On Friday, the network morning shows downplayed or ignored 2008 Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s muddled comment that nuclear weapons shouldn’t be used in "any circumstances" in Afghanistan or Pakistan. On CBS, the "Early Show" didn’t cover the story at all. During the three hour broadcast of the "Today" show, NBC found time for only one brief anchor read.
ABC’s "Good Morning America" provided the most coverage, but that simply amounted to a solitary anchor brief and then a quick, defensive summery of Obama’s statement by "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos:
George Stephanopoulos: "...Barack Obama, appearing to rule out the use of nuclear weapons in going after al Qaeda or the Taliban in Pakistan....What he's drawing fire for though is talking about it. A lot of nuclear strategists say you should never talk about how or when you're going to use nuclear weapons. The Barack Obama people though say they make no apologies. They're not going to back down at all and that they’re saying, uh, the correct policy that people need to hear."
On Wednesday’s "Good Morning America," ABC reporters offered advice to Dick Cheney on how to resuscitate his "rock bottom poll numbers." The network featured clips from a Bush-bashing cartoon and correspondent Cokie Roberts even suggested that if the Vice President wants to change his image, he needs to do it on "Jon Stewart and maybe talk to Doonesbury."
The Claire Shipman-hosted segment, which played like a media victory lap over Cheney’s unpopularity, also featured snarky comments, such as this dig about the Vice President briefly taking over for George W. Bush during his colonoscopy in July:
Claire Shipman: "He was even acting president for a few hours during the President's recent colonoscopy. Did he dream about taking on Iran? No, he says. He wrote a letter for his grandkids and then made it public."
On Tuesday’s "Good Morning America," anchors Robin Roberts and Diane Sawyer touted the marital relationship between Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards and his wife. Co-host Robin Roberts recounted the often repeated story of how the Edwards couple spend their wedding anniversary, including their recent 30th, at the restaurant Wendy’s.
Roberts, perhaps in a Freudian slip, even referred to the former North Carolina Senator as "presidential nominee John Edwards." Sawyer gushed that the candidate and his wife "are going to renew their vows." "Happy anniversary," she added.
Yet, this is the same morning show that has vastly underplayed stories that aren’t quite so cute and endearing for the '08 contender. For instance, during a recent GMA town hall with John Edwards on the subject of poverty, Ms. Sawyer only managed to mention the trial lawyer’s 28,000 square-foot mansion once.
On Friday’s "Good Morning America," and again on Sunday, ABC anchors eagerly touted the idea that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales could be fired at any second. On July 27, GMA host Chris Cuomo discussed sworn Senate testimony given by Gonzales and wondered if the Attorney General had been "caught in a lie with the whole nation watching?" (An ABC graphic helpfully asked, "Is Atty General lying?")
Mentioning claims that Gonzales testimony has been contradicted by FBI Director Robert Mueller, Cuomo, whose brother is the Democratic Attorney General of New York, asked "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos, "...Bottom line, is Alberto Gonzales out of a job at end of business today?"
On Wednesday’s Good Morning America, reporter David Wright attempted to manipulate the potential voters of the 2008 presidential election by casting a gloomy shadow over the Republican candidates. Meanwhile, according to Wright, the array of candidates for the Democratic nomination could not be any more impressive. First, Wright exalted the Democrats for having a clear front-runner, Hillary Clinton. However, he was skeptical of the same status of Rudolph Giuliani in the Republican field saying, "just how solid is that lead?" Then he went about exposing the inconsistency of Republican candidates, never once mentioning any similar problem for Hillary Clinton or any other Democratic candidate.
In May, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted an above average hurricane season, the media reported the announcement with a vigor.
Two months later, with no serious hurricanes yet hitting the mainland, a private forecaster has reduced its tropical storm expectations.
Less hurricanes should be good news, especially for folks along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, right? Shouldn't this get aggressively disseminated by media outlets that certainly have a public service responsibility?
Before we get there, the following was reported by Reuters Tuesday evening (emphasis added):
As soon as "Good Morning America" began to tease an upcoming how-to segment today on protecting against home invasion, I immediately suspected the show wouldn't discuss one obvious measure: obtaining fireams and learning to use them.
And sure enough . . .
GMA ran the segment in the wake of the horrific home-invasion in Connecticut in which the the wife and two daughters of a prominent doctor were killed and the man badly beaten. An expert was brought in to discuss various measures, and Chris Cuomo added some suggestions of his own. They ranged from keeping shrubbery low, to installing lights, alarms and wind chimes, to putting peepholes in the door, to creating a "safe room" to which a family can flee.
But never did GMA breathe a word about firearms. My favorite moment was Cuomo's Cactus Defense. That's Chris's hand pointing at that lethal little mini-cactus in the window planter. View videohere.
On Friday’s Good Morning America, reporter David Wright (pictured at right) turned a story about Senator Barack Obama’s far-left views on sex education for kindergartners into an attack piece on Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Rather than focus on the Democrat’s controversial stance, ABC cast Romney as the villain, painting the Republican as an opportunist and a flip-flopper for daring to criticize Obama’s comments.
As Wright pointed out, "Massachusetts has one of the most progressive sex education curriculums in the country. It starts during pre-school and not only requires that elementary schools teach kids the basics about sex but encourages them to teach about sexual orientation too." In a glib tone of voice Wright explained, "Of course you’d never know that from hearing Romney on the campaign trail now."
ABC’s Good Morning America interviewed Bill Clinton on Thursday morning, and while he made the news for saying Iraq is hopeless ("There is no military victory here"), the interview was also notable as another opportunity for ABC to honor Clinton as a global statesman and ask him softball questions for almost nine minutes. Co-host Diane Sawyer reported he was in Africa to see Nelson Mandela and do his AIDS work: "And President Bill Clinton weighs in, speaking out on the war, his work to save a continent and Senator Hillary Clinton’s campaign. An exclusive interview."
When the interview began nine minutes into the show, Sawyer lauded his humanitarian foundation work again, saving hundreds of thousands of people: "And we turn now to an exclusive interview with former President Bill Clinton, who is in Johannesburg South Africa this week as part of his life’s work with his foundation which has provided life saving treatment for nearly 800,000 children and adults with AIDS in Africa and also simple solutions like fertilizer to revolutionize agricultural production."
White House homeland security advisor Fran Townsend made the rounds of the TV morning shows on Wednesday – except for NBC, which was too busy chronicling the Senate Democrat stunt on Iraq. ABC’s Diane Sawyer pounded Townsend with criticism from former Clinton adviser Dick Clarke and a quip from New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd that Bush created a "spa" for Osama bin Laden. CNN’s Kiran Chetry homed in on how critics say Iraq was a diversion from the war on al-Qaeda. On the Early Show on CBS, co-host Hannah Storm pulled a Dan Rather – as in the man who liked to use the words "the group calling itself the Christian Coalition" – and referred to the "so-called War on Terror."
Storm's first question was this: "So we're almost six years after 9/11. Billions of dollars spent on the so-called War on Terror. Thousands of Americans lives lost. And yet we hear this report that we're no safer now than we were then. Why not?"
As the potential Dow Jones sale to Rupert Murdoch gets closer, the mogul was under fire from ABC on July 18. Correspondent Bianna Golodryga cited fears that the Wall Street Journal would begin to resemble the New York Post, already owned by Murdoch.
“Here is why this story is important. This is the paper he wants to buy: The Wall Street Journal. Now, one big news story, a business story that came out a few weeks ago, was the sale of Hilton Hotels.
On Wednesday’s "Good Morning America," the ABC program actually reported on Elizabeth Edwards’s attack that ‘08 contender Hillary Clinton may not be a strong advocate for women. However, correspondent Claire Shipman managed the feat of somehow turning the story into a positive for both women. She also engaged in the standard media practice of identification bias.
Shipman gushed that the spouse of former Senator John Edwards is "popular" and then later referred to her as "very popular." Before playing a clip of Hillary Clinton sounding tough on terrorism, the ABC reporter asserted, "...There is striking gender role reversal on the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton by far the toughest politically and stylistically."
Quick -- which is Hillary Clinton's bigger liability as a candidate?:
A. She's an insufficiently ardent feminist; or B. Her personality is cold, calculating and unfeminine.
If you've been living on Planet Earth since 1992, surely your answer is 'B.' So when Elizabeth Edwards adds fuel to that fire, accusing Hillary of behaving like a man, that is very newsworthy stuff. Unless you're NBC or ABC, that is.
"Today" and "Good Morning America" ran segments this morning on Mrs. Edwards' recent interview with Salon.com in which she made comments critical of Hillary. The networks focused on Elizabeth's relatively innocuous line:
She's just not as vocal a women's advocate as I want to see. John is.
But both shows airbrushed out the more controversial comment that immediately preceded it:
I'm sympathetic, because when I worked as a lawyer, I was the only woman in these rooms, too, and you want to reassure them you're as good as a man. And sometimes you feel you have to behave as a man and not talk about women's issues.
Appearing on Monday’s special town hall edition of "Good Morning America," 2008 presidential candidate John Edwards endured a much tougher line of questioning from Diane Sawyer than Hillary Clinton received during a similar event in March.
Although Edwards received more air time, 38 minutes to almost 27 minutes, Senator Clinton had the advantage of friendly questions from the audience and a less critical interviewer in Robin Roberts. Below are a sampling of Sawyer’s queries to John Edwards during his July 16 appearance. The subject was the former trial lawyer’s plans to withdraw from Iraq:
Diane Sawyer: "What does that say to the Iraqi people? Where does that leave them? What if ethnic cleansing begins? Do you send troops back in? What do you do?" ...
Sawyer: "Do you think there is a real possibility though of a regional calamity if American troops pull out of Iraq, which is the White House’s argument." ...
Sawyer: "What is the plan to control civil war, except going back in?"
Did "Good Morning America" physically remove a man who appeared to be dozing off during Democratic Senator John Edwards's town hall meeting on Monday? Early in the 7am hour, the man (pictured at right) appeared to be sleeping, or at least dozing, while Edwards discussed his plan for Iraq.
Around 7:11, the individual, who was seated to the back and right of Edwards, mysteriously disappeared (see video below). Diane Sawyer even remarked how audience members for the New Orleans-based event had "gotten up early" to join him. Perhaps the network found it unacceptable that someone might perceive the former trial lawyer to be less than enthralling?
On Monday’s "Good Morning America," ABC devoted 38 minutes of air time to Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards in a town hall special. This is in addition to the over 26 minutesthey provided fellow ‘08 contender Hillary Clinton back in March. That’s a grand total of 64 minutes of publicity for Democratic candidates and zero for Republicans.
Now, to be fair to "Good Morning America," GMA host Diane Sawyer did ask tougher, harsher questions than her colleague Robin Roberts did when she interviewed Senator Clinton on March 26. However during the July 16 program, Sawyer found no time to ask Edwards about the hateful anti-Christian bloggers that the campaign hired, and then was forced to fire, earlier this year. Instead, the ABC anchor did manage these tough queries:
Diane Sawyer: "What’s the worst meal you’ve had on the road?"
Sawyer: "Do you listen to an iPod? Does it relax you on the road?"
On "CNN Newsroom," correspondent Cal Perry asserted that Hamas is fighting for "independence" from Israel. Somehow, he failed to mention that the organization has often called for the destruction of that country.
Dan Harrison, a senior VP of NBC, this week asserted that his network’s over-the-top coverage of Al Gore’s Live Earth concert wasn’t a "political issue" because "everyone" agrees global warming is happening. And the networks wonder why they’re losing viewers? Additionally, MRC intern Michael Lanza noted that this same not-"political" concert featured video of distraught children, wailing about the impending death of the Earth.
Is ABC's Bill Weir a TV journalist -- or a recruiter for Team Defeat? You had to wonder, watching his interview on today's "Good Morning America" of Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tn.). Alexander has co-sponsored legislation that would make the Iraq Study Group recommendations the basis for future U.S. strategy in Iraq.
GMA CO-HOST BILL WEIR: You have introduced an idea now that really centers around redeploying our troops over there. What would it take for you to get behind a timetable for withdrawal?
This could be an MSM first: breaking out a variation on the old used-car salesman line: "what would it take to get you to buy this car today?"
Later in the interview, Weir returned to his effort of luring Lamar to the surrender side.
WEIR: The Democrats say your proposals don't have enough teeth. They really want to see some movement here. But as you watch the President this week, "stay the course," yet again [bad, bad, intransigent President!]. You're defying him in a way just by introducing this. Do you hope that he'll come around to you, or are you eventually just drifting towards an eventual [support for] withdrawal?
Thursday’s edition of "Good Morning America" featured a Diane Sawyer anecdote that revealed the low opinion Americans have of journalists. After wrapping up a segment on people who avoid jury duty, the ABC co-host recounted the "hurtful" experience she had in a courtroom:
Diane Sawyer: "You know, I wanted to sit on a jury once and I was taken off the jury. And the judge said to me, 'Can, you know, can you tell the truth and be fair?' And I said, 'That's what journalists do.' And everybody in the courtroom laughed. It was the most hurtful moment I think I've ever had."
Retired Army Major General John Batiste – recently cashiered as an official CBS News expert after appearing in a partisan political commercial for “Vote Vets” bashing Bush for not listening to generals like him – was invited on to ABC’s “Good Morning America” this morning.
Substitute host George Stephanopoulos played the skeptic about the possibly heavy costs of a hasty pullout from Iraq, but General Batiste sounded almost like an official spokesman for Senate Democrats in hailing Carl Levin of Michigan and Jack Reed of Rhode Island: “I had the opportunity yesterday to read the Levin-Reed amendment in the Senate, two pages carefully crafted that makes incredible sense. That is, we need a better plan to get out than what we had to get in. We need to recognize that our all-volunteer military cannot sustain the current cycle of deployments. And this ought to really worry every American.”
"Good Morning America" has scheduled a second town-hall style special with a presidential candidate and, unsurprisingly, the recipient is another Democrat. 2008 contender John Edwards will appear on Monday, July 16 to discuss poverty with ABC co-host Diane Sawyer.
Readers of NewsBusters will remember that the last such event, anchored by Robin Roberts and airing March 26, featured Hillary Clinton for almost 30 minutes worth of softball questions. Also, the New York senator spoke, unchallenged, for 18 of her 26 minutes of air time. Co-host Roberts told Clinton that "many" thought her 1993 plan for universal health care was "ahead of its time." Two questions come to mind: Will John Edwards receive similarly easy queries? And when will "Good Morning America" feature a Republcian presidential candidate in this forum?
For those NewsBusters readers interested in participating, GMA’s website allows viewers to submit questions and videos to Mr. Edwards.
Kristin Gore, daughter of former Vice President Al Gore and author of a new political satire set in Washington, appeared on the Tuesday editions of "Good Morning America" and "The Early Show." Both shows only gingerly addressed the subject of Kristin’s brother, Albert Gore III., and his arrest for marijuana and prescription-drug possession after being pulled over last week in California. GMA guest host George Stephanopoulos misleadingly characterized the incident as getting "in trouble speeding." "Early Show" host Harry Smith didn’t mention the drug angle at all.
Stephanopoulos, a former top Clinton aide who worked in the same White House as Al Gore, conducted an extraordinarily cozy interview with the former Vice President’s daughter. Apparently completely oblivious to any conflict of interest, he hyped "Sammy’s House," calling it "very funny." The ABC anchor even joked with Kristin Gore about whether the main character, Sammy Joyce, was based on him:
Kristin Gore: "Have you recognized yourself yet? ‘Cause I should come clean and let you know you’re Sammy."
Last August, a federal judge ruled that it was unconstitutional to monitor overseas conversations with suspected terrorists. On August 18, 2006, ABC’s "Good Morning America" treated the decision as a monumental event. However, Saturday’s GMA greeted the overturning of that decision by a federal appeals judge with a solitary 13 second news brief.
In contrast, reporter Jessica Yellin described the original ruling last August as a "stinging setback" and the program highlighted a professor who said it could ultimately lead to President Bush’s impeachment. Yellin, who colorfully described the decision as "essentially accus[ing] the President of acting like a king,"also highlighted this comment about Bush from George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley:
Jonathan Turley: "He could be impeached. And people should not be underestimating that."
A federal appeals court today overturned a Carter-appointed judge's opinion last August that the National Security Agency's terrorist surveillance program, dubbed by opponents as "domestic spying," was unconstitutional. Eleven months ago, the media latched on to the decision as a "major legal defeat" for the Bush administration, with CNN's Jack Cafferty crowing about how the decision proved "President Bush violated his oath of office, among other things, when he swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States."
Both ABC and MSNBC hosted constitutional lawyer Jonathan Turley, who suggested the President should be impeached as a result of the ruling.
The Tuesday broadcast network morning shows all led with President Bush's commutation of the 30-month prison sentence for Lewis "Scooter" Libby, but CBS displayed "Libby Pardon" on screen throughout a report from Bill Plante; over video of Bush and then Libby ABC put "Above the Law?" on screen to frame its coverage; and both CBS and NBC featured Hillary Clinton's slam at Bush's "cronyism" -- yet failed to bring up the name Marc Rich. NBC's Meredith Vieira scolded Bill Kristol for daring to describe Joe Wilson's claims, that President Bush "subverted the rule of law" and could be "a suspect in an ongoing obstruction of justice case," as "ridiculous." Referring to the commutation, not the prosecution, Vieira lectured: "There are many people who feel that this was a travesty of justice."
[Update at bottom of post] On Tuesday’s "Good Morning America," the ABC program featured two segments on President Bush’s commutation of Dick Cheney aide Lewis Libby. Substitute co-host David Muir opened the program by wondering, "This morning, above the law?" and GMA glossed over Bill Clinton's infamous pardon of Marc Rich. Instead, various anchors found time to twice highlight Senator Dick Durbin’s comment that "even Paris Hilton had to go to jail."
Although reporter David Kerley's segment did feature a quote from Republican strategist Rich Galen, both pieces seemed more interested in Democratic outrage. Kerley and Muir seemed taken with Senator Dick Durbin’s comparison to Paris Hilton:
Kerley: "But one of the most stinging statements came from Senator Dick Durbin, who said, quote, ‘Even Paris Hilton had to go to jail. No one in this administration should be above the law.’"
David Muir: "Not surprisingly, the Democrats are jumping on this. We heard from the Democratic candidates there. Senator Durbin saying even Paris Hilton went to jail. Some real red meat for the other party."
On the Friday edition of "Good Morning America," "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos appeared to discuss the June 28 Democratic debate in Washington D.C. Stephanopoulos alternatively described Senator Hillary Clinton as giving a "solid debate performance," "spirited performances," and "solid performances."
Considering that the ABC host is a former top aide to Bill Clinton, his objectivity might be somewhat suspect. Additionally, Stephanopoulos appeared to go out of his way to attack obscure Democratic candidate Mike Gravel as "the skunk at the party." Perhaps not so coincidentally, Gravel has been a strident critic of Senator Clinton, among others, at recent debates.
Elizabeth Edwards appeared on the Thursday edition of "Good Morning America" and was portrayed by co-anchor Chris Cuomo as simply the wife of Democratic ‘08 contender John Edwards. However, Cuomo singled out columnist Ann Coulter, who debated Mrs. Edwards via phone this week on MSNBC’s "Hardball," with descriptions such as "professional provocateur."
He also wondered why the wife of the North Carolina Democrat would want to spar with "someone like Ann Coulter." Additionally, Cuomo failed to mention the provocative actions that the Edwards campaign has taken. After allowing Elizabeth Edwards to expound on how her phone call to "Hardball" was simply an attempt to get Coulter to stop being hateful, the GMA anchor did not bring up the liberal, anti-Christian bloggers hired by the Edwards campaign.
As the media continue to pile on Ann Coulter in the wake of her being ambushed by Elizabeth Edwards and Chris Matthews on Tuesday’s “Hardball,” a disturbing yet predictable double standard is emerging.
On the one hand, Coulter is being pounded for using “hate words,” so much so that Matthews advocated Wednesday that people not buy her books.
Yet, Edwards and her Democrat presidential candidate husband John appear to be getting a pass regarding the hiring of two anti-Christian bigots back in February as official bloggers for his campaign.
In fact, Mrs. Edwards was interviewed this morning by ABC, CBS, and NBC to get another chance to speak about Coulter's "hate words." Yet, not one host asked her any questions concerning these bloggers.
With that in mind, MRC President Brent Bozell issued the following statement Thursday:
On Wednesday evening, ABC's World News with Charles Gibson and the NBC Nightly News both covered the Elizabeth Edwards/Ann Coulter controversy, noting that the Edwards campaign has eagerly used their run-ins with Coulter to raise campaign money. ABC's Jake Tapper uniquely noted this week's fundraising deadline for the presidential race, while relaying the Edwards campaign's success at raising "Coulter cash." Tapper: "Just as Coulter has a book to promote this week, Edwards has a fund-raising deadline. Enemies can have their uses."
NBC's David Gregory noted the Edwards campaign's immediate use of yesterday's flap to solicit campaign money, but the network also failed to put one of Coulter's controversial quotes in proper context, thus making it appear worse than it actually sounded in full. On Monday's Good Morning America, while answering a question about her joke from last March about John Edwards being a "faggot," Coulter suggested there was a double standard between the outrage over her remark and the greater tolerance by the media and liberals of a question by Bill Maher about whether the world would be a better place if Vice President Cheney had been assassinated. (Transcripts follow)