On Tuesday night, both the CBS and NBC evening newscasts did their best to play up Texas Governor Rick Perry’s appearance at an Austin courthouse following his indictment on corruption charges. The Texas Republican was indicted after vetoing funding for the state’s Public Integrity Unit after its leader, Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, refused to resign following her DWI arrest.
The CBS and NBC’s evening news anchors highlighted Perry being photographed for his mugshot with NBC’s Brian Williams proclaiming that Perry was “fingerprinted, had his mugshot taken. A humiliating experience for a once and potentially future presidential candidate.” [See video below.]
The indictment case against Republican Governor Rick Perry, that even liberals have described as “weak,” is just the latest GOP controversy that the networks have jumped on to taint Republicans in this midterm election year. In the 2014 campaign season, the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks have filled their programs with one GOP scandal after another. Congressman Trey Radel’s drug possession, the “kissing congressman” Vance McAllister’s affair, Oregon GOP Senate candidate Monica Wehby’s alleged stalking of an ex-boyfriend and of course Governor Chris Christie’s Bridgegate were all controversies these networks made sure their viewers heard about.
But curiously, there have been other political scandals the networks have chosen to either bury or outright ignore. It just so happens the politicians in trouble, in those cases, are Democrats.
In just two days, the three network morning and evening shows deluged viewers with over 25 minutes of coverage (17 stories) on the indictment of Texas Governor Rick Perry. These programs made sure to speculate as to whether the controversy could "end any chance" for the Republican in 2016. [See video below. MP3 audio here.] The indictment came afterPerry lobbied for Texas District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg to resign after her drunk driving conviction.
From Saturday morning through Monday morning, CBS offered the most amount of coverage, five stories over nine minutes and 14 seconds. Over the same period, ABC produced six segments (or eight minutes and 48 seconds). NBC delivered six segments for of seven minutes and 37 seconds.
All three network morning shows on Monday continued to hype the Friday indictment of Texas Governor Rick Perry but none of the broadcasts mentioned prominent liberals like Obama adviser David Axelrod or Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz coming to Perry's defense and dismissing the charges as politically motivated.
On NBC's Today, correspondent Peter Alexander proclaimed Perry to be "the first Texas governor to be indicted in nearly a century." The reporter then attempted to paint the entire field of possible 2016 Republican presidential candidates as plagued by scandal: "It's another possible 2016 contender with a blemish on his resume. You've got Perry's indictment, Chris Christie's bridgegate, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker under new scrutiny for allegations of campaign finance violations." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
What’s the difference between a political scandal involving a Republican and one involving a Democrat? When it comes to news coverage, reporters almost always identify the political party of a Republican caught in a scandal, but when the culprit is a Democrat, the party label is usually left out of the story.
There are exceptions to this rule, of course, but not many. To prove the point, here’s how ABC, CBS and NBC have identified (or failed to identify) the figures in 16 political scandals — 8 Democrats, 8 Republicans — as documented by NewsBusters during the past few years:
Following the indictment of Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) for threatening to veto funding for the state’s public integrity unit after a Democratic District Attorney refused to resign for a drunk driving incident, ABC and CBS did their best to play up the charges against the Texas Republican.
CBS reporter Manuel Bojorquez provided the most hyperbolic commentary by proclaiming “even if he is eventually cleared of these charges, he may have to deal with the political embarrassment of a mugshot.”
In an exclusive preview of his interview with Paul Ryan, CBS This Morning journalist Richard Schlesinger on Friday chose to highlight a shot at the "brown-noser" Congressman. The reporter recounted Ryan's high school career.
He noted that the Representative was named prom king and added, "Along the way, he picked up another title -- brown-noser. And that he doesn't talk about too much." Schlesinger prompted, "You proud of the brown-noser title?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
NBC Nightly News was the sole Big Three evening newscast on Friday to cover ISIS's ongoing rampage against non-Muslims in northern Iraq. Chris Jansing filed a full report on the heartbreak for a Yazidi community in Nebraska, who have lost family to the Islamist group's campaign of terror. By contrast, ABC's World News and CBS Evening News both found time to air news briefs on the historical gaffe in a photo promoting the new season of PBS's Downton Abbey.
Jansing interviewed several Yazidis for the segment, who detailed the atrocities that ISIS is inflicting on their minority community: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
In an interview with the director of a Boston drug rehabilitation center on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer worried about the impact media coverage of legalized marijuana was having on America's youth: "You know, if you're a teenager, a young adult, and you're watching the news and you're hearing more and more stories about the legalization of marijuana...and now you're saying, 'Wait a minute, here.' Are we sending mixed messages on drugs to our kids?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
David Ray, co-founder of Number 16, replied: "We are. We are. We're sending mixed messages because what we're saying is, 'Well, this is okay, but this isn't.' And so, what's a kid to do?"
It has been over three weeks since The New York Timespublished a front-page investigation unmasking the actions of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) shuttering an anti-corruption commission. In reaction, the U.S. Attorney has now begun investigating Cuomo’s administration for possible “witness tampering and obstruction of justice,” according to The New York Post.
Despite these serious allegations, CNN has all but ignored the story. The cable news outlet completely ignored the Cuomo scandal until it aired a single tease and report on August 7 during The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.
Thursday's CBS This Morning stood out for zeroing in on the plight of Catholics in China, as it covered Pope Francis's trip to South Korea. Seth Doane noted the Pope's overflight of the communist country, and pointed out how "that's significant, because the last time a pope wanted to fly through Chinese airspace was in 1989, and Beijing refused the request." The Pope at that time, St. John Paul II, took a vocal stance against the communist regime in his native Poland.
Meanwhile, ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today touted the Pope "making history" with his trip, as he is the first pontiff to visit South Korea in 25 years. Both newscasts also hyped the temporary Popemobile – something that CBS This Morning left out of its coverage: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
On Thursday, the hosts of CBS This Morning interrogated former NBC and CNN journalist Campbell Brown and prominent liberal attorney David Boies over their effort to reform the public education system by eliminating a union sacred cow, teacher tenure. Co-host Norah O'Donnell began the segment by proclaiming: "This could be a watershed moment for America's public schools or a misguided effort to punish teachers for problems far beyond the classroom." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Brown explained that tenure "makes it almost impossible to remove a grossly ineffective or incompetent teacher or in some cases even an abusive teacher." In response, O'Donnell toed the union line: "But you both should answer this, what your critics charged. You've focused a lot of time and money and one of the best lawyers in the country on an issue like tenure, when many people say that budget cuts to schools and inadequate funding is really the reason why there's inequality."
On Thursday, August 14, all three network morning shows did their best to defuse the conflict between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama following Clinton’s criticism of the White House’s foreign policy.
The “big three” (ABC, CBS, and NBC) insisted that any dispute between the two Democrats had subsided with ABC and NBC pushing the White House line that when the two met for a birthday party on Martha’s Vineyard “a good time was had by all.” [See video below.]
As liberal columnist Kirsten Powers recently noted, President Obama is notably reluctant to acknowledge that Iraqi Christians are facing lethal persecution at the hands of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant("ISIL"). Unfortunately, he’s not alone. ABC has been almost completely silent about the religious minorities that ISIL’s self-declared Islamic caliphate is intent on wiping out.
While CBS and NBC have spent time on nearly every broadcast of the morning and evening news shows detailing the immense persecution against Christians, Yazidis and other non-Muslim religious groups in Iraq, ABC has been absent. CBS and NBC mentioned the Yazidi religious sect 34 times while Christians were mentioned 23 times between the two networks in a two-week period.
Yet ABC identified ISIL’s victims as “Christian” and “Yazidi” in only one Sunday evening news broadcast, Aug. 10.
The Big Three networks' evening newscasts on Wednesday failed to notice the Obama administration's latest revelation about ObamaCare: that more than 300,000 people who signed up for health plans under the controversial law could lose them because they failed to prove they were legal residents of the U.S. Instead, ABC's World News aired a full report on a "beauty queen's" insurance scam, while CBS Evening News gave 19-second news brief on the Perseid meteor shower.
Elizabeth Hartfield detailed the federal government's admission in an online report for CNN.com's Political Ticker blog on Wednesday. CNN anchor Michaela Pereira summarized this reporting during a 18-second news brief on Wednesday's New Day: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
On Wednesday, NBC's Today devoted a nearly four-minute segment to promoting a fawning interview that Wired magazine conducted with NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Despite introducing the story by labeling Snowden as "the man U.S. officials have called a traitor and a coward," co-host Willie Geist went on to proclaim: "Out from the shadows...in front of the flashbulbs. Appearing at times exhausted, at times defiant..." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
With a musical score playing throughout the segment that made it sound like an action movie, a sound bite ran of Snowden declaring: "My name is Ed Snowden. I used to work for the government and now I work for the public." Wired editor-in-chief Scott Dadich explained the magazine's cover photo showing Snowden draped in an American flag: "He came in actually quite nervous to the shoot. And he said, 'I love my country, I feel like a patriot.' And it was at that moment that we knew that we had the cover."
On Wednesday, August 13, all three network morning shows did their best to minimize the conflict between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama following Clinton’s criticism of the White House’s handling of the militant group ISIS.
The “big three” (ABC, CBS and NBC) networks all played up how Clinton plans to “hug it out” with President Obama when they meet at a party on Martha’s Vineyard. Speaking to “The Atlantic” magazine, Clinton criticized Obama’s foreign policy by insisting that “great nations need organizing principles. Don’t do stupid stuff is not an organizing principle.” [See video below.]
This year’s Senate races are the Democrats’ to lose in the sense that the GOP is doing nothing to earn them, hoping Obama’s political collapse will have reverse coattail effects.
The “news” networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC have largely avoided paying attention to the bad political outlook for Democrats in the 2014. It is amazing. What bigger political story is there this year? They even skip their own polls revealing Obama’s approval ratings have sunk to the point they almost mirror George W. Bush’s marks in 2006, when Democrats took over both houses of Congress.
On Tuesday, August 12, Politico’s Byron Tau reported how the Obama White House is planning to “reverse a key part of its ban on registered lobbyists serving in government.”
Despite yet another major flip-flop from the Obama Administration regarding its relationship with lobbyists, none of the “big three” networks (ABC, CBS and NBC) covered the story on their Tuesday evening newscasts.
Only CBS This Morning on Tuesday bothered to cover the heartbreaking video of Iraqi refugees rushing a helicopter in a desperate attempt to escape the violence of the terrorist group ISIS. NBC's Today and ABC's Good Morning America ignored the gripping video.
CBS reporter David Martin narrated the CNN-supplied footage: "Iraqi Army helicopters fly in at 100 feet in broad daylight to push pallets of food and water out the door. When one found a piece of ground level enough to land on, it was immediately rushed by men, women and children, desperate to escape the Sinjar Mountains." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
On the August 11 edition of Morning Joe, the MSNBC morning show aired a clip from Obama’s interview with Thomas Friedman that was transcribed in print in the August 9 edition of The New York Times. In the video, Friedman asked the president to comment on “the biggest difference between Democrats and Republicans.” According to Obama, the Democratic “consensus” is “a pretty common sense mainstream consensus” while the Republican consensus is based in “wacky ideological nonsense.”
That’s a heck of a way to reach across the aisle and work for bipartisan agreement on the nation’s pressing issues. Of course, the president’s partisan rhetoric has not been picked up by the Big Three broadcast networks. For its part, MSNBC only devoted 2 minutes and 18 seconds to the clip, 38 seconds of which was just a tease before a commercial break. [See video below. Click here for MP3 audio]
Any intraparty criticism of President Obama’s recent foreign policy moves regarding Iraq was nowhere to be found on NBC’s morning or evening news programs as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leveled some criticism at Obama on the subject in an interview with The Atlantic that was published over the weekend.
Both Sunday and Monday mornings’ installments of Today and Sunday night’s NBC Nightly News ignored this angle of disagreement among arguably the two most well-known and influential figures in Democratic politics as Obama authorized U.S. air strikes against ISIS militants in northern Iraq late last Thursday and throughout over the weekend. [MP3 audio here; Video below]
On Thursday, August 7, Senator John Walsh (D-Mont.) formally announced that he will not run for a full term in the Senate following revelations that he plagiarized large portions of his master’s thesis from the Army War College.
Despite Walsh’s announcement, the “Big Three” (ABC, CBS, NBC) have yet to cover the story during their 19 hours of air time from Thursday night through Sunday morning. In fact, CBS has been the only network to even cover the initial plagiarism story, giving it a mere 31 seconds during its CBS This Morning broadcast on July 24.
The Big Three networks steered clear of labeling the Islamist group ISIS "terrorists" on their evening newscasts on Friday. Instead, ABC's World News and CBS Evening News labeled the genocidal radicals "militants." NBC Nightly News used the more benign "rebels" in their coverage of the group's latest attacks on the Kurdish part of Iraq.
The closest that a journalist at ABC, CBS, or NBC got to using the "terrorist" label was Scott Pelley's teaser at the very top of CBS Evening News: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
During Friday morning’s coverage of the 72-hour cease-fire ending in Gaza, ABC and CBS refused to explicitly acknowledge Hamas as the party responsible for ending the cease-fire with Israel. Instead, those two networks referred to those responsible only as “militants” or “Palestinian militants” firing rockets at Israel.
NBC’s Today did cite Hamas as the side responsible for terminating the truce, but it came during a news brief in the 8:00 a.m. hour after a one-minute-and-17 second report aired during the 7:00 a.m. hour. News reader Natalie Morales stated during the news brief that: “The three-day truce between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza expired overnight. Israel says it responded to Hamas rocket fire with air strikes of its own. The new fighting has cast a shadow over negotiations being held in Egypt aimed at reaching a longer truce.” [MP3 audio here; Video below]
Of the three network morning shows on Friday, only NBC's Today made any mention of President Obama being criticized over his slow response to the terrorist group ISIS taking over Iraq. Co-host Savannah Guthrie raised the issue to chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd: "Listen to the President last night, his reluctance to get into Iraq is palpable. But on the other hand, he's facing criticism, I think you're reporting from all quarters, that maybe he waited too long to do anything and now we see ISIS in an even more dangerous position." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Todd replied: "For months, some could argue for more than a year, there has been pressure on him from the intelligence community, from military commanders, to say, 'You have to do something about ISIS, they're marching'....he's been dragged into this. He doesn't want to do it."
On August 6, Cliff May of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies charged that while the media have filled their stories on the current conflict in Gaza with “pictures of neighborhoods reduced to rubble, with Palestinian men, women and children in desperate circumstances,” they have been negligent in telling their audiences that Hamas has been “deploying civilians as human shields, storing missiles in mosques and UN schools, setting up command posts in hospitals, using ambulances to ferry terrorists to battle, and children to dig tunnels.”
One reason for this bias, according to May, is Hamas’ intimidation of journalists. May relayed that when one Spanish journalist was asked why TV viewers weren’t seeing more footage of Hamas fighters the reporter responded: “It’s very simple, we did see Hamas people there launching rockets, they were close to our hotel, but if ever we dared pointing our camera on them they would simply shoot at us and kill us.”
Despite a combined eight available hours of programming on Friday, all three network morning shows avoided the news that a scandal-plagued Democratic senator from Montana dropped a reelection bid. This move leaves the seat as a likely Republican takeover in the 2014 midterms. But viewers wouldn't know that on ABC's Good Morning America, NBC's Today and CBS This Morning.
John Walsh left the race on Thursday, two weeks after the New York Times reported that the Democrat plagiarized extensive sections of his master's degree from the Army War College. With the networks avoiding the story, it was left to CNN's New Day to offer a brief amount of coverage. John King wondered if the seat will "most likely" go to the GOP. Maggie Haberman of Politico retorted, "Oh, yeah...I mean, most Democrats that I talked to believe Montana is not winnable anymore." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
On Thursday, the al Qaeda spinoff group the Islamic State seized numerous towns in northern Iraq that are home to much of the country’s minority Christian population, sending tens of thousands of them fleeing further into the Kurdish-dominated region to avoid the unforgiving and deadly extremist group. When it came to the major broadcast networks covering this story on their Thursday morning news shows, neither ABC, CBS, or NBC provided their viewers with information on this story.
Meanwhile, CNN and its morning show, New Day, did cover the story with not one but two stories during its three-hour show. First, it aired a full, 3-minute-and-1-second report from CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson at the top of the 6:30 a.m. half hour and then a 21-second news brief during the 8:00 a.m. hour. [MP3 audio here; Video below]
On Thursday, August 7, CBS This Morning’s coverage of President Obama’s Africa Summit consisted of a glowing puff piece on how being First Lady was like being in a sorority.
Rather than acknowledge the existence of President Obama’s news conference from Wednesday night, Major Garrett, CBS News Chief White House Correspondent, played up how “Michelle Obama and Laura Bush shared the summit stage with moderator Cokie Roberts and talked candidly about the hard knocks of political criticism.” [See video below.]