"Nightline" co-anchor Cynthia McFadden on Monday used the opportunity of the first dual interview with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to gush over the two Democrats and offer no challenging questions. Speaking to the senators after a campaign rally in Florida, she fawned, "You looked pretty good up there together." The co-anchor also excitedly tossed this softball to Clinton and Obama: "Are you going to win? Are you going to win down here?"
Fully embracing Democratic talking points that the two once-bitter rivals are now friendly, McFadden fawned, "...Two weeks before the presidential election, they genuinely seemed to have bonded over their singular mission to put a Democrat in the White House." (Is that McFadden's mission too?)
Offering amateur psychology, the ABC host wondered, "How does it feel today? Still a little awkward or have we gotten over the awkward period in the relationship?" McFadden presented no questions about Obama running mate Joe Biden's assertion on Sunday that the Illinois senator would be tested by a major international crisis in the first six months of his potential presidency. In addition, there were no questions about terrorist bomber William Ayers or any other serious issue.
Despite featuring the story on its "Political Radar" blog on Monday morning, the ABC network ignored for almost 24 hours the claim by Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden that Barack Obama will be tested by a major international crisis in the first (potential) six months of his presidency. Monday's "Good Morning America" skipped the story, as did that evening's "World News With Charles Gibson" and "Nightline."
In fact, "Nightline" co-anchor Cynthia McFadden actually conducted an interview with Senator Obama after a campaign rally in Florida. Despite the fact that she had nabbed the first joint interview with Obama and Clinton since the Illinois senator won the nomination, she didn't address the issue. Rather than ask what his running mate meant when he said, "Watch, we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy," McFadden chose to limit her questions to how the relationship between Obama and Clinton had changed.
ABC Nightline co-host Terry Moran has been supportive of Barack Obama. His syrupy report of November 6, 2006 is legendary for its gush: "You can see it in the crowds. The thrill, the hope. How they surge toward him. You're looking at an American political phenomenon....Everywhere he goes, people want him to run for President, especially in Iowa, cradle of presidential contenders. Around here, they're even naming babies after him."
Now, in the final weeks of the campaign, Moran suggested that Sarah Palin's comments about Obama's friendship with radical-left bomber Bill Ayers could be endangering Obama's life. On the October 13 Nightline, Moran spent a day on the campaign trail with Obama running mate Joe Biden. After running Palin's "pal around with terrorists" line, Moran darkly characterized: "Attacks that stoked the anger at Republican rallies, where there have been reports of attendees yelling things like ‘terrorist' and ‘kill him.'"
Continuing the mainstream media's dogged pursuit of the truth, Thursday's "Nightline" breathlessly asserted that Joe "the plumber" Wurzelbacher isn't really named Joe. In a segment on the Ohio man who quizzed Senator Barack Obama about his tax plan, co-anchor Martin Bashir derided, "But his name's not Joe and he's not a registered plumber. And those are only half his problems."
Of course, his middle name is Joseph. Continuing to harp on this subject, reporter Jake Tapper alerted, "And it turns out Joe the plumber is not even technically named Joe...His name is Sam, Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher." Now, although it took the media almost a year to report on Jeremiah Wright, Obama's radical preacher, Bashir announced that in the case of Wurzelbacher, "It wasn't long before the media pounced. But with the spotlight has come some scrutiny." Before launching into an investigation of Joe the plumber, Tapper chided, "The McCain campaign did not necessarily vet Joe, it seems." (Do voters need to be vetted before they're allowed to ask Obama a question?)
Though he decided “this was John McCain's best debate,” Democratic operative-turned ABC News journalist George Stephanopoulos made it a “clean sweep for Barack Obama” as he declared on Nightline after Wednesday's third and final presidential debate: “He has won every debate.” Add in the VP debate, which Stephanopoulos gave to Joe Biden over Sarah Palin, and Stephanopoulos has awarded all four debates this year to the more liberal candidate. He justified his latest assessment:
He won tonight by staying cool under pressure. He won tonight by parrying the attacks of John McCain. The only thing that John McCain could have really done tonight to change the tenor of this campaign was to get under Obama's skin, to force him into an error. That did not happen tonight. Another win for Barack Obama.
Anchor Terry Moran predicted “you're going to get some heat for this, George, you called all three presidential debates and the vice presidential debate for Obama-Biden.” But instead of suggesting that just might show some bias on the part of Stephanopoulos, Moran presumed it meant Stephanopoulos' evaluations presage the electorate: “Does that mean this thing is over?” Stephanopoulos replied: “I don't know if it's over. Right now, Barack Obama would win, I think, more than 300 electoral votes, if the election were held today. He's well ahead right now.”
ABC journalist David Wright on Friday derided John McCain's attacks against Barack Obama as a "fear and loathing strategy" that "seems to be working among some voters." Reporting on the two presidential candidates and their economic plans, the liberal reporter also highlighted an exchange between McCain and a supporter where the Republican asserted that Obama was a decent man who just has bad ideas.
Contrasting the remark with past McCain attacks and ads, Wright huffed that this might be an example of the candidate "realizing, perhaps, that Americans already have enough to be afraid of." Friday capped off a week of David Wright aggressively criticizing the Arizona senator. On Thursday's "Good Morning America," he hyperbolically complained that the McCain campaign has suggested Obama is "yellow, disloyal and doesn't belong." Wright also darkly intoned, "But in the past couple of days, the Republicans have been laying it on thick. Chumming the waters. And, not surprisingly, ugly reactions are beginning to surface."
In a gushing look at a day on the campaign trail with Democratic VP nominee Joe Biden for Monday's "Nightline," ABC's Terry Moran charged Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin's rhetoric about Barack Obama has “stoked the anger at Republican rallies, where there have been reports of attendees yelling things like 'terrorist' and 'kill him.'" After that setup, an earnest Moran asked Biden if he now fears for Obama's “safety,” and he pressed Biden to denigrate Palin: “Is she up to the job in your judgment?”
Moran clearly suggested to Biden that Palin's criticism of Obama (“someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country”) endangers the Democratic nominee as he followed that clip: “Are you at all concerned in this home stretch for Senator Obama's safety?”
Deciding “Obama is two for two,” ABC's George Stephanopoulos, who last Friday called Joe Biden the winner over Sarah Palin, declared Barack Obama “definitely won” over John McCain in the second presidential debate, just as he had determined following the first one -- and that makes it three times out of three debates the Democratic operative turned ABC journalist has picked the liberal Democrat. In Tuesday's “Nightline Report Card,” Stephanopoulos trumpeted Obama's performance:
He definitely won tonight. I think, again, he showed over the course of this debate, over the course of the two debates, he is answering the number one question Americans have about him. Does he have the experience it takes to serve effectively as President? Over the course now of three hours of debates, he is answering that question minute by minute.
Issuing his grades, Stephanopoulos awarded Obama an A and two A-minuses while he presented McCain with one A-minus and two grades of B+. Stephanopoulos contended “where I really think Barack Obama won the debate tonight in strategy is on foreign policy. He took the debate to John McCain, took it to John McCain's judgment, jujitsued the line that John McCain used in the last debate about how Barack Obama doesn't understand foreign policy.”
For the second time on Monday, ABC reporter David Wright continued to spin and justify Barack Obama's relationship with former terrorist bomber William Ayers. On the October 6 edition of "Nightline," he compared the McCain campaign's comments about the ex-domestic terrorist with the Obama team's new ads centering on the Arizona senator and the Keating 5 scandal. Wright (see file photo at right) wondered, "Which is worse, a radical terrorist who wanted to blow up the Pentagon 40 years ago or a crooked banker whose failed savings and loan had to be bailed out by the taxpayers 20 years ago?"
While discussing Ayers, a member of a violent '60s radical group that participated in 30 bombings, including the Pentagon, Wright made sure to point out: "Ayers was an early supporter of Obama's, but Obama has never condoned Ayers' politics." He even closed the segment by referring to the man, who said after 9/11 that he didn't do enough bombings, as "A former domestic terrorist who's now a respected professor." When discussing the Keating 5 savings and loan scandal, in which five senators were accused of intervening on behalf of businessman Charles Keating, Wright left out the fact that McCain was exonerated by the Senate Ethics Committee.
Six days after declaring Barack Obama the winner of the first presidential debate, following Thursday's VP debate George Stephanopoulos again decided the liberal Democrat in the debate, this time Joe Biden, was the winner -- but in assigning his “Nightline Report Card” grades he gave both Biden and Sarah Palin the same overall assessments: each got one A, one A-minus and one B. Asked by anchor Terry Moran to name “the winner,” Stephanopoulos argued:
Joe Biden, but boy, was this close. I think that Governor Palin did an awful lot to help herself tonight. There is no question that she beat expectations, that she was fluent, that she showed she could stand up there on the stage. She laid a couple of attacks there against Barack Obama, but going back to my first point on overall strategy, right now, this is a race where if John McCain cannot convince the country that he's going to take it in a different direction from President Bush, he simply cannot win...
The grades from ex-Democratic operative Stephanopoulos. On “Strategy,” an A for Biden and an A-minus for Palin; on “Style,” an A-minus for Biden and an A for Palin; and on “Accuracy,” a B for both.
It was eight years ago this week that France 2 TV introduced the world to Mohammed al-Dura, the Palestinian boy who was allegedly shot and killed during a gunfight between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen, in a video whose authenticity has increasingly been called into question years after it inspired anti-Semitic violence around the world. The American news media not only highlighted the story -- as the ABC, CBS and NBC evening and morning newscasts collectively aired the video at least 28 times between September 30, 2000, and June 30, 2003 -- but the networks also showed other clips depicting Palestinians involved in fighting, supposedly with Israelis, that have been challenged by some media analysts, calling into question how many of the scenes shown by American media during times of Israeli-Palestinian conflict may be faked video that were passed off to international media as genuine. ABC's Good Morning American notably seems to have ignored the al-Dura story.
Boston University Professor Richard Landes has been a leader in delving into the practice by some Palestinian cameramen of staging scenes of violence to be used as propaganda against Israel. Landes notably took on CBS’s 60 Minutes in the film Pallywood, the first in a series of short documentaries produced by the Boston University professor. On his Web site, theaugeanstables.com, Landes recounts his unsuccessful attempts to convince the American news media to help expose the Pallywood hoax video phenomenon. While he recounts that American journalists he spoke with did generally agree with him that the deceptive practice likely exists, they were reluctant to be perceived as breaking neutrality by siding with Israel over the Palestinians, as he encountered a view that it would not be “even-handed” to relay such unflattering activities by one side without finding similar examples from the other side. Professor Landes also cited an unnamed journalist at ABC as contending that there would be little “appetite” for the subject at his network. On his Web site, theaugeanstables.com, Landes recalls these conversations:
Awarding Barack Obama two grades of A-minus and one B-minus while presenting John McCain with two grades of B-plus and one B-minus, at the end of his “Nightline Report Card” segment on Friday night, ABC's George Stephanopoulos declared Obama the “winner” -- with a big illustrative check mark on screen:
Bottom line, the winner is Barack Obama. He comes into this race where the country wants change. His number one goal was to show that he belonged on that stage. He was a credible commander-in-chief, that he could hold his own on national security. He did that tonight. He gets the win.
The grades from the ex-Democratic operative: On “Strategy,” Obama an A-minus, John McCain a B-plus; for “Style,” Obama another A-minus, McCain another B-plus; and on “Accuracy,” Obama got his lowest grade, a B-minus, McCain a B.
For two decades, going back to the Willie Horton ads of 1988, we’ve heard liberals accuse Republicans of race-baiting. Throughout this campaign, there have been endless whispers, suggestions, and outright accusations that GOP could/would play the race card because Obama is half-black. Now Barack Obama has found his bizarre version of Willie Horton, and it’s…Rush Limbaugh.
Obama sneakily tried to air a Spanish-language TV ad telling Latinos that Limbaugh thinks Mexicans are all stupid and Mexican immigrants should all shut up and go home, and that Limbaugh and John McCain are identical twins on immigration.
None of it is true. Now when Obama talks about reaching across the aisle and healing a divided Washington, we’ll fall to the ground laughing.
On Thursday’s Nightline, ABC co-anchor Terry Moran offered up a nearly seven-minute-long hit piece on “John McCain 2.0,” about how the GOP nominee has, according to Moran, dramatically changed his basic message, his campaign style, his policy positions and launched a dirty ad campaign.
“The old John McCain repeatedly promised voters a different kind of campaign — nobler, less nasty, better,” Moran argued. “That was then, this is now.” After running a clip from an ad criticizing Obama for voting in favor of sex education for kindergartners (“called, quote, ‘simply false’ by the non-partisan Annenberg Center’s FactCheck.org,” Moran scolded), Nightline offered a condemnatory soundbite from ABC analyst Matthew Dowd: “I think the McCain campaign wants to have a campaign in the mud.”
On Thursday's "Nightline," co-anchor Terry Moran trashed John McCain for running a hypocritical, dishonest campaign against Barack Obama. He accused the Republican of doing "the kind of thing that George W. Bush and his supporters did to McCain in South Carolina in 2000." The segment, which featured no examples of sleazy campaigning by Barack Obama, began with co-anchor Cynthia McFadden complaining, "Make no mistake, John McCain very well may defeat Barack Obama. But to do so, has he compromised principles in the style that got him this far?"
She also whined, "With just 47 days to the election, is the Straight Talk Express shifting course? Will the real John McCain please stand up?" Moran's tone dripped with sarcasm as he ripped into the Arizona senator's supposed hypocrisy. The ABC journalist fretted that McCain "clearly decided he's got to change. Change a lot, in some ways, in order to win this thing." As old and new clips of the candidate were spliced together, Moran added, "John McCain meet John McCain."
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.
In portions of Charles Gibson's third interview with Sarah Palin aired on Friday's 20/20 and Nightline, but not earlier on World News, Gibson demanded to know why she and John McCain “keep saying” Barack Obama will raise taxes when he says he won't, followed up her wish that Roe v Wade be overturned by -- in a question left out of the ABCNews.com transcript -- contending “it's a critical issue for so many women. You believe women should not have that choice?” and after Palin expressed support for gun rights, he asserted “we spend billions of dollars a year every year treating people who are victims of gun violence” and pleaded, as if more gun control is the only solution: “Nothing we can do about that?”
As the two sat in Palin's Wasilla home, Gibson scolded her and McCain:
Why do you both keep saying that Obama is going to raise people's taxes? It's been pretty clear what he intends. He's talked about middle-class tax cuts, extending Bush tax cuts on everything but people who own or earn more than $250,000 a year -- cuts taxes on over 91 percent of the country. Why do you keep saying he's going to raise people's taxes?
ABC's Charles Gibson pressed Sarah Palin repeatedly, in a fresh interview excerpt aired on Thursday's "Nightline," to cry uncle and concede global warming is “man-made” -- but even when she did he wasn't satisfied and pushed for more of a mea culpa. "Nightline," which made “War, God and Oil” the on-screen header for excerpts from Gibson's interviews, began with a slightly longer version of what "World News" carried earlier, mostly about foreign policy, followed by new video from a second interview Gibson conducted as the two walked alongside the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline.
Gibson presumed not believing global warming is “man-made” is some kind of shameful oddity as he wondered: “Do you still believe that global warming is not man-made?” Palin offered that “I believe that man's activities certainly can be contributing to the issue of global warming,” but that wasn't enough for Gibson, who held up John McCain as the oracle and lectured:
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.
ABC reporter Lisa Fletcher interviewed friends of Sarah Palin for a segment on Monday's "Nightline" and grilled them on whether a "small town mom" will be able to "sit down with Putin and deal with foreign issues?" Fletcher, who herself was a small town reporter before joining ABC in December of 2007, mostly avoided friendly queries and instead grilled the Alaskan friends of the Republican vice presidential candidate.
At one point she asked pal Sandy Hoest, "She's spent less than two years as the governor of Alaska. Why should Americans have any confidence whatsoever that this woman can fulfill the duties of vice president of the United States?" Later on, the journalist challenged, "Is it possible to be pro-choice and vote for Sarah Palin?" When a few of Palin's friends identified themselves as pro-choice, Fletcher pounced, "Does that put a strain on your friendship with Sarah?"
Assessing Barack Obama's speech last Thursday, for the “Nightline Report Card,” ABC's George Stephanopoulos awarded Obama A's as he dismissed Republican complaints about his “red meat” attacks on John McCain, declaring they allowed Obama to affirmatively answer “the commander-in-chief question” and hailed how he addressed social issues “in a way that a majority of Americans” will embrace. But this week, he tried to discredit McCain's points. On McCain's assertion he's more bi-partisan than Obama, Stephanopoulos recited a list of issues where “Obama has reached out to the other side.” Then citing McCain's claim that he will cut taxes while Obama will raise them, Stephanopoulos countered:
Senator Obama's plan, and this has been verified by outside experts, 95 percent of the country will get a tax cut, that's not the same -- that is bigger than the one that John McCain offers.
Overall, Stephanopoulos awarded Democrats with slightly better grades than the Republicans for their respective confabs, including ten A's over four nights to the Democrats in Denver, twice as many as the five A's over three nights he gave the Republicans. Throwing out F's he gave both parties for what he saw as bad stages, and an incomplete for each, of 15 grades for the Democrats, he issued ten A's, two grades of B+, two of B and one C. This week, from St. Paul, Stephanopoulos presented 12 grades for the Republican convention: Five A's, one A-, four grades of B, one B- and one C.
Sarah Palin's Wednesday night Republican convention speech was widely greeted with praise from television commentators and the short break between her address and Rudy Giuliani's beforehand didn't leave much time for analysis of Giuliani's, but ABC's George Stephanopoulos managed to find a dark side to both while ABC's Nightline devoted a six-minute story to “new details tonight on a brewing controversy in Alaska,” a “nasty family scandal that's come to be called trooper-gate.”
Following Giuliani's speech, Stephanopoulos declared it “far and away the toughest speech we've seen so far” at both conventions and ruminated: “What I wonder about is how it came across on television. A little too nasty? A little too ugly? I don't know.” After Palin finished, he fretted that she “she also spent a lot of time attacking” and “that could come off as quite negative to some viewers.”
Issuing the Nightline “Report Card,” Stephanopoulos, who a week earlier awarded Joe Biden and Democrats four A's, gave Giuliani and Palin three A's, a B and a C. For “Red Meat,” he presented an A “for substance,” but a C “on delivery” because he contended their repeated mention of how Barack Obama was a “community organizer” came across as “a little too derisive.”
The ultimate objective in journalism is to deliver fresh information to the audience, to break heretofore unshattered stories.
Last night, ABC's Terry Moran did exactly that.
To get there, you must first wade through an extraordinary amount of Moran-Goo, as he slathers it liberally all over his reporting of the official nomination vote. But this is hardly groundbreaking. What comes next is.
The excited media throngs have already long hailed Illinois Senator Barack Obama for being the first bi-racial candidate ever to secure a major Party's nomination for President.
Moran yesterday added to the historic aura surrounding the Senator's parents.
“Professor George Stephanopoulos,” on Wednesday's Nightline, awarded the Democrats “straight A's” for the third day of their convention, with an A for “Filling in the Blanks,” an A for “Heartstrings,” an A for “Red Meat” and an A for “Body Language.” The former Bill Clinton campaign operative and White House aide glowed over “a night of perfect political choreography” from his former boss and other Democrats as he marveled “the only problem Barack Obama has right now, and it's a high-class problem, as Bill Clinton used to say, is can he top what happened tonight?” Anchor Terry Moran echoed: “An extraordinary series of speeches.”
Nightline has used Stephanopoulos all week to assign grades. Not counting his F on Monday night for the "garish stage," of eleven grades over three nights Stephanopoulos has presented eight A's, two grades of B+ and one C.
"Nightline" co-anchor Cynthia McFadden interviewed Pastor Rick Warren on Monday about the presidential forum he held with Senators Barack Obama and John McCain and pestered him to just admit that he's a Republican. At one point, she goaded, "You know, there are some people who feel that this is kind of a sham operation. That really, we know you, as an evangelical, are a Republican, a John McCain supporter."
Warren responded by asserting he's a registered independent, but the ABC correspondent kept trying to pin the pastor and author down as a GOP supporter. Speaking of Warren's parishioners and his own preference, she queried, "But do you feel like at some point, Rick, you owe the people who look to you for guidance more than that? I mean at some point before this election are you going to get up--" After Warren interrupted and replied that he wouldn't be telling anyone who to vote for, McFadden followed-up: "So if someone were to come to you and say, you know what, forget character, I'm going to vote for the guy who is opposed to abortion, would you say they need to go back and think a little harder?"
Cynthia McFadden didn't exactly say John McCain had no character, but she certainly implied it. In an interview with Pastor Rick Warren on ABC's "Nightline," McFadden was trying to get Warren to indicate if he would counsel his flock on who to vote for, and what he would say to people who say "forget character," pick the pro-lifer.
The feature on Warren came after the pastor's Civic Forum on the Presidency held over the weekend at his 22,000-member church in southern California. McFadden asked Warren if he "owed" it to "people who look up to you" to tell them for whom he was voting .
While ABC’s Good Morning America suspended its coverage of the John Edwards scandal following reporting on Monday, the CBS Early Show continued to cover the affair for a third consecutive day on Wednesday. Even NBC’s Today, covering the Olympics in Beijing, managed stories on Edwards on both Monday and Wednesday. Considering it was during an interview on ABC’s Nigthline on Friday that Edwards confessed to cheating on his wife, it is interesting that GMA was outdone in covering the story.
On Wednesday, the Early Show looked at the money trail leading from Edwards to his mistress, Rielle Hunter, as co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: "We will also talk about new bombshell revelations in the John Edwards affair, including claims that he did know his mistress was being paid and that he rekindled the affair after confessing to his wife." The segment began with a report by correspondent Bianca Solorzano: "According to the National Enquirer, the publication that first broke the story of John Edwards' extramarital affair, Edwards was aware of payments being made to his former mistress Rielle Hunter, something he denied on Friday...The allegations could not only have legal ramifications, it would shed considerable doubt on Edwards' other denial, that he fathered Miss Hunter's child."