At the end of Thursday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Harry Smith, formerly of CBS, made his first appearance on the network with a fawning birthday message to President Obama: "Happy birthday, Mr. President. Once upon a time, when you were a young man, all you had to do was show up and teeming throngs of people would gather to cheer you on....They even wrote songs about you." [Audio available here]
Smith then lamented: "As a young person yourself, you were convinced anything was possible. But here you were this week, all by yourself in the Oval Office, signing the debt ceiling bill, looking for all the world like a guy who was chagrined, resigned, fatigued. With all due respect, you look like a guy who is turning 50."
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.
For a second straight day CNN ignored the newest phone hacking accusations made against its 9 p.m. host Piers Morgan. Major media outlets, including Bloomberg News, msnbc.com, and CBS have reported the story, but Morgan's current employer, CNN, has remained mum on the allegations.
On Wednesday, the ex-wife of Paul McCartney accused a journalist from a British newspaper group of hacking her phone back in 2001, while CNN's Piers Morgan was the editor of one of the group's papers. That prompted a statement by Morgan labeling her claims as "unsubstantiated" and again denying that he hacked phones or ordered anyone else to do so during his time as editor.
CBS's Norah O'Donnell played the role of a clairvoyant on Tuesday's Early Show as she hinted that President Obama's reelection is assured in 2012. Anchor Erica Hill asked O'Donnell how the White House viewed the debt ceiling bill. She replied, "I think they feel like this was... not necessarily a victory for the President. He did get an extension of this debt ceiling through 2012 and through his reelection" [video clips available here; audio can be downloaded here].
Hill brought on the new CBS News White House correspondent, as well as Nancy Cordes, their congressional correspondent, to discuss the return of Rep. Gabby Giffords to the floor of the House of Representatives on Monday and their passage of the compromise debt ceiling legislation. Towards the end of the segment, after she and O'Donnell laughed it up about Vice President Biden's crack about Giffords being part of the "cracked heads club," the anchor asked her question about the White House's take on the bill. Her colleague replied with her off-the-cuff prediction:
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 Monday's Early Show, CBS slanted towards supporters of a new Obama administration mandate which requires private insurance companies to cover contraception as part of women's "preventative services." Anchor Chris Wragge labeled the development "good news," while correspondent Michelle Miller failed to include sound bites from opponents during her report on the new regulation.
After using his "good news" phrase, Wragge trumpeted the "historic new women's health guidelines" during his introduction for Miller's report, which aired at the bottom of the 7 am Eastern hour. The correspondent herself picked up where the anchor left off when she stated that new mandate was "welcome news to the women we spoke to." She then played two sound bites from women on the street who gave supposed horror stories about the cost of birth control.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 1: Sometimes, $20 a month can definitely be hard to scrape together.
On Friday, all three network morning shows played up the theme of stubborn House GOP conservatives opposing Speaker John Boehner's debt ceiling plan. On CBS's Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge proclaimed: "House Republicans will meet again this morning after hardline conservatives handed House Speaker John Boehner a major setback."
On ABC's Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos announced: "The House Speaker's debt plan melts down after hours of arm twisting failed to subdue a Tea Party rebellion." On NBC's Today, Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O'Donnell declared: "A parade of those rebellious holdout Republicans were summoned to the Speaker's office."
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.
CBS's Michelle Miller leaned towards supporters of taxing junk food on Tuesday's Early Show, playing three sound bites from them and none from opponents. Miller only made one vague reference to the opposing side, and she immediately followed it by playing up the supposedly positive result of a tax: "While some say a new tax is the last thing we need, it could mean a healthier America."
The correspondent led her report by hyping how "we're paying quite a hefty toll" for creating "cheap fast food," and launched into her first sound bite, which came from Michael Jacobson, the executive director of the perennial "food police" organization, the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
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.
Saturday’s The Early Show on CBS gave New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg an unchallenged forum to promote his views favoring same-sex marriage as the show celebrated New York’s recent legalization of gay marriage by interviewing a gay couple who are planning to get married. As Mayor Bloomberg will be performing the ceremony because the two are members of his staff, the mayor also took part in the interview. Early Show co-anchor Rebecca Jarvis set up the segment:
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.
CBS's John Blackstone apparently couldn't find many opponents of imposing sales taxes on online retailers for his report on Thursday's Early Show, as all but one of his sound bites came from proponents. Blackstone also warned that "states that are already suffering under huge budget deficits will lose more than $11 billion in uncollected sales taxes next year."
The correspondent first outlined that "for many online shoppers, the checkout screen noting zero sales tax seems a good reason to buy on the Internet. But now, a new law in California requires online retailers to collect sales tax. And Amazon, the world's biggest Internet retailer, with 34 billion [dollars] in sales last year, isn't happy." He then played two clips from a member of California's "board of equalization," which oversees the state's sales, alcohol, and tobacco taxes, who vouched for the new levy: "You have the obligation to collect the tax on behalf of the consumer, and remit it to the State of California."
[Update, 11:10 am Monday July 18: Jenn Theis was identified on-screen by CBS as a "laid-off government worker." She wrote us to clarify that she was actually employed by a private business that is regulated by the Minnesota racing commission. Another guest from that segment, Chris Lapakko, wrote the author on Twitter on Saturday to call him a "dick."]
CBS turned to three Minnesota residents on Friday's Early Show for their take on the recent state government shutdown there, but their panel had a definite slant, as two out of three were state government workers, with one of them calling for "taxes on millionaires...to help the rest of us out." The third Minnesotan called on both sides to work it out. None of the three were clear conservatives.
Anchor Erica Hill interviewed Jenn Theis, Chris Lapakko, and Harley Reed during a segment 40 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour, as they were sitting in a diner in Minneapolis. Hill first turned to Ms. Theis, who was identified on-screen as a "laid-off government worker," and asked her some softball questions about whether she was getting her job back and her feelings about the tentative resolution of the state budget impasse. The journalist also mentioned that the state employee has "gone through two weeks of no pay" and has a 13-month-old child.
Of the three morning shows on Wednesday, only NBC's Today speculated that Barack Obama might be using "scare tactics" with his dire warning that, barring a deal on raising the debt limit, Social Security checks in August might no be mailed out. Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos simply asserted that the "debt crisis in Washington is getting very scary."
Stephanopoulos uncritically repeated, "And President Obama for the first time yesterday saying that Social Security recipients in August may not receive their checks."
In contrast, NBC's Matt Lauer, skeptically asked, "Scare tactic? President Obama warns millions of Americans Social Security checks may not go out next month if lawmakers fail to reach a deficit deal."
On Monday's Early Show, CBS's Susan Koeppen profiled a doctor who hyped that "people are dying because they don't have simple access" to health care and spotlighted two of his patients who chronicled their difficulties with the Medicaid and Medicare programs. Koeppen also failed to mention the liberal leanings of an organization she labeled as merely "an advocacy group for health care consumers."
Anchor Erica Hill introduced the consumer correspondent's report by noting that "a new proposal would cut reimbursement rates for doctors who accept Medicare by 30% in 2012...the potential cuts are raising concerns for the more than 100 million Americans who rely on the program, as well as the doctors who treat them." Koeppen then led her segment with Dr. David Ansell's "people are dying" clip and described how the Rush University Medical Center physician "has been treating patients who can't get help anywhere else."
In the wake of liberal rock star Tom Petty telling GOP presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) to stop playing his music at campaign rallies, CBS reported past spats between liberal musicians and Republican candidates on Tuesday's Early Show.
As Politico's Martin Kady put it during the segment, the dismayed artist sending the Cease and Desist letter to a presidential candidate is almost always liberal, and the candidate is almost always Republican. The Early Show made sure to emphasize that during a segment where no Republican candidate provided his side of the story.
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:
NBC's Today and CBS's Early Show on Thursday turned to Obama advisor David Plouffe on Thursday to offer his spin on the President's 67-minute presser on Wednesday, instead of interviewing Republicans. Both shows failed to press their guest about Obama's part in raising the nation's debt. NBC's Matt Lauer did toss some hardball questions at Plouffe on the President's "ownership" of the economy.
During her interview of the White House political advisor, which aired eight minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour, Jarvis raised how, in the midst of his anti-Republican press conference, the President compared his congressional opponents negatively to his own kids in her second question. Plouffe replied by foisting all of the blame for the debt on the GOP in his answer:
ABC, CBS, and NBC all failed to mention former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's affiliation with the Democratic Party on their Monday evening news broadcasts and the Tuesday morning shows. Blagojevich was convicted by a jury on Monday on 17 out of 20 charges, mainly related to the attempt to sell the Senate seat of President Obama. Only CBS's Early Show noted his party with a "D" on-screen.
NBC devoted the least amount of time to the breaking news, a total of 1 minute and 50 seconds between NBC Nightly News and the Today Show. Brian Williams actually didn't mention the party of the new felon or his predecessor during his report on Monday, but noted that "Blagojevich will become the fourth Illinois governor in recent memory to go to jail. His predecessor, George Ryan, is still in federal prison, also for corruption." The following morning, news anchor Natalie Morales gave three news briefs on Blagojevich, all about 15 seconds long each.
NPR's Nina Totenberg strangely cast doubt on the liberal credentials of Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor on Saturday's Early Show on CBS, claiming that "they're not nearly as liberal as justices were...thirty years ago." Totenberg also hinted that the other members of the Court were right-wing radicals: "Compared to the much more conservative members of the Court, they are liberal."
Anchor Russ Mitchell brought on the journalist for her take of the most recent term of the Supreme Court. Near the end of the interview, Mitchell noted how "this was the first full term for President Obama's two appointees, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor" and asked, "What do you think? Did we see a shift in the Court's philosophy this year at all?"
The network morning shows on Monday hyped the "extra spectacular" gay pride parades in the wake of New York's newly passed same sex marriage legislation. Both ABC and NBC highlighted the "hero's welcome" Governor Andrew Cuomo received after signing the bill. At the same time, they ignored dissenters.
On Monday's Today, news anchor Natalie Morales touted, "Gay pride parades around the country turned into victory laps..." and added, "Gay and lesbian couples spoke about finally realizing their decades-long dream of walking down the aisle."
Reporter Mara Schiavocampo openly opined, "This year's parade isn't just a celebration of pride, but for the first time, equality."
NBC barely covered the Thursday arrests of two Islamists in a planned terrorist attack on a military facility in Seattle. The network didn't cover the breaking news at all on Thursday's Nightly News, and devoted only 17 seconds to it on Friday's Today Show. Thursday's CBS Evening News had a minute-long report on the arrests, while ABC had full reports on the arrests on World News and GMA.
CBS anchor Scott Pelley introduced correspondent Bob Orr's brief report on the terror plot: "It has been a busy 48 hours for the FBI. We learned today that agents have arrested two men in what the feds say was a terrorist plot to attack a military recruiting station in Seattle." Orr only made one indirect and vague reference to the suspects' religion: "The two men...somehow had become radicalized on their own." Actually, in an online report on Thursday, ABC referenced unnamed officials who stated that they are "believed to have met in prison and to have converted to Islam in prison."
Barack Obama's confusing one living American war hero with a fallen one he honored in 2009, has been completely ignored by the Big Three Networks shows, including the same NBC Nightly News that threw a fit over Sarah Palin's recent recounting of an event over 200 years ago, Paul Revere's ride.
The ABC and CBS morning shows on Wednesday gushed over "baby whisperer" Barack Obama. Both Good Morning America and the Early Show played White House-produced video of the President comforting a baby while working a rope line.
GMA's Lara Spencer lauded, "You know, the President is plenty busy trying to turn the economy around. But he still has time to stop some babies from crying, of course."
The Supreme Court on Monday unequivocally rejected the notion that courts should force power companies to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, but none of the major broadcast networks covered the unanimous decision on their evening newscasts or morning shows.
The New York Times teased the ruling on the front page of Tuesday's paper, directing readers to a thorough analysis of the 8-0 decision, but ABC's "Good Morning America" and "World News," CBS's "Early Show" and "Evening News," and NBC's "Today" and "Nightly News" all skipped a decision that prevents environmentalists from using the courts to impose greenhouse gas regulations on electric utilities.
ABC, CBS and NBC's morning shows on Wednesday offered a scant 41 seconds to a major Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling permitting the state's collective bargaining law to go into effect. These are the same networks that, just four months ago, praised the "people power" of the liberal protesters and ignored signs comparing conservatives to Nazis.
On February 20, This Week host Christiane Amanpour compared events in the Middle East to protests in the U.S.: "This week: people power making history...Populist frustration is boiling over this week, as we’ve said not just in the Middle East but in the middle of this country as well." On Wednesday, ABC's Good Morning America skipped the latest ruling entirely.
CBS hounded four Republicans from the left during a town hall on the economy which aired on Tuesday's Early Show. Bob Schieffer, Erica Hill, and Rebecca Jarvis pressed Reps. Paul Ryan and Allen West, Senator Tom Coburn, and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to consider tax hikes to deal with the deficit. Schieffer also specifically accused the three members of Congress of "doing nothing" to fix the economy.
The two online questions which Jarvis took from viewers touted Democratic talking points about deficits under former President George W. Bush and how cutting the federal budget would lead to an increase in the unemployment rate, due to the laying off of federal employees. She also vigorously pursued both Rep. Ryan and Rep. West. about the issue of jobs. In the first instance, the CBS business correspondent used an earlier answer from Haley, which emphasized the issue, to actually accuse the greater Republican Party of not paying enough attention to this issue, as well with the overall issue of the economy: