This year’s crop of GOP presidential candidates includes strong conservatives, just like the top Democratic candidates four years ago — Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards — were all staunch liberals. But a major, glaring difference between today’s campaign coverage and the early coverage of the 2007 Democratic nomination race is the impulse of journalists to repeatedly brand the 2012 GOP candidates as “conservative” despite offering extremely few “liberal” labels four years ago.
Media Research Center analysts reviewed the ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news programs from January 1 through July 31 and found 62 “conservative” labels for Republican candidates or those talked about as potential candidates. A check of the same broadcasts for the same time period in 2007 found a paltry three “liberal” labels for the Democrats running that year, a greater than 20-to-1 disparity.
Friday night’s CBS Evening News examined Rick Perry’s record in Texas, citing his claims his policies led to job creation but then pivoting to how “Perry's bedrock pledge to never raise taxes also had a reckoning this year.”
Reporter Wyatt Andrews relayed liberal claims that “with taxes not an option, the state cut deeply into health care and so deeply into education, some 49,000 teachers are being laid off.” He prompted a teacher: “Do you see a Texas miracle?” She retorted, “No, I see a Texas tragedy” as Andrews related that she “calls her layoff the cost of low taxes.”
The recent decision by Standard & Poor's to downgrade the U.S. credit rating to AA+ from AAA upset many on the left, especially those within the Obama administration. The White House lashed out at S&P and some in the news media did too. So Business & Media Institute decided to look back at six years of network (ABC,CBS and NBC) coverage of S&P.
BMI found out that bulk of network criticism of the ratings agency came AFTER the Obama administration went on the attack and that the networks relied on S&P experts three times more than they criticized them.
ABC’s Jake Tapper on Thursday night scolded Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for a “gaffe” over his assertion that “corporations are people” since “everything corporations earn ultimately goes to the people.”
That common sense observation came in reaction to a bunch of hecklers, from a left-wing activist group, who confronted Romney in Iowa, yet neither ABC or CBS acknowledged their agenda. The CBS Evening News, in fact, put “Voter Anger” on screen over one of the screaming leftists as anchor Scott Pelley declared “voters are angry about the economy.”
While CBS's Early Show and the New York Times both highlighted their own poll showing support for further spending cuts, the CBS Evening News ignored it. Americans three-to-one believe the spending cuts in the debt ceiling deal were too small rather than too big, according to a CBS News/New York Times poll.
As NewsBusters reported, Thursday's CBS Evening News ignored the support for cuts while reporting increased disapproval of the Tea Party and support for tax increases. "The Tea Party fares poorly in the poll," declared CBS's Chip Reid.
Running through the findings of a new CBS News/New York Times poll, on Thursday’s CBS Evening News Chip Reid highlighted how, after weeks of media hostility the Tea Party has lost popularity, as he also located people to illustrate how more wanted, and still want, taxes raised over spending cuts alone.
Reid ignored, however, how far more – Republicans, independents, and even Democrats – believe the spending cuts “didn’t go far enough” over “went too far.”
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams announced on Wednesday's show that "the number of Americans relying on food stamps has hit another all-time record" with "Nearly 46 million of your fellow citizens are receiving food stamp assistance." Yet curiously he did not tie Barack Obama's fiscal policies to this economic tragedy, something the liberal media was prone to do when it came to blaming Ronald Reagan in the '80s for homelessness or George W. Bush for high gas prices.
In fact, in the face of this growing plight for an increasing number of Americans no anchor or reporter at the Big Three networks (NBC, CBS and ABC) has come even close to blaming the Obama administration in their food stamp stories.
Framing a shortcoming in the debt deal as a liberal would and does, CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley on Tuesday night regretted the how “the last time the President and the Congress compromised on a major spending bill, Republicans got tax cuts and Mr. Obama won an extension of unemployment benefits,” but this time “there are only budget cuts and no relief for those suffering in this economy.”
On Monday, Politico reported that "several sources" in a private meeting of House Democrats confirmed that Vice President Joe Biden accused Tea Party Republicans of having "acted like terrorists." CBS and ABC completely punted the story on their evening and morning newscasts. NBC made mention of the controversy, but only to further Biden's denial of having made the comment.
CBS's omission was particularly stunning given that Evening News anchor Scott Pelley interviewed the Vice President on Monday. Politico noted that Pelley actually did ask about the 'terrorist' remark: "'I did not use the terrorism word,' Biden told CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor Scott Pelley." However, Pelley's question and Biden's denial were completely scrubbed from the portion of the interview aired on Monday's Evening News or Tuesday's Early Show.
On Saturday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Nancy Cordes seemed to put the burden on Republicans of causing U.S. troops to wonder if they will be paid on time during the budget battle, as a clip of her was shown asked House Speaker John Boehner, "How can you even allow these soldiers to wonder whether they're going to get paid?"
The broadcast network evening newscasts on Friday night noted the very anemic second quarter GDP growth rate at 1.3 percent, but instead of stressing how it showed the weak economic state well before the debt ceiling showdown, they submerged it into warnings of how the delay in getting a deal is hurting the economy.
On ABC’s World News, Bianna Golodryga, aka Mrs. Peter Orszag, the wife of Obama’s former OMB Director, helped her husband’s ex-employer by failing to even mention the worst news of the day: the revision of the first quarter GDP down to a flat line 0.4 percent from the original 1.9 percent estimate. At least CBS and NBC considered that newsworthy.
On three occasions between July 22 and July 26, 2011, CBS's Bob Schieffer carried water for President Obama when he echoed the Democrat's inaccurate claim about Social Security: "Millions of Americans...may not get their next [Social Security] check if the debt ceiling crisis is not resolved." In reality, there is enough federal revenues and authorized expenditures to pay for the program [audio clips available here].
Schieffer gave a preview of the CBS Evening News nine minutes into the 8 am Eastern hour of the July 22, 2011 Early Show with his dire warning about Social Security:
SCHIEFFER: Every month, millions of Americans depend on Social Security to support their families and make ends meet. But now, they may not get their next check, if the debt ceiling crisis is not resolved.
On Election Day 2010, then-CBS Early Show anchor Harry Smith posed a hypothetical question about newly-elected Republicans to Ann Coulter: “There’ll be a routine vote, for instance, to increase the debt ceiling and the Tea Party guys are going to say, ‘Over my dead body,’ and the government comes to a screeching halt. Then what happens?” The conservative author confidently predicted: “Well, the media will blame the Republicans.”
And that’s precisely what has occurred. A Media Research Center study of the Big Three network evening and morning programs finds that, when it came to assigning blame for lack of a debt ceiling resolution, ABC, CBS and NBC’s coverage has placed the overwhelming majority of the blame on Republicans’ doorstep.
The three major networks trumpeted the news this weekend that the man behind a mass shooting spree in Norway is also a Christian, highlighting the fact in eight different programs from Saturday through Monday.
The July 25 New York Times used page one to declare, "As Horrors Emerge, Norway Charges Christian Extremist." Yet, these same journalistic outlets were far more reticent to identify the religion of past Islamic killers.
On Saturday's Good morning America, Miguel Marquez trumpeted, "Police have identified the shooter as a 32-year-old Norwegian and Christian fundamentalist." He made sure to note Anders Breivik's "right-wing" and "anti-Muslim" views.
As Sunday’s CBS Evening News recounted the day of marriage ceremonies for gay couples in New York state, where same-sex marriage has just been legalized, correspondent Jim Axelrod spent much of his report focusing on all the marriage benefits couples will not enjoy because the federal government does not recognize such unions. But he also found a consequence for some couples who may lose domestic partner benefits from their employers who are now planning to cut back such benefits and pressure couples to get married to qualify.
On Sunday, the CBS Evening News and NBC’s Meet the Press both briefly noted an unfolding sex scandal involving Oregon Democratic Representative David Wu, who is being accused of making unwanted sexual advances toward the teenage daughter of a political donor.
CBS substitute anchor Norah O’Donnell directly labeled Wu as a Democrat, While NBC’s David Gregory indirectly hinted at Wu’s Democratic ties by noting that the Congressman had met with "leader of the Democrats, Pelosi."
Both broadcasts noted the scandal toward the end of the program.
Below are the transcripts of portions of the CBS Evening News and NBC’s Meet the Press where the Wu story were covered:
Over a span of just four days, the three major networks devoted 12 minutes and 59 seconds to highlighting the "campaign controversy" of Michele Bachmann's migraines. The report first appeared online and then was quickly picked up on ABC, NBC and CBS. On Wednesday, Good Morning America's Robin Roberts warned, " But now a new story is raising questions about her health."
On NBC's Today, Kelly O'Donnell insisted, "A report on Michele Bachmann's struggle with migraines is a political headache on the campaign trail." In total, the story of a relatively minor medical condition was featured on GMA, Today, World News, Nightly News and CBS's Early Show.
ABC, CBS, and NBC ignored the existence of the Cut, Cap and Balance (CCB) bill until last week, a Nexis search revealed, despite multiple polls demonstrating overwhelming public support.
In addition to the blackout, none of the broadcast networks ever mentioned the positive polls in their coverage of the bill, even though 65 percent of the public backed a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget in a Mason-Dixon poll from May and 72 percent approved of such a measure in a Fox News poll from June.
House Republicans have a budget-cutting proposal that stands no chance of getting by President Obama while some Senators have a big tax-hiking plan which stands no chance of passage in the House, but CBS, in illustrating the larger media take, framed the conservative plan as a distracting waste of time while cheerleading the Senate’s “Gang of 33” plan in the name of “bi-partisanship.”
Tuesday’s CBS Evening News poked fun at 80-year-old Rupert Murdoch being nearly hit by a pie as the show led with the News Corp founder’s appearance in front of the British parliament to discuss the News of the World phone hacking scandal. During the opening teaser, after playing a clip of Murdoch exclaiming that "This is the most humble day of my life," Schieffer made a quip about "humble pie." Schieffer: "Elizabeth Palmer and Anthony Mason on the News Corp chief getting a taste of humble pie."
After Schieffer opened the show recounting the Murdoch story and introduced correspondents Elizabeth Palmer and Anthony Mason, Mason could be seen with a big grin, presumably in response to the CBS anchor’s opening. Schieffer summed up the day’s events:
Reporters have repeatedly portrayed Barack Obama as a deficit hawk committed to "slashing" spending, as MRC Research Director Rich Noyes documented in April ahead of the president's much-anticipated budget speech.
While the media touted Obama's budget blueprint, which contained puny cuts, as "deeply painful," CBO Director Doug Elmendorf told Congress the president's framework lacked sufficient detail to be scored as a credible plan.
Since then, Obama still hasn't revealed a serious plan to cut spending, yet correspondents continue to paint the president as a budget cutter.
On Friday’s World News on ABC, correspondent Jonathan Karl took a moment to go beyond the budget debate between House Republicans and President Obama with the GOP unwilling to support a tax increase, and noted that House Democrats have also been just as resistant to voting for cutting the growth of Medicare spending. But the same night's CBS Evening News focused on Republican reluctance to support some of the budget proposals and even gave the impression at one point that congressional Democrats were willing to curtail Medicare growth.
On ABC, after recounting some of the Republicans who have resisted voting for budget plans that have been brought up, Karl continued:
The 2010 elections, which changed the balance of power in the House, were driven by popular opposition to government spending, debt and the threat of tax increases. Yet even with the federal debt limit already breached and only days left to prevent a national default, the media continue to ignore the public's wishes.
The theme of network reports on the debt ceiling battle is that some agreement MUST be reached so that the limit can be increased, but many Americans disagree with raising the debt limit and are more concerned about government spending. But that has barely been mentioned in stories.
Polls taken by Gallup, CBS and AP have all registered significant worry about federal debt and opposition to an increase in the debt ceiling. But ABC, CBS and NBC coverage of the debt limit battle being waged on Capitol Hill has not reflected that fact.
Out of 45 reports on the broadcast network's evening news programs between June 16 and July 12, only one mentioned a poll that showed public opposition to raising the debt ceiling. That's a mere 2 percent of reports. An additional two stories had some reference to what the public might think, but without polling data.
On Thursday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Nancy Cordes filed a report on House Majority Leader Eric Cantor as a "lightning rod" for sharp criticism from Democrats because of his role in budget negotiations with President Obama. After beginning the report with a clip of Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer asserting that Cantor "has yet to make a constructive contribution," and after recounting that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had called the Republican leader "childish," Cordes seemed to legitimize the insults as she asserted that Cantor had provided "plenty of ammunition":
On Wednesday's CBS Evening News, Dean Reynolds highlighted sob stories surrounding the current shutdown of the Minnesota state government, providing a possible template of how the mainstream media would cover a potential federal government shutdown if the debt ceiling issue isn't resolved by August 2.
Before getting to Reynolds's report, substitute anchor Russ Mitchell played a clip from his colleague Scott Pelley's interview of President Obama, where the Democrat stated that "some courage and some tough choices" were needed to resolve the stalemate over the federal budget. Mitchell then used the President's own phrase as he introduced the situation in Minnesota: "They did not make those tough choices in Minnesota. As a result, the state government shut down two weeks ago. Like Washington, it's a budget deadlock between a Democratic chief executive and a Republican-controlled legislature. Dean Reynolds shows us what it looks like when lawmakers can't figure out how to keep a state running."
America's only admittedly socialist member of Congress said Wednesday that he disagreed with President Obama's comments concerning Social Security checks possibly not going out on August 3rd if the debt ceiling isn't raised.
When Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said he felt checks to seniors and disabled vets would be issued no matter what, the host of MSNBC's "The Ed Show" responded, "So you would take issue with the President on that statement, that he may have been fear-mongering in essence?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
As a result of Scott Pelley's interview with President Obama on the "CBS Evening News" Tuesday, the media are once again scaring seniors with the absurd notion Social Security checks won't go out in August if the debt ceiling isn't raised.
An examination of the video and transcript of the relevant sections of this exchange bring into question whether or not that's actually what the President said (video follows with transcript and commentary):
In a relatively inoffensive interview with President Barack Obama for Tuesday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Scott Pelley implied the Tea Party (and maybe congressional liberals too) should be blamed for blocking a debt ceiling deal (“Isn't the problem that a large number of the Members of Congress will not follow your leadership or the Republican leadership?”) and fondly recalled how “it wasn't that long ago when compromise in Washington was considered a virtue, not a vice.”
Pelley touted how “Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill were on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but they respected each other, they liked each other and they got things done.” That allowed Obama to use Reagan to scold conservatives: “If Ronald Reagan could compromise, why wouldn't folks who idolize Ronald Reagan be willing to engage in those same kinds of compromises?”
After showing behind anchor Russ Mitchell an image of the sign "To Gaza with Love" from one of the flotilla boats planning to challenge Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, Saturday’s CBS Evening News showed a report highlighting the allegedly nonviolent intentions of American activists on board one of the ships - named "The Audacity of Hope" - without noting that, during last year’s anti-Israel flotilla trip, some activists attacked Israeli troops as they attempted to board. CBS correspondent Barry Peterson merely recounted that Israeli troops killed some of the activists without explaining why:
Last year, boats ran the blockade. Israeli commandos stormed one ship, killing nine. This time, politics was enough to have Greece ban any boats leaving in a new flotilla. Israel and Greece do more than half a billion dollars in trade, and Israel is planning a natural gas pipeline to Greece. The American activists knew getting to Gaza was a long shot, but still practiced to resist Israeli soldiers who might have boarded their ship.
A clip was shown of this year’s activists sitting on the floor in a circle as if practicing to nonviolently resist Israeli troops.
On Thursday's CBS Evening News and Friday's Early Show, CBS glossed over President Obama's aim to break a campaign promise with a proposal to raise taxes on people who make less than $250,000 a year. Both Chip Reid and Bill Plante noted that "the White House is also insisting on...a limit on deductions for people...making more than $200,000 a year," but didn't reference the Democrat's 2008 tax pledge.
Near the end of his report, which aired 44 minutes into the 6 pm Eastern hour, Reid highlighted the Obama administration's push for tax hikes: