On Wednesday’s "Good Morning America," anchor Chris Cuomo completely glossed over the health care implications of a Canadian mother giving birth to quadruplets in America and not her home country. According to Cuomo, Karen Jepp and her husband, the new parents of identical quadruplets, had to be flown 300 miles from Calgary to Montana on August 16, because "every neo-natal unit in their country was too crowded to handle four preemie births."
Apparently, it didn’t occur to Mr. Cuomo to wonder why all the hospitals in Canada, a nation with universal health care, were full. During a subsequent interview with Jepp and her husband J.P., the co-host continued with this unquestioning explanation. He elaborated, "...Towards the very end, it gets even more complicated....You know, they're not ready for them at the hospital. Your doctors have to make calls. You have to fly 300 miles to have [the children]." Considering that back in June, "Good Morning America" co-anchor Diane Sawyer announced "a commitment to take a hard look at the health insurance industry," it seems odd that unusual circumstances, which forced a very pregnant mother to fly to another country and give birth, would be of such little interest to Mr. Cuomo.
On Monday, "Good Morning America" reporter John Berman ignored any role that journalists might have in the developing scandal of anonymous individuals altering Wikipedia entries. On the ABC program, Berman alerted viewers to the fact that companies such as Wal-Mart and Starbucks have changed sections in their Wikipedia bios. However, he skipped the recent revelation that both the BBC and New York Times have been linked to derogatory, childish alterations in President Bush’s entry. (CNN covered the story on August 16.)
Berman began the segment by asking viewers how they would feel if they knew "the entry on Wal-Mart was edited by someone inside Wal-Mart? The Starbucks entry? By someone inside Starbucks." He also noted that the CIA has changed its section. However, the ABC reporter failed to explain that a new computer program, which can determine who alters Wikipedia information, traced the culprit behind the addition of the words "jerk, jerk, jerk" to President Bush’s Wikipedia profile. The source? A New York Times computer. There was also no discussion of a similar incident involving the insertion of the word "wanker" to Bush’s entry from a BBC computer.
Of the three morning shows, only ABC’s "Good Morning America" has reported the comment by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama that part of the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan is made up of "air-raiding villages and killing civilians." Both CBS’s "Early Show" and "Today" on NBC have ignored the August 14 comment. On Friday’s GMA, however, reporter David Wright filed a report on the statement and wondered if Obama is ready to be president. An ABC graphic pointedly asked, "Obama’s Foot in Mouth Disease? Too Inexperienced For Campaign?"
After playing a brief clip of the Illinois senator’s comment, which he made during a speech in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Wright mentioned previous impolitic statements by Obama, such as threatening to invade Pakistan. The ABC journalist noted that Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, raised the issue of civilian casualties with President Bush. He asserted, "...Presumably, Hamid Karzai used language that was more diplomatic, more presidential."
“But fundamentally it comes down to where you’re having the toys made. They’re being made in China, you don’t have oversight, there’s tremendous pressure for them to cut corners and keep costs down, because that’s how you make money. So allow me to ask you sir, how much money are you saving having these toys made in China?”
"Good Morning America" asked "What is going on?" with the stock market on August 16. Anchor Chris Cuomo asked Bianna Golodryga if the market drop is a correction or a recession.
"There seem to be two schools of thought here, those involved in all this sophisticated mortgage lending are saying this is the beginning of the end. But stock analysts are saying it is just a correction. Where are people's heads down there today?" said Cuomo
An on-screen graphic read, "Very Nervy Wall Street Correction Or Recession?"
According to ABC’s John Berman, one reason that crooks in Texas have been bilking hospitals out of money is because they’re "fed up" with the health care system. During a segment on Wednesday’s "Good Morning America," the correspondent filed a report on successful, financially stable individuals who pretend to be poor in order to avoid paying their health insurance related hospital fees. Berman couldn’t help but give their actions a political motive:
John Berman: "As egregious as this sounds, it may be another example of how fed up people are with the health care system. One survey found one in ten people believe it's okay to submit false claims or collect when you don't deserve it."
“Crashing” stock market? “Legalized gambling”? ABC’s “Good Morning America” berated the stock market for trampling on a supposed individual right to a mortgage.
Chris Cuomo’s August 13 story on a couple who had their mortgage pulled due the recent “drama on Wall Street” started like this:
“To a certain extent the stock market has always been a form of legalized gambling, where Wall Street tries to cash in on bets made on the right companies. But for many financial institutions, the chips were the mortgages of hard-working American families, in danger of losing their homes, or now never getting a chance to live the American dream.”
On Tuesday’s "Nightline," co-anchor Martin Bashir filed a report on businessman Tom Monaghan, founder of a Catholic university in Florida and a community that will attempt to embrace traditional Christian values. Bashir regurgitated a two-year-old criticism that the town has "been described as a Catholic Jonestown, a kind of Catholic Iran, where individual rights and liberties are curtailed."
The various network news shows have come to this shocking conclusion: It’s summer and it’s hot. Could global warming be to blame? Ann Curry, guest anchoring NBC’s "Nightly News" on Tuesday, speculated, "Record heat and drought in the United States and Europe. New fears tonight that it's all the result of global warming." Harry Smith, over on CBS’s "Early Show," had the same idea. The morning show anchor definitively asserted, "Before we do anything else, there is in fact, global climate change.
On Friday’s "Good Morning America," ABC host George Stephanopoulos raved about singer Melissa Etheridge’s hosting of Thursday’s Democratic debate on gay issues. He enthused, "Melissa Etheridge is the new Ted Koppel!" Stephanopoulos, a former top Clinton aide and now the host of "This Week," also framed the debate from a decidedly pro-gay rights angle:
George Stephanopoulos: "...This is remarkable that a forum like this is happening. It would never happen on the Republican side, at least not yet."
Would Stephanopoulos spin a GOP debate on defending the Second Amendment as something the Democrats wouldn’t be interested in, at least not yet?
On Thursday’s "Good Morning America," anchor Diane Sawyer gushed over new photos of 2008 Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards renewing his wedding vows with wife Elizabeth. Sawyer touted having "the very first pictures of a very personal backyard ceremony."
Reporter David Muir also found the pictures to be "incredibly personal," despite the fact that the Edwards campaign provided them to both People magazine and ABC News. And, of course, Sawyer couldn’t resist mentioning the story, highly touted in the media, that the couple spends their wedding anniversaries at Wendy’s. The GMA host enthused, "And we should say, however, they did also have their ritual anniversary Wendy's burger." This observation came only nine days after the last story on the Edwards’s trip to Wendy’s:
CBS, the Rathergate network, offered up another misleading report. The August 8 edition of "The Early Show,"at 7:09 AM, edited a Hillary Clinton quote from the August 7 AFL-CIO debate to portray her as a populist.
JOIE CHEN: Front-runner Clinton also came up against sharp elbows with rivals accusing her of cozying up to big-money lobbyists. Before thousands of union members, the New York Senator sought to portray herself as champion of the little guy.
CLINTON: So if you want a winner who knows how to take them on, I'm your girl.
What she actually said was in the context of her preference in attacking the Republicans. The full quote is much more divisive than portraying herself "as champion of the little guy."
On Tuesday’s "Good Morning America," reporter Jake Tapper used the story that Rudy Giuliani’s daughter had joined a pro-Barack Obama Facebook group as a segue to recount the travails of other presidential children. Somehow, his list of wayward youths included only the offspring of famous Republican politicians, while ignoring Democratic embarrassments, such as the recent drug arrest of Al Gore III.
Additionally, GMA anchor Diane Sawyer closed the segment by discussing parent/child relationships with guest host George Stephanopoulos. Sawyer mentioned how she fought with her father, a Republican judge, over politics:
Diane Sawyer: "...I remember what a hard time I gave my father about politics."
Diane Sawyer kicked "Good Morning America" off this morning with economic worries about Wall Street, the "credit crunch" and "record" foreclosures.
“We do begin with the week on Wall Street, where the Dow took another huge hit, plunging 280 points in just two hours. The cause of the worst credit crunch in almost quarter a century and you’ve seen it in the neighborhoods – a record number of foreclosures,” said Sawyer.
But according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBAA), foreclosures are not at a record when viewed by percentage. GMA’s one-sided talk of a “record number of foreclosures” misled viewers. Foreclosures are up compared to 2006, but so are the number of home loans.
On Monday’s "Good Morning America," guest host George Stephanopoulos pressed 2008 Republican candidate Mitt Romney over whether he will "do more to address" the issue of his Mormon faith.
This is the same ABC program that has repeatedly raised questions about whether the former Massachusetts governor’s religion could damage his ‘08 chances. In June, reporter Dan Harris speculated on how "uncomfortable questions" about Mormonism could harm the campaign.
In contrast, GMA gushed over a CNN sponsored event in June where Democratic candidates discussed their faith. An onscreen graphic wondered, "Are evangelicals embracing Democrats? New party of God?" For that segment, co-host Robin Roberts marveled, "...Senator Obama out on the campaign trail has, has freely talked about his faith." She also played an extended clip of Hillary Clinton discussing the important role faith played in her life.
Larry King, best known recently for his scintillating interviews with thinkers such as Paris Hilton, proved that he can still ask tough questions, to conservatives that is. In an interview with Vice President Cheney about Guantanamo, he wondered, "You have to torture them when they’re there?" Former VP Al Gore, on the other hand, received puff questions about Madonna and penguins.
Speaking of media coddling, "Good Morning America" anchors Diane Sawyer and Robin Roberts appeared to be infatuated with the story that 2008 Democratic candidate John Edwards and his wife Elizabeth spend their wedding anniversaries at Wendy’s. Roberts even promoted the former senator by referring to him as "Presidential nominee" John Edwards.
Our TV network media personalities really want you to believe they can relate to the average American. After all, when you’re a high-minded soldier fighting on the side of the proletariat, it’s important to be a victim of the economic injustices you bring to light, right?
Not so fast. It turns out some of the most prominent journalists are doing quite well, according to the July 26 TV Guide. Early this year, a Business & Media Institute report exposed the “income inequality” talking points of the news media. Some journalists continue to attack the wealthy and complain about the downtrodden “middle-class” despite their own $3, $8 and $15 million salaries.
“NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams has been highly critical of CEO compensation, referencing “stratospheric sums some CEOs make” and complaining about “golden parachute[s].”
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.