All three broadcast morning shows this morning noted President Bush’s choice of Tony Snow as new White House press secretary, but only ABC’s Good Morning America saw the need to parrot from the thin list of anti-Bush quotes from Snow’s columns being passed around by the liberal Center for American Progress (although reporter Jessica Yellin presented the quotes as if they were the result of her own research, hiding the fact they came from Democratic partisans).
MRC news analyst Brian Boyd caught Yellin’s piece on Snow, which aired at about 7:05 EDT this morning (Wednesday), with the snarky headline "SNOW JOB" on the screen: “Snow knows both politics and the media. He was the director of speechwriting for George Bush, Sr., and has clocked a decade as a conservative commentator for Fox News,” Yellin began.
Snow has been a conservative commentator for Fox News, of course. But after Joe Lockhart became Bill Clinton’s White House press secretary in 1998, no one at ABC described him as a “former liberal producer for ABC News.”
Have a look at the two screen captures from this morning's shows. Same issue, different takes. Good Morning America is apparently sure that gas price gouging exists, and wants to stop it. 'Today' is agnostic, simply posing the question whether gouging is going on.
But when you turn to the substance of the two segments, there was one consistency: neither show adduced any evidence of gouging. Not a scintilla to show that oil companies are in fact colluding. And without collusion there can be no sustained gouging, since any company that pushed prices higher than market levels would immediately lose its sales to competitors.
Over at GMA, the guest was Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, for all the world looking like a politician wanting to give the appearance of doing something about a problem over which he in fact has little control.
Sawyer opened by raising the gouging issue: "You are targeting gouging, which is the guy at the pump, the middle guy. How is this going to help and how soon, specifically, the person paying $2.91 on average right now?"
A seemingly sympathetic Frist replied:"Diane, you're exactly right. This $2.91, over $3 in some areas right now, cannot be sustained by the person driving their kids to school or filling up their tractor with fuel."
On the heels of MSM outrage at the retirement package granted to Exxon/Mobil CEO Lee Raymond [see Brent Baker's report here], Good Morning America was back at the class-warfare ramparts this morning with a new target in its sights, Dr. William McGuire, head of UnitedHealth Group. As the result of share prices that have increased over 7,000 percent, stock options granted McGuire are currently worth in excess of $1 billion.
ABC reporter Dan Harris narrated the segment, and GMA set the tone with its title - "You Must be Kidding!" But there was no joking about the class-warfare on display in the opening lines: "The head of one of the nation's largest healthcare companies is sitting on more than a billion dollars in stock openings while Americans go uninsured."
Good Morning America will use even the smallest excuse to give Jane Fonda a microphone. This morning Fonda was invited on the program to talk about the newly released paperback version of her autobiography, "My Life So Far". The only change to this edition is a new preface and a DVD.
Last year when the hardcover edition of "My Life so Far" was released, Good Morning America invited Fonda on for an interview aired in two parts: April 5 and April 6, 2005. Below are transcriptions of the Vietnam War segments of the interviews from today and April 6, 2005.
April 17, 2006:
Charlie Gibson: "You have written, also extensively in the book, about Vietnam and that era. And you have called it, that picture on the anti-aircraft battery, you've called it an horrific lapse of judgment. You've said you'll go to your grave regretting it.
Hard-left anti-war reporter Seymour Hersh, who tried so hard in 2004 to get President Bush defeated with the Abu Ghraib scandal, and was given many media opportunities to make his case, had another great week in the media this week with his New Yorker article suggesting Bush wanted to drop bunker-busting nukes on Iranian nuclear sites. As usual, the article was larded with anonymous sources that no one can check or evaluate for political motives.
In interviews on network morning TV this week, no challenge to Hersh’s reporting genius emerged. Both hyped his Pulitzer (is that required before he accepts the invite?) On CBS Monday, MRC's Mike Rule found co-host Hannah Storm didn't challenge Hersh's methods or conclusions, just asking instead for wisdom from the oracle. Notice how many times she promotes him by saying "You say" and repeating his publicity points:
MRC's Brian Boyd found this morning that like NBC, ABC's Good Morning America also leaped on the chance to interview Rumsfeld-bashing Gen. John Batiste. Co-host Diane Sawyer said in the show's first secondsRevolt of the generals. As of this morning, six retired generals call for Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to resign. One of them, a top battlefield commander, joins us live."
At 7:12, Sawyer returned to "that drumbeat of calls for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to step down. Six prominent retired generals say it is time for a change of leadership at the Pentagon. And this morning joining us to tell us about the seismic rumble and also the reaction is ABC senior national correspondent Claire Shipman leading things off, Claire."
Shipman underlined: "Diane, this is extraordinarily unusual. Military officers almost always keep political opinions quiet. Now, six retired generals, 15 stars all together, aligned against Donald Rumsfeld and his prosecution of this war. Secretary Rumsfeld in the crosshairs and each day seems to bring reinforcements in this revolt of retired generals. Just last night retired Major General Charles Swannack, commander of the 82nd Airborne in Iraq, joined the calls for Rumsfeld's resignation. This week retired Marine Lieutenant General Gregory Newbold, who held a key position in war planning, suggested 'replacing Rumsfeld and many others unwilling to fundamentally change their approach.' And retired Army Major General John Batiste, who served in Iraq leading the Army's 1st Infantry Division in 2004 and 2005, also suggested Rumsfeld should resign. Last month another top officer who commanded the training of Iraqi security forces, retired Major General Paul Eaton, wrote 'Mr. Rumsfeld must step down.' Calling him 'incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically.'"
On the media beat Monday, New York Times reporter Lorne Manly (is that his real name?) wrote a story headlined "Before You Hit Send, Pause, Reflect," on the sad case of ABC weekend "Good Morning America" executive producer John Green, who was suspended for a month after the New York Post reported that he said former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had "Jew shame." He was not suspended immediately when the Drudge Report displayed an e-mail from the 2004 presidential debates where he declared "Bush makes me sick" for his attacks on Kerry.
Manly lamented that the Green mini-scandal has put a "chilling effect" on wild and woolly newsrooms. He began by noting that although newsrooms may be more sanitary and smoke-free than the kind portrayed in the old Cary Grant-Rosalind Russell movie "His Girl Friday," "their freewheeling nature has not been completely extinguished, with the banter and off-color humor about the day's events and personalities ricocheting among today's cubicle dwellers, at times through news organizations' e-mail systems." Manly's story completely exaggerates how the media supposedly bend over backwards to appear fair and balanced:
Brian Stelter at TV Newser broke the story Friday that "Good Morning America Weekend executive producer John Green has been suspended for one month after his personal e-mails were leaked to the Drudge Report and Page Six, TVNewser has learned. Phyllis McGrady made the announcement at GMA's morning meeting today. A number of ABC News staffers are outraged that Green's personal messages have become a public embarrassment. Some have speculated that the messages were leaked by a disgruntled former employee."
Howard Kurtz picked up the story in Saturday's Washington Post:
ABC News suspended the executive producer of the weekend edition of "Good Morning America" yesterday over a pair of leaked e-mails in which he used inflammatory language to slam President Bush and Madeleine Albright.
In a conversation about gas mileage, Charles Gibson showed he does have some understanding of how when a pie gets bigger, predictions done with static scoring, instead of dynamic scoring, are wildly inaccurate. Unfortunately, he doesn’t apply the same common sense to the affect of tax cuts on the federal deficit.
On this morning’s "Good Morning America" Gibson quizzed GMA financial contributor Mellody Hobson about the new fuel efficiency standards, "Mellody, when you do the math, first of all, we've had increases in mileage requirements in the past and I don't know that it's done anything to break our addiction to foreign oil. And secondly, if you run the math, they're increasing the requirements by 2.4 miles per gallon for SUVs and light pickup trucks over five years. That's an 11 percent improvement over five years. That's not much, is it?"
Sean Hannity has made border security and illegal immigration a major cause, spending time at and broadcasting shows from our border with Mexico. Give GMA credit for having Sean on this morning's show to discuss the issue. That said, Charlie Gibson put on a display of bleeding-heart liberalism at its most predictable, confusing compassion with tolerance of criminality.
Gibson wasted no time: "Let's start with the House bill. It would build a wall along our southern border, turn 12 million people into felons and make it criminal to give an illegal immigrant help. Is that what this country is about?"
Countered Hannity: "I think this country is about laws and the rule of lawand I think you've got to come into this country and do it the way my grandparents did it, which is legal."
The Drudge-revealed e-mail of ABC weekend executive producer John R. Green has not yet been put in context. It's dated September 30, 2004 and Green is saying "Are you watching this? Bush makes me sick. If he uses the 'mixed messages' line one more time, I'm going to puke."
September 30, 2004 was the night of the first presidential debate between Bush and Kerry. (That puts "Are you watching this?" in context.) Looking at the transcript, Green had plenty of occasions to get sick of Bush's message that Kerry couldn't decide on a position. First, this line early in the debate from Bush:
I had the honor of visiting with Prime Minister Allawi. He's a strong, courageous leader. He believes in the freedom of the Iraqi people. He doesn't want U.S. leadership, however, to send mixed signals, to not stand with the Iraqi people.
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann charged on Thursday night's Countdown that the e-mail, in which ABC News producer John Green complained that “Bush makes me sick,” was “leaked to the infamous, deplorable Matt Drudge” by a desperate White House. His evidence? “I'm not even going to put the 'if that came from the White House somehow' thing in there because the timing's too good.”
Olbermann proposed to Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank: “Does this not smack of desperation on the part of the White House, to let something like that leak out right now?" Olbermann had gone too far even for Milbank, who came to Drudge's defense: "I, first of all, am never going to call Matt Drudge deplorable. Every time he links to one of my stories, I get an extra 50,000 hits." On Green, Milbank indicted his colleagues as he called for condemnation of the ABCer: “We have to say it is unacceptable for a journalist to be doing this, in part because, look, you and I and other journalists go out all the time and say things critical of Bush, but this fellow, I don't know him, is obviously very personally invested.”
National Review Online was kind enough today to publish a little piece I composed, titled "Role Reversal: David Gregory finds out what it's like to be Scott McClellan." It briefly chronicles how Laura Ingraham started a wave of defensive media coverage with her fiery soundbites in favor of the liberal media getting off the balcony if-it-bleeds-it-leads beat. Here are some additional notes I took as I was putting this together...
Reporters were shaking their heads at the thought that a few speeches by President Bush could undo their handiwork in lowering Americans’ approval of the war and its commander.
One particularly absurd sentence came out of ABC White House reporter Jessica Yellin: "Even the President’s aides acknowledge this speech on its own won’t reverse falling American support for a war that increasingly defines the Bush presidency." No one on Earth expects one daytime speech in Cleveland to completely reverse public opinion. But it was almost a taunting sentence: the White House must admit that they can’t turn around public opinion if the TV news crews oppose them tooth and nail.
Jessica Simpson’s presence can make any story at least a little bit exciting and it seemed to get the best of ABC’s Bill Weir as he filled in for Charlie Gibson on this morning’s Good Morning America. Simpson, due in Washington today to lobby Congress on behalf of her favorite charity, turned down an invitation to a Republican fundraiser. GMA painted it as yet more bad news for President Bush.
After an introduction from Weir, reporter Andrea Canning described it as a strong rebuff of Bush, "Jessica Simpson has no trouble serving up pizza in her latest TV commercial, but when it comes to appearing with fellow Texan President Bush, the red, white and blonde actress is drawing the line." Then adding that Simpson said of the chance to attend the dinner, "It just feels wrong." Eventually, Canning noted that Simpson wanted to avoid politicizing the charity she was in town to promote.
Being an early-to-bed type, I taped SNL overnight and was playing it this morning when Good Morning America's Sunday show came on. Watching co-host Kate Snow's performance, I was tempted to double-check to make sure I hadn't inadvertently hit the VCR button in the midst of a parody of vacuous blonde MSMer.
The screen capture here is revealing. When it comes to posing prettily, Snow's a peppy pro. But when it came to substance, she revealed not merely a tired MSM bias, but a lack of preparation and perhaps an even more inherent flaw.
For starters, consider Snow's choice of sources. She began by citing the NY Times, and had as her expert guest John Dickerson of the left-leaning online magazine Slate.
Friday’s Good Morning America devoted a segment to something called "bubble-sitting" in which homeowners sell their home, rent an apartment and hope for real estate prices to decline so they can buy back into the market at a lower price. Charlie Gibson was about to explain why he prefers owning to renting when GMA’s real estate contributor, Barbara Corcoran, zinged the modest Gibson.
Charlie Gibson: "I must say I'm an advocate of ownership, because I think there's a certain--"
Barbara Corcoran: "That's because you're rich, you can buy a good home. (laughter) It's true."
While CBS has its guru Michael "Clinton Rocks" O'Hanlon, ABC's "Good Morning America" today used another current hot morning pundit in New York Times columnist Thomas "In the Tank for Ethanol" Friedman. MRC's Brian Boyd noticed that when asked how Iran could punish America, Friedman grew positively giddy thinking about the whopping economic depression they could give us:
Charles Gibson: "When Iran threatens harm and pain what can they do necessarily? I mean, are they talking about restricting oil sales and cutting off oil and perhaps driving the price of oil up? Are they talking about causing more problems in Iraq for the United States, what?"
ABC's Diane Sawyer is the cover girl of the April Ladies' Home Journal, and her interview with LHJ Editor Diane Salvatore has just a few tidbits for news junkies. When asked if she'll see a woman president in her lifetime, Sawyer answered, "Oh, absolutely. No question. I think something shifted. [What, the ABC drama Commander in Chief?] We don't see strength as exclusively masculine anymore. We don't see will as testosterone-laced. We see all of these characteristics in women."
But then it gets more political: "But I do think perhaps that people hope that women will do something about a war-torn world. Now, we don't know that women will be any more or less of anything in office. But I do think there's such a yearning for a less bellicose and territorial world." Here's some other Sawyer tidbits:
This was a dramatically liberal year for Oscar, but the more political winners at last night's Oscars didn't get pointed questions from the right. The news media's general feeling is to cheer movies for the "social good," and never imagine that the movies could be riddled with errors (Good Night and Good Luck), riddled with profanity (Crash), or just be assessed by critics as a lovably confusing in its conspiracy theorizing (Syriana).
ABC's Diane Sawyer interviewed George Clooney this morning about his Oscar victory speech on "Good Morning America" and asked benignly: "Was it a political speech, were you interjecting politics?" Clooney spoke diplomatically about a "portion" of America being on his side, and a portion were not. Clooney's claim that Hollywood was "out of touch" in all the good ways was underlined by ABC as they ran a clip of black actress Hattie McDaniel winning an Oscar for the 1939 film "Gone With The Wind."
What got into Good Morning America? Each of the network shows ran its compulsory pre-Oscar segment this morning. But while Today was airing a bland piece on the freebies that celebrities in attendance get in gift bags, GMA's segment had a most unexpected angle, asking whether Hollywood has become too political - read 'liberal.' As Tim Graham has noted, Jon Stewart and George Clooney have denied that Hollywood suffers from any such bias, but GMA host Charlie Gibson acknowledged the slant frankly.
He framed it this way:
"Now we turn to the politics of the Oscars. We've talked a lot about the culture wars in America, the blue state/red state divide, the clash between more traditional moral values and more liberal points of view.
The same media that joins the Democrats in accusing the Bush administration of using terrorism to scare the American people, seems to think scare tactics are okay when used to support a liberal agenda. On Thursday's Good Morning America, ABC's Bill Blakemore, for the second time in the past two months, used a one-sided story in an attempt to create paranoia about global warming.
When Blakemore fear-mongered about global warming on the January 11th GMA, he linked warming to a potential massive extinction of species around the world: "One study calculates within 45 years between 18 and 35 percent of Earth's plant and animal species will be extinct or committed to extinction because of global warming."
On Wednesday’s Good Morning America, news reader Bill Weir offered two widely different ways of describing the legal case involving the delayed execution of convicted killer Michael Morales in California. Weir’s second blurb on the story came at 8:32 AM and was attention catching:
Bill Weir: "New debate this morning over the death penalty after a last minute decision in the case of convicted killer Michael Morales. California prison officials postponed his execution indefinitely when doctors refused to administer a new court ordered method of lethal injection. Morales is on death row for torturing, raping and killing a 17 year-old girl. He claims lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment."
In an earlier take on the story in the 7:00 half hour, Weir offered scant context as to who Michael Morales is and what he did that caused a jury to sentence him to death:
One of the more astounding spectacles of the Cheney hunting-accident brouhaha was the media's all-too-typical tolerance of tremendous Clinton chutzpah: that is, Hillary's claim, as Brian Boyd noted last week, that Dick Cheney is way too secretive. ABC aired a clip of an angry-looking Senator Hillary Clinton arguing, "The refusal of this administration to level with the American people on matters large and small is very disturbing." The Clintons? Arguing that someone else isn't forthcoming? After the seven months of sticking with "I did not have sexual relations" with "Miss Lewinsky"? And the "vast right-wing conspiracy" trying to smear Clinton with the baseless accusation of intern nookie?
In the wake of the Cheney flap in which the MSM vented its fury over the Veep's failure to disclose facts rapidly enough to suit their taste, and in where even dark cover-up theories were floated, isn't it ironic that an MSM icon has refused to reveal her age, even though that fact was very relevant to the story she was covering?
Barbara Walters has been guest-hosting on Good Morning America this week, and this morning conducted a segment on an index that has been developed that with good accuracy predicts the likelihood of death within four years for people 50 and older.
Walters' guest was GMA Medical Contributor Dr. David Katz. The good doctor had run the index on Barbara, and the happy news is that she is very likely to be with us for some time to come.
Good Morning America's third day covering Vice President Dick Cheney's hunting accident was its biggest to date. On Monday's show, the 7:00 half hour started with three straight Cheney stories, followed by two more on Tuesday. This morning, GMA devoted its first four items to the hunting accident. At one point, viewers were shown live video of the four reporters as Diane Sawyer informed, "Our reporters, our team standing by to cover all the angles this morning from the medical condition to political and even potential legal fallout."
In the third story, Claire Shipman's hot pursuit of Cheney led to bizarre lecturing from Senator Hillary Clinton and Joe Lockhart, former press secretary to President Bill Clinton. Despite their affiliation with a presidency known for its own cover-ups and practice of releasing information on late Friday afternoons, Shipman treated both Clinton and Lockhart as paragons of forthrightness.
With regards to the war on terror, what is the focus of the mainstream media? Is it fighting and winning? Or are they more concerned with embarrassing the Bush administration? Fran Townsend, a White House Homeland Security advisor, appeared on ABC, CBS, CNN and Fox News on Friday, February 10th. The contrast could not be more stark. CNN, CBS and ABC focused on warrants, wiretaps, and whether the mayor of Los Angeles was properly informed of the President’s speech regarding a foiled attack. All of these networks, except FNC, failed to ask Townsend about the prison break of 23 terrorists, including 13 members of Al Qaeda, which one would assume is an important story.
Ms. Townsend appeared first on the CBS Early Show at 7:10AM EST. Harry Smith seemed skeptical about the timing and the subject of the President’s speech. He started by asking, "Why did the President choose yesterday to reveal this information about a plot that’s almost four years old now?" Ms. Townsend patiently explained that the members of the cell had been arrested and the leads exhausted, therefore this case was one that the President could freely discuss. Smith then went on to question whether there was an actual threat:
Good Morning America took a double-barrelled blast at Vice President Cheney this morning over his accidental shooting of a quail-hunting companion, suggesting the White House might have tried to cover up the incident and calling into question a witness's version of events.
GMA did at first describe the accident as having occurred because the victim, attorney Harry Whittington, failed to observe the quail-hunting rule by which hunters remain in a single line as they advance, indicating that the accident occurred after Whittington left the line to retrieve a bird from the tall grass.
But GMA host Charlie Gibson later claimed that there was "growing political fallout" from the incident, wondering:
Imagine you're the host of a morning news show, and the head of the country's major opposition party has just invoked the danger of the President of the United States turning the country into a police state akin to Iran. Would you perhaps ask a follow-up question challenging your guest to substantiate his inflammatory remark? No, you wouldn't. At least, not if you're GMA's Charlie Gibson. For when Howard Dean made just such an allegation this morning, Gibson never blinked.
Discussing the NSA terrorist surveillance program, Dean stated:
"All we ask is that we not turn into a country like Iran, where the President of Iran can do anything they [sic] want at any time."
In part of their coverage of the Coretta Scott King funeral this morning, ABC focused on the attention paid to Hillary Clinton and her 2008 presidential prospects and how "Republicans are scared." ABC's Jake Tapper was able to bring in RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman suggesting on "This Week" that she wouldn't do well because she's an "angry candidate" and then former NPR reporter Mary Ann Akers (now of the Capitol Hill paper Roll Call) fussed that dredges up old Hillary stereotypes. His most colorful language is that everything Hillary does is "dissected like a cadaver on CSI." His evidence was a New York Daily News story focusing on a new ring her husband gave her.
But Tapper did not focus on another New York paper whose coverage of Hillary has been ignored by most. Even I missed the chance to harp on her appearance in San Francisco at the end of January in that "interview with Jane Pauley" fundraiser for the local bar association. The New York Sun reported she had some nasty things to imply about Republicans and black voters (which might have been MORE topical after the King funeral yesterday). Apparently, Team Bush is delaying hurricane aid for political gain, a "deliberate policy of neglect," she claimed: