[Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Good Morning America as airing the Brandi Hitt story. Her piece was posted on GMA's website, but did not air on the program.] ABCNews.com on Wednesday greeted the death of Hugo Chavez by avoiding the word “socialist.” Instead, journalist Brandi Hitt touted the repressive leader as someone who “appeared to never back down from a challenge.” The reporter never mentioned Chavez’s crackdown on free speech or democracy. Instead, she featured a woman in the streets of Venezuela gushing, “He’s a man that cared about us…He did not give anything to me, but he gave it to my people.”
Over on Today, NBC’s Mark Potter offered this friendly description of the individual who made friends with Iranian dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: “Many here were still surprised when he died, in part because of his larger-than-life personality.” Potter announced that crowds in Caracas were chanting “Chavez lives” and “the struggle continues.” Both Today and Good Morning America made sure to play footage of Chavez’s 2006 appearance at the United Nations. There, the authoritarian leaded mocked George W. Bush as “the devil.”
Whoah! What place was Mika Brzezinski talking about? On today's Morning Joe, Brzezinski said that at a place where she used to work, "any woman who did anything or got to the top immediately had something revealed to the press or online or whatever that would bring them down." And whatever happened to solidarity among the sisters? Mika added: I suggest that some might even argue that it's women doing that."
We don't know which employer Mika had in mind, but before coming to MSNBC, by far Brzezinski's longest stints were at CBS. View the video after the jump.
CNN's Dana Bash fact-checked President Obama's falsehood about the sequester on Friday, but the major networks didn't exactly follow CNN's lead in reporting the distortion that Capitol Hill janitors and police would receive a pay cut because of the sequester.
In his Friday press conference, Obama claimed, "They're going to have less pay, the [Capitol Hill] janitors, the security guards. They just got a pay cut." Shortly after that, CNN's Bash obtained from the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms that the workers would not receive a pay cut, just a limit on overtime pay. NBC ignored the distortion on its weekend newscasts, while CBS and ABC reported it one time each.
In the aftermath of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, CBS has made up its mind about Catholicism: the Church is in crisis and must be reformed! Whereas Martin Luther tacked his theses on the Wittenberg church door, however, CBS opted to ensure its stab at church reformation would go largely unnoticed by including the segment on Saturday's CBS This Morning. [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
To discuss this topic, CBS anchor Anthony Mason brought in three liberals: Jim Frederick of Time Magazine, the Rev. Paul Raushenbush of the Huffington Post -- the great-grandson of Baptist minister and Social Gospel champion Walter Rauschenbusch -- and Sister Maureen Fiedler, who hosts her own public radio show. All three agreed with the premise that the Catholic Church needs to change. If the message wasn’t clear enough, a screen behind the guests read “Catholic Church in Crisis” (with no question mark) and the chyron read “Catholic Church in Crisis: Is the Vatican Capable of Reform?”
On Monday, CBS This Morning launched a week-long set of interviews for Women's History Month, but the majority of the women they picked for their list of "Eye Opening Women" are dedicated liberals, particularly on social issues. The morning newscast first conducted a fawning interview of former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who was part of the Supreme Court plurality that upheld the Roe v. Wade decision in 1992's Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
Five out of the eight remaining women featured for the series of interviews are all notables on the left side of the political spectrum. On Tuesday, anchors Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell will interview The Daily Beast's Tina Brown and Arianna Huffington, founder of far-left website The Huffington Post. Brown has a history of attacking conservatives. During a 2011 appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe program, she likened tax hike opponents to terrorists:
“Deadline day. Hours, now, until massive government cuts go into effect that could impact every American. Jobs vaporizing. Flights delayed. Even criminals walking free.” That’s the call to panic with which ABC’s Josh Elliot greeted viewers on the March 1 Good Morning America. Elliot’s frenzied tone, on the day sequestration was going into effect, was typical of the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) network coverage of Washington’s most recent fiscal debate.
MRC analysts reviewed all of the 88 sequestration stories, from when coverage began on February 14 through March 1 when the “cuts” took effect, and found 58 (66 percent) of them advanced the most horrific Obama administration talking points. Another 10 offered the same scary forecasts but at least included the skeptical view that the sequestration reductions weren’t that big and their effects were being overhyped. (Videos after the jump)
The final count is in. From the day of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation announcement to the day of his retirement, the networks unabashedly attacked the pope and the Catholic Church, adding to a pope resignation coverage tally of referencing the church as troubled 157 times and using the world “scandal” 105 times in 118 reports.
A previous Culture and Media Institute tally noted the frequency ABC, CBS, and NBC referred to the church as troubled, aired the word “scandal,” and ran late night comedy show clips cracking pope jokes. Pressing for church modernization and calling for a change in regards to women and gays also made the list.
Thursday's CBS This Morning stood out as the only Big Three network morning newscast to zero in on Education Secretary Arne Duncan's false assertion about the sequester – that "there are, literally, teachers now who are getting pink slips; who are getting notices they can't come back this fall". Correspondent Bill Plante noted that "Duncan conceded he knew of only one county nationwide where there had been notices", and underlined that "those notices weren't sequester-related."
CBS News political director John Dickerson also highlighted that "the Washington Post caught...Duncan in an exaggeration about those effects." Actually, "exaggeration" is an understatement on the part of Dickerson, as the Post's Glenn Kessler ripped the Cabinet official over several statements he's made on the sequester issue:
The Today show on Thursday allowed a scant 16 seconds, out of a possible four hours, to the claim by veteran journalist Bob Woodward that the Obama White House is trying to intimidate him and attack his coverage of the sequester cuts. The NBC program also avoided using the word "threat."
ABC's Good Morning America gave the most coverage to the battle, offering a full report and a news brief. [See video below. MP3 audio here.] CBS This Morning covered the story as part of a bigger report on the looming cuts. On Today, reporter Kristen Welker blandly explained, "As a backdrop to all of this, veteran reporter Bob Woodward is telling reporters that the White House is lashing out at him for writing an article which claimed that the sequester was all President Obama's idea." She then helpfully presented the President's case: "The White House has made the point that Republicans overwhelmingly supported the plan as well." This was the extent of Today's coverage.
A frail, ailing 85-year-old man announces he doesn’t have the strength to continue as the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion people. With the humility of one whose entire life has been in service to God and his Church, he says he will retire to quietly live out his remaining years.
Cue the laugh track and gin up the scandal rumors. It was three weeks full of journalistic contempt for the Pope and the Catholic Church.
MediaBistro's TVNewser blog reported on Thursday that NBC's Today hired former CNN legal analyst Lisa Bloom as their new legal analyst. Bloom, the only child of notorious celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred, is a chip off her mother's block, given her liberal record both on the air and online, particularly on the issue of same-sex "marriage".
The attorney blasted California's voter-approved Proposition 8 in a January 28, 2010 editorial for CNN.com titled "Prop 8 is simply unconstitutional." Bloom used personal anecdotes to contrast "reckless heterosexual nuptials" with the 16-year relationship of her friends Wilbert and Carlos, who, in her words, are "second-class citizens in their own country." She dropped the inflammatory hint at Prop 8 supporters later in her piece:
Charlie Rose led Monday's CBS This Morning by hyping the allegedly catastrophic effect of the sequester during a promo for a report from correspondent Major Garrett: "Kids without vaccines; schools without teachers; and massive airport delays – we'll show you the worst-case scenario for government spending cuts."
Garrett himself could have been mistaken for an Obama administration flack as he devoted much of the segment to publicizing the White House's bombast about the impending $85 billion in spending cuts. He uncritically forwarded the administration's hype about the general and local effect of the cuts, which are set to take effect on March 1:
Bill Plante, CBS News Senior White House Correspondent, made a rather shocking statement Sunday about the Obama administration's media strategy.
Appearing on CNN's Reliable Sources, Plante said that to the extent the White House is able to "put out their own material" without the Washington press corps, "they're undercutting the First Amendment...it's state-run media" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
On Wednesday, the New York Daily News reported that Rob Morrison, an anchor for CBS's New York City affiliate WCBS, had quit his job after being arrested the previous weekend for an alleged assault on his wife, CBS MoneyWatch anchor Ashley Morrison. While this news story has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, and UPI, CBS's own morning and evening newscasts have yet to report on it.
By contrast, CBS This Morning devoted several news items to the arrest and trial of Fox News correspondent Douglas Kennedy in 2012. During a April 4, 2012 report, then-anchor Erica Hill pointed out his affiliation with the news outlet before interviewing the journalist's attorney:
Bill Whitaker did his best to depict former San Diego Mayor Maureen O'Connor as a tragic figure on Friday's CBS This Morning, but glossed over her Democratic affiliation. Whitaker sympathetically asked O'Connor, "What's the worst of it for you?" The correspondent also spotlighted how the former mayor "brought in light rail, a convention center – helped transform San Diego from a sleepy navy town to the country's eighth largest city."
Anchor Norah O'Donnell introduced Whitaker's four and half minute-long report by labeling the politician a "beloved former mayor". Whitaker later followed suit by pointing out how "San Diego once loved her".
All too often when reporters are discussing Democrats caught in scandals, they develop a peculiar speech impediment that prevents them from uttering the "D" word. However, when members of the GOP stumble, the word "Republican" cascades out of the mouths of reporters.
When news broke on February 15 that former Democratic Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. was charged with improperly spending campaign funds on (among other items) Michael Jackson and Bruce Lee memorabilia, the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) network anchors and reporters struggled to get their lips to form the word "Democrat." In 15 total stories on Jackson, reporters failed to utter the "D" word in 11 of them (73 percent). On the February 21 CBS This Morning Jackson was labeled a Democrat, but only in an on-screen graphic.
Wednesday's CBS This Morning played up the supposedly gargantuan cuts in government spending that would go into the effect if the sequester goes into effect on March 1. Charlie Rose trumpeted the "massive spending cuts" set to take effect, while Gayle King underlined that the "deep automatic spending cuts" were quickly approaching. But neither anchor pointed out that $85 billion in cuts come out of a $3.5 trillion federal budget.
Correspondent Bill Plante hyped the effect of the possible "massive layoffs" on the Washington, DC region. But he only included one soundbite from a Republican/conservative, while playing three clips from President Obama and second Democrat.
The NBC, ABC, and CBS evening newscasts on Tuesday all recited the same White House talking points as anchors and correspondents wrung their hands over the upcoming sequester budget cuts set to take effect on March 1. While all three broadcasts touted President Obama using "dire language" to warn against the cuts – only amounting to less that three percent of the federal budget – none of them noted that it was the President's idea in the first place. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
At the top of NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams sounded the alarm: "Deep impact....deep budget cuts poised to have a major impact on the military, law enforcement, even food inspection." In the report that followed, correspondent John Yang fretted: "Through 2021, it means cutting $85 billion a year, half from the Pentagon, half from non-defense programs. Everything from education to national parks to Meals on Wheels." Yang failed to mention the current annual federal budget is around $3.5 trillion.
David Letterman seems more concerned with President Obama's drone program than most of the media.
On CBS's s Late Show Monday, the host aired a mock video of Obama using a drone strike to help him sink an errant putt while playing golf with Tiger Woods (video follows with transcript and commentary):
All three network newscasts on Friday featured Chicago as an example of Barack Obama's call for more gun control. ABC and NBC ignored the inconvenient fact that the city already has some of the strictest gun control in the country. (It took a Supreme Court ruling to overturn Chicago's ban on handguns.) Only the CBS Evening News mentioned this point.
On the NBC Nightly News, Lester Holt explained that the President traveled to Chicago "where dozens of children are victims of gun violence every year." Chuck Todd highlighted, "For years, it's the NRA that has used emotion to win big political battles. The president hopes the emotions of Newtown change the equation." He also noted that Chicago saw almost "nearly 500 gun shot-related murders in 2012."
The irony must have been lost on Bill Plante when he reported on Monday's CBS This Morning that President Obama "did golf with Tiger [Woods], but we didn't see a picture of it. They [the Obama administration] don't like to show a picture of the President at leisure doing anything. They see this as propaganda for the Republicans."
However, exactly two weeks earlier, on February 4, 2013, Plante acted as an Obama administration stenographer as he pointed out a photo released by the White House of the President "at leisure" – specifically, firing a shotgun. He also spotlighted menu choices for the chief executive's Super Bowl festivities:
Former Democratic Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. was charged on Friday with improperly spending $750,000 of campaign funds on items such as Michael Jackson and Bruce Lee memorabilia (among other things). Yet, ABC's World News did not cover the story at all. On Saturday, Good Morning America allowed the news a mere 18 seconds. Over the course of the weekend, NBC's Nightly News, the CBS Evening News, Saturday Morning, Today and GMA never mentioned that Jackson is a Democrat. There was no coverage on Sunday.
Most, such as Evening News guest-host Anthony Mason, simply referred to Jackson as the "former Chicago Congressman." CBS correspondent Nancy Cordes spun, "Jackson, Jr., came to Congress in 1995, the promising and personable son of a civil rights leader, the Reverend Jesse Jackson." Cordes did highlight how the ex-representative spent his campaign funds, including "$43,000 on a gold-plated men's Rolex watch, $5,000 on fur capes and parkas and a long list of Bruce Lee and Michael Jackson memorabilia."
While new White House chief of staff Denis McDonough was grilled about the Benghazi terrorist attack on CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday, NBC Meet the Press moderator David Gregory only lobbed a single softball on the scandal, while fill-in host Jonathan Karl ignored the topic all together on ABC's This Week. The White House was unwilling to even allow Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace to interview McDonough.
On Meet the Press, after providing a fawning biographical intro of McDonough, Gregory only briefly touched on Benghazi, hoping the controversy was over: "I've talked to Republican senators, they've wanted to get additional information about what the President did the night of the attack...Has the President finished on the Benghazi matter? Is there anything else he's going to say or anything else he's concluded that should've been done that was not done?"
Following the failure of former Senator Chuck Hagel to receive enough votes in the Senate on Thursday to be confirmed as defense secretary, NBC, ABC, and CBS all immediately turned their ire on Republicans for daring to object to President Obama's appointment.
On Friday's NBC Today, news reader Natalie Morales fretted over the "partisan standoff." In the report that followed, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd mentioned Republican reasons for blocking the nomination, but brushed them aside as he concluded: "Ultimately, Hagel's issues with his former GOP colleagues are personal."
All three network morning shows on Friday ignored the fact that the ex-San Diego mayor who gambled away an astonishing $1 billion is a Democrat. ABC's Good Morning America, NBC's Today and CBS This Morning covered Maureen O'Connor and explained how she wasted most of the money on video poker. But none of them mentioned the party affiliation of the politician.
GMA's Josh Elliott simply related, "A former mayor of San Diego has admitted to gambling away a staggering $1 billion, including millions that she took from her late husband's charity." Today's Natalie Morales described the fraud as an "unbelievable debt." She, too, only used the term "former San Diego mayor." On CBS This Morning, Norah O'Donnell did the same. A graphic deemed the massive crime as being committed by an "ex-mayor." On Fox News, however, Fox and Friends host Brian Kilmeade identified "former Democratic Mayor Maureen O'Connor."
When listing the qualifications for a papal successor, comedian David Letterman used the Catholic church's clerical abuse scandal as a parting blast at Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday night's Late Show.
Letterman quipped that the church is "looking for a guy who is good at transferring creepy priests." Earlier, he took another shot at Pope Benedict: "I guess you know by now, big news coming out of the Vatican. Pope Benedict was fired." [Video below the break. Audio here.]
All three major networks were awash in water bottle coverage, devoting time in both morning and evening shows to discuss Sen. Marco Rubio drinking out of a water bottle during his response to President Obama’s State of the Union address on February 12.
ABC’s “Good Morning America” and World News,” CBS’s “This Morning” and “Evening News,” and NBC’s “Today” and “Nightly News” all talked about the water bottle, and the attention that it was receiving. Six stories covered the non-issue in the day following Obama’s speech. All three evening news shows ran the instant replay.
On Wednesday's CBS This Morning, Norah O'Donnell and Charlie Rose lived up to their reputation for hammering Republican/conservative guests, as they interviewed Republican Senator Marco Rubio. Rose mouthed a line from President Obama's Tuesday State of the Union address, where the chief executive invoked the families of gun violence victims to push for stricter gun control: "Do you agree with the President that those people deserve a vote?"
Later in the segment, O'Donnell strongly hinted that the Florida politician, and Republicans in general, were extremists [audio available here; video below the jump]:
NBC's Savannah Guthrie pressed White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett on Tuesday's Today over President Obama's apparent inaction on many key issues. After reading an excerpt from the President's 2009 address to Congress, Guthrie wondered, "You know, Americans have heard these refrains over and over again. What can you guarantee to the American people that will turn these words into actual action?"
By contrast, on Tuesday's CBS This Morning, anchor Charlie Rose merely prompted Jarrett to provide the Obama administration's talking points on the upcoming State of the Union address: