On Tuesday evening, CBS broke wide open a story on State Department e-mails showing the White House knew on September 11 that the consulate in Benghazi was subjected to a terrorist attack, and that terrorists took credit on Facebook and Twitter. But by Wednesday, the three network morning shows weren't leaping to follow up. ABC and CBS combined devoted just over a minute to the story, while NBC completely ignored it.
By contrast, all three newscasts showed that they were more interested in helping the Democrats in Indiana, aggressively spotlighting Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock's faith-based affirmation that he did not support abortion even in the case of rape, that even those are children "God intended." Mourdock's "controversial comments" drew more than seven and a half minutes of coverage.
All three morning shows on Wednesday touted White House talking points linking Mitt Romney to a Republican Senate candidate in Indiana who, while speaking about "the horrible situation of rape," called life a "gift from God." Only one program, CBS This Morning, seemed to notice how closely this story mirrored Democratic spin.
As though he was referencing a connection to a criminal, former Democratic operative George Stephanopoulos intoned, "Mitt Romney catching some flak for his ties to a GOP Senate candidate making controversial comments about abortion and rape in a Tuesday debate." Trying to make trouble, reporter David Muir asserted that the GOP campaign is "trying to distance itself from a Senate candidate that Romney endorsed, did a TV ad for." Muir needled, "The [Romney] campaign did not say whether it would ask [Richard] Mourdock to take down this ad." CBS's Norah O'Donnell speculated that the remark could cost Republicans a shot at "control of the Senate." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
The Big Three networks (ABC, CBS and NBC) gave the faux furor over Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” statement in Tuesday’s debate a whopping 22 mentions through Friday morning. Yet when Vice President Joe Biden, on Thursday, told an audience member that Republican “young guns” like Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan had “bullets” aimed at him the networks delivered just a scant two total mentions (on NBC and CBS, ABC skipped the gaffe entirely.)
On the morning after the debate ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas, on Good Morning America, singled out the “binders” comment: “You remember the Big Bird line that dominated the conversations online and around the water cooler, in essence, after the first debate? Last night, it was another Romney comment, ‘binders full of women’ that caused the heat to turn on.”
The reporters and anchors of Good Morning America on Thursday desperately hyped Mitt Romney's assertion that, while governor of Massachusetts, he had "binders full of women" applicants. David Muir played this as a gaffe, labeling it "the binder blunder." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Former Democratic operative turned journalist George Stephanopoulos tried to build the remark into some sort of game changer: "We saw Mitt Romney make huge gains with women after the first debate. Democrats believe this will block that gains he's made." The "huge gains" Stephanopoulos referred to were first reported in a USA Today poll showing Romney and Barack Obama dead even with swing state women, 48-48. However, this is the first time the host actually mentioned the ominous news for the President.
George Stephanopoulos offered a classic case of liberal bias on Wednesday, fawning over Joe Biden and, just minutes later, grilling Paul Ryan with the Vice President's talking points. The Good Morning America host talked to the two men seeking the same job, but offered Biden this not-exactly-tough question on his debate performance: "I have to ask you about your own debate...How did you feel about it? You took some ribbing for all of those smiles and laughs."
While Stephanopoulos only gingerly mentioned Biden's "smiles and laughs," he didn't fact check the Vice President's misstatements from last week. Stephanopoulos zeroed in on Romney's claims, however. On the subject of Libya, the host pressed, "You just heard Vice President Biden say that what we saw was Governor Mitt Romney trying to politicize this tragedy." Tag teaming Ryan, the journalist said of taxes: "But as Vice President Biden just pointed out...he said that Mitt Romney didn't offer one specific idea of how he's going to pay for those plans." [See below for a video montage of the contrast. MP3 audio here.]
All three morning shows on Tuesday highlighted Hillary Clinton "falling on her sword" and "taking blame" for the growing scandal over Libya. But NBC and ABC avoided specifics. On Good Morning America, reporter Reena Ninan failed to press the Secretary of State on details concerning Barack Obama's role.
In contrast, CBS reporter Margaret Brennan pushed for details on what the administration knew and when. She singled out United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice and her initial claims that the murder of Chris Stevens was a result of an anti-Islamic movie: "Who briefed Ambassador Rice that day? Did you sign off on that briefing and those speaking points?" Clinton said no and curtly replied, "You would have to ask her...Everybody had the same information." Yet, according to ABC's Ninan, "...Clinton appeared to fall on her sword."
Good Morning America's Jake Tapper on Sunday actually raised the issue of media bias, highlighting that Mitt Romney operatives "generally think that the media is in the tank for President Obama." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Some of Tapper's colleagues on ABC have given Republicans good reason to believe this.
The journalist was responding to weekend GMA anchor Dan Harris's question about whether the "stage may now be set for an Obama comeback narrative." Tapper replied, "absolutely" and added, "So, yes, they [Team Romney] think that, without question, the media is ready to write the Obama comeback story."
The ABC and NBC morning shows on Friday showed no interest in fact checking some of Joe Biden's misstatements during Thursday's vice presidential debate. CBS This Morning partially debunked some of Biden's claims, ignoring the Vice President's suggestion that he opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
During the debate, Biden asserted, "It came from this man [Paul Ryan] voting to put two wars on a credit card...I was there. I voted against them. I said, ‘No, we can’t afford that.’" Actually, the then-senator voted to authorize force in both Afghanistan and Iraq. However, this point was ignored by ABC's Good Morning America, NBC's Today and CBS.
Good Morning America's Jon Karl on Friday touted Joe Biden's performance at the vice presidential debate, hyping that the Vice President brought up Mitt Romney's "infamous" comments about the 47 percent who don't pay income taxes. Karl concluded that Biden was "often dominant," but "maybe a little too dominant."
Contrasting Barack Obama's weak performance with the tone of the VP, Karl marveled, "Unlike the President, Biden slammed Ryan over Romney's infamous comments about the 47 percent of Americans who don't pay income taxes" [See video below. MP3 audio here.] If the remarks are "infamous," it's because journalists such as ABC's Diane Sawyer jumped on them back in September, labeling them a "political earthquake" and a seismic day."
While the ABC and CBS morning shows on Thursday focused on a tightening presidential race following Mitt Romney's winning performance in the first debate, on NBC's Today, political director Chuck Todd used the network's new swing state polling to argue that the debate was "not as helpful to Romney as he might have hoped." Prompting co-host Savannah Guthrie conclude: "Alright, so the debate had maybe not as much of an impact."
In contrast, opening CBS This Morning, co-host Charlie Rose announced: "New polls show the race between President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney is getting tighter." Similarly opening ABC's Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos proclaimed: "High stakes and high pressure as new polls show Mitt Romney closing the gap in some key states."
In the fourth and final part of ABC's 20 minute-long interview with Michelle Obama, Nightline co-anchor Cynthia McFadden on Wednesday praised the First Lady's skill at "the art of the cut that doesn't draw blood." After playing a clip of Mrs. Obama at the Democratic National Convention, McFadden cued, "Do you think Mitt Romney is the kind of guy that slams the door behind himself [when it comes to allowing opportunity for others]?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
The journalist hyped that the First Lady turns her husband's "cool persona just a little bit warmer." After three days of softball questions, McFadden's attempts at getting tough mostly fell flat. While talking about hopes for Barack Obama's presidency, the reporter wondered, "Have you had to pull back some of your own expectations; what was possible from even this perch?"
The 2007 video of then-Senator Barack Obama hinting at racism in the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina isn't the only news story that NBC's Todayshow stuck up its nose at during the first days of October. The morning newscast has conspicuously ignored covering the latest developments in the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. It hasn't devoted a full segment or even a news brief to the issue since September 29.
As Today devoted air time to how Mitt Romney's debate performance was supposedly "completely overshadowed" by "hunting" Big Bird, ABC's Good Morning America and CBS This Morning devoted full reports on Monday to a former security official's charge that the State Department ignored repeated requests for extra security at the diplomatic facility in Libya.
ABC's Cynthia McFadden was dripping with sugary admiration on Monday for President Obama's "not-so-secret weapon," First Lady Michelle Obama. She touted Obama as a big hugger" and "very warm in person."
Obama made statements like this that went unchallenged by McFadden: "I rarely step foot in the West Wing. In fact, people are shocked when they see me there." That sentiment of a hands-off policy flatly contradicts Jodi Kantor's reporting in the New York Times of definitive friction between the First Lady and the President's staff. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
Given the recent death of Ambassador Chris Stevens in Libya, one would expect the three news networks to investigate the grotesque failures by the federal government to protect our embassies overseas.
Unlike NBC’s Today, ABC and CBS’s Friday morning shows both covered recent State Department emails showing they denied a request by officials in Libya for increased security in May leading up to the terrorist attack on our Libyan Embassy last month.
A puzzled George Stephanopoulos on Thursday wondered what happened to Barack Obama during the previous night's presidential debate. Talking to fellow Democrat Donna Brazile on Good Morning America, the host quizzed, "...A lot of the President's supporters, you see it on Twitter and in the blogs, you heard it on television last night, where was the president? Where was the fight?"
Brazile stayed on message, only allowing that Obama was "a little rusty." But Stephanopoulos worried, "But at least a lot of those early polls of the viewers who watched said that the President lost." In a tease for the show, Stephanopoulos speculated, "Did Romney turn the race around?"
The liberal freak out over Barack Obama's poor debate performance continued on Thursday morning. Left-wing comic Jon Stewart appeared on Good Morning America to lament the President's "very difficult night" and jokingly warn, "I'm concerned that he may not reelect us. He may walk away."
The comic even admitted Obama might not be as smart as he first imagined. Stewart mocked, "You know, I used to think the pauses, he was just trying to think of smaller words for the little brains to figure out what he was saying. This time, I really think the pauses were just, 'I like food.'...'My children are nice.'"[See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Unlike the journalists at NBC, who dismissed as old news a just released 2007 video of Barack Obama discussing race, ABC's Jake Tapper highlighted the tape of the then-senator praising the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. NBC's Today completely ignored the footage of Obama touting Wright as a "great leader, not just in Chicago, but all across the country."
On Good Morning America, Tapper relayed that "critics say the President was divisively pandering to a black crowd by suggesting malicious discrimination against New Orleans." He noted that in the video, Obama was "using a different speaking style than usual." In regard to the President's campaign claiming that Obama was simply discussing disaster relief, something he had done previously, Tapper pointed out that the Democrat "did speak about it a little differently in the Senate."
In September, Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos hyped Mitt Romney's "47 percent" tape as sending "shock waves" through the presidential race. ABC analyst Matt Dowd called it a "six or seven" on the Richter scale of political controversies. Yet, when damaging video surfaced of Barack Obama discussing race, Stephanopoulos offered no hyperbolic language and Dowd insisted that Romney would make a "mistake" if he brought it up at the debate.
On Wednesday, Stephanopoulos calmly opened the show my noting, "And just hours before the first debate, the new release of a five-year-old Obama speech." He wondered, "What's behind it and will the speech make any difference tonight?" In contrast, on September 18, the host excitedly touted, "Breaking now, Mitt Romney caught on tape at a private fund-raiser. His candid comments causing shock waves." Stephanopoulos hyped, "The campaign rushing to contain the damage. Romney responds in a late night press conference." [See video contrast below. MP3 audio here.]
Leading into tomorrow’s presidential debate, journalists are busy setting expectations for the candidates. On Sunday’s Good Morning America, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos argued that Mitt Romney is under “huge, huge” pressure: “He is behind right now. He is behind nationally, he’s behind in all of the battleground states. This is the last big audience that Mitt Romney is going to have with about four and a half weeks left to go.”
But more undecided voters will be swayed by the media’s post-debate spin about who won and who lost than by any pre-debate expectations. Reviewing the last several campaigns, MRC analysts have found a clear trend of network reporters fawning over the performance of liberal candidates, while harping on any perceived weaknesses or gaffes from conservatives.
One of the most reliable pro-Democratic pundits is none other than George Stephanpoulos — not especially surprising, given his track record as a loyal operative for Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, but hardly the objective, unbiased voice touted by ABC News. MRC has documented how, in eight out of the last nine general election presidential debates (every one since he joined ABC News in 1997), Stephanopoulos has gone on his network’s airwaves to claim victory for the Democratic candidate, all in the guise of offering impartial analysis. [Video review below the jump.]
UPDATE: Still no ABC, CBS, NBC coverage of Univision's Fast and Furious report on Monday's evening newscasts or Tuesday's morning shows.
Over the weekend the Univision network broke major news in the Fast and Furious gunwalking scandal. They found 57 previously unreported guns used in crimes by Mexican cartels, but ABC, CBS and NBC have yet to report the Spanish-language network’s findings.
There were zero mentions on Sunday night’s ABC's World News and CBS's Evening News (NBC's Nightly News was pre-empted by Ryder Cup coverage) or on any of Monday’s morning shows. The blackout on ABC’s broadcasts is particularly confounding since they have an excerpt from Univision's September 30 report on ABC's official Web site. (video after the jump)
ABC's Jake Tapper's Thursday report on World News stands alone as the only Big Three coverage so far of what The Daily Beast's Eli Lake reported on Wednesday - that U.S. intelligence officials had "strong indications" within a day that Islamist terrorists were behind the September 11, 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi - not a mob enraged at a controversial Internet video.
By contrast, former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw tried to point the finger at Mitt Romney on Friday's Today show for the media's apparent lack of curiosity at the inconsistencies in the Obama administration's narrative about the terrorist attack. Otherwise, NBC only aired two reports on the story since Wednesday - twice running the same Ann Curry interview of Libyan President Mohammed Magarief.
It’s been four years since Barack Obama beat John McCain to become the 44th President of the United States, but that hasn’t stopped some in the media from putting McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin, in the crosshairs. In this morning’s broadcast of Good Morning America, ABC News’ David Muir detailed the dynamics related to the home stretch of the presidential campaign. It was here that he snuck in a gratuitous swipe at Gov. Palin:
Economic growth grew at an incredibly sluggish 1.3 percent in the second quarter, revised down from 1.7 percent. According to business writer Jim Pethokoukis, this is "dangerously slow." However, NBC skipped the bad news for Barack Obama entirely. ABC allowed it a mere 21 seconds. CBS was the only network to allow the story a full report.
Although Nightly News correspondent Chuck Todd couldn't find time to mention the scant amount of growth, he did hype the fact that the President is trying "a new line." Todd then played a clip of the President calling "for a new economic patriotism." The journalist helpfully parroted that the President's "idea of economic patriotism includes tax hikes on the wealthy and more government spending on infrastructure."
ABC's Good Morning America hasn't once reported on U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's claim on the September 16, 2012 edition of This Week that the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya was "a spontaneous - not a pre-meditated - response to what had transpired in Cairo." Even worse, the morning show hasn't reported on the subsequent developments on the consulate attack over the past 12 days that cast doubt on Ambassador Rice's statement.
NBC's Today show also hasn't covered Rice's talking points on the attack, after she appeared on Meet the Press on the same day as her This Week appearance. News reader Natalie Morales merely reported on September 19 that "the White House says there is currently no evidence that last week's deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya was planned and pre-meditated. Officials say it appears that the violence was sparked by that anti-Islam film made in the U.S." Two days later, Morales gave an update on how "the White House is now classifying the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya as a terrorist attack....But intelligence officials now believe it was a planned attack in the guise of a protest."
Both of those programs provided voluminous coverage of Romney's "47%" tape, but have no time to scrutinize the Obama administration's public statements about an incident that claimed the life of an American ambassador?
ABC's David Muir on Thursday hyped the presidential election as "slipping away" from Mitt Romney and pushed the idea that next week's presidential debate is "do-or-die" for the Republican.
Talking to the candidate, Muir pressed, "I'm curious what you would say to some of your supporters tonight, your donors who might be concerned this could be slipping away?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Trying ro raise expectations for the former governor, Muir insisted, "In fact, some are already calling [the October 3 presidential] debate a do-or-die moment."
ABC News found scant time for the just-passed political conventions, coming in dead last according to a Media Research Center study. But the network on Tuesday did manage to, yet again, obsessively focus on John F. Kennedy, a man whose presidency ended 49 years ago.
Good Morning America co-host George Stephanopoulos interviewed Caroline Kennedy about newly released tapes of her father. He played clips of JFK discussing serious issues and also playing with his daughter. Stephanopoulos marveled, "But here's the president on the one moment talking about the Cuban Missile Crisis, – boom – complete switching of gears." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Good Morning America on Wednesday touted "stunning" new polls out of Ohio that show Mitt Romney trailing. ABC reporter David Muir pushed a minor comment by the Republican as a "sudden shift." Muir hyped, "After repeatedly saying President Obama raised taxes during his first term...suddenly Romney appeared to be saying the President hasn't raised taxes." [See MP3 audio here. Video below.]
Romney's remark that Obama "did not" raise taxes was in reference to income taxes. Yet, this slight change in phraseology led Muir to position himself as a surrogate for the President, defending, "Romney's comments made immediate headlines. In fact, the President has not raised income tax rates in his first term." But, of course, Obama has increased taxes. As Forbes.com pointed out, Obamacare is now a tax that applies to the middle class. Additionally, the President has promised more taxes in his second term.
George Stephanopoulos and Barbara Walters on Tuesday fawned over the "fun," loving marriage of Barack and Michelle Obama. Walters appeared on Good Morning America to promote the President's appearance on The View.
Stephanopoulos, a former Democratic operative, hyped Walters' "lighter stuff." He gushed, "The President seemed to mix politics and fun, when he talked about coaching his daughter's basketball team." Walters was positively impressed with the couple: "He's funny. She says she's funnier. But he's very relaxed with her."[See video below. MP3 audio here.]
On Monday, ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today failed to air any full reports on the continuing inquiry into the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and mentioned the issue only in passing. CBS This Morning did devote a full segment to the dispute between the State Department and CNN over their use of a Ambassador Chris Stevens' personal journal, but didn't mention President Obama or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by name.
Matt Lauer vaguely referenced the "new wave of anti-Americanism" in the Islamic world during an interview of Tony Blair, but it took the former British prime minister to specifically point out the "tragic death of your ambassador" in Libya. During a report on the presidential race, ABC's Jake Tapper did briefly note how the President "described some of the events as bumps in the road. The Romney campaign saying that the death of four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador in Libya, is far worse than a bump in the road."
NewsBusters continues to showcase the most egregious bias the Media Research Center has uncovered over the years — four quotes for each of the 25 years of the MRC, 100 quotes total — all leading up to our big 25th Anniversary Gala on Thursday, September 27.
Click here for blog posts recounting the worst of 1988 through 2006. Today, the worst bias of 2007: ABC fawns over newly-installed Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi; Rosie O’Donnell insults the troops; and a McClatchy headline writer finds a downside to good news in Iraq. [Quotes and video below the jump.]