The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts on Tuesday framed coverage of Barack Obama's speech, in reaction to the furor over the racist, paranoid and America-hating remarks of his long-time pastor, not by focusing on what it says about Obama's true views and judgment but by admiring his success in “confronting” the issue of “race in America” in an “extraordinary” speech. Indeed, both ABC and CBS displayed “Race in America” on screen as the theme to their coverage, thus advancing Obama's quest to paint himself as a candidate dedicated to addressing a serious subject, not explain his ties to racially-tinged hate speech. NBC went simply with “The Speech” as Brian Williams described it as “a speech about race.”
In short, the approach of the networks was as toward a friend in trouble and they wanted to help him put the unpleasantness behind him by focusing on his noble cause. “Barack Obama addresses the controversial comments of his pastor, condemning the words but not the man,” CBS's Katie Couric teased before heralding: “And he calls on all Americans to work for a more perfect union.” On ABC, Charles Gibson announced: “Barack Obama delivers a major speech confronting the race issue head on, and says it's time for America to do the same.” Reporting “Obama challenged Americans to confront the country's racial divide,” Gibson hailed “an extraordinary speech.”
NBC's Lee Cowan admired how “in the City of Brotherly Love, Barack Obama gave the most expansive and most intensely personal speech on race he's ever given,” adding it reflected “honesty that struck his rival Hillary Clinton.” On NBC, Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart asserted “it was a very important speech for the nation. It was very blunt, very honest” and so “a very important gift the Senator has given the country.” [Updated with Nightline]
The broadcast network evening show blackout, of Reverend Jeremiah Wright's 2001 charge that the U.S. earned the 9/11 attacks, continued Monday night as neither CBS nor NBC touched the Wright issue and ABC ran a full story which included Wright's “U.S. of K-K-K-A” hate speech and how Obama has been close to Wright for 20 years, but concluded with how “many African-Americans do not understand” the controversy since the “kind of fiery language Wright uses is not uncommon in black churches.”
The race-based, white-bashing rants may not be so uncommon, but is anti-American shouting -- about how “we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye” and so “America's chickens are coming home to roost” -- so common?
Anchor Charles Gibson set up the story from Jake Tapper by asserting Obama “is being dogged by his pastor's provocative comments.” After the “U.S. of K-K-K-A” soundbite, Tapper pointed out how “Wright has played an important role in Obama's life for 20 years.” Viewers then saw a clip of Obama from June of 2007 giving “a special shout out to my pastor” who's “a friend. And a great leader.” Following some quotes illustrating Obama's awareness a year ago of how Wright's views could prove embarrassing, Tapper ended with how such language is not unusual in black churches.
Friday's NBC Nightly News allocated a mere 22 seconds to Barack Obama's condemnation of what fill-in anchor Ann Curry vaguely described as “inflammatory remarks that his long time pastor made about Hillary Clinton and the nation,” but instead of informing viewers of any of those remarks, such as Reverend Jeremiah Wright's suggestion that the U.S. deserved 9/11, the newscast then devoted three minutes to a celebratory piece about how excited Obama's childhood friends in Indonesia are about his candidacy.
In a story which began and ended with a picture of Obama's classmates in front of huge “Good Luck Barry!” lettering, reporter Ian Williams trumpeted the wonders Obama is doing abroad: “The fact that Obama lived in Jakarta and studied at this school has really captured the popular imagination. It's already working wonders for America's battered image here.” A local commentator oozed over how “Obama's candidacy confirms the romantic ideals people like me have held since childhood that America's the land of opportunity.”
Williams concluded with how “friends remember Barry playing barefoot in the paddy fields with a real spirit of adventure,” and so now “hope there'll be no turning back on his journey to the White House. And Barry might attend their next reunion as President of the United States.”
One of the global warming community's favorite alternative energy resources is solar energy. Since it emits no greenhouse gas, it gives alarmists a warm and fuzzy feeling. However, that feeling has affected NBC's global warming reporter Anne Thompson ability to apply basic economic principles to her stories.
According to Thompson, there are two drawbacks to solar power - 1) You're at the mercy of Mother Nature for sunlight; and 2) It's drastically more expensive than fossil-fuel electricity.
"And there is the matter of price," Thompson said. "The Electric Research Power Institute says this kind of solar power is two to four times more expensive than electricity from natural gas or coal."
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, substitute NBC Nightly News anchor Ann Curry and reporter Mike Taibbi failed to identify disgraced outgoing New York Governor Eliot Spitzer as a Democrat, but on Thursday night Curry finally informed NBC viewers of the party affiliation -- a fact network journalists always consider relevant when a Republican gets caught in scandalous behavior. Curry set up a story on incoming Governor David Paterson by uttering the word she's avoided all week:
Now to the fast moving developments in the wake of the revelations that New York's Democratic Governor, Eliot Spitzer, was a client of a prostitution service. NBC's Mike Taibbi now with the man who's to take over for Spitzer on Monday.
But, reverting to her default conduct, in an item about the passing of very liberal ex-Senator Howard Metzenbaum, Curry never mentioned his ideology or party as she hailed his life as “the classic American success story” of a man who “always fought for the little guy, taking on the oil and insurance industries” while he “stuck to his populist principles.”
My colleague Brent Baker has painstakingly documented how the big three broadcast networks have gone out of their way to avoid labeling scandal-scarred New York Governor Eliot Spitzer as a “Democrat.” An examination of the fifteen ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news shows through Wednesday night finds Spitzer was called a Democrat just 20% of the time — twice on CBS, once on ABC, and never on NBC.
So how do the networks treat Republicans involved in sex scandals? Always, always as Republicans, and as problems for their party.
Last July, Louisiana Senator David Vitter’s name surfaced in the phone records of the “DC Madam,” Deborah Jean Palfrey. Over the next week, ABC talked about Vitter twice on World News and twice on Good Morning America, labeling him as a “Republican” or “conservative Republican” all four times.
For the third evening in a row Wednesday, the NBC Nightly News refused to identify Eliot Spitzer as a Democrat, but after ABC's World News failed to cite his party affiliation on Monday and Tuesday night when Elizabeth Vargas anchored, on Wednesday evening substitute anchor George Stephanopoulos finally properly tagged him: “The Democrat resigned today just two days after reports that he patronized a high-priced prostitution service.”
In contrast, fill-in NBC Nightly News anchor Ann Curry on Wednesday teased news about “New York's crusading Governor” and then led her broadcast sans any party identification:
Good evening. I'm Ann Curry, in for Brian Williams tonight. Today New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, who painted himself as a champion of ethics and moral conviction, resigned just two days after the bombshell news linking him to a prostitution ring. NBC's Mike Taibbi now joins us with more on this breathtaking fall from power. Mike?
Taibbi, just as on Monday and Tuesday, avoided informing viewers of Spitzer's party.
Democrats dialing for damsels don't get labeled with the big "D"
Changing His MindRonald Reagan often said "I did not leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me."
For floundering and foundering New York Governor Eliot Spitzer -- a twist on the Gipper's words. Spitzer didn't leave the Democratic Party: the Media just didn't see the need to mention the fact that Spitzer was - at least until noon Wednesday -- one of the most powerful Democrats in the nation.
On Monday afternoon, the Big Three Networks (NBC, ABC and CBS) and the Associated Press led the charge of the wall-to-wall coverage of the breaking news that Spitzer was involved with an interstate prostitution ring. And with near unanimity they failed to mention that Spitzer is a Democrat.
Spitzer - who since his years as the Big Apple's swashbuckling anti-capitalist Attorney General the Press has glowingly called the Champion of the Everyman -- was caught on one or more wiretaps dialing for damsels to the tune of $5,500 an hour.
Only the press can fail to see the irony of calling someone who inherited $500 million - and who hires ladies of the evening at hourly rates equal to a semester's tuition at a state university - a champion of the everyman.
Just as occurred Monday night, viewers of Tuesday's ABC and NBC evening newscasts never heard the word “Democrat” applied to New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, nor did they even put a “(D)” on screen by his name as ABC did briefly Monday. CBS didn't announce his party either on Tuesday night, but Katie Couric had done so Monday night. The ABC and NBC newscasts, however, did put “(R)” on screen over soundbites from Republicans and NBC's Mike Taibbi twice referred to the reaction from “Republican” politicians.
Fill-in ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas avoided any party tag: “New York's Governor, Eliot Spitzer, spent most of the day today huddled behind closed doors debating whether to resign after being linked to a prostitution ring.” On NBC, substitute anchor Ann Curry led: “Tonight, the investigation of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's fall from grace is broadening...”
Incredibly, in lead stories Monday night about New York Governor Eliot Spitzer being linked to a prostitution ring, neither ABC's World News nor the NBC Nightly News verbally identified Spitzer's political party. Must mean he's a liberal Democrat -- and he is. CBS anchor Katie Couric, however, managed to squeeze in a mention of his party. Last August when news of Larry Craig's arrest broke, both ABC and NBC stressed his GOP affiliation.
On ABC, the only hints as to Spitzer's party were a few seconds of video of Spitzer beside Hillary Clinton as they walked down some steps and a (D) on screen by Spitzer's name over part of one soundbite. NBC didn't even do that.
While ABC and NBC failed to cite Spitzer's political affiliation in the four minutes or so each network dedicated to the revelations, both managed to find time to applaud his reputation and effectiveness as the Empire State's Attorney General before becoming Governor. Fill-in ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas hailed how “he gained a reputation around the country for aggressively cracking down on corporate corruption. He was elected Governor with a reputation for fighting crime.” ABC reporter Dan Harris maintained “Governor Spitzer is known as a straight arrow, an ambitious overachiever...” Substitute NBC anchor Ann Curry pointed to how Spitzer's “reputation for righteously prosecuting wrongdoing gave him the nickname Eliot Ness.”
"More than a dozen lenders have pulled out of the federal student loan program, unable to raise enough money to make loans," NBC correspondent Tom Costello said. "Now - Pennsylvania, Missouri, Michigan, New Hampshire and Iowa have suspended parts or all of their student loan programs - unprecedented."
Last Tuesday, when before a John McCain campaign rally, Cincinnati radio talk show host Bill Cunningham used Barack Obama's full name and derided Obama as “the great prophet from Chicago,” NBC and ABC pounced with full stories on the “controversy.” But after over the weekend, where at an event touted as “One Million for Hillary with Gloria Steinem” the left-wing feminist icon ridiculed John McCain's years as a prisoner of war, ABC did not utter a word about the remarks while NBC on Monday gave them -- sanitized -- a few seconds. A New York Observer posting on Sunday quoted Steinem:
“Suppose John McCain had been Joan McCain and Joan McCain had got captured, shot down and been a POW for eight years. [The media would ask], 'What did you do wrong to get captured? What terrible things did you do while you were there as a captive for eight years?'” Steinem said, to laughter from the audience. McCain was, in fact, a prisoner of war for around five and a half years, during which time he was tortured repeatedly. Referring to his time in captivity, Steinem said with bewilderment, “I mean, hello? This is supposed to be a qualification to be President? I don't think so.”
On the NBC Nightly News, which had run six Cunningham soundbites, David Gregory quoted only a small portion of Steinem:
It certainly is no surprise the stock market's big decline on Friday would be the lead story for evening news programs.
But, citing an economic study from an organization with direct and verifiable ties to Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as simply a "consumer group" while not even mentioning the liberal leaning of the think-tank seemed pretty absurd even for NBC.
Yet, that's what occurred Friday evening as the NBC "Nightly News" began its broadcast:
If you haven't gotten to check out the Business & Media Institute's new weekly video blog, The Biz Flog, this week's topic is the media's shift from reporting on "recession" to all-out "depression."
Complete with old-timey piano music and grainy film, this week BMI gives you our take on the many instances when reporters have compared the current economy to a time when soup lines and the Dust Bowl carried headlines.
One year ago, liberal journalists depicted the surge of U.S. troops to Iraq as a certain failure. “A lot of people are going to go to bed tonight terrified,” MSNBC’s Chris Matthews opined just minutes after President Bush announced the policy on January 10, 2007. Other journalists were only slightly more subtle. “Many experts warn, it’s too little, too late,” NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski argued on the January 8, 2007 Nightly News. The next morning on NBC’s Today, the network’s graphic describing Iraq was “Lost Cause?”
At the same time, leading Democrats left themselves no wiggle room as they, too, denounced the surge. Senator Barack Obama called it “wrong-headed” and countered with a proposal to pull nearly all U.S. troops out of Iraq by March 2008. Senator Hillary Clinton came back from a quick trip to Iraq to declare: “I am opposed to this escalation,” while another Democratic candidate, Senator Joe Biden, blasted the troop surge as “a tragic mistake.”
They're starting to get it. The media are figuring out government meddling in U.S. energy policy is taking a toll on the American economy.
On February 20, the Labor Department reported that the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a key inflation reading, rose 0.4 percent in January, matching December's rise. Why? Increased food costs because corn is being used for ethanol.
"Farmers are replacing wheat fields with corn to meet the demand for alternative fuel, but that means higher flour prices - and in one Pennsylvania pizza shop, more expensive pies," NBC News correspondent Chris Jansing said on the February 27 "NBC Nightly News."
ABC, CBS and NBC on Wednesday night delivered laudatory tributes to the late William F. Buckley, Jr., but while ABC's Charles Gibson, as well as Katie Couric and Richard Schlesinger on CBS, stuck to the positive and his many achievements as an editor, author and TV show host, NBC anchor Brian Williams couldn't resist including a political slap from the left on the day Buckley passed away at age 82:
Buckley paid dearly for some of his words: His defense of Senator Joe McCarthy, his early views on race and remarks he made about AIDS, saying those with AIDS should be tattooed to prevent its spread.
ABC anchor Charles Gibson hailed how “Buckley loved debate. Loved to provoke. And love him or hate him, agree or disagree with him, no one could deny he was one of the country's finest minds....His message was, in essence, an intellectual war on big government. And a passion for the free market. Delivered with dazzling language and a bone-dry wit.”
During Tuesday night’s presidential debate, NBC’s Tim Russert tried to test the Democratic candidates’ basic knowledge of foreign policy, asking what they knew about the man who will almost certainly be elected president of Russia in Sunday’s elections. After Hillary Clinton gave a general answer that kept referring to “Putin’s handpicked successor,” Russert pounced: “Do you know his name?”
But if the fact that Dmitry Medvedev will assume the Russian presidency is actually important, Russert and his co-moderator, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, have utterly ignored it as journalists. A Nexis search shows just one reference to Medvedev on NBC, an April 14, 2007 story about Russia’s giant energy company, Gazprom, of which Medvedev was chairman of the board. (The story aired on a weekend, when Lester Holt, not Brian Williams, was in the anchor chair.)
With cover from John McCain, NBC and ABC on Tuesday night condemned the “caustic” and “mocking” remarks of Cincinnati radio talk show host Bill Cunningham who, on stage before an Ohio campaign appearance by McCain, dared to utter Barack Obama's middle name and call him “a hack” Chicago politician.
Though Hillary Clinton on Sunday, without upsetting journalists, ridiculed Obama with religious overtones (“Let's get unified. The sky will open. The light will come down. Celestial choirs will be singing!”), NBC's Kelly O'Donnell asserted: “Cunningham's nearly ten-minute provocative performance veered into more controversy when he parodied Obama as a religious figure.” Cunningham's supposedly offensive line: “When the great prophet from Chicago takes the stand and the world leaders who want to kill us will simply be singing Kumbaya together.” O’Donnell maintained that Cunningham's words “compelled John McCain to apologize” and she took for granted that he properly acted “to quickly undo any damage.” Damage the media assumed needed undoing.
"Critics say emissions are exactly the issue, because coal-fired power is the nation's biggest producer of CO2 emissions," Thompson said in a February 21 report from Ely, Nev. "That's why Nevada is in the center of this fight. The Ely energy center, which would sit in this valley, along with the other two proposed coal-fired plants, could more than double those greenhouse gas emissions, sending another 31 million tons into the sky."
All three broadcast network evening newscasts led Thursday night with the New York Times story alleging an improper relationship by John McCain with a female lobbyist, but questions about the journalistic standards of the newspaper were given as much consideration as the allegations against McCain. All three ran a soundbite from Rush Limbaugh denouncing the paper while ABC and CBS featured establishment media observers who castigated the Times for basing a story on the feelings of unnamed sources: Ken Auletta on ABC and Tom Rosenstiel on CBS.
“John McCain began his day answering questions about a story in the New York Times alleging an improper relationship eight years ago with a female lobbyist,” ABC anchor Charles Gibson announced before cautioning: “The story had no evidence the relationship was romantic -- only unnamed sources reportedly claiming they were convinced it might be.” With “Fit to Print?” on screen, Gibson set up a second story on how the Times article “raised as many questions about the paper and what standards of proof it would need to publish such a story as it did about the Senator.” Reporter Dan Harris began: “Today, conservative talk radio hosts accused the New York Times of a supremely cynical slam job.”
Michelle Obama proclaimed that “for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country,” but instead of putting the burden on the Obama campaign to defend her admission of a lack of pride in her nation, NBC on Tuesday night framed its coverage around Cindy McCain's “rhetoric” in issuing a “political jab” over the remark and concern over whether that “was a knock at Michelle Obama?” But at least NBC highlighted the comment from Monday. ABC's World News didn't utter a word about it while CBS's Jim Axelrod pointed out how the Obama “campaign says don't slice apart the quote to infer she's not a patriot.”
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams set up the story: “For the Republicans, the rhetoric today was also largely about words. And today it involved the wife of the frontrunner, Cindy McCain.” Kelly O'Donnell relayed how “the most memorable political jab of the day did not come” from John McCain but from Cindy McCain who declared “I'm proud of my country.” O'Donnell treated that as an attack which required justification: “Asked directly if this was a knock at Michelle Obama, John McCain steered clear.”
"And John Kilduff, who I know you speak with often, as well, Brian, he says we could see prices at the pump as high as $4 a gallon," Burnett said. "And that could be by the middle of February. So it could be anytime in the next six weeks. So that's going to be an increase, and we've seen it across the board, Brian. Commodity prices are going up, and that is causing worry for stocks."
Wednesday's NBC and CBS evening newscasts paid tribute to only the third Marine private ever, and the first since Vietnam, to be awarded the Silver Star, for heroism in the battle for Fallujah, who was killed in July during his third tour in Iraq. “At Camp Pendleton today,” NBC's Brian Williams reported at the end of his newscast, “a ceremony to honor a fallen U.S. Marine.” Williams outlined how “Corporal Sean Stokes was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, accepted by his dad for his heroism during the battle for Fallujah back in '04 when he was a private. Stokes is just the third buck private to receive the Silver Star in the past 40 years of U.S. military history, the first since the Vietnam war.”
The CBS Evening News concluded with a full story on the award to Stokes. Reporter Ben Tracy explained how Stokes was a “former athlete who chose the Marines over college after 9/11.” Noting he was “only a private,” Tracy related how “Sean stood out, often volunteering to go in first, directly in the line of fire. Wounded several times, he made it home twice.” Interspersed with reflection's from the Marine hero's father, Tracy observed that “this morning, on what would have been his 25th birthday, Sean was awarded the coveted Silver Star for courage in battle.”
Martin Fletcher, NBC News Correspondent and Tel Aviv Bureau Chief, has been known to hail Palestinians as "victims" before. He has also been known often to blame Israel for all the ills suffered by Palestinians, so Fletcher is an expert at assigning blame while excusing the behavior of Palestinians. Here is a story that fits in perfectly with Fletcher's penchant for blaming everyone but the guilty party along with extolling the supposed victimhood of the Palestinians.
Fletcher's tale starts with the pitiful story of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy who was shot in the neck by an "Israeli soldier" paralyzing him from the waist down. He was shot because he and his other young friends were throwing rocks at Israeli security forces. Apparently, those security forces had had enough of that nonsense.
However, when a presidential candidate accuses one of the leading broadcast anchors of "getting too many memos from the Clinton camp," we at NewsBusters have to take notice...while we chuckle, of course.
Here's the setup: Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama was Brian Williams' guest on NBC's "Nightly News" Monday, and was asked: "Let's talk about the Latino vote. Could you admit now, as we are one day away from super Tuesday, you perhaps didn't take it -- the shot at it seriously enough?"
Obama offered viewers the following absolutely delicious response (video available here, relevant section at minute 1:29):
After months of improving security in Iraq, the big network morning shows on Friday cited one horrific suicide bombing as proof that “mayhem and misery are back in Baghdad,” as CBS correspondent Mark Strassmann put it. But over the last five months, the broadcast networks have consistently reduced their coverage of Iraq, as if the story of American success in Iraq is less worthy of attention than their old mantra of American failure in Iraq.
Media Research Center analysts tracked all coverage of the Iraq war on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts from September 1 through January 31, and we documented a steady decline in TV coverage of Iraq that has coincided with the improving situation in Iraq. Back in September, the three evening newscasts together broadcast 178 stories about the war in Iraq; in January, that number fell to just 47, a nearly fourfold decrease. (See chart.)
The broadcast network anchors and reporters were almost as giddy as Barack Obama over liberal Democrat Ted Kennedy's endorsement of the presidential candidate. ABC, CBS and NBC all led Monday night with it and ABC's David Wright adopted campaign slogans as he enthused about how “today the audacity of hope had its rendezvous with destiny. The Kennedy clan anointed Barack Obama a son of Camelot.” CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric teased, “Passing the torch: Barack Obama is tapped as the candidate to continue the Kennedy legacy.” NBC's Lee Cowan, who earlier this month conceded “it's almost hard to remain objective” when covering Obama, showed he also has a soft spot for the Kennedys as he radiated over how “the endorsement brought the Kennedy mystique to this campaign, not in a whisper, but a roar.” Viewers then got a soundbite of Kennedy yelling during the event at American University.
[UPDATED with Nightline, 1:05 AM EST: With “New Son of Camelot” on screen over video of Obama and Ted Kennedy, anchor Terry Moran trumpeted the “new son of Camelot. Ted and Caroline Kennedy pass the torch to Barack Obama to carry the legacy of JFK.” Moran soon hailed how “the political world was transfixed by the spectacle of the most powerful Democratic family of the 20th century christening a new torch bearer for the 21st.” David Wright repeated his “the audacity of hope had its rendezvous with destiny” line before championing the “merging ideals from two different eras” as “Obama is now an adopted son of Camelot.”]
However, the glowing reception the $150-billion taxpayer-funded stimulus plan got from each of the network newscasts gave that impression last night.
"Cash is on the way," ABC's "World News" anchor Charles Gibson said. "The check is in the mail, or it will be to 117 million Americans. The president and congressional leaders reached agreement on a $150-billion economic stimulus package today. When passed by Congress, the package will result in the distribution of $100 billion to individuals and families. And it will mean businesses will get $50 billion in tax breaks."
Meacham appeared on Comedy Central's January 21 "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and told viewers the media gear reporting toward conflict.
"I absolutely believe that the media is not ideologically driven, but conflict driven," Meacham said. "If we have a bias it's not that people are socially liberal, fiscally conservative or vice versa. It is that we are engaged in the storytelling business. And if you tell the same story again and again and again - it's kind of boring."