At the top of Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams did his part for President Obama's re-election as he announced: "Game on. The President and Vice President hitting it hard tonight on the campaign trail." Introducing the supposed news report, Williams touted how Republicans were "eating up time and money and effort" in the primary race, while "Democrats were in full fall campaign mode."
White House correspondent Kristen Welker sounded more like the White House press secretary as she set up a string of sound bites from Obama and Joe Biden: "President Obama defended his energy policy in suburban Maryland today, and attacked his GOP rivals....Assuming the traditional vice presidential role of campaign attack dog, Biden bared his teeth before a receptive audience of auto workers in politically-important Ohio....he slammed the Republican candidates who opposed the auto bailout." Not a single Republican sound bite was included.
Seizing on warmer than usual temperatures across the country on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams ominously warned viewers: "Much warmer weather can have a dark side, of course. And tonight there is a new projection that rising seas due to climate change could cause a whole lot of damage much sooner than anyone had previously thought."
Correspondent Anne Thompson used recent weather events to drive the point home: "The ferocious surge of the Atlantic powered by Hurricane Irene last August moved a lifeguard tower...broke through a sea wall, and sent water rushing into the streets of New York's Long Beach. A scene that will become more commonplace, a new study says, because of rising sea levels caused by global warming."
As Andrea Mitchell began an interview with left-wing activist Sandra Fluke on the March 2 edition of her MSNBC show, the NBC correspondent denounced Rush Limbaugh for having, "attacked her [Fluke] with language that we will not repeat on the air."
Well, it turns out that Andrea Mitchell thought use of the word "slut" – one of Limbaugh's offending remarks – was perfectly fine when it was to get laughs for a network sitcom. Back on the September 30, 2010 episode of NBC's 30 Rock, Mitchell made a cameo playing herself and called Tina Fey's character Liz Lemon a "slut" following rumors of an office romance. [View video after the jump]
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams has a long-standing infatuation with the 1995 film, The American President, in which actor Michael Douglas plays Democratic commander in chief Andrew Shepherd. That infatuation was clearly on display on Tuesday, as Williams praised President Obama for taking on Republicans over Iran.
On Tuesday's Nightly News, Williams cheered Obama's afternoon press conference on the matter: "President Obama chose this Super Tuesday, of all days, to take on his Republican rivals who've been criticizing him on the campaign trail on the topic of Iran...you can call it an 'Andrew Shepherd moment.' Film buffs will recognize the part played by Michael Douglas in the movie 'The American President,' where he said, you know, 'I am the president, your 15 minutes are up.'"
Appearing on Saturday's NBC Nightly News, Meet the Press host David Gregory argued that the issue of contraception was a loser for the GOP: "I think there are a lot of Republicans who are worried that this is...a fight that the Republicans probably should not be having right now, over contraception of all things, which is pretty much a settled matter in terms of access for women..."
In addition, Gregory hit Rush Limbaugh for taking the debate over the ObamaCare contraception mandate to "a much more offensive level," and argued: "...he escalated it to a degree, there's a lot of female voters who are energized on the Democratic side of all this."
In a report for Thursday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Andrea Mitchell referred to Andrew Breitbart as "the shooting star of the conservative blogosphere" and contemptuously remarked: "Breitbart, who called Senator Ted Kennedy a villain and worse when he died, called himself an 'accidental cultural warrior.'"
Following condemnation of Rush Limbaugh's "crude tirade" against left-wing activist Sandra Fluke on Thursday's NBC Nightly News, on Friday's Today, co-host Matt Lauer gave Fluke a platform to slam the conservative radio host and urged her to denounce "what seems to be a deafening silence coming from the right in standing up for you." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Fluke followed Lauer's lead as she broadly attacked conservative commentators:
Serving as the arm of MSNBC which actually has a significant audience, Thursday’s NBC Nightly News promoted a left-wing effort to impugn and silence Rush Limbaugh. “A firestorm of outrage from women after a crude tirade from Rush Limbaugh and as the battle over birth control takes another turn,” anchor Brian Williams ominously teased his newscast.
Picking up a crusade pushed all day by MSNBC, Williams warned “some may find some of the comments in this next story offensive.” He claimed “there is a growing firestorm over comments made by Rush Limbaugh,” about a woman, Sandra Fluke, who testified in favor of forcing her Catholic college to pay for her contraception, and so “a lot of women are expressing their outrage.”
On Wednesday's NBC Today, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd was looking for any excuse to be an Obama spokesman as made this declaration about the announced retirement of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe: "...she's serving as a personal testimonial to the President, who says there's no more centrist coalition inside the Republican Party." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On Tuesday, ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer praised the liberal GOP legislator as, "The principled voice of reason in some of the most contentious debates in Washington..." and noted how fellow Maine Senator and Republican moderate Susan Collins was "absolutely devastated by this decision."
It’s been nearly three weeks since President Obama faced a political backlash over his plan to force religious institutions to bow to government bureaucrats when it came to supplying birth control coverage to their employees. Since then, the liberal media — led by the broadcast networks — have helped re-script the story to suit the President’s political needs. Instead of a story about the overreach of big government and violation of religious freedom, the networks are now spinning the birth control story as one about out-of-control conservatives, to the point of ignoring broad and continuing opposition — including a lawsuit by seven state attorneys general — to the President’s power grab.
The MRC reviewed coverage from the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts starting with Obama’s February 10 declaration of a unilateral “compromise” meant to end the controversy. Our analysis shows how the networks re-framed the story from one that was damaging to Obama into one that reporters thought would hurt his opponents:
While ABC's World News declared "a big chunk of the pain at the pump is Wall Street's fault" on Thursday, on NBC's Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams similarly announced: "The problem is gas prices are largely set by commodities traders, also known these days as speculators."
Correspondent Miguel Almaguer reported on "backlash from both sides of the register" as a sound bite played of Los Angeles gas station owner Andre Van Der Valk ranting: "Consumers should be very, very angry and very challenging of the oil companies. That's where it all starts."
Pretending the Obama administration did not intentionally turn birth control into a campaign issue with the ObamaCare insurance mandate, on Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams pleaded ignorance to viewers: "Birth control seems to have become, as one headline writer put it today, 'The Third Rail of American Politics Right Now,' and this happened really out of nowhere."
In the report that followed, correspondent Kelly O'Donnell described the issue as a "political fight over government's place in women's health and reproduction." She touted how discussion of the topic "prompted boos" at Wednesday's Republican debate, while receiving "rare applause at a Democrats-only staged hearing today. Set off by the outrage Democrats vented when Republicans called only men to testify last week on religious institutions and birth control."
In a gushing report on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Savannah Guthrie freely acknowledged how media coverage has been boosting President Obama this campaign season: "The commander in chief in song and in tune. It's getting to be a regular gig....spontaneous moments can give a president or candidate the kind of wall-to-wall goodwill coverage money can't buy."
As blatant evidence of that fact, anchor Brian Williams introduced Guthrie's report by proclaiming: "Barack Obama, it turns out, likes Motown, R&B, and the Blues. Don't be surprised if a presidential trivia question 20 years from now asks, 'Who was known as the singing president?'" Sounds like narrative has already been written.
The Big Three networks all recognized the 50th anniversary of John Glenn's historic orbital spaceflight on their evening newscasts on Monday. Both NBC and CBS highlighted how there's "no certainty when the U.S. will launch astronauts again, [and] Glenn worries America may be losing its edge." But the networks failed to mention that President Obama put the decades-old endeavor in limbo, which led to the unemployment of thousands of technicians.
Brian Williams concluded his report on NBC Nightly News by noting how "it irks Senator Glenn that the manned space program is now idle. The Shuttle program is over, and the only ride available into space for American astronauts is the Russians, the former enemy that [he] was chasing into space 50 years ago today."
On Sunday, NBC's David Gregory spent much of Meet the Press blasting Rick Santorum for criticizing President Obama's "phony theology" of liberalism. Earlier that morning, he appeared on the Today show to wonder if the GOP was "comfortable" with that line of criticism and warned: "Does it want to reignite culture wars in America over these kinds of issues?"
On Monday's Today, fill-in co-host Savannah Guthrie followed Gregory's lead as she lead the top of the show with this proclamation: "Culture wars. Rick Santorum is trying to explain his comment that appeared to question President Obama's faith." NBC did not dare accuse the Obama administration of trying to "reignite" a "culture war" over the ObamaCare contraception mandate controversy.
In anticipation of Michigan's GOP primary the liberal media have been playing up Barack Obama as the savior of Detroit and turning Mitt Romney into its villain. Even though the auto bailout has cost taxpayers $14 billion the liberal media have been championing Detroit's "comeback" as a victory for the Obama administration.
On Thursday's CBS Evening News, Dean Reynolds practically crowed, as he asked GM Chairman Daniel Akerson: "Did President Obama save General Motors?" Reynolds then pointed out how Romney "argued the bailout was unnecessary, and that the regular bankruptcy process would have made GM and Chrysler stronger companies" and asked, "Would that have happened?" Akerson, dutifully responded that if not for the bailout: "you could have written off this company, this industry and this country." (video after the jump)
On Friday's CBS This Morning, Rick Santorum pushed back against Charlie Rose's interrogation about supporter Foster Friess's recent "bad off-color joke" on contraception, all but name-dropping former Obama pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright as an example of the media's double standard on playing "gotcha" politics with Republicans, but not Democrats.
Rose initially countered, "This is not gotcha; what this is, is trying to understand exactly what Rick Santorum stands for, and what he might say or do as president." But the GOP presidential candidate wasn't having any of it: "You don't do this with President Obama...he sat in a church for 20 years, and [you] defended him- that, oh, he can't possibly believe what he listened to for 20 years. It's a double standard...and I'm going to call you on it" [audio available here; video below the jump].
On Friday's NBC Today, substitute co-host Savannah Guthrie eagerly touted liberal talking points attacking a hearing held by House Republicans over the controversial ObamaCare contraception mandate on Thursday: "[They] held a hearing on the matter and Democrats got a lot of mileage out the fact that, that first panel of witnesses was all men."
On to discuss the political fallout, Meet the Press host David Gregory concluded: "You look at a scene like yesterday and it just underscores the fact that not only government, but our religious institutions, are dominated by men. It was an unfortunate image to put out there." Guthrie added: "...maybe Republicans stepped into it a little bit on that."
Leading off Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams spun hard for the Obama administration as he distorted Mitt Romney's opposition to the government bailout of the auto industry: "The fight for Michigan as Mitt Romney scrambles to explain to the voters in his home state why he thought the auto industry should be allowed to fail."
Having ignored the fact that Romney called for a "managed bankruptcy" of General Motors and Chrysler in order for them to reorganize and become healthier companies, Williams announced to viewers: "Mitt Romney's in a tough spot....he's working hard to explain why he was against the government's auto industry bailouts. That doesn't go over well in the state we associate with Detroit and American cars."
When ABC, CBS, and NBC finally got around to covering -- after two weeks of silence -- the controversy over the Obama administration's mandate that religious institutions provide health insurance for abortifacients, sterilization, and birth control, the networks downplayed the religious freedom component to the story, casting it instead as a political dogfight between liberals and conservatives.
MRC analysts studied all 36 stories, interview segments and mentions of the HHS mandate story on the Big Three broadcast networks from January 30 through February 15. Out of the 91 talking heads who appeared as soundbites on their morning or evening programs (or a small number of guests on the morning shows), politicians far outnumbered Church officials, by a margin of 60 to 9.
Tuesday's NBC Nightly News informed viewers of the statistic that 1.8 million of the deceased are still registered to vote, as anchor Brian Williams read an item recounting the results of a study by the Pew Research Center.
But the NBC anchor also downplayed the danger of voter fraud as he asserted that "the problems here are not due to fraud," but instead emanate from the lack of the use of technology.
At the top of Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams pleaded: "Why now? In a tight economy with so many Americans living on the financial edge, why are they being asked to pay so much more for gas?" Moments later, he warned: "...there's still one thing that could crush it all and ruin any hope for a real recovery right now, and that's the price of gas."
Compare that sentiment to this question Tom Brokaw put to President-elect Obama in December of 2008 on Meet the Press: "Why not take this opportunity to put a tax on gasoline, bump it back up to $4 a gallon where people were prepared to pay for that, and use that revenue for alternative energy and as a signal to the consumers: 'Those days are gone. We're not going to have gasoline that you could just fill up your tank for 20 bucks anymore.'"
On Monday, uniquely among the broadcast network evening newscasts, ABC's World News skipped the news that Israeli diplomats were the targets of simultaneous assassination attempts in two different countries, most likely from Iranian sources.
In a live interview with John F. Kennedy mistress Mimi Alford on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Ann Curry fretted over her sharing unflattering details about the late president: "What about Caroline [Kennedy], who is still alive?...Did you think about, as you talk about unburdening yourself, the idea that you've burdened other people now with this?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Alford stood by her decision to go public with the affair: "Well, I don't intentionally burden someone else. I'm telling my story. And that is what – that is what I needed to do." Curry followed up: "Any push-back from the Kennedy family? Yes or no?" Alford replied: "No, nothing."
After almost three weeks, CBS finally brought on a member of the Catholic hierarchy on Thursday's CBS This Morning to discuss the Obama administration health care mandate that forces Catholic institutions, like hospitals and colleges, to violate their consciences and pay for abortion-inducing drugs and contraception [audio clips available here; video clips below the jump]. On Good Morning America, ABC ignored the controversy for the second straight day.
It was also the second straight day that the CBS morning newscast brought on a Catholic cleric for his take about the prominent issue. By contrast, on Tuesday, NBC 's Today turned to their in-house radical feminist, Rachel Maddow, who blasted the completely warranted opposition to the new policy as a "pretty far-right perspective" and "an extension of anti-abortion politics."
Following an NBC Nightly News preview Wednesday evening of the Rock Center promotion for a book by Mimi Alford, in which she recounts how the 45-year-old President Kennedy seduced and carried on a sexual relationship with her when she was a 19-year-old White House intern, anchor Brian Williams conveyed the distress of JFK sycophants in his audience – and admitted his family was amongst them.
Talking with Meredith Vieira, Williams cited “a lot of e-mails” from people, who “sounds like a lot of us,” had a “picture of John F. Kennedy in the house when we were kids” and who are now “wondering, why do this now? Why tell her story now?”
After 19 days of controversy, CBS Evening News on Tuesday finally got around to covering the growing dispute between the Obama administration, who wants to impose a mandate for sterilizations and birth control on religious institutions, and the Catholic Church and its allies, who see it as a violation of religious liberty. All of the Big Three networks' evening newscasts on Tuesday covered the issue.
On Wednesday morning, CBS This Morning was actually the only network morning show that devoted a segment to the "hot-button issue," as anchor Gayle King labeled it. NBC's Today show gave a mere news brief on the "uproar" over the new federal policy, while ABC's Good Morning America ignored it.
Deaths, guns, whistle-blowers and the highest law officer in the land stonewalling a congressional investigation are the juicy ingredients of a story network news reporters would love to cover – if a Republican were in office. However, when Attorney General Eric Holder testified on Thursday (February 2) before a House oversight committee investigating Operation Fast and Furious, the news was completely ignored by NBC and ABC (there was one full story on Friday’s CBS This Morning). The virtual blackout of Holder’s testimony continues an overall trend of ABC and NBC burying one of the Obama administration’s biggest scandals, despite continual coverage by their competitors at CBS, CNN and Fox News.
MRC analysts reviewed the Big Three network evening and morning news shows and found that while CBS aired 29 stories and 1 brief on Fast and Furious, ABC aired only one brief on the June 15, 2011 edition of Good Morning America. That was still better than what NBC did on their morning and evening news programs, as the gunwalking story has never been mentioned on either NBC Nightly News or the Today show. NBC’s Miguel Almaguer, in a report primarily about a Mexican mother accusing border patrol agents of killing her 17-year old son as he tried to scale a wall, did note that “In December, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in a shootout with bandits.” However, Almaguer never tied the Terry killing back to the gunwalking scandal.
NBC Nightly News on Monday lifted its two-plus week blackout of the Obama administration’s decision to force religious institutions, such as Catholic hospitals and charities, to provide birth control coverage in health insurance provided to employees, but ABC’s World News and the CBS Evening News have still yet to utter a syllable about what has enraged people across the political spectrum while having plenty of time to champion Planned Parenthood’s attacks on the Komen foundation.
NBC’s Chuck Todd on Monday evening found a few seconds in a larger story to relay how the Republican presidential candidates “are hitting the Obama administration’s decision to require all health insurance plans to cover birth control. Many Catholic organizations had hoped for an exemption since the rule runs counter to the church’s doctrine. Today Mitt Romney’s campaign launched a petition drive to repeal the decision, and Newt Gingrich also sounded off.”
ABC, CBS, and NBC spotlighted the Komen foundation's about-face on funding Planned Parenthood on their Friday evening newscasts, and played up the apparent role of social media in getting the charity to reverse its earlier decision. On World News, ABC's Diane Sawyer trumpeted the "dramatic day for people power," while on Nightly News, NBC's Lester Holt concluded, "score one for the power of social media."
The Big Three outlets also covered the 180 by the breast cancer organization on their Saturday morning shows. Altogether, the networks added seven more reports to the 13 from the first 60 hours or so of the controversy, bringing the total to 20 since February 1, versus only three on the face-off between the Catholic Church and the Obama administration since January 20 (the MRC documented and highlighted this imbalance in a report on Friday; ABC and NBC added mentions on their Sunday morning political shows).