"Blame it on the price of wheat," said ABC correspondent Sharon Alfonsi. "Demand for alternative energy has farmers planting less wheat and more corn - the key ingredient of ethanol. Add the growing appetite for wheat from developing countries and the supply is strained.
ABC's World News, which on Tuesday skipped Michelle Obama's comment that “for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country,” on Wednesday finally got to it, but only minimally as George Stephanopoulos praised her “good damage control” and declared: “I don't think it's going to be a huge deal.” Hard for it to become “a huge deal” when a broadcast network's most-watched news program doesn't bother to report it. On Wednesday, the World News campaign stories again ignored the remark and the newscast only arrived on the story in anchor Charles Gibson's last question to Stephanopoulos.
Gibson played the comment, then explained: “Now she said today what she was talking about, or meant to say, was that she was proud of how many people are now taking part in the political process. Is this a big deal? Is it a tempest in a teapot?” Stephanopoulos was pleased by her explanation: “Ah, well that was good damage control by Michelle Obama.” He acknowledged “her first comment was a mistake,” but “as long as this isn't repeated, as long as they don't dig the hole deeper -- she did start to dig out today -- I don't think it's going to be a huge deal.”
With the symbolic passing of the torch - from Fidel Castro to Raul Castro - comes hope of changes in Cuba, well at least among some in the media.
Even though no one is predicting Cuba to usher in a new wave of Adam Smith-style capitalism, there might be some changes according to ABC's "World News with Charles Gibson."
"[H]e's talking about significant reforms - liberalizing trade, economic reforms designed to ease poverty in a country where the average person earned $19 a month in the hope of consolidating his own power," ABC correspondent Jeffrey Kofman said on the Feb.19, 2008, ABC "World News with Charles Gibson."
Fretting over how “Americans give back 438 million vacation days a year” when they could be “sitting on a beach,” ABC anchor Charles Gibson concluded the Presidents’ Day World News by channeling envy of European socialist rules as he complained that “America is the only major country in the world that has no government-mandated time off.” Citing how “psychologists say people are better workers, less stressed, if they take their time,” he helpfully suggested “you might consider moving to France. There, the government requires 31 vacation days plus holidays.” No mention, of course, of how that (plus a 35-hour work week) hurts French productivity and job creation, to say nothing of requiring significant immigration.
The anchor of the newscast on the network owned by Disney showed a picture of smiling vacationers with Mickey Mouse before he ended by noting: “And someone asked me today, ‘Why are you making a big deal of this? You're at work today.’ Good point.”
If the surge in Iraq did not work, you can be sure the networks would all use its one-year anniversary to highlight its failure, but on Thursday night only ABC's World News, of the three broadcast network evening newscasts, marked the anniversary. With “Surge Success” on screen, anchor Charles Gibson noted “it was one year ago today that the surge began in Iraq -- the troop buildup ordered by the President when so many of his critics were calling for a draw down of troops. 30,000 additional troops started arriving a year ago.” From Iraq, Clarissa Ward began over matching video:
If you're looking for one measure of the impact of the surge, look at General David Petraeus, walking through a Baghdad neighborhood with no body armor and no helmet. It's one year since the beginning of what's known here as "Operation Fardh al-Qanoon." According to the U.S. military, violence is down 60 percent. One key to the success, reconciliation.
Unlike the Wednesday CBS and NBC evening newscasts, ABC's World News highlighted a favorable development in Iraqi political progress as anchor Charles Gibson gave 20 seconds to:
Overseas, in Iraq, a breakthrough for the country's government that has been so often criticized. Iraq's parliament approved three contentious, but crucial, new laws long sought by Washington. The laws set a budget for 2008, grant amnesty to thousands of detainees and define the relationship between the central government and the provinces.
A month ago, on January 14, Gibson was also the only broadcast network evening newscast anchor to cite how “Iraqi lawmakers have put their differences aside and agreed to allow some members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party to take government jobs. It's a key benchmark sought by the United States.”
On Monday, my colleague Brent Baker reported on the "silly girl talk" that occurred the prior evening when CBS's Katie Couric interviewed Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on "60 Minutes."
24 hours later, former CBS reporter Bernie Goldberg was Steve Malzberg's guest on WOR radio, and he not only concurred with Baker's impression of this "60 Minutes" segment, but also called it "seriously embarrassing."
In fact, this was such bad journalism that Goldberg quipped, "If Mike Wallace were dead, he'd be turning over in his grave" (audio available here):
In light of recent high-profile shootings, Friday's World News with Charles Gibson featured a report that seemed to lament the absence of public calls for additional gun control. While not directly advocating new gun laws, the report cited statistics often used by those who support gun control. Before correspondent Pierre Thomas cited a poll showing 60 percent of Americans "favor stricter gun control laws," Gibson introduced the piece: "Well, there are 230 million guns in America. There are more guns than there are adults. In the past incidents, like the one in Kirkwood, would rekindle debate over gun control. But as ABC's Pierre Thomas reports, gun control advocates are now mostly silent." (Transcript follows)
President Bush's fiscal 2009 budget proposal calls for a 7.5 percent hike in Defense spending and a 5 percent jump in spending for Medicare and Medicaid, but while CBS anchor Katie Couric on Monday night correctly stated that Pentagon spending would “rise” in the Bush plan, she erroneously asserted “spending on Medicare and Medicaid would go down.” Similarly, while ABC's Martha Raddatz cited the call for an “increase” in DOD's budget, she falsely reported: “Medicare and Medicaid would be cut by almost $200 billion.”
On FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, reporter James Rosen scolded the sloppy reporting of his journalistic colleagues, specifically how “the New York Times' lead article on the subject referred matter of factly to the 'trimming' of Medicare and Medicaid. In fact, Medicare will continue to see its budget grow, by 5 percent instead of 7.2 percent.”
Imagine someone going on the radio and using Scripture to give you advice on your finances. To ABC's "World News," following this advice involves "radical" action.
The February 3 "World News Sunday" featured the financial advice of Howard Dayton. Dayton incorporates the Bible into his advice and says it's Biblical to get out of debt as soon as possible. But "World News" anchor Dan Harris portrayed the followers of this advice as a fringe element.
"Dayton urges families to pay them [debts, including home mortgages] off as quickly as possible, even if it involves radical belt tightening - advice the Pruitt family is following," Harris said.
ABC anchor David Muir asked Barack Obama about some of his liberal positions in a pre-recorded interview, which was shown on World News Saturday, in which Muir asked about the Democratic Senator's support for drivers licenses for illegal immigrants, and about being endorsed by "liberal legend" Ted Kennedy and MoveOn.org. The ABC anchor also brought up the New York Times' evaluation of Obama's economic policies as being "more left than the Clinton administration's." Muir: "Does that offer red meat for the Republicans, that you could possibly be more left than Hillary Clinton?" (Transcript follows)
ABC on Friday night decided to devote an entire story to speculating about what is supposedly “the talk of the town” -- a potential Democratic “Dream Ticket” of Clinton and Obama or Obama and Clinton. With “Dream Ticket?” on screen, anchor Charles Gibson set up the piece by pointing out how, during the debate on CNN the night before, Clinton and Obama “were asked if they might run together -- one for President, the other for Vice President.” Gibson insisted: “It has been on many people's minds.”
In the subsequent story, Jake Tapper asserted that with a black man or white woman “poised to make history,” there is “one way to top it.” He then played a clip of Wolf Blitzer asking during the debate: “Would you consider an Obama/Clinton or Clinton/Obama ticket going down the road?” Maintaining “the possibility is the talk of the town,” Tapper backed his supposition by highlighting the belief of his colleague, ex-Clintonista George Stephanopoulos, who predicted: “Because they're both fighting this out through Super Tuesday, I think the chances are better than ever before.” Challenged by Diane Sawyer to a bet in the clip Tapper played from Good Morning America, Stephanopoulos took her up: “Absolutely. I'll bet if she gets the nomination, she picks him.”
After months of improving security in Iraq, the big network morning shows on Friday cited one horrific suicide bombing as proof that “mayhem and misery are back in Baghdad,” as CBS correspondent Mark Strassmann put it. But over the last five months, the broadcast networks have consistently reduced their coverage of Iraq, as if the story of American success in Iraq is less worthy of attention than their old mantra of American failure in Iraq.
Media Research Center analysts tracked all coverage of the Iraq war on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts from September 1 through January 31, and we documented a steady decline in TV coverage of Iraq that has coincided with the improving situation in Iraq. Back in September, the three evening newscasts together broadcast 178 stories about the war in Iraq; in January, that number fell to just 47, a nearly fourfold decrease. (See chart.)
An ABC story Wednesday night attributed conservative opposition to John McCain not to McCain's more liberal positions on many issues, but to how McCain “basically is not going to answer to anybody, especially the conservative pundits or the conservagentsia. And they don't like that.” That claim that resistance to embracing McCain is a petty personal matter came from former Bush-Cheney campaign strategist Matthew Dowd, now an ABC News political contributor. ABC reporter Ron Claiborne buttressed Dowd's explanation, asserting: “And that has drawn attacks from the likes of radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.” Viewers then heard an audio clip of Limbaugh: “He is not the choice of conservatives, as opposed to the choice of the Republican establishment.” (MP3 audio clip, 23 secs.)
In contrast, over on the CBS Evening News, reporter Bill Whitaker accurately attributed the opposition to McCain's policy positions: “McCain is routinely savaged by Rush Limbaugh and other conservative stalwarts for breaking ranks on immigration, taxes and global warming.” Two weeks ago, CBS's Bob Schieffer was as off-base as ABC, insisting opposition to McCain from the right is because “he's always been willing to challenge the authority and a lot of Republicans just have not forgiven him for that.”
The broadcast network anchors and reporters were almost as giddy as Barack Obama over liberal Democrat Ted Kennedy's endorsement of the presidential candidate. ABC, CBS and NBC all led Monday night with it and ABC's David Wright adopted campaign slogans as he enthused about how “today the audacity of hope had its rendezvous with destiny. The Kennedy clan anointed Barack Obama a son of Camelot.” CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric teased, “Passing the torch: Barack Obama is tapped as the candidate to continue the Kennedy legacy.” NBC's Lee Cowan, who earlier this month conceded “it's almost hard to remain objective” when covering Obama, showed he also has a soft spot for the Kennedys as he radiated over how “the endorsement brought the Kennedy mystique to this campaign, not in a whisper, but a roar.” Viewers then got a soundbite of Kennedy yelling during the event at American University.
[UPDATED with Nightline, 1:05 AM EST: With “New Son of Camelot” on screen over video of Obama and Ted Kennedy, anchor Terry Moran trumpeted the “new son of Camelot. Ted and Caroline Kennedy pass the torch to Barack Obama to carry the legacy of JFK.” Moran soon hailed how “the political world was transfixed by the spectacle of the most powerful Democratic family of the 20th century christening a new torch bearer for the 21st.” David Wright repeated his “the audacity of hope had its rendezvous with destiny” line before championing the “merging ideals from two different eras” as “Obama is now an adopted son of Camelot.”]
However, the glowing reception the $150-billion taxpayer-funded stimulus plan got from each of the network newscasts gave that impression last night.
"Cash is on the way," ABC's "World News" anchor Charles Gibson said. "The check is in the mail, or it will be to 117 million Americans. The president and congressional leaders reached agreement on a $150-billion economic stimulus package today. When passed by Congress, the package will result in the distribution of $100 billion to individuals and families. And it will mean businesses will get $50 billion in tax breaks."
It's quite a sight to behold when media "has-beens" start drinking the doom and gloom Kool-Aid offered up in the media.
Sam Donaldson, who covered the Reagan White House for ABC and who now is a contributor to the network's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," last night told a gathering in Georgetown that the U.S. economy is going "in the dumper" and criticized the Democratic presidential candidates for not capitalizing on it.
ABC on Monday night, unlike the CBS and NBC evening newscasts, noted two political developments which conservatives cheer: Anchor Charles Gibson highlighted the inauguration in Baton Rouge of Republican Bobby Jindal as Governor of Louisiana, the first non-white Governor since Reconstruction in the state dominated by Democrats -- though Gibson didn't emphasize Jindal's party affiliation -- and “a significant political breakthrough in Iraq.” On Jindal, Gibson relayed on World News, over video of the inauguration:
History was made in Louisiana today. Bobby Jindal took office as the state's new Governor. Jindal is 36, the son of Indian immigrants. He's Louisiana's first non-white Governor since Reconstruction, and the nation's first elected Indian-American Governor. Jindal, a former Republican Congressman, vowed to clean up Louisiana politics and speed hurricane recovery.
Nothing is deadlier to a campaign than a rumor that a candidate might be dropping out. But NBC has seen fit to suggest that Rudy Giuliani might be withdrawing from the presidential race based on what it itself calls "speculation" in the blogosphere.
NBC Nightly News weekend anchor Lester Holt interviewed John Harwood on this evening's edition.
LESTER HOLT: Let's turn to Rudy Giuliani. He's had a health scare, he's had a drop in the polls. You've seen it in the blogosphere: a lot of speculation as to whether he'll stay in this race. What do you think?
"Millions of older Americans are facing an important decision right now," anchor Charles Gibson said. "And some hard sell insurance agents see them as easy targets. Every December, seniors choose between Medicare or any of dozens of private plans that compete with the government. This year, almost 9 million opted for the private plans. And as ABC's David Muir reports, some now have serious regrets."
Viewers of ABC's World News on Tuesday night learned of good news in the Pentagon's latest quarterly report on conditions in Iraq, but the positive developments went unnoted on CBS while NBC, the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, AP and McClatchy all stressed the negatives in the status report. ABC anchor Charles Gibson pointed out that “in the past, these reports have offered a brutally negative assessment” but the new one “shows real progress, across the board. On security, the report says weekly IED attacks have dropped 68 percent since June. The number of U.S. troop deaths from IEDs fell to the lowest level since January 2006.” Gibson proceeded to cite lower inflation and a boost in electricity production.
Wednesday's New York Times turned that into: “Pentagon Says Services in Iraq Are Stagnant.” USA Today headlined an AP dispatch in Wednesday's edition, “Pentagon: Transition to Iraqi security forces lags.” The Washington Post's story: “Iran Continues to Support Shiite Militias in Iraq, Pentagon Says.” The Washington bureau of McClatchy Newspapers, which infamously headlined an October story, “As Violence Falls in Iraq, Cemetery Workers Feel the Pinch,” headlined a Tuesday story: “Despite drop in violence, Pentagon finds little long-term progress in Iraq.” The Los Angeles Times provided an exception to the downbeat spin with an article which echoed what ABC stressed: “Pentagon reports security gains in Iraq.”
It is and it was showcased on the December 16 "World News Sunday" in a disturbing human interest segment about freeganism - a radical-left anti-capitalist movement.
Madeline Nelson, an executive-turned-freegan, was featured on "World News." The segment showed Nelson serving a four-course meal, which included a mixed green salad, stuffed peppers, and a tofu cheesecake with strawberries.
"The grocery bill for such an elaborate feast? Zero," said ABC correspondent Ryan Owens. "That's because this food doesn't come from inside a store, but outside of it."
At a UN conference in Bali, Al Gore blamed the U.S. for “obstructing progress” on global warming, an attack on his own nation which led CNN's Jack Cafferty, who usually slams Republicans and Democrats from the left, to castigate Gore as “a pompous jerk.” But Thursday's ABC and CBS evening newscasts favorably passed along Gore's agreement with European criticism of the U.S. With Gore's words on screen, ABC's Charles Gibson reported that “European nations threaten to boycott a U.S.-led climate summit because the Bush administration is opposing specific cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Al Gore joined the criticism saying: 'My own country, the United States, is principally responsible for obstructing progress here.'”
On CBS, fill-in anchor Harry Smith highlighted how “at a world conference in Bali, European nations threatened today to boycott upcoming U.S.-sponsored climate talks unless the Bush administration commits to deep cuts in greenhouse gases. Former Vice President Al Gore agreed action is needed now.”
"Critical condition" in medical terminology means a patient has a high risk of death that could occur within the next 24 hours. So when you see "Critical Condition: Rx For America," sounds like something is in really bad shape, right?
Taking their lead from liberal Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy, the three broadcast networks all screamed “cover-up” Friday night as ABC and NBC led with Democratic complaints about the CIA destroying video of some interrogations of terrorists while CBS made it the second story -- though Katie Couric teased it with “Cover-Up?” on screen under video of Kennedy. “Tonight, charges of a cover-up by the CIA,” Charles Gibson teased World News, “why were videotapes of its secret interrogations of al-Qaeda suspects destroyed?” Gibson set up his lead story by asserting “congressional leaders are in an uproar tonight over a secret they were never told, and will now never know,” as if leaders of both parties were “in an uproar.” In the subsequent story, however, all four soundbites from members of the House or Senate came from Democrats (two of the four from Kennedy). Couric got it correct as she highlighted how “today Democrats demanded a criminal investigation.”
Brian Williams teased the NBC Nightly News: “On the broadcast tonight, was it a CIA cover-up? New fallout after revelations the CIA may have destroyed videotape evidence in the U.S. war on terror.”
ABC investigative reporter Brian Ross on Wednesday continued his habit of offering up critical takes on Republican front-runners and ignoring Democratic scandals. So far this year, the correspondent has featured four hard-hitting segments on GOP candidates and only one on a Democrat.
During a piece on "Good Morning America," Ross investigated a developing story of whether then-Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee used his influence to secure the release of a convicted rapist who went on murder two women. The story has received major play on the left-wing blog site Huffington Post, a point Ross mentioned, but he left out any attribution of the web page's very liberal leanings.
Back in September, when General David Petraeus reported that the surge in U.S. troops had improved the security situation in Iraq, the big three broadcast networks were openly skeptical.
"Insurgent attacks are down from 170 in January to 120 in August," ABC's Terry McCarthy noted on the September 9 World News Sunday, the day before Petraeus testified before Congress. "But that is still four attacks a day, on average. Iraq remains a very violent place....Life in central Iraq is still deadly dangerous."
Over the past two months, it has been on the way according to the media. But as of December 3, the price of crude has decreased - not increased as predicted.
"Crude briefly cracked $90 a barrel for the first time and analysts say that will soon trickle down to the pump," Alexis Christoforous said on the October 20 "CBS Evening News." "Some predict gas will jump $0.20 or more in the coming weeks. And if crude tops $100 a barrel, they say we could be looking at $5 a gallon."
On Wednesday's "World News with Charles Gibson," host Gibson highlighted a woman suffering from breast cancer who chose to keep her baby instead of having an abortion while opting to be treated during the second and third trimesters when her baby would likely be able to withstand the chemotherapy. Gibson recounted the story of the new mother who "spent her pregnancy fighting to save her baby's life and her own," relaying her choice not to have an abortion. Gibson: "Her doctor told her she could abort the baby, but Linda found specialists who told her there was another choice, that she could treat the cancer and carry her child to term." (Transcript follows)
Below is a complete transcript of the story from the Wednesday November 28 "World News with Charles Gibson" on ABC: