Wednesday's "Good Morning America," featured a one-sided segment on whether Sarah Palin, as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, tried to have some books banned from the town's library. Despite the fact that no one featured in the segment could cite a specific book, co-host Robin Roberts labeled the event "a battle that brought her toe-to-toe with a local librarian over which books were appropriate and which were not, something her critics say crossed the line into censorship." Investigative reporter Brian Ross also intoned that there are "members of the Alaska Library Association who to this day remain very wary of Sarah Palin."
The Ross report featured several critics, but no clips or on camera explanations by the McCain/Palin campaign. Instead, the piece focused on the 1996 uproar over certain controversial books in the Wasilla library. Then-Mayor Palin asked librarian Mary Ellen Edmonds what the process would be for removing books. The librarian was ultimately fired. However, Ross explained toward the end of the piece, "In a conversation with me yesterday, the librarian said she could not recall Palin asking for specific book titles to be removed from the shelves."
ABC's "Good Morning America" isn't afraid to call 'em like they see 'em.
On health care, Chris Cuomo set up his resident health expert to deliver an outright insult to the American people. Republican Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) advocates more patient choice and flexibility in buying health insurance, but ABC’s medical editor, Dr. Tim Johnson, scoffed at that notion in a September 5 story.
“The idea that individuals are going to have enough knowledge and enough savvy and enough insight and, frankly, enough guts to make choices all by themselves is pretty much a pipe dream,” Johnson said.
ABC’s Web site touts Johnson as “one of the nation's leading medical communicators of health care information.”
"Good Morning America" on Monday featured liberal New York Times columnist Tom Friedman as an energy expert to "fact check" John McCain's policies on the subject and advocate for higher taxes. GMA co-host Diane Sawyer never referred to Friedman's economic policies as liberal, despite the fact that he repeatedly made assertions such as this: "But, you know, there's really no effective plan to make us energy independent without what I call a price signal, without either a carbon tax or a gasoline tax that's really going to shape the market in a different way."
Sawyer began the segment by noting both candidates have plans for energy independence. She then asked, "Are they going to achieve it? Do they mean it?" However, the ABC host didn't ask Friedman to "fact check" Obama's plan. Instead she simply recited the Democrat's plans for eliminating Mid East Oil. And while Friedman freely attacked McCain's policies, he responded to a clip of Obama talking about investing more money into alternative energy by, again, complaining about a lack of gasoline tax: "Unless we have a floor onto the price of gasoline that really keeps that behavior going, you can't throw enough money at this problem."
One week ago, former Clinton campaign spinner George Stephanopoulos found nothing to criticize when he reviewed Barack Obama’s speech and the overall Democratic convention for Good Morning America. But on Friday, the ABC host relayed the Obama campaign’s negative take on McCain and stressed how voters don’t think Sarah Palin has as much experience as Joe Biden, and that she doesn’t help her ticket as much as Biden helps the Democrats.
“Go beneath those numbers a little more,” Stephanopoulos instructed. “Joe Biden helps Barack Obama a little bit more than Sarah Palin helps John McCain.”
But ABC’s poll, conducted Thursday after a week of battering coverage of the GOP vice presidential candidate, showed Palin had only a slightly lower overall favorability than Democratic candidate Joe Biden, a difference nearly entirely accounted for by her low approval among Democratic voters. Republican voters are more enthusiastic about Palin (85% support) than Democrats are for Biden (77%).
All three network news anchors appeared together on each of the morning shows on Thursday and blithely dismissed the notion that members of the media have shown bias and sexist attitudes in response to Sarah Palin's nomination for vice president. "World News" host Charles Gibson, who visited along with NBC's Brian Williams and CBS's Katie Couric, told "Today" host Meredith Vieira that the role of a journalist is "to raise these questions." "It's not based on politics. It is simply- those are the questions you ask," he touted.
"CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric acted as though the entire concept baffled her. "...But when you think of media these days, I mean, what does that mean exactly," she wondered. Placing blame on bloggers, she added, "In this case, it now means thousands and thousands of internet bloggers, partisan reporters and so I think you can't paint the media with a, with a broad brush."
Forbes magazine released its list of the 100 most powerful women in its September 15 issue. Meredith Vieira, host of NBC's "Today," came in at number 61 as the top journalist. Vieira beat CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric (ranked 62), ABC News veteran Barbara Walters (63), ABC "Good Morning America" co-host Diane Sawyer (65) and CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour (91).
Despite her $10-million annual salary, according to the April 13 Parade Magazine, Vieira has had difficulty reporting on business practices in a free market. The Forbes list didn't mention her anti-business bias.
Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden made the morning show rounds on Thursday to respond to Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s convention speech, and journalists at NBC, MSNBC, ABC and CNN all encouraged Biden to strongly confront his Republican counterpart, as if Palin has been enjoying some sort of honeymoon from criticism over the past few days.
CNN’s John Roberts pressed Biden: “Before her speech last night you said that you were not going to attack Governor Palin. Are you feeling a little differently this morning?”
NBC’s Matt Lauer similarly pleaded: “Sarah Palin made a speech last night...It was tough. It was direct, hard words for Senator Obama. I’m curious, has this taken away any concern you may have had about tone or words you choose in the coming weeks?”
Unlike the celebratory response to the opening nights of the Democratic convention a week ago, the three network morning shows offered restrained recaps of Tuesday night’s speeches at the Republican convention, and continued to portray Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as a liability for the GOP ticket.
On Wednesday’s Today, NBC’s David Gregory had the GOP taking “swipes at Senator Obama’s limited experience” and described Fred Thompson’s speech as a “hard-edged attack on Senator Obama.”
But a week earlier, Gregory described Hillary Clinton’s speech as “rousing” and “playful,” and offered no negative adjectives as he replayed soundbites of Clinton attacking John McCain:
ABC’s Good Morning America on Tuesday aggressively pushed the story about how Sarah Palin’s teenaged daughter is pregnant, leading their broadcast with that topic rather than the hurricane that slammed into Louisiana yesterday morning. ABC’s David Wright suggested the McCain camp was trying to bury the “skeleton in the closet” by putting the news out as the hurricane hit: “This was a political bombshell, timed to go off on a day when the McCain campaign knew that America would be focused on other news.”
The confrontational approach further revealed itself in co-host Diane Sawyer’s interview with a McCain campaign spokeswoman. Sawyer twice asked when McCain himself learned about the pregnancy, and tried to use the case of Palin’s daughter to lobby against abstinence-only education in public schools and suggested that it “was a mistake” not to include the news of Bristol Palin’s pregnancy in Friday’s introduction of Sarah Palin to the nation.
Just as my colleague Brent Baker found on Friday night, the big broadcast networks on Saturday morning showed no shyness about labeling Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin a “conservative,” with NBC Today co-host Amy Robach calling her “a staunch conservative,” CBS’s Chip Reid tagging her “reliably conservative,” and ABC’s Kate Snow finding Palin to be “quite conservative.”
But seven days earlier, as those same programs reacted to the Obama campaign’s text message heralding Joe Biden as the Democratic vice presidential candidate, none of those broadcast found a moment to call him “liberal,” in spite of Biden’s lengthy record of liberal votes as determined by the nonpartisan National Journal.
Here’s a quick rundown of how the three broadcast networks emphasized Palin’s ideology on their August 30 programs:
On ABC’s Good Morning America on Saturday, co-anchor Bill Weir bristled with hostility during an interview with a McCain campaign spokesman about the choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as the Republican vice presidential candidate, suggesting she was unqualified and too conservative. At one point, Weir even suggested that by running for Vice President, the Governor would be jeopardizing her four-month old daughter, who has Down’s Syndrome.
Weir confronted McCain political director Mike DuHaime: “Adding to the brutality of a national campaign, the Palin family also has an infant with special needs. What leads you, the Senator, and the Governor to believe that one won't affect the other in the next couple of months?” When DuHaime offered a general answer about Palin’s “incredible life story,” an obviously irritated Weir jumped in, exclaiming “She has an infant -- she has an infant with special needs. Will that affect her campaigning?”
Just a few moments later, that line of questioning was quickly criticized by ABC’s Cokie Roberts as sexist. Without mentioning Weir, Roberts said questions “about who’s taking care of the children...traditionally has very much angered women voters when women candidates are asked those questions and male candidates never are.”
You might have thought Bill Weir would have learned. Yesterday, CNN's John Roberts was roundly condemned for suggesting Sarah Palin might neglect her Down Syndrome baby while running for VP. But Weir, the weekend co-anchor of Good Morning America, posed a very similar question this morning. Coke Roberts, to her credit, called him out on it. Weir's guest during GMA's opening half-hour was McCain political director Mike Duhaime.
BILL WEIR: I must ask. Adding to the brutality of a national campaign, the Palin family also has an infant with special needs. What leads you, the senator and the governor to believe that one won't affect the other in the next couple of months?
MIKE DUHAIME: In terms of her personal life? You know, to the extent people want to look at her, she's got an incredible life story: five children, the son going into the military, she's got a --
Weir brusquely interrupted, virtually shouting.
WEIR: She has an, she has an infant with special needs. Will that affect her campaigning?
"Good Morning America" criticized fees charged to customers who return rental cars without a full tank of gas - part of a standard car rental agreement.
"The only thing more expensive than gassing up your car these days is not gassing up your rental car," reporter Elisabeth Leamy explained to viewers on August 29. She said companies across the nation charge as much as $8 per gallon for cars returned unfilled.
While NBC's Matt Lauer took pains to label John McCain's vice presidential nominee a "staunch" and "stalwart" conservative on Friday, all three network morning shows almost entirely avoided any ideological descriptors for Senators Obama, Biden and the major liberal speakers during the just completed August 25 to 28 Democratic National Convention.
Some of the individuals at the convention included Al Gore, Senator Ted Kennedy and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, all politicians with an obvious leftward tilt. The only exception to the liberal label blackout included references by NBC's "Today" and CBS's "Early Show" on Tuesday when various reporters affectionately referred to Kennedy as the "liberal lion," of the Senate, a clear term on endearment. (ABC's "Good Morning America" used the word "lion" in regards to Kennedy, but not "liberal.") This foreshadows a Republican National Convention, September 1 to the 4, a period where John McCain and Sarah Palin will very likely be labeled "conservative" many times.
After each of the firstthreenights of the Democratic convention, network news reporters have offered enthusiastically positive reviews, and Friday morning’s coverage of Barack Obama’s acceptance address made it a clean sweep. CBS Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith, the only morning show host still in Denver, said he felt the earth moving. “This place rumbled....The stadium was just so alive, and the ground was almost quaking,” he told co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez.
Rodriguez voiced pity for John McCain: “Harry, I found myself at one point last night thinking how difficult it must be for John McCain to watch such a huge celebration in honor of his opponent, especially on the eve of his 72nd birthday.”
ABC’s Good Morning America and CBS’s Early Show led the praise for the third night of the Democratic convention, with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos enthralled by how well it was going for Democrats. “I think every night in this convention has built on the one that came before,” he exclaimed Thursday morning, adding: “The speeches have gotten better every night.”
[Check here and here for a re-cap of how the morning shows drooled over the first two nights of the Democratic convention.]
CBS co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez, who isn’t even in Denver but rather back in The Early Show’s New York studios, touted how Obama’s speech at Denver’s football stadium suggested “they're going to play the Super Bowl of politics there tonight.” She enthusiastically remarked: “If the crowd went as wild as it did yesterday at the Pepsi Center when he [Barack Obama] showed up, just imagine what 75,000 screaming fans will sound like. It's going to be something.”
If a media personality is to attack a political figure for lack of experience one would expect this person to get the facts correct. That is what Diane Sawyer failed to do on the August 28 edition of "Good Morning America." After guest Minnesota Governor and potential McCain running mate Tim Pawlenty noted Barack Obama’s lack of experience, Sawyer sought to level the playing field claiming Pawlenty, as a possible vice presidential candidate, has "only been governor for two years."
On the air, Pawlenty corrected Sawyer reminding her that he has actually been a governor for six years. Sawyer immediately retracted telling the Minnesota governor "thanks for correcting me there. I in meant to say six years and thank you for the truth squad there on your own."
Earlier in the interview when questioning about McCain’s potential running mate Sawyer asked "do you think in your view that the vice presidential choice for John McCain must be pro-life?" Oddly, the mainstream media never seems to question Democrats if their vice presidential choice "must be pro-choice."
On the Obama Messiah watch, in the last half-hour of ABC’s Good Morning America on Wednesday, anchor Chris Cuomo interviewed photographer Pete Souza who has a new book of Obama photographs. In addition to cooing over photos of the Obama daughters and Obama with the Kennedys, Cuomo highlighted photos of women looking adoringly at Obama: "And now, of course, the insight you're able to capture out on the trail. You say, it's so much like a religious experience for people as they meet him. Let's see the view that you get. Look at them with their hands clasped." Hallowed be thy name, Barack?
Souza described his images: "This is early on and you can just see the people are curious about him. This was in Springfield the day that he announced he was running for president. This was in South Carolina, a lot of curiosity early on, I think."
Before that, Cuomo saw "a continuum of leadership" from Abe Lincoln to Martin Luther King to Obama. Souza highlighted a rather pedestrian photo of Obama reading a magazine in his office, strangely touting his ability to relax. (Like so few Americans can?)
Chris Cuomo continued his "Meet the Joneses" series on August 27's "Good Morning America" posing some surprising conservative challenging questions to an Obama adviser. The third installment featured Barack Obama’s education plan and a Jones family concerned about their children’s education.
This particular family allegedly lived in a failing school district before moving and says they can not afford a decent private school. After noting Obama opposes school vouchers Cuomo paraphrased the Jones family concerns that they want the "choice" and "opportunity" and asked the senator’s domestic policy adviser what her answer is.
After Obama’s adviser parroted talking points about "mak[ing] an investment in our public schools" Cuomo followed up questioning why not "allow families like the Joneses to get their kids into a better school so that they don't have to go down with a failing institution until it's fixed?" Obama’s adviser then noted that Senator Obama supports charter schools.
All three broadcast morning shows hailed Hillary Clinton’s convention speech on Wednesday, as ABC’s Diane Sawyer saw Clinton “bringing down the house,” while George Stephanopoulos declared that “she aced it. I think she's gone farther than any losing candidate has ever gone in a convention like this.”
Sawyer gushed: “If her candidacy put those 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, her speech probably punched a hole in it.”
Over on NBC, Andrea Mitchell fawned that Clinton’s “words were perfect. I don’t see how she could have found a better way of expressing herself and coming out strongly for Barack Obama.” On CBS, Early Show co-host Harry Smith was also enthusiastic: “Hillary Clinton stands and delivers....What a speech last night....If you appreciate stagecraft at any level you had to say she did a good job with that.”
With Senator Hillary Clinton’s speech at the Democratic Convention, the co-hosts of "Good Morning America" could not get over their awe for the Clintons. On the August 27 edition, at the end of George Stephanopoulos’ analysis, the co-hosts debated exactly how Former President Bill Clinton expressed his love for his wife, with Chris Cuomo believing the former president stated "I love forever and ever."
SAWYER: Okay, I'm going to finish up with something because we were arguing about it here. Do we have reracked President Clinton from his seat up in the stands? We're disagreeing. You think he's saying what, Chris Cuomo?
CHRIS CUOMO: I think I love -- I love you forever and ever.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It's three I love yous.
SAWYER: No, I think I love you, I love you, I love you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It's three I love yous.
SAWYER: Everybody at home can weigh in. Let us know what you think. Thanks to you, George. It's great.
During an interview on Monday, "Good Morning America" news anchor Chris Cuomo fawned over liberal icon Jimmy Carter and his support for Barack Obama's candidacy. After Carter touted how much excitement the Illinois senator creates wherever he travels, Cuomo cited his GMA colleague Diane Sawyer and eagerly agreed: "You know, Diane said once on this show that maybe a simple test for who's the right choice for president is somebody who makes the statement, America, wow!" (One wonders if this "simple test" would have been applied to Ronald Reagan and his 49 state landslide.)
Cuomo, who is the son of former Democratic governor of New York Mario Cuomo and the brother of the state's current Democratic attorney general, proceeded to fret about why Barack Obama, "with all the Obamamentum and all of the media attention and all of the charisma that he is said to have, how do you explain this contraction in the polls from 15 points now to a dead heat even in the big states?"
Is ABC’s love for the Kennedys so blind that they would overlook an unintentional allusion to Senator Ted Kennedy’s most notorious night? On a very soft interview with Senator Kennedy’s son, Congressman Patrick Kennedy, Good Morning America anchor Chris Cuomo gushed over the senator’s speech reminding the audience that Patrick Kennedy heard someone label it a "Michael Phelps moment" referencing the Olympic swimmer. Ted Kennedy did have his Michael Phelps moment, but not in Denver 2008, but Chappaquiddick 1969.
Diane Sawyer’s tease and at the end of Chris Cuomo’s interview with Congressman Kennedy both referenced Senator Kennedy’s comparison to Michael Phelps. Diane Sawyer quoted the congressman "Michael Phelps moment" and Patrick Kennedy brought the subject up in his chat with Cuomo. At the end of the interview Cuomo compared Phelps’ Olympic record to Kennedy’s speech editorializing "to a lot of Democrats it meant even more than eight gold medals." [audio excerpt available here]
All week (and apparently next week during the Republican convention), ABC’s Good Morning America will use its liberal prism to evaluate how the candidates’ policy proposals might help families with the last name of Jones, with a segment entitled “Meet the Joneses.” On Monday, as MRC’s Justin McCarthy pointed out, reporter Chris Cuomo hit Barack Obama’s tax proposals from the left, suggesting that even his tax hikes on “the rich” might not leave enough money for the government.
Tuesday, Cuomo found a family that was willing to go on camera and whine about having to spend $160 per month -- yes, just one-hundred sixty dollars and no cents -- on their daughter’s health care without being reimbursed by their evil HMO. After not being reassured that Obama’s “reforms” could guarantee that this specific family would save the average $2,500 per year, Cuomo pressed Obama advisor Austan Goolsbee from the left: “Why not take the big step and say universal health care? Or is that just too ugly a word?”
While the national media fret over whether or not there will be unity in the Democratic Party and gush over Monday night’s speeches by Senator Ted Kennedy and Michelle Obama, pro-lifers are out in Denver, Colorado, protesting and working hard to get their message across. Of course, it would be easier to get their message out if the national media paid attention to their protests.
None of the big three broadcast network morning shows -- ABC’s "Good Morning America," NBC’s "Today" and CBS’s "Early Show" -- reported on these protests. Of course, this should come as no surprise. The broadcast networks also ignored this year’s March for Life as well as the 35th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling.
In contrast, all three of the network evening news broadcasts reported on the anti-war protests on the fifth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq. Moreover, these reports all aired within the first ten minutes of each program.
All three broadcast morning shows were thrilled with the opening night of the Democratic convention in Denver. CBS co-anchors Maggie Rodriguez and Julie Chen were the most effusive, with Rodriguez gushing that it “couldn’t have been a more compelling first night” and Chen describing Michelle Obama as “so impressive, so, just inspiring to watch her speak.”
Over on ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host Diane Sawyer was also swept away, calling it first “an incredible night” and then “a night to remember for all ages.” NBC’s David Gregory called Michelle Obama’s speech “moving” and “heartfelt,” but that “the emotional highlight of the night belonged to Ted Kennedy” for speaking on Obama’s behalf despite his battle against a cancerous brain tumor.
To find "experts" on a particular issue, ABC’s Chris Cuomo, first profiled a left leaning organization, but only cited them as "non-partisan." Beginning a series of in depth segments examining Obama’s stance on the issues, Cuomo offered what appeared to be a fair assessment of Barack Obama’s plan.
Although, the "Good Morning America" host featured some criticism of Obama’s plan and offered challenging questions to Obama’s economic adviser, Cuomo identified the Tax Policy Center (a division of the liberal Brookings Institution) as "non-partisan"only featuring them for expertise.
Cuomo featured a family earning $70,000 a year and cited the Tax Policy Center to claim they will receive an almost 50 percent reduction in taxes. That runs counter to the more conservative American Enterprise Institute which found Obama "would raise marginal tax rates for many middle-income tax payers."
ABC’s Chris Cuomo kicked off Democratic Convention week with a very positive portrayal of Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett. On the August 25 edition of "Good Morning America," Cuomo asked such hard hitting questions as to Michelle Obama’s fashion choice the night of her speech.
Cuomo portrayed Jarrett as a friendly house wife neighbor of the Obamas', Cuomo declared Jarrett has "been called as close to [Obama] as a sister." What Cuomo neglected to note that, according to David Freddoso, Valerie Jarrett "was the chief executive of a company that managed a housing complex that became so run-down it was seized by the federal government."
The morning host could not be bothered with such inconvenient facts, instead asked the staunch Obama supporter "what don’t they know that you know?" "is he ready?" and "what is your greatest fear for Barack and Michell?"
Chris Cuomo only asked mildly tough questions about why Obama did not pick Hillary Clinton as his running mate and the recent tightening in the polls.
CBS’s Early Show and NBC’s Today on Monday morning touted, without offering specifics, what CBS reporter Dean Reynolds called Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden’s “wealth of experience” and “long record of accomplishment” on foreign policy; NBC’s David Gregory asserted that Biden had “deep foreign policy experience.” On Sunday’s Good Morning America, reporter John Berman also declared “Biden’s foreign policy expertise fills some holes in Obama’s resume.”
But CNN’s American Morning asked their Iraq reporter, Michael Ware, to rate Biden’s major contribution to recent foreign policy debates, his plan to partition Iraq into three separate regions. “Madness,” Ware declared, adding: “No one is for partition unless of course you're an Iranian-backed political party because they'd love to have a self-governing zone in the south that effectively would become an extension of Iran.”
Appearing later in the same show, Ware again scoffed at Biden’s proposal: “No one supports it. It ain't going anywhere.”
The most important news event in the universe, according to Friday’s Good Morning America, was John McCain’s gaffe about not knowing how many houses he and his wife own, as ABC led off its morning newscast with the story. ABC’s Jake Tapper devoted nearly two minutes to recounting John McCain’s property holdings after snarkily pointing out that he and his wife own just one house — “well, actually the banks owns it, we pay a mortgage.”