Of the three morning shows on Wednesday, only "Good Morning America" highlighted the growing controversy regarding the disclosure that PBS reporter Gwen Ifill, the moderator of Thursday's vice presidential debate, has authored a supportive book about Barack Obama and other African American politicians. CBS's "Early Show" and NBC's "Today" both skipped the subject.
GMA news anchor Chris Cuomo mentioned the book during the 7am hour and actually observed that it "has some conservatives claiming she will be biased tomorrow night." The ABC journalist added, "Ifill has said, though, she's only concerned about getting straight answers from the candidates." And although Cuomo did not repeat the story during the 8am news brief, at least ABC brought the issue up.
[UPDATE, by Brent Baker: Wednesday evening, of the broadcast network evening newscasts, only the NBC Nightly News mentioned Ifill. Andrea Mitchell ended a story by citing an unidentified "one conservative critic" and how colleagues and McCain say she's not biased:
As the stage is set for tomorrow night, one conservative critic challenged the moderator, Gwen Ifill of PBS because Ifill is writing a history of a generation of black politicians titled Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama. Palin said tonight that's motivating her to work harder. Ifill's colleagues and the McCain campaign say she is a respected professional.]
"Good Morning America" on Wednesday reported on a new Quinnipiac poll that highlighted leads for Barack Obama in Florida and Ohio, but completely skipped the network's own national poll that found a tight race. A September 30 ABC News/Washington Post survey concluded that Obama leads Senator McCain by four points -- 50 to 46 percent. In contrast, GMA last week trumpeted an ABC News/Washington Post poll that showed Obama with a nine point lead.
On September 24, former Democratic aide-turned journalist George Stephanopoulos touted the larger lead and asserted, "...You have to go back to 1948 for the last time when a candidate having this kind of a lead, in late September, lost." He mentioned that on the issue of the economy, the Illinois senator is "blowing away John McCain." An onscreen graphic proclaimed, "Obama Surges Ahead." But, just a week later, GMA not only ignored findings suggesting a closer national race, the morning show highlighted a rival poll's state numbers.
A Republican and a Democratic member of Congress attempted to calm "Good Morning America" news anchor Chris Cuomo during an interview on Tuesday. Cuomo interrogated GOP Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave and her Democratic colleague, Mary Kaptur, about just what they would do now that the Wall Street bailout package had been rejected. After noticing the high pitched tenor in Cuomo's voice, Kaptur observed, "...You're very anxious."
In a soothing voice, she instructed, "I can hear your voice there. For the sake of the country, and even for the sake of the markets, I think you should operate prudently and with a little bit of calm in your voice today." This was after a barely restrained Cuomo thrust responsibility onto those politicians who opposed the bailout: "Your vote and the failure of this bill- are you ready to accept the potential responsibility for bringing down this economy as a result of your vote?" Continuing to point fingers, he accused, "You saw yesterday, 50 percent of Americans hold stocks. You lost $1.2 trillion in value."
"Good Morning America" reporter David Wright on Monday highlighted the specter of the "Palin Problem" for John McCain and asserted that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin'sadvisors "are trying to lower expectations. But even among some conservatives, expectations couldn't be any lower." Yet, while the ABC morning show mentioned the supposed struggles of the Republican vice presidential candidate, the program has ignored embarrassing gaffes from Senator Joe Biden.
Wright played clips of "Saturday Night Live" mocking Palin for discussing the proximity of Alaska and Russia. Placing great weight in comics, he intoned, "... The comedians have their doubts" about Palin. However, GMA has failed to report on Joe Biden's doubly inaccurate assertion last week that "When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television" to calm people down. (There was no television at the time and FDR wasn't president.) The morning program has also ignored video of the Delaware senator telling a disabled man in a wheelchair to "stand up."
Watching Saturday’s network morning shows, the talking heads seemed to agree that Friday night’s debate did not produce “a clear winner” or any “knockout punch,” and that it was unlikely that any “needle was moved” among undecided voters. Yet those same networks tried to also argue that Obama had really won the debate, superficially suggesting that McCain’s “disdainful” body language poorly contrasted with the “warm” and “deferential” Obama.
On style, “Barack Obama did a much better job,” ABC contributor Matthew Dowd asserted. NBC’s Chuck Todd insisted that “McCain barely could look at Obama, was disdainful at times, almost annoyed that he was having to share the same stage....Here was Obama being deferential, and here is McCain being disdainful.”
"Good Morning America" reporter David Muir on Friday reported live from Mississippi and somehow managed to not feature a single supporter of Senator John McCain, despite the fact that a Research 2000 poll found the Republican candidate maintaining an 18 point lead in the state. In the only allusion to that, Muir began, "In a state considered deeply red, John McCain has family roots here." He then highlighted an Obama supporter: "But those ties aren't enough for Heidi Burell, whose own son is in the Navy. She wants the war to end." In a clip, Ms. Burell hoped that America will regain "respect in the world community."
Muir featured Mississippi resident Todd Molino who stated, "You see it everywhere you look, health care has become unaffordable." The reporter also described an elderly couple: "And it's health care that worries Buddy and Marilyn Hardy who can't afford to buy their prescription drugs." However, despite asserting that the individuals he spoke to were "divided on their pick for president," no enthusiastic McCain backers were featured.
Wednesday morning, ABC News and the Washington Post released a new poll showing Barack Obama leading John McCain by 9 points, 52% to 43%. The next day, NBC News and the Wall Street Journal released a poll showing a much tighter race — 48% for Obama, 46% for McCain.
Any guesses as to which poll excited the press more? And which poll has come under fire for over-sampling Democrats?
ABC, naturally, reported its own poll on Wednesday’s Good Morning America, with Diane Sawyer touting at the top of the broadcast: “Breaking news this morning: Barack Obama gains ground in a new ABC News poll, a nine-point lead over John McCain.” The on-screen graphic exclaimed: "Obama Surges Ahead"
On Thursday's "Good Morning America," journalist Bill Weir touted left-wing filmmaker Spike Lee as a "social critic" and ignored any mention of the director's bizarre conspiracy theories, such as his 2005 contention that the United States government intentionally blew up the levees during Hurricane Katrina in order to flood African American areas. Instead, Weir marveled, "No director in Hollywood has attacked the thorny issue of race quite like Spike Lee."
While promoting Lee's new World War II film, the anchor of the weekend edition of GMA enthused, "'Do the Right Thing' and 'Malcolm X,' still loom over his 15 other feature films as ground breaking emblems of righteous anger." Weir also labeled the more hopeful tone of Lee's "The Miracle at St. Anna" as a "reflection of one social critic's mood in an age of change."Of course, Weir neglected to mention that this same "social critic" has also declared "it's not far-fetched" to think that the levees in New Orleans were destroyed by the United States government.
Going very much against the media meme that the current financial crisis is all George W. Bush and the Republicans' fault, Bill Clinton on Thursday told ABC's Chris Cuomo that Democrats for years have been "resisting any efforts by Republicans in the Congress or by me when I was President to put some standards and tighten up a little on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac" (video available here, relevant section at 2:45).
Whether he knew it or not, Clinton was going against virtually all press outlets that have been pointing fingers at Republicans since this crisis began, and likely much to the dismay of such folk actually agreed with a Fox News segment aired on Tuesday's "Special Report" (video embedded right):
"Good Morning America" weekend anchor Kate Snow complained on Wednesday's show about a lack of access to Sarah Palin during the vice presidential candidate's trip to the United Nations in New York. The ABC journalist snidely commented on the Republican's meetings with world leaders: "But aside from a few photo ops, New Yorkers aren't getting much more than a glimpse of Sarah Palin." She added, "New York City is a pretty easy place to get lost in the crowd, even, it turns out, if you're a potential vice president."
Regarding the exits and entrances of Palin, Snow remarked, "Outside, a clear shot of her exit. Until, a patrol car and Secret Service SUV just happened to pull up right in front of our cameras." While discussing camera footage of Palin talking to Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, she fretted, "The pool camera got 15 seconds. With Henry Kissinger, even less."
Kate Snow hasn't always had to complain about a lack of access. She has repeatedly received exclusive interviews with Bill Clinton, in particular. And in return, provided fawning coverage to the ex-president. During the August 4 edition of GMA, the journalist actually prefaced a question by telling Clinton he didn't need to answer: "Pretty simple question. And maybe you don't want to answer it right now and I respect that fully. But, if you want to answer it, do you personally have any regrets about what you did campaigning for your wife?"
In a September 19 "Good Morning America" preview of a report scheduled to appear on the same day's edition of ABC's "20/20," chief investigative reporter Brian Ross took a few jabs at the rich who had fallen.
Ross called it "the end of a shameful chapter of American history," and although top executives on Wall Street had been hit hard in a way "they never thought was possible ... it's hardly the soup kitchen."
There was also much indignation in the report over the assets of Richard S. Fuld Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of now fallen Lehman Brothers Inc., and Alan Schwartz, the CEO of now "busted" Bear Stearns.
On Friday, "Good Morning America" concluded its week long train trip to election battleground states and ended up devoting 28 minutes to high profile Democrats and just over 14 to Republicans, a disparity of two-to-one. The tour, which was designed to see what average Americans think about the presidential election, featured mostly Democratic guests. Senator Barack Obama appeared on Monday, Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, Joe Biden on Thursday and Michelle Obama and Jill Biden on Friday. The only GOP representation came in the form of a short interview with John McCain on Tuesday and another on Wednesday with the senator and Cindy McCain.
Additionally, while Senator McCain appeared jointly with his wife on Wednesday, Barack Obama alone received two segments on Monday, totaling nearly eight and a half minutes. Michelle Obama was featured, along with Senator Biden's wife, on Friday for another five and a half minutes. (McCain's brief appearance on Tuesday was not originally announced in the ABC schedule, lasted less than three minutes and only dealt with the financial problems on Wall Street.)
On The Situation Room today, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer made a surprising admission to, of all people, real estate entrepreneur Donald Trump:
BLITZER: What do you think of his (Obama's) decision to pick Joe Biden as his running mate?
TRUMP: I really don't know Senator Biden but I know one thing. He's run a number of times for president. He's gotten less than 1 percent of the vote each time. And that's a pretty tough thing. You know, he's also been involved in pretty big controversy like plagiarism in college and various other things. That's a pretty big statement. So perhaps you change over a period of time. But when you plagiarize, that's a very bad statement. That hasn't been brought up yet, but I'm sure at some point it will. I'm sure that Sarah Palin will bring it up in a debate or somebody's going to bring it up.
BLITZER: Are you talking about plagiarism when he was running for president?
TRUMP: No, I'm talking about when he was a college student as I understand it, and this was a big issue originally but he supposedly plagiarized as a college student. That's a pretty serious charge.
BLITZER: I don't remember that. We'll check it out. But maybe you obviously have a better memory about that.
"Good Morning America" reporter Kate Snow on Thursday nervously quizzed Senator Joe Biden as to why the Democratic presidential ticket isn't further ahead. In contrast, co-host Diane Sawyer grilled John McCain on abortion and overturning Roe V. Wade when he appeared on Wednesday's program. Snow skipped that particular issue while talking to Biden.
Instead, she fussed, "He [Barack Obama] was with a bunch of Democrats and he was with Barbra Streisand, a whole bunch of Hollywood stars. And he said, 'There are a lot of Democrats who come up to me and say they're nervous that we're not doing better, that were not further ahead in the polls.' Are you nervous about that?" So, Snow worried both about the chances of the Democratic ticket and simultaneously avoided a tough question. One might have asked Biden if, considering the tough economic times, it was such a good idea to spend the evening with rich Hollywood celebrities.
I guess the liberal crew aboard ABC's Good Morning America train trip felt comfortable in portraying small towns across the country as suffering from economic hard times which, of course, would be helpful for the Democrats in the upcoming elections in November. However, their pre-conceived script about economic hardship is being angrily challenged by the mayor of one of the towns they painted with their liberal brush. The mayor of Rome NY, James F. Brown is furious over the way his community was portrayed by GMA as you can see in this article in the Rome Daily Sentinel (emphasis mine):
Furious over the portrayal of Rome in Tuesday’s national broadcast of "Good Morning America," Mayor James F. Brown said he’ll never watch ABC — the television show’s network — again.
Cast and crew of the news program were at the Rome railroad station on Monday afternoon as part of a 50-state Whistle Stop ‘08 tour. More than 500 people turned out to meet the train and greet television personalities Robin Roberts, Diane Sawyer and Cris Cuomo.
Wrong again! It must stink being a network global warming alarmist. They just can't seem to get their stories straight.
It's only been a couple months when the networks were screaming about Arctic ice disappearing this summer. And, no surprise, they were entirely wrong. By 1.74 million square miles.
As Maxwell Smart used to say: "Missed it by that much."
Less than three months ago, NBC's Anne Thompson was warning ominously of ice loss. "But this summer, some scientists say that ice could retreat so dramatically that open water covers the North Pole, so much so that you could sail across it."
NSIDC reported ice loss was less than in 2007. "On September 12, 2008, sea ice extent dropped to 4.52 million square kilometers (1.74 million square miles). This appears to have been the lowest point of the year, as sea has now begun its annual cycle of growth in response to autumn cooling," according to the organization.
Beginning on September 15 and continuing through the 19th, "Good Morning America" has been touring America via train and finding economic misery and despair along the way. During the three special shows that have aired so far, which ABC has dubbed the "Whistle-Stop Tour '08," the program traveled to struggling towns in Massachusetts, Ohio and New York. On Monday, while talking with an elderly man who had lived through he Great Depression, co-host Diane Sawyer described him as someone who had survived "another time of economic crisis." (As a comparison, a quarter of the population was unemployed during the Great Depression. Unemployment today stands at just over six percent.)
On Tuesday, co-host Robin Roberts mentioned the people of Rome, New York and their "tough times." "...Some of them are feeling hard times," she added. On Wednesday, near Gustavus, Ohio, Roberts reported from a small town that "is not booming." While visiting the "suffering town" of Niagara New York on Tuesday, Sawyer talked to parents at a high school hockey game and lamented, "There were moms up in the bleachers, who say they have to look across the river [to Canada] too and wonder about American leadership."
"Good Morning America" host Diane Sawyer on Wednesday grilled Cindy and John McCain about differences in the couple's position on abortion and the subject of overturning Roe V. Wade. And yet, when co-anchor Robin Roberts talked to Barack and Michelle Obama in May, she didn't raise the issue, instead wondering if the Illinois senator would be prepared for all the negativity he would surely face as Democratic nominee.
In fact, on at least seven appearances in 2008, no GMA host asked Barack or Michelle Obama about abortion and that includes skipping issues such as the senator's controversial opposition to a bill that would have offered protection to babies who survive botched abortions.
On Wednesday, Sawyer cited a CBS interview in which Mrs. McCain stated her opposition to overturning Roe V. Wade. The journalist then interrogated, "And yet, Senator McCain you have indicated in previous interviews that you would like the repeal of Roe versus Wade so that the states can make their decisions. What's the difference in the two of your view of the issue?"Sawyer followed up, But, Mrs. McCain, do you oppose the repeal of Roe versus Wade? Was that report correct?"
"Good Morning America's" train tour across the country continued on Tuesday with Diane Sawyer interviewing Hillary Clinton and encouraging the senator to agree that John McCain is too old to be president. She also jokingly invited the former first lady aboard, stating that the program could "go out and buy you some pajamas."
But first, adopting the liberal talking points that McCain might die soon, the ABC host wondered, "...Senator Claire McCaskill said recently that she felt that it was a dangerous decision to pick Governor Palin, because of Senator McCain's age and because of his health. Do you agree?" After Clinton declined to support McCaskill's contention, Sawyer prompted, "So, you're not going to endorse what she said?"
The interview, which took place in New York as part of what GMA has dubbed the "Whistle-Stop Tour '08," also including the ABC journalist fretting about the tight presidential race. She worried, "A lot of people are saying, with this kind of economic news, this situation, Senator Obama and the Democrats should be further ahead. Why is it so close?"
On day one of "Good Morning America's" five day train trip across America, host Diane Sawyer announced a slate of guests filled almost entirely of liberals. At the top of Monday's program, Sawyer touted a schedule that included Barack Obama on the 15th, Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, John and Cindy McCain together on Wednesday, Joe Biden on Thursday and Michelle Obama on Friday. For those keeping track, that's four liberal guests and one conservative duo. (Notice that Barack and Michelle Obama each get their own day, while the McCains appear jointly.)
The journey on the rails, which GMA has dubbed the "Whistle-Stop Tour '08," began in several towns in Massachusetts. Three segments revolved around Sawyer and fellow co-hosts Chris Cuomo and Robin Roberts talking with either residents or patrons of various restaurants. And while many of the Americans highlighted expressed concerns that no one would disagree, the ABC program also included a number of liberal perspectives and only one that could be called vaguely conservative. (Massachusetts resident Richard Bonito mentioned security and the need for a strong defense.) Resident Frank Algerio called for a "cap" on high gas prices. One Nicky Vaughn hoped the next president would pull troops from Iraq. No anchor or host pointed out the extremely left-wing make-up of the state either.
On Monday, "Good Morning America" kicked off a week-long train tour Across America with a fawning look at the younger generation of the Kennedy family, a clan that reporter Claire Shipman gushed is "the closest thing we have in this country to political royalty."
The train journey, which is intended to see what Americans across the country really think about the upcoming presidential election, began in Massachusetts and featured Shipman rhapsodizing, "Baby boomers grew up watching them play football, sail off Hyannis Port, walk down the aisles swathed in glamour." (Of course, no mention was made of any of the various Kennedy family scandals.) Much of the segment featured the ABC journalist talking to fourth generation Kennedys. Over video of old footage of John F. Kennedy playing football off of Cape Cod, Shipman cooed to high school student Kerry Kennedy, "But one thing hasn't changed at all, games on the Cape just as cut throat as ever. Are there still big, gigantic get-togethers like that and is it still football?"
Just over two months ago, on June 5, Shipman filed another story in which she rhapsodized about the similarities between Robert F. Kennedy and Senator Barack Obama. After mentioning RFK's 1968 assassination, she indicated that an Obama election could be something similar to a "happy ending" for liberals: "The search to shift that mantle, futile of course. But also a quintessentially American desire for, if not a happy ending, some sense of completion."
"I’ve gotten the scary feeling, for the first time in my life, that dimwittedness is not just on the march in the U.S., but that it might actually prevail." -- Bob Herbert, NYT, 9-13-08
Bob Herbert's item in today's New York Times, She's Not Ready, is not so much political analysis as a howl of MSM shock and outrage. No-o-o-o-o!, Herbert seems to cry. I can't believe this is happening to us! Meanwhile, with condescension worthy of his ABC stablemate Charlie Gibson, certified Obama fan David Wright suggests that Palin has been in need of a "chaperone" on the campaign trail.
Annotated excerpts from Herbert's "She's Not Ready':
How is it that so much of the mainstream media has dropped all pretense of seriousness to hop aboard the bandwagon and go along for the giddy ride?
The MSM has hopped aboard the Palin bandwagon? PDS has obviously affected Herbert's faculties.
ABC senior foreign correspondent Jim Sciutto appeared on Friday's "Good Morning America" to complain that places such as Abu Ghraib and the Guantanamo Bay detention center are fueling Muslim anger in the Middle East against the U.S. Sciutto, who was promoting his new book on America's enemies in that region, responded to co-host Robin Robert's question about what was causing such Islamic fury by opining, "It's a combination of things. The first one is a sense that their culture, their religion, their land is under assault, by America and that the most pointed examples of that are the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions."
On Friday, "Good Morning America" previewed five special editions of the ABC program that will air live from a train from September 15 through the 19. As the GMA anchors and reporters travel around America, will their election '08 questions follow the standard liberal perspective?
Robin Roberts previewed the type of queries that she asserted everyday Americans are concerned about. Three out of the four appeared to take the Democratic perspective or assume that the answers would always involve government doing more. In video clips, an unidentified male asked, "What do you plan on doing to make health care more affordable for the average American?" A child followed up by querying, "I'm wondering if you will lower the cost of college?" The next question saw a woman wanting to know, "When are you going to get our soldiers out of Iraq?"
ABC's "Good Morning America" exposed many problems with Medicare's hotline number 1-800-MEDICARE September 11, including telephone operators "who couldn't answer the [questions],""gave out the wrong information" or were completely unreachable.
The onscreen caption for the ABC report read "Investigation Exposes Health Care Mess." The morning broadcast didn't disappoint, pointing to a Senate committee investigation that had staffers call the Medicare hotline more than 500 times.
Co-host Chris Cuomo teased to introduce Yunji de Nies' report:
Many seniors looking for answers to their questions often turn to help lines that can be anything but helpful.
Even though "Good Morning America" seems to have taken a recent interest in the glaring problems at the government-backed program, experts have been making the point for years.
On Thursday's "Good Morning America," reporter John Berman raised the issue of whether Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was politicizing her son's military service. Observing that Governor Palin will be giving a speech on September 11 at a deployment ceremony to send her son off to Iraq, Berman critiqued, "And it [the speech]will be open to television cameras. It's such a drastic difference from the way her own running mate John McCain handled his own son's deployment."
A few seconds later, Berman again referenced the deviations between McCain's son Jimmy, also in the military, and Palin's child. "Jimmy's six-month deployment came and went with hardly any public notice. Why? Because John McCain never mentioned it on the stump." He added, "That stands in stark contrast to what Governor Sarah Palin told more than 40 million viewers about her son during the Republican convention last week."
Berman continued to make his point clear by citing John Nagl, a senior fellow at the Center for New America Security. He asserted that the Alaska governor's frequent references to her son's deployment date "impose, conceivably, some risks on the soldier and the unit." The ABC journalist went on to draw contrasts between Beau Biden, son of Democratic vice presidential candidate, and the Palins. (The younger Biden is also being sent to Iraq in the fall.)
"Good Morning America" weekend anchor Kate Snow on Thursday derided the McCain/Palin ticket for focusing on a comment by Barack Obama that "you can put lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig." Sympathetically covering the Illinois senator's contention that he wasn't referring to Sarah Palin and her claims to be a lipstick-wearing hockey mom, Snow whined that the topic was "illogical" and editorialized that the coverage is "reaching ridiculous heights."
The ABC correspondent, who glowingly covered Hillary Clinton during the primaries, didn't seem to have much patience for a McCain campaign ad that drew a connection between Obama's remark and Palin's lipstick/pit bull line at the Republican convention. Snow dismissively announced that "voters" say "there's a frustration about how this race has been bogged down in less-serious issues."
On CNN's American Morning today, White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux reported on Barack Obama's campaigning in Virginia. Afterwards, anchor Kiran Chetry had a question:
CHETRY: All right. And Suzanne, what's on tap for the campaign today? And please tell me it's not lipstick again.
MALVEAUX: Let's hope not. He's going to be in Norfolk, Virginia. That is in southeast Virginia, and it's home to the world's largest Naval base. It's one of the most competitive areas that the Democrats and Republicans are fighting over. It's a critical piece of property, piece of land there with folks in Virginia, and they want those voters.
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."