When This Week assembled a round-table of four liberals versus one conservative yesterday, I kvetched. Maybe I should have cheered. ABC's idea of balance looks good compared to that of CBS. This morning's Early Show preview of the Bush admin's plan, to be announced later today, to regulate the financial industry was essentially conservative-free. OK, to be absolutely accurate, there was a brief clip of Treasury Secretary Paulson saying the plan would protect the Fed's balance sheet and US taxpayers.
But in her set-up piece, CBS's Kimberly Dozier emphasized the negative: "critics say it's win-win for banks, not the consumer. Less regulation, but no new legal limits to stop questionable lending practices or to stop the shell-game financial structures that led to the current mortgage debacle." The only expert she aired was University of Maryland economist Peter Morici who griped that under the plan: "[banks] can still engage in sharp practices that got them in trouble. There's no reason to believe that this regulatory format will keep the kind of crisis we just had from happening again. Nor will it get us out of this recession."
Co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez took the baton from there. She first interviewed Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), who claimed Congress had already given the Fed "massive" regulatory authority. Dodd predictably blamed the current situation on "a failure of leadership." Then it was on to Rodriguez's in-studio chat with CBS News biz correspondent Anthony Mason who--surprise!-- was also a critic of the plan.
"Good Morning America's" liberal meteorologist Sam Champion continued his crusade of turning the weather report into an environmental lecture on Friday. Champion, the man who once hosted a segment that warned "billions" could die from global warming, devoted over eight minutes of the program to climate change. Reporting live from Colorado, he promoted the Aspen Institute's conference on the environment.
Champion interviewed the executive vice president for the think tank, Elliot Gerson. (The Aspen Institute hosts seminars on various subjects, including environmental and economic.) And while Gerson promised a "diversity of opinions" at the conference, no such diversity appeared on "Good Morning America." Champion touted the conference throughout the show's entire two hours, but never once featured anyone skeptical of global warming's dire effects.
"How much of a surprise is it that they can actually get inside the embassy? How fortified is that?" -- Diane Sawyer, 3-27-08, commenting on reports mortars and rockets had fallen inside Green Zone.
Someone get Diane Sawyer a crash course in indirect fire. Discussing this morning the recent flurry of rocket and mortar attacks landing inside the Green Zone in Baghdad, Sawyer supposed that the insurgents had somehow breached the perimeter themselves and fired from inside the US embassy compound!
"Good Morning America" co-host Chris Cuomo offered "practical" advice on how a man, who used to be a woman and is now pregnant, could safely bring a pregnancy to term. After recounting the story of Thomas Beatie, formally Tracy LaGondino, the medical procedures he's undergone and his artificial insemination, Cuomo segued into an interview with obstetrician Lisa Masterson.
The GMA co-host asked, "All right, so, let's go from the bizarre to the practical here." In a story that could be filed under "news you can't use," Cuomo asked about the risks that hormone therapy could pose to such an individual. This "practical" discussion led to medical warnings unusual for morning television:
LISA MASTERSON: Well, a lot of times, the transgenders will take testosterone injections and especially since Thomas has a female baby right now, that can cause male type characteristics in the female fetus' sexual organs. So, the clitoris can get larger. Actually, the vaginal folds can come in and sort of mimic the scrotum or the male genitalia. So, it's really important that he doesn't take any testosterone, especially early on in the pregnancy, but even later on in the pregnancy when it can cause the clitoris to enlarge.
Time to lace up the skates and cut some rhetorical figure-eights. GMA has quoted a Dem official as saying that in her desperate quest for the nomination, Hillary Clinton is down to "the Tonya Harding option." ABC senior political correspondent Jake Tapper cited the skating simile in his Good Morning America segment this morning.
JAKE TAPPER: It is mathematically possible, improbable yes, but possible for Senator Hillary Clinton to win the Democratic nomination. What concerns Democratic officials in Washington is what Clinton will have to do to Senator Barack Obama in order for that to happen. One Democratic official told ABC News it is “the Tonya Harding option.”
Cut to clip of Harding, skating at the 1994 Olympics, as Tapper continued.
In all the brouhaha last week over the incendiary comments made by Barack Obama's pastor the media seemed to forget to partake in their traditional Holy Week Christian-bashing excercise. There were a few entries in the "Easter Hit Parade," like the Comedy Central show "Root of All Evil" which my boss, Brent Bozell, wrote about in a column recently, and an episode of "Law and Order" which featured another Christian-stones-someone storyline.
I suppose it's good news that there was less faith flagellation courtesy of the liberal media, and yet at the same time it's sad that I was expecting to find it at Easter time. But the fact remains that Christmas and Easter are generally times when the media attacks on Christians are more pronounced.
One week after Hillary Clinton claimed that she faced sniper fire on a trip to Bosnia — and six days after NewsBusters posted contemporaneous news footage from CBS showing that she did not — the big broadcast networks have finally jumped on the story of Hillary’s big fib. Last night, as NewsBuster’s Noel Sheppard has already noted, the CBS Evening News featured a Clinton-busting report by Sharyl Attkisson, one of the journalists who accompanied Clinton on her trip 12 years ago and who narrated the video we posted last week.
Also last night, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, who was also on the 1996 trip, filed her own report on the obvious discrepancies, and this morning all three morning shows led with how the Clinton campaign now admits her claim, “I remember landing under sniper fire...There was no greeting ceremony and we basically were told to run to her cars. Now, that is what happened,” was an accidental misstatement.
The Big Three Networks and Their Plan to Protect Obama (PPO)Why did it take until Thursday March 13, 2008, for the nation to begin to learn about Barack Obama's pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright? The man whose Trinity United Church of Christ Obama has attended and generously funded for seventeen years? Whom he had publicly and repeatedly cited as his mentor and had named as a campaign advisor? Whom he chose to perform his wedding and baptize his two daughters?
Because, until then, we were in the midst of Phase I -- preventative medicine -- of the media's version of campaign health care for the Senator's Presidential bid. Call it the Plan to Protect Obama (PPO).
The Reverend Wright story had been percolating beneath the surface for several years. It finally broke through to widespread dissemination last week. A picture is worth a thousand words -- moving pictures with audio of Wright's anti-American, paranoid rantings from the pulpit have finally inspired many more than that.
"Good Morning America" co-host Chris Cuomo somehow managed to make it through an entire segment on Kwame Kilpatrick, the scandal-ridden Democratic mayor of Detroit, without mentioning his political affiliation (other than a brief, non-verbal video graphic). Cuomo described Kilpatrick as the "beleaguered mayor," a "prominent politician," and, simply, "the mayor."
In contrast, while GMA's report on Kilpatrick was a rather straight forward recitation of the facts, the morning program wondered in August of 2007 if Senator Larry Craig's bathroom scandal could spell doom for the Republican Party. On August 28, 2007, guest co-host Bill Weir gravely wondered, "Is the GOP losing its grip?"
On Wednesday's "Good Morning America," various hosts and reporters could barely restrain their glee and admiration for Senator Barack Obama's Tuesday speech about race and the incendiary comments of his pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Co-host Robin Roberts hyperbolically claimed that "some" believe "his speech was not only important for his campaign but also for the future of the country." In a tease for the program, she put the onus on America and asserted, "Barack Obama challenges voters and the country..."
Fellow co-host Chris Cuomo set up an "exclusive" interview with the presidential candidate by labeling the speech "historic." "Nightline" co-host Terry Moran, who talked to Obama, prefaced his segment by bubbling, "Well, as you know, one of the hardest things to do in American politics, in American society, is to talk honestly about race. And it's clear that's what Barack Obama was trying to do in that remarkable speech."
"Good Morning America" economic reporter Bianna Golodryga narrated a segment on Tuesday's show that featured grainy black and white footage from the 1930s and two references to the Great Depression. The ABC journalist also featured clips from Democratic presidential contenders Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to amplify the warnings of impending economic doom.
While discussing the collapse of investment bank Bear Stearns, grainy footage of panicked '30s bankers appeared onscreen as Golodryga intoned, "The problems are so massive that the Fed is taking measures not seen since the Great Depression..." And while President Bush was briefly highlighted, assuring Americans that the United States will rebound, Paul McCulley, the managing director of the investment company Pimco, continued the comparison to the worst economic crisis the United States ever faced. Referencing impending action by the Federal Reserve, he asserted, "...You could have the Fed with great intentions but still a downward spiral in property prices that would give you a modern day depression." For comparison's sake, during the Great Depression, almost 25 percent of Americans were unemployed.
While investigating legal brothels in Nevada, including the famous Moonlite Bunny Ranch, "Good Morning America" host Diane Sawyer received a bathrobe, the same one that the prostitutes wear. It was embroidered, "Diane: Trainee," this according to a report in Monday's New York Daily News.
Sawyer will host a two hour "20/20" special onMarch 21 that examines the world of prostitution. The Daily News quoted Bunny Ranch head Dennis Hof, who gave Sawyer the bathrobe, as saying the GMA host "really hit it off with all my girls." The article went on to note that the project languished for two years before finally being scheduled to air. Apparently, disgraced ex-Governor Elliot Spitzer's call girl controversy prompted ABC to finally broadcast this investigation.
Could this photo be a first? It shows a card-carrying member of the MSM shooting a handgun. That's Jan Crawford Greenburg, an ABC News legal correspondent. The clip, pun intended, of Greenburg on the firing range was part of a segment she narrated on today's Good Morning America on a case to be argued before the Supreme Court today. At issue is the District of Columbia's law banning handguns. The case comes before the Supreme Court after the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. invalidated the law. The decision could be a landmark, potentially the first time the Supreme Court rules squarely on the issue of whether the Second Amendment establishes an individual right to bear arms.
The segment was surprisingly respectful of the right to bear arms. Beyond Greenburg's personal marksmanship demonstration, the segment began with a sympathetic depiction of the plight of Shelly Parker, the DC resident who started the case by suing the city over its gun ban.
"Good Morning America" co-host Robin Roberts interviewed Bill Clinton for nine minutes over two segments on Monday and somehow managed to avoid discussing the disgraced Eliot Spitzer and controversial Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Instead, GMA again featured another positive look at the Clinton Global initiative and its plan to fight poverty and get young people involved. Roberts gushed, "It's got to warm your heart 'cause this is something that's very-- has always been very dear to you about getting them involved."
Roberts found no time to ask the ex-president, who was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice in relation to a sex scandal, for his thoughts on former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's entanglement with a prostitution ring and his eventual resignation. The segment, which was highly edited, featured the ABC journalist making only a glancing reference to Wright, Senator Barack Obama's incendiary former preacher and the man responsible for racially charged statements. She mildly added, "...Geraldine Ferraro, Reverend Wright. I mean, both sides-- things that are being said by surrogates." Roberts then shifted the conversation back to a much older topic, Clinton's South Carolina comments linking Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama.
David Petraeus was diplomatic in his language and careful to honor the primacy of civilian authority over the military. But the commanding general of multi-lateral forces in Iraq has left little doubt that if a new president wanted to withdraw from Iraq faster than would reflect Petraeus's considered military opinion, his family would be happy to have him home.
ABC's Bill Weir interviewed the Gen. Petraeus as part of a Good Morning America special today marking the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq. The opening segment focused almost exclusively on the costs of the war. Some producer had apparently calculated that the war has cost 19 times the annual budget of Los Angeles. Who knew? But a subsequent segment did highlight some of the progress that has been made, notably in terms of former insurgents now come over to the multi-lateral side. Then came the Petraeus interview, which ended with this exchange.
BILL WEIR: You serve at the pleasure of the president. If our new president, a year from now, says general, I want out of here in a year. What do you say? Is that even feasible?
My colleague Brent Baker has painstakingly documented how the big three broadcast networks have gone out of their way to avoid labeling scandal-scarred New York Governor Eliot Spitzer as a “Democrat.” An examination of the fifteen ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news shows through Wednesday night finds Spitzer was called a Democrat just 20% of the time — twice on CBS, once on ABC, and never on NBC.
So how do the networks treat Republicans involved in sex scandals? Always, always as Republicans, and as problems for their party.
Last July, Louisiana Senator David Vitter’s name surfaced in the phone records of the “DC Madam,” Deborah Jean Palfrey. Over the next week, ABC talked about Vitter twice on World News and twice on Good Morning America, labeling him as a “Republican” or “conservative Republican” all four times.
At the end of a Good Morning America segment today about Barack Obama's pastor, the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., an Obama campaign representative complained that John McCain's pastor had not been similarly "vetted." If that's true, then ABC or some other media outlet surely should and will do so.
Let's imagine that upon vetting, McCain's pastor is found to have made statements that were the mirror-image of those that Rev. Wright has made. How long would McCain remain a viable candidate? Judge for yourself, based on Rev. Wright's statements as exposed in the GMA segment that was the result of work by ABC's chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross. GMA aired a number of clips from sermons Rev. Wright gave at his Trinity United Church of Christ.
JEREMIAH WRIGHT: "The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law, and then wants us to sing God Bless America? No, no, no! Not God bless America. God damn America! It's in the Bible, for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating its citizens as less than human!"
In a striking resemblance to a pair of recent "Saturday Night Live" skits, the March 12 edition of "Good Morning America" began with a fawning interview of Barack Obama, then grilled Hillary Clinton supporter Geraldine Ferraro.
Co-host Chris Cuomo first congratulated Obama for his Mississippi victory, then questioned if it "seals the deal." Cuomo added he is "sure you’re [Obama] gaining the confidence that you have a very good change of winning the ticket." Cuomo then pressed for an Obama/Clinton or Clinton/Obama ticket then asked Obama for a reaction to Geraldine Ferraro’s allegedly racially charged comments. To conclude the interview, inquired into Obama’s familial for the next six weeks leading to Pennsylvania.
"You have six weeks now before Pennsylvania. You have some time to see your wife, see your kids, play a little ball. You going to take it to the hoop? You going to pretend that you're Michael Jordan trying to take it into the basket a little bit?"
Immediately following the interview, co-host Diane Sawyer spoke with Ferraro herself on her controversial statement that "if Obama was a white mane, he would not be in this position." The tone and the questions were noticeably tougher. Sawyer challenged Ferraro’s assertion that she is not directly involved with the Clinton campaign. Sawyer also noted Obama’s popular vote totals and the 11 senators that support him, asking if they’re just caught up in "the concept." In the end, Sawyer asked if Ferraro is "sorry" for her statement.
Democrats dialing for damsels don't get labeled with the big "D"
Changing His MindRonald Reagan often said "I did not leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me."
For floundering and foundering New York Governor Eliot Spitzer -- a twist on the Gipper's words. Spitzer didn't leave the Democratic Party: the Media just didn't see the need to mention the fact that Spitzer was - at least until noon Wednesday -- one of the most powerful Democrats in the nation.
On Monday afternoon, the Big Three Networks (NBC, ABC and CBS) and the Associated Press led the charge of the wall-to-wall coverage of the breaking news that Spitzer was involved with an interstate prostitution ring. And with near unanimity they failed to mention that Spitzer is a Democrat.
Spitzer - who since his years as the Big Apple's swashbuckling anti-capitalist Attorney General the Press has glowingly called the Champion of the Everyman -- was caught on one or more wiretaps dialing for damsels to the tune of $5,500 an hour.
Only the press can fail to see the irony of calling someone who inherited $500 million - and who hires ladies of the evening at hourly rates equal to a semester's tuition at a state university - a champion of the everyman.
By now, most people have seen or heard about Hillary Clinton’s 3:00 AM ad implying that the world would be safer if she rather than her opponent Barack Obama was to answer an emergency phone call to the White House in the dead of night.
In a truly delicious twist of fate, the young girl pictured in the ad is now an active Barack Obama supporter.
On Sunday, ABC’s “Good Morning America” team interviewed Casey Knowles, who depicted the ad as “fear-mongering” and a “cheap hit to take”:
Ads like Hillary's "it's 3 AM" work--and that's a problem. At least in the view of David Wright it is. As I described here, the ABC reporter doesn't work particularly hard to keep his Obama light under a basket.
Wright-the-ABC-Obamacan was back at it today. GMA ran a segment featuring Casey Knowles, whose image as an eight-year old was used in Hillary's ad. Knowles has since grown up to be an active, 17-year old Obama supporter. To set up the interview with Knowles by Bill Weir and Juju Chang, Wright narrated a segment about the ad itself.
Wright spoke as a brief clip of the ad played in the background.
While members of the media are often pleased when Republicans fight amongst themselves, it's apparently not so fun to see Democrats do the same thing. On Friday's "Good Morning America," George Stephanopoulos appeared and pleaded for calm in the increasingly contentious battle between Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The ABC journalist and former top aide to Bill Clinton proclaimed, "Well, the bottom line is that it's time for a time-out."
Later in the piece, as though refereeing a fight, he declared, "I think there's going to have to be a pulling back from this kind of rhetoric." Co-host Robin Roberts shared that assessment. Earlier, she lamented, "You're just watching this and you're shaking your head a little bit...I mean, it just seems like it's getting a little bit out of hand."
A couple at the "cross roads" of a "complicated" love story. That's how Diane Sawyer set up the feature on a transgendered Microsoft executive, his/her wife, and their son in the 8:00 half-hour on "Good Morning America."
The socially progressive bent of GMA was evident in the lack of context or perspective given to the family's story. No consideration was given to the glaring social issues raised. It was reported as just another human-interest story.
The five-minute feature, reported by Neal Karlinsky, explained the conflict Michael Wallent had with his identification as a male, his decision to become a female and the ramifications of that decision in his workplace and at home.
"Good Morning America" correspondent Chris Connelly talked with horror novelist, turned religious fiction writer, Anne Rice on Thursday about how friends reacted to her becoming a "Jesus freak." Though the interview was a friendly one, Connelly did ask, in a jovial tone, what it was like when friends said, "'Oh, my gosh. She's out of her mind. Oh, no. Look, she's become a 'Jesus freak.'"
Now, he did attempt to distance himself from the phrase "Jesus freak" by using air quotes, but would any reporter employ a similar term when dealing with a member of another faith? Continuing the over-the-top "conversation" that Connelly assumed people had with her, he imagined, "'She's gone over to the bright side. Where is our empress of vampiric alienation?'"
"Good Morning America" co-host Diane Sawyer peppered guest James Carville about the possibility of a "dream solution," an Obama/Clinton or Clinton/Obama presidential ticket. The ABC journalist was so insistent on the subject that she posed the question to the Democratic strategist four times.
Without adding modifiers, such as "so-called or "alleged," Sawyer began the discussion of the two Democratic candidates coming together by cheerfully wondering, "Let me go to the other dream solution." It seems unlikely that members of the media would refer to a McCain/Romney or a McCain/Huckabee (the top GOP vote-getters) as a "dream solution." The GMA host then segued into a question that she would repeat over and over: "Knowing Hillary Clinton, as you know Hillary Clinton, will she ever run for vice president with anyone?" Sawyer insistently followed up by asking, "You think she would do it and you would recommend her to do it?"
Sorely DispleasedIt seems it all depends on who is doing the asking.
ABC News spent a good portion of last week's morning programming in deep prostration and self-analysis in response to criticism that their journalistic presentation suffered from partiality.
Could it be? Had we at the Media Research Center (MRC) -- after twenty-one years of protracted press analysis and serial and sober exposition of liberal bias in all manner of broadcast and print reporting -- finally saturated the consciousness of a member of the Network Big Three?
Despite the fact that John McCain officially clinched the GOP nomination on Tuesday, the three network morning shows on Wednesday devoted almost a full hour of air time to covering the Democratic presidential race and barely nine minutes for the Republicans. Additionally, the Arizona senator did not appear on NBC's "Today" show, ABC's "Good Morning America" or the CBS "Early Show." Democratic Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, however, showed up on all three programs.
The network morning shows featured the Democratic presidential candidates for a grand total of 59 minutes and 12 seconds. McCain and his remaining rival, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, received a mere nine minutes and ten seconds of coverage. Now, obviously, the Democratic race is a close, hard fought contest. So, it's natural that it would receive more attention. However, McCain's very act of winning the nomination should be a well covered event, especially considering the candidate's remarkable rise from the political dead. The networks, apparently, saw it a different way.
Barack Obama had a rough night in Texas and Ohio, and some are even taking a contentious press conference he recently endured as a sign the MSM might be turning on him. But the junior senator from Illinois can still count on one MSMer in his corner: Robin Roberts. A few weeks ago, as I noted here, the GMA co-anchor conducted a softball session for the ages with Obama.
Today, Hillary Clinton made the rounds of all the morning network news shows. The toughest questioning by far came from Roberts, in this exchange.
ROBIN ROBERTS: What do you think the negative ad factor, how did that help you in this race? Because leading up, you did have some negative attack ads, and can we expect to see more of that in the days and weeks ahead?
Has the Clinton campaign been caught engaging in ethnic stereotyping of Latinos? Jake Tapper suggests it has. ABC News' Senior National Correspondent reported from Texas this morning. After airing footage of Hillary on the stump reminiscing about her days in Texas back in 1972 working on the McGovern campaign, Tapper continued.
JAKE TAPPER: That experience may the reason why Clinton's campaign asks supporters in Spanish-language TV ads to show up at tonight's caucuses 15 minutes earlier than it asks supporters in English ads, suggesting to some Hispanic political observers that the Clinton campaign thinks Latinos might be a little tardy.
"Good Morning America" co-host Chris Cuomo joked on Monday's show that Britain's Prince Harry "has been over in Afghanistan fighting because he's expendable." Fellow host Robin Roberts appeared somewhat shocked by the comment and sputtered, "What did you say?" Cuomo, who was previewing an ABC special on the royals, didn't back off his assertion and reiterated, "It's true. The reason that Harry is allowed to be in Afghanistan is because he's not the heir to the throne. William's not allowed to be there."
While Harry may not be next in line to be king, it's in very poor taste for a professional journalist to make such a snide remark. After all, Prince Harry went to Afghanistan to bravely serve his country, not because he's "expendable." And perhaps it should be pointed out that it was Chris Cuomo's brother, Andrew, who entered politics and carried on the legacy of father and former New York Governor Mario Cuomo. Is Chris Cuomo's career in journalism, by extension, a reflection of the fact that he's "expendable?"