Watching network morning show anchors interview the Democratic presidential candidates often makes you wonder if you’ve seen tougher interviews on overnight acne-care infomercials. Their questions are often so simple and promotional that you wish they’d just go ahead and wear their "Hillary!" or "Obama ‘08" buttons on the set.
There is no pretense of political balance. They are actively rooting for a Democratic victory next year, and they have the power to make a real difference. Notwithstanding their overall loss of audience in the last decade, ABC, CBS, and NBC morning shows draw nine times the audience of their cable-news competitors and are geared toward the mostly apolitical mainstream, which makes them an important free-media showcase for presidential hopefuls. A new study shows that if this year’s campaign coverage on the TV morning shows were a primary election, the Democrats would win in a landslide of attention and hyperbole.
Rich Noyes of the Media Research Center assessed all morning-show coverage on the Big Three from January 1 through July 31.
That's what I thought when I received an e-mail from NewsBusters reader Lori Puente informing me that Yahoo News is listing an article about Katie Couric's upcoming trip to report from Iraq and Syria in the "entertainment news" section.
The Washington Post on Tuesday published a book review of Ed Klein’s critical Katie Couric biography by reviewer Louis Bayard, who found the entire exercise of writing a Katie book distasteful, unnecessary, and sexist: “You may also wonder if the same book would have been written about a male broadcaster,” Bayard argued early on. He suggested Klein was a female-bashing brute:
On Friday, National Review writer Myrna Blyth unwrapped some of the nuggets in the forthcoming Ed Klein biography of Katie Couric, the one the Katie camp is trying to squash, in very Hillaryesque fashion, as "old news." [Klein appeared Monday night on FNC's Hannity & Colmes.] Before she kindly noted that the MRC has piles and piles of examples of Katie's liberal bias, Blyth dished Klein's claims:
In fact, there is not much unexpected here including the portrait of the young Katie as wildly ambitious and manipulative when she was desperately trying to make her dream “of becoming the next Barbara Walters” come true. Though a bit surprising, Couric, who in her prime was always seen as a feminist icon, often relied on relationships with important men to help her in her climb. According to Klein, she had affairs with both a married CNN executive who saved her from being fired a couple of times, and a media spokesman for Metro Dade Police Department who tipped her off on big stories when she was a TV reporter in Miami.
A family in Clovis, California, which is near Fresno, has sadly become the modern day version of the Ryans, real-life brothers depicted in Steven Spielberg's acclaimed film "Saving Private Ryan" wherein all but one died serving his country in World War II.
For the Hubbards, Nathan, the second of three brothers serving in Iraq, died Wednesday in a helicopter accident in the northern part of that embattled nation. This came two years, nine months, and eighteen days after the death of brother Jared there.
The sole surviving brother, Jason, the eldest, returned home Friday, and according to the Associated Press, may not be going back to Iraq:
In the wake of President George W. Bush's reminder Wednesday about how the “killing fields” of Cambodia followed the 1975 U.S. pullout from Vietnam and the region, a look back at a study, by William C. Adams and Michael Joblove, which documented how from 1975 to 1978 the three broadcast network evening newscasts, as well as the New York Times and Washington Post, virtually ignored the ongoing massacre of millions by the Khmer Rouge. Below is an excerpt, fairly lengthy since I can't imagine this is online anywhere else, from the MRC's 1990 book, “And That's the Way It Isn't: A Reference Guide to Media Bias.” The excerpt starts with a summary and then key findings from the study published in 1982:
The xenophobic reign of terror by the Marxist Khmer Rouge from April 1975 to January 1979 in Cambodia was as brutal as that of any in history. Up to three million Cambodians died of starvation, torture or execution. But despite what George Washington University professor William Adams and research associate Michael Joblove called "the barbarism and the magnitude of the tragedy," major media outlets in the U.S. paid little attention to the tragic events.
If George W. Bush's approval rating hit a low point for any president in 33 years, do you think the network evening news programs would have reported it?
Maybe as the lead story, right?
Well, a new Gallup poll was released on Tuesday stating that the approval rating for Congress tied the lowest point since Gallup began tracking such a thing, and none of the broadcasts networks thought it was newsworthy last night.
The likely reason for the boycott, beyond the obvious fact that the Democrats are now in control, is that much of the recent decline in this favorability has come from Democrats and Independents (emphasis added):
On November 17, 2005, Rep. Jack Murtha (D-Pa.), who had previously supported the Iraq war, announced his call for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. The story led all three broadcast network evening news reports.
A mirror-image shift of position was reported today: a previously anti-war Dem has announced, after a visit to Iraq, that he now opposes withdrawal at this time. Will the MSM give anything like equal time to the story?
Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wa.) is a five-term member of Congress, representing Washington's 3rd District. Baird voted against the initial resolution authorizing the war. But now, having recently returned from Iraq, he has another perspective on events there, telling his hometown newspaper, the Olympian, as reported in this article, the following, :
We're on the ground now. We have a responsibility to the Iraqi people and a strategic interest in making this work.
I think we're making real progress.
I think the consequences of pulling back precipitously would be potentially catastrophic for the Iraqi people themselves, to whom we have a tremendous responsibility … and in the long run chaotic for the region as a whole and for our own security.
TVNewser is reporting that CBS News executives are in Cuba. While the Tiffany network won't say what for, speculation is there may be negotiations with the Castro government for a full-time Havana bureau for the network.:
A TVNewser tipster tells us, and a CBS News spokesperson confirms, that CBS News & Sports President Sean McManus and Evening News EP Rick Kaplan are in Cuba. The spokesperson could not tell TVNewser the mission of the trip. However, Kaplan has met with Cuban president Fidel Castro on past occasions, dating back to 1978.
>More: An emailer adds, "...being a past insider at CBS News I can tell you that this trip to Cuba is most likely an effort to open the first fully functional U.S. News bureau in Cuba."
Admitting it was "smart-assed," CBS White House correspondent nonetheless defended his now-infamous "If he's so smart, how come you lost Congress?" quip from Monday's White House South Lawn farewell for Rove. Interviewed by CBSNews.com blogger Matthew Felling, Plante did concede that he welcomes scrutiny of how the press functions, especially in live press conference settings.
I’m absolutely and totally in favor of openness, even if it makes us look bad. The public is entitled to see what we see – and, increasingly, they do because of live coverage. If that means they see me or hear me asking what they think is an impertinent question, that’s fine. I’ve got no problem with it.
Julie Chen followed Barbara Walters’ lead in endorsing a global warming alarmist film, this time on Leonardo DiCaprio’s upcoming documentary, "The 11th Hour." The August 13 edition of "The Early Show" ran an unchallenged piece on DiCaprio’s film, then this exchange between co-hosts Harry Smith and Julie Chen.
CHEN: He has also turned his official website into an eco-site. News about his latest movies is posted side by side, with updates from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. And to see how you can help protect the environment, log on to our website at CBSNews.com.
HARRY SMITH: And what was your impression?
CHEN: Oh he was very sweet, and--oh of him or the movie? Gotta go green.
Word came Sunday that entertainment industry titan Merv Griffin passed away at age 82. Back in October of 2003, when CBS planned to air a derogatory mini-series about Ronald and Nancy Reagan, The Reagans, Griffin went onto MSNBC to denounce CBS as “cowardly” for belittling Ronald Reagan and distorting his record when the former President (who would die eight months later) was on his deathbed. Thanks to controversy over the movie, fueled in part by a letter from the MRC to all advertisers urging them to review the movie before placing ads and to consider what their customers would think of their support for such a disparaging portrait, CBS moved the movie to its Showtime pay cable movie channel.
Awaiting the presidential press conference shortly before 10:30 this morning, CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric tossed a question to Pentagon correspondent David Martin. But Couric apparently wasn't informed that Martin has lost his voice and was ill-equipped to go live on national television as he could barely whisper the answer to Couric's question.
When Nancy Pelosi rose to be the House Democrats’ leader in 2002, Katie Couric said to NBC colleague Ann Curry: "Is it okay to say, ‘You go girl!’?" That cheerleading spirit continued in her Monday "Katie Couric’s Notebook" commentary (featured at her blog Couric & Co.) lauding the new Democratic Congress: "this new crop worked much harder than the last. A big accomplishment was in challenging executive power with oversight hearings on Iraq, Medicare, the Department of Justice, and global warming." She concluded: "Promises, promises. Sometimes they are kept – even in Washington."
That was certainly not the tone of CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather took toward Speaker Gingrich and the new Republican Congress in 1995: "The new Republican majority in Congress took a big step today on its legislative agenda to demolish or damage government aid programs, many of them designed to help children and the poor." Their attempts at oversight were part of a "political carpet-bombing attack."
CBS, the Rathergate network, offered up another misleading report. The August 8 edition of "The Early Show,"at 7:09 AM, edited a Hillary Clinton quote from the August 7 AFL-CIO debate to portray her as a populist.
JOIE CHEN: Front-runner Clinton also came up against sharp elbows with rivals accusing her of cozying up to big-money lobbyists. Before thousands of union members, the New York Senator sought to portray herself as champion of the little guy.
CLINTON: So if you want a winner who knows how to take them on, I'm your girl.
What she actually said was in the context of her preference in attacking the Republicans. The full quote is much more divisive than portraying herself "as champion of the little guy."
CBS’s Harry Smith led the charge against "global climate change," first with billionaire airline founder and activist Richard Branson and then in the health segment. On the August 7 edition of "The Early Show" at 7:49 AM, Harry Smith hosted the health segment on how to handle the heat with the current heat wave that is affecting much of the eastern half of the United States. With many Americans baking in the hot conditions, Smith appealed to their emotions with this editorial comment.
"Before we do anything else, there is in fact, global climate change. It really affects some climates much more than others, and it's really caused some real serious problems."
Republicans held a debate on Sunday, but CBS’s Hannah Storm seemed more interested in Rudy Giuliani’s personal life and then Mitt Romney’s crankiness. On the August 6 edition of "The Early Show," at 7:19 AM, Storm kicked off the segment noting there was a Republican debate the previous day but, "they did not talk about an issue hanging over front-runner Rudy Giuliani and that is his wife, Judith, who has become a controversial topic in his campaign."
If anyone in the media blames the Minnesota bridge collapse on "cheap Republicans" who like tax cuts, it would not be the first time. In 1989, after a memorable San Francisco earthquake, an interstate highway bridge collapsed and killed hundreds. Media figures demanded new taxes, and some even suggested the Proposition 13 ballot initiative may have caused unnecessary deaths. We reported in the November 1989 MediaWatch:
As aftershocks rumbled through the San Francisco Bay area, media figures began calling for more taxes. On the October 18 Nightline, Ted Koppel asked an agreeable Democratic politician from California: "We all remember a few years ago Proposition 13 which rolled back taxes. And at the same time the point was made you roll back the taxes, that's fine, but that means there are going to be fewer funds available for necessary projects. Any instances where the money that was not spent because of the rollback of Proposition 13 where money would have made a difference?"
In one of her one-minute "Katie Couric’s Notebook" speeches on her Katie & Co. blog, CBS anchor Katie Couric came lecturing to Hillary Clinton’s defense on August 1 over Robin Givhan’s Washington Post fashion review of her cleavage on C-SPAN2, but she never mentioned the Post, just how the story "dominated cable news for days, and it’s disgraceful." She sounded the feminist alarm: "By focusing on this display of decolletage, it seems we’ve plunged to a new low. What’s next? Studying a candidate’s too-tight jeans?" She said this election was too important for trivia: "If we focus on the issues, we could judge the candidates not on the color of their clothes, but on the content of their character." She acknowledged some fashion issues were "fair game," when the targets were men: the John Edwards $400 haircuts and how "Dick Cheney was slammed for wearing a parka when he visited a concentration camp."
You'd think it was the news media that "got a raise" last week for all the cheering. The federal minimum wage was increased on July 24 by 70 cents to $5.85 an hour and will go up by the same amount in 2008 and 2009.
CNN's Ali Velshi gleefully greeted the change on "American Morning" July 24. He called it "unmitigated good news."
ABC's Claire Shipman also called it "good news for thousands of low-paid workers," on "Good Morning America" the same day.
The July 31 edition of "The Early Show," just like the CBS Evening News broadcast, actually ran the news of two left leaning academics citing progress in Iraq. David Martin’s set up story featured co-author Kenneth Pollack explaining Iraqi improvements.
However, just as correspondent Allen Pizzey refused to mention any improvements, and snidely dismissed John McCain’s positive assessment on Iraq, the CBS crew is often skeptical of any positive signs. Though much more subtle, host Harry Smith displayed some disbelief to guest Michael O’Hanlon.
On Saturday’s "Early Show," host Jeff Glor framed a political headline in a way that portrays President Bush as criminally uncaring. The story was about a seven year old Orlando boy who wrote a letter to the president, pleading for him to do something to make his community safer.
Jeff Glor (Host): "And one seven year old boy's cry for help has gone as far as Capitol Hill and the White House."
Santiago Valera: (Video) "Dear Mr. President, hello, sir, my name is Santiago Santana Valera...."
Glor: "In a letter to the president, Santiago describes the shooting death of his aunt and his fear of even playing outside in Orlando, Florida now. His words were read this week on the House floor by his congressman. It led to the passage of a bill to beef up police departments nationwide. President Bush is expected to veto that legislation."
Glor offered no specifics about the bill nor did he provide any explanation as to why the president is expected to veto it. Rather, from the framing of the story, the president is portrayed as something of a heartless monster, inexplicably denying the impassioned pleas of a scared child. According to spokesman Blair Jones, the administration has spent 2.5 billion dollars on the issue since 2001.
On Sunday's CBS Evening News, correspondent Kelly Cobiella filed a report about American medical students who are receiving the "gift" of a free education from the Latin American School of Medicine, established by former Cuban president Fidel Castro to train doctors for poor communities. But, while entertaining suggestions from one student who thought that Michael Moore's trip to Cuba for health care "proposed a really good question about looking at our medical system and seeing what things we need to change," the CBS correspondent also found that "Cuba is no health care paradise," as she reported on "crumbling" hospitals, doctors making $20 a month, and "shortages of just about everything from drugs to high-tech equipment." (Transcript follows)
ABC's World News Sunday featured a report about the upcoming meeting between President Bush and recently elected British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, which included speculation about how Bush's relationship with Brown will compare to that with Tony Blair. Between anchor Dan Harris and correspondent John Cochran, the derogatory charge by Blair critics that he was Bush's "poodle" was mentioned three times. While Cochran described the label as "perhaps unfair," when the report concluded, Harris, after having already mentioned the "poodle" insult once as he introduced the story, followed up by remarking, "Potentially no more poodle." (Transcript follows)
In the New York Post, gossip columnist Liz Smith previewed some of the charges in Ed Klein’s book on CBS anchor Katie Couric, due at the end of August. It seems the Katie camp is already trying to do damage control and insist that the scoops that are leaking out are not really scoops, they’re all yawners. (See what happens when you hire a Hillary publicist like Matthew Hiltzik? Your media strategy suddenly sounds exactly like Hillary’s.) The only scooplet that Smith thought had power: "‘But the majority of people at 60 Minutes, including the correspondents, dislike her intensely. They think she's a lightweight.’ Well, that probably hurts, but Katie has to ignore it."
And that's exactly how the mainstream press treated it. What goes down, must go down further. Even with the sour coverage on NBC and CBS on July 26, there were voices of reason that warrant commitment to the markets.
"So this is not a crash, if anything, it's a correction," said CNN "American Morning" business correspondent Ali Velshi. "It might not even be a correction; it might just be a stop on the way."
Wow, good news, even on CNN.
Others experts point at signs our economy is still in tact and still moving in the right direction as evidence not to panic.
Is it just me, or is there something missing in the coverage of the terrible flooding happening in China? Let’s see:
Destruction of life and property? Check.
Daring rescues? Check.
People fleeing their homes? Check.
Floods a result of man-caused global warming? Er…
In all the stories I’ve read from major news outlets about the devastating flooding in China, I have yet to see that the floods have been linked to the phenomenon known as man-caused global warming. Meanwhile, recent flooding in Britain has been connected to it on more than one occasion, as Newsbustershasreported.