On Thursday's ABC World News, anchor Charles Gibson's lead-off story was on the presidential campaign:
"Two weeks, five days to go, home stretch. Barack Obama and John McCain began today laying out their closing strategies. And while Obama continues to hold a double-digit lead in most national polls, it is the results in individual states that are all important."
The emphasis on Obama's supposedly huge, possibly insurmountable lead is used by some in the mainstream media to suggest the inevitability of a Democratic win. But you have to wonder, at least in this instance, what polls ABC News is examining. Obama enjoys a lead in most opinion surveys, but it's not as large as Gibson claimed.
Three weeks out from Election Day, surely more Americans are tuning into the Big 3 networks' evening newscasts, right?
In the past two weeks, Big 3 evening newscast viewership has actually declined by 360,000, or 1.6%. What's more, in percentage terms, viewership among "The Demo" of ages 25-54 has declined even further (220,000, down 3.1%).
On Monday, NewsBusters wondered how much coverage the sex scandal involving Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-Fl.) -- the Democrat Congressman who in 2006 won the seat previously held by the disgraced Mark Foley -- would get.
Early indications suggest that as far as the television news outlets are concerned, the answer is "not much."
In fact, though all three broadcast network evening news programs covered the Foley sex scandal when it was first revealed on September 29, 2006, not one of them felt that the man who replaced him admitting to having an affair with a former campaign staffer was at all newsworthy.
A large front-page photo and above-the-fold story in Friday morning’s New York Times offered more evidence that the troop surge that Barack Obama and Joe Biden vehemently opposed last year has substantially improved the lives of everyday Iraqis. The headline, “As Fears Ease, Baghdad Sees Walls Tumble,” pointed to a new phase in the Iraqi capital, one where some of the cement barricades that divided Sunni and Shiite neighborhoods are now being torn down.
“The slow dismantling of the concrete walls is the most visible sign of a fundamental change here in the Iraqi capital. The American surge strategy, which increased the number of United States troops and contributed to stability here, is drawing to a close. And a transition is under way to the almost inevitable American drawdown in 2009,” the Times reported.
But over the last few months, the big three broadcast networks have paid extremely little attention to the progress in Iraq. ABC’s World News last presented a report from Iraq on September 16 — 23 days ago — as reporter Jonathan Karl covered the ceremony in which General David Petraeus handed his over his command over to General Ray Odierno. NBC Nightly News last carried a report from Iraq on September 7, more than a month ago. And the CBS Evening News hasn’t broadcast a story from Iraq since July 31, 70 days ago.
For ABC's World News on Wednesday and Thursday, Charles Gibson conducted interviews with Barack Obama and John McCain aboard the ABC News bus, but on McCain's “line of attack” against Obama he shared Obama's annoyance (“Are you going to have to address that again?”) while he pushed McCain to justify the criticism: “You're comfortable that this should be a focus in the last days of the campaign?”
With Obama in Indianapolis on Wednesday, Gibson noted how “John McCain has unloaded on you in the last 72, 96 hours, as has Sarah Palin” about how “we don't know who Barack Obama is,” but “were you surprised that he didn't bring it up last night at the debate and use that line of attack?” Gibson next cued up Obama, as if it's an unfair burden for Obama to “again” have to address Ayers: “Sarah Palin has come at you because of the Bill Ayers connection. Are you going to have to address that again?”
Talking to McCain on Thursday in Milwaukee, Gibson raised the obvious (“Does this almost monolithic focus on the economy, in the news, and in people's minds in recent weeks, hurt your campaign?”) before then treating McCain's efforts to change the subject as odd: “Why...have you focused so in what you've had to say on Senator Obama's character?” When McCain brought up Obama's level of “knowledge and judgment,” a befuddled Gibson pressed: “You don't think he's been thoroughly vetted, having gone through all the primaries he did, all the campaigning, running for President as long as you have -- two years?” As for Ayers, Gibson pushed McCain to show his own better judgment, posing the question cited above about being “comfortable” with making Obama's character an issue.
Barack Obama received a valuable campaign contribution from the New York Times on Saturday: a front-page piece reviewing Obama's lengthy association with the ’60s and ’70s Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers. The Times' key sentence asserted: "The two men do not appear to have been close."
The Times' stamp of disapproval was all the rest of the media needed to reject the idea that Obama's dealings with Ayers should matter to voters, as Sarah Palin dared to suggest over the weekend. ABC's David Wright on Sunday called Palin's attack on Obama "incendiary," while CBS's Bob Schieffer (moderator of the final presidential debate on October 15) called it a "down and dirty" move, adding that Palin "took after Barack Obama in a style reminiscent of Spiro Agnew."
ABC on Monday night focused its ire at John McCain, for making the campaign “increasingly nasty and bitter” by unleashing a “blistering barrage on Obama,” while CBS’s Jeff Greenfield suggested McCain “may” have decided to “campaign ugly” because “negative campaigns tend to depress turnout” and thus hurt Barack Obama since he’s attracting the new voters. Gibson’s loaded set-up:
We turn to presidential politics and what is becoming an increasingly nasty and bitter contest. On the eve of the second presidential debate, the McCain campaign has unleashed a blistering barrage on Obama, attacking him not only for what he says, but for who he is and who he knows.
Reporter Ron Claiborne proceeded to describe a McCain speech as “by far McCain's fiercest, most sustained, harshest attack on Barack Obama of the entire campaign” which included “even questioning Obama's honesty.” After noting the “new offensive includes running mate Sarah Palin accusing Obama of associating with Bill Ayers,” Claiborne was less condemnatory of Obama, describing “a slick 13-minute Web video about the Keating Five banking scandal.”
Update's Update: I have been assured by IT that we are FINALLY ready to go with this.
The American people in poll after poll and in greater and growing numbers are railing against the egregious liberal bias of the press. And nowhere are the media more horrendously slanted than in their coverage of the presidential campaign of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. They are (to say the least) very, very sweet on him.
The MRC has put together this college basketball tournament-style bracket event, the Sweet-On-Obama Sixteen Media Bias Tournament, so that you, the angered members of the media’s audience can vote for who gives Sen. Obama the most loving and fawning coverage of all.
A week-and-half before he'll moderate the third and final presidential debate, CBS's Bob Schieffer opened Sunday's Face the Nation by calling a foul on one team as he took sides and denounced Sarah Palin's daring to say, that “our opponent is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country,” as a sign of “a campaign that's turned down and dirty,” as well as “nasty,” thanks to John McCain's “new attack dog” who “took after Barack Obama in a style reminiscent of Spiro Agnew when he was Richard Nixon's running mate.” In the Washington press corps, a comparison to Agnew is no compliment.
Later in the program, he fretted to New York Times columnist David Brooks: “Do you think it's going to get nastier and nastier? It does look as if McCain is really going on the attack. You saw what Sarah Palin said.” Brooks, whom Schieffer labeled as a “conservative columnist,” assured Schieffer it would be an ineffective tactic since “Republicans have been using this attack -- too dangerous, too liberal” for “too long” and “you can't win that way anymore.”
Sunday night, ABC reporter David Wright described Palin's reference to Bill Ayers as “incendiary” as he asserted on World News: “Today, in San Francisco, Sarah Palin defended her incendiary comments that Barack Obama has been 'palling around' with terrorists.” Earlier in the day, ABC's This Week host George Stephanopoulos had scolded guest Tim Pawlenty about Palin's charge: “When Governor Palin says of Obama 'this is not a man who sees America as you do,' it sure does sound like she is questioning Senator Obama's patriotism.”
So, instead of merely reporting the news, now reporters are the news? Apparently Charlie Gibson thinks he is, anyway. He gave an interview to the Toledo Blade on October 5 as if his opinions of the race for the White House are somehow more important than the news of the candidates. You remember the candidates, don't you Chuck? You know, those guys who are actually going to be elected, the ones that you are supposed to be reporting on?
Gibson spoke to the Toledo Blade's TV beat reporter Kirk Baird about an upcoming visit to Ohio's Bowling Green State University and he said a few pretty revealing things to the Blade about how the media are treating the campaign.
Like many of his ilk, he appears in this interview to show a disdain for small town America, he obviously pretends not to see any bias among his comrades, he excuses that bias he does see and interestingly he claimed it was the duty of the media to "expose" Sarah Palin -- an interesting choice of words, for sure.
At the top of Thursday's World News, just hours before the vice presidential debate, ABC anchor teased that “a new poll shows most Americans don't think” Palin is “ready to be a heartbeat away,” and, in explaining the advice both candidates are getting from their advisers, George Stephanopoulos fretted about “the dilemma for Biden,” which given that “we expect Sarah Palin to have some attack lines on Biden, on Obama. He's got to choose, at some point, not to let those attacks go unanswered.”
So there's the early media line: Biden will be the victim of attacks from Palin and must figure out how to counter those unfair attacks.
In the lead story, reporter Kate Snow did not cite any poll number about how “most Americans don't think” Palin is ready to be President, but she did highlight how “our new ABC News poll finds the public souring on Palin. One-third of registered voters now say her selection makes them less likely to support John McCain for President.”
It was eight years ago this week that France 2 TV introduced the world to Mohammed al-Dura, the Palestinian boy who was allegedly shot and killed during a gunfight between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen, in a video whose authenticity has increasingly been called into question years after it inspired anti-Semitic violence around the world. The American news media not only highlighted the story -- as the ABC, CBS and NBC evening and morning newscasts collectively aired the video at least 28 times between September 30, 2000, and June 30, 2003 -- but the networks also showed other clips depicting Palestinians involved in fighting, supposedly with Israelis, that have been challenged by some media analysts, calling into question how many of the scenes shown by American media during times of Israeli-Palestinian conflict may be faked video that were passed off to international media as genuine. ABC's Good Morning American notably seems to have ignored the al-Dura story.
Boston University Professor Richard Landes has been a leader in delving into the practice by some Palestinian cameramen of staging scenes of violence to be used as propaganda against Israel. Landes notably took on CBS’s 60 Minutes in the film Pallywood, the first in a series of short documentaries produced by the Boston University professor. On his Web site, theaugeanstables.com, Landes recounts his unsuccessful attempts to convince the American news media to help expose the Pallywood hoax video phenomenon. While he recounts that American journalists he spoke with did generally agree with him that the deceptive practice likely exists, they were reluctant to be perceived as breaking neutrality by siding with Israel over the Palestinians, as he encountered a view that it would not be “even-handed” to relay such unflattering activities by one side without finding similar examples from the other side. Professor Landes also cited an unnamed journalist at ABC as contending that there would be little “appetite” for the subject at his network. On his Web site, theaugeanstables.com, Landes recalls these conversations:
Before Monday's House vote on the largest government bailout in American history, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cali.), in potentially one of the most poorly-timed displays of partisanship in recent memory, blamed President Bush and Republicans for the turmoil in the financial services industry (video embedded right).
Such ill-advised finger pointing seemed to surprise press members of all shapes and sizes as some prominent print media outlets including the Washington Post and the New York Times quickly published articles quoting Republicans who blamed the bill's failure on Pelosi's hyper-partisan speech.
On the television side, CNN aired Republican reaction to the Speaker's comments moments after the votes were counted (partial transcript and embedded video follow):
Sen. John McCain's decision this week to suspend his campaign and return to Washington to help address the financial mess wasn't an example of his campaign slogan "Country First." Instead - according to Democrats and the media - it was a chance for McCain to sabotage the deal so he could take credit for rebuilding it.
"Some Democrats suspect that he tried, that he's coming in, working with the House Republicans to blow this up so he can put it back together and get some credit," ABC Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos said and "World News with Charles Gibson" Sept. 25. "It's not clear that he's signed on entirely to the House Republican plans."
Stephanopoulos' suggestion was similar to accusations made by Sen. Barack Obama, McCain's Democratic opponent in the presidential race.
The Obama camp has called McCain's decision to suspend his campaign and return to the capital to help work on a bailout plan a "political stunt." In a Sept. 25 statement, reported by Politico, Obama's team said McCain's move was "aimed more at shoring up the Senator's political fortunes than the nation's economy."
Coverage of the banking crisis is everywhere. Pundits and politicos claim the instability is threatening the financial markets and the overall economy. However, ABC's Sept. 22 "World News with Charles Gibson" used the crisis to take a swipe at the wealthy.
"In just six months, five major investment banks have now vanished from the landscape, ending an era of aggressive deal making and spectacular profits," Stark said. "These masters of the universe immortalized by Hollywood have been humbled."
Notes on Friday night coverage of the Wall Street bail out:
On the NBC Nightly News, the always hyperbolic Jim Cramer saw “Great Depression II” avoided by the rescue effort, anchor Brian Williams raised 9/11 as he contended “this was the kind of jittery week in New York a lot of people had to go back to 9/11 to remember how they felt then,” prompting an “oh, wow” from CNBC's Maria Bartiromo, and Williams passed along how “a Democratic politico said to me this week, if the Democrats do their job, they'll make this 'fundamentals of the economy' quote to McCain what 'mission accomplished' was to President Bush.”
ABC's World News brought up Iraq as David Muir referred to how a man in Manhattan “asked today what about the more than $600 billion already spent on Iraq?” Muir also read an e-mail: “Why make the little people bail out these companies?” Of course, the “little people” won't since they barely or don't pay any income tax. One-third of those who file pay nothing or get money back while the bottom 50 percent ($32,000 down), who earn 12 percent of the total income, pay less than 3 percent of taxes collected. The top 25 percent ($65,000 up) pay 86 percent and the top 1 percent ($389,000) pay 40 percent, so maybe the wealthier will get something for all they put in.
Over the next 46 days, as the candidates trade charges and counter-charges, the self-appointed media umpires will act as if they are the ultimate fact-finders in Campaign ’08. Writing for tomorrow’s National Journal, columnist Stuart Taylor says that the media’s track record thus far makes him just as skeptical of the press.
Taylor declares: “Many in the media have been one-sided, sometimes adding to Obama’s distortions rather than acting as impartial reporters of fact and referees of the mud fights.” Rather than cleaning up the record, Taylor reports several instances when the media are themselves guilty of perpetuating partisan disinformation.
On The Situation Room today, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer made a surprising admission to, of all people, real estate entrepreneur Donald Trump:
BLITZER: What do you think of his (Obama's) decision to pick Joe Biden as his running mate?
TRUMP: I really don't know Senator Biden but I know one thing. He's run a number of times for president. He's gotten less than 1 percent of the vote each time. And that's a pretty tough thing. You know, he's also been involved in pretty big controversy like plagiarism in college and various other things. That's a pretty big statement. So perhaps you change over a period of time. But when you plagiarize, that's a very bad statement. That hasn't been brought up yet, but I'm sure at some point it will. I'm sure that Sarah Palin will bring it up in a debate or somebody's going to bring it up.
BLITZER: Are you talking about plagiarism when he was running for president?
TRUMP: No, I'm talking about when he was a college student as I understand it, and this was a big issue originally but he supposedly plagiarized as a college student. That's a pretty serious charge.
BLITZER: I don't remember that. We'll check it out. But maybe you obviously have a better memory about that.
After apparently taking erroneous information from the far-left-leaning website ThinkProgress on Tuesday to falsely accuse Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin of slashing her state's Special Olympics budget, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Wednesday called the governor a liar in a rant with potential ties to a Daily Kos posting hours earlier.
During his truly tasteless "Bushed" segment, Olbermann claimed Palin gave Sean Hannity a different answer than she offered Charlie Gibson regarding her initial reaction to being asked to be John McCain's running mate.
This was Olbermann's pathetic accusation (text and video follow, h/t Johnny Dollar):
The McCain campaign went looking for a major anchor to be awarded the blessing and the curse of the first Sarah Palin interview -- a blessing for ratings and a curse from all the competitors who would accuse the winners of being soft on Republicans. At CBS, Katie Couric had wallowed in fan-club-president questions to Hillary Clinton about her "pure stamina," so she couldn’t be first. NBC's Brian Williams kept asking Barack Obama those hardballs about how his late mother would swoon over the latest glowingly positive "news" magazine cover. How hard was it to pick Charlie Gibson on ABC?
Of the three anchors, Gibson is the one with the longest career in the hard-news trenches. The McCain people knew Gibson was not a "friendly." They knew Palin's first interview was going to be a grilling -- not just because the media saw her as untested, but because of the enormous liberal-media peer pressure to puncture her popularity.
It's not unlike the attitude that greeted conservative Gov. John Sununu of New Hampshire when he came to Washington to be Bush 41's chief of staff in 1989. Ben Bradlee, then the executive editor of The Washington Post, offered the Los Angeles Times his less-than-humble opinion: "A jack-leg Governor from a horse's ass state. How could he play with us in the big leagues?"
ABC reporter David Wright on Tuesday night, forced to summarize the tax plans of John McCain and Barack Obama in 30 seconds, described them through a distorted liberal prism. Though McCain wishes to continue all the income tax rates from the Bush tax cuts, with no hike or decrease for any income level, Wright asserted: “He'd make permanent the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.” No, for all Americans.
Obama, Wright proceeded to report, “would raise taxes on the wealthy, people who make more than $250,000 a year, but cut them for most households.” The text on screen, however, stated an impossibility: “Cut taxes on most households (95%).” That 95 percent is impossible since one-third of those who file with the IRS are “non-payers,” people who end up paying no tax or get money back which exceeds their payments. Obama plans to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and create other credits. For those for whom the credits surpass their tax obligation, those are not tax cuts, but spending hikes or federal giveaways akin to welfare.
While liberal media members try to make the case that six years as mayor and less than two years as governor isn't enough experience to be vice president, shouldn't they be just as concerned about whether less than two years as senator qualifies one to be president?
After all, just days after winning his U.S. Senate seat in 2004, Barack Obama said he didn't have enough experience to sit in the White House.
As he basically threw his hat in the presidential ring during an October 22, 2006, appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," it means that less than 22 months in the Senate is all he needed to be more qualified than he felt he was roughly two years prior.
Here's what Obama said on November 8, 2004, when asked why he'd already ruled out running for president in 2008 (video embedded right):
ABC's Charlie Gibson continues to receive poor reviews for his obvious attempt to perform a hatchet job on Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
One of the harshest assessments of Gibson's performance came from syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer Saturday who also took the opportunity to bash the New York Times for misrepresenting some of the specifics of the interview in order to discredit Palin (emphasis added throughout):
"I want to take my limited time today and focus in on - I couldn't imagine a better moment for you to be here than after last night's stunningly distorted interview with Gov. Palin on ABC," Gingrich said. "Stunningly distorted because of one particular set of question, which I want to spend my time explaining and putting in context. I don't know how many of you have seen the original interview or excerpts, but there's a point where Charlie Gibson asks Gov. Palin about whether or not she believed that our soldiers were on a task from God and he quoted one-fourth of something she had said in her church."
Nearly a year ago, when the inexperienced presidential candidate Barack Obama sat for his first interview with Charles Gibson, the ABC anchor did not try and expose any gaps in Obama’s foreign policy knowledge or press him about his readiness for the job he was seeking. Instead Gibson emphasized Obama’s personal story, about how his parents met, how Obama met his wife, etc.
But just as he did with his Thursday night interview with GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, Gibson did ask Obama about the “hubris” he displayed in seeking the presidency. Here’s the exchange from the November 1, 2007 World News interview:
CHARLES GIBSON: So did you think to yourself, 'Barack, what kind of hubris is this that I am thinking about being President?"
Charles Gibson's interview with Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, the first since her selection, not surprisingly focused mostly on pressing her to prove she's qualified for the job and quizzing her about foreign policy issues. While Gibson certainly treated her with more respect than would have many other national media figures, he did suggest her willingness to unhesitatingly accept John McCain's offer demonstrated “hubris” and he delved into what he described as her “provocative comments” on the Iraq war being part of “God's plan.” When he seemingly caught her unaware of the definition of the “Bush Doctrine,” he outlined its tenets without embarrassing her, yet he also veered close to condescension in asking if she had “ever travel[ed] outside the country” and: “Have you ever met a foreign head of state?”
Gibson began the World News excerpt, of the session recorded in Fairbanks, with what he termed “the central question,” namely: “Can you look the country in the eye and say 'I have the experience and I have the ability to be not just Vice President, but perhaps President of the United States of America?'” When she denied any hesitation about her abilities, Gibson asserted: “Doesn't that take some hubris?”After she cited her energy expertise, he countered: “National security is a whole lot more than energy.” He moved on to quizzing her about how, if the U.S. followed her advice to admit Ukraine and Georgia into NATO, “wouldn't we then have to go to war if Russia went into Georgia?”, whether she'd let Israel attack Iran and if she would approve of cross-border raids into Pakistan.
That segment consumed the first ten minutes or so of World News which ended with another interview excerpt in which Gibson paraphrased her as saying in June that “our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God.” After supporting You Tube video of Palin, Gibson demanded: “Are we fighting a holy war?” Unconvinced by her answer about how she only meant, as Lincoln urged, “let us pray that we are on God's side,” Gibson pounced: “But you went on and said, 'There is a plan and it is God's plan.'” He soon followed up again: “Are you sending your son on a task that is from God?”
Hubris was indeed revealed in the ABC interview with Sarah Palin, and it wasn't coming from Sarah Palin, but Charlie Gibson. But there was more than Charlie's sneering condescending tone, looking down over the rim of his glasses like some snobby intellectual that bothered me. Twisting her words into a fabrication feeding the fear of theocracy was utterly insulting. It was especially insulting to claim that these were her "exact words" after being challenged on it. Watch this video excerpt from the interview to see the exchange.
GIBSON: You said recently, in your old church, “Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God.” Are we fighting a holy war?
PALIN: You know, I don’t know if that was my exact quote.
GIBSON: Exact words.
PALIN: But the reference there is a repeat of Abraham Lincoln’s words when he said — first, he suggested never presume to know what God’s will is, and I would never presume to know God’s will or to speak God’s words.
On CNN's American Morning today, White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux reported on Barack Obama's campaigning in Virginia. Afterwards, anchor Kiran Chetry had a question:
CHETRY: All right. And Suzanne, what's on tap for the campaign today? And please tell me it's not lipstick again.
MALVEAUX: Let's hope not. He's going to be in Norfolk, Virginia. That is in southeast Virginia, and it's home to the world's largest Naval base. It's one of the most competitive areas that the Democrats and Republicans are fighting over. It's a critical piece of property, piece of land there with folks in Virginia, and they want those voters.