Moore’s film Sicko. As Muir gave voice to those in the pro-Gupta camp who believe it is important for the surgeon general to be well known to the public, the ABC anchor reminded viewers that Dr. C. Everett Coop talked about AIDS while President Reagan was "largely silent," and that President George W. Bush’s surgeon general resigned in protest in 2006 charging he had been "muzzled by the White House."
Correction (Feb. 10, 2009): Corrected from original reporting attributing AP and Getty with the photo editing. In fact it was ABCNews.com, not AP or Getty Images that overlaid the Bush photo on the Gaza rubble photo. AP and Getty Images supplied the respective photos. Thanks to the folks at StinkyJournalism.org for pointing out the error.
I guess, since flat-out fauxtography as practiced in 2006 in the Middle East has become so difficult, and has been shown as likely to be detected, that the press has decided to go with "creative" image placement to do the dirty work that must be done to create sympathy for Hamas and antipathy towards President Bush and the United States.
For "some reason," the editors at ABCNews.com placed President Bush's image at its bottom right. The photo compilation (shown above) accompanied a report by Miguel Marquez and Simon McGregor-Wood that appears to have also run on the network's "World News" program.
The wreckage in the photo purports to be "the destroyed house of Hamas leader of Nizar Rayan following an Israeli air strike the day before in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip" (given the state of reporting out of the region, one never knows for sure).
There is no good reason for Mr. Bush's picture to be included, since:
Prompted by the CBO's forecast of a $1.2 trillion annual federal budget deficit, the NBC Nightly News on Wednesday commiserated with the challenge ahead for the incoming President. “On our broadcast tonight, facing facts,” Brian Williams teased, “President-elect Obama confronts the hard realities he's up against, deficits as far as the eye can see.” A dire Williams proceeded to lead with how Obama will take over “during one of the most challenging times in the modern history of the United States.”
From the White House lawn, Chuck Todd piled on: “You know, it's becoming a cliche to say that the problems Obama is inheriting are among the worst ever, but I tell you, the realities of the situation on the economy hit home hard today. As Obama took the podium, he was greeted by the dire news that before he spends one dollar to stimulate the economy, he'll be adding to a deficit that is now 13 digits long...”
Do you think Ronald Reagan got such empathetic treatment in January of 1981 when he was about to assume office at a time of soaring interest rates, raging inflation (12%), high unemployment (7.5%) and a declining GDP? Or, just maybe the media were more concerned about his proposed “tax cuts for the rich”?
Why can't everyone just settle down, get out of the way, get rid of the "distractions," and let Barack Obama do his magic? That seems to be a recurring media meme during this presidential transition period.
Here are just a few examples in just the past 30 days:
In a December 12 "analysis" piece at Reuters, Steve Holland opened by telling readers that "A political scandal that led to the arrest of Illinois' governor has become an unwelcome distraction for President-elect Barack Obama as he tries to keep his focus on preparing to run the country."
Amanda Paulson's Christian Science Monitor report on December 23 about Obama's internal investigation of contacts between his team and Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich fretted that "As the saga of Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his alleged “political corruption crime spree” has played out over the past two weeks, it’s been an unwelcome distraction for another politician from Illinois: President-elect Obama."
And yesterday, Brent Baker of NewsBusters caught ABC World News Tonight anchor Dan Harris worrying that Bill Richardson's unexpected withdrawal as Commerce Secretary nominee might be "a distraction in the key early days."
ABC anchor Dan Harris led Sunday night's World News with Commerce-nominee Bill Richardson's unexpected withdrawal, but framed the story around worries over Richardson becoming a “distraction” from Barack Obama's agenda. George Stephanopoulos, however, assured him it will only “be a blip.” Harris recited how “Obama is facing trouble abroad, trouble at home, and now trouble in his own cabinet.” So, “this is another major challenge” for the besieged Obama, Harris empathized, “at a time when the economy is reeling and war is raging between the Israelis and Palestinian militants.”
Following a report from Jake Tapper, Harris went to George Stephanopoulos: “Obama's coming into office with a very ambitious agenda, and if you add together what's going on with Richardson right now with the Blagojevich scandal, is that going to be a distraction in the key early days?” Stephanopoulos assured him, given all the issues on Obama's agenda including “the panoply of national security challenges he's going to face when he takes office,” that “this is likely to be a blip.”