In the '80s the liberal media filled the airwaves with tales of woe from the homeless as a way to distract viewers from the runaway success of Reaganomics. In the 2000s, the same media chatted with one frustrated gas station customer after another to slam then-President George W. Bush.
However in 2011, with over 44 million Americans on food stamps, a new high according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (See Table 2), the Big Three broadcast network news programs have been virtually devoid of anecdotal sob stories of moms and dads struggling to pay for their kids' box of Frosted Flakes, as a way to hammer Barack Obama's failed economic policies.
On Tuesday's Early Show, CBS's Erica Hill pressed Andrew Breitbart over the Shirley Sherrod issue, highlighting how he "never apologized to her." Hill and reporter Joel Brown noted the "multi-million dollar defamation suit" Sherrod filed against Breitbart and turned to a journalist who touted how the blogger is "very defensive about his credibility and...realizes that he has these strikes against him."
Brown's report preceded the anchor's interview of the conservative at the bottom of the 7 am Eastern hour. The correspondent trumpeted how "right-wing commentator Andrew Breitbart has six political websites, whose goal is to quote, 'hold the mainstream media's feet to the fire.' He certainly got their attention when he posted this now-infamous picture of Congressman Weiner on BigGovernment.com seven days ago."
As NewsBusters' Lachlan Markay pointed out, the Weinergate scandal showcased a variety of liberal media conspiracy theories. One of the most prevalent theories focused on besmirching conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, who broke the story wide open Monday with a series of posts on BigGovernment.com featuring lewd photos of Rep. Anthony Weiner.
"Look, Breitbart is a proven liar, okay?" bellowed MSNBC anchor Cenk Uygur on June 1. "He doctored the Shirley Sherrod tapes. He's done this over and over again. Why would anybody take this fool seriously?"
Old and new media clashed on CNN's "Reliable Sources" Sunday.
After CBS News Congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes blamed Andrew Breitbart for her network's slow response to the ongoing Weinergate scandal, Gawker staff writer Maureen O'Connor said, "I think even if that's the case, it was very quickly that you could have looked into this story and verified it for yourself" (video follows with trancript and commentary):
CBS's Erica Hill hounded newly-announced Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Friday's Early Show about his 2008 proposal to allow the Big Three auto companies to go into bankruptcy proceedings instead of bailing them out: "Based on what we've seen in the auto industry, weren't you wrong in this case?" By contrast, her co-anchor, Chris Wragge, went easier on DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Hill interviewed Romney just after the top of the 8 am Eastern hour. After an initial question about his 2008 Republican primary loss to Senator John McCain, the CBS anchor raised the former Massachusetts governor's two-plus-year-old proposal and, like her colleague Dean Reynolds did earlier in the broadcast, touted the apparent success of the Obama administration's bailout of Detroit:
In the Friday morning coverage of former Sen. John Edwards' indictment by a federal grand jury, only one of the three major networks, CBS, reported that he was a Democrat. Neither ABC nor NBC reported Edwards' party affiliation, simply calling him a "former presidential candidate."
ABC's Good Morning America sympathetically called the morning "a difficult one" for Edwards as he faced indictment. Both ABC and NBC did full segments on the scandal, and ABC's Good Morning America actually led the show with the story. CBS only briefly mentioned the story before moving on with other news.
On Friday's Early Show, before the new 9.1% unemployment figure came out, CBS's Dean Reynolds bewailed how President Obama is being "saddled" by the "stubbornly sluggish economy." Reynolds played up how "GM, Ford, and Chrysler have all returned to profitability," and tracked down a beneficiary of the auto industry bailout, who sang the praises of the Democrat.
[Audio clips from Reynolds's report available here; video available below the jump]
Both CNN's Anderson Cooper on Wednesday's AC360 and CBS's Nancy Cordes on Thursday's Early Show highlighted conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart's early part in spreading news of the lewd photo Tweeted from Rep. Andrew Weiner's Twitter account. Cooper played up Breitbart's supposedly "questionable credibility," while Cordes reported how "supporters of Weiner note that it was [the] right-wing blogger...who broke the story."
The CNN anchor raised Breitbart's involvement 15 minutes into the 10 pm Eastern hour as he introduced the second part of an interview of the New York Democrat conducted by his colleague Wolf Blitzer:
ABC's GMA and NBC's Today on Wednesday both did due diligence on the Rep. Anthony Weiner brouhaha surrounding a lewd photo posted on his Twitter site. ABC's Jonathan Karl noted how Weiner didn't give "the most convincing press conference" in response to the controversy. NBC's Meredith Vieira highlighted how "people are wondering why he is being so defensive." But CBS's Early Show didn't even cover the story.
GMA anchor George Stephanopoulos led the 7 am Eastern hour with a teaser on the burgeoning scandal: "Underwear uproar: a powerful congressman at the center of controversy over a photo flap online. Did someone break into his Twitter account and send a lewd picture, or did he do it? Congressman Weiner's response this morning."
CBS's Erica Hill strongly hinted on Monday's Early Show that Sarah Palin's "extended flirtation...with running" for president and speaking only to Fox News to the detriment of the rest of the media would sour her with the voters. Hill asked former Mitt Romney aide Kevin Madden, "Does any of this risk though rubbing voters the wrong way?"
The anchor brought on Madden and former Clinton spokesman Joe Lockhart to discuss the former Alaska governor and the rest of the possible and actual 2012 presidential field for the Republican Party. After the Republican strategist agreed to a large extent with Hill in his answer to this question, she turned to Lockhart for his left-of-center view: "From a Democratic standpoint, if Sarah Palin jumped into the race, how do you think that would work out for President Obama?"
In reply, the former Clinton mouthpiece regurgitated a common liberal talking point about Palin:
On Friday, the morning shows of the Big Three networks barely touched on President Obama approving the renewal of key provisions in the Patriot Act, avoiding the kind of criticism they launched during the terms of former President George W. Bush. During that time, the networks often expressed "concern...that civil liberties are threatened as never before" by the law, as CBS Evening News put it in 2003.
ABC's Good Morning America devoted one news brief to the development 17 minutes into 7 am Eastern hour. News anchor Josh Elliott noted how "President Obama signed an extension of the U.S. Patriot Act. He used a device called the auto pen because the bill had to be signed before midnight Washington time." NBC's Today show devoted the most attention to the presidential action with three news briefs from Ann Curry at 15 minutes past the 7 am Eastern hour, and at the top of the 8 and 9 am hours.
On The Early Show, CBS's Jeff Glor's brief on the Patriot Act extension, which aired at the same time as Curry's first brief on NBC, gave the most negative hint against the law of the three networks:
Covering the growing buzz that Sarah Palin might mount a 2012 presidential campaign, the morning shows on Friday repeated liberal talking points proclaiming that it would be a disaster. Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos insisted that the White House looks "at Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann as, basically, re-election insurance." CBS's Chris Wragge hinted that Palin might become a "distraction."
On NBC's Today, David Gregory appeared and lectured that "[Palin's] not seen as a general election candidate." He added that "she's still relevant. She's still using Facebook. She's still opining. She's still attacking the President, but she's lost a little bit of that sting in her punch."
Sally Quinn pronounced Oprah Winfrey "America's high priestess" and a "true religious leader" in a Thursday item on The Washington Post's "On Faith" website. Quinn, who waxed ecstatic over Oprah Winfrey's final episode, even went so far to compare Winfrey's last hurrah to a papal Mass: "The pope couldn't have done better."
The network evening news programs on Wednesday and morning shows on Thursday skipped covering the suspension of MSNBC host Ed Shultz for trashing Laura Ingraham as a "right-wing slut." Yet, these same networks eagerly jumped all over the story of Don Imus referring to college basketball players as "hos."
On Wednesday, ABC's World News, CBS's Evening News and NBC's Nightly News avoided reporting on this May 24 remark by Schultz: "Like this right-wing slut, what's her name, Laura Ingraham? Yeah, she's a talk slut." (Good Morning America, Today and Early Show did the same.) Later in the day on Wednesday, MSNBC suspended Schultz.
CBS's Jeff Glor failed to mention the Democratic Party affiliation of Rod Blagojevich, as well as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., during a news brief on Wednesday's Early Show. Glor's report was the only mention on the Big Three network morning shows of the former Illinois governor's lawyers calling the former Obama aide and the congressman to testify in his retrial for corruption.
The news anchor noted during his brief that "some big names could be on the stand" and specified that Blagojevich's attorneys would call Emanuel and Jackson, Jr. He then explained that the former governor is "accused of trying to sell the seat of then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama. His first trial ended in a hung jury."
The network morning shows on Wednesday all avoided party labels for Democrat John Edwards in the wake of the announcement that the former presidential candidate will be indicted by the Justice Department. In February, however, the same programs could not wait to highlight a disgraced conservative and tout his party ID.
ABC's Good Morning America, NBC's Today and CBS's Early Show simply referred to Edwards as "the former presidential candidate." On Today, reporter Lisa Myers sympathetically explained that "last weekend you'd never know" Edwards was in trouble.
All three network morning shows on Wednesday cheered Democrat Kathy Hochul winning the special election in New York's 26th congressional district and framed the outcome as a rejection of Republican plans to reform Medicare. On NBC's Today, news reporter Ann Curry proclaimed: "The race hinged on Hochul's opposition to a Republican-led plan to make deep cuts in Medicare." [Audio available here]
On ABC's Good Morning America, news reporter Josh Elliot declared Hochul's win to be "a seismic event in the political world" and a "shocking upset." Like Curry, he declared: "The GOP candidate lost after backing that Republican plan to cut billions from Medicare." In reality, the Republican budget plan increases Medicare spending from $563 billion to $953 billion ten years from now. That’s an increase of nearly 70%.
NBC's Nightly News on Monday and the Today show on Tuesday ignored a controversial, ideologically divided Supreme Court ruling that ordered California to release at least 38,000 prisoners. ABC, over two days, allowed a scant 11 seconds. Only CBS provided a full report.
In a blistering dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia warned that "terrible things are sure to happen" if the action is implemented as a result of overcrowding. On the CBS Evening News, Jan Crawford provided the sole full report, observing the controversial nature of the 5-4 split.
She described, "Now, this case produced an extraordinarily heated debate between the conservatives and liberal justices." Crawford highlighted a separate dissent by Sam Alito. He worried that the majority was "gambling with the safety of the people of California." She repeated Alito's foreboding statement: "I fear that today's decision, like prior prisoner release orders, will lead to a grim roster of victims."
The cause for the end of the world has been imagined by screenwriters to include everything from giant insects and malevolent robots to asteroids the size of Texas. But five year ago in May 2006, Hollywood found a new menace: carbon dioxide. This scenario was different in another respect. It was supposedly true.
The documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" wasn't intended to be the blockbuster end-of-the-world tale that "Armageddon" was, but it was intended to frighten. The new film was full of disaster footage and catastrophic predictions about climate change. Its leading man: former vice president Al Gore.
The apocalyptic warning earned nearly $50 million worldwide and turned Gore into a "movie star," according to the fawning networks. Gore won accolades, including an Oscar and a Nobel Peace Prize. Reporters and anchors on ABC, CBS and NBC also made a hero of Apocalypse Al, embracing his views and bringing on guests with the same views including one who said Gore had been busy "saving the planet - literally."
Gore received almost entirely uncritical coverage from the network morning and evening shows over global warming, despite plenty of evidence - scientific evidence - that would have discredited him and his film. Since the movie's release, nearly 98 percent of those stories have excluded criticism of the so-called "science" of the film.
All three morning shows on Monday bombarded Tim Pawlenty with a variety of liberal complaints and demands. ABC and NBC singled out an Obama-supporting "Republican" who slammed the presidential candidate's fiscal management of Minnesota. CBS repeatedly lobbied Pawlenty to raise taxes.
Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos identified ex-Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson as "one of your Republican predecessors." He quoted Carlson as saying, "I don't think any governor has left behind a worse financial mess than Pawlenty has." Stephanopoulos made no mention of the fact that Carlson endorsed Barack Obama in 2008 or that he was officially expelled from the Minnesota GOP in December of 2010.
On NBC's Today, Matt Lauer highlighted the same statement and described Carlson simply as "a former Republican Governor of the State of Minnesota." He challenged, "This is a Republican saying that. How do you respond?"
On Friday's Early Show, CBS called upon Clinton administration alumnus Jamie Rubin to act as a flack for the current Obama White House and to comment on the President's speech on the Middle East. Rubin lamented the President's poor approval rating in Israel: "Unfortunately- and this is unfortunate for everyone, I think...Obama doesn't have the huge popularity in Israel that, perhaps, President Bush had."
Anchor Erica Hill brought on the husband of ABC host Christiane Amanpour and first identified him as "Assistant Secretary of State Jamie Rubin, who is now executive editor of the Bloomberg View [the new opinion section of Bloomberg News] " However, she failed to mention at any point in the interview that Rubin served under former President Clinton, unlike Nicholas Burns, who appeared later in the program. Hill clearly identified him as "undersecretary of state under President George W. Bush."
CBS's Elaine Quijano filed a slanted report on Wednesday's Evening News about the new report on the Catholic priest child sex abuse scandal. All but one of the sound bites which Quijano played during the segment either leaned negative against the Catholic Church or completely slammed the religious body.
Anchor Katie Couric heralded the negative reaction about the report from some quarters in her teaser for Quijano's report at the very beginning of the half-hour program: "Tonight, a report commissioned by the Catholic Church claims to know why the child sex abuse scandal happened, but victims' groups aren't buying it." A minute later, the correspondent picked up where Couric left off in her introduction: "For survivors of clergy sexual abuse, today marks another deep disappointment."
On Wednesday, all three major broadcast networks' morning shows played up a homosexual activist throwing glitter at Newt Gingrich during a book signing in Minneapolis. Both CBS's Early Show and NBC's Today show played footage of the attack on the Republican presidential hopeful at the top of their programs, while ABC's Good Morning initially failed to mention the left wing cause of the protester.
A minute into the 7 am Eastern hour of The Early Show, anchor Chris Wragge previewed a report on the former House Speaker's campaign woes from correspondent Jan Crawford by highlighting the video: "Look at this: a gay rights protester throws glitter all over Newt at an event last night." During the report itself eight minutes later, Crawford noted, "More embarrassment Tuesday in Minneapolis, when a gay rights activist glittered Gingrich at a book signing." The protester, which the AP tentatively identified as Nick Espinosa, shouted during the attack, "Feel the rainbow, Newt. Stop the hate! Stop anti-gay politics!"
CBS's Cynthia Bowers trumpeted the inauguration of incoming Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday's Early Show, highlighting how the former Obama chief of staff went "weeding in a community garden. He called it...weeding out corruption." Bowers also acclaimed the legacy of former mayor and "family man" Richard M. Daley, despite referencing the poor high school graduation in the city.
Saturday’s The Early Show on CBS gave attention to a number of liberal faculty members at Catholic University who, in a letter, questioned House Speaker John Boehner’s Catholic credentials on helping the poor ahead of the Ohio Republican’s speech at the university’s commencement.
CBS’s Betty Nguyen noted that "not everyone" at the university "is looking forward to" his speech, and recounted that some faculty members accused Boehner of having "one of the worst records in Congress on programs for the poor," as the liberal professors recommended that he "re-familiarize himself" with the church’s teachings.
On Friday's Early Show, CBS's Jeff Glor played up West Virginia Democrat Jay Rockefeller's browbeating of an oil company executive during a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee. The Senator interrupted Chevron Corporation CEO John Watson with a sarcastic reply: "Lovely statement, but do you understand how out of touch that is?"
Glor first noted during his news brief 12 minutes into that 7 am Eastern hour that "rising energy costs are likely to be a key issue in next year's election. So on Capitol Hill yesterday, leaders of the five largest private oil companies were grilled by Senate Democrats, who want to repeal the tax breaks that oil companies get." He then played a clip of Watson's testimony right as he was cut off by the liberal politician:
CBS gave President Obama over 26 and a half minutes to answer 12 questions related to the economy during a town hall aired on Thursday's Early Show. Obama got six uninterrupted minutes to answer one question about Medicare during the hour-long event. Host Erica Hill wondered how the Democrat could "change the mind-set from things are tough to things are turning around" with the economy.
Hill led the town hall with her concerned economic "mind-set" question, noting beforehand that "it seems that we have been hearing, whether it's on TV, at the office, around the kitchen table, things are tough," but continuing that "there's positive economic data coming through. Yet, sometimes it can feel like for every two steps forward, it's one step back. There's definitely a psychological component to this recovery."
On Wednesday's Early Show. CBS's Bill Plante highlighted President Obama's recent mockery against Republicans on border security, but omitted playing an opposing clip from a GOP politico. The President jabbed the opposing party during the speech in El Paso, Texas: "Maybe they'll need a moat. Maybe they'll want alligators in the moat." The morning show was alone among the Big Three in covering the event.
Plante noted at the beginning of his report, which aired 3 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour, that "the President went all the way to the Mexican border to make the case for immigration reform, trying to get over the heads of the Republicans who are blocking it here in Washington. Mr. Obama said that his administration has answered the complaints of Republicans about border security with more agents, a border fence, and aerial surveillance, going above and beyond what they asked for."
CBS announced on Friday its plans for a "special town hall meeting on the economy" featuring President Obama. Network personalities Bob Schieffer and Erica Hill will host the event. This announcement comes just over a month after the Democrat officially started his reelection campaign, and on the same week that the President's approval ratings on the economy reached a new low according to a CBS News poll.
The network's release also noted that "CBS News is making preparations for a Town Hall next month with leading Republicans about the economy," but didn't reveal whether these were going to be some of the GOP presidential contenders or any of the various members of Congress or governors in the party.
In the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden, ABC has shown very little interest in whether enhanced interrogation, such as waterboarding, led to the terrorist's ultimate demise. NBC, however, dealt with the subject in an in-depth manner and CBS at least mentioned it.
While interviewing former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos on Tuesday never broached waterboarding. In contrast, Matt Lauer on NBC's Today talked to Rice and wondered, "These enhanced interrogation techniques. Some former administration officials are now connecting the dots between those techniques and the information that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden. Do you feel the dots can be connected?"
On the same program, reporter Jim Miklaszewski asserted, "U.S. officials tell NBC News that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed while in CIA custody provided key information regarding a courier close to bin Laden, intelligence sometimes obtained through aggressive interrogation techniques like water boarding."