Interviewing anti-war Senator Russ Feingold this morning, Good Morning America weekend co-host Bill Weir offered his interpretation of the mid-term election results and virtually taunted Democrats for being insufficiently aggressive in confronting President Bush:
"Do you hold your party responsible, not only for the authorization, but for the seeming inability to muster a unified front to fight the president on this, to get what you want, and apparently what the American people wanted with the mid-term elections, and end the war?"
As already reported on NewsBusters, Friday’s "Good Morning America" used the pretext of the 2008 presidential election to wonder just how bigoted America is. In a segment that aired in the 7:30 hour, Diane Sawyer talked to former NBA star John Amaechi about his new book, the revelation that he’s a homosexual, and an anti-gay diatribe delivered by ex-Miami Heat star Tim Hardaway.
This is the second time in five days that the ABC program has promoted Amaechi’s book. And just as with the piece on Senator Obama and his candidacy, Sawyer used isolated incidents to draw conclusions about all of America:
Diane Sawyer: "All right, as we said now, we're going to give you a story that wades right into this country's secret prejudice against gays in America. The former pro basketball player who revealed he is gay is with us. His name is John Amaechi. He has been the target of an anti- gay tirade by a former NBA all-star, Tim Hardaway."
On Friday’s "Good Morning America," Diane Sawyer, who has previously asked Senator Barack Obama if America is secretly ‘more racist or sexist,’ introduced a story on the issue of the 2008 presidential election and race. The ABC co-host prefaced the issue by mentioning that some African American leaders are not supporting the Illinois politician because they think the U.S. isn’t ready to vote for a black candidate.
According to Sawyer, this is creating a spotlight on questions about race and "what Americans really feel inside." Correspondent Jake Tapper continued this "Is America racist?" theme by citing a vague statistic, which was given no attribution, that 15 percent of white voters say they’d vote for a black person, but, in truth, "never, ever would":
Diane Sawyer: "Well, the 2008 presidential race turns out to be turning a spotlight on questions about race and what Americans really feel inside. Senator Barack Obama is watching black political leaders throw support to Hillary Clinton. And why? They have said publicly, they don't think America is ready to elect a black candidate. ABC's senior political correspondent Jake Tapper has more on this counter-intuitive event. Jake?"
Jake Tapper: "Good morning, Diane. Well, 84 percent of Americans say a candidate being black would not effect their vote one way or the other. But, the dirty little secret, what some experts call the 15 percent lie, the 15 percent of white voters who tell pollsters they'd be willing to vote for a black candidate, but in the privacy of the polling place, never, ever actually would."
What happens when a noted politician announces he’s running for President? Well, in the case of conservative Republican Mitt Romney, CBS’ "Early Show" gives the story a scant ten seconds. But what if that candidate is Democrat Barack Obama? Well, then the same program devotes over nine minutes of coverage! (For those keeping count: A 54: 1 advantage for the Democrat.)
Over on ABC, "Good Morning America’s" Diane Sawyer continued her Dictator ‘07 tour. She portrayed the authoritarian Syria as a pro family, welfare paradise.
Later in the week, Sawyer asked Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, noted Holocaust denier, how often he cries.
On the Thursday edition of "Good Morning America," co-host Diane Sawyer responded to critics of her recent visits to Syria and Iran. After reading some viewer e-mails about the interviews she conducted with leaders of those countries, including a question on why ABC allowed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad so much time to spew his propaganda, Sawyer informed her audience, "People all over the world, whatever their governments are doing, people all over the world really do have a yearning to live at peace on this planet, I believe."
Perhaps the GMA host was taking the words of the Iranian President to heart. During one interview, he told her that mass rallies containing "death to America" chants shouldn’t be taken personally by U.S. citizens.
Earlier in the segment, which aired at 7:48am on February 15, Sawyer defended the necessity of such trips by citing the need for greater understanding:
File this one under "MSM condemns ee-vil corporations." As you'll note from the screencap, ABC's Good Morning America today branded State Farm Insurance "not a good neighbor." What is State Farm's sin? Its decision not to write new homeowners and commercial policies in the state of Mississippi.
Did you note that? State Farm has decided not to write any new policies. This in no way affects the insurer's liability for existing policies. State Farm has made a simple business decision: given the legal environment there, Mississippi is not a good place for an insurer like it do to business.
"Mike Fernandez, vice president of public affairs for State Farm, said Mississippi's 'current legal and political environment is simply untenable. We're just not in a position to accept any additional risk in this homeowners' market.'"
That didn't stop Diane Sawyer from introducing a segment on the news by speaking of "outrage" over insurance companies and declaring that "some" call State Farm's decision "heartless and others call it plain greedy."
It goes without saying that we wouldn't want to provoke such a person -- it could harm his self-esteem. Unfortunately, President Bush doesn't seem to have gotten the message. But thank goodness for David Gregory. As luck would have it he turned up at today's White House press conference to convey the message to the president: stop provoking poor Mahmoud!
Gregory began by observing: "A lot of critics say that you are using the same quality of intelligence about Iran that you used to make the case for war in Iraq . . . and that you are doing that to make a case for war against Iran. Is that the case?"
On the Tuesday edition of "Good Morning America," Diane Sawyer, on the last leg of her Dictator ‘07 tour, asked Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad her silliest questions yet. Sawyer mused about Iranian environmental problems and also wondered how often the Holocaust-denying leader cries. The ABC program featured several segments with the President of Iran. After a piece where she only lightly pressed Ahmadinejad on his calls for the destruction of Israel, the GMA anchor asked if Iran’s President, who is seeking a nuclear bomb, is "sentimental and sympathetic" This question allowed Americans to see a softer side of the unpredictable leader:
Diane Sawyer: "Well, in a minute we're going to talk and I'm going to get the questions you have from e-mails. But a number of people have already said is there anything surprising, personal about President Ahmadinejad that we didn't know? Well, it turns out, someone told me he cries a lot. That he is dramatically sentimental and sympathetic if someone comes up and expresses a personal plight. So I just asked him, are you often in tears?"
As already reported on NewsBusters, ABC’s Diane Sawyer continued her Dictator ‘07 Tour on Tuesday with a stop in Iran to interview President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Although the "Good Morning America" host did press the Iranian leader, it’s hard not ask some difficult questions to a man who repeatedly calls for the destruction of Israel.
However, the questions were nowhere near as tough as in November 1998 when she interrogated special prosecutor Kenneth Starr. In that case, Sawyer told the Clinton investigator that "There is something about certainty that scares a lot of people" and wondered if he "went too far." In comparison, while the veteran journalist did challenge Ahmadinejad, she frequently let absurd statements go without a follow-up. When Iran’s President insisted that "death to America" chants shouldn’t be taken personally by United States citizens, Sawyer didn’t call him on it:
Diane Sawyer: "So now, the nuclear questions. What about those 3,000 centrifuges and the gaps in reporting to the watchdog IAEA? And the Bush administration contention if it walks like a duck and it talks like a duck, it's a desire for a nuclear weapon. If you could have a nuclear weapon today, tomorrow, would you want one?"
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: "Well, our position is clear: We are opposed to any proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons. We believe that the time is now over for nuclear weapons. It is a time for logic, for rationality and for civilization. Instead of thinking of finding new weapons, we are trying to find new ways to love people. And if talked about ‘Death to America’ slogan, I think you know it yourself, it is not related in any way to American public. Our people have no problem with American public, and we have a very friendly relationship."
Should Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ever make it to America, he will feel right at home in the faculty lounges of America's universities and the executive suites of the MSM. For this morning, he gave the Iranian version of a slogan near and dear to the hearts of the aging campus activists of the 60s and 70s who are to be found there: Make Love Not War!
In segments broadcast on today's Good Morning America, Diane Sawyer continued her interview of Ahmadinejad. Quizzed by Sawyer about his country's nuclear ambitions, he replied:
"We believe that the time is now over for nuclear weapons. It's a time for logic, for rationality and for civilization. Instead of thinking of finding new weapons, we are trying to find new ways to love people."
Right on, Mahmoud! Let me to introduce you to Ms. Hilton, here -- she may have some ideas.
View video here. Be sure to check out Diane's eyebrow raise when that wild 'n crazy Mahmoud mentions his hunt for new ways to love.
"Good Morning America’s" Diane Sawyer, who is now reporting from Iran, last Thursday finished her trip to Syria by interviewing women of that country and portraying the brutal dictatorship as a pro-family paradise. Included in this group of females was the top woman in Syrian President Bashar Assad’s cabinet. Rather then ask her about the country’s repression of human rights, "Parade Magazine" recently ranked Assad the world’s tenth worst dictator, Sawyer chose to highlight the country’s low pregnancy rate and "safety on the streets."
During the February 8 segment, the veteran ABC journalist repeatedly found America lacking in comparison to what seems to be a socialist paradise. Sawyer began by asking the collected group of Syrian females about their opinion of American women:
Diane Sawyer: "What do they think of American women? They say we have so many opportunities, yet they'd give us something from Syria, safety on the streets, family to help with children, and the government helping too."
Diane Sawyer sat down to ask Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [MA] some tough questions today, and a weather report broke out. Having spent last week in Syria, Diane is now in Iran on the second leg of her All-Dictator Tour. She began her interview of MA, televised on this morning's GMA, by asking him "are you sending Iranian weapons into Iraq?"
In lieu of an answer, MA went Sam Champion on Sawyer: "Let me first say good morning to our viewers all over the states and its good people, and let me tell them that we have spring weather here in Tehran, and I hope it will be spring all over the world."
He stopped just short of giving a shout-out to his homies Parvin, Roshan and Farzan in Bel-Air.
What followed was a series of non-denial denials that were laughable in their evasiveness.
Last week, NewsBusters bloggers Scott Whitlock (here and here) and Mark Finkelstein (here and here) separately addressed "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer's softball interviews with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
It's a shame it didn't come out before then, but this weekend Parade magazine released its 2007 World's Worst Dictators list. Al-Assad came in at number 10, up 6 slots from the 2006 list.
Oh well, I guess it's helpful to have the next time Sawyer enlarges her carbon footprint by flying around the world just to ask another thug completely innocuous questions while enjoying the touristy trappings of a Potemkin village.
With Barbara Walters away, whom did ABC choose to guest host The View today? A woman who thinks a 9-11 nutcase is "so great." Singing the nutcase's praises in the screencap is Christine Ebersole, a Broadway actress and former Saturday Night Live cast member, I've learned. And there she was, guest hosting on this morning's View, when she let this drop:
"I'm going through 'the change' in my life."
That was good for a high-five with Rosie, who said she is, too.
Ebersole explained that one symptom is insomnia, which has turned her into a YouTube addict. Speaking of her YouTube favorites, she continued:
This week, Chris Matthews' anti-Bush bigotry spilled over into a profanity laden rant. The "Hardball" host dropped the F-bomb during a live interview with Don Imus.
Meanwhile, CNN’s Paula Zahn connected opposition of illegal immigration to, you guessed it, the Ku Klux Klan. This is the same network, however, that tried to downplay proven religious bigotry by a blogger for the John Edwards campaign.
Over on ABC, "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer spent the week in Syria. She let the despotism of President Bashar Assad go mostly unchallenged.
During other segments, Sawyer chose to ask him about video games and whether he uses an iPod.
After more than a week of ignoring the controversy over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s request for access to an extravagant plane, the three network morning shows finally covered the subject on Thursday, albeit briefly. CBS and ABC both offered full reports during the 7AM hour of the February 8 shows, while only CBS included a quote from a Republican lawmaker who criticized the possible ethical issues raised by having the opportunity to fly friends home in a posh C-32 jet. NBC’s "Today" show mentioned the story only in a news brief and then co-host Matt Lauer briefly asked correspondent David Gregory about the plane controversy.
All three networks included snarky reports on this "hot controversy." Lauer wondered if the incident would make Pelosi "look bad from a PR standpoint," while Cuomo used the pithy term, "turbulence." One wonders why it took a week for the media to jump on such a "hot controversy." At 7:06am, "Good Morning America’s" Cuomo introduced Jake Tapper with a few quips about "plane envy:"
Chris Cuomo: "We begin with the turbulence over Speaker Nancy Pelosi request for a new plane. A request that has been quickly turned down. Senior national correspondent Jake Tapper has the latest on the controversy from Capitol Hill. Jake, is this about security or ego? Sounds like a case of jet envy."
Never try to say ABC anchor Diane Sawyer hasn’t been tough on oppressors. In one interview in 1998, she stared one in the face and said, "You’ve been compared to Saddam Hussein. Nero. To Torquemada, who was head of the Inquisition."
Oh, forgive me. That wasn’t a dictator she was questioning. It was Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel investigating Bill Clinton’s lying under oath. This was a common practice for ABC at the time. Their website had an infamous instant poll asking if there was an "Ig-Nobel" prize, who should win it? The choices were Saddam, Slobodan Milosevic, Osama bin Laden and....Linda Tripp.
So how do ABC news anchors like Sawyer perform when they land "exclusive" interviews with actual dictators? The rings of international thugs are kissed for the privilege. Their obvious lack of respect for the concept of democracy is politely skimmed over. The real threat they pose to America is downplayed – or ignored.
On Tuesday’s "Good Morning America," anchor Diane Sawyer continued to gush over the dictator of Syria. As already noted on NewsBusters, the ABC anchor gingerly questioned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over the country’s political and cultural repression. But she also defended him, reminding American viewers that "change must come slowly."
A second segment focused on Assad’s wife, Asma. In this piece, Sawyer’s most laudatory yet, she profiled the Mideast power couple and a viewer could be forgiven for assuming that this was a look at the wife of a 2008 presidential contender and not the spouse of a dictator.
Sawyer informed her audience on just what an amazing couple they make and closed the segment with a direct appeal for more understanding of the Syrian dictatorship:
Diane Sawyer: "So, while the world debates the intentions of her husband on the world stage, the two of them are clearly symbols of a new generation in the Middle East. The former doctor, the former banker, schooled in England, steeped in Syria. And she might say, asking the West for a new conversation about a new day."
Imagine that during the days of apartheid in South Africa, Diane Sawyer had just completed an interview of the white leader of the regime. What are the odds she would have emerged to inform viewers, in sympathetic tones, that the leader had reminded her of an old Afrikaaner saying to the effect that change must come slowly?
Yet that's just what Diane did after her interview with Syrian dictator Bashar Assad in which he claimed Syria wasn't ready for democracy. The screencap you see here is of Diane giving a dramatic portrayal of Assad's words. Emoted Diane:
"The president reminded me that all over the Arab world, there is a standard saying, 'chouay, chouay' [my transliteration] which means 'slowly, slowly. Change must come slowly.'"
Have a look at the video clip of Diane's dramatic renderinghere.
As already noted on NewsBusters, ABC’s Diane Sawyer threw softballs to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in an interview for Monday's "Good Morning America." However, GMA featured a section segment that was, amazingly, even worse. In the piece, the hard-hitting journalist probed the dictator about pertinent issues such as his favorite movies ("Pursuit of Happyness"), music (Shania Twain and Faith Hill), and whether he enjoys video games (no). Rather then press Assad over points such as the fact that Freedom House recently gave the country its worst scores (7 out of 7) for both political and civil liberties and ranked it "not free," Mrs. Sawyer allowed the Syrian leader to play film critic:
Diane Sawyer: "And American movies?"
Bashar Assad: "Sometimes. Not– Not– Not very much to movies in general. I don’t have time actually."
Sawyer: "But you like true stories?"
Assad: "True stories and historical stories. Want to know the names?"
Assad: "Yeah. ‘The Pursuit of Happyness.’"
Sawyer: "And you liked it?"
Assad: "Yeah. It tells you a story that you– Maybe there’s many beneficial things to learn from, about real life. Providing that it's accurate about the story. The real story."
When a despot you're interviewing denigrates the value of democracy in another country, wouldn't your journalistic instincts prompt you to ask him about the utter lack of democracy in his own? Not in Diane Sawyer's case.
The ABC powerhouse is in Syria this week. This morning's GMA aired an interview she scored with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Joe Biden would surely declare Assad "articulate;" the tyrant does speak excellent English and has a mild-mannered, urbane demeanor. But, in his case, appearances are definitely deceiving. Assad is the ruthless ruler of one of the most oppressive regimes on earth. On a scale of 1-7, Freedom House recently gave Syria its lowest possible rating of '7' on political rights. Bashar is of course following in the bloody foosteps of his father, Haffez. Among other acts of rule by terror, the previous tyrant infamously erased from the face of the earth the Syrian town of Hama, massacring an estimated 10-25,000 people in the process.
For the MSM, there's nothing like the occasion of a natural disaster to challenge the faith of religious believers.
On today's Good Morning America, Kate Snow interviewed the Rev. Larry Lynn, Pastor of the Lady Lake Church of God, whose buildings were totally levelled by the tornadoes that recently struck central Florida.
A minute or so into the interview, Snow asked a question that challenged the core of the pastor's religious belief: "How do you reconcile your faith with the enormity of this tragedy?"
On Friday’s "Good Morning America," reporter Elizabeth Vargas openly lobbied for the passage of legislation that would require employers to offer six weeks of paid time off to workers for maternity, illness, or the care of a loved one. In addition, the ABC correspondent bashed America for not having "flexible, family friendly polices." According to Vargas, a new Harvard University study places the United States near the bottom among countries that provide paid maternity leave. She also offered only token opposition to the idea that all employers should be forced to give six weeks, plus the standard sick time and vacation. For the most part, the segment came across as a stinging indictment of the U.S.:
Robin Roberts: "Now to a new study from Harvard about paid maternity leave all around the world. It ranks countries based on how generous or stingy their benefits were. And the bottom five countries may have you scratching your head and saying, 'You must be kidding.' ABC's Elizabeth Vargas is here with the details. And we did see this and we were like, no, no, no. This cannot be right."
Elizabeth Vargas: "Everybody has that reaction, Robin. 26 million mothers in this country work. The vast majority say to make ends meet, they must. With that many moms in the workforce, you'd think the U.S. would lead the way in flexible, family-friendly policies. Think again. For millions of working moms, those first weeks after giving birth are a time to take off, recover, and bond with your new baby. But increasingly, the question is who pays?"
Sometimes, a line just jumps out of a transcript. To me, this is just a Line of the Week. On Thursday's GMA, George Stephanopoulos was assessing the fallout from Sen. Joe Biden describing Barack Obama as "clean" and "articulate." In trying to explain how it helped Obama, George declared: "He was doing poorly among the African American community because a lot of them didn't know he was black."
Here's the line with more context around it:
Roberts: "But who's counting?" But with a woman, a Hispanic, an African American in the race, is this just the beginning of a really charged race?"
When it comes to the subject of global warming, members of the media have lost all restraint. CNN’s Larry King nervously wondered if climate change might "really kill us all?" Could it "submerge cities like New York and Washington and San Francisco under floods from melting Arctic ice caps?" Not to be outdone, "Good Morning America’s" weatherman warned of the dire threat of global warming. The next day, an ABC graphic fretted, "Will billions diefrom global warming?"
For anyone that questioned whether "Newsweek" is biased, public appearances by the magazine’s top staffers should answer the question. Editor Jon Meacham suggested that President Bush is outside "reality." "Newsweek" columnist Anna Quindlen recently debunked the "myth" that Hillary Clinton is a liberal.
GMA's segment this morning on the big global warming confab in Paris was filled with predictably alarmist rhetoric. But one factoid slipped through the MSM filter that could put a chill on the "it's-all-man's-fault" view of the matter: thousands of years ago, global warming exceeded anything we're currently experiencing.
Oh, and did you know the result of global warming is . . . fewer hurricanes? First, the alarmism. Reporting from Paris, ABC weatherman Sam Champion informed us:
"It's really kind of frightening stuff, the stuff that science fiction books and movies are made of. Melting ice, heat waves and even stronger storms."
"Global warming is with us, and it's going to be with us for centuries."
"It is the definitive report on global warming, and it's frightening."
"Good Morning America" weatherman Sam Champion has accomplished the impressive feat of turning the morning show’s meteorology segment into an opinion piece. On Tuesday, he approvingly reported on a new study that blames humans for the effects of global warming. During a follow-up piece on Wednesday’s edition, ABC included one of the most alarming graphics to grace American television screens:
ABC Graphic: "Will Billions Die from Global Warming? New Details on Thirst and Hunger"
If only Joe Biden had seized the moment with one brilliant burst of brevity . . .
This morning on GMA, Biden had the chance to turn his presidential candidacy announcement into a funny, feel-good moment that would have won him untold millions in free coverage. Sadly, the senator from Delaware couldn't resist his proclivity to pontificate.
Diane Sawyer had the scoop: Joe Biden appeared on this morning's Good Morning America to make it official -- he's running for president.
First came the obligatory questions about Iran and Iraq. Diane next tried lure Biden into expanding on his statement that Hillary's nostrums for Iraq would be a "disaster." Biden wouldn't bite: "I have great respect for Hillary Clinton . . . she is fully qualified to be president . . . She is a first-rate person."
Biden similarly declined to rise to Sawyer's bait about Obama's inexperience, responding: "This guy's incredible. He's fresh, he's new, he's got great ideas."
Talk then turned to Biden's Achilles heel: his famed motor mouth. Sawyer: "The Washington Post says your friends have told you that you have to learn to 'put a sock in it' and not talk so much, and that you're taking their recommendation to heart."
Biden launched into a 93-word response in which claimed he was taking his friends' advice to heart, but in the same breath added that "if it takes more than three minutes" to give an answer, he's going to do it.
Imagine if in response to Diane's question, Biden, after a pregnant pause, had let his entire answer be a big, smiling "yup!"
It would have been priceless, and splashed all over the media. But Joe just couldn't "hep" himself. Joe Biden: once again, victim of his own verbosity.
The broadcast network evening newscasts on Tuesday, especially NBC and ABC, jumped to hype a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing meant to publicize a report from two far-left groups about how the Bush administration supposedly suppressed science about the dire threat of global warming -- as if that view isn't already getting plenty of play in the mainstream media. “The question in Washington today was this,” anchor Brian Williams intoned in leading the NBC Nightly News: “Did the Bush administration in any way try to cook the books on the topic of global warming? Government scientists were called before a congressional committee today and asked if the White House or anyone else ever tried to stifle or squelch or silence the evidence that climate change is taking place around the globe.” Andrea Mitchell refused to properly label the groups as she trumpeted: “With Democrats holding the gavel in both houses, advocacy groups were given the chance to present a new study revealing unprecedented and widespread interference with scientific reports, largely by a former oil industry lobbyist working for the White House.”
ABC's Jake Tapper largely followed the same script, but World News did not lead with his piece and he at least included a brief note of doubt as he cited a same-day Senate hearing on global warming and how “the committee's previous Chairman, Senator Jim Inhofe, has called global warming a 'hoax.'” Like Mitchell, however, he followed up with the same John McCain-enabled formulation: “For the most part, though, Senators from both parties expressed concern.” Tapper began with the House confab as he relayed how “scientists say their work on global warming has been watered down and twisted by a White House that does not want the public to hear about it.”
Proving that even the weatherman can be biased, "Good Morning America’s" Sam Champion used Tuesday’s edition of the ABC program to tout an apocalyptic study on global warming. In a report that featured no skepticism about the cause or genuine threat of climate change, Champion utilized dire language to discuss an impending report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It should be noted, as previously reported by NewsBusters, that this meteorologist has a committed agenda when it comes to global warming and environmental issues. He recently touted the "very sexy" group of actors and environmental activists/actors. Champion began Tuesday’s report by forshadowing the immediate future:
Sam Champion: "This morning, 500 of the top scientists in the world are meeting behind closed doors to finish up a landmark report on global warming. And the picture they're painting isn't pretty. We're talking about change that's not 100 years away, but within the next 10 years. This is not the future -- it's happening today."
The morning weatherman went on to cite the liberal position on global warming: A call for reducing carbon emissions and he also noted that the IPCC scientists cite humans as the cause: "No one’s really gotten together to blame it on humans--this big of a crowd."