While the national media fret over whether or not there will be unity in the Democratic Party and gush over Monday night’s speeches by Senator Ted Kennedy and Michelle Obama, pro-lifers are out in Denver, Colorado, protesting and working hard to get their message across. Of course, it would be easier to get their message out if the national media paid attention to their protests.
None of the big three broadcast network morning shows -- ABC’s "Good Morning America," NBC’s "Today" and CBS’s "Early Show" -- reported on these protests. Of course, this should come as no surprise. The broadcast networks also ignored this year’s March for Life as well as the 35th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling.
In contrast, all three of the network evening news broadcasts reported on the anti-war protests on the fifth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq. Moreover, these reports all aired within the first ten minutes of each program.
NBC's Brian Williams and Andrea Mitchell on Friday night used their presumption, that Senator Joe Biden is Barack Obama's VP choice, to showcase, for a second straight night, the Obama campaign's attack on John McCain over his inability to say how many homes he owns. In setting up the lead Nightly News story on VP speculation, Williams highlighted how “the Obama camp is telling the McCain campaign people who live in that many houses shouldn't throw stones.”
After asserting that “it is looking more and more like Senator Joe Biden is the choice,” reporter Andrea Mitchell contended “Biden, with blue collar roots, could help reinforce Obama's latest message” conveyed in an Obama TV ad: “Call it country club economics. How many houses does he own?”
Following her story, Williams returned to what interested him the most: “Back to the McCain campaign and this issue they're fighting which you predicted yesterday would go down as one of those moments in a campaign. Does this live on and on and on, do you think?” Mitchell maintained it's now an “emblematic” issue which arrived “just when” Obama “needed it.” So, what a coincidence the media have pounced to assist Obama. Mitchell answered:
I think it does, it becomes emblematic and it gives Obama an opening just when he needed it. He was having trouble identifying himself, defining himself. The McCain people were having a couple of good weeks. This has definitely been a setback.
When Sen. John Kerry arrived in Boston for the last Democratic convention, the TV news stars thought they’d died and gone to political heaven. Dan Rather said Kerry’s speech drove the crowd in Boston into “a three-thousand-gallon attack about every three minutes,” and Newsweek’s Jon Meacham was comparing Kerry to Abraham Lincoln on MSNBC. If media liberals can get that excited over Kerry, viewers may have to worry about the anchors lapsing into diabetic comas over Barack Obama’s ascension convention in Denver.
It’s easy to forget just how “tick tight,” as Rather once put it, the primary race was between Obama and Hillary Clinton. It ended up with a vote gap of just one tenth of a percentage point. The real difference-maker in the 2008 race was the Obama favoritism of the national media, led by the television networks. It was his margin of victory.
Four years ago when Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry made his “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it” remark, the CBS Evening News instead ran a soundbite of Kerry promising “we're going to build an army of truth-tellers” as it took the newscast six months (!) to finally air the vote for/voted against clip and the NBC Nightly News didn't play it for nine days. Yet on Thursday night, both newscasts led with what NBC's Lee Cowan declared is “John McCain's personal housing crisis.”
ABC, which in 2004 aired Kerry's comment a day later when Dick Cheney raised it, didn't lead Thursday with McCain's failure Wednesday to say how many homes he and his wife own, but devoted a full story-plus to it with Jake Tapper deciding “it could be a seminal moment” in the campaign before George Stephanopoulos relayed how the Obama camp thinks “this is one of those metaphorical moments.” He recalled 1992, “when it seemed like President Bush didn't know what a supermarket scanner was.”
Fill-in CBS anchor Maggie Rodriguez led: “John McCain couldn't answer a question most Americans would find simple, how many homes do you own?” NBC's Brian Williams, back in Manhattan from Beijing, opened with how though “reporters are busy chasing down all available clues” on Obama's VP pick:
This was not the biggest political story of the day. That came from John McCain in response to a question about how many houses he owns. He didn't answer. The actual answer is a sizable number.
Perhaps it's the pied piper effect, but when Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama speaks, the media follow right along in lockstep.
The word "disaster" can invoke images of the aftermath of hurricanes, tornados or tsunamis. But, on the campaign trail where there are political points to be scored - it's one quarter of a slight economic contraction followed up by two quarters of shallow economic growth, according to Obama.
"Then he started running ads saying oh, Obama's just going to raise your taxes and he'll lead to an economic disaster," Obama told his campaign audience. "Mr. McCain, let me explain to you, the economic disaster is happening right now. Maybe you haven't noticed."
The Media Research Center has just released a comprehensive study of the broadcast networks coverage of Barack Obama since he arrived on the national stage just four years ago. The bottom line: TV reporters adored Obama, and the celebratory coverage of the “rock star” candidate provided him with a huge advantage and almost certainly the margin of victory in the extremely close Democratic race. The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz has an item about our study posted here.
We looked at 1,365 network news stories from the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts through Clinton’s exit from the Democratic race in early June. Here are the key findings:
Do as we say, not as we do - the new theme for NBC's coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympics? Quite possibly.
WTHR, the NBC affiliate for Indianapolis, reported from Beijing and described the set used for the network's two highest-rated news broadcasts - "Nightly News" and "Today" - as air conditioned, even though it is outdoors.
Even NBC "Today" co-host Matt Lauer remarked about the air conditioning, but complained the weather was still uncomfortable even with the luxury.
"The first couple of nights even with the air conditioning it was steamy in here, but we've been lucky ever since," Lauer said to WTHR. "It's been overcast some days, takes the temperature down. We call it fog smog."
John McCain finally received some positive coverage Friday night from the broadcast networks as Barack Obama's vacation ended -- a couple of sentences on ABC and CBS about how he raised $27 million in July, the most ever. Then those newscasts, and NBC's, ran full stories trumpeting evangelist Rick Warren's Saturday “Civil Forum on the Presidency” featuring McCain and Obama, with CBS and NBC stressing his rejection of past narrow conservative interests as both pegged their stories to conservative push back against the fear McCain will pick a “pro-choice” VP. Taking up McCain's consideration of Tom Ridge, CBS's Bob Schieffer asserted “religious conservatives...just went nuts.” NBC's Andrea Mitchell contrasted McCain's “rocky relationship with the religious right” with how Obama is “reaching out by softening the party's platform on abortion.”
On Warren, CBS reporter Ben Tracy trumpeted “Warren's attempt to redefine evangelicals by breaking with the politics of the past” and how Warren “doesn't want to talk about just abortion and gay marriage, but also poverty and disease.” NBC's Mitchell recalled that in 2004, 80 percent of evangelicals “voted for George Bush over John Kerry,” but “this year they could be less predictably Republican” and “that's because Rick Warren says many younger evangelicals define social issues broadly -- to include global warming, human rights, poverty, not just abortion.” She then featured a soundbite from Warren:
I call myself whole life, which means I don't just believe in that little girl before she's born but I believe that it's important to care about after she's born, whether she's poor, whether she's educated.
For the fourth straight weekday as Barack Obama vacations, he received better coverage on the broadcast network evening shows than the non-vacationing John McCain. Without fresh video of Obama, the CBS Evening News came up with a new way to tout Obama's campaign as they compared the Web sites of the two candidates and declared Obama's far superior. Reporter Daniel Sieberg asserted “McCain's Web site is still playing catch up to Obama's use of cyberspace.” Turning to “Web design expert Doug Jaeger,” Sieberg echoed Joe Biden in applying the term “clean” to Obama as he highlighted how “Jaeger describes Obama's site as clean; and McCain's as cluttered.” Jaeger complained about JohnMcCain.com: “He's using lots of different typefaces at all different sizes which gives you a feeling of chaos.”
Sieberg soon trumpeted how on BarackObama.com “kids have their own special area, including a logo to color,” while the dour McCain “offers a game called Pork Invaders on his Facebook page,” but if you do well, Sieberg sarcastically noted, “you're rewarded [pause] with a statement about pork-barrel politics.” Withe the contrasting numbers on screen, the CBS reporter also championed Obama's transcendence on social networks which are largely only used by younger people:
The Obama campaign may hope the Internet will do for Obama what television did for John F. Kennedy in 1960. Just compare the candidate's popularity on the social networking sites Facebook and MySpace. While both campaigns hope their supporters spread the word, Obama is "friended" almost seven times more than McCain.
For the third weekday as Barack Obama vacations in Hawaii, John McCain on the campaign trail received more hostile coverage from the broadcast network evening newscasts -- to the extent they bothered to cover the presidential campaign. In a full story on CBS, Dean Reynolds recalled how McCain promised “to conduct a respectful campaign,” but citing McCain's celebrity ad, charged “now it frequently seems respect takes a backseat to ridicule.”
NBC, which also didn't touch the campaign on Monday or Tuesday, ignored it again Wednesday, though in a story on TV ads during the Olympics Chris Jansing asserted the Obama ads deliver “optimism and hope” while McCain's have a “more negative tone.” For the first time this week, ABC skipped the campaign, but anchor Charles Gibson raised Obama's “windfall profits” proposal with Exxon Mobil's chief: “When the public sees the kind of profits that the oil companies are making, isn't it fair that they wonder, 'why not?'”
Just as on Monday night, Barack Obama vacationing in Hawaii while John McCain remains on the campaign trail (he held a town meeting in York, Pennsylvania), failed to change the media dynamic of greater and better coverage for Obama. CBS on Tuesday night gave equal time to comments from both candidates on Russia's invasion of Georgia before Jeff Greenfield, echoing ABC the night before, twisted news -- that a top Clinton campaign operative recommended attacking Obama as less than genuinely American -- into reprimanding McCain for supposedly following that strategy. Meanwhile, ABC pegged its campaign story to how “former Congressman Jim Leach, a respected Republican from Iowa, threw his support behind Barack Obama today.”
Over video of Obama in Kailua, Couric relayed how “Barack Obama, vacationing in Hawaii, put out a statement repeating his call for Russia to stop its attacks.” Greenfield recited how chief Clinton strategist Mark Penn “wrote, quote: 'I cannot imagine America electing a President during a time of war who is not at his center fundamentally American in his thinking and in his values'” As video played of parts of two McCain ads, including the one with Paris Hilton which Couric last month denounced as “infamous,” Greenfield asserted:
To look now at some of John McCain's TV and Web ads, it is almost as if his campaign is following Penn's outsider strategy to the letter. For instance, the constant reference to Obama as a celebrity.
So much for John McCain's hope that remaining on the campaign trail this week while Barack Obama vacations in Hawaii would lead to more or friendlier coverage. At least not on Monday night when Katie Couric highlighted how “Obama put out a tongue in cheek response to Senator McCain's celebrity ad” and she helpfully pointed out: “The ad also features six different shots of Senator McCain next to President Bush.” Later, CBS allocated more than three minutes to a “CBS News Exclusive” interview and profile by Couric of “Barack Obama's brain,” Valerie Jarrett, who “just may be the most powerful woman in Chicago besides Oprah.”
ABC centered an entire piece around revelations Hillary Clinton campaign operatives planned to “question Obama's authenticity as an American. She rejected that strategy,” yet ABC managed to twist the story into Obama victimization as anchor Charles Gibson fretted: “There are indications that John McCain may be adopting it now.”
Reporter Jake Tapper warned “some say that John McCain has tried to subtly portray Obama as not quite American enough, playing up Obama’s popularity abroad.” The proof? This from McCain at a South Dakota motorcycle rally last week: “Not long ago, a couple of hundred thousand Berliners made a lot of noise for my opponent. I'll take the roar of 50,000 Harleys any day!” Tapper moved on to how McCain's ad narrator saying “John McCain: The American President Americans have been waiting for” is “a line many saw as implying something not American about Obama.” Tapper ominously concluded:
ABC News has learned that an independent conservative group has been filming in Indonesia where Obama spent a few years during his childhood. So even if Senator McCain does not draw attention to that unusual quality of Obama’s youth, someone will.
Trumpeting the “major endorsement” from John Edwards for Barack Obama, the day after Obama was trounced by 40 points in West Virginia all three broadcast network evening newscasts led Wednesday night with the “dramatic” announcement of the “political prize” that gives Obama a “major boost.” Katie Couric returned at the end of the 6:30 PM EST CBS Evening News feed to reiterate “our top story tonight” as she effused over live video of Edwards speaking at the rally: “John Edwards endorses Barack Obama, saying he's one man who knows in his heart that it's time to create one America, not two.”
ABC was so excited that its 6:30 PM feed of World News went live at about 6:40 PM to Grand Rapids, Michigan for 90 seconds of Obama introducing Edwards, compete with a Bruce Spingsteen song as Edwards bounded on stage. Gibson then acknowledged:
Timed for maximum exposure, timed to coincide with the evening newscasts, timed to give Barack Obama a needed boost after his bad defeat yesterday in West Virginia. George Stephanopoulos, this is the kind of publicity that you can't buy.
Indeed, no need to pay for it when ABC News is eager to give it to you for free.
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is hardly reticent about touting himself as a Democrat. After all, he's the Vice President of the National Conference of Democratic Mayors and in January was re-elected its representative to the Democratic National Committee. But in ABC and NBC news stories Thursday night about how a Michigan judge ordered him to jail immediately for violating his bond, neither identified him as a Democrat (verbally or on screen) -- not even in a full two-minute NBC story. On CBS, fill-in anchor Russ Mitchell didn't mention Kilpatrick's party in three teases/plugs for the upcoming story, nor in the introduction to it, but two-thirds into his report, Dean Reynolds, who in a March story failed to ID Kilpatrick, referenced: “Once a rising star in Democratic Party politics...”
Making that same “rising star” point, from a smoggy (or foggy?) Beijing, NBC anchor Brian Williams managed to avoid mentioning Kilpatrick's party affiliation:
Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was once viewed as a rising political star in the United States. Tonight he has fallen pretty far from those early lofty and glowing predictions...
Two of the cable news networks were no more accurate. Filling in on MSNBC's Hardball, Mike Barnicle avoided Kilpatrick's party in a brief item on news of his jailing while on CNN's The Situation Room anchor Wolf Blitzer did not note Kilpatrick's Democratic affiliation in several updates and plugs and, in a full story in the 5PM EDT hour, the MRC's Matthew Balan noticed, Mary Snow failed to verbally name Kilpatrick's party in her piece.The only hint came in this chyron at the bottom of the screen for barely three seconds: "MAYOR KWAME KILPATRICK (D) DETROIT."
Maybe it is because NBC has the broadcast rights for the Summer Olympics being held in China, but big gas-guzzling, greenhouse gas-emitting automobiles made by General Motors are seen as a plus for the communist nation's embrace of capitalism.
The August 6 "NBC Nightly News" featured the Chinese people's love of troubled U.S. automaker General Motors (NYSE:GM) - an indicator interpreted as an acceptance of capitalism.
"What would Chairman Mao think?" CNBC correspondent Phil LeBeau asked. "Six decades after the Communist Revolution, China has become the hottest capitalist engine on earth. And ironically, some of the most revered symbols of success in today's China are Cadillac, Buick and Chevrolet."
CBS, NBC, MSNBC and CNN all jumped Tuesday to publicize the claims in a new book by a left-wing journalist, Ron Suskind, that President Bush knew before the war Iraq had no WMD and that to justify the war the administration forged a letter to prove a connection between Saddam Hussein's regime and al-Qaeda. The journalists were unfazed by denials from former CIA Director George Tenet, which they dutifully cited, nor the fact the letter couldn't have impacted the public before the war since it didn't become public until nine months into the war.
In the morning, NBC's Today showcased an “exclusive” interview with Suskind as Meredith Vieira trumpeted the “new bombshell book that claims the White House deliberately misled the American public about the case for war in Iraq. The author, a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist.” (Geoff Dickens' NB post on that interview.) CBS's Early Show ran a full story and Wolf Blitzer made it his lead on CNN's The Situation Room.
In the evening, the NBC Nightly News aired a full report while MSNBC's Countdown, not surprisingly, led with Keith Olbermann's “cable exclusive” with Suskind on what MSNBC described on screen as “WAR CRIME” -- followed by John Dean on the imagined prosecutorial implications. NBC anchor Brian Williams saw “gasoline” being “thrown on a fire that's never really gone out,” as if the media aren't pouring it:
Tonight, gasoline has been thrown on a fire that's never really gone out. The accusation that the Bush administration badly misled the American public about the case for war with Iraq. In a new book, journalist Ron Suskind claims he has new evidence to show the case was more than a failure of intelligence -- it was, he writes, an out and out deception.
On Friday, NewsBusters wondered how much attention media would pay to the Republican revolt that occurred after Speaker Pelosi adjourned the House for a five week vacation without allowing a vote on offshore oil drilling.
It turns out that if you rely on the evening news programs of the three broadcast networks, you didn't hear about this extraordinary event at all (photo courtesy AP).
And, if you're one of the few people that still reads newspapers, the one thrown on your driveway Saturday morning likely also ignored this story, or buried it well off the front page.
Conceivably the worst of the network offenders was the "NBC Nightly News" which actually addressed the fact that Congress adjourned without a vote on drilling, but completely ignored the GOP revolt that ensued afterwards (from closed captioning):
A night after ABC's World News and the NBC Nightly News didn't air a word about the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) doubling to 1.9 percent in the second quarter, up from 0.9 percent in the first, the two evening newscasts found newsworthy a rise in the unemployment rate, with NBC using the increase to segue to a story on how “a growing number of Americans are...being downsized from full-time work to part-time.” Fill-in ABC anchor David Muir announced:
We're going to turn this evening now to the unemployment report out today which shows a new flurry of pink slips in July. Employers cut 51,000 jobs last month, as the unemployment rate rose to 5.7 percent. This marks the seventh month in a row with job losses.
NBC anchor Brian Williams, with “Hard Times” on screen, reported:
On the jobs front, the employers cut their payrolls for the seventh straight month in July, total of 51,000 jobs were shed just last month, bringing the total for the year so far to almost half a million. Unemployment rate jumped two-tenths of a percent to 5.7, that's now a four-year high. A growing number of Americans are struggling on the job front even though they're not unemployed. Instead, they're being downsized from full-time work to part-time. That report from NBC's Rehema Ellis.
Not surprisingly given the past pattern, of the broadcast networks evening newscasts on Thursday, only ABC's World News devoted a full story to the fewest Americans killed in Iraq in any month since the war began. CBS and NBC gave the great news a few seconds before pivoting to full stories on the rise of female suicide bombers and the sexual assault problem in the military. ABC anchor Charles Gibson hailed:
[A] statistic out of Iraq today that is remarkable: Six Americans were killed in combat in the entire month of July. That's the lowest number since the war began. That compares to the 66 combat deaths in July of last year.
From Iraq, reporter Terry McCarthy proceeded to convey how “U.S. troops on the ground don't follow statistics. They follow their gut. And these days, that tells them things are getting better.” McCarthy pointed to how an Army Sergeant, seven months into his second tour, “hasn't fired his weapon once on patrol” and then McCarthy credited the surge: “The turning point was the surge, which began 18 months ago. Three months in, U.S. fatalities peaked at 119. Since then, violence has declined steeply.”
Second quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) doubled to 1.9 percent, up from 0.9 percent in the first quarter, the Commerce Department announced Thursday morning as consumer spending rose 1.5 percent in the quarter ending June 30, up from 0.9 percent in the first quarter, and U.S. exports soared 9.2 percent, way up from 5.1 percent in the first three months of 2008.
Yet the CBS Evening News centered a story around “disappointing” news about the supposedly “struggling economy” (with that on screen) -- while ABC and NBC, which on April 30 led with full stories on the news of a 0.6 percent (since revised to 0.9) first quarter GDP, didn't utter a syllable Thursday night about the big GDP jump. On the last day of April, ABC's Betsy Stark declared the economy had “flat lined” and NBC anchor Brian Williams warned “it's getting rough out there” as the new GDP number “stops just short of the official declaration of a recession.” Thursday night, however, ABC's World News and NBC Nightly News made time for full stories on outrage over ExxonMobil earning “the largest profit ever made by a U.S. company.” The “oil industry says it is not out of line, but some motorists feel otherwise.”
CBS anchor Katie Couric, picking up on the 4th quarter 2007 GDP revision from 0.6 percent to a minus 0.2, stressed how “the government now says the economy was receding, not growing, in the final quarter of last year” though “it picked up a bit in the first quarter of this year.” She then twisted the fresh news of a 1.9 percent jump into a negative:
But look at this: In the second quarter, when all those rebate checks were supposed to stimulate the economy, it grew less than two percent. Jeff Glor has more about the disappointing numbers.
The McCain campaign's new television ad comparing Barack Obama to shallow celebrities such as Britney Spears and Paris Hilton so upset the network news operations that they all ran full stories, with ABC and NBC leading with the “attack ad.” Though all tried to frame their stories as balanced looks at attacks against each other by both campaigns, it was the McCain ad which prompted the stories, the language used painted McCain as the aggressor and Obama as the victim fighting back (“responded,” “fired back” and “hitting back”) and two of the stories featured condemnations of the McCain ad as “childish” or “juvenile.”
ABC anchor Charles Gibson teased: “Tonight, McCain says Obama is all star power and no substance. Obama says McCain is using scare tactics. It's getting nasty. And it's only July.” Reporter David Wright, who relayed how “Obama told an audience in Missouri the Republicans are just trying to scare voters,” concluded with how “it's getting ugly early, and some Republicans are expressing concern about McCain's tone, in particular one former McCain aide calling the new celebrity ad 'childish.'” (That would be John Weaver.)
On CBS, which put “Attack Ad” on screen, Katie Couric asserted: “John McCain sharpened his attack against Barack Obama, trying to turn his popularity against him. And late today, Obama fired back.” For an expert assessment, Chip Reid went to the Politico's David Markwho declared that the McCain ad “seems a little juvenile.”
So the Big 3 networks sent their evening news anchors on the road to follow Barack Obama around last week on his Excellent Overseas Adventure.
If the nets' managements harbored any hopes that doing so might significantly increase their overall audience, or meaningfully increase the number of viewers in the key 25-54 demographic, those hopes were dashed when last week's ratings were released Tuesday (Source for all ratings info in this post - Media Bistro Newser: July 21, 2008; July 14, 2008; July 23, 2007; July 16, 2007):
The ABC, CBS and NBC evening shows on Tuesday night properly identified indicted Senator Ted Stevens as a Republican -- though not very creatively as they all employed the identical language in describing Stevens as “the longest-serving Republican in the U.S. Senate” -- but they weren't so eager to name the party of Democrats in trouble in recent years.
ABC anchor Charles Gibson teased World News: “Indicted. The longest-serving Republican in the U.S. Senate is charged with lying about a quarter million dollars' worth of gifts and renovations for his home.” Setting up the story from Jake Tapper, with “(R)” in an on-screen graphic, Gibson repeated his “the longest-serving Republican in the Senate” line.
CBS's Katie Couric referred to Stevens as “a senior Republican” before reporter Jim Axelrod recited “the longest-serving Republican Senator ever” mantra. On NBC, anchor Brian Williams announced: “Tonight, Senator Ted Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in U.S. Senate history is under federal indictment.”
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams acted as a conduit for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's propaganda message of conciliation as NBC Nightly News led Monday with about seven minutes of comments from the Iranian leader's interview with Williams in Tehran, such as how “for more than 50 years now the policy of American statesmen has been to confront the Iranian people.” Williams seemed quite pleased with himself, introducing the interview excerpt:
It was clear in just the opening few minutes of the conversation that the Iranian President had a message he wanted to impart to the U.S. and to the wider world. In various answers to our questions, he talked about common ground with the United States. The Associated Press today described his words spoken to us as "unusually conciliatory," and said he raised hopes for a breakthrough.
Though, based on a look at the posted transcript, less than a third of the session made it onto the Monday night newscast, NBC made sure to include Ahmadinejad's praise, possibly tongue-in-cheek, of Williams (through a translator):
It’s very interesting. Before this meeting that is going to take place, you are aware of what other people are going to do, apparently. This tells me that you are a very able reporter and very active. Congratulations are very much in order. Before something happens, apparently you know what’s going to happen. This is interesting.
Is there a pro-Obama bias in the media? Only if you at it from a certain point-of-view according to "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams.
Despite allegations of just the opposite, the wall-to-wall coverage of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama's trip to the Middle East then to Europe wasn't a sign of bias - it was just the media attempting to "educate" according to Williams.
Williams appeared on CNBC's "Closing Bell" on July 28 to promote the broadcast of his interview with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be aired on the July 28 "NBC Nightly News." "Closing Bell" host Maria Bartiromo asked Williams if the media were treating Democratic presidential hopeful as a "darling." Williams dismissed the allegation.
"I think it is in the eye of the beholder," Williams said. "As I always say, there was that great New York clothier Sy Syms. We all grew up listening to those radio ads in the New York area and what did he used to say? ‘An educated consumer is our best customer.' The journalism needs to be judged on what we covered of that trip, how we covered it, what we said. It was a big story last week. The crowd I covered in Berlin was a big story, as was the visit to Paris and London and the Middle East before it."
The networks suggest Obama is driving the narrative, but it's the liberal press themselves doing the driving for Obama
(Editor's Note: This essay originally appeared today in Human Events.)
Just Another Clown Delivering the News
The Big Three networks just foisted a week long Obamathon upon the American people, a political, "journalistic" perversion of Jerry Lewis's annual televised good deed.
Mr. Lewis raises money for a very worthy cause. CBS' Katie Couric, NBC's Brian Williams and ABC's Charlie Gibson attempted to raise the Presidential credibility of an inexperienced candidate by dutifully following Illinois Senator Barack Obama to the Middle East and Europe for six days and five nights of wall-to-wall slavish and adoring reporting.
This was an unprecedented media extravaganza. Never before have all three evening news anchors been drawn out of their chairs and all over the world together and on behalf of a candidate. Their coverage of Sen. Obama was as glitteringly positive as it was all-encompassing: the primary season without the Clinton distraction.
By week's end, the voters back here Stateside could well have forgotten that Senator Obama has an opponent.
When the Israeli government and the terrorist group Hezbollah carried out a prisoner release agreement in which Israel released five Lebanese prisoners while Hezbollah released the bodies of two Israeli soldiers who had been killed, there was a substantial contrast in the way the broadcast network evening newscasts reported the story. While ABC’s Charles Gibson and Simon McGregor-Wood reported on World News that one of the prisoners, Samir Kuntar, had been convicted of the "vicious murder" of an Israeli man and his four-year-old daughter, and that upon release he was "greeted in Beirut as a returning hero," NBC and CBS both skipped over any details of Kuntar’s crime, and CBS’s Katie Couric even listed the prisoner exchange as one of several "glimmers of hope" in the conflict between Israelis and Arabs. Couric: "For the first time in years, there are some glimmers of hope in the Arab-Israeli stalemate -- a virtual cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, a prisoner exchange with Hezbollah, and the beginning of low-level talks between Israel and Syria."
CNN and FNC further detailed the brutality of Kuntar’s crime, and FNC noted his popularity among many in Lebanon. FNC’s Morton Kondracke: "What’s most disgusting is that the Lebanese performance, tens of thousands of people turning out to welcome home a terrorist who had killed a policeman, a civilian, and then bashed in the head of the civilian's four-year-old daughter. And he's being welcomed home as though he’s a national hero, with the president there, the prime minister there, the speaker of the parliament. This is supposed to be an ally of the United States, Lebanon. What it indicates is that Lebanon, that Lebanese politics is now owned by Hezbollah ... they have veto power over whatever the Lebanese government does, you know. Lebanon is close to being lost." (Transcripts follow)
On July 16, Andrew Malcolm at the Los Angeles Times's Top of the Ticket Blog wrote the following (bold is mine):
When President Bush ordered the surge in January 2007, (Barack) Obama said: "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse," a position he maintained throughout 2007. This year he acknowledged progress, but maintained his position that political progress was lacking.
This YouTube video (different from the compare/contrast video at the bottom of the LAT's link) shows Obama reciting the lines just quoted.
The LAT Blog notes earlier in its entry that "The parts (of Obama's web site) that stressed his opposition to the 2007 troop surge and his statement that more troops would make no difference in a civil war have somehow disappeared."
Something else disappeared this week. Team Obama, for all its posturing, probably saw something like this coming -- which explains their web site scrubbing.
Hopefully this event will repeat itself frequently. You have to get all the way to the end of an apparently weekly routine Associated Press report to see it, but there it is:
Barack Obama's Magical Media Tour hit its high point Thursday night as the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts all led with Obama's speech in Berlin, with NBC's Brian Williams and Andrea Mitchell the most giddy, though ABC featured a German man who hailed Obama as “my new messiah.” ABC and NBC saw Obama on a “world stage.” Charles Gibson teased ABC's newscast: “In a city steeped in history, before a massive crowd, the candidate calls on the world to tear down this generation's walls.”
NBC anchor Brian Williams, in Berlin, trumpeted how “the first ever African-American running as presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party brought throngs of people into the center of Berlin, streaming into this city, surging to get close to him, to hear his message. And when it was all over, he talked to us.” Viewers next heard a sycophantic Williams ooze to Obama:
When an American politician comes to Berlin, we've had some iconic utterances in the past. We've had “ich bin ein.” We've had “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Is the phraseology that you would like remembered, “people of Berlin, people of the world, this is our moment, this is our time”?
Talking with Andrea Mitchell, an impressed Williams marveled over how “I heard one American reporter tonight say it's hard to come up with a list of others who could draw such a crowd, but then again it's hard to know what we witnessed here today.” An equally awed Mitchell gushed: “It's hard to figure out what the comparison is, what do you compare this with?” She soon asserted that in his speech Obama “acknowledged America's flaws.”