Erroneously recounting a Tuesday NewsBusters post I wrote about how, unlike ABC and CBS, the NBC Nightly News did not report the lowest U.S. death level in May for any month since the war in Iraq began, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Friday night made FNC's Bill O'Reilly his “Worst Person in the World” runner-up for “picking up some of his features from the hilariously inept right-wing Web site NewsBusters.” Olbermann proceeded to claim that NewsBusters had “criticized our colleague Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News for leading Monday's newscast not with the lower May casualty figures from Iraq, but with a story on how underfunded mass transit system can't keep up with increased ridership caused by the rape of the driver by Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney and their oil buddies.”
But Olbermann is the inept one. The June 2 NB item did not scold Williams for failing to lead with the development (nor, of course, for any “rape” of drivers by Bush), but for not mentioning it at any time in his newscast: “ABC and CBS on Monday night managed to squeeze in -- more than 20 minutes into their evening newscasts -- brief mentions of how in May the fewest number U.S. servicemen were killed in Iraq in any month since the war began five years ago. But not NBC Nightly News.”
Derogatorily impersonating O'Reilly, Olbermann recited O'Reilly's Wednesday hit on Williams as his “pinhead” of the night. Olbermann then asked and answered about O'Reilly: “Surprised that you're a blithering sociopath cutting and pasting items from NewsBusters? No, I am not...”
CBS and NBC on Thursday night were as interested in highlighting the claims of torture, from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) and four 9/11 terrorist attack co-conspirators who were arraigned by a military commission court in Guantanamo Bay, as to informing viewers about the charges against them. ABC didn't consider the torture allegations relevant and so didn't mention the topic as Jan Crawford Greenburg uniquely described KSM as “evil.” In contrast to NBC which called him a “man” and “defendant,” CBS anchor Katie Couric at least described him as a “terrorist.”
CBS reporter Bob Orr, who emphasized that “some legal critics called the hearing...a complete and utter farce,” relayed how “the self-proclaimed mastermind of 9/11 said openly in court that he had been tortured by the U.S., and he called the case against him a sham.” With the quote on screen, Orr reported: “KSM, who the CIA admits was subjected to water-boarding, questioned the legitimacy of the military hearing. 'For five years, they torture,' he said. 'After the torturing they transfer us to inquisition-land in Guantanamo.'” Orr proceeded to showcase how Aziz Ali charged: “This government failed to treat me as a human for five years.”
On NBC, Jim Miklaszewski highlighted how KSM “called the legal proceedings 'evil'" and featured criticism from the ACLU. Miklaszewski also highlighted the “after five years of torture, they transfer us to inquisition land, Guantanamo” quote, before asserting: “Mohammed was water-boarded by the CIA. Defense attorneys had intended to challenge any of Mohammed's statements on the grounds he was tortured.”
The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts all led Wednesday night with celebratory interviews with Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama -- with ABC and NBC plastering “MAKING HISTORY” on screen -- as the three anchors luxuriated in Obama's success. ABC's Charles Gibson wondered: “I'm curious about your feelings last night. It was an historic moment. Has it sunk in yet?” Gibson followed up by prompting Obama to share his excitement: “When everybody clears out, the staff is gone, you're in the hotel room at night, and you're alone, do you say to yourself, 'Son of a gun, I've done this?'” On CBS, Katie Couric was so giddy she couldn't complete her question: “Did you ever think you'd see this day? I mean, are you still just completely-”
Echoing Gibson, NBC's Brian Williams began: “What was it like for you last night, the part we couldn't see, the flight to St. Paul with your wife, knowing what was awaiting?” Williams next cued him up: “And you had to be thinking of your mother and your father.” Then Williams excitedly informed Obama of the popularity on the Internet of the “fist pound” with his wife on stage the night before:
And your wife came up on stage with you last night, and in an otherwise private moment, attempted to give her husband a fist pound the way a lot of Americans do, the way a lot of couples do. Only problem was, it was an inside move shared in front of seventeen and a half thousand people in the arena and millions watching at home. It's the most talked about fist pound on the Internet today, you'll be happy to know.
As lead-ins to short reports on the posthumous presentation of a Medal of Honor, ABC and CBS on Monday night managed to squeeze in -- more than 20 minutes into their evening newscasts -- brief mentions of how in May the fewest number U.S. servicemen were killed in Iraq in any month since the war began five years ago. But not NBC Nightly News. (And Sunday's Today and Nightly News, as well as Monday's Today, also skipped the good news.) NBC anchor Brian Williams on Monday led with worries that “because it's been underfunded for decades, mass transit may not be ready for all the Americans leaving their cars behind,” and ran his short update, on the Medal of Honor going to Army Private First Class Ross McGinnis, without anything about the decline in troops killed.
Fill-in ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos set up his report on the White House ceremony presenting the honor to the parents of McGinnis by dampening the positive news with the total death number:
The Pentagon reported 19 American troops were killed in May. That's the lowest monthly toll since the war began. The total number of Americans killed in the war is now approaching 4,100.
On the CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric also noted the total, but CBS didn't display it on screen, as she painted the fewest killed as “perhaps” a sign violence is going down:
In Iraq, a sign perhaps that violence is decreasing. In the lowest monthly death U.S. toll since the war began, 19 Americans were killed in May. The total U.S. toll for the war is now 4,086.
You've got to give the media credit for continuing to find new and innovative ways to make the U.S. economy look bad.
This time an increase in Spam sales are being touted as a sign that people are suffering as they are being forced to trade in their fancy meats and poultries for something less expensive - a sign of "our times," according to "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams.
"And in what may be a huge economic indicator, this may say more about our times than we realize," Williams said on the May 29 broadcast. "Spam, the canned luncheon meat product, not the junk e-mail but, Spam sales have surged, lifting profits for the maker Hormel by 14 percent in just the first quarter of this year."
When France 2 TV helped stoke a new wave of anti-Semitism and anti-Western sentiment and violence by presenting the world footage it claimed to show the Israeli military targeting and killing a Palestinian boy, Mohammed al-Dura, a scene that has been invoked by Osama bin Laden and many other terrorists and suicide bombers, the American news media also ran the story, showing the footage numerous times on major television news shows. But evidence has mounted over the years that Israeli troops likely were not the ones producing the gunfire seen in the video. And the sources of the footage at France 2 TV are under increasing fire for their role in the matter, last week losing a court battle to media critic Philippe Karsenty, who goes so far as to charge that the al-Dura footage was actually a staged scene, and that the boy may still be alive, part of what has become a reportedly common practice of Palestinian film makers as they record scenes of fake violence to be used as propaganda. A look at such filmmaking and acting has been examined in the documentary Pallywood, complete with a corpse in a fake funeral procession that gets up on its own after falling off the stretcher after the "Jenin massacre" hoax, and an ambulance that arrives immediately next to the body of a man literally two seconds after he is supposedly shot. CBS's 60 Minutes was among those accused of being duped into using scenes of staged violence as if they were real. (Transcripts follow)
"The downward slide for home prices is only picking up speed," CBS correspondent Anthony Mason said on the May 27 "Evening News." "The 14 percent plunge nationally was led by Las Vegas, where prices have fallen more than 25 percent over the past year. Miami is down more than 24 percent, Phoenix - 23 percent. Among the 20 major cities surveyed, only Charlotte showed a meager gain and analysts can't see a bottom yet."
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show" evening news anchors, ABC’S Charles Gibson, NBC’s Brian Williams, and CBS’s Katie Couric, were all on to promote an upcoming cancer research telethon, but near the end of segment, co-host Harry Smith asked about former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s new book in which McClellan claims the media did not ask tough questions leading up to the Iraq war and Couric agreed:
I think it's a very legitimate allegation. I think it's one of the most embarrassing chapters in American journalism. And I think there was a sense of pressure from corporations who own where we work and from the government itself to really squash any kinds of dissent or any kind of questioning of it. I think it was extremely subtle but very, very effective. And I think Scott McClellan has a really good point.
Perhaps a better example of "one of the most embarrassing chapters in American journalism" would be Couric’s predecessor, Dan Rather, using fraudulent National Guard memos to attempt to smear President Bush just prior to the 2004 election.
Catching up with ABC, which in the past couple of weeks has featured complaints from viewers about how higher gas prices mean they can't afford breakfast and a woman who whined that she can “no longer take joy rides on my days off,” NBC Nightly News caught up Tuesday night with its own set of hapless Americans who claimed they are forced to grow their own food, two who went with burgers (!) over ribs over the holiday weekend and teen girls who make their boyfriends drive them on dates.
Brian Williams noted NBC had “asked people to e-mail us with their stories about how gas prices were affecting their plans for the Memorial Day holiday weekend this year.” Amongst the replies he highlighted: A woman in Nebraska: “I guess it's a good time to become green and start growing our own produce, baking our own bread, and limiting the meat,” a woman from Sacramento: “We usually do rib eye steaks and racks of ribs with lots of sides -- macaroni salad, corn on the cob, baked beans, etc. This year it will be homemade hamburgers with french fries and soda instead of beer” and a woman from California: “Instead of our usual ribs, we are having burgers. As bleak as it sounds, next year we may have a cup of soup.” Finally, “Miguel from Miami: 'Our three girls are asking their boyfriends to come to the house to pick them up instead of using their cars to go on a date.'”
"Oh, he's so down to earth," Phillips said. "He just seems like a very genuine, real person you could have a great time with. And he's a Democrat, right? I'm curious. Did he talk to you about who he is backing?"
Monday provided a great example of a network correspondent advancing Barack Obama's political cause by treating him as a victim of a nefarious GOP attack, thus allowing him to appear virtuous in his reply, an answer the other networks then highlighted to enhance the victimization theme. ABC, CBS and NBC on Monday night showcased Obama's scolding of the Tennessee Republican Party for posting a video on You Tube contrasting Michelle Obama's February admission that “for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country,” with people declaring their pride in the U.S.
(As detailed, with video, in the earlier NewsBusters posting by Scott Whitlock, on Monday's Good Morning America ABC's Robin Roberts asked if he is “prepared” for “more and more” such attacks. Obama called the ad “low class” and ominously warned his opponents should “be careful” in making his wife an issue “because that I find unacceptable.”)
Monday night, ABC's David Wright reported that “Obama tried to subtract one potential issue from the general election -- his wife.” But without playing the February Michelle Obama soundbite to remind viewers what she said, Wright asserted “certain Republicans have already questioned her patriotism.” As if the concern is baseless. On CBS, Dean Reynolds played the February clip before relaying how Barack Obama “blasted a Republican Internet ad which uses a controversial statement she made about her husband's campaign to question her love of country.” Lee Cowan, on NBC, related Obama's “Rule Number One: lay off his family. When asked on ABC's Good Morning America about this Republican ad criticizing his wife for saying that 'this was the first time' that she'd been 'proud of her country,' he fired back.”
The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts on Friday conveyed Barack Obama's charge of hypocrisy by John McCain on dealing with Hamas, all based on one January 28, 2006 soundbite fed to them by the Obama campaign via the Huffington Post -- “They're the government, and sooner or later we're going to have to deal with them in one way or another” -- though, in fact, in an interview that same day with CNN, in the same snowy setting, McCain made clear the U.S. could deal with Hamas only if it were to “renounce” its “commitment to the extinction of the state of Israel. Then we can do business again.”
CBS's Dean Reynolds presumed Obama had caught McCain in a flip-flop: “Obama called McCain a hypocrite for backing Bush, and pointed to an earlier statement McCain had made about Hamas, which runs the Gaza strip.” After the “they're the government, and sooner or later we're going to have to deal with them in one way or another” McCain soundbite, Reynolds reported that “today McCain clarified,” as if he had to adjust his earlier view. On NBC, Lee Cowan highlighted how “Obama pointed to this interview two years ago when the Arizona Senator seemed to hint that eventually talking with Hamas might well be a political necessity.” Following the clip, Cowan allowed: “McCain says, though, that quote was taken out of context.”
The broadcast network evening news shows took their cues from the Obama campaign Thursday night as all framed their coverage -- of President Bush warning in Israel that “some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals” -- around angry reaction to Bush's perceived attack on Barack Obama with CBS and NBC trying to undermine Bush's argument by contending it contradicts policies of past Republican Presidents and/or Bush administration officials.
CBS anchor Katie Couric, referring to Bush and John McCain, cited “a two-pronged Republican attack today on Barack Obama on a key foreign policy matter.” Reporter Chip Reid saw a “Republican barrage” which “began in Jerusalem today where President Bush appeared to be taking aim at Barack Obama.” Reid soon passed along how “Obama, who has said he would meet with leaders of Iran, Syria, and Cuba, noted that Presidents Kennedy, Nixon, and even Reagan also negotiated directly with America's enemies.” But Mikhail Gorbachev hadn't promised to nuke Israel.
Over on NBC, Brian Williams teased his lead story: “President Bush on the world stage delivers what was widely seen as an attack on Barack Obama.” Williams described it as “today's political shot heard 'round the world. The concussion was instantaneous. Upon hearing the news, one Democratic Senator used a word we can't use on this broadcast.” Reporter John Yang called it “the first salvo of this fall's general election campaign” and, with “THIS IS B******T” on screen, relayed how “Senator Joseph Biden characterized the President's words with a word we can't use.” Yang contended Bush's admonition “would also apply to Mr. Bush's former Secretary of State” who urged engagement with Hamas. But not a personal sit-down with the President of the United States.
Wednesday’s NBC Nightly News cheered the Bush administration’s recent liberal moves on climate change — “a very big week for those who are fighting to save the environment,” anchor Brian Williams celebrated — but NBC’s “Environmental Affairs” correspondent Anne Thompson nevertheless trotted out an activist with the National Resources Defense Council to complain that the administration still hasn’t gone far enough to the left on global warming.
But Nightly News had no time for any conservative or free market spokesman who might have said that the administration had already gone too far in trying to appease environmental liberals, and that the act of placing polar bears on the threatened species list would make it easier for a more liberal successor to pursue economically-punishing regulations.
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.
The general election has apparently begun. This week, the liberal media launched a pre-emptive attack on Republican campaign tactics even as TV interviewers slobbered all over Barack Obama. Here are the Media Research Center’s "Worst of the Week" (audio and video links below the fold):
# GOP: Merchants of Slime and Hate. It’s Hillary Clinton’s campaign, not the GOP, which has pummeled Barack Obama these past weeks, but journalists are nevertheless impugning Republicans as dirty campaigners. The May 19 Newsweek cover story channeled Democratic talking points to claim "the Republican Party has been successfully scaring voters since 1968." (Ever listen to Democratic rhetoric on Social Security?) Co-authors Richard Wolffe and Evan Thomas questioned whether John McCain really wanted to "rein in the merchants of slime and sellers of hate who populate the Internet...who exercise their freedom in ways that give a bad name to free speech."
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams on Monday evening gave credibility to the extremist environmental theory that the Earth is reacting to mankind's mistreatment by spawning a rash of tornadoes. Williams reported how “this has been one of the most active, deadly tornado seasons in a long time” with more tornadoes so far this year than through August last year. He then forwarded to NBC Weather Plus meteorologist Bill Karins the kind of reasoning he hears during his daily routine:
I talked to three people, casual conversation today, all of them smart, saying “I don't know, we must be doing something to our Earth.”
Karins gently corrected him: “Well, there are correlations that can be made. Global warming not quite one of them. La Nina, more likely.”
It's not unusual for journalists to attempt to distance themselves from the appearance of political ties, especially when trying not to be perceived as biased. But saying you do and actually doing are two separate things.
U.S. News & World Report Editor-in-Chief and chairman of Boston Properties (NYSE:BXP) Mort Zuckerman was asked about donating money to Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton's fading campaign by Huffington Post blogger and MSNBC "Morning Joe" regular John Ridley on the May 9 "Morning Joe."
"I wish I could make a contribution, but I'm in the world of journalism and I can't, but thank you for the offer," Zuckerman said.
Brian Williams, who slobbered over Barack Obama in their last interview in early January, did so again in a Thursday session conducted at Washington, DC's Newseum and excerpted on the NBC Nightly News. Back on January 7, Williams handed Obama a Newsweek with “Inside Obama's Dream Machine” as the cover story and wondered: “How does this feel, of all the honors that have come your way, all the publicity? Who does it make you think of? Is there, is there a loved one?” On Thursday, Williams didn't pose a single challenging question nor mention Jeremiah Wright in any of the ten questions aired, but pulled the same magazine stunt, this time holding up the new Time with a smiling Obama on the cover by the words, “And the Winner* Is...” Williams fondly recalled:
Last time we were together, I handed you a copy of Newsweek, it was the first time you'd held it in your hands with you on the cover. Have you yet held this in your hands?
Obama said he had not, prompting Williams to remind him: “Last time you looked at it and you thought instantly of your mom.” Obama effused: “She'd like that picture. She always encouraged me to smile more.” Proceeding to cue up Obama for a long recitation on how he's not an elitist, Williams empathized: “You end up with people talking about your bowling score, gutter balls, wearing a tie, wearing a tie with farmers. And how have you dealt with that? Is there an operating theory that guides your life these days?”
How could job loss for 80 small-town residents be a "great story?" When it means the defeat of a "big box" "Goliath" said NBC.
On May 7, NBC "Nightly News" gleefully reported the closing of a Home Depot in Brattleboro, Vt. The closure is part of the company's plan to close 15 of its roughly 2,200 stores due to underperformance. NBC portrayed it as "David versus Goliath," and praised the little guys' victory over the big bad box store.
"Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams called it a "great story" and reporter Mike Taibbi called it, "in a man bites dog sort of way, an unlikely survivor story." (Maybe they're Jimmie Johnson fans?)
"It's not surprising that long-time residents, like John Morse back at the Ace [Hardware] store, collected thousands of petition signatures opposing Home Depot when it arrived four years ago and are cheering now because it's closing," Taibbi said.
Last October the NBC Nightly News was the first broadcast network evening newscast to highlight the first Medal of Honor award since Vietnam for a member of the Navy, Lieutenant Michael Murphy, a SEAL killed in combat in Afghanistan in June of 2005, and on Wednesday the newscast stood alone in highlighting the Navy's announcement that a guided-missile destroyer will be named the “USS Michael Murphy.” Anchor Brian Williams outlined what earned Murphy the Medal of Honor recognition:
During an intense firefight in Hindu Kush Mountains in Afghanistan back in '05, while pinned down under fire, he chose to stand up to get a signal on his satellite phone to communicate their location. He knew that standing up would expose him to withering fire. It did. He was hit several times and killed.
Williams also noted that a park in Patchogue, New York was dedicated Wednesday “in his name on what would have been his 32nd birthday.” Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter made the ship naming announcement during the dedication ceremony at the park along side Lake Ronkonkoma where Murphy had been a lifeguard.
For the rest of the campaign, the Media Research Center will each Tuesday announce its picks for the “Worst of the Week,” meaning the most egregious, horrendous and stupefying liberal bias of Campaign 2008. This week, the spotlight shines on those journalists who rushed to the side of Barack Obama after his minister’s radical comments, and NBC’s ridiculous effort to hype bad economic news [audio/video links below fold]:
Feeling Obama’s Pain. After Barack Obama’s former pastor’s radical remarks at the National Press Club, liberal journalists rallied around the Democratic candidate. Hours after Jeremiah Wright spoke on April 28, NBC’s Brian Williams emphasized those who deemed it a "circus" and a "sideshow," as his NBC Nightly News highlighted the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart: "Unfortunately, the victim in all of this is going to be Senator Obama’s campaign."
On the day the government reported a tenth of a point drop in the unemployment rate and two days after news of a second straight quarter of 0.6 percent GDP growth proved the nation is not in a recession, Friday's NBC Nightly News delivered a ridiculously shallow story, based on two anecdotes and a couple of advocates, to prove rising prices are forcing the elderly out of their homes and into vans and soup kitchens. Anchor Brian Williams promised “an interesting look...at the toll that rising prices, of things like gas and food, is taking on Americans living on fixed incomes.” [audio available here]
Chris Jansing [that's her by the van] traveled to Northridge, California, just north of Los Angeles, where she found 82-year-old Betty Weinstein, stunned by a water bill, turning to a second reverse mortgage to stay in her home. But she at least still has a home. Jansing then highlighted an even sadder case:
Rising rents forced Scott and Kate Bishop to move out of this blue house and into their van, sleeping on a mattress in the back.
But it got worse: “And now high food costs have meant, for first time in their lives, the Bishops have gone hungry.” Jansing cited no source for her claims as she asserted: “Soup kitchens and food banks are seeing record numbers of seniors asking for help for the first time in their lives,” but “now donations here are down as middle class donors struggle to feed their own families.”
An evening after the NBC Nightly News showcased Michelle Obama's plea to move on from focusing on Jeremiah Wright because talking about him “doesn't help kids out there,” on Thursday night the newscast again provided a platform for Barack and Michelle Obama to advance their efforts to show humility and paint media coverage as unfair. Setting up a second night of excerpts from the interview the couple conducted with Meredith Vieira for the Today show, anchor Brian Williams explained how “both went out of their way to say they understand that a lot of Americans are right now trying to figure out just who Barack Obama is.”
The excerpt began with Barack Obama maintaining “it's understandable” to “raise questions” about him because he's an African-American named Barack, “so if I don't wear a flag pin, that becomes a cause for concern,” but “if John McCain doesn't wear a flag pin, look, he's a war hero.”
That prompted Vieira to empathize: “So you're treated differently, then, you think?” And to wonder to Michelle Obama: “So you never sit there and get upset about these?” Barack Obama interjected that “she stops reading the newspapers during certain spans of time” before she quipped, during loving back-and-forth joshing: “I take the paper and I ball it up and I throw it in a corner!”
The Obama campaign has chosen NBC's Today show as the venue to try to move beyond the Jeremiah Wright controversy and a preview aired on Wednesday's Nightly News, of the session to air Thursday morning, showcased Barack and Michelle Obama making their case. While Meredith Vieira apparently did ask Barack Obama why he had not denounced Wright sooner, Nightly News viewers heard Barack Obama boast in response that he had resisted doing the “politically expedient” and Michelle Obama resorting to a plea reminiscent of the Clinton era:
We got to move forward. You know, this conversation doesn't help my kids, you know. It doesn't help kids out there who are looking for us to make decisions and choices about how we're going to better fund education.
Anchor Brian Williams set up the story by relating how “Barack and Michelle Obama sat down with Meredith Vieira from Today on NBC as they try to put the drama over their former pastor behind them.” Andrea Mitchell explained Obama was “clearly trying to move past the controversy over the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, but when pressed, explaining why he didn't denounce his former pastor sooner.”
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams revealed a puckish sense of humor in his April 28 entry on his msnbc.com "Daily Nightly" blog, "What Times Is It?" in which Williams admitted his puzzlement over the countercultural cornucopia that is the Sunday New York Times, with subjects ranging from gay grilling aficionados to sex chairs.
I read that the New York Times Sunday (and weekday) circulation is down. I must admit that on Sundays it becomes a tough paper to figure out. While this week's paper featured an op-ed piece by Elizabeth Edwards bemoaning the lack of serious, in-depth coverage of the political race, it's tough to figure out exactly what readers the paper is speaking to, or seeking.
Tuesday night the broadcast network evening news shows centered their coverage, of Barack Obama's repudiation of Jeremiah Wright, from Obama's point of view with “'I'M OUTRAGED'” (ABC) or just "OUTRAGED" (CBS) plastered on screen by an Obama image, interest in whether Obama has now put the “controversy behind him” (ABC and NBC) and only an afterthought about whether anything Wright said Monday was any different than what he had over the previous 20 years Obama has known him. (NBC chose “FIRING BACK” as the on-screen heading)
Brian Williams asked Tim Russert: “Do you think this stops the damage?” Similarly, CBS's Katie Couric wondered to Jeff Greenfield: “Is today's repudiation enough to kind of control the damage?” Echoing NBC's Lee Cowan, ABC's David Wright relayed how Obama is “hoping it will finally put the Wright controversy behind him.”
NBC aired a clip of Obama maintaining “I have known Reverend Wright for almost 20 years. The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago,” but Cowan did not challenge that premise. At least CBS's Dean Reynolds pointed out that “yesterday's wording did not differ markedly from the sermons Wright delivered in the past” and ABC anchor Charles Gibson noted Wright “really didn't say anything different than he said in some of those sermons that have been played over and over again.”
At his National Press Club appearance on Monday, Reverend Jeremiah Wright re-affirmed several of his past incendiary allegations -- and added at least one new one equating U.S. troops to the Roman legions who killed Jesus -- but only ABC's World News noted that as the network journalists preferred to paint Barack Obama as a “victim” of Wright and all three evening newscasts highlighted Wright's attack on Dick Cheney for not serving in the military.
CBS's Dean Reynolds, who spent more time on Wright's attack on Cheney than on anything crazy Wright said Monday, explained that “as for questions about his patriotism, Wright pointed to his Marine service compared to Vice President Cheney's five deferments from duty.” Wright: “I served six years in the military. Does that make me patriotic? How many years did Cheney serve?”
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams set up the story from Andrea Mitchell by stressing how “one veteran politico today” dismissed Wright's comments as “a 'circus' and a 'sideshow.'” Mitchell soon repeated how “Obama supporters described the whole thing as a media circus.” Viewers then heard from former Senator Bill Bradley followed by Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart, the man who in March hailed Obama's speech on race as “a very important gift the Senator has given the country.” Monday night Capehart lamented how “the victim in all of this is going to be Senator Obama's campaign.”
Barack Obama's pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, suggested in an interview with Bill Moyers that Obama agreed with his comments which stirred a furor in March, but instead of framing their stories around evidence Obama may be in sync with Wright's paranoid and America-hating rants, the network evening newscasts on Thursday stressed Wright's claim his sermons were unfairly distorted.
CBS's Jim Axelrod relayed how Wright asserted “parts of his sermons were publicized by Obama's opponents to damage Obama, but that they fundamentally misrepresented Wright's ministry and Wright himself.” NBC anchor Brian Williams related how “Wright says he does not think he's been treated fairly,” before reporter Andrea Mitchell began with Wright's insistence “his sermons were taken out of context to hurt Barack Obama.” Leading into a soundbite from Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart, who in March hailed Obama's speech on race as “a very important gift the Senator has given the country,” Mitchell asserted “some analysts agree that Wright was taken out of context.”
Anti-Barack Obama ads from Hillary Clinton's campaign didn't concern CBS, but on Wednesday night anchor Harry Smith denounced an accurate ad from the North Carolina Republican Party, pointing out Obama's closeness to Reverend Jeremiah Wright and showing the very same “God Damn America” soundbite the CBS Evening News ran a month earlier, as proof the campaign is getting “nastier.”
Smith teased his top story: “The first day of the rest of the campaign, and if you think it can't get nastier.” Viewers than saw a clip of the ad, “He's just too extreme for North Carolina,” before Smith finished his sentence: “Republicans roll out a new attack ad as the battleground shifts.”
After playing clips of the ad -- the narrator saying “For 20 years, Barack Obama sat in his pew listening to his pastor,” Wright yelling “Not God Bless America, God [bleep] America!” and the narrator declaring “He's just too extreme for North Carolina" -- Reynolds focused on how “John McCain disowned it.” Reynolds used the ad as another chance to resurrect Bill Cunningham (with a “Barack Hussein Obama” clip) as Reynolds rued: “McCain has been down this path before, repeatedly apologizing or rejecting statements from supporters who have questioned Obama's patriotism.” McCain's requests, Reynolds lamented, “have not been effective” since the North Carolina Republicans “put their ad on the Internet.” Reynolds then highlighted how “Obama said McCain could do more to stop it.”