Good Morning America

By Scott Whitlock | March 1, 2013 | 11:53 AM EST

According to the journalists of Good Morning America, the end of the world is nigh. The hosts and reporters on Friday hyped the "massive" sequester cuts as leading to near panic. Josh Elliott opened the show by hyperventilating, "Jobs vaporizing, flights delayed, even criminals walking free." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]

Reporter Jon Karl intoned, "The day is upon us. Those dreaded across-the-board spending cuts will go into effect sometime before 11:59 p.m tonight." He then touted White House talking points: "The administration warns that in the coming weeks, we'll see flight delays, kids thrown out off Head Start and criminals get free due to a lack of federal prosecutors."

By Scott Whitlock | February 28, 2013 | 12:10 PM EST

The Today show on Thursday allowed a scant 16 seconds, out of a possible four hours, to the claim by veteran journalist Bob Woodward that the Obama White House is trying to intimidate him and attack his coverage of the sequester cuts. The NBC program also avoided using the word "threat."

ABC's Good Morning America gave the most coverage to the battle, offering a full report and a news brief.  [See video below. MP3 audio here.] CBS This Morning covered the story as part of a bigger report on the looming cuts. On Today, reporter Kristen Welker blandly explained, "As a backdrop to all of this, veteran reporter Bob Woodward is telling reporters that the White House is lashing out at him for writing an article which claimed that the sequester was all President Obama's idea." She then helpfully presented the President's case: "The White House has made the point that Republicans overwhelmingly supported the plan as well." This was the extent of Today's coverage.

By Scott Whitlock | February 27, 2013 | 1:01 PM EST

Good Morning America on Tuesday edited out an inaccurate assertion by First Lady Michelle Obama that the gunman in a Chicago killing used an "automatic weapon." Regarding the death of teenager Hadiya Pendelton, Mrs. Obama claimed, "And she was caught in the line of fire because some kids had some automatic weapons they didn't need." This quote appeared online, but not on the February 26 interview with Robin Roberts. 

The Chicago Tribune explained, "...A day after her homicide on Jan. 29, Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said the gunman possibly used a revolver because no bullet casings were found at the shooting scene — as there would be if a semi-automatic or automatic weapon had been used." No ABC show on Tuesday or Wednesday offered an explanation as to why the network helpfully covered up for the First Lady's error. [Updated with video.]

By Scott Whitlock | February 27, 2013 | 11:48 AM EST

The reporters of Good Morning America, who on Monday briefly questioned Barack Obama's hyperbolic talk about the sequester cuts, have returned to promoting dire warnings of meat shortages and children losing vaccines. Guest co-host Elizabeth Vargas on Wednesday hyped "the grim countdown to the massive spending cuts that will kick in on Friday."

To underline the point, an ABC graphic proclaimed, "Countdown to Massive Cuts: Will Illegal Immigrants Be Released From Jail?" Correspondent Jon Karl parroted Obama: "Each day, the White House's list of terrible things caused by the cuts grows longer, including flight delays, kids losing vaccines, and meat shortages." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Two days ago, in a moment of clarity, Karl acknowledged, "But those cuts, five to seven percent for most government departments, will be phased in over the next seven months."

By Scott Whitlock | February 26, 2013 | 12:04 PM EST

Last week, ABC scored an exclusive "get." Barack and Michelle Obama appeared on Good Morning America to welcome back co-host Robin Roberts from a serious illness. On Tuesday, Roberts paid the White House back, fawning over the "trend-setting" First Lady and her "hot" bangs. The anchor asked not a single tough question during the two part, eight and a half minute segment.

Co-anchor George Stephanopoulos compared Mrs. Obama's appearance at the Oscars, Sunday, to the real mission in the movie Argo: Rescuing American hostages from Iran. He thrilled over the secretive appearance: "Producers go undercover to the White House in a move straight out of Argo." Elizabeth Vargas echoed, "It was like something out of Argo." The hostages in Iran faced death, not the revelation of a TV appearance. [See video below. MP3 audio here.]

By Scott Whitlock | February 25, 2013 | 4:41 PM EST

ABC on Sunday continued to hype Barack Obama's hyperbolic claims about sequester cuts. World News reporter David Kerley played a clip of the President and then insisted that $85 billion in spending "sounds like a disaster movie." Kerley warned, "Child care canceled for tens of thousands of kids. Long airport security lines. Flight delays with a shortage of controllers. And military cuts that will leave us 'second rate' according to the Defense Secretary."

Reason Magazine's Nick Gillespie on Monday pointed out: "Widely quoted as $85 billion for spending in fiscal year 2013 (which ends on September 30), the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) underscores that just $44 billion of spending reduction are slated for 2013, with the rest coming in later years." That amounts to $44 billion in a 2013 budget of $3.6 trillion. Kerley allowed two sentences acknowledging that the cuts "will be phased in over the next seven months."

By Scott Whitlock | February 25, 2013 | 12:08 PM EST

According to Good Morning America's David Wright on Monday, the upcoming "papal election campaign is getting ugly." The ABC correspondent then declared that Pope Benedict an "absolute monarch." 

In a report live from Rome, Wright explained, "Pope Benedict is expected to issue new rules about the timing and procedures of the conclave [the meeting of cardinals to elect a new pope.]" He added, "[Benedict] can do that by degree. The Pope is an absolute monarch." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Of course, Wright's experience in judging any kind of election is questionable. Back in 2002, he reported from Iraq and insisted, "Seven years ago, when the last referendum took place, Saddam Hussein won 99.96 percent of the vote. Of course, it is impossible to say whether that’s a true measure of the Iraqi people’s feelings."

By Scott Whitlock | February 22, 2013 | 4:15 PM EST

Apparently, objectivity just isn't needed on some issues. On March 16th, Good Morning America's Josh Elliott, Sam Champion and Lara Spencer will co-host the 24th annual Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) awards. The event will honor another journalist, Anderson Cooper, for being "an advocate for the LGBT community."

This isn't the first time Elliott, supposedly a neutral journalist, has appeared at the GLAAD event. On March 24, 2012, the anchor accepted a media award and declared of ABC: "I'm proud to work at a place that believes in advocacy journalism!" Elliott fawned over the group, saying "I will never be in a braver room than this!" (As if it's tough to be in a place where everyone has the exact same opinion as you.)

By Scott Whitlock | February 22, 2013 | 11:47 AM EST

The journalists of Good Morning America on Friday adopted White House talking points, foreseeing a "fiscal emergency" that will "cripple" flights in the United States. Jon Karl warned, "When it comes to air travel, the first thing we'll all see are longer lines at airport security. Expect ten percent fewer TSA agents on the job." An ABC graphic blared, "Seven Days to Fiscal Emergency: Air Travel Could Be Crippled." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]

Karl highlighted Erskine Bowles, a Democrat and former chief of staff to Bill Clinton. It's true that Bowles is now on a bipartisan debt reduction panel, but he's certainly a partisan. Instead of informing viewers of this fact, Karl labeled him simply as a "prominent budget expert."

By Geoffrey Dickens | February 21, 2013 | 11:33 AM EST

All too often when reporters are discussing Democrats caught in scandals, they develop a peculiar speech impediment that prevents them from uttering the "D" word. However, when members of the GOP stumble, the word "Republican" cascades out of the mouths of reporters.

When news broke on February 15 that former Democratic Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. was charged with improperly spending campaign funds on (among other items) Michael Jackson and Bruce Lee memorabilia, the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) network anchors and reporters struggled to get their lips to form the word "Democrat." In 15 total stories on Jackson, reporters failed to utter the "D" word in 11 of them (73 percent). On the February 21 CBS This Morning Jackson was labeled a Democrat, but only in an on-screen graphic.

By Scott Whitlock | February 20, 2013 | 4:25 PM EST

What does it take for the networks to focus on a Joe Biden gaffe? Apparently, it's enough to suggest that a shotgun is ideal for home defense. On Tuesday's Nightly News and the morning shows on Wednesday, journalists, who often overlook the Vice President's verbal miscues, highlighted his comments about shotguns. 

In an online chat with Parents magazine, Biden suggested, "If you want to protect yourself, get a double-barreled shotgun." He went on to say that he owns two such weapons and has instructed his wife to use them if needed. This led Nightly News anchor Brian Williams to joke, "Vice President Joe Biden is out with another one of those sound bites that could live on for a long time." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] On Wednesday's Good Morning America, George Stephanopoulos described Biden as "unplugged." He warned, "Biden and those [Parents] magazine readers got a little more than they had bargained for."

By Scott Whitlock | February 20, 2013 | 11:34 AM EST

ABC's Good Morning America on Wednesday welcomed Robin Roberts back from sick leave by surprising the co-host with her biggest fans, Barack and Michelle Obama. Within two minutes of the show's open, George Stephanopoulos kicked off the celebration by cutting to the Obamas. He hyped, "We have a lot of surprises for you this morning. We're going to start with one from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."

After Barack Obama touted the journalist as an "inspiration," Michelle Obama teased, "And personally, I am looking forward to our interview together in a couple of days." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] How, exactly, is Roberts supposed to conduct tough interviews after that kind of praise? The ABC reporter has long been a favorite of the White House and her fawning coverage has to be part of the reason. After the President flipped his position on gay marriage, Roberts got the first interview. On May 10, 2012, she gushed, "I'm getting chills" just thinking about Obama's new stance.