ABC, CBS, and NBC ballyhooed former Defense Secretary Robert Gates's attacks on President Obama and other high government officials on their Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning newscasts. NBC's Brian Williams and CBS's Norah O'Donnell also trumpeted the former Cabinet official's "devastating critique" of the President in his upcoming memoir. All three networks also played up Gates's self-identification as a Republican.
NBC's Today and CBS This Morning brought on former Obama administration officials on Wednesday morning. Both guests did their best to counter their former colleague. Matt Lauer touted David Axelrod's "important perspective" on the issue, and asked, "Did you get a sense that he was a guy who...was disgruntled in any way?" The CBS morning show turned to former chief of staff Bill Daley, who slammed Gates for going public: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
At the top of Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer portrayed former Defense Secretary Robert Gates as an ungrateful and disgruntled ex-employee: "Blindsided. President Obama's former Defense Secretary Robert Gates takes on his old boss – the man who awarded him the Medal of Freedom – in a blistering new memoir. This morning, what may have made him turn?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the report that followed later, correspondent Andrea Mitchell fretted: "President Obama's decision to keep George Bush's defense secretary, a Republican, has now blown back on the White House." Like Lauer, she made sure to note how Obama had honored Gates: "Gates gave no hint of his resentment when he left the cabinet two years ago and President Obama awarded him the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor."
Introducing a report on Monday's NBC Nightly News about Al-Qaeda forces seizing control of the Iraqi city of Fallujah, anchor Brian Williams went out of his way to blame the President George W. Bush for the deteriorating security situation: "U.S. fighting forces are gone from Iraq. But as so many predicted when President Bush chose to go to war there after 9/11, the fighting has started up again." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
However, in the report that followed, correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin featured a sound bite of President Obama – not President Bush – celebrating the "historic moment" of an abrupt U.S. troop withdrawal from the country after failing to negotiate a status of forces agreement with the Iraqi government. Mohyeldin noted: "Some warned the U.S. withdrawal left a security vacuum."
In a report for Sunday's NBC Nightly News, White House correspondent Kristen Welker eagerly promoted efforts by President Obama to use class warfare against Republicans leading up to the 2014 midterm elections: "President Obama will aim to reboot his presidency this year after a rocky 2013. The first item on the agenda will be extending unemployment insurance benefits....In his weekly media message, Mr. Obama blamed Republicans for leaving those benefits out of last month's budget deal." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
A clip played of Obama ranting: "And denying families that security is just plain cruel. We're a better country than that." Moments later, Welker proclaimed: "The President will also renew his call for an increase in the minimum wage in his State of the Union address. Another piece of a Democratic strategy designed to paint Republicans as the party of the rich ahead of the fall elections."
CBS stood out as the only Big Three network to devote full coverage to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's Tuesday night stay of the federal government's birth control/abortifacient mandate under ObamaCare. As of Thursday morning, CBS This Morning and CBS Evening News devoted three full reports and a news brief to the ruling against the controversial regulation.
By contrast, NBC's morning and evening newscasts have only aired one news brief on Sotomayor's decision, and mentioned it in passing in two other reports on the Affordable Care Act. ABC has yet to report on the development on either Good Morning America or World News.
Islamic terrorists were suspected in the terrorist bombings that just killed dozens in Russia. But reporters at ABC, NBC and CBS went out of their way to avoid the obvious connection or even to call the suspects “terrorists,” preferring instead the squishy word “militant.”
Friday, Sunday and Monday, three separate suicide bombings left at least 37 people dead in the Volgograd and Pyatigorsk, Russia. In October, a female suicide bomber killed 5 people on a bus in Volgograd. U.S. officials and terrorism experts believe these attacks are related instances tied to an Islamic Chechen rebel leader, Doku Umarov, who threatened of attacks in the area last summer. Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad, is close to Sochi, the site for the upcoming Winter Olympics and a particular target for the attacks.
After spending about $2.3 trillion in stimulus since 2008, the Federal Reserve’s controversial quantitative easing (QE) strategy’s days may be numbered. MarketWatch expected a decision on the policy from the Fed on Dec. 18, following their two-day meeting.
The policy has many critics including the former Fed employee who lashed out at it in a “Confessions of a Quantitative Easer” op-ed. Studies also show that QE hasn’t been the economic stimulus the Fed had hoped. Yet, when the broadcast networks have discussed how QE impacts the economy they almost unanimously supported the Fed’s purchase program.
Getting a glimpse of the kind of real reporting that can occur on NBC Nightly News when Brian Williams isn't in the anchor chair, on Sunday's edition of the program, weekend anchor Lester Holt informed viewers that "official photo releases" from the Obama administration were "at the center of an escalating battle between the White House and the news media over access and image control." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the report that followed, White House correspondent Kristen Welker cited National Journal's Ron Fournier calling "images like these pure propaganda, arguing the Obama White House consistently blocks journalists from events they routinely covered in previous administrations." A sound bite followed of Fournier warning: "The White House is getting most of the control. That's not healthy for democracy."
Managing Editor's Note: Due to a Media Research Center Christmas party held this afternoon, this post was pre-written Friday morning -- well before the school shooting today in Centennial, Colorado -- and was scheduled to automatically post at 3 p.m. Eastern. We regret the unfortunate but accidental timing and our thoughts and prayers are with the citizens of Centennial.
Two days ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Newtown mass murder, Dr. Nancy Snyderman took to the air on NBC's Nightly News, labeling gun violence a public health issue. However, neither Snyderman nor anybody quoted in the story made it clear exactly why the gun issue is a matter of public health.
Anchor Brian Williams introduced the December 12 news package like this:
Leading off Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams declared: "It's war. A private battle blows wide open in public as the most powerful Republican in Washington says he's had enough, coming out swinging against members of his own party." Moments later, he hailed House Speaker John Boehner's "rare outburst of candor mixed with anger and frustration" at conservatives critical of the new budget deal in Congress. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Williams contemptuously observed: "His problem has been the rise of the Tea Party faction, the newly arrived and highly motivated members who do not go along or get along with the wishes of the leadership....Now they've gone after a budget deal that represents real compromise and keeps the country running. The Speaker today decided he's had enough and he said so."
On Tuesday's Nightly News, after news broke of a budget deal in Congress, Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O'Donnell announced: "...the usual Washington dysfunction is on hold tonight." She touted the agreement to anchor Brian Willams by noting: "It would also roll back some of the harshest automatic spending cuts, the sequester for the Pentagon and domestic programs." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
O'Donnell cautioned that the deal "does not extend jobless benefits for those out of work the longest..." On Wednesday's broadcast, fill-in anchor Ann Curry picked up on that point and fretted: "While the agreement avoids another government shutdown next month, it also sidestepped dealing with the crisis facing 1.3 million Americans who've been out of work for a long time. And that means their unemployment benefits will stop at the end of the month unless Congress takes action."
The journalists at the CBS Evening News on Wednesday portrayed the possible scuttling of a budget compromise as the fault of conservatives opposing a "too-good-to-be-true" deal. Over on NBC's Nightly News, the reporters derided the plan as not spending enough, worrying about extending unemployment benefits. ABC's World News on Wednesday and Good Morning America on Thursday totally skipped the story.
Evening News anchor Scott Pelley opened the show by lamenting, "It sounded almost too good to be true when we told you last night that Democrats and Republicans agreed on a federal budget without driving the nation to edge of fiscal disaster." Reporter Nancy Cordes alerted, "Scott, what made Republican leaders so angry was the fact that these powerful outside groups were once again urging Republicans to vote against a fragile compromise that had been worked out by a party standard bearer," referring to Paul Ryan. [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Reporting from South Africa on Tuesday's NBC Today about the memorial ceremony for Nelson Mandela, Nightly News anchor Brian Williams noted how the "dignitary section has some criminals, some thieves, some kings, some presidents" and that "Several have been life-long sworn enemies." He then proclaimed that President Obama's "handshake with [Cuban leader] Raul Castro was one of the better moments." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Williams gushed that oppressive dictators sitting side by side with democratically elected leaders of the free world was somehow part of Mandela's legacy: "What would Nelson Mandela say to all of them and say to all of this? Most of the speakers have urged the crowd, 'Go on, behave like him, live like him, be infused with his spirit going forward and maybe we could get some place.'"
On Monday Rep. Darrell Issa, the chairman of the Oversight Committee investigating the IRS’s targeting of the Tea Party, made a stunning claim that the FBI was stonewalling his investigation.
Last week, Issa was so frustrated with William Wilkins' testimony, in which he used the phrase “I don’t recall” 80 times, he accused the IRS chief counsel of “either a deliberate attempt to obfuscate” or “gross incompetence.” Number of Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) stories on these stunning allegations? Zero.
Hurricane season ended Nov. 30, with an all time-low for hurricanes. The weak outcome didn’t fit the environmental disaster narrative the media had concocted leading up to hurricane season. ABC, NBC and CBS devoted broadcasts to scaring viewers with news of “devastating tornadoes, searing heat waves, withering droughts” and “powerful hurricanes.” But they became strangely silent once the season finished … and next to nothing had happened.
Reporters gobbled up the news when the NOAA predicted “more and stronger hurricanes” this season. In May, forecasters predicted seven to 11 Atlantic hurricanes, but the area only saw two storms become hurricanes. In fact, there were no hurricanes until September 11 this year, almost beating the 2002 record for the latest start to the hurricane season on record.
When Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a “slut” the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks went ballistic, making the conservative talk show host a centerpiece in their campaign to tarnish Mitt Romney and the GOP as engaging in a “war on women.” However when MSNBC’s Martin Bashir launched his own war on women against Sarah Palin, not a single anchor or reporter from the Big Three said a word about his vile attack.
In the two weeks (February 29, 2012 - March 14, 2012) after Limbaugh made his crude Fluke joke, that he apologized for, the Big Three networks aired a total of 32 stories or interview segments that were full of calls for Limbaugh to apologize to the liberal activist Fluke, to get advertisers to abandon the show and demand that Republicans condemn the talk show host. NBC, who employs Bashir, aired the most Limbaugh stories with 14. ABC and CBS each aired 9 stories a piece. The number of Big Three network stories in the two weeks (November 15, 2013 - November 29, 2013) after Bashir suggested that Palin would be an “outstanding candidate” for excretory punishments? Zero. The hypocrisy from the supposed civility cops in the liberal media is stunning.
Leading off a report on Monday's NBC Today, White House correspondent Peter Alexander skeptically observed: "The Obama administration says it met it's own goal of significantly improving the HealthCare.gov website, but that's the easy part. That's like kind of giving yourself a passing grade." At the end of segment, he noted insurance companies warning of the "logistical nightmare" caused by inaccurate information being entered into the ObamaCare database. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Despite such critical analysis of the health care law in the nearly 2-minute report, by Nightly News that evening, anchor Brian Williams reduced the news to a mere 28 seconds, emphasizing only the positive: "We have an update now on the HealthCare.gov website. It is now working better and faster, as the White House promised it would by now. But they say they know it is still far from perfect. By 5:30 this evening Eastern Time, the website had logged 750,000 visitors so far today. That's getting closer to that 800,000 daily user goal the rebooted site is supposed to be able to handle."
On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams noted President Obama and the four former living presidents reciting the Gettysburg Address to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's historic speech, but ignored the fact that Obama omitted the phrase "under God" from his reading and refused to attend the event marking the anniversary. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Williams made a point of declaring that project orchestrated by documentary filmmaker Ken Burns was "urging Americans to memorize and celebrate the Gettysburg Address," and emphasized: "Considering it's one of the most important speeches in American history, think about this, it was only about two minutes long, 272 words in all." Making Obama's gaffe of skipping two of those words all the more noticeable and embarrassing.
It was all over the news last week. “One in three” Americans should be taking statins, cholesterol-lowering drugs, according to American Heart Association’s newly developed risk factors calculator. The calculator was designed to estimate one’s risk for cardiovascular disease, based on multiple factors, instead of just using cholesterol levels.
ABC, NBC, and CBS all gobbled up the news, warning that “many more Americans [would be] taking these drugs.” The New York Times also featured on its front page the new health alert.
Monday's CBS This Morning is the sole Big Three newscast so far to cover the firing of William P. White, a day after the now former D.C. official criticized President Obama's plan to let insurers temporarily restore canceled health insurance policies for a year. Nancy Cordes revealed how "D.C.'s insurance commissioner was abruptly fired by the city's Democratic mayor...after he warned that reinstating canceled plans 'undercuts the purpose' of the new health care exchanges." [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
Cordes's mention of Mayor Vincent Gray sacking the commissioner came a day after the Washington Post buried their story on the firing on page C7 of its Metro section on Sunday.
Teasing an upcoming story on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams warned of "the habitat of the polar bears melting earlier and faster than ever" and promised "a jaw-dropping look at a way of life quickly disappearing." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the report that followed minutes later, chief environmental correspondent Anne Thompson kept up the global warming alarmism: "This 10-month-old polar bear cub practices his ice-breaking skills on the tundra....But Dr. Steve Amstrup, chief scientist of Polar Bears International, says the greenhouse gases we are putting into the atmosphere threaten the cub's future."
On Wednesday's CBS Evening News, Nancy Cordes zeroed in on the three Republican congressmen who grilled top administration officials during a hearing on ObamaCare, ballyhooing that "none of them were really able to explain why this product they worked on for years was so flawed". Cordes played extended clips from the hearing totaling 51 seconds – nearly twice the combined number of ABC's World News and NBC Nightly News, which each played 13 seconds from it.
The correspondent played up one clip in particular from White House chief technology officer Todd Park, who gave indications that HealthCare.gov might not be fixed by the target date of November 30 [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]:
On Tuesday, ABC's World News and CBS Evening News both reported the latest poll numbers from the "respected" Quinnipiac University, as CBS's Scott Pelley labeled the institution, regarding President Obama's "lowest ever" approval rating, along with Americans' dim view of the politician's honesty. ABC's Diane Sawyer noted that "for the first time in his presidency, a majority of American voters – 52 percent...say President Obama is not honest and trustworthy."
Both evening newscasts reported these numbers as they led into their coverage of former President Clinton's recent word of advice to Obama on his health care law – that "the President should honor the commitment...[he] made to those people, and let them keep what they've got." NBC Nightly News also devoted air time to Clinton's remarks, but failed to mention the current President's drooping approval number. [MP3 audio from the ABC and CBS reports available here; video below the jump]
On Wednesday’s NBC Nightly News and Thursday’s Today, NBC hyped the notion that Palestinian guerrilla leader Yasser Arafat “may have” been assassinated by poisoning. They let Palestinians accuse Israel, and bizarrely suggested only Israel “considered” Arafat a terrorist (forgetting decades where the U.S. officially agreed).
There was no NBC update Friday when NPR’s All Things Considered reported the Palestinian Authority released a separate Russian study that did not confirm the notion of poisoning with Polonium-210. NBC didn’t offer any journalist or government official who disagreed with the pro-Arafat line:
Touting chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd's exclusive interview with President Obama on Thursday, Nightly News anchor Brian Williams proclaimed: "We are all about to hear the President of the United States apologize, and not just for the troubled rollout of this new health care website, but for the fact that his promise to the American people that 'If they like their current health insurance, they can keep it,' has not held true for all." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the report that followed, Todd sympathetically observed: "...the President's apparent broken promise about folks keeping the plans they like has been weighing heavily on the entire White House. So it was a chastened commander-in-chief that I spoke with earlier today."
Yeah, he caught and corrected himself. Too late. When the chips were down, President Obama didn't step up and truly take responsibility for the disastrous rollout of Obamacare. Instead of acting like a leader and the President of the United States, Barack Obama's first impulse was to cast himself as the victim.
In an interview with NBC Political Director Chuck Todd aired on this evening's NBC Nightly News, President Obama said that "I've been burned by a website." View the video after the jump.
ABC on Wednesday and Thursday managed a mere 21 seconds total for the latest revelations about the botched ObamaCare rollout, minimizing the grilling that Kathleen Sebelius took before Congress and the resignation of one of the people behind the website. Instead, Good Morning America focused on deeply irrelevant topics such as promoting "Thor's leading lady," star Natalie Portman. In comparison to ObamaCare, the actress appeared for over three minutes on Thursday.
NBC's Today also yawned at the resignation of Tony Trenkle, the chief information officer at HealthCare.gov. Wednesday's Nightly News featured the testimony of Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius for two minutes and 20 seconds. In contrast to ABC, which featured no clips of Sebelius's appearance, NBC included Republican senators such as John Thune, deriding, "This is a dishonesty. You've been misleading the American people!" [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
On October 31 theWashington Examiner’s Paul Bedard reported the following: “The Internal Revenue Service shared highly confidential tax information of several Tea Party groups in the IRS scandal with the Federal Election Commission, a clear violation of federal law, according to newly obtained emails. The public watchdog group Judicial Watch told Secrets Thursday that it was former scandal boss Lois Lerner who shared the information on groups including the American Future Fund and the American Issues Project.’”
So far none of the Big Three (ABC, NBC, CBS) networks have reported the latest IRS scandal finding. In fact, they’ve stopped reporting on the IRS scandal altogether.
Exhibit A on Friday night for how the news media are an impediment to any rational discussion of reining in federal spending. “The ax falls for more than 47 million Americans struggling to put food on the table as tonight time has run out,”NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams ominously and fatuously intoned Friday night, as if payments to them are about to be eliminated.
Spending on the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), aka “food stamps,” will increase “over the next decade by 57 percent,” as the number of Americans on the program has doubled under Obama, yet NBC focused on the victims of “cuts.”
ABC and NBC journalists on Wednesday and Thursday hailed Kathleen Sebelius as "falling on her sword" and "taking responsibility" for the ObamaCare website debacle. On World News, reporter Jim Avila complained about the Sebelius grilling as a "rude grandstand" and a "three hour circus of a congressional hearing." He dismissed it as "official finger pointing day on Capitol Hill."
Yet, on Thursday, Avila sympathized with the Democratic Health and Human Services secretary, praising, "...The woman in charge of the Affordable Care Act fell on her sword with her first full-throated apology." The Obama official "was reluctant to pass the buck, even when pressed." Over on NBC's Today, host Matt Lauer gushed, "Kathleen Sebelius went before Congress yesterday and she did something you don't see happen in Washington very often, she took the blame." [Video of both morning shows below. MP3 audio here.]