The ABC and NBC morning shows on Monday ignored or downplayed the role the President of the United States played in the unfolding spying scandal that broke last week. The journalists at Good Morning America never once uttered the name Barack Obama. The hosts of NBC's Today left it to their guest to question the implications for the President.
It was CBS This Morning that saw possible damage to Obama. Major Garrett warned, "The White House knows that this is an intelligence crisis that could become a political crisis." The reporter added that the administration "had to admit a politically and tactically startling truth: It conducts more surveillance than the Bush White House." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
On Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd cheered President Obama picking Susan Rice to be his new national security advisor and nominating Samantha Power as U.N. ambassador: "They are now among the most powerful women in the American foreign policy community. Behind-the-scenes power players now front and center."
Amid sound bites of Obama praising both women, Todd joined in extolling their accomplishments: "Both come with a long list of impressive credentials. Rice, a Harvard graduate and Rhodes scholar with a Ph.D. from Oxford. In 1990's she served as assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration. Power is a human rights expert and Pulitzer Prize-winning author; she's also the mother of two young children."
Both NBC and CBS led their Thursday morning shows with news that the Obama administration has secretly obtained the phone records of millions of Americans, but ABC's Good Morning America started its show reporting on Tropical Storm Andrea in Florida instead.
Overall, Thursday's two hour-long GMA spent less than three minutes total on the phone tracking story, giving over five times more coverage to the attempted suicide of Michael Jackson's daughter Paris. Back in 2006, however, ABC showed far more scrutiny to a similar story of the Bush administration tracking phone calls.
After President Obama appointed U.N. ambassador Susan Rice to be his national security adviser, ABC's Good Morning America lauded Rice on Wednesday as "hard-nosed" and "no-nonsense."
Rice's biggest knock against her nomination for Secretary of State was giving false information on the Benghazi attacks to no less than five different Sunday talk shows just days after the attacks. ABC, though, was sympathetic to her nomination last fall, describing the GOP opposition as a "buzz saw" and glossing over the fact that what she said was, actually, false.
Good Morning America's David Wright on Wednesday touted a new phone app to fight the "super rich" and combat "billionaires blocking the beach." The journalist toured some of California beaches, which are public, but are in front of wealthy homes. Wright lectured, "The app is free like the beach is supposed to be." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
The ABC graphic warned, "Billionaires Blocking the Beach: Secret Passages of Malibu Revealed." The "billionaire" obstruction apparently amounts to living in the homes and not advertising the beach's availability. Talking to Jenny Price, a professor and creator of the app, Wright gushed, "In a way, this is Robin Hood at the beach." Sensibly, Price talked him down from the class warfare rhetoric, "Well, except that we're not stealing anything."
At the top of Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer seized on Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's decision not to seek re-election in 2014: "Breaking news. A bombshell announcement from Michele Bachmann. The Tea Party favorite says she won't seek another term in Congress....But with a swirl of controversy surrounding her, will that future include politics?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On ABC's Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos responded to the news by fretting that Bachmann not being in Congress "takes away a big target for Democrats." Correspondent Jon Karl agreed: "Oh, that's right, George. For some Democrats, Michele Bachmann was, really, target number one. She was the most high-profile and controversial leader of the Tea Party in the Congress."
Touting the Boy Scouts' "landmark" and "historic" decision to allow openly-gay members, CBS, ABC, and NBC gave supporters of the decision three times as many quotes as their opponents got on Friday morning's news stories.
The networks gave 10 soundbites to supporters of the new Scouts policy and only three to its opponents. Supporters included President Obama, gay scout Pascal Tessier, and former den leader Jennifer Tyrell.
Friday's Good Morning America spent a scant 16 seconds on the newest development in the IRS scandal, the suspension of agency official Lois Lerner who oversaw the division responsible for processing tax-exempt status requests. Lerner headed the division while the IRS gave extra scrutiny to Tea Party groups applying for tax-exempt status.
As NewsBusters reported, Thursday's World News completely ignored Lerner's move. The MRC's Brent Bozell had predicted that the media would "move on" from the IRS scandal, which explains ABC's paucity of coverage on Thursday and Friday.
The Big Three networks coverage so far of the Justice Department's questionable investigation of Fox News' James Rosen has followed a similar pattern to that of their coverage of the Kermit Gosnell case. Jan Crawford's report on Thursday's CBS This Morning was the first full report on growing controversy on ABC, CBS, and NBC's morning and evening newscasts. NBC briefly covered the investigation on Tuesday's Today, and ABC has yet to mention it.
Crawford pointed out how the DOJ's "unprecedented" surveillance of Rosen has "really just set off a firestorm of criticism from the left and right. For the first time ever, a presidential administration is treating news reporting like a crime, and a reporter like a criminal suspect." [audio available here; video below the jump]
While the three network morning shows on Thursday all promoted President Obama's "renewed focus on transparency" in an upcoming national security speech, none of the broadcasts made any mention of the administration's deception in the ongoing scandal surrounding the terrorist attack in Benghazi.
On NBC's Today, White House correspondent Peter Alexander declared that Obama would be "highlighting new efforts to bring about transparency and even new restriction in the so-called hidden war" while citing "evidence of that renewed focus on transparency" in the form a Justice Department letter to Congress officially acknowledging the already widely-reported fact that drones were used to kill American citizen and terrorist cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki.
All three networks on Wednesday played a promotional video of Anthony Weiner, hyping the mayoral run of the "comeback kid." On Good Morning America, former Democratic operative George Stephanopoulos showed an extended clip of the campaign video. [See video below. MP3 audio here.] But Stephanopoulos (who in his previous career defended Bill Clinton's against sexual scandals) didn't get into much detail over the Weiner's failings. Reporter Jon Karl simply explained that the ex-Congressman tweeted out "lewd pictures" of himself.
CBS This Morning and NBC's Today both, briefly, featured blurred pictures of the aforementioned photos. But the Today segment included a network graphic that speculated, "Comeback kid?" Journalist Maria Schiavocampo offered more details than ABC. She described Weiner's fall as a "sexting scandal," but parroted, "but now he says he's ready to put the controversy behind him and get back into politics."
Despite the devastating tornado that struck Oklahoma on Monday, ABC's Good Morning America still found time to devote several segments to stunningly superficial topics, including getting Botox injections at age 20 and Matt Damon's gay love scenes with Michael Douglas in a new movie. Additionally, the network morning show offered yet another segment to the tabloid details of the Jodi Arias criminal trial.
In total, this amounted to ten and 34 seconds for stories of minor importance. In contrast, the latest details on the growing Internal Revenue Service scandal warranted a mere 52 seconds. News reader Josh Elliott briefly explained that senior White House officials are now admitting "that the top White House lawyer, Kathy Ruemmler, knew about the investigation into the agency's targeting of conservative groups last month." Administration officials claim they did not inform the President.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is under fire for soliciting donations from health care companies to underwrite ObamaCare PR efforts to increase enrollment but you wouldn't know that if you only got your news from ABC and NBC or skipped Sunday's edition of CBS's Face the Nation.
The Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks have effectively buried the scandal that was first broken by the Washington Post on May 10.
The reporters at Good Morning America on Friday continued White House damage control efforts on the growing scandal involving the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservative groups. Former Democratic operative turned journalist George Stephanopoulos insisted that Barack Obama is "trying to turn the corner after a tough week fending off controversy."
Talking to Jon Karl, he wondered, "Are some of [the GOP] leaders worried that some of the Republicans may be overplaying their hand?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Karl lectured, "There's real concern about this." The journalist added that certain Republicans are talking about "impeachment." Instead of focusing on political rhetoric, Karl could have mentioned that the IRS official in charge during the Tea Party targeting is now running Obama's health care office. He skipped this development.
ABC, the network that has been relentlessly pushing an apocalyptic view of what sequester could do to America, on Wednesday suggested that a lower deficit could be a bad thing. Good Morning America's Josh Elliott relayed the news that a budget surplus in April could lead to a lower 2013 deficit by $200 billion.
Elliott lectured, "But some do worry this may actually hurt the economy because it may tempt Congress to delay a long-term budget deal." Elliott didn't explain who the "some" are, but the attitude shouldn't be surprising. In April, after sequester started, GMA's hosts warned of a dark future, of "airport armageddon" and "airplane apocalypse."
ABC on Tuesday and Wednesday aggressively covered the growing IRS scandal involving the targeting of conservative groups, deeming it an "important" "firestorm." Yet, World News reporter Jon Karl also spun the Obama administration as a "White House that takes pride in being scandal-free." (Fast and Furious? Solyndra? Reverend Wright?) [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
To her credit, World News anchor Diane Sawyer opened the show by trumpeting: "We begin with a dramatic new turn in the firestorm surrounding the IRS. Last night, we asked if what they did was fair. Tonight, the FBI is asking, was it criminal?" Reporter Jon Karl did the work of putting the administration on record . He quizzed press secretary Jay Carney: "Can you say categorically that nobody at the White House and nobody on the President's political team had any knowledge or was involved in any way in the targeting of Tea Party groups by the IRS?" (Carney simply replied, "Yes.")
ABC and NBC led their morning shows on Tuesday with nearly 10 minutes of "breaking news" coverage of Angelina Jolie's double mastectomy. This celebrity-driven story was apparently deemed more important than abortionist Dr. Kermit Gosnell being found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder, as Good Morning America and Today devoted just 38 seconds to the Gosnell trial. (audio clips of Jolie coverage available here; video below the jump)
Altogether, the ABC and NBC morning newscasts aired 19 minutes and 3 seconds of coverage on Jolie. Tuesday's CBS This Morning waited 12 minutes to cover the Hollywood news item, but ultimately ended up setting aside 7 minutes and 49 seconds of air time to the surgeries, versus a 18 second news brief on Gosnell. The total Big Three coverage of Jolie on Tuesday morning, including CBS's reporting, added up to 26 minutes and 52 seconds, as opposed to 56 seconds on the Gosnell case.
While the Big Three (ABC, CBS and NBC) networks have all done stories on the Obama administration's seizure of Associated Press (AP) reporters phone records, what is striking is their reluctance to attach Barack Obama's name to the controversy. In seven total stories aired on their evening and morning shows, since the story broke on Monday afternoon, Obama's name was used only six times. Reporters were much more likely to use the generic term "government." For example, CBS's Bob Orr on Wednesday's This Morning described the controversy this way: "The government just simply came in, got the subpoenas, took the phone logs and then notified the AP after the fact."
The reluctance to put Obama's name in these stories is important because it allows the low-information voter to write off the scandal as one caused by faceless government bureaucrats.
While sparring with Bill O'Reilly on Tuesday, George Stephanopoulos channeled his inner Hillary Clinton on the issue of the terrorist attack in Benghazi. On the subject of who, specifically, told United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice to use faulty talking points, the Good Morning America co-anchor asserted, "Well, what difference will that make if the White House has already put out the talking points and said that they were written by the CIA with the input of other agencies? " [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
In comparison, on January 23, 2013, while testifying in front of Congress about Libya, Hillary Clinton said of the details of the attack: "Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night and decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference – at this point, what difference does it make?" Stephanopoulos, a former Democratic operative, attempted to turn the President into the victim.
Fifty six days after the grisly trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell began, ABC broke its self-imposed blackout and finally offered coverage. World News anchor Diane Sawyer belatedly told viewers that Gosnell was convicted on three counts of first degree murder against newborn babies, as well as on a slew of other charges. Terry Moran explained, "For two months, jurors heard often shocking, grisly testimony." He described the details as a "house of horrors." A house of horrors that ABC took 56 days to notice.
As the Media Research Center has aggressively documented, ABC went from March 18, 2013 (the trial's start) through Monday afternoon with no coverage. Yet during the same time, the network devoted a staggering 187 minutes (or 70 segments) to other shocking criminal cases, such as Jodi Arias and Amanda Knox.
Jurors found abortionist Kermit Gosnell guilty on Monday of three first degree murder charges. In the eight weeks since the trial began, ABC has completely ignored the case, offering no coverage, discussion or mention of Gosnell and the gory details. It's not as though the network lacks interest in shocking criminal trials. In that same 56 day period, Good Morning America has devoted a staggering 187 minutes-- or 70 segments-- to sensational trials such as the Jodi Arias and Amanda Knox cases.
Over eight weeks, GMA featured Arias, who was convicted of slitting the throat of her ex-boyfriend, 38 times, more than 50 percent of the network's criminal trial coverage. Yet, World News, Nightline and GMA skipped Gosnell "snipping" the necks of newborn babies. Will ABC break the news blackout and cover the verdict?
Good Morning America's Jon Karl on Monday exposed new details about the growing scandal involving the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservatives. The correspondent revealed, "I've obtained a soon-to-be released investigative report that shows the IRS started targeting Tea Party groups more than three years ago." He added that this was "despite [the IRS] publicly claiming otherwise."
According to the journalist, phrases such as "limiting government," "educating on the Bill of Rights" and "criticizing how the country is being run" were enough to have the IRS start tracking them. However, Karl steered clear of culpability when it came to the Obama administration. He explained, "The White House said it had no idea that the IRS was targeting Tea Party groups." [MP3 audio here. See video below.]
Britain's Prince Harry arrived in Washington on Thursday, but ABC declared the Obamas to be "Washington's royalty." On Friday's Good Morning America, reporter Lama Hasan recounted the prince's visit to the White House and an event with Michelle Obama.
She hyped, "And then there was this: A clandestine visit with the First Lady that brought a little British glamour to Washington's royalty. " The segment then cut to a clip of the First Lady. [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
ABC journalist Jon Karl actually followed up on Wednesday's Benghazi hearings, exposing that CIA talking points on the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack were "dramatically edited" a total of 12 times by the administration. In a report airing on Friday's Good Morning America, Karl explained to viewers that, between the first version and the last, "all references to al Qaeda and all references to CIA warnings before the attack about the terror threat in Benghazi" were removed. [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
An ABC graphic went so far as to wonder, "Benghazi Statements Not True? White House Statements contradicted." Karl quoted from Hillary Clinton's State Department spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland. Playing politics, Nuland said of the information in the warnings, "[It] could be abused by members of Congress to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that?" An online version of Karl's story showcased a full paragraph that was removed.
The network morning shows on Thursday went into tabloid overdrive for the Jodi Arias verdict and an abduction case in Ohio, offering a staggering 56 minutes of coverage. In contrast, NBC, CBS and ABC allowed just under seven minutes combined to hearings on the 2012 terrorist murder of a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Libya. This is a disparity of eight-to-one.
Good Morning America proved to be the least interested in the national security issues raised by Benghazi. The morning show devoted 19 minutes to the Arias conviction and the kidnapping of three women in Ohio. Yet, whistleblower testimony in Washington D.C. warranted a mere 53 seconds. The four hour-long Today show on NBC spent 27 minutes on the two cases and a scant two and a half minutes on Libya. The most balanced network turned out to be CBS.
The extent of the media's influence to shape public opinion was on full display in a new Pew Research Center poll that shows, even though gun crime has dropped by half since its peak in the mid '90s, most Americans (56 percent) wrongly think gun violence has increased.
In anL.A. Timesarticle that highlighted the poll, Emily Alpert posited "It's unclear whether media coverage is driving the misconception that such violence is up. The mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., were among the news stories most closely watched by Americans last year, Pew found."
Covering New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's secret weight loss surgery, Good Morning America's Paula Faris couldn't help but make fat jokes. The reporter on Wednesday began her segment by wryly asserting, "Chris Christie is wasting no time devouring his critics." She continued, "The no-holds-barred New Jersey Governor known for his healthy appetite...sounded off" at reporters. [See video below. MP3 audio below.]
Faris found clips of liberal comedians mocking the Republican governor. She included one of David Letterman joking, "Bring it, fat boy!" In another snippet, Jimmy Fallon sneered, "Christie hopes to visit the site of the Last Supper. You know, see if there's any leftovers." This isn't the first time the ABC morning show has joined in on fat jokes about Christie.
This past April, celebrity Obama donors Beyonce Knowles and husband Jay-Z took a controversial trip to the communist country of Cuba. Knowles appeared on Monday's Good Morning America and Nightline, but ABC continued to offer no skepticism about the details of the visit. Instead, reporter Amy Robach discovered her inner-entertainment journalist, wondering, "What did you make of the controversy?"
That was the extent of Robach's questions on the topic. No mention of the fact that Knowles and her husband raised over $4 million for Obama in 2012, prior to being given special permission to make the trip. (American tourists are barred from traveling there.) Robach simply summarized, "But the busy star took a break last month, traveling to Cuba with her husband Jay-Z for their fifth wedding anniversary, igniting a firestorm from lawmakers." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
CBS used its Sunday evening and Monday morning newscasts to keep the spotlight on the question of a "possible cover-up" surrounding the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Jeff Glor led CBS Evening News with the scoop from earlier in the day on Face the Nation – that a "career U.S. diplomat is raising new questions" about the Obama administration's claim that the attack spontaneously erupted in response to an early protest in Egypt.
Monday's CBS This Morning also aired a report on this latest development on the September 11, 2012 attack. Meanwhile, ABC and NBC have yet to pick up on the veteran diplomat's allegations, despite the fact that he is set to testify publicly to Congress on the issue on Wednesday.