Presidential elections have been won or lost due to the economy. Herbert Hoover lost to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Jimmy Carter lost to Ronald Reagan. This election season is no different as polls, including a recent one from NBC News/Wall Street Journal, continue to show the economy is the top concern of voters.
But the network news media often skew economic coverage in favor of liberal candidates and against conservatives. In September 2012, President Barack Obama continued to face a barrage of poor economic news including a GDP downgrade to 1.3 percent, an unemployment rate still above 8 percent and “record” high gas prices. But media coverage of economic issues from that month did not accurately reflect that turmoil. When President George W. Bush sought re-election in 2004, during the exact same time period, broadcast coverage criticized him on the economy despite a GDP of 3.3 percent, an unemployment rate of just 5.4 percent and gas prices a low $1.82.
Earlier today, NewsBusters publisher and Media Research Center President Brent Bozell accurately noted that the Big Three TV news networks are "as guilty in ... (the Benghazi) cover-up as is the administration." He did so based on the fact that "For the sixth night in a row, ABC World News, CBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News refused to give one single second of coverage to a Fox News report that the Obama Administration denied help to those attacked and killed by terrorists at the US consulate in Benghazi on September 11."
Not that it mitigates the legitimacy of Mr. Bozell's outrage, but one can take some comfort in the fact that fewer people are tuning in to the three nightly news broadcasts than were doing so a year ago, and that their ratings in the 25-54 demographic in the past five weeks are down by almost 20 percent from the same five-week period during the 2008 presidential cycle. A table containing individual results from the past two weeks and the average results from the past five is after the jump (a previous NewsBusters post on the first three weeks is here).
During a 20-minute interview with President Obama aired on Thursday's NBC Rock Center, host Brian Williams devoted a total of 1 minute 36 seconds to the subject of the terrorist attack in Libya. At the same time, four segments of soft coverage of the President's re-election campaign received a combined total of 2 minutes 19 seconds.
The promotional fluff included the President stopping by a pizza shop in Iowa (1 min 3 sec), appearing on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno (30 sec), having singer Katy Perry perform at a rally in Las Vegas (31 sec), and him picking up some donuts at a Krispy Kreme in Tampa (15 sec).
A night after NBC’s Brian Williams used a series of interview sessions with President Barack Obama to express bewilderment Obama is not running away with the presidential race, the anchor touted Colin Powell’s endorsement, pressed Obama from the left to go further in denouncing Republicans on abortion and cued up the President to decry the high level of campaign spending.
It was Williams’ “third interview with him in the past 24 hours” leading up to multiple segment on tonight’s (Thursday) Rock Center at 10 PM EDT/PDT, 9 PM CDT.
It appears as though MSNBC has gone into overdrive covering up for the Obama administration over the terrorist attack on our consulate in Libya. Following emails uncovered by CBS News late Tuesday evening showing the White House knew within two hours that the attack was terrorist related, MSNBC has run a grand total of two stories on these shocking developments.
Unlike yesterday, NBC's Today did provide a news brief on the emails Thursday morning as well as a story during Wednesday night’s Nightly News, but their sister cable network MSNBC has only covered the story once today, on The Daily Rundown at 9:00 a.m. Eastern.
Continuing to hype Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock's opposition to abortion as some kind of scandal for Mitt Romney, on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Peter Alexander proclaimed: "...the Romney campaign is also dealing with a new controversy, trying to distance itself from this comment..."
After playing a sound bite of Mourdock explaining in a Tuesday senatorial debate that he believed an unborn child conceived by rape was still a life "intended by God," Alexander touted an ad of Romney endorsing the Indiana Republican. He then observed how, "Mr. Romney, who's been carefully courting women voters, ignored the controversy" and declared that the Governor's campaign has "been trying to steer away from it's party's right-wing since the contentious primaries..."
In an interview with President Obama on Wednesday, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams lobbed this softball: "How is it that with – what, 13 days to go, you're fighting for your life in a 47/47 race?... So after the excitement of '08, given the power of incumbency, you got Bin Laden, you did not expect to be sitting on a more substantial race than we are as we sit here today?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Obama argued he was exceeding media expectations: "...we always knew this was gonna be a close race from the start....you guys have some short memories. Folks in your business were writing me off a year ago, saying there's no way I would win."
In a continued effort to tag Mitt Romney with a flip-flopper label, on Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams proclaimed that Romney's performance in the final presidential debate "seemed to be a move to the center" on foreign policy issues and asserted that the Governor was "taking positions he has not taken before."
In the report that followed, correspondent Andrea Mitchell declared: "Mitt Romney's switch to a more moderate foreign policy last night was clearly aimed at independent women voters.... Clearly having decided that undecided voters, those swing voters, are more likely to choose a moderate Republican than a hawk."
On Tuesday evening, CBS broke wide open a story on State Department e-mails showing the White House knew on September 11 that the consulate in Benghazi was subjected to a terrorist attack, and that terrorists took credit on Facebook and Twitter. But by Wednesday, the three network morning shows weren't leaping to follow up. ABC and CBS combined devoted just over a minute to the story, while NBC completely ignored it.
By contrast, all three newscasts showed that they were more interested in helping the Democrats in Indiana, aggressively spotlighting Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock's faith-based affirmation that he did not support abortion even in the case of rape, that even those are children "God intended." Mourdock's "controversial comments" drew more than seven and a half minutes of coverage.
Shortly following the conclusion of the final presidential debate Monday night, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams posed this question to Richard Haas of the Council on Foreign Relations: "I noticed a columnist for the New York Times tonight tweeted out that this was an etch-a-sketch moment for Governor Romney....Did you see that kind of movement on his part?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Williams reminded viewers of the origin of the phrase: "It was obviously a knock of the campaign story that came up about changing policy, moving toward the center with an ease of erasing an etch-a-sketch." Haas avoided any validation of the liberal talking point: "I'm almost more comfortable, Brian, leaving the politics to others, about, you know, what Governor Romney was trying to do tonight."
The Big Three networks (ABC, CBS and NBC) gave the faux furor over Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” statement in Tuesday’s debate a whopping 22 mentions through Friday morning. Yet when Vice President Joe Biden, on Thursday, told an audience member that Republican “young guns” like Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan had “bullets” aimed at him the networks delivered just a scant two total mentions (on NBC and CBS, ABC skipped the gaffe entirely.)
On the morning after the debate ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas, on Good Morning America, singled out the “binders” comment: “You remember the Big Bird line that dominated the conversations online and around the water cooler, in essence, after the first debate? Last night, it was another Romney comment, ‘binders full of women’ that caused the heat to turn on.”
Near the top of Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie jumped on "a comment from Mitt Romney's son Tagg that's getting some attention....he said he wanted to, quote, 'take a swing' at the President for some of the attacks on his dad." Pretending it was a newsworthy item, she added: "The Romney campaign says this was just a joke. We'll get into that."
Introducing a campaign report minutes later, Guthrie declared the Romney son's comment in jest was "making some waves." Correspondent Peter Alexander promised viewers, "We'll play that comment for you from Tagg Romney in just a moment." For all the build-up to the supposedly controversial comments, at the end of his report, Alexander revealed the light-hearted nature of them: "During a radio interview Wednesday, Governor Romney's oldest son Tagg joked about his reaction to some of the contentious exchanges during Tuesday's debate."
Between Wednesday's Nightly News and Thursday's Today, NBC displayed an obsession with the liberal meme of attacking Mitt Romney's "binders full of women" remark during Tuesday's presidential debate. The network's delusional hyping of the manufactured controversy reached a crescendo when Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski appeared on Today to proclaim: "Romney just completely doesn't have any leg to stand on when it comes to women and the economy." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Today co-host Savannah Guthrie teed up Brzezinski to slam Romney: "...it has taken on a life of its own. The Democrats love it. They think it really shows Mitt Romney at his most awkward. But if the fight is for independent, undecided women voters, do you think this is an issue that's weighty enough to resonate?"
A not so undecided “undecided voter.” At 10:12 AM EDT Wednesday on CNN, faux “undecided voter” Susan Katz, who had asked Mitt Romney at the debate the night before how he’s different from George W. Bush, told Carol Costello she voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and plans to do so again this year because “I saw in President Obama someone who has ripened with time who deserves another four years to see his vision through.” (“Ripened”?)
A little more than eight hours later, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, on Nightly News, looked at debate reaction from “undecided voters chosen to ask questions” who “were not entirely happy with what they heard,” starting with Susan Katz whom Mitchell showcased trashing Romney for liking “to be in charge,” as if that’s a bad thing for a President.
In an obituary for former Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter on Sunday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Kelly O'Donnell summarized his shift in political allegiance this way: "Specter's views, supporting abortion rights, immigration reform, and gun control, made him too liberal for the Tea Party movement...Under assault, he bolted to the Democratic Party."
Introducing O'Donnell's report, anchor Lester Holt declared Specter to be "a longtime voice of moderation in Washington, and at times a figure of controversy." As evidence of Specter's controversial nature, O'Donnell cited him questioning the credibility of Anita Hill during a 1991 Supreme Court hearing: "Specter angered many women over the spectacle around Anita Hill, who claimed Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her."
As the presidential contest enters its final weeks, one loser is clear: the Big Three television networks' evening newscasts, home of some of the worst examples of ongoing and still influential media bias.
Chris Ariens at Media Bistro noted this on October 2 in covering the results for the week of September 24: "Leading into a presidential election, one might think the tune-in to the evening news programs would increase. But one would be wrong." The trend continued during the following week, as will be seen in the graphic following the jump.
On Friday afternoon, Joe Biden lived up to his reputation for committing gaffes, not even a day after Paul Ryan zinged the Vice President over how "sometimes the words don't come out of your mouth the right way" during Thursday's debate. At a rally in La Crosse, Wisconsin, Biden claimed Planned Parenthood "under law cannot perform any abortions." In reality, the organization is the largest abortion racket in the country.
Hours later, none of the Big Three's Friday evening newscasts had covered Biden's patently false claim. But just two days earlier, these programs devoted a combined five minutes and 1 second on Wednesday to Mitt Romney's statement to The Des Moines Register that "there's no legislation with regard to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda." NBC's Brian Williams mouthed the Obama campaign's spin - that "what Mitt Romney said about abortion that sure sounds like a change."
At the top of Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams recited Obama campaign talking points as he proclaimed: "What Mitt Romney said about abortion that sure sounds like a change."
Moments later, Williams attempted to frame Romney's innocuous comments on the subject to the Des Moines Register as a misstep: "Mitt Romney is trying to take advantage of a bounce coming off the last debate, but it was something he said on the subject of abortion that is getting a lot of the attention today and tonight. It's where we begin tonight..."
Liberals, Peggy Noonan noted on Sunday’s This Week roundtable, want Mitt Romney “to be more specific so that you can rouse people against” budget cuts to any program. Indeed, earlier in the program, host George Stephanopoulos cited Romney’s wish to end the federal subsidy for PBS, pointing out how PBS “only takes about 1/100th of one percent of budget” and asking if “it a mistake to target” Big Bird?
On Friday night, NBC’s Brian Williams provided a full brief in defense of PBS’s subsidy, misleadingly suggesting the end of the federal subsidy would mean the end to children’s television programming and forwarding its small share of the federal budget as a justification for it, but if you can’t eliminate the small stuff how will you ever take on the big stuff?
Reporting the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll numbers on Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, political director Chuck Todd touted a rather obvious finding in the numbers, relentless media attacks on Mitt Romney have negatively affected how voters view the Republican nominee.
Todd proclaimed: "That 47% remark, it has left a mark, if you will. When we asked, 'Is there anything you've heard in the last few weeks that's made you more favorable or less favorable on Mitt Romney?', 51% said what they've heard has made them less favorable."
In a stunning omission on Wednesday's NBC Today, brief coverage of a 2007 video of Barack Obamacompletely ignored the then-Senator praising his controversial pastor Jeremiah Wright as a "great leader, not just in Chicago, but all across the country." The NBC morning show adopted a dismissive attitude toward the video, with co-host Savannah Guthrie leading off the broadcast: "Conservatives circulate a five-year-old video, in a move the Obama campaign calls desperate." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the report that followed, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd further quoted Obama talking points: "In a transparent attempt to change the subject from his comments attacking half of the American people, Mitt Romney's allies re-circulated video of a 2007 event that was open to and extensively covered by the press at the time."
UPDATE: Still no ABC, CBS, NBC coverage of Univision's Fast and Furious report on Monday's evening newscasts or Tuesday's morning shows.
Over the weekend the Univision network broke major news in the Fast and Furious gunwalking scandal. They found 57 previously unreported guns used in crimes by Mexican cartels, but ABC, CBS and NBC have yet to report the Spanish-language network’s findings.
There were zero mentions on Sunday night’s ABC's World News and CBS's Evening News (NBC's Nightly News was pre-empted by Ryder Cup coverage) or on any of Monday’s morning shows. The blackout on ABC’s broadcasts is particularly confounding since they have an excerpt from Univision's September 30 report on ABC's official Web site. (video after the jump)
ABC's Jake Tapper's Thursday report on World News stands alone as the only Big Three coverage so far of what The Daily Beast's Eli Lake reported on Wednesday - that U.S. intelligence officials had "strong indications" within a day that Islamist terrorists were behind the September 11, 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi - not a mob enraged at a controversial Internet video.
By contrast, former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw tried to point the finger at Mitt Romney on Friday's Today show for the media's apparent lack of curiosity at the inconsistencies in the Obama administration's narrative about the terrorist attack. Otherwise, NBC only aired two reports on the story since Wednesday - twice running the same Ann Curry interview of Libyan President Mohammed Magarief.
Economic growth grew at an incredibly sluggish 1.3 percent in the second quarter, revised down from 1.7 percent. According to business writer Jim Pethokoukis, this is "dangerously slow." However, NBC skipped the bad news for Barack Obama entirely. ABC allowed it a mere 21 seconds. CBS was the only network to allow the story a full report.
Although Nightly News correspondent Chuck Todd couldn't find time to mention the scant amount of growth, he did hype the fact that the President is trying "a new line." Todd then played a clip of the President calling "for a new economic patriotism." The journalist helpfully parroted that the President's "idea of economic patriotism includes tax hikes on the wealthy and more government spending on infrastructure."
ABC's Good Morning America hasn't once reported on U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's claim on the September 16, 2012 edition of This Week that the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya was "a spontaneous - not a pre-meditated - response to what had transpired in Cairo." Even worse, the morning show hasn't reported on the subsequent developments on the consulate attack over the past 12 days that cast doubt on Ambassador Rice's statement.
NBC's Today show also hasn't covered Rice's talking points on the attack, after she appeared on Meet the Press on the same day as her This Week appearance. News reader Natalie Morales merely reported on September 19 that "the White House says there is currently no evidence that last week's deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya was planned and pre-meditated. Officials say it appears that the violence was sparked by that anti-Islam film made in the U.S." Two days later, Morales gave an update on how "the White House is now classifying the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya as a terrorist attack....But intelligence officials now believe it was a planned attack in the guise of a protest."
Both of those programs provided voluminous coverage of Romney's "47%" tape, but have no time to scrutinize the Obama administration's public statements about an incident that claimed the life of an American ambassador?
Leading off Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, fill-in anchor Savannah Guthrie declared the presidential race in one key battleground state all but over: "Tonight, both candidates are in Ohio as a spate of new polls shows the all-important bellwether may be slipping away for the Republican challenger."
In the report that followed, correspondent Ron Allen reiterated that "new polls show Ohio slipping away" from Romney and quickly asserted the cause: "Romney down by ten points in a new poll out this morning, and nearly that in another recent poll, after that video of Romney talking disparagingly about the 47% who pay no income tax."
At the top of Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams framed President Obama's address to the United Nations as him getting tough on Iranian nuclear ambitions: "Drawing the line. The President today with a strong new warning to Iran, plus what he had to say about the recent violence against Americans."
In the report that followed, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd touted that Obama "appeared to draw a real line in the sand on Iran's effort to build nuclear weapons." Todd then sneered that "the President's strong words weren't enough to satisfy Mitt Romney."
Repeating a common mythology that a person’s federal income tax rate equals the effective tax rate they actually pay after deductions, ABC’s Jonathan Karl on Friday night forwarded the canard that Mitt Romney’s 14.1 percent rate is lower than what a $75,000 earner pays. NBC’s Peter Alexander, however, correctly noted “the average middle class American family pays roughly 13 percent.”
On World News, Karl reported that Mitt Romney “made $13.7 million last year and paid nearly $2 million in taxes. His effective tax rate, 14.1 percent.” Then, without citing any source, Karl asserted: “That’s a lower rate than an auto mechanic who made $75,000 in pay.”
Mitt Romney on Wednesday put into play newly uncovered video of Barack Obama in 1998 advocating redistribution of wealth, but of the broadcast network evening newscasts, only the NBC Nightly News bothered to inform viewers of the display of Obama’s far-left economic philosophy. And that only came inside the newscast’s first of two stories on media-fueled fallout from Romney’s observation that 47 percent don’t pay income taxes.
“These are tough days for the Romney campaign,” NBC anchor Brian Williams led his program, declaring: “Inside 50 days to go now until the election, and they are dealing with something of a public relations disaster.”
Since September 2, NewsBusters has been showcasing the most egregious bias the Media Research Center has uncovered over the years — four quotes for each of the 25 years of the MRC, 100 quotes total — all leading up to our big 25th Anniversary Gala next week.
Click here for blog posts recounting the worst of 1988 through 2004. Today, the worst bias of 2005: NBC’s Brian Williams equates America’s Founding Fathers with the zealots running Iran; ex-New York Times editor Howell Raines goes on a post-Katrina rant about the human carnage caused by the Bush administration’s “churchgoing populism,” and Ted Turner tries to defend North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il . [Quotes and video below the jump.]