In interviews aired Monday night, NBC's Brian Williams slobbered over Barack Obama while CBS's Katie Couric told John McCain the surge in Iraq has not been a success and pressed Mitt Romney to apologize for his negative ads. Riding on a bus in New Hampshire the day before the Granite state's primary, Williams showed Obama the Newsweek with the Democratic candidate on the cover 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?”
This week's Newsweek cover has a picture of Obama with an Obama quote: “Our time for change has come.” The headline over the cover story by Richard Wolfe, a frequent guest of MSNBC's Keith Olbermann: “Inside Obama's Dream Machine.” The subhead hailed Obama as “an icon of hope.” Echoing that theme, Williams later observed how “in his stump speech, he now says 'we' instead of 'I.' The implication: What happened in Iowa was the start of a movement.”
Journalists often fret about Big Business. Yet their coverage leans so pro-union that they won't give the business side of the story - even when they ARE the business.
The writers' strike has cost the networks millions in lost ad revenue from the lack of new primetime and late-night shows. But now that late night lives again, the coverage is all about "awareness" of the writers' guild and the strike.
Once the late-night comedy shows returned January 2, a new controversy arose: guests who dared to cross the picket line to appear on the writer-less shows. One of those was Baptist preacher and GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.
"I don't think Jesus would cross the picket line, no, I'm almost positive Jesus would be on our side," one striking writer said to CBS's January 3 "Early Show."
On Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, Andrea Mitchell showcased “a lifelong Republican, who twice voted for George Bush, now canvassing for Obama” as a “precinct captain” in Iowa. In an interview two months ago, however, Monica Green listed Ronald Reagan as the last Republican President with whom she “identified” and, asked whether she'd vote for Reagan if he were running against Barack Obama today, she equivocated as she implied Reagan was too anti-communist: “You mean if he was running against Obama today? Oh my goodness. That's a good question...His views on communism were probably not the view I would appreciate today. I've got a much more global perspective today, and Obama touches that.”
Mitchell and NBC producers hardly stumbled upon Green by accident since the official Barack Obama campaign site features a video of Green as one of its “Republicans for Barack.” In the NBC story, Mitchell cued up Green to explain how she rationalizes to her kids her party change: “In the beginning, they would call me and say, 'Who are you? You raised us to be Republicans. I don't understand.' And I just keep saying, 'Look at the problems in the world, and look at who you think is going to be able to solve these problems?'”
On Monday's "NBC Nightly News," correspondent Mike Taibbi oddly suggested that Barack Obama could be considered an "independent" or centrist politician as he included the liberal Senator as one of several politicians with an "independent streak" with whom New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been associated. Taibbi: "Bloomberg was a long-time Democrat, turned Republican mayor, turned Independent, who has kept company with others with an independent streak, from Senators Joe Lieberman and Barack Obama to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger." Such a juxtaposition seems especially out of place in light of National Journal's 2006 vote ratings which found that Obama had a more liberal voting record than all but nine of his Senate colleagues. (Transcript follows)
A “war on terror” is also a war on democracy? On Thursday’s NBC Nightly News, the broadcast closed with substitute anchor Lester Holt asking reporter Jim Maceda for his thoughts on the day’s top story, the assassination of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. Maceda relayed that Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf would probably be saying “I told you so,” as he had warned against Bhutto holding a rally in the park in Rawalpindi. After the death, Maceda expected that Musharraf would “continue his crackdown on political rallies, on liberties, on protests, basically on democracy, all of that in the name of heightened security and Musharraf’s war on terror.”
MRC’s Kristine Lawrence found the item and offered the transcript:
According to MasterCard SpendingPulse, retail sales were up 3.6 percent during the holiday season - 2.4 percent excluding gas prices. But because it's not as big an increase as recent years have produced, the media reported it as bad news.
On NBC's "Nightly News," reporter Savannah Guthrie announced a "dramatic" 2.4 percent decrease in women's clothing sales. She didn't think the same percentage increase was "dramatic," however. Instead, she referred to the overall sales increase as "disappointing."
Other media labeled the figures "dismal," "small," "weak," "bleak" and "a clear sign that the economy is slowing down." Most made sure to point out, like "Good Morning America's" Ryan Owens, that the increase is "the smallest in four years."
On Friday's "Countdown," viewers were treated to a retrospective of MSNBC host Keith Olbermann's series of "Special Comment" attacks on conservatives, featuring four of his favorites from the year 2007. An announcer teased the show glorifying Olbermann while intermixing complimentary quotes from various media with clips of Olbermann reading his "Special Comments." The announcer read a quote from "Playboy" calling the MSNBC host the "truth teller in chief," and a quote from the "Akron Beacon Journal" claiming that he is "the one journalist actually working to save the democracy." Among the quotes from Olbermann featured in the teaser was the MSNBC host's charge that "the presidency of George W. Bush has now devolved into a criminal conspiracy to cover the ass of George W. Bush." (Transcript follows)
Nothing is deadlier to a campaign than a rumor that a candidate might be dropping out. But NBC has seen fit to suggest that Rudy Giuliani might be withdrawing from the presidential race based on what it itself calls "speculation" in the blogosphere.
NBC Nightly News weekend anchor Lester Holt interviewed John Harwood on this evening's edition.
LESTER HOLT: Let's turn to Rudy Giuliani. He's had a health scare, he's had a drop in the polls. You've seen it in the blogosphere: a lot of speculation as to whether he'll stay in this race. What do you think?
Viewers of ABC's World News on Tuesday night learned of good news in the Pentagon's latest quarterly report on conditions in Iraq, but the positive developments went unnoted on CBS while NBC, the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, AP and McClatchy all stressed the negatives in the status report. ABC anchor Charles Gibson pointed out that “in the past, these reports have offered a brutally negative assessment” but the new one “shows real progress, across the board. On security, the report says weekly IED attacks have dropped 68 percent since June. The number of U.S. troop deaths from IEDs fell to the lowest level since January 2006.” Gibson proceeded to cite lower inflation and a boost in electricity production.
Wednesday's New York Times turned that into: “Pentagon Says Services in Iraq Are Stagnant.” USA Today headlined an AP dispatch in Wednesday's edition, “Pentagon: Transition to Iraqi security forces lags.” The Washington Post's story: “Iran Continues to Support Shiite Militias in Iraq, Pentagon Says.” The Washington bureau of McClatchy Newspapers, which infamously headlined an October story, “As Violence Falls in Iraq, Cemetery Workers Feel the Pinch,” headlined a Tuesday story: “Despite drop in violence, Pentagon finds little long-term progress in Iraq.” The Los Angeles Times provided an exception to the downbeat spin with an article which echoed what ABC stressed: “Pentagon reports security gains in Iraq.”
As Eat the Press has reported, NBC Nightly News has a famous new voice pitching Brian Williams at the program's introduction every night. It’s the actor Michael Douglas, best known as Aaron Sorkin’s liberal "American President" and as the evil Gordon Gekko character in the Oliver Stone Decade of Greed movie "Wall Street."
Douglas announces: "From NBC News world headquarters in New York, this is NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams."
It seemed a little under modulated on Debut Night, or maybe it just doesn’t match up to the James Earl Jones "This....is CNN" sonorous standard. But it’s easy to remember how much all the networks loved the Gordon Gekko line to sum up those greed-head Ronald Reagan 1980s, as we wrote in our newsletter at the time:
Brian Williams Veteran journalist who became anchor of NBC Nightly News in 2004, replacing Tom Brokaw.
My nominee for 2007 Person of the Year is a woman--a woman with a history of abuse, a woman who has never run for elective office, someone we all know, someone who makes her presence known on a daily basis in all our lives and, for my money, is better than any male alternative. That woman is Mother Earth. I think the environment is the compelling issue of our time.
Yes, Time really felt the need to inform readers that Williams anchors the "Nightly News," although he's done so for three years now.
The Associated Press is reporting a second Hillary Clinton campaign volunteer has been shown the door for furthering rumors about rival Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) being a "Muslim possibly intent on destroying the United States.":
The Clinton campaign has decried the rumors as offensive and outrageous, and last week forced volunteer Jones County coordinator Judy Rose to resign after learning that she forwarded a such an e-mail on Nov. 21. But it turns out Rose wasn't the only one.
Linda Olson, a volunteer coordinator in Iowa County, had forwarded a similar version on Oct. 5, without comment, to 11 people. One of the recipients was Ben Young, a regional field director for Democrat Chris Dodd's campaign, who provided a copy to The Associated Press on Sunday.
As NewsBusters editor Brent Baker noted in an October 31 post, NBC "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams tossed Obama a softball at an interview on the matter of the Illinois Democrat being subtly "swift-boated" about his religion.
Williams hinted that Republicans were most likely to unfairly smear Obama, but given the fact that TWO Hillary Clinton workers have been given the boot thus far, what are the chances Williams will apply the left-wing "swift-boating" canard to Hillary Clinton? (emphasis mine):
Asked by NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt on Sunday evening about how a new MSNBC/Mason-Dixon poll found that Iraq is not “the dominating issue” as “the economy is immensely important to voters,” Tim Russert suggested Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani will have “to re-calibrate” for “a bread and butter election” since “with the surge in Iraq and the level of American deaths declining, it is off the front pages.” Iraq is also now of less interest to the television networks. A MRC study released last week documented how Iraq stories on the three broadcast network evening newscasts fell from 178 in September to 68 during November, “with only eleven (16%) actually from the war zone itself.”
The mainstream media have been fawning over the atheist inspired film "The Goldan Compass" and ignoring the fact that the author (upon which the movie is based), Phillip Pullman, has bragged about killing God in his novels. Well, according to CNN, the real focus should be on the fact that the film raises "awareness" about the plight of polar bears. No, really.
In 2007, ABC's investigative reporter Brian Ross has provided hard-hitting looks at Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani. He's focused only one such segment on a Democrat, Hillary Clinton. And, unsurprisingly, each of his investigations into a GOP candidate has been accompanied by snarky, sarcastic comments.
Taking their lead from liberal Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy, the three broadcast networks all screamed “cover-up” Friday night as ABC and NBC led with Democratic complaints about the CIA destroying video of some interrogations of terrorists while CBS made it the second story -- though Katie Couric teased it with “Cover-Up?” on screen under video of Kennedy. “Tonight, charges of a cover-up by the CIA,” Charles Gibson teased World News, “why were videotapes of its secret interrogations of al-Qaeda suspects destroyed?” Gibson set up his lead story by asserting “congressional leaders are in an uproar tonight over a secret they were never told, and will now never know,” as if leaders of both parties were “in an uproar.” In the subsequent story, however, all four soundbites from members of the House or Senate came from Democrats (two of the four from Kennedy). Couric got it correct as she highlighted how “today Democrats demanded a criminal investigation.”
Brian Williams teased the NBC Nightly News: “On the broadcast tonight, was it a CIA cover-up? New fallout after revelations the CIA may have destroyed videotape evidence in the U.S. war on terror.”
Checking in Wednesday night from Tehran with Iranian reaction to what anchor Brian Williams described as the new intelligence assessment that “Iran is not developing nuclear weapons after all,” NBC correspondent Ali Arouzi held up a newspaper to show how it portrayed President Bush “as Pinocchio.” Arouzi described crowds cheering President Ahmadinejad's railing against lies spread by the U.S. and how the state media are calling President Bush “a liar and a warmonger.” On the upside for Iranians, Arouzi found the “many” who “have long been worried that the United States will attack Iran over its nuclear ambitions” now have “a sense of relief that that won't happen.”
Back in September, when General David Petraeus reported that the surge in U.S. troops had improved the security situation in Iraq, the big three broadcast networks were openly skeptical.
"Insurgent attacks are down from 170 in January to 120 in August," ABC's Terry McCarthy noted on the September 9 World News Sunday, the day before Petraeus testified before Congress. "But that is still four attacks a day, on average. Iraq remains a very violent place....Life in central Iraq is still deadly dangerous."
Reports on Tuesday's broadcast network evening newscasts all highlighted concerns the new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which concluded Iran stopped working on its nuclear weapons program in 2003, will reduce international pressure on Iran. But just a couple of minutes after CBS's Jim Axelrod asserted that “maintaining an international coalition to confront Iran will no doubt be trickier now,” CBS's Elizabeth Palmer contended from London that pressure to impose sanctions, “led by the European leaders,” remains “huge” since “they've always said, 'look, the point is to stop Iran enriching uranium that could be one of the ingredients for a bomb.' And they believe that sanctions could be very effective in finally curbing that program which remains very active as we speak.”
Like Axelrod, NBC's David Gregory noted that “the President is making the case that the international community cannot let up on Iran,” but “the question is whether a skeptical public and skeptical international community will listen?” ABC's Martha Raddatz related how the White House is “concerned” and “I've been in touch with some diplomats. The ones who have to go overseas and say please join us with these sanctions. There is definite concern...”
Over the past two months, it has been on the way according to the media. But as of December 3, the price of crude has decreased - not increased as predicted.
"Crude briefly cracked $90 a barrel for the first time and analysts say that will soon trickle down to the pump," Alexis Christoforous said on the October 20 "CBS Evening News." "Some predict gas will jump $0.20 or more in the coming weeks. And if crude tops $100 a barrel, they say we could be looking at $5 a gallon."
On his Daily Nightly blog, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams sent his happy-birthday wishes to liberal comedian Jon Stewart. In a Wednesday blog post playfully titled "Where Have You Gone, Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz?", Williams mourned how the writers' strike has taken Stewart away from his "vital comedic work" trashing Bush. Just like Tom Brokaw, Brian Williams thinks Stewart is an American treasure:
The serious fact is that Jon Stewart and his colleagues in comedy -- along with the writers who support them -- serve an invaluable purpose by skewering the pompous and deflating the egos of the high and mighty. They function almost as a separate branch of government. We need them, and we miss them.
Three weeks ago, when NBC anchor Brian Williams interviewed Rudy Giuliani, Williams raised Giuliani's closeness to Bernard Kerik and pressed him on Iraq as he pointed out how 2007 had become “the bloodiest year” in the war, but in an interview with John Edwards aired Tuesday night, Williams stuck to softballs and didn't bring up the indictment of a major Edwards donor or push Edwards about how the “surge” in Iraq he rejected is working. The two interviews are the most recent in the “Making of the President” series on the NBC Nightly News.
In the taped session with Republican presidential candidate Giuliani aired on November 6, Williams inquired: “Let's talk about your friend Bernard Kerik. Press reports are, as recently as today, that he could be a few days away from indictment, perhaps. When was the last time, first of all, that you spoke with him?” And on Giuliani supporting the war: “We just learned today '07 is the bloodiest year in Iraq. What would you do in Iraq starting today?”
But with Democratic candidate Edwards Tuesday night, Williams stuck to the horse race and sympathetic personal issues, wondering about the impact of Oprah Winfrey -- “a formidable celebrity” -- campaigning for Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton's contention she will be the nominee, the status of his wife's health and Williams cued him up to elucidate his foreign policy expertise: “If you had to pick one, what one foreign country, currently, keeps John Edwards up at night?”
“There is a noticeable trend under way. A growing stream of Iraqis who left to escape the killing, many of them going to Syria, now reversing their migration,” anchor Brian Williams highlighted Tuesday evening as the NBC Nightly News became the first broadcast network evening newscast to air a full report on the trend.
From Baghdad, reporter Tom Aspell showcased a mother who exclaimed: “I'm so excited” and “I can't wait to get back.” Aspell explained: “Though safer, life in Syria turned out to be hard. $300 a month rent and food for the family of seven wiped out their savings. So when the Iraqi government offered free bus tickets to Baghdad, today's opportunity was too good to miss.” Adding the caveat that a safer Iraq is not the main motivator, Aspell noted: “A recent UN survey at registration centers found most Iraqi refugees are returning home not because Iraq is any safer, but because they're running out of money, and Syria is clamping down on visas.” Aspell, however, acknowledged upbeat trends: “Refugees coming back to Baghdad are going to see a lot of changes. There are more people in the streets, shops are open and traffic everywhere.” Though Aspell pointed out how “it is still a dangerous city. There are kidnappings, shootings and bomb blasts every day,” another mother, nonetheless, decided: “Thank God we returned and found the situation better than when we left.”
In the musty but hallowed halls of the Old Media, the first item for target practice is often the New Media, the ones formed and made popular by the atrocious biases of their predecessors. The Old Media continue watching their numbers bleed away; continue to paint themselves as fair and balanced, despite the preponderance of evidence to the contrary; and continue to smear the New Media, especially talk radio, as the divisive haters and fact-manglers ruining civil discourse in America.
Former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw is on the publicity tour for his new book "Boom!" about the 1960s. On the November 26 Laura Ingraham show, when he was challenged with his soundbite broadsiding talk radio as "instantly jingoistic and savagely critical" of war protesters, Brokaw quickly put his anti-radio rant back into rotation.
He suggested incivility was a "big cancer" on America, and talk radio is the number one tumor. Front and center in Brokaw’s pathology was Limbaugh: "My problem with the whole spectrum is there is not -- you know what Rush’s, what his whole drill is. He doesn’t want to hear another point of view. Except his."
Remember when you were a kid and all you had to do was cry "wolf" to get your parent or guardian to come to your aid? Well, apparently that doesn't work anymore.
Thanksgiving air travel went well; in fact it went so well it prompted CNN anchor Rob Marciano to exclaim, "Maybe the media sufficiently scared everybody."
CNN's "American Morning" and NBC's "Nightly News" reported the good news on Thanksgiving air travel, with CNN's Kiran Chetry saying it "wasn't so bad" and NBC's Amy Robach calling it a "relatively easy experience."
But both broadcasts forgot an important detail: military air space opened up by President Bush along the East Coast.
ABC's "World News Sunday" gave credit where credit was due - but left out a key point.
"Those express lanes, allowing flights to detour through military air space along the East Coast, also worked," said ABC's Jeremy Hubbard, forgetting to mention that Bush had authorized the air traffic change.
Finally catching up with ABC and NBC, the night before Thanksgiving the CBS Evening News turned to chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan for a look at how conditions are improving in Iraq. But the story from Logan, who just over a month ago insisted that “we're doing extremely badly,” was more cynical and foreboding than more upbeat reports aired Thanksgiving night on ABC and NBC when CBS's newscast was bumped for football.
Fill-in anchor Russ Mitchell noted “some signs perhaps that conditions are improving. Nationwide, the U.S. military says terror attacks have fallen 55 percent since the summer.” Logan began with how “the sounds of celebration echo on the streets of Baghdad's deadly Adamiyah neighborhood for the first time since the U.S. invasion,” but in explaining that “the U.S. now fights alongside their old Sunni enemy” she said the U.S. “calls them volunteers” while “some people call them America's militia.” Explaining how local Sunni women are helping the U.S., Logan stressed how “it's so dangerous to be seen working for the U.S. that many of these women hide their identity cards.” Logan ominously warned: “The U.S. can't keep paying and protecting the Sunni volunteers forever. And if it doesn't transition into the Iraqi police, and the Iraqi government doesn't take it on, that's the danger....A danger that could send the Sunnis back to war, this time with nothing left to lose.”
During an appearance on CNN's "Reliable Sources" on Sunday, former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw pointed out that before the invasion of Iraq, even "people who were critical of the war" thought that Saddam Hussein "had weapons of mass destruction," as he responded to criticism that the media were not aggressive enough about challenging President Bush before the Iraq invasion. And while commenting on racial issues, giving his view that "we need to have a dialogue in this country" about race, Brokaw lamented the problems posed by "political correctness" which means "you're in danger of being a racist if you go against the merits of some issues and just try to look at it objectively." Brokaw added: "Within the black culture, there's a fear about speaking out, about what some people see as wrong, because they say, don't go there, you know, it will only hurt our people." (Transcript follows)
I was the recipient today of several emails from well-intentioned people, telling me I was being attacked in parts of the blogosphere for something I wrote and said on the air in last night's broadcast. It was a closing piece about Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip celebrating their 60th anniversary. I noted this accomplishment, especially in this era when, as I put it, marriage seems "under attack" as an institution. My meaning? Our national divorce rate, which is currently somewhere between 40 and 50 percent. Others took it upon themselves to decide that I was somehow attacking gay marriage. The simple fact is that nothing could have been further from my mind, as many others easily understood. In fact, one comment shared with me today came from a respected member of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, who said, "It seemed to me he was talking about the sky-high heterosexual divorce rates. Marriage IS under attack -- by straight people. It had nothing to do with the gay marriage movement."