On Thursday's NBC Today, White House correspondent Peter Alexander promoted the first public comments from Scott Prouty, the bartender who secretly recorded Mitt Romney's 47% comments during the 2012 presidential race: "Even today some political observers insist without that 47% tape, we might actually be talking about President Mitt Romney these days. Instead, the infamous comments marked what was really a campaign game-changer. And now months later, the man behind that tape has finally come forward." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the report that followed, Alexander highlighted portions of a Prouty's interview with MSNBC host Ed Schultz on Wednesday's The Ed Show and whitewashed the bartender's obvious left-wing ideology made apparent in the exchange: "Speaking publicly for the first time Wednesday, Prouty, who says he's a registered independent...[said] he arrived at the dinner that night with an open mind."
While NBC and CBS both highlighted a quote from an anonymous senior White House official labeling President Obama's recent budget meetings with members of Congress "a joke," ABC managed to leave the controversial remark out of its coverage of the budget negotiations, with Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos even failing to ask the President about it in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.
In a National Journal article posted Tuesday morning, Ron Fournier recounted: "'This is a joke. We're wasting the president's time and ours,' complained a senior White House official who was promised anonymity so he could speak frankly. 'I hope you all (in the media) are happy because we're doing it for you.'"
Introducing a report on Monday's NBC Nightly News about a New York City ban on large sugary drinks being overturned by a New York State Supreme Court judge, anchor Brian Williams touted how Mayor Michael Bloomberg "is saying this isn't over yet."
In the report that followed, correspondent Rehema Ellis proclaimed: "In a city of more than 8 million, where health officials say the obesity epidemic is responsible for more than 5,000 deaths a year, the Mayor says his fight to make New Yorkers healthier will continue."
In a report on Monday's NBC Today about declining penguin populations in Antarctica, correspondent Kerry Sanders didn't take long to lay the blame on man-made climate change: "Penguins are most certainly the ambassadors to the bottom of the world....But the ambassadors are also sounding an alarm....ten of the world's 18 penguin species are in trouble....The ice that dominates this landscape is melting faster than ever before." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Sanders fretted to biologist Fabrice Genevois: "Is that a canary in the coal mine for us as humans?" Genevois agreed: "Yeah, I mean that could be the canary in the coal mine, exactly." After hyping data that "2012 was the hottest year ever on record," Sanders posed this question: "So if the ice is melting in some parts because of our use of fossil fuels, because of global warming, what are we supposed to do?" He then informed viewers that he consulted scientists who found the solution: "...we can do something like just start carpooling."
Sexy underwear might be on your 13-year-old daughter’s wish list this Spring. Popular lingerie chain Victoria’s Secret recently launched a spring line aimed for pre-teens and young teenagers. The risqué brand is no stranger to using sex to sell, but this new move is causing many parents to question whether this is appropriate for young girls.
The company currently has a line called “Pink” aimed for the college market, but this new campaign called “Bright, Young Things” would be aimed at a much younger crowd. SF Gate reports that the collection includes, “lace back cheeksters with the word “Wild” on the back, to a lace trim thong with “Call Me” on the front, to green-and-white polka-dot hipsters reading “Feeling Lucky?”
Introducing a brief report on Friday's NBC Today about the funeral proceedings for socialist Venezuelan strong man Hugo Chavez, news reader Natalie Morales announced: "In Venezuela, a hero's send-off today for Hugo Chavez, a harsh critic of the U.S. who ruled for 14 years." The headline on screen during the segment read: "Saluting Chavez; World Leaders in Venezuela for President's Funeral."
Correspondent Mark Potter, reporting from Caracas, noted that Chavez would "lie in state for another seven days so more Venezuelans can pay their respects" after "thousands and thousands of people stood in a mile-long line for the chance to quickly file past the casket." Potter added: "Chavez's body eventually will be preserved, much like those of historic communist figures Lenin and Mao, for future public display in a special tomb."
On Friday's NBC Today, fill-in co-host Lester Holt hyped unfounded speculation surrounding the abdication of Pope Benedict XVI: "More than a week after his resignation became official, there are still a lot of controversial theories about why Pope Benedict XVI stepped down. NBC's chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel is looking into them at the Vatican." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Previewing a report for Rock Center, Engel proclaimed: "What we still don't know, not definitively anyway, is why Pope Benedict decided to retire....[Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi] exposed some of the Vatican's most guarded secrets. A scoop seen in Italy as big as Watergate. Italians call it 'Vatileaks.'"
On Wednesday and Thursday, two of the Big Three networks ballyhooed how the Arkansas state legislature overrode Governor Mike Beebe's veto of a pro-life bill that outlaws abortion once the unborn baby's heartbeat is detected. Scott Pelley hyped "the most restrictive abortion law in the country" on Wednesday's CBS Evening News, echoing the New York Times' label of the new law – "the country's most restrictive ban on abortion".
Natalie Morales used nearly identical language to Pelley on Thursday's Today on NBC. ABC punted on covering the move by Arkansas state legislators on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning newscasts. By contrast, Norah O'Donnell didn't use such language during her news brief on the story on Thursday's CBS This Morning:
It is well-established that the broadcasts networks covered rising gas prices different under President George W. Bush’s administration than they did President Barack Obama, in tone and even the amount of coverage.
In addition to fueling discontent with many gas price reports, one of the networks’ frequent suggestions for lowering gas prices during the Bush years was for the federal government to release oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), a 727 million barrel emergency supply of oil stored in salt caverns in the Gulf states. These same media outlets have been much less insistent about Obama releasing oil from the SPR, and were quicker to praise him when he did.
In a report from the Vatican on Thursday's NBC Today, correspondent Keir Simmons fretted over Church officials limiting press access to cardinals as they prepare to elect the next Pope in Conclave: "The U.S. cardinals have been told to stop talking, to close ranks. Since Monday, they've been holding news conferences....The last, abruptly cancelled before it began, the Vatican imposing immediate clamp down in spite of hopes that the Church will modernize."
Introducing the segment, co-host Matt Lauer declared: "...secrecy has become a top priority for Vatican officials." A sound bite was featured in the report of Reuters Vatican senior correspondent Phil Pullella ranting: "I think it will backfire because it shows fear, it shows fear of the truth, it shows fear of dealing with the outside world."
ABC's World News on Wednesday and Good Morning America on Thursday offered confusing, incomplete and brief explanations for why Rand Paul filibustered John Brennan, Barack Obama's Central Intelligence Agency nominee. According to GMA news reader Josh Elliott, "Paul was protesting the Obama administration's use of drone strikes against Americans." [Video of the terse explanations can be found below.]
World News anchor Diane Sawyer insisted the "Tea party firebrand" was opposing "the use of drones against U.S. citizens." This is hardly a full explanation for ABC's viewers. On the Today show, Chuck Todd produced a more accurate description: "[Paul] decided to filibuster the confirmation of CIA director John Brennan in an attempt to get the White House to once and for all promise to never target Americans with drones on U.S. soil." The "on U.S. soil" part is key. ABC allowed only news briefs on the filibuster. CBS and NBC offered full reports.
In an interview on Monday's Today with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and his co-author Clint Bolick about their new book, Immigration Wars, co-host Matt Lauer seized Bush's critical words for fellow Republicans: "...this is an alarm to your party. You called Republicans 'tone deaf and hostile to immigrants and Hispanics,' you fault the party for being unwilling to expand the base, and you warn that Republicans face, your word, 'extinction' if they continue to alienate Hispanics. Is this damage that was caused and has been inflicted, whether self or not, something that can be repaired in time for 2016?"
Lauer began the segment by wondering: "Your brother [George W. Bush] won 44% of the Hispanic vote. By contrast, Governor Romney won 27%. 71% went to President Obama. Was it Governor Romney's fault or the party's fault?" Bush replied: "I think both. Governor Romney put himself in a box, I think, in the primary, by trying to out-conservative some very good conservative candidates, and never really recovered from it."
[Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Good Morning America as airing the Brandi Hitt story. Her piece was posted on GMA's website, but did not air on the program.] ABCNews.com on Wednesday greeted the death of Hugo Chavez by avoiding the word “socialist.” Instead, journalist Brandi Hitt touted the repressive leader as someone who “appeared to never back down from a challenge.” The reporter never mentioned Chavez’s crackdown on free speech or democracy. Instead, she featured a woman in the streets of Venezuela gushing, “He’s a man that cared about us…He did not give anything to me, but he gave it to my people.”
Over on Today, NBC’s Mark Potter offered this friendly description of the individual who made friends with Iranian dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: “Many here were still surprised when he died, in part because of his larger-than-life personality.” Potter announced that crowds in Caracas were chanting “Chavez lives” and “the struggle continues.” Both Today and Good Morning America made sure to play footage of Chavez’s 2006 appearance at the United Nations. There, the authoritarian leaded mocked George W. Bush as “the devil.”
During a panel discussion on Tuesday's NBC Today about an elderly woman being denied CPR at an assisted living facility and later dying, pundit Donny Deutsch immediately worried about the health care expense that may have been incurred if the woman had lived: "It's obviously a very sad story, but it really brings up, I think, a larger issue that we've got to get our arms around, that 25% of the health care costs are against people in their last year of their life, the 4 or 5% of people, keeping people alive." [Watch the video after the jump]
Deutsch suggested it was time to shift priorities: "..we maybe need to give hard looks that some of the procedures being done to extend lives six weeks, eight weeks, ten weeks, that maybe that money could go to saving little babies." NBC chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman agreed: "I hope this a national conversation about death and dying." Moments later, she demanded that there be no investigation into the death of the 87-year-old denied CPR: "I'm sorry, I hope this is one time where the lawyers and the police stay the hell out of it."
During a panel discussion on Tuesday's NBC Today about whether websites should prevent people from commenting anonymously in order to reduce offensive rhetoric, attorney Star Jones made an over-the-top comparison: "I equate it a little bit to what the KKK used to do, in terms of being under the mask....Well, the mask of the web is giving anonymity to these kinds of people, and it's time to take the hoods off." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Fellow pundit Donny Deutsch proclaimed: "I actually think any media outlet that allows that [anonymous comments] is being irresponsible."
In an interview with left-wing MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie used dire language to describe the current budget sequester: "It was supposed to be something that forced both sides to the table, mutually assured destruction. Cuts that were so bad they would never go into effect. Here we are in the sequester era. How does this end?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Maddow responded by turning up the hype even further: "In Prohibition, the government came up with the brilliant idea that to stop people from drinking, they would put poison in industrial alcohol....what they did was poison a lot of people. This [sequester] is the same kind of thing." Guthrie seized on the comparison: "And part of the effect though is this poison, to borrow your metaphor, it's not a poison that kills you overnight. Apparently it's a slow, rolling poison."
CNN's Dana Bash fact-checked President Obama's falsehood about the sequester on Friday, but the major networks didn't exactly follow CNN's lead in reporting the distortion that Capitol Hill janitors and police would receive a pay cut because of the sequester.
In his Friday press conference, Obama claimed, "They're going to have less pay, the [Capitol Hill] janitors, the security guards. They just got a pay cut." Shortly after that, CNN's Bash obtained from the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms that the workers would not receive a pay cut, just a limit on overtime pay. NBC ignored the distortion on its weekend newscasts, while CBS and ABC reported it one time each.
In an interview with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush on Monday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer couldn't understand why the American people didn't buy into the White House and media hype about how devastating the budget sequester would be: "The cuts went into effect Friday night, although they roll out over a long period of time. And yet, I'm surprised there hasn't been more outrage on the part of the general public." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Lauer offered possible explanations: "Do you think that's because people are simply numb to this by now, the dysfunction of Washington, or do you think there's a little case of crying wolf here and they don't believe how severe the impact's going to be?" Bush replied: "Well, there was a lot of crying wolf." Lauer quickly tried to spread the blame to Republicans: "On both sides?" Bush promptly dismissed that notion: "No. I think the President kind of led the charge to say that widows and orphans were going to be out on the street."
“Deadline day. Hours, now, until massive government cuts go into effect that could impact every American. Jobs vaporizing. Flights delayed. Even criminals walking free.” That’s the call to panic with which ABC’s Josh Elliot greeted viewers on the March 1 Good Morning America. Elliot’s frenzied tone, on the day sequestration was going into effect, was typical of the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) network coverage of Washington’s most recent fiscal debate.
MRC analysts reviewed all of the 88 sequestration stories, from when coverage began on February 14 through March 1 when the “cuts” took effect, and found 58 (66 percent) of them advanced the most horrific Obama administration talking points. Another 10 offered the same scary forecasts but at least included the skeptical view that the sequestration reductions weren’t that big and their effects were being overhyped. (Videos after the jump)
Reacting to the contentious exchange between the Obama White House and the Washington Post's Bob Woodward, on Friday's NBC Today, Meet the Press moderator David Gregory saw the conflict as part of a "larger issue": "...the President does not particularly like the Washington press corps. And I think that feeling is mutual in a lot of respects....there's not a great relationship between that Washington establishment and the President." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Gregory began by explaining: "All administrations push back hard, especially when they're dealing with a high-octane reporter and a top-notch reporter like Bob Woodward....and that's not a tension that's bad, okay? People should want that out of a press corps..." He then sympathized with White House: "...a lot of the President's advisers are frustrated that they feel they don't get the credit they deserve for the willingness to compromise they see on the President's end, that they do not see reciprocated on the part of Republicans."
One week after Politico declared President Obama to be a "puppet master" for his ability to manipulate media coverage, on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Willie Geist was a willing participant in the string pulling as he conducted a fawning interview with outgoing White House speechwriter Jon Favreau: "[Obama] calls Favreau his mind reader....the departing speechwriter takes us inside his life as the voice of the President."
With a headline on screen declaring "Words That Made History," Geist touted how Favreau "spent the last eight years taking hand scribbled notes...and turning them into soaring speeches for Barack Obama." Geist gushed: "The two have been inseparable writing partners since Favreau joined then-Senator Obama in 2005."
In an exclusive interview with The Washington Post's Bob Woodward on Friday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer belittled the veteran journalist for daring to reveal a contentious exchange with White House adviser Gene Sperling: "I'm a little surprised you've gone public with this. I mean, these kinds of high-energy, high-octane, high-emotion conversations and debates happen all the time between government officials and the people who cover them. You've felt the heat before. Why did you go public with this one?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
The Today show on Thursday allowed a scant 16 seconds, out of a possible four hours, to the claim by veteran journalist Bob Woodward that the Obama White House is trying to intimidate him and attack his coverage of the sequester cuts. The NBC program also avoided using the word "threat."
ABC's Good Morning America gave the most coverage to the battle, offering a full report and a news brief. [See video below. MP3 audio here.] CBS This Morning covered the story as part of a bigger report on the looming cuts. On Today, reporter Kristen Welker blandly explained, "As a backdrop to all of this, veteran reporter Bob Woodward is telling reporters that the White House is lashing out at him for writing an article which claimed that the sequester was all President Obama's idea." She then helpfully presented the President's case: "The White House has made the point that Republicans overwhelmingly supported the plan as well." This was the extent of Today's coverage.
Keeping up NBC's barrage of attacks against the Catholic Church in the days leading up to Pope Benedict XVI's abdication, on Wednesday's Today, correspondent Anne Thompson made this nasty declaration: "...as one observer said, the stiletto knives came out as the battle for control of this institution begins, that some say is a holy mess....reports of infighting, back stabbing, and political jockeying that could make corporate America or Capitol Hill blush." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Thompson never bothered to identify the "observer" she mentioned nor the origin of the "reports" she cited. Wrapping up the piece, Thompson asked Italian novelist Alessandra Borghese: "Could you make up the drama that's going on inside the Vatican?...You couldn't make this stuff up?"
In a report on Tuesday's NBC Today that only briefly mentioned criticism of First Lady Michelle Obama's appearance during Sunday's Academy Awards, White House correspondent Kristen Welker gushed that people were "still buzzing" over the "Oscar finale that no one saw coming."
Welker described Obama's recent "media blitz": "The First Lady has been popping up all over the place lately, on Jimmy Fallon, sharing a moment with Big Bird...And talking hairdos with Rachel Ray." Welker then cited New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor seeing it as "all a part of a carefully crafted PR plan." A sound bite of Kantor followed: "It's almost as if her real strategy is a kind of charm offensive that is then intended to build support for her husband's initiatives."
Reacting to Chris Christie not being invited to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), on Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer melodramatically announced: "...another battle for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie today. But this time, he's at odds with the right wing of his own party." The headline on screen throughout the segment read: "Cold Shoulder for Christie; NJ Governor Snubbed By Conservative Conference." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the report that follow, correspondent Andrea Mitchell eagerly touted Christie's willingness to buck the GOP: "The latest sign that Chris Christie won't kowtow to Republican hardliners, his annual budget speech Tuesday, signing on to ObamaCare..." After describing the "very public snub" from CPAC, Mitchell declared: "...some Republicans see a bigger problem, the party's refusal to broaden its base." A sound bite followed of former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson hyperventilating: "If the Republican future does not include a place for people like Chris Christie, the Republican Party doesn't have a future."
At the top of Monday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams made this hyperbolic declaration: "A moment of crisis for the Catholic Church hit by a wave of scandals, just as the leaders must gather to select a new pope." Introducing the lead story moments later, Williams further hyped: "The problem for the Catholic Church is the drumbeat of scandal is now growing so loud and so vast, it's taking a lot of attention from this process." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the report that followed, correspondent Anne Thompson ominously declared: "... the world is seeing the darker side of the Church, the in-fighting and scandals....It's all revealing the sometimes nasty politics behind the pageantry."
NBC continued to sound the alarm over the impending sequester on Saturday’s Today show. On a day when the CBS and ABC morning shows questioned how bad the cuts would really be, NBC ran a highly unbalanced story that mostly propagated President Obama’s doomsday scenario. [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
Co-anchor Lester Holt set the scene with a dire metaphor: “There's a storm of another kind brewing in Washington today. We're less than a week now away from mandatory government spending cuts going into effect.” The story, presented by White House correspondent Kristen Welker, went on to focus almost entirely on Obama’s warnings from his most recent weekly address. Welker played a clip from that address in which the president attacked Congress for failing to compromise. She also featured a sound bite of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warning of delayed commercial flights.
During a panel discussion on Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer urged the liberal Today's Professionals pundits to assign blame for the upcoming budget sequester: "I want you to complete the following sentence, 'And the blame goes to...' Almost by every analysis people agree this will hurt the economy, hurt the recovery, might even damage national security. And the blame goes to?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman ranted: "The American public for not being invested enough in the terms of what it means and firing every one of these SOBs the next time it comes around." Advertising executive Donny Deutsch agreed, arguing: "We are a country now of complete non-self sacrifice. You can't blame the politicians. Blame us, because nobody wants to give on anything."
MediaBistro's TVNewser blog reported on Thursday that NBC's Today hired former CNN legal analyst Lisa Bloom as their new legal analyst. Bloom, the only child of notorious celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred, is a chip off her mother's block, given her liberal record both on the air and online, particularly on the issue of same-sex "marriage".
The attorney blasted California's voter-approved Proposition 8 in a January 28, 2010 editorial for CNN.com titled "Prop 8 is simply unconstitutional." Bloom used personal anecdotes to contrast "reckless heterosexual nuptials" with the 16-year relationship of her friends Wilbert and Carlos, who, in her words, are "second-class citizens in their own country." She dropped the inflammatory hint at Prop 8 supporters later in her piece: