Saturday's CBS Evening News ballyhooed the "enormous strain on resources" that the budget sequester has apparently put on extinguishing a massive wildfire in Colorado. Carter Evans played up how, in addition to fighting the flames, "federal firefighters are facing another challenge: a loss of $50 million, mandated by the budget sequester. That forced the Forest Service to cut 500 firefighters and 50 engines, just when they're needed most."
The CBS evening newscast was actually late to the game, as the network's Big Three competitors also spotlighted the same figures earlier in June.
A key to success in business is knowing your competition.
CBS Evening News host Scott Pelley apparently doesn't subscribe to this doctrine, for in an interview with Deadline Hollywoodpublished Saturday, Pelley claimed that Fox News only has 200,000 to 300,000 viewers:
For many years, the networks have done a sloppy job of comparing "conservatives" around the globe. As the Berlin Wall fell, the "conservatives" became the communists who wanted to keep their grip on power and not give way to democracy. That's hardly comparable to American conservatives.
On Saturday night, CBS News was doing this sloppy dance on the elections in Iran. From London, reporter Elizabeth Palmer declared all the candidates to succeed Ahmadinejad were the Islamist equivalent of the American Tea Party movement:
Banks are bad because they make a profit on things requested by their customers, according to both NBC and CBS. The two networks highlighted a study released June 11 by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau [CFPB] that said banks made $12.6 billion in overdraft fees and non-sufficient funds from bounced checks in 2011. Though only 20 percent of customers actually opt-in for overdraft protection, NBC called these fees “one of the most common financial mistakes Americans make.”
Anchor Lester Holt opened the segment with alarmist, accusatory language: “A government report out today makes it clear just how much this country’s banks are profiting from your mistakes. We’re talking about those hefty overdraft charges when checking accounts are overdrawn. Well it turns out the banks are now making most of their fees from these penalties.”
When news broke that IRS agents were abusively targeting conservative groups particularly the Tea Party, it looked at as if this was an Obama administration scandal that would stick. Even reporters like NBC’s Andrea Mitchell counted it as among the “most outrageous excesses I’ve seen.” Obama sycophant Chris Matthews predicted it could be worth “five or 10 points” for Republicans in the next midterm elections. Even theNew York Timeseditorial board proclaimed: “The IRS Audits Are Condemned.”
The Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) news networks actually jumped to cover the story, filling their evening and morning shows with a total of 96 stories in the first two weeks (May 10 through May 23) of coverage. But after those two strong weeks, the broadcast networks lost interest in the scandal, and the coverage slowed to a crawl -- just 31 stories in the subsequent weeks (May 24 through June 12). This week, the networks have run only one story (June 11 on ABC’s Good Morning America) on the IRS scandal.
The latest State Department scandal, involving a possible cover-up of sexual misconduct by an ambassador and security officials, was only newsworthy enough to merit one full report each on ABC and NBC's morning and evening newscasts before the two networks moved on. NBC led Tuesday's Today with the "damaging documents" concerning the "possibly illegal...behavior", but ignored it the following morning. NBC Nightly News hasn't even touched the story yet.
ABC arrived late to covering the allegations on Tuesday's World News, but Good Morning America has yet to mention the issue as of Wednesday. CBS broke their scoop on the scandal on Monday's CBS This Morning, and covered it as well on Tuesday and Wednesday.
America’s daughters will now be able to buy the “morning after” abortion pill with their Justin Bieber fan-zines and “Twilight” novels. To many people, that’s important news. But ABC didn’t think it was worth noting on “World News with Diane Sawyer.”
Perhaps ABC felt it was already covering an important health story and couldn’t fit another in the broadcast. And really, a segment on women wearing high-heels even though their feet hurt is hard-hitting journalism.
It looked bizarre. After CBS broke the State Department scandal on Monday’s “CBS This Morning,” there was nothing on “CBS Evening News.” The New York Post “Page Six” gossips suggested it was “because Pelley and his EP, Pat Shevlin, were peeved” it broke in the morning, not on their show.
“Pelley called Page Six last night to vehemently deny he had a meltdown — then promptly went into a meltdown,” they reported.
For the week of May 27, the Big Three networks' evening news broadcasts declined, both compared to the previous week and the same week last year, and garnered an average combined daily audience of just under 20 million.
Somehow, Chris Ariens at Media Bistro apparently wasn't looking at the same numbers his readers were when he did his post, and wrote the following while linking back to the related post from last year which contradicted what he wrote (bolds are mine; link is in original):
On Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd cheered President Obama picking Susan Rice to be his new national security advisor and nominating Samantha Power as U.N. ambassador: "They are now among the most powerful women in the American foreign policy community. Behind-the-scenes power players now front and center."
Amid sound bites of Obama praising both women, Todd joined in extolling their accomplishments: "Both come with a long list of impressive credentials. Rice, a Harvard graduate and Rhodes scholar with a Ph.D. from Oxford. In 1990's she served as assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration. Power is a human rights expert and Pulitzer Prize-winning author; she's also the mother of two young children."
On Monday's NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams failed to mention Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan's traditional Islamic orientation as he reported on the "anti-government protests" in the Mediterranean country. Williams merely described the demonstrations as a "display of frustration with the prime minister...who has been trying to impose more conservative values on that mostly secular country."
CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley had no such qualms the same evening as he reported on the same rallies. Pelley asked correspondent Holly Williams, "When the protestors say that Erdogan is trying to impose his Islamic values on the country, what are they talking about?"
The Tea Party grassroots protesters have made no secret of their support for limited government and lower taxes. But from the perspective of network reporters and anchors, the Tea Party’s message was more radical: “no government” and “no taxes.”
On May 10, the IRS admitted to flagging more than 100 Tea Party-related applications for higher scrutiny, including applications that included the words “Tea Party” and “patriot.” But even before that targeting began, the networks had portrayed the Tea Party as a extreme group opposed to taxation, instead of one supporting smaller government.
Already moving on from the IRS scandal? On Thursday night, only the CBS Evening News of the broadcast network evening newscasts bothered to note how Lois Lerner, the IRS official in charge of the division which processes tax-exempt applications, was put on administrative leave after she took the Fifth and refused to answer questions at a House hearing the day before. Anchor Scott Pelley squeezed in 20 seconds on it.
Yet, ABC World News and the NBC Nightly News made room to highlight a photo of a 17-year-old Barack Obama and his prom date along with a friend and his date.
The Big Three networks coverage so far of the Justice Department's questionable investigation of Fox News' James Rosen has followed a similar pattern to that of their coverage of the Kermit Gosnell case. Jan Crawford's report on Thursday's CBS This Morning was the first full report on growing controversy on ABC, CBS, and NBC's morning and evening newscasts. NBC briefly covered the investigation on Tuesday's Today, and ABC has yet to mention it.
Crawford pointed out how the DOJ's "unprecedented" surveillance of Rosen has "really just set off a firestorm of criticism from the left and right. For the first time ever, a presidential administration is treating news reporting like a crime, and a reporter like a criminal suspect." [audio available here; video below the jump]
What does a murderous jihadist terrorist have to do to get some recognition for his cause? You hack a British soldier to death in broad daylight on a London street while shouting “Allahu akbar” and then “swear by the almighty Allah” that you’ll never stop fighting, and the U.S. broadcast networks still can’t bring themselves to utter a word about Islam.
True, the ABC CBS and NBC evening broadcasts called the attack “terrorism,” but for all the information they gave viewers, the attackers might have been Basque separatists or animal rights zealots.
Monday’s CBS Evening News took one break from Oklahoma tornado coverage – to run a piece on how an IRS manager who recently retired from the Cincinnati office, where 501 (c)(4) applications were processed, declared “politics and religion were things that people generally didn’t talk about at work.”
Reporter Dean Reynolds focused on the assurances by Bonnie Esrig, who was also featured in a Saturday Washington Post article on how politics had nothing to do with the targeting of conservative groups: “She never heard anyone say the words ‘the President wants this done.’”
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is under fire for soliciting donations from health care companies to underwrite ObamaCare PR efforts to increase enrollment but you wouldn't know that if you only got your news from ABC and NBC or skipped Sunday's edition of CBS's Face the Nation.
The Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks have effectively buried the scandal that was first broken by the Washington Post on May 10.
Thursday's CBS This Morning did its best to shift blame away from President Obama on the IRS, Justice Department, and Benghazi scandals currently surrounding his administration. Bob Schieffer shot down comparisons to the Watergate scandal that led to former President Richard Nixon's resignation: "This is not the Nixon administration, where you had burglars and people talking about blowing up the Brookings Institution. This is more of a case – is anybody home?" [audio available here; video below the jump]
Anchor Charlie Rose seconded Schieffer's assessment, asserting that the President "seems like a bystander in his own government." He later stated that "the President has to take control of his own government."
The media furor that began Monday night over the Justice Department obtaining two months of phone records from the Associated Press marks the first time in 335 days that any of the Big Three evening newscasts have even mentioned the existence of two criminal investigations into whether White House or other national security officials leaked sensitive secrets, perhaps to politically benefit Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.
This week’s coverage has generally referred to how the FBI is investigating “who leaked details of a highly-classified effort to foil a terror plot,” as NBC’s Pete Williams put it on Tuesday’s Today show. On ABC’s Good Morning America that same day, reporter David Kerley insisted that “the President and White House made it clear they want to go after leakers,” without letting viewers in on how the leading suspects are presumably all top administration officials.
While the Big Three (ABC, CBS and NBC) networks have all done stories on the Obama administration's seizure of Associated Press (AP) reporters phone records, what is striking is their reluctance to attach Barack Obama's name to the controversy. In seven total stories aired on their evening and morning shows, since the story broke on Monday afternoon, Obama's name was used only six times. Reporters were much more likely to use the generic term "government." For example, CBS's Bob Orr on Wednesday's This Morning described the controversy this way: "The government just simply came in, got the subpoenas, took the phone logs and then notified the AP after the fact."
The reluctance to put Obama's name in these stories is important because it allows the low-information voter to write off the scandal as one caused by faceless government bureaucrats.
“In Philadelphia today,” anchor Scott Pelley said on the May 13 CBS “Evening News,” there was a verdict in a murder trial that got national attention.” He was talking about the murder trial of Kermit Gosnell, and whatever “national attention” it received was given grudgingly by the media – including Pelley’s own network.
In fact, it took 56 days, multiple letters from members of the House of Representatives and a public demand from conservative groups, before all three broadcast networks reported on Gosnell.
Scott Pelley deserves grudging credit for recognizing something obvious at a Friday luncheon in New York. Readers tempted to go beyond that point would be advised to visit the archive of Pelley-related posts at NewsBusters on his brand of so-called journalism, a few of which will be identified later in this post.
At said luncheon, Pelley received the 20th annual Fred Friendly First Amendment Award from the School of Communications at Quinnipiac University. In his acceptance speech (full YouTube; excerpt here; HT Weekly Standard), Pelley spoke of journalistic failures during the past few months. He wants to believe that the past few months have been extraordinarily bad to a supposedly unprecedented extent.
The evening news broadcasts on NBC, ABC, and CBS on Wednesday all offered full reports on the compelling congressional testimony regarding the Benghazi terrorist attack, but only after all three programs led with coverage of the Cleveland abduction case.
NBC Nightly News and CBS Evening News both at least informed viewers of the hearing during top-of-the-show teases, but ABC World News failed to make any mention of the hearing until a report nine minutes into the program (though anchor Diane Sawyer did find time to preview a story about tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams).
CBS's Sharyl Attkisson is apparently viewed by network executives as "wading dangerously close to advocacy" in her coverage of the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, as Politico's Dylan Byers asserted in a Wednesday item. Byers reported that "Attkisson can't get some of her stories on the air, and is thus left feeling marginalized and underutilized."
Attkisson's minute-long report about the House Oversight Committee's latest hearing on the attack on Wednesday's CBS This Morning was actually the first time since November 23, 2012 that the journalist reported about the story on air, according a search on Nexis.
The extent of the media's influence to shape public opinion was on full display in a new Pew Research Center poll that shows, even though gun crime has dropped by half since its peak in the mid '90s, most Americans (56 percent) wrongly think gun violence has increased.
In anL.A. Timesarticle that highlighted the poll, Emily Alpert posited "It's unclear whether media coverage is driving the misconception that such violence is up. The mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., were among the news stories most closely watched by Americans last year, Pew found."
CBS used its Sunday evening and Monday morning newscasts to keep the spotlight on the question of a "possible cover-up" surrounding the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Jeff Glor led CBS Evening News with the scoop from earlier in the day on Face the Nation – that a "career U.S. diplomat is raising new questions" about the Obama administration's claim that the attack spontaneously erupted in response to an early protest in Egypt.
Monday's CBS This Morning also aired a report on this latest development on the September 11, 2012 attack. Meanwhile, ABC and NBC have yet to pick up on the veteran diplomat's allegations, despite the fact that he is set to testify publicly to Congress on the issue on Wednesday.
The Obama administration has flushed almost $200 million of the American taxpayer's money down the drain on another green company failure but ABC and NBC have yet to report on it. On Monday, the electric car company Fisker Automotive failed to make a $10 million payment on a $192 million federal government loan, bringing it closer to bankruptcy. Only CBS, on Thursday's This Morning, mentioned it - and then only gave it 15 seconds.
Fisker joins Solyndra in what has turned into a long list of Obama administration supported green companies that have turned into boondoggles for the American taxpayer that the Big Three networks have virtually ignored.