Once again obscuring any line between MSNBC and NBC News, Brian Williams brought frequent MSNBC contributor Joy-Ann Reid aboard Friday’s NBC Nightly News to praise President Obama’s comments on the Zimmerman-Martin case while he failed to mention she spent 2008 working for the Obama presidential campaign.
Between hailing Obama’s remarks as “extraordinary” and “brave,” Reid painted Obama as the victim of racism: “Everything about the Obama presidency, race has been a subtext to all of it. From the Tea Party which saw differently the Obama bailout of the auto industry from George W. Bush’s and suddenly became a movement, to him being called a liar in the well of the Congress, to him having to show his birth certificate...”
On Friday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie promoted a video of Rahm Emanuel caught dancing at a Chicago music festival: "Rahm's rhythm. You know, a lot of people find it just hard to sit still when they hear Robin Thicke's hit summer anthem Blurred Lines. Well now you can add Rahm Emanuel, Chicago's mayor, to that group." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
While the video prompted a full discussion of the Mayor's dance moves among the morning show cast, the broadcast completely skipped any mention of Chicago's credit rating just being downgraded. On Thursday's Nightly News, correspondent John Yang reported: "Moody's gave a big hit to the city's credit rating, knocking it down three pegs. Moody's mentioned not only a $36 billion unfunded pension obligation that the city has, but interestingly, also mentioned the gun violence that's been plaguing this city. Chicago, from the beginning the year through May, has paid $40 million in police overtime."
All three networks on Thursday night and Friday morning avoided key factors in the bankruptcy of Detroit, skipping the city's astronomically high tax rate and ignoring Democratic dominance for the previous half century. (Detroit's last Republican mayor left office in 1962.) Instead, ABC, NBC and CBS acted as though the bankruptcy, what Brian Williams called "the slow-moving tragedy of decline," was something that just happened.
On Good Morning America, Betty Liu gently summarized, "What happened here? Well, people have been leaving the city for years. Back in the 1950s, you had almost two million people, at the peak, living in Detroit. Now, just 700,000. So they've lost half their population." She added, "When you have fewer people living in the city, you're collecting less income and property taxes." Why are people fleeing the city? Lacking curiosity, Liu didn't bring that point up. [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
The Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks have essentially censored the latest IRS scandal news. Not a single network reported on the bombshell coming out of Thursday’s congressional hearing that IRS employees were ordered to send Tea Party tax-exemption applications to the office of the IRS’s Chief Counsel, which was headed by William Wilkins, who at that time was the only Obama political appointee at the IRS.
The Big Three networks have also ignored this week’s news that tax records of political candidates (including one-time GOP Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell) and certain donors were improperly accessed by government officials, and that the Justice Department has, so far, refused to prosecute the offenders.
During a report on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News on the widely panned cover of Rolling Stone magazine featuring Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a sound bite was included of New York Times media columnist David Carr defending the offensive display: "I think that Rolling Stone committed an act of journalism in both publishing this photo and publishing the story that they did." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Throughout the segment, NBC correspondent John Yang described the near-universal condemnation of the cover, but led up to Carr's commentary by declaring: "Rolling Stone has a history of serious journalism, like the story that led to the resignation of U.S. Afghanistan commander, General Stanley McChrystal. In 1970, Charles Manson appeared on Rolling Stone's cover, and other news magazines have had controversial covers, including Hitler and Osama Bin Laden on the front of Time."
While NBC and CBS covered Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell having a "war of words" over GOP opposition to some of President Obama's nominees, neither network detailed the hypocrisy of Reid considering the so-called "nuclear option" to eliminate the filibustering of such nominees.
On Thursday, Time's Michael Scherer cited numerous quotes from Reid decrying the tactic in 2005, when Senate Republicans – then in the majority – toyed with the idea. In one statement, Reid warned that such a move would "set a new precedent – an illegal precedent – that will always remain on the pages of Senate history – a precedent that will thrust us toward totally eliminating the filibuster in all Senate proceedings, a precedent that will eliminate the essential deliberative nature of the Senate..."
On Tuesday, the Associated Press (AP) reported that smokers may not be subject to new tobacco-use penalties built into the Affordable Care Act, due to a “computer system glitch” that could take more than a year to repair. The AP claimed that some see the stumble as part of “an emerging pattern of last-minute switches and delays” for President Obama’s signature health care law, citing the administration’s recent postponement of the so-called “employer mandate” until 2015. [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
But you wouldn’t get that sense from the mainstream media, as most major outlets have devoted little or no time to the story since it broke early Tuesday morning. The Tuesday morning shows (Today, Good Morning America, and CBS This Morning) ignored the development, save for a 10-second mention from Today’s Natalie Morales.
CBS, NBC and ABC on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning highlighted the delay of the ObamaCare employer mandate as a "surprising," "significant setback" for the President. [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Nightly News anchor Brian Williams even went so far as to cynically note, "A development this big with the President on an airplane heading into a holiday weekend is going to make a lot of people suspicious." Yet, these same networks ignored giant, glaring clues about what Democratic Senator Max Baucus once called the coming "train wreck."
On Wednesday's Good Morning America, Jon Karl deemed the development a "significant" setback. CBS This Morning co-host Norah O'Donnell saw it as a "major" problem. Reporter Jan Crawford relayed, "House Speaker John Boehner said even the Obama administration knows the train wreck will only get worse." On the July 2 Evening News, Wyatt Andrews described the one year postponement of the rule, which forces employers to pay a $2000 fine if they don't provide insurance, as a culmination of"months of complaints and backlash."
Since Wednesday, ABC, CBS, and NBC's morning and evening newscasts have all played up the social media frenzy over Texas State Senator Wendy Davis' multi-hour filibuster on Tuesday against a pro-life bill. On Friday's Today, NBC's Tamron Hall claimed that the Davis story is "another example of how social media can turn a story into a whole other stratosphere. I think without Twitter and Facebook, this would have been a big story, but not to this magnitude."
By contrast, during the trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell earlier in 2013, ABC and NBC completely ignored the widespread outrage on Twitter over the case. It took CBS four days to notice Kirsten Powers' April 11, 2013 USA Today column which "accused the media of ignoring the story because...[of] a bias in favor of abortion rights," as Jan Crawford reported on CBS This Morning. Crawford then pointed out how "those charges went viral on Twitter."
The Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks were so excited by Democratic Texas state senator Wendy Davis’s filibuster they failed to notice she is on the losing side of the abortion debate.
Anchors like NBC’s Brian Williams and ABC’s Diane Sawyer were so busy hailing Davis’s “epic” filibuster and her rise to “folk hero” status that they failed to report the findings of a National Journal poll showing her extremist pro-abortion stance is an unpopular one. (video after the jump)
ABC, NBC, and CBS began their Wendy Davis love fest on June 26 during their evening newscasts, but it was also rehashed for their morning shows. Davis, a Texas state senator, has become a rock star of the left for a filibuster, which temporarily scuttled a bill, which was vociferously opposed by pro-choice advocates, to regulate the state's abortion clinics.
The liberal Democrat became a single mom at nineteen, yet put herself through Harvard Law School. Those are admirable achievements, of course, but the Big Three networks have egregiously used her life story to mask the extreme agenda she supports with her opposition to the bill.
It’s hard to know where yesterday’s Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage met with the most jubilation: West Hollywood, the Castro District, Greenwich Village? Or the newsrooms of ABC, CBS and NBC?
Combined, the three broadcast networks devoted an astounding 25 minutes, 54 seconds of their evening news shows to the Supreme Court’s decisions striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and essentially overturning California’s Proposition 8 referendum on gay marriage. Afraid to spoil the party, they predictably allowed just 3 minutes, 33 seconds to same sex marriage opponents and their viewpoints.
On a big day for news, two of the three major networks downplayed President Obama’s global warming speech on yesterday’s evening newscasts. ABC and CBS reduced the story to a brief anchor-read blurb, while NBC included a sound bite and a full in-studio report from a correspondent.
The speech, delivered at Georgetown University, was notable for Obama’s threat to bypass Congress by directing the Environmental Protection Agency to impose tougher pollution standards on existing as well as new power plants. But on ABC World News Tonight, anchor Diane Sawyer failed to mention this costly power grab, opting instead for an innocent and simplified version of events:
NBC and ABC journalists on Tuesday lamented a Supreme Court decision to strike down a key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act as unconstitutional. But it was Nightly News anchor Brian Williams who offered the most hyperbolic summery. He opened the show by fretting, "As one reporter put it today, the U.S. Supreme Court has driven a stake through the heart of the most important civil rights law ever enacted, the Voting Rights Act." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Williams didn't explain who this "one reporter" was. (Perhaps he meant journalists at USA Today.) In a preview for the show, Williams sounded a similar theme, "The Supreme Court goes after the very heart of the most important civil rights law in U.S. history." The anchor focused on opposition to the ruling, noting, "...It fired up opponents from the president to the attorney general to civil rights groups."
According to Danny Werfel, the acting commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, the IRS's aggressive investigation of conservative groups was wider than originally thought. Yet, NBC totally ignored the story on Monday night and Tuesday morning. ABC allowed a mere 19 seconds to the continuing controversy.
According to the Associated Press, "The Internal Revenue Service's screening of groups seeking tax-exempt status was broader and lasted longer than has been previously disclosed, the new head of the agency acknowledged Monday." In addition to only mentioning the subject for a few seconds on Good Morning America, news reader Josh Elliott misleadingly emphasized, "The acting commissioner says documents showing liberal groups seeking tax exempt status were also targeted for special scrutiny, along with conservative organizations." Left-wing keywords and phrases may have been put on lists, but there's no evidence that liberal organizations suffered the same harassment as conservative groups.
President Barack Obama’s new climate change initiative will purportedly share “a national plan to reduce carbon pollution, prepare our country for the impacts of climate change and lead global efforts to fight it.” Although he intends to demand action, most Americans do not see climate change as a “major threat,” according to Pew Research.
The Washington Post reported Obama will include “a plan to limit carbon-dioxide emissions from existing power plants.” That’s an agenda item the media will love. It was just a month ago when CBS “This Morning” interviewed Time magazine senior writer Jeffrey Kluger on May 11 who said “we have to curb the use of fossil fuels.”
On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams heralded protests in Brazil "driven by economic injustice," followed by correspondent Mark Potter in Rio de Janeiro detailing the motivation: "Many in the crowds complained about rampant corruption, crime, low wages, and a lack of social services....As Brazil spends billions to build stadiums for next year's World Cup and the 2016 Olympics."
What Williams and Potter failed to mention was the fact that NBC is a beneficiary of the Olympics, having exclusive rights to broadcast the games. In 2011, NBC's parent company Comcast paid the International Olympic Committee $4.38 billion to continue to cover the Olympics from 2014 to 2020, with goal being "to use the Olympics as a way to raise its number of subscribers and the monthly fees they pay."
How’s this for chutzpah: On the June 10 Today, did a segment on the difficult process of jury selection for the George Zimmerman trial, given the highly publicized racial issues surrounding the case. NBC’s Carl Quintanilla asked “Today” Legal Expert Lisa Bloom, “Has media coverage already influenced this jury?”
Yes it has, and NBC has more to answer for than most. For a full week in March, 2012 NBC “Nightly News” and “Today,” along with its local Miami affiliate ran audio tape of George Zimmerman’s 911 call the night he fatally shot Trayvon Martin. NBC viewers learned that Zimmerman had said to the 911 dispatcher, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.”
The Big Three all punted on covering the Capitol Hill "Audit the IRS" rally on their Wednesday evening and Thursday morning newscasts. CBS This Morning played a four-second soundbite of Senator Ted Cruz addressing the thousands of Tea Party activists in attendance, but CBS, along with ABC and NBC, didn't air a full report or news brief on the protest.
The CBS morning show also stood out for spotlighting how the "IRS is under fire again...it's paying $70 million in employee bonuses, despite a White House order." CBS This Morning devoted 47 seconds of coverage to this latest IRS controversy, while ABC and NBC ignored the development.
On Monday's NBC Nightly News, reporting on President Obama's trip to Europe, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd fretted over the commander-in-chief's declining popularity overseas: "Obama comes to this [G-8] summit...to a much more muted reception than in the past. Once heralded as the anti-George Bush...now he's on the defensive over U.S. policies, including some he's kept in place from the Bush era." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Todd listed some of the ways in which Obama hasn't been liberal enough for European sensibilities: "The NSA surveillance programs, widely panned on this privacy-conscious continent. The failure to shut down the prison at Guantanamo Bay, his hesitancy to engage in Syria, and a perceived lack of focus on climate change."
On Monday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Andrea Mitchell seized on NSA leaker Edward Snowden attacking former Vice President Dick Cheney, who labeled Snowden a traitor for publicizing classified information: "Snowden wrote, 'Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American.'" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Mitchell went out of her way to hit Cheney on Monday's Today, noting that he "helped institute warrantless evesdropping, no court orders required, a policy Congress later rejected in favor of the current surveillance programs."
Saturday's CBS Evening News ballyhooed the "enormous strain on resources" that the budget sequester has apparently put on extinguishing a massive wildfire in Colorado. Carter Evans played up how, in addition to fighting the flames, "federal firefighters are facing another challenge: a loss of $50 million, mandated by the budget sequester. That forced the Forest Service to cut 500 firefighters and 50 engines, just when they're needed most."
The CBS evening newscast was actually late to the game, as the network's Big Three competitors also spotlighted the same figures earlier in June.
Banks are bad because they make a profit on things requested by their customers, according to both NBC and CBS. The two networks highlighted a study released June 11 by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau [CFPB] that said banks made $12.6 billion in overdraft fees and non-sufficient funds from bounced checks in 2011. Though only 20 percent of customers actually opt-in for overdraft protection, NBC called these fees “one of the most common financial mistakes Americans make.”
Anchor Lester Holt opened the segment with alarmist, accusatory language: “A government report out today makes it clear just how much this country’s banks are profiting from your mistakes. We’re talking about those hefty overdraft charges when checking accounts are overdrawn. Well it turns out the banks are now making most of their fees from these penalties.”
When news broke that IRS agents were abusively targeting conservative groups particularly the Tea Party, it looked at as if this was an Obama administration scandal that would stick. Even reporters like NBC’s Andrea Mitchell counted it as among the “most outrageous excesses I’ve seen.” Obama sycophant Chris Matthews predicted it could be worth “five or 10 points” for Republicans in the next midterm elections. Even theNew York Timeseditorial board proclaimed: “The IRS Audits Are Condemned.”
The Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) news networks actually jumped to cover the story, filling their evening and morning shows with a total of 96 stories in the first two weeks (May 10 through May 23) of coverage. But after those two strong weeks, the broadcast networks lost interest in the scandal, and the coverage slowed to a crawl -- just 31 stories in the subsequent weeks (May 24 through June 12). This week, the networks have run only one story (June 11 on ABC’s Good Morning America) on the IRS scandal.
While a series of Obama administration scandals have left many Americans questioning the trustworthiness of government officials and bureaucrats, NBC News decided to use the recent National Security Agency leaks by Booz Allen contractor Edward Snowden to bash the role of the private sector in assisting with intelligence gathering. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman summed up the network's smear campaign during a panel discussion on Wednesday's NBC Today about the NSA snooping controversy: "...the number of contractors who aren't government workers, who are hired because they're young and geeky and they have computer skills....But they also are rather unmoored, they don't have a sense of patriotism, they don't really belong anywhere, so their sense of right and wrong is very different than how we see it."
The latest State Department scandal, involving a possible cover-up of sexual misconduct by an ambassador and security officials, was only newsworthy enough to merit one full report each on ABC and NBC's morning and evening newscasts before the two networks moved on. NBC led Tuesday's Today with the "damaging documents" concerning the "possibly illegal...behavior", but ignored it the following morning. NBC Nightly News hasn't even touched the story yet.
ABC arrived late to covering the allegations on Tuesday's World News, but Good Morning America has yet to mention the issue as of Wednesday. CBS broke their scoop on the scandal on Monday's CBS This Morning, and covered it as well on Tuesday and Wednesday.
America’s daughters will now be able to buy the “morning after” abortion pill with their Justin Bieber fan-zines and “Twilight” novels. To many people, that’s important news. But ABC didn’t think it was worth noting on “World News with Diane Sawyer.”
Perhaps ABC felt it was already covering an important health story and couldn’t fit another in the broadcast. And really, a segment on women wearing high-heels even though their feet hurt is hard-hitting journalism.
For the week of May 27, the Big Three networks' evening news broadcasts declined, both compared to the previous week and the same week last year, and garnered an average combined daily audience of just under 20 million.
Somehow, Chris Ariens at Media Bistro apparently wasn't looking at the same numbers his readers were when he did his post, and wrote the following while linking back to the related post from last year which contradicted what he wrote (bolds are mine; link is in original):
On Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd cheered President Obama picking Susan Rice to be his new national security advisor and nominating Samantha Power as U.N. ambassador: "They are now among the most powerful women in the American foreign policy community. Behind-the-scenes power players now front and center."
Amid sound bites of Obama praising both women, Todd joined in extolling their accomplishments: "Both come with a long list of impressive credentials. Rice, a Harvard graduate and Rhodes scholar with a Ph.D. from Oxford. In 1990's she served as assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration. Power is a human rights expert and Pulitzer Prize-winning author; she's also the mother of two young children."
On Monday's NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams failed to mention Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan's traditional Islamic orientation as he reported on the "anti-government protests" in the Mediterranean country. Williams merely described the demonstrations as a "display of frustration with the prime minister...who has been trying to impose more conservative values on that mostly secular country."
CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley had no such qualms the same evening as he reported on the same rallies. Pelley asked correspondent Holly Williams, "When the protestors say that Erdogan is trying to impose his Islamic values on the country, what are they talking about?"