CBS's Erica Hill tossed softballs at a survivor of the Tucson shooting and the executive director of a pro-gun control group on Tuesday's Early Show, just hours before they were due to speak at a congressional hearing to promote tighter gun regulations. Hill played up fellow survivor Rep. Gabrielle Giffords's recent interview and asked, "What does that do to you and to this cause that you have now adopted?"
The anchor led the 8 am Eastern hour of the morning show by playing a clip of ABC's Diane Sawyer asking the Arizona representative about the January 2011 shooting. Hill then gushed over Giffords's recovery as she introduced her guests- Patricia Maisch, who helped subdue Jared Loughner, and Mark Glaze of Mayors Against Illegal Guns: "I know that watching the recovery...has been encouraging in ways that are probably tough to describe."
Through the month of October, as this MRC study found, the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks completely ignored the numerous charges of sexual assaults at OWS protests on their evening and morning news shows. In fact, it wasn’t until this weekend that one and only one network, ABC reported on the rape of a woman in Philadelphia, and that was only after that city’s Democratic Mayor Michael Nutter expressed concern about safety.
On the November 13 edition of ABC’s World News reporter Cecilia Vega mentioned: “In Occupy Philadelphia, an arrest after a woman was dragged into a tent and sexually assaulted.” Vega then threw it to a soundbite from Nutter charging: “Occupy Philly has changed. We’re seeing serious health and safety issues playing out on an almost daily basis. The people of Occupy Philly have also changed and their intentions have changed.”
Four years ago, the ABC, CBS and NBC morning shows celebrated the “rock star” Democrats running to replace George W. Bush, and no candidate set journalists’ pulses racing faster than Barack Obama. Now, after three years of high unemployment, trillion dollar deficits and an onerous new health care law, how are those newscasts covering Obama’s re-election campaign and the candidates vying to replace him?
To find out, the MRC’s Geoff Dickens and I (with a huge assist from Scott Whitlock, Kyle Drennen and Matthew Balan) examined all 723 campaign segments, including 101 interviews, which aired on the three broadcast network weekday morning programs from January 1 to October 31, 2011, using the same methodology we employed to study campaign coverage on those same programs for the same time period in 2007. Excerpts following the jump; read the full report here. (or download the printer-friendly PDF version)
On Monday's Early Show, CBS's Rebecca Jarvis wondered if Newt Gingrich would "have to play a little more dirty...to take on the other GOP contenders to win the bid." Bob Schieffer replied cynically that Gingrich would "save his criticism for attacking the media, which is always the safe thing to do." Chris Wragge prompted the former Speaker to criticize Herman Cain and Rick Perry on Friday, but he didn't bite.
Jarvis brought on the Face The Nation host for his take on Republican presidential debate hosted by CBS and National Journal on Saturday. Near the end of the interview, the fill-in anchor raised how Gingrich was "gaining momentum" and that he "held true to this no real confrontation with the other candidates" during the debate. She then directed her "dirty" question to Schieffer.
Good Morning America's John Berman on Friday made no effort to hide his derision of Rick Perry, noting that former FEMA Director Joe Allbaugh is running his campaign. Berman openly mocked, "...[Allbaugh] ran FEMA. So, he knows how to recover from disasters, Robin."
Earlier in the segment, the reporter made another comparison, joking, "You know, there's no question that Rick Perry is in full-scale political rehab. It's like a 12-step plan." Supposedly objective journalists on Thursday's evening newscasts and Friday's morning shows pounced on Perry's debate flub from Wednesday. [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
On Friday, both NBC's Today and CBS's The Early Show offered news briefs on two deadly shooting incidents at two separate Occupy Wall Street protests Thursday night, while ABC's Good Morning America failed to make any mention of the deaths.
On Today, news anchor Natalie Morales reported: "Occupy Wall Street protests turned deadly overnight in two cities. In Oakland, California, Police are investigating a gun fight that left one man dead....And in Burlington, Vermont, a 35-year-old war veteran apparently shot himself..." On The Early Show, news anchor Terrell Brown noted: "In Oakland, California last night, a man was shot and killed just outside the anti-Wall Street demonstrations....A Wall Street protester committed suicide in Burlington, Vermont yesterday."
After 117 stories over ten days, what would it take for the big three networks to ease up on their unending obsession with the Herman Cain sexual harassment story? The opportunity to go after another Republican, this time Rick Perry. From Wednesday night's evening newscasts through the Thursday morning shows, there were only two Cain stories (bringing the total to 119).
Good Morning America, CBS's Early Show and NBC's Today all pounced on Perry's debate performance and an inability to remember a government agency that he wished to eliminate. The three morning shows only offered brief passing mentions to the Cain scandal. Instead, co-host Ann Curry pressed Perry, "Have you thought about ending your campaign? Are you staying in this race, sir?"
Updated [11:41 ET]: More analysis and transcripts added.
Interviewing Texas Governor Rick Perry on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Ann Curry asked the Republican presidential candidate about a flub in Wednesday's CNBC debate and wondered: "One of your fundraisers told The Wall Street Journal, simply, 'He just ended his campaign.' Have you thought about ending your campaign? Are you staying in this race, sir?" [Audio available here]
On CNN's American Morning, Christine Romans struck a similar tone with Perry: "How is this not the end? Convince us that this is not the end of your – of your candidacy....across the board you're hearing folks say that this was one of the worst, if not the worst, debate moment, those 54 seconds, you know, in modern primary history." [View video after the jump]
Elaine Quijano continued CBS's consistently glowing coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement on Wednesday's Early Show by spotlighting how two-thirds of Crosby, Stills, and Nash gave a concert for the protesters in New York City. Quijano played 12 clips from the concert and from the demonstrators, without once mentioning the growing examples of violence involving the left-leaning movement [audio clips available here; video below the jump].
Anchor Chris Wragge introduced the correspondent's report by noting only in passing how "anti-Wall Street protesters around the country are under growing pressure to go home...critics in several cities are saying they're just becoming a public nuisance." Co-anchor Erica Hill added that "here in New York City, demonstrators say they are in it, though, for the long haul- yes, even with winter coming. Correspondent Elaine Quijano takes a look at what the future holds for the protests."
NBC and ABC in their evening and morning newscasts completely ignored the grilling Eric Holder received on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, over his role in the Fast and Furious scandal. Senate Republicans forced Holder to admit his initial statements to Congress about his department’s role in gunwalking were "inaccurate," and that he never apologized to the family of a Border Agent killed by a Mexican drug cartel that used guns from the Fast and Furious operation. Only Sharyl Attkisson, in two full reports aired on Tuesday’s Evening News and Wednesday’s The Early Show, relayed the testimony that ABC and NBC blacked out on their broadcasts.
Attkisson, who was berated by the Obama White House and even momentarily benched by CBS, for her role in covering the story, ran down the pertinent details in the following story aired on the November 8 edition of CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley:
On Wednesday, all three network morning shows found time to tout the defeat of an Ohio law curbing union power in Tuesday's election, while ignoring passage of another ballot initiative that made the ObamaCare heath insurance mandate illegal in the state.
On NBC's Today, news anchor Natalie Morales declared: "In Ohio, voters rejected a new law that would limit the collective bargaining rights of some 350,000 unionized public workers. Labor unions there are calling the news their biggest victory in decades." On ABC's Good Morning America, Josh Elliott similarly announced the "big victory for labor unions." On CBS's The Early Show, Jeff Glor described how "voters handed union workers a victory."
The same networks that ignored sexual allegations against Democrats for months all leaped on Tuesday to interview Sharon Bialek and her liberal advocate Gloria Allred on the morning after she came forward. Between them, ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC devoted over 21 minutes to Bialek, who accused GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain of groping her over a decade ago. CNN had Bialek on for eight and a half minutes, and played up how Rush Limbaugh apparently said "not so nice things" about her [audio clips available here; video below the jump].
CBS's The Early Show gave the softest interview, failing to mention the accuser's past bankruptcies or Allred's liberal political leanings, something the other three at least mentioned. Anchor Jeff Glor asked Bialek if she would still vote for Cain if he became the GOP presidential nominee, only after her attorney, Gloria Allred, mentioned that her client was a registered Republican. None of the interviewers raised why Bialek had been fired by the National Restaurant Association before her meeting with Cain (correspondent Jan Crawford noted the firing in a setup piece on CBS).
In only eight and a half days, NBC, CBS and ABC have devoted a staggering 99 stories to sexual harassment charges against Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. In comparison, eight days into Bill Clinton's scandal's with Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey and Juanita Broaddrick, there were a combined eight reports.
Additionally, the three network newscasts on Monday offered scant information about the fact that Cain's accuser, Sharon Bialek, has hired the extremely liberal lawyer Gloria Allred. On NBC's Nightly News, reporter Kelly O'Donnell described Allred as a "high profile attorney." On CBS's Evening News, Jan Crawford referred to her as a "celebrity lawyer."
On Monday's Early Show, CBS's Jan Crawford spotlighted conservative criticism of the broad media coverage of the Herman Cain sexual harassment charges. Crawford stated that Cain's "testy exchange" with reporters "could help...because a lot of conservatives...think there's this huge liberal bias against conservatives. You know, the media didn't cover Bill Clinton...like they're doing Herman Cain."
The correspondent noted the right-leaning argument in response to a statement from anchor Erica Hill about a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll that had Cain just barely behind Mitt Romney at the front of the GOP presidential pack: "It would seem these allegations didn't have much of an impact in the latest polling." Just prior to this, the morning show played a sound bite of Cain refusing to answer a reporter's question on the controversy at a weekend press conference.
ABC, CBS and NBC have continued their overly positive coverage of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protestors, devoting a massive number of stories (81 in just the month of October) to the leftist, anti-capitalist movement. This is a far cry from the coverage they initially gave the Tea Party protest, granting them a scant 13 stories all of 2009. More troubling, the radicalism and criminal acts at some of the protests have been virtually ignored by the Big Three networks.
This was bound to happen given the overwhelming disparity in the number of soundbites (19 to 1 ratio) devoted to those who were sympathetic to the OWS cause. A staggering 190 (80%) soundbites were given to those who were in favor of the Occupiers, only 10 (4%) soundbites featured those who were critical of the movement, 38 (16%) were neutral. In addition, nine guests on the morning shows appreciated the OWS crowd, to just one against (Newt Gingrich).
From Friday night through Monday morning, the big three networks devoted an additional 21 stories to the Herman Cain sexual harassment story, bringing the networks' grand total to 84 in one week.
Even as they continued to pile on, these same networks defensively chided Cain for daring to criticize their coverage. On Sunday's Good Morning America, David Kerley hit Cain for "lashing out" at journalists. On Sunday's Today, David Gregory indignantly suggested Cain has "created this alternate universe" where he says to supporters, "You see...this is what the media does..."
The unrelenting network coverage of the Herman Cain sexual harassment story continued on Thursday and Friday with an additional 13 stories. That brings the total number of reports to a staggering 63 stories in just four and a half days.
Good Morning America offered up three stories on Friday, including a Brian Ross report tinged with anonymous allegations and rumor-mongering. Ross speculated, "Former employees tell ABC News, Cain was a regular on Washington's after-work bar scene, often with young women who worked with him at the restaurant association." Ross hinted, "Some say it was just Cain being personable and gregarious."
Over a period of just three and a half days, NBC, CBS and ABC have developed an insatiable hunger for the Herman Cain sexual harassment story, devoting an incredible 50 stories to the allegations since Monday morning. In contrast, over a similar period these networks mostly ignored far more substantial and serious scandals relating to Bill Clinton.
This pattern continued on Wednesday night and into Thursday as the evening newscasts and morning shows highlighted the story 19 times. On Good Morning America, Brian Ross offered innuendo and slung gossip, recounting, "But behind the scenes, several of the campaigns are still urging reporters to continue to dig, George, saying, there's more to be found in the private life of Herman Cain." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
On Wednesday's Early Show, CBS's Betty Nguyen incorrectly reported that Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain had been accused of "sexual assault" by two women. Nguyen later accurately reported that the women actually leveled sexual harassment allegations against Cain [video below the jump; audio clip available here].
The fill-in news anchor used the erroneous term during a 14-second news brief 37 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour: "One of two women who accuse Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain of sexual assault wants to speak out. The woman's lawyer say she wants to be released from a confidentiality agreement, so that she can publically respond to Cain's recent claims regarding the case."
The network evening newscasts on Tuesday and the morning shows on Wednesday continued to hype the Herman Cain "firestorm," creating 12 more stories in less than 24 hours. Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos led the show on Wednesday by trumpeting, " Republican front-runner Herman Cain changes his story again as one of his accusers now says she wants to go public on charges of sexual harassment."
On NBC's Today, Chuck Todd hyperbolically announced, "Struggling to move beyond the firestorm that is engulfing his candidacy, Herman Cain again denied he sexually harassed anyone." On that same program, guest Chris Matthews recklessly speculated that the Republican harassed women while drunk.
On Tuesday, the morning shows of the Big Three networks omitted the party affiliation of Jon Corzine as they reported on the federal investigation into his brokerage firm, something that even the liberal New York Times gave in their coverage of the story. ABC's Good Morning America also failed to include Corzine's name during their news brief on the investigation.
News anchor Josh Elliott noted in a 13-second brief that "a Wall Street brokerage firm run by New Jersey's former governoris filing for bankruptcy. Regulators say some $700 million belonging to MF Global's customers is apparently missing." Apparently, the name of the Democrat's firm is newsworthy at ABC, but his name and his party ID isn't.
All three network morning shows on Tuesday led with Herman Cain's response to allegations of sexual harassment in the 1990s and even speculated the scandal could end his candidacy, with NBC Today co-host Ann Curry proclaiming: "Damage control. Herman Cain changes his story....Will the controversy and his reaction to it derail his presidential campaign?"
On ABC's Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos announced: "24-hour flip-flop. Republican front-runner Herman Cain now admits he's been accused of sexual harassment and settlements were paid. His bizarre series of conflicting interviews.... what will it mean for his campaign?"
CBS's Early Show on Monday found yet another excuse to report on Occupy Wall Street, spotlighting the diehard protesters who stayed in Zuccotti Park during a winter storm. While correspondent Debbye Turner Bell noted the $3.4 million spent on police overtime in New York City and the complaints from businesses near the demonstrators' campsite, she didn't play one sound bite from the opposition.
Turner Bell first highlighted the "freezing temperatures and record-breaking October snow" over the past weekend in the Northeast and added, "And that does raise the question of how committed are these Occupy Wall Street protesters? But there's another question: can local city governments afford to pay the price tag that goes along with expressing this basic American right?"
All three morning shows on Monday hyped a "bombshell blast" against Herman Cain, playing up a story in Politico charging the Republican presidential candidate with sexual harassment back in the 1990s. ABC's Good Morning America led with the allegations.
Co-host George Stephanopoulos, whose former boss, Bill Clinton, repeatedly faced sexual harassment claims, touted, "And this morning, bombshell blast. Major allegations against front-runner Herman Cain. Two former female colleagues accuse him of sexual harassment."
Thursday's Early Show on CBS provided free air time to Rep. Steve Israel of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and three of his top candidates for the 2012 election. Correspondent Nancy Cordes trumpeted how the Democratic Party is "determined to bounce back from their big losses" to Republicans during the 2010 cycle and highlighted that the three were "running against Tea Party members."
Anchor Chris Wragge teased Cordes's report by touting how Democrats were "finding their own outsiders to run against the Washington status quo. We're going to talk to some of those new recruits, including a former astronaut and a former police chief, who they say with Congress more unpopular than ever, they've got a good chance to make the kind of change in Washington that they feel Washington needs."
On Wednesday's Early Show, CBS's Erica Hill downplayed the instances of violence and bigotry found at Occupy Wall Street protests as simply "the actions of a few," after GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich denounced the "frightening level of anti-Semitism in some of these gatherings." Hill questioned Gingrich over his supposedly "pretty outspoken words" about the left-leaning movement [audio clip available here; video available below the jump].
The anchor raised the demonstrations towards the end of her interview of the former House speaker, after Gingrich claimed that "people are pretty sick of the lack of civility...they watch Washington, they watch gridlock, [and] they watch a president who's more comfortable on [Jay] Leno than he is in trying to govern the country." Hill replied that "people, too, are fed up, as we know- we see a lot of this with the Occupy Wall Street protests. The latest CBS News/New York Times poll finds that 46% of Americans say that their views reflect a sentiment that most Americans share."
According to the network morning shows, violent Occupy Wall Street protesters are fighting back against government officials who are trying to rein them in. Early Show's Erica Hill highlighted "this growing crackdown on the anti-Wall Street protests around the country." She added, "In Oakland, California, the protesters are pushing back."
The "pushing back" came in the form of throwing rocks and bottles at police officers who attempted to remove them from a public encampment.
All three network morning shows on Wednesday cheered President Obama's Tuesday appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. At the top of ABC's Good Morning America, co-host Robin Roberts declared: "Comedian in chief. The President hits late-night TV talking about all the people taking swings at him right now. And why what he's really worried about is what the First Lady's giving out for Halloween."
Later, fellow co-host George Stephanopoulos noted how Obama was "trying to warm up his image with a few laughs on Jay Leno's couch." White House correspondent Jake Tapper described how the President "made certain to have a few laughs" at the expense of the Republican presidential candidates. A clip followed of Leno asking if the commander in chief had been watching the GOP debates, with Obama replying: "I'm going to wait until everybody's voted off the island."
The morning shows of ABC, CBS, and NBC on Tuesday devoted just 19 seconds to the arrests of 75 people in northern California, after police evicted Occupy Oakland from their encampment in front of city hall there. The Early Show devoted a news brief to the story during its last half hour, noting the violent reaction from some of the protesters. Good Morning America and the Today show both punted.
News anchor Jeff Glor gave the news brief 35 minutes into the 8 am Eastern hour, and reported that "police are confronting 'Occupy Oakland' protesters this morning in northern California...Officers were sent before dawn to kick out about 300 demonstrators who have been camped out in downtown Oakland. Some protesters threw rocks and bottles. Police responded in some cases by making arrests, tearing down tents, and firing tear gas."
Remember the J. Crew pink toenail controversy? MRC’s Culture and Media Institute started a firestorm of controversy last spring by drawing attention to an ad in which Jenna Lyons, J. Crew president and creative director, was painting her son’s toenails pink.
The caption in that ad read: “Lucky for me, I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun in neon.”