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.”
Monday's NBC Nightly News kicked off “Earth Week” by trumpeting Sweden as an environmental and economic paradise that could point the way for the United States. Anchor Brian William contended Swedes “always seem to be so happy and beautiful” and now “there's another reason to be green with envy about the Swedes. We're told they are living green lives, showing kindness to the planet, and saving a ton of energy in the process.” Sweden certainly enchanted reporter Anne Thompson who rode a bicycle in Stockholm and gushed:
Sweden's official colors are blue and yellow, but it lives green -- from the citizens who can eat the fish from waterways in Stockholm to King Carl XVI Gustaf, who rules the land and drives an ethanol-powered car.
Thompson focused on how the nation is researching “gasified wood” and putting people onto bicycles. Plus, “alternatives like the fuel made from organic waste that powers this train.” Highlighting that “to reduce traffic, Swedes pay to drive in the business district,” Thompson concluded by touting how “Sweden's most important export” is “real world ways to live green.”
The Media's Reaction to George and CharlieCall it the Audacity of Journalism.
ABC's Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos slipped and let a bit of actual reporting seep into their Democrat Presidential debate moderation efforts on April 16. They mistakenly engaged in fifty minutes worth of pertinent inquiry, largely regarding the patriotic perspectives and numerous troubling relationships of Illinois Senator Barack Obama -- and to a lesser extent examining the fact that New York Senator Hillary Clinton has a Herculean ability to create her Living History out of whole cloth.
The response from the Left has been withering and unremitting.
Friday's NBC Nightly News took a balanced look at the issue of whether colleges would be safer if students were allowed greater freedom to carry concealed weapons on campus. Though the report failed to delve into any supporting statistics, soundbites were featured from advocates on both sides of the issue, including Mike Guzman of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus: "This is where we see mass shootings occur, at gun-free zones, because these criminals have a government guarantee or a university guarantee that their intended victims will be unarmed and unable to defend themselves." (Transcript follows)
After the clip of Guzman, correspondent Janet Shamlian introduced a clip from Lori Haas, the mother of a school shooting victim, who "believes armed and well-intentioned students would be no match for a gunman like the one who shot her daughter." Haas: "He had two guns, he had the element of surprise. The fear that grips you when you're worried about your life is paralyzing."
Below is a complete transcript of the story from the Friday April 18 NBC Nightly News:
All three broadcast networks on Tuesday led their evening news programs with Pope Benedict XVI’s arrival at Andrews Air Force Base to begin his visit to the U.S., as well as his comments during a press conference on the plane about the priest sex abuse scandal. ABC’s "World News" and CBS’ "Evening News" especially focused on the scandal. In addition to this, "World News" also highlighted what the Pope said about illegal immigration during the press conference and gave a false impression of what the Pope had said on the issue.
ABC correspondent Dan Harris gave the following spin on Benedict XVI’s comments on immigration. "Also on the plane, the Pope addressed another hot issue, immigration. Hispanics are the fastest-growing part of the American church right now, and the Pope said he would discuss this issue with the President, particularly the 'dangerous' impact of families of illegal immigrants being separated."
Network journalists have yet to meet a spending hike or regulation that they considered unwise, but any tax cut is always ill-advised and helps “the wealthy.” Living up to the pattern -- and illustrating how John McCain will earn media scorn for any conservative policy proposal -- NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams set up a Tuesday story on McCain's economic plan by emphasizing how “some critics say his economic plan, which centers on more tax cuts, doesn't add up.”
Reporting on McCain's plan outlined in a speech at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, reporter Kelly O'Donnell listed McCain's idea for a summer suspension of the gas tax, though that “tax is used to pay for highway repairs.” O'Donnell moved on to McCain's proposal to “double the income tax exemption for dependents to $7,000 a year,” hardly a boon to the rich, before getting to McCain's “core idea” to “lower taxes and make up lost revenue with cuts in government spending.” She then delivered the liberal line: “But critics and some economists argue McCain's math is wrong, that his plan would tilt toward the wealthy, swell the deficit, and not trim enough.”
Operating under the assumption that what's good for business is bad for consumers forces the media to give Americans a narrow view of the world.
All three network newscasts on April 14 reported the Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) and Northwest Airlines (NYSE:NWA) as if it were a conspiracy to bilk air travelers out of more money.
"It's an unsettled time in the skies - planes grounded, flights cancelled, spiraling ticket prices," ABC correspondent Lisa Stark said on the April 14 "World News with Charles Gibson." "And now, things could get even more complicated. Delta operates 1,500 flights a day with hubs in Atlanta, Cincinnati, New York and Salt Lake City. Northwest - some 1,200 flights a day with hubs in Detroit, Minneapolis and Memphis. Put the two together, and passengers could take a hit."
Never mind nightly TV newscasts are geared toward older generation. Never mind scandals like Dan Rather and the falsified National Guard documents leading up to the 2004 presidential elections have caused people to look for their news from other sources like the Internet and talk radio.
"[B]ut there were so few [good TV news writers] because we became dependent on pictures and that coupled with deregulation of television, when you had three, four networks - and suddenly, there are 20, then there are 50 and now there are 300 and however many - 500," he said. "And as a consequence, the pie that used to be sliced three or four ways is now slivers and as a consequence, everybody is trying to hold on to their little audience and to do that, you got to entertain."
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams led Tuesday's newscast by listing the burden of the Iraq war in years, troops, deaths and cost before Jim Miklaszewski, unlike reporters on ABC and CBS, found it newsworthy to show a man, in the Senate hearing for General David Petraeus, shouting “bring them home!” In the next story, Andrea Mitchell decided to highlight, again unlike ABC or CBS, how John McCain “stumbled...by again describing al Qaeda as Shiite” and Williams turned to Richard Engel, NBC's Iraq reporter, who described Petraeus' decision to end troop withdrawals in July as “frustrating and disheartening in that the rules of the game have changed.” Williams opened:
The war's now five years old. That's longer than U.S. involvement in World War II. There are currently 162,000 U.S. troops serving in Iraq. Death toll is now over 4,000. And the price tag of this war for military operations alone: nearly half a trillion dollars so far.
Before and after audio of a man yelling “bring them home!”, Miklaszewski helpfully suggested: “A protestor voiced what some Americans are demanding for U.S. troops.” In a piece by Mitchell on how the three presidential candidates approached Petraeus, she pointed how that “the Republican Senator also stumbled, briefly, by again describing al Qaeda as Shiite.” She countered: “Al Qaeda is Sunni, not Shiite. McCain immediately corrected himself.” So, if he immediately corrected himself, why highlight it?
It's no longer profitable for networks to have their own news organizations, according to CNBC's David Faber.
In the wake of the news that CBS is in negotiations to outsource its news division to CNN, Faber explained on CNBC's April 8 "Squawk on the Street" CBS's news division is a victim of an evolving business.
"The news that CBS is once again considering a deal under which it would outsource some of its newsgathering operations to CNN - certain to get those critics out there who say, ‘Oh, this is the end of news as we know it on television,'" Faber said.
"Well, if you haven't noticed, news on television ended a long time ago, other than '60 Minutes,' which is by the way a CBS program. I challenge you to come up with actual newsgathering that is taking place on the networks," he said. "That ship has sailed."
On Thursday evening, NBC Nightly News was again the first broadcast network evening newscast to highlight a Medal of Honor recipient -- only the third given for heroic action in Iraq, and the first to a sailor in that theater -- Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor. Williams observed:
This nation has a new Medal of Honor recipient, though he is not alive to accept the honor. Michael Monsoor was a U.S. Navy SEAL. He died in Ramadi in 2006 when he absorbed the blast of a grenade to save his entire unit. His commanding officer and his sister spoke today about the him and the nation's highest military honor.
Monsoor's platoon commander hailed his bravery: “He was a hero more than once and if I could cite every time he did a heroic action, he would have 35 or 50 medals to wear.”
As economic issues move to the front of the on-going presidential campaign, the mainstream media have given an increased amount of coverage to what is happening on Wall Street. However, they have portrayed Wall Street as something completely alien to what happens on "Main Street."
"Now to Wall Street, which, as you know, doesn't always like what Main Street likes, and by the end of the trading day, it was up," NBC "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams said on Oct. 31, 2007.
But something positive on Wall Street and something positive for Main Street are not mutually exclusive.
"Much of the effects of climate change have been couched in terms of if or when its effects will be felt," CBS correspondent Mark Phillips said. "Well, here there is no ‘if.' And when is now. So choices are being made. It's called managed retreat. Some areas of coastline deemed indefensible are being abandoned. Climate change is producing winners and losers, and Diana Wrightson and the others here have already lost."
It seems as though NBC is now expanding its bias to include paid supplements. In a print promotional distributed by NBC News, reporter Lee Cowan enthused, "When NBC News first assigned me to the Barack Obama campaign, I must confess my knees quaked a bit." This is the same journalist who in January famously confessed to "Nightly News" host Brian Williams that it's "almost hard to remain objective" when covering the "infectious" energy surrounding the Illinois senator. [Updated below fold with embed video from January]
Cowan's latest quote appeared in a NBC advertising section entitled "The Peacock." The first person article, which recounts Cowan's excitement over covering the Obama campaign, also featured the correspondent bubbling, "The task seemed daunting. Not only would the Illinois senator land me square in the center of rough and tumble presidential politics, but his campaign was truly historic. I wondered if I was up to the job. I wondered if I could do the campaign justice. I wondered if the experience would swallow me whole."
(The eight page spread, which featured several articles on or from NBC News personnel, appeared as a supplement to the March 23-29 edition of American Profile, a magazine distributed with newspapers across the country.) Cowan described Obama as "a whirlwind of activity, and being caught in that tornado is a challenge every day."
If there was ever an obvious conflict of interest in economic reporting, this may very well qualify.
NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell evaluated the housing crisis solution proposals of both Democratic presidential hopefuls Sens. Barack Obama (Ill.) and Hillary Clinton (N.Y.) on the March 25 "NBC Nightly News."
"Clinton was the first of the two to sound alarms about the subprime mess with a plan a year ago," Mitchell said. "Obama followed a week later with a call for a summit. Since then both have gotten more specific."
Asked by anchor Brian Williams why Hillary Clinton chose Tuesday to assert that Reverend Jeremiah Wright “would not have been my pastor,” Tim Russert declared “the setting in which she did this is particularly striking.” The Washington Bureau Chief for NBC News proceeded to marvel at how she made her comments in an interview with reporters and editors at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, owned by Richard Mellon Scaife whom Clinton's allies consider “the 'Godfather' of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.” Russert then recounted Scaife's presumed sins of questioning “the suicide of Vince Foster” and funding “investigations of Troopergate and Whitewater.” Russert pointed out:
The setting in which she did this is particularly striking. It's a newspaper in Pittsburgh owned by Richard Mellon Scaife, who is described by her allies as the 'Godfather' of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. The man who raised questions about the suicide of Vince Foster, the death of former party chairman Ron Brown, who funded investigations of Troopergate and Whitewater. It was that setting she decided to offer comments about Reverend Wright.
In all the brouhaha last week over the incendiary comments made by Barack Obama's pastor the media seemed to forget to partake in their traditional Holy Week Christian-bashing excercise. There were a few entries in the "Easter Hit Parade," like the Comedy Central show "Root of All Evil" which my boss, Brent Bozell, wrote about in a column recently, and an episode of "Law and Order" which featured another Christian-stones-someone storyline.
I suppose it's good news that there was less faith flagellation courtesy of the liberal media, and yet at the same time it's sad that I was expecting to find it at Easter time. But the fact remains that Christmas and Easter are generally times when the media attacks on Christians are more pronounced.
One week after Hillary Clinton claimed that she faced sniper fire on a trip to Bosnia — and six days after NewsBusters posted contemporaneous news footage from CBS showing that she did not — the big broadcast networks have finally jumped on the story of Hillary’s big fib. Last night, as NewsBuster’s Noel Sheppard has already noted, the CBS Evening News featured a Clinton-busting report by Sharyl Attkisson, one of the journalists who accompanied Clinton on her trip 12 years ago and who narrated the video we posted last week.
Also last night, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, who was also on the 1996 trip, filed her own report on the obvious discrepancies, and this morning all three morning shows led with how the Clinton campaign now admits her claim, “I remember landing under sniper fire...There was no greeting ceremony and we basically were told to run to her cars. Now, that is what happened,” was an accidental misstatement.
Two weeks since the ABC and NBC evening shows took multiple days before getting around to informing viewers that disgraced New York Governor Eliot Spitzer belonged to the Democratic Party -- after every ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news program last year immediately highlighted the party of Republican Senators David Vitter and Larry Craig -- Monday's broadcast network evening newscasts all failed to note, verbally or on-screen, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's party.
ABC anchor Charles Gibson announced on World News: “Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was charged today with felonies that could cost him his job and 15 years in prison.” NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams relayed how “Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick...was indicted on perjury and other charges in the wake of a sex scandal there.” (NBC also refused to tag Kilpatrick in a full story aired Friday night.) Over on Monday's CBS Evening News, fill-in anchor Harry Smith introduced a full story: “In Detroit, a sex scandal led to criminal charges today against the Mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, a married father of three.”
The Big Three Networks and Their Plan to Protect Obama (PPO)Why did it take until Thursday March 13, 2008, for the nation to begin to learn about Barack Obama's pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright? The man whose Trinity United Church of Christ Obama has attended and generously funded for seventeen years? Whom he had publicly and repeatedly cited as his mentor and had named as a campaign advisor? Whom he chose to perform his wedding and baptize his two daughters?
Because, until then, we were in the midst of Phase I -- preventative medicine -- of the media's version of campaign health care for the Senator's Presidential bid. Call it the Plan to Protect Obama (PPO).
The Reverend Wright story had been percolating beneath the surface for several years. It finally broke through to widespread dissemination last week. A picture is worth a thousand words -- moving pictures with audio of Wright's anti-American, paranoid rantings from the pulpit have finally inspired many more than that.
"Good Morning America" co-host Chris Cuomo somehow managed to make it through an entire segment on Kwame Kilpatrick, the scandal-ridden Democratic mayor of Detroit, without mentioning his political affiliation (other than a brief, non-verbal video graphic). Cuomo described Kilpatrick as the "beleaguered mayor," a "prominent politician," and, simply, "the mayor."
In contrast, while GMA's report on Kilpatrick was a rather straight forward recitation of the facts, the morning program wondered in August of 2007 if Senator Larry Craig's bathroom scandal could spell doom for the Republican Party. On August 28, 2007, guest co-host Bill Weir gravely wondered, "Is the GOP losing its grip?"
The week after it took the NBC Nightly News until the fourth day of coverage to inform viewers that disgraced then-New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is a Democrat, Friday's NBC Nightly News ran a full story on the scandalous behavior surrounding Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, but never identified his political party. Naturally, given the lack of a party identification by the mainstream media journalists, he's a Democrat. Anchor Brian Williams set up the story:
The city of Detroit is in a crisis over government and leadership. The current Mayor is just the latest Detroit Mayor elected on a promise to clean up and revitalize the city. Now he's been caught in a sex scandal, a trail of electronic messages reportedly provides the evidence, it threatens his career and then some.
Reporter Kevin Tibbles, also sans any mention of a party affiliation, outlined:
The Detroit city council votes overwhelmingly to ask the Mayor to resign. 37-year-old Kwame Kilpatrick, in his second term of the Mayor of the Motor City, is mired in financial, political, and personal scandal, but refuses to budge.
The "Big Three" networks’ evening newscasts, marking the fifth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq on Wednesday evening, all chose to air news briefs on the anti-war protests across the United States. The news briefs all aired within the first ten minutes of each program. CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric, as part of the first report on her program, used the protests as "evidence" of one of their recent poll results, that "more than half of Americans [59%] believe going to war in Iraq was a bad idea." "There are 155,000 troops in Iraq right now, and today, protesters in Washington and other U.S. cities reflected our poll. Nearly half the respondents [46%] said most U.S. troops should be pulled out within a year."
Five minutes into NBC "Nightly News," anchor Brian Williams chose to focus on the protests in Washington, DC. "There were anti-war protests today in several U.S. cities, including the nation's capital, where police arrested more than 30 people when they tried to block the entrance to the IRS, and they also tied up Connecticut Avenue, a major thoroughfare. There were also protests in New York's Times Square, downtown San Francisco, and in smaller towns as well, in places like Ohio and Vermont."
ABC’s "World News" anchor Charles Gibson, as part of his retrospective on the past five years of the Iraq war, mentioned the anti-war protests as well. "For some Americans, this is the fifth anniversary of a war they do not support. There were marches in California, and in the nation's capital, a dozen people were arrested for blocking the entrances of the Internal Revenue Service. The protesters oppose being taxed to help fund the war."
A day after Barack Obama's speech in reaction to the bigoted and hateful rants of his long-time pastor, the network evening newscasts moved on -- with only ABC briefly mentioning the topic -- while NBC Nightly News, which has run just one clip of Jeremiah Wright and on Friday had instead featured a whole story about Obama's childhood friends cheering him on, centered a Wednesday night story around “a mistake” by John McCain. Anchor Brian Williams provided an ominous plug: “Did John McCain slip, or was his mistake intentional? His choice of words making news tonight.”
Kelly O'Donnell soon proposed: “Defense and national security are central to McCain's campaign. So a mistake he repeated this week has stood out. At least three times McCain incorrectly asserted that Iran is aiding al Qaeda.” After video of Senator Joe Lieberman whispering in McCain's ear, McCain corrected himself as O'Donnell explained: “The mistake, al Qaeda is a Sunni group while Iran is a Shia nation.” O'Donnell highlighted how “Senator Obama seized on the error,” concluding with the suggestion the one comment undermined McCain's image: “Leaving McCain to defend his expertise during a trip in which he intended to showcase it.”
Reciting three quotes highlighted Tuesday night on NewsBusters (and the MRC's Wednesday CyberAlert), plus one from CNN's Campbell Brown which we missed, FNC's Brit Hume led his “Grapevine” segment Wednesday night by illustrating how “Barack Obama's speech on race yesterday played to rave reviews in much of the national media.” Hume recounted:
On NBC, the Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart said the address was, quote, "a very important gift the Senator has given the country." NBC's own Chris Matthews said it was, quote, "worthy of Abraham Lincoln" and quote "the best speech ever given on race in this country." ABC's George Stephanopoulos said Obama's refusal to renounce his highly controversial pastor was, quote, "in many ways an act of honor." And on CNN, Campbell Brown called the speech "striking" and "daring," asserting that Obama had, quote, "walked the listener through a remarkable exploration of race from both sides of the color divide, from both sides of himself."