The final count is in. From the day of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation announcement to the day of his retirement, the networks unabashedly attacked the pope and the Catholic Church, adding to a pope resignation coverage tally of referencing the church as troubled 157 times and using the world “scandal” 105 times in 118 reports.
A previous Culture and Media Institute tally noted the frequency ABC, CBS, and NBC referred to the church as troubled, aired the word “scandal,” and ran late night comedy show clips cracking pope jokes. Pressing for church modernization and calling for a change in regards to women and gays also made the list.
According to the journalists of Good Morning America, the end of the world is nigh. The hosts and reporters on Friday hyped the "massive" sequester cuts as leading to near panic. Josh Elliott opened the show by hyperventilating, "Jobs vaporizing, flights delayed, even criminals walking free." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Reporter Jon Karl intoned, "The day is upon us. Those dreaded across-the-board spending cuts will go into effect sometime before 11:59 p.m tonight." He then touted White House talking points: "The administration warns that in the coming weeks, we'll see flight delays, kids thrown out off Head Start and criminals get free due to a lack of federal prosecutors."
Although the first pope to resign in 600 years, Pope Benedict XVI might as well be dead to the media as cardinals elect a new pope. On the day of the Roman Catholic pope’s resignation, February 28, ABC’s “Good Morning America” offered repulsive input and likened the monumental event to Pope Benedict XVI participating in his own funeral.
A voiceover described how Pope Benedict XVI bade farewell to cardinals in the very room popes lie after death, the Clementine Hall at the Apostolic Palace, before reporting: “Unlike all the past popes whose reigns have ended in this room since the palace was built and the walls covered in frescos, Benedict is the first to leave office still breathing – like a king, attending his own funeral.” [Video below.]
The Today show on Thursday allowed a scant 16 seconds, out of a possible four hours, to the claim by veteran journalist Bob Woodward that the Obama White House is trying to intimidate him and attack his coverage of the sequester cuts. The NBC program also avoided using the word "threat."
ABC's Good Morning America gave the most coverage to the battle, offering a full report and a news brief. [See video below. MP3 audio here.] CBS This Morning covered the story as part of a bigger report on the looming cuts. On Today, reporter Kristen Welker blandly explained, "As a backdrop to all of this, veteran reporter Bob Woodward is telling reporters that the White House is lashing out at him for writing an article which claimed that the sequester was all President Obama's idea." She then helpfully presented the President's case: "The White House has made the point that Republicans overwhelmingly supported the plan as well." This was the extent of Today's coverage.
A frail, ailing 85-year-old man announces he doesn’t have the strength to continue as the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion people. With the humility of one whose entire life has been in service to God and his Church, he says he will retire to quietly live out his remaining years.
Cue the laugh track and gin up the scandal rumors. It was three weeks full of journalistic contempt for the Pope and the Catholic Church.
Good Morning America on Tuesday edited out an inaccurate assertion by First Lady Michelle Obama that the gunman in a Chicago killing used an "automatic weapon." Regarding the death of teenager Hadiya Pendelton, Mrs. Obama claimed, "And she was caught in the line of fire because some kids had some automatic weapons they didn't need." This quote appeared online, but not on the February 26 interview with Robin Roberts.
The Chicago Tribuneexplained, "...A day after her homicide on Jan. 29, Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said the gunman possibly used a revolver because no bullet casings were found at the shooting scene — as there would be if a semi-automatic or automatic weapon had been used." No ABC show on Tuesday or Wednesday offered an explanation as to why the network helpfully covered up for the First Lady's error. [Updated with video.]
The reporters of Good Morning America, who on Monday briefly questioned Barack Obama's hyperbolic talk about the sequester cuts, have returned to promoting dire warnings of meat shortages and children losing vaccines. Guest co-host Elizabeth Vargas on Wednesday hyped "the grim countdown to the massive spending cuts that will kick in on Friday."
To underline the point, an ABC graphic proclaimed, "Countdown to Massive Cuts: Will Illegal Immigrants Be Released From Jail?" Correspondent Jon Karl parroted Obama: "Each day, the White House's list of terrible things caused by the cuts grows longer, including flight delays, kids losing vaccines, and meat shortages." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Two days ago, in a moment of clarity, Karl acknowledged, "But those cuts, five to seven percent for most government departments, will be phased in over the next seven months."
Last week, ABC scored an exclusive "get." Barack and Michelle Obama appeared on Good Morning America to welcome back co-host Robin Roberts from a serious illness. On Tuesday, Roberts paid the White House back, fawning over the "trend-setting" First Lady and her "hot" bangs. The anchor asked not a single tough question during the two part, eight and a half minute segment.
Co-anchor George Stephanopoulos compared Mrs. Obama's appearance at the Oscars, Sunday, to the real mission in the movie Argo: Rescuing American hostages from Iran. He thrilled over the secretive appearance: "Producers go undercover to the White House in a move straight out of Argo." Elizabeth Vargas echoed, "It was like something out of Argo." The hostages in Iran faced death, not the revelation of a TV appearance. [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
ABC on Sunday continued to hype Barack Obama's hyperbolic claims about sequester cuts. World News reporter David Kerley played a clip of the President and then insisted that $85 billion in spending "sounds like a disaster movie." Kerley warned, "Child care canceled for tens of thousands of kids. Long airport security lines. Flight delays with a shortage of controllers. And military cuts that will leave us 'second rate' according to the Defense Secretary."
Reason Magazine's Nick Gillespie on Monday pointed out: "Widely quoted as $85 billion for spending in fiscal year 2013 (which ends on September 30), the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) underscores that just $44 billion of spending reduction are slated for 2013, with the rest coming in later years." That amounts to $44 billion in a 2013 budget of $3.6 trillion. Kerley allowed two sentences acknowledging that the cuts "will be phased in over the next seven months."
According to Good Morning America's David Wright on Monday, the upcoming "papal election campaign is getting ugly." The ABC correspondent then declared that Pope Benedict an "absolute monarch."
In a report live from Rome, Wright explained, "Pope Benedict is expected to issue new rules about the timing and procedures of the conclave [the meeting of cardinals to elect a new pope.]" He added, "[Benedict] can do that by degree. The Pope is an absolute monarch." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Of course, Wright's experience in judging any kind of election is questionable. Back in 2002, he reported from Iraq and insisted, "Seven years ago, when the last referendum took place, Saddam Hussein won 99.96 percent of the vote. Of course, it is impossible to say whether that’s a true measure of the Iraqi people’s feelings."
A few years ago, CBS briefly aired a sitcom called "$#*! My Dad Says."
Although it only lasted five months, ABC thought it wise to follow in its footsteps by creating an ad for a new sitcom coming out in April that included a caption that read "Bull#$%@" (video follows with commentary):
Syndicated columnist George Will on ABC's This Week Sunday made a marvelous observation about the upcoming Academy Awards.
In his view, “Zero Dark Thirty” should win as best picture as a “rebuke to Senators Levin, Feinstein, and McCain who have enough to do without being movie critics and falsely accusing that movie of taking a stand on torture it does not take” (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary):
Apparently, objectivity just isn't needed on some issues. On March 16th, Good Morning America's Josh Elliott, Sam Champion and Lara Spencer will co-host the 24th annual Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) awards. The event will honor another journalist, Anderson Cooper, for being "an advocate for the LGBT community."
This isn't the first time Elliott, supposedly a neutral journalist, has appeared atthe GLAAD event. On March 24, 2012, the anchor accepted a media award and declared of ABC: "I'm proud to work at a place that believes in advocacy journalism!" Elliott fawned over the group, saying "I will never be in a braver room than this!" (As if it's tough to be in a place where everyone has the exact same opinion as you.)
The journalists of Good Morning America on Friday adopted White House talking points, foreseeing a "fiscal emergency" that will "cripple" flights in the United States. Jon Karl warned, "When it comes to air travel, the first thing we'll all see are longer lines at airport security. Expect ten percent fewer TSA agents on the job." An ABC graphic blared, "Seven Days to Fiscal Emergency: Air Travel Could Be Crippled." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Karl highlighted Erskine Bowles, a Democrat and former chief of staff to Bill Clinton. It's true that Bowles is now on a bipartisan debt reduction panel, but he's certainly a partisan. Instead of informing viewers of this fact, Karl labeled him simply as a "prominent budget expert."
All too often when reporters are discussing Democrats caught in scandals, they develop a peculiar speech impediment that prevents them from uttering the "D" word. However, when members of the GOP stumble, the word "Republican" cascades out of the mouths of reporters.
When news broke on February 15 that former Democratic Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. was charged with improperly spending campaign funds on (among other items) Michael Jackson and Bruce Lee memorabilia, the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) network anchors and reporters struggled to get their lips to form the word "Democrat." In 15 total stories on Jackson, reporters failed to utter the "D" word in 11 of them (73 percent). On the February 21 CBS This Morning Jackson was labeled a Democrat, but only in an on-screen graphic.
What does it take for the networks to focus on a Joe Biden gaffe? Apparently, it's enough to suggest that a shotgun is ideal for home defense. On Tuesday's Nightly News and the morning shows on Wednesday, journalists, who often overlook the Vice President's verbal miscues, highlighted his comments about shotguns.
In an online chat with Parents magazine, Biden suggested, "If you want to protect yourself, get a double-barreled shotgun." He went on to say that he owns two such weapons and has instructed his wife to use them if needed. This led Nightly News anchor Brian Williams to joke, "VicePresident Joe Biden is out with another one of those sound bites that could live on for a long time." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] On Wednesday's Good Morning America, George Stephanopoulos described Biden as "unplugged." He warned, "Biden and those [Parents] magazine readers got a little more than they had bargained for."
The NBC, ABC, and CBS evening newscasts on Tuesday all recited the same White House talking points as anchors and correspondents wrung their hands over the upcoming sequester budget cuts set to take effect on March 1. While all three broadcasts touted President Obama using "dire language" to warn against the cuts – only amounting to less that three percent of the federal budget – none of them noted that it was the President's idea in the first place. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
At the top of NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams sounded the alarm: "Deep impact....deep budget cuts poised to have a major impact on the military, law enforcement, even food inspection." In the report that followed, correspondent John Yang fretted: "Through 2021, it means cutting $85 billion a year, half from the Pentagon, half from non-defense programs. Everything from education to national parks to Meals on Wheels." Yang failed to mention the current annual federal budget is around $3.5 trillion.
ABC's Good Morning America on Wednesday welcomed Robin Roberts back from sick leave by surprising the co-host with her biggest fans, Barack and Michelle Obama. Within two minutes of the show's open, George Stephanopoulos kicked off the celebration by cutting to the Obamas. He hyped, "We have a lot of surprises for you this morning. We're going to start with one from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."
After Barack Obama touted the journalist as an "inspiration," Michelle Obama teased, "And personally, I am looking forward to our interview together in a couple of days." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] How, exactly, is Roberts supposed to conduct tough interviews after that kind of praise? The ABC reporter has long been a favorite of the White House and her fawning coverage has to be part of the reason. After the President flipped his position on gay marriage, Roberts got the first interview. On May 10, 2012, she gushed, "I'm getting chills" just thinking about Obama's new stance.
The Washington Postreported yesterday that Spanish-language channel Univision is partnering with ABC News to create a 24-hour news channel called Fusion. This new channel, set to debut late this summer, will aim to attract young, mostly second-generation Hispanics who are more comfortable communicating in English than in Spanish. As the Post notes, Fusion could exert much influence over the opinions of Hispanics. And because Hispanics are growing in number and political influence, Fusion could help shape the outcome of the 2016 election and many more elections to come. The question, therefore, is whether the new channel will be fair and balanced or ideologically driven.
On that front, things don’t look promising. The Post reported on what ABC News president Ben Sherwood said about Fusion: “Sherwood, the ABC news president, says ‘Fusion will be guided by the standards of ABC News.’ But he leaves open the possibility of ‘clearly delineated opinion or advocacy.’” Guided by the standards of ABC News? If that’s the case, Fusion is likely to become yet another appendage of the Left.
ABC journalist Jon Karl continued his role as White House stenographer, Tuesday, repeating Barack Obama's talking points on the upcoming sequester cuts. Karl insisted that the President is "really trying to shame Congress into doing something to replace these cuts." Former Democratic operative turned journalist George Stephanopoulos asserted that Obama is going to "ratchet up the pressure on Congress." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
The Good Morning America segment featured Karl uncritically hyping the impact of the sequester cuts: "And the White House says that would mean hundreds of thousands of middle class jobs potentially at risk." Considering that the tiny cuts amount to $85 billion in a $16 trillion debt, some skepticism might have been warranted.
All three network newscasts on Friday featured Chicago as an example of Barack Obama's call for more gun control. ABC and NBC ignored the inconvenient fact that the city already has some of the strictest gun control in the country. (It took a Supreme Court ruling to overturn Chicago's ban on handguns.) Only the CBS Evening News mentioned this point.
On the NBC Nightly News, Lester Holt explained that the President traveled to Chicago "where dozens of children are victims of gun violence every year." Chuck Todd highlighted, "For years, it's the NRA that has used emotion to win big political battles. The president hopes the emotions of Newtown change the equation." He also noted that Chicago saw almost "nearly 500 gun shot-related murders in 2012."
Former Democratic Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. was charged on Friday with improperly spending $750,000 of campaign funds on items such as Michael Jackson and Bruce Lee memorabilia (among other things). Yet, ABC's World News did not cover the story at all. On Saturday, Good Morning America allowed the news a mere 18 seconds. Over the course of the weekend, NBC's Nightly News, the CBS Evening News, Saturday Morning, Today and GMA never mentioned that Jackson is a Democrat. There was no coverage on Sunday.
Most, such as Evening News guest-host Anthony Mason, simply referred to Jackson as the "former Chicago Congressman." CBS correspondent Nancy Cordes spun, "Jackson, Jr., came to Congress in 1995, the promising and personable son of a civil rights leader, the Reverend Jesse Jackson." Cordes did highlight how the ex-representative spent his campaign funds, including "$43,000 on a gold-plated men's Rolex watch, $5,000 on fur capes and parkas and a long list of Bruce Lee and Michael Jackson memorabilia."
While new White House chief of staff Denis McDonough was grilled about the Benghazi terrorist attack on CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday, NBC Meet the Press moderator David Gregory only lobbed a single softball on the scandal, while fill-in host Jonathan Karl ignored the topic all together on ABC's This Week. The White House was unwilling to even allow Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace to interview McDonough.
On Meet the Press, after providing a fawning biographical intro of McDonough, Gregory only briefly touched on Benghazi, hoping the controversy was over: "I've talked to Republican senators, they've wanted to get additional information about what the President did the night of the attack...Has the President finished on the Benghazi matter? Is there anything else he's going to say or anything else he's concluded that should've been done that was not done?"
On ABC's Good Morning America Sunday, they actually did a segment addressing whether or not some of the pictures taken during the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue photo shoots were - wait for it! - racist (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Newt Gingrich had a fabulous exchange with the Washington Post's Ruth Marcus on ABC's This Week Sunday that really speaks volumes about the media's reaction to Republican Senators filibustering Chuck Hagel's confirmation as Defense Secretary.
When Marcus spouted the typical liberal commentator line "Republicans just want to make themselves look even more obstructionist with a country that’s frustrated with that," Gingrich struck back saying, "This is just such Washington nonsense" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
ABC News reporter David Wright chose an odd metaphor to describe criticism of the possible timing of the selection of Pope Benedict XVI's successor.
Wright, speaking live from the Vatican on today's Good Morning America, reported that yesterday the Vatican spokesman had floated a trial balloon suggesting that the conclave to choose a new Pope could be moved up from its originally established date of March 15th. Continued Wright: "but in other quarters of the Church, that trial balloon is being shot down faster than an old-school nun might rap you on the knuckles." View the video after the jump.