ABC and CBS (not NBC) featured interviews Wednesday morning with White House communications director Dan Bartlett. Both networks were fairly harsh in their questioning. ABC’s Diane Sawyer read a long list of eminent people who opposed a surge, and pressed, "What don’t they get?" She even used soundbites of soldiers saying it was a hopeless civil war and "I don’t think we need to be here." CBS’s Harry Smith aimed his barbs at Bartlett more from the right, questioning whether 20,000 troops would be enough, and insisting that the Iraqis weren’t up to the "blood and guts" job of security. He also hammered on the president’s low approval ratings and asked "Why should the American people have faith in the president at this moment?"
MRC’s Justin McCarthy reported that Sawyer opened Good Morning America with the spin that the President was going exactly against public opinion: "Amid calls in this country for a withdrawal of American troops, the president is going to be sending more troops to Iraq."
CBS’s Sandra Hughes was once again impressed with California’s liberal policy initiatives. On October 31, 2006, Hughes praised California for tackling liberal issues that ‘the federal government won’t touch," such as funding embryonic stem cell research and for enacting "the nation’s most restrictive law on greenhouse gas emissions. And on Wednesday’s "Early Show," in reference to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s health care initiative, Hughes continued to laud California for once again leading "where the federal government fears to tread."
Recently added "Early Show" news anchor Russ Mitchell introduced the piece calling Schwarzenegger’s health care idea a "bold plan." Hughes’ report tried to gain support for the plan by featuring an uninsured man who suffers from diabetes, who claimed that there are a lot of uninsured people in his community, and manyof them are single mothers. Yet, Ms. Hughes neglected to mention that Schwarzenegger’s plan would cover illegal aliens as well as legal California residents. Wouldn’t this type of benefit encourage more illegal immigration, and shouldn’t it, therefore, be explored?
Anyone remembering the ascent of Newt Gingrich to House Speaker in 1995 surely noticed a difference between media coverage of that historic event and Nancy Pelosi taking the gavel back for the Democrats in 2007. One had all the joy of a child’s funeral. The other was New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.
CNN even had a countdown clock to the Democrats regaining the majority. All that was missing was a lighted crystal donkey that would descend down a pole on the top of the Capitol dome. CNN’s Dana Bash called Pelosi’s gavel grab a "moment to savor," surely true for her supporters, but the bitterest of pills to swallow for those who worked their hearts out last year to keep Pelosi and her liberal army from retaking the House. CNN left no doubt where it stood on this divide.
The liberal media despised Newt, and adore Nancy. They’ve demonstrated this by the way they played up the Gingrich threat in the weeks after the ’94 GOP tsunami, while virtually ignoring Pelosi and her radical agenda for the last two months.
According to Bob Schieffer, the Democrats in Congress will be pursuing an "ambitious schedule" on ethics reform. Yet, Schieffer neglected to mention what the Democratic leadership is going to do about ethically challenged Democrats like William Jefferson of Louisiana or Alan Mollohan of West Virginia. Schieffer, appearing on the "Early Show’s" weekly "Capitol Bob" segment, noted loopholes in the Democrats plan on ethics reform, but was pleased that the new Congress was "going to get started."
However, when the Republican controlled Congress attempted to overhaul ethics procedures in June, Schieffer classified these attempts as "not much more than a joke." In a June 11, 2006 commentary on CBS’ "Face the Nation," Schieffer lamented:
It's not too early to declare Katie Couric a failure as an evening news anchor and to suggest she return to her successful slot as a morning news show host. That's the considered opinion of Jon Friedman, "Media Web" author at Dow Jones's Market Watch. Read "How CBS can salvage the Couric debacle" here.
Friedman's frank assessment::
"America loved the early-morning Katie. Whether she likes it or not, it's evident that viewers embraced her for the 'P' word: perkiness. Fair or not, however, the nation isn't willing to accept her in the traditionally solemn evening-news time period."
On CBS's "Saturday Early Show," co-anchor Tracy Smith offered a look ahead at the year 2007. The show consulted a set of experts for what would be hot and happening in the new year. In between predictions about a hot stock market and more wines in capped bottles, there were liberal sentiments thrown in, and not just the one where "earthy crunchy" and organic would be in.
Hotline's John Mercurio predicted that Al Gore would get an Oscar nomination for his documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," which would spur interest in a Gore 2008 presidential campaign. Soul singer Gladys Knight talked gauzily about how we should all show more love and have an end to all wars. Tracy Smith popped back in to applaud a "lovely sentiment from Gladys Knight."
Global warming is killing the polar bears? Sounds like a fund-raising letter from Greenpeace or the World Wildlife Federation, but it was actually the subject of two stories on Thursday’s "Early Show" on CBS. CBS News correspondent Thalia Assuras delivered a brief report and "Early Show" Co-host Harry Smith , talked with Jeff Sailer, animal curator at New York City’s Central Park Zoo, and gushed that the U.S. government is "finally acknowledging" that the earth is getting warmer and the polar bears’ habitat is shrinking. But it doesn’t sound like the government is acknowledging that here.
Former Senator and Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards announced on Thursday that he will once again be a candidate for president in 2008, and he appeared on all three network morning programs to discuss his aspirations. Given the treatment he received on NBC’s "Today" and ABC’s "Good Morning America," it is clear he is not the darling of the media for this campaign cycle as ABC highlighted a potential campaign by Barack Obama, and NBC portrayed Hillary Clinton as the inevitable Democratic nominee.
On "Good Morning America," George Stephanopoulos accused Senator Edwards of exploiting hurricane Katrina by announcing his candidacy in New Orleans and wondered why Democrats should nominate him over "someone who was against the war from the start, like Barack Obama?" On NBC, "Today" co-host Matt Lauer inquired on whether Edwards can truly connect with the "have-nots" in America, given that he lives a luxurious lifestyle, and would he once again accept a nomination to be vice president, this time with Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket, "So down the road, would you consider a vice-presidential slot for Hillary Clinton?" However, on CBS’s "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith gave Senator Edwards a softball interview. He asked simple questions that did not challenge Mr. Edwards record or current positions such as what advice Edwards would give President Bush on Iraq.
Not surprisingly, all three morning shows featured the Bob Woodward interview with recently deceased former President Gerald Ford, in which Ford criticized the Bush administration for its decision to go to war with Iraq. Good Morning America and the Today show were the most eager to showcase Ford’s critique of the administration, broadcasting full reports and featuring audio clips from the interview during the 7am half hour, while CBS’ Early Show relegated the story to a brief anchor-read at 7:35 am.
On ABC, anchor Robin Roberts, substitute co-host George Stephanopoulos, and reporter Claire Shipman seemed disappointed that the former president had not come forward publicly with his criticism prior to his death, saying that it could have made a difference in the U.S.’s decision to go to war:
Kudos to "Fox and Friends" as they were the only morning news program on Thursday to extensively cover the Sandy Berger story. Mr. Berger, former National Security Adviser to President Clinton, pled guilty in federal court for stealing classified documents from the National Archives, but a Wednesday AP story revealed that the details of Mr. Berger's offense were far more damning then we had previously known including that he hid the documents in a construction site before destroying them. CNN’s "American Morning" and ABC’s "Good Morning America" both offered brief news reads on the subject. CNN’s coverage totaled 24 seconds while ABC’s totaled 23 seconds. CBS’s "Early Show" and NBC’s "Today" both ignored the story completely.
As Brent Baker noted on Tuesday, the "CBS Evening News" framed the story of Laura Bush’s skin cancer around how the White House didn’t reveal it rather than the cancer itself, and Wednesday’s "Early Show" continued this theme. CBS News correspondent Joie Chen asserted that Tony Snow got his "Christmas goose cooked" by downplaying the story, and "Early Show" co-host Rene Syler opened the segment by noting the "fallout" from the fact that "the White House felt the need to keep it secret for so long."
This is not the first time the Bush White House has been accused by the media of being "secretive." However, what business is the health status of Laura Bush to the media or anyone else outside the Bush family? Yet, other than clips of White House press secretary Tony Snow insisting during a press briefing that First Lady Laura Bush has privacy rights, and is a private citizen, there was no mention by the reporters that Laura Bush is not a public official. Instead, Ms. Chen used this incident to imply the White House is hiding other health secrets. And later, Chen further asserted that the First Lady could have avoided this whole controversy, if only she had worn pants instead of a skirt:
Bob Schieffer continued the "Early Show’s" praise of Barack Obama on Wednesday, declaring that the Illinois Senator "comes across as charming, as bright, and fresh." Schieffer, appearing in his weekly "Capitol Bob" segment on the CBS morning show discussed campaign 2008, at least as it pertains to Obama and to some extent Hillary Clinton, and opined on why the White House has delayed an announcement from President Bush on a new direction in Iraq strategy.
"Early Show" co-host Hannah Storm played the footage of Obama’s appearance on Monday Night Football before fawning over the Senator’s sense of humor and charm:
"Showing a great sense of humor there. He's so charming, the public is really in this honeymoon phase with him right now, but how do you see this campaign playing out?"
It was an all-Obama Monday as each of the three network morning shows highlighted the Illinois Senator’s weekend trip to New Hampshire. NBC, ABC and CBS all hyped the prospect of a potential Barack Obama presidential campaign as the senator made his rounds through the state, host of the first presidential primary. The trip was hailed as a successful venture by all the networks. ABC’s Jake Tapper on Good Morning America declared Obama’s appearance to be "very successful", while Norah O’Donnell over on Today, as the MRC’s Geoff Dickens noted, stated that Obama was "mobbed by supporters" and "ignited excitement," among New Hampshire Democrats. CBS’ Harry Smith on The Early Show went further, calling the buzz surrounding Obama’s trip a "sensation," during a question to political analyst Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report:
Harry Smith: "Front page USA Today, Barack Obama right there, front page, Washington Post, Barack Obama right there. I could go on and on and on and on and on. Why is this single appearance causing such a sensation?"
CBS continued the media’s love for liberal Democratic Senator Barack Obama (D-IL). On Monday’s Early Show, anchor Harry Smith and reporter Trish Regan fawned over Senator Obama’s visit to New Hampshire and his potential 2008 presidential run. "He got a first class welcome," Harry Smith exclaimed. Trish Regan began her report stating, "It looked more like a rally in the midst of a heated than a mere appearance by a potential presidential contender. But Granite State politicos say there aren’t many candidates like Senator Barack Obama." Other than playing Obama’s vague promise to "have an aggressive, ambitious strategy for energy independence," CBS simply focused on the hype regarding Senator Obama and did not report on his experience and where he stands on the issues. The entire transcript is below.
Co-host of CBS’s "Early Show," Harry Smith, highlighted the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group and his worries that they could be disregarded by the Bush administration, and may "end up with the dust bunnies." In the 7:00 half hour of Thursday’s program, Smith interviewed the co-chairs of the Iraq Study Group, former Secretary of State James Baker and former Democratic Congressman Lee Hamilton, and he also spoke with Illinois Senator Barack Obama. In both instances, Smith alluded to the fact that the Bush administration may not follow the Baker/Hamilton Commission findings.
During his segment with Secretary Baker and Congressman Hamilton, Smith lamented to Secretary Baker that the Iraq Study Group had spent months on its report, but it may be discarded by the president:
Jon Meacham, editor of "Newsweek," compared journalists to MTV’s teen morons Beavis and Butt-Head for the demands they make on public officials, and portrayed himself as understanding of negative public sentiments of the media:
"One of the things people don’t like about journalists, reasonably, is that we’re kind of like Beavis and Butt-Head. You know, we demand people change, and then when they change, we kick ‘em in the shins and say ‘well, you didn’t change quick enough.'"
Meacham's comments came in the 6:00 hour of Monday’s "Imus in the Morning." Yet, if one were to read the latest issue of "Newsweek," it is apparent Meacham’s words are not followed by action. An article by Evan Thomas, criticized the White House for not changing course quick enough and being hostile to change. It rekindled the story of President Bush’s alcoholism, and his decision to quit drinking twenty years ago and asserted that this was the last "midcourse correction" of the current president:
Ever wonder what makes Keith Olbermann such a fine journalist? Well, according to the former sportscaster, it’s the fact that he doesn’t "make the facts up" like Rush Limbaugh does.
PBS host Jim Lehrer trumpeted his objectivity in a more creative way. Using a food analogy, the anchor deemed himself the "flavor of neutrality." (Just a thought, but where do the liberal flavors originate? Ben and Jerry's?)
Perhaps longing for the "good old days," NBC News chose no less an authoritative source than Matt Lauer to announce that the situation in Iraq is a civil war. Maybe NBC is attempting to recreate the famous "Cronkite moment"?
Interestingly, this same network that is so eager to declare a civil war, has, at times, been hesitant to label Hezbollah a terrorist group.
For the second consecutive year, CBS seized upon the opportunity to view the White House Christmas decorations to ambush First Lady Laura Bush with questions about Iraq. However, when CBS interviewed first lady and Senator-elect Hillary Clinton in 2000, Jane Clayson ignored policy questions and instead highlighted Mrs. Clinton’s accomplishments and inquired about Mrs. Clinton’s favorite Christmas traditions.
On Thursday’s "Early Show," co-host Hannah Storm portrayed Iraq as hopeless and was dismayed that U.S. troops are not being withdrawn:
"And can you offer them words of comfort and hope as I think many of them were hoping that perhaps with the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group that maybe we would begin a gradual pullout of troops but yet, once again we hear today that our troops will be there indefinitely."
Former President Jimmy Carter appeared on Tuesday’s "Early Show" to promote his book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid." Co-host Harry Smith gushed over Carter, calling him someone who has "built housing across the United States and across the world as well, and has continued to promote world peace." Smith even proceeded to seek Carter’s foreign policy counsel on the war, inquiring "is there a way out of Iraq?" Yet, Smith failed to mention Carter’s foreign policy failures such as the Iran hostage crisis when soliciting Carter’s advice.
As noted yesterday, President Carter’s book places the blame for the Israel/Palestine conflict, and by extension the conflict with Israel and other Middle Eastern or Persian countries, squarely on Israel. However, Smith didn’t challenge the former President on his conclusion. What about nations, whose stated goal is to eliminate the "Zionist" state, don’t they bear any blame? Or how about terror organizations who send children to blow themselves up in order to murder innocent Israelis in the process? Aren’t they equally responsible for this conflict? Yet, again, these are topics not pursued by Harry Smith. Perhaps Smith chose not to challenge President Carter’s premise because Carter’s publisher, Simon & Schuster is a division of CBS, but, nonetheless, Smith shirked his journalistic responsibility by not asking the tough questions.
The network morning shows noticed Indonesian Muslims protesting President Bush, but sadly, once again, they tended to sanitize out the extremists. In this case, protest leaders called for the execution of Bush, but the networks mostly offered Americans quotes from protesters saying they loved America, just hated the president. They left out what Agence France-Presse reported: a protest leader declared through a loudspeaker: "Kill him, kill him...the blood of George Bush is halal," meaning it was not a sin under Islam to kill him. "Not only is it halal, it is obligatory to kill him."
The networks seem to want the American audience to bite on the Democratic line that conservative policies make us unpopular around the world, when people would be much more agreeable under the sorry-we-didn’t-mean-to-be-a-superpower poses of a Gore, Kerry, or Hillary Clinton. Showing protesters who want to execute our president tend to ruin the line of the day. On NBC’s Today on Monday, Matt Lauer led off the show with a plug for their "Hello, Go Home" segment on Bush's visit. MRC’s Justin McCarthy found reporter Kelly O’Donnell’s selected protesters who stressed their love for America, and their hatred for Bush:
Friday’s "Early Show" analyzed the Democrat Party’s leadership election with CBS News Capitol Hill correspondent Sharyl Attkisson recognizing the failure of Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi in her endeavor to replace her rival, Representative Steny Hoyer, with her friend, Congressman John Murtha, in the House Democrat Party leadership. Pelosi was compared to a head football coach who’s team revolted when the star quarterback was chosen. Attkisson also referenced Murtha’s questionable ethics, the only reporter of the network morning shows, CBS, NBC, or ABC, to do so on Friday.
In introducing the piece, co-host Hannah Storm noted that the leadership elections were mixed results for Speaker-to-be, Nancy Pelosi, and Ms. Attkisson began her report citing Pelosi’s failure to elevate her ally to the majority leader post:
"It's as if the new coach picked her star quarterback, but the team wouldn't have it. And the coach, Nancy Pelosi, was shocked."
Can John McCain land enough "right hand punches" to "satisfy conservatives," and how is the 2008 presidential race unfolding? These are two of the topics raised on Wednesday’s "Early Show" in the "Capitol Bob" segment with Bob Schieffer. During the segment, Schieffer came to the obvious conclusion that the Democrat nominee will either be Hillary Clinton or someone else, and the Republican nominee will either be John McCain or someone else. However, co-host Hannah Storm alluded to one of Senator McCain’s weaknesses and humorously opined:
"Alright, we'll see if he's [McCain] able to throw enough right-hand punches in that race to satisfy the conservatives, right."
Is this more offensive to Democrats or Republicans? At least five separate reporters described incoming freshman Democrat Congressmen as conservative. On Wednesday’s "Early Show" Bob Schieffer noted "these Democrats that were elected last night are conservative Democrats." Later in the same program, CBS News Captiol Hill correspondent Sharyl Attkisson highlighted, "...a lot of these new Democrats who’ve been elected are social conservatives." Seconds later, CBS Political Correspondent Gloria Borger observed that with the Democrats taking the House, "the committee chairmen are going to be liberal and the people coming in are going to be these moderate conservatives." The trend continued on "Imus in the Morning" as NBC’s David Gregory remarked, "She’s [Nancy Pelosi] going to have a lot of center-right Democrats who won..."
Nasty and bitter is how the Virginia and New Jersey Senate races were described on Monday’s "Early Show" on CBS. No not necessarily the campaigns in general, but the Republican candidates and Republican ads. Additionally, Harry Smith highlighted that while Northern Virginia is "Webb country," the rest of Virginia "clings to its conservative roots." Notice how Smith omits the phrase "liberal" while commenting on Northern Virginia.
Smith noted how the Virginia race is "mean" and "nasty" before remarking on Allen’s gaffes and how they have kept this race close:
Wednesday’s "Early Show" on CBS highlighted Senator John Kerry’s disparaging remarks about the American military in three separate segments, but instead of expressing outrage at Kerry’s comments, CBS seemed more concerned that the Republicans may use them for political gain in the midterm elections. While CBS omitted mentions that some Democrats have refused to campaign with Kerry and others have asked that he apologize, the network pondered if the outrage expressed by Republicans was an effort to "fire up the base" or simply a "desperate" attempt to change the subject.
Co-host Hannah Storm inquired of White House Press Secretary Tony Snow if President Bush’s demand that Kerry apologize to the troops was genuine or:
Julie Chen, co-host of CBS’s "Early Show," was more biased than the New York Times in reporting on a new global warming study conducted by the British government. Chen highlighted the inflammatory claims of the study, citing that it concludes "global warming will devastate the world economy on the scale of the World Wars." Yet, the New York Times, in its coverage of the report, did not note this claim, and even quoted an expert who called the study "a bunch of guesswork."
Chen classified this research as a "wake up call" and reported that British Prime Minister Tony Blair thinks emissions need to be cut, an allusion to the media line that humans are responsible for global warming. But, the science is far from conclusive that global warming is a manmade phenomenon as opposed to one that occurs naturally. But, then again, this would not be the first time CBS has sensationalized "man made" global warming while ignoring contradicting studies (click here and here for examples).
CBS’s "The Early Show" followed last night’s Michael J. Fox bonanza on the "Evening News" with more of the same on Friday morning. "The Early Show" aired more than 13 minutes of coverage to stories mentioning Fox, more than 10 minutes of that focused on Fox alone, while just a mere 40 seconds dealt with a response ad starring Patricia Heaton and Jim Caviezel.
Hannah Storm called Fox "courageous" and asserted "you just couldn’t take your eyes off the television last night." Harry Smith thought Fox’s interview was "powerful" and urged all those opposed to embryonic stem cell research to "at least listen to these arguments." Additionally, CBS tried to make Fox out to be nonpartisan, despite the fact that he is running commercials for Democratic candidates. Yet in their awe of Michael J. Fox, there was no exploration of the claims made in his political commercials and whether they are indeed factually accurate. Nor did CBS take the opportunity to differentiate between different types of stem cells. In fact, in a live interview, Katie Couric called Rush Limbaugh, someone who raised questions about Fox’s ads, "heartless."
CBS’s ad expert claimed on Thursday’s "Early Show" that the Republicans in Tennessee are playing on "racist," "Reconstruction era" fears in the Senate campaign against Democrat Harold Ford Jr. While the RNC spot in question in its entirety hits Ford’s record and what his election would mean to Tennessee, CBS played only a brief segment, including where a "playboy bunny" tells Ford to "call me." Whereas this was denounced by the media as racist, there was no discussion on CBS of Mr. Ford making his moral values an issue by filming a political commercial inside of a church.
Did you hear that loud crashing sound on Sunday? That was either media members across the country jumping off the Hillary for President bandwagon, or the Clintonistas slapping their knees over the gullibility of the press and the people they cater to.
Without question, the charming junior senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, was the toast of the Sunday morning programs this weekend. From Meet the Press to The Chris Matthews Show, discussions centered on the presidential aspirations of a man that precious few had heard of prior to his well-publicized speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.
CBS reporter Gloria Borger has offered an interesting theory to explain the recent outbreak of Obama Fever, also known as Barack Mania: Democrats don't think Hillary can win.,
Appearing on this morning's Early Show, Borger said of Hillary:
"She's the automatic front runner. She has more money, more staff, more supporters lined up. She has Bill Clinton out there who is going to be her campaigner-in-chief."
Borger then dropped this bomb:
"And what you see happening right now is a lot of Democrats looking at the field saying 'oh, Hillary is the natural nominee?' And they don't believe she can win. That's why they are looking elsewhere. That's why you see Barack Obama's name come up now. The public will not see him as an inisder, they will see him as different kind of politician, which might appeal."