In an effort to hype controversy days before Pope Benedict XVI steps down as the leader of the Catholic Church, on Monday's NBC Today, correspondent Anne Thompson proclaimed: "Even in his final days as pope, scandal continues to dog Benedict's papacy and the Church." The chyron on screen throughout the segment declared: "Vatican Intrigue." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Beyond reporting on an actual controversy surrounding the resignation of Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Thompson decided to also promote completely unfounded claims from the Italian press that "headline rumors of blackmail and conspiracy that the Vatican vehemently denies." NBC went through the effort of displaying and translating one such salacious headline on screen: "Sex and ambition, the blackmailing behind the resignation of Benedict XVI."
Acting like an extension of the White House press office on Monday's NBC Today, correspondent Peter Alexander promoted Obama administration talking points on the upcoming budget sequester: "This morning, the White House is picking up the pace of its PR offensive, they are rolling out reports for each of the country's states and how they will be affected by these automatic budget cuts." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Alexander listed the "dire warnings" coming from the executive branch: "In California, 9,600 low-income students could lose their college financial aid. In Florida, nearly $4 million could be slashed to provide meals for needy seniors. And in Texas, nearly 10,000 fewer children will receive vaccines for diseases like whooping cough and the flu."
Sadly, MSNBC cannot follow sister network NBC’s lead in reporting the story of disgraced Democrat Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill) and his impending prison sentence for illegally using campaign funds for personal usage.
On the February 20 edition of NBC Nightly News as well as on the February 21 edition of Today, both shows correctly identify Jesse Jackson Jr. as a Democrat, but their MSNBC morning show Morning Joe skipped the important detail. [See video after jump. MP3 audio here.]
All too often when reporters are discussing Democrats caught in scandals, they develop a peculiar speech impediment that prevents them from uttering the "D" word. However, when members of the GOP stumble, the word "Republican" cascades out of the mouths of reporters.
When news broke on February 15 that former Democratic Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. was charged with improperly spending campaign funds on (among other items) Michael Jackson and Bruce Lee memorabilia, the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) network anchors and reporters struggled to get their lips to form the word "Democrat." In 15 total stories on Jackson, reporters failed to utter the "D" word in 11 of them (73 percent). On the February 21 CBS This Morning Jackson was labeled a Democrat, but only in an on-screen graphic.
Wednesday's NBC Today featured a full report on Tiger Woods praising President Obama's golf game, with White House correspondent Peter Alexander cheering the weekend outing as the "most talked about golf pairing in years" and that Woods "was to golf what the President wants to be to politics, the guy who can't stop winning." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In between clips of Woods, Alexander proclaimed: "And reflecting on their weekend round together, this ruthless competitor admits he was impressed by his presidential partner." After a sound bite of Woods saying Obama could "get to where he's a pretty good stick," Alexander gushed: "In golf-speak, that means the President's got game."
Amid all of the news breaking in Washington, from the upcoming sequester cuts to President Obama's second term agenda, NBC's Today decided to focus its Tuesday political coverage on a scandal that plagued former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford four years ago. The news hook was Sanford running in a GOP primary for the congressional seat left open by newly appointed Senator Tim Scott.
Co-host Savannah Guthrie touted an exclusive interview with the Republican: "Second chance? Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford running again for Congress years after an affair that ended his marriage and made him a political punch line. Will voters forgive and forget? This morning we'll talk to him live."
NBC continues to lead the way in belittling any and all Republican attempts to stand up to President Obama. On Sunday’s Today, David Gregory rehashed the common left-wing talking point that Republicans are opposing Obama at every turn merely for the sake of being obstructionist.
Commenting on Republican opposition to the Chuck Hagel nomination, Gregory said, “There’s no question that this looks to be similar to what people are criticizing Republicans for doing on the economy or on spending, on these various battles they’ve had over the debt, which is just trying to jam the president up.” [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
Former Democratic Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. was charged on Friday with improperly spending $750,000 of campaign funds on items such as Michael Jackson and Bruce Lee memorabilia (among other things). Yet, ABC's World News did not cover the story at all. On Saturday, Good Morning America allowed the news a mere 18 seconds. Over the course of the weekend, NBC's Nightly News, the CBS Evening News, Saturday Morning, Today and GMA never mentioned that Jackson is a Democrat. There was no coverage on Sunday.
Most, such as Evening News guest-host Anthony Mason, simply referred to Jackson as the "former Chicago Congressman." CBS correspondent Nancy Cordes spun, "Jackson, Jr., came to Congress in 1995, the promising and personable son of a civil rights leader, the Reverend Jesse Jackson." Cordes did highlight how the ex-representative spent his campaign funds, including "$43,000 on a gold-plated men's Rolex watch, $5,000 on fur capes and parkas and a long list of Bruce Lee and Michael Jackson memorabilia."
All three network morning shows on Friday ignored the fact that the ex-San Diego mayor who gambled away an astonishing $1 billion is a Democrat. ABC's Good Morning America, NBC's Today and CBS This Morning covered Maureen O'Connor and explained how she wasted most of the money on video poker. But none of them mentioned the party affiliation of the politician.
GMA's Josh Elliott simply related, "A former mayor of San Diego has admitted to gambling away a staggering $1 billion, including millions that she took from her late husband's charity." Today's Natalie Morales described the fraud as an "unbelievable debt." She, too, only used the term "former San Diego mayor." On CBS This Morning, Norah O'Donnell did the same. A graphic deemed the massive crime as being committed by an "ex-mayor." On Fox News, however, Fox and Friends host Brian Kilmeade identified "former Democratic Mayor Maureen O'Connor."
All three major networks were awash in water bottle coverage, devoting time in both morning and evening shows to discuss Sen. Marco Rubio drinking out of a water bottle during his response to President Obama’s State of the Union address on February 12.
ABC’s “Good Morning America” and World News,” CBS’s “This Morning” and “Evening News,” and NBC’s “Today” and “Nightly News” all talked about the water bottle, and the attention that it was receiving. Six stories covered the non-issue in the day following Obama’s speech. All three evening news shows ran the instant replay.
On Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams proclaimed that Florida Senator Marco Rubio taking a sip of water during his response to the State of the Union was "the televised moment from last night that just might live on forever." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Williams expounded: "Well, it's one of the cruelest aspects of politics in the television age. No matter how well-crafted the content, no matter how thoughtful a person you are, it's the television moments, the superficial, purely visual moments that are often remembered forever instead. And that will certainly be the case with Florida Senator Marco Rubio's GOP response last night."
In the first part of an interview aired on Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer interrogated House Speaker John Boehner over saying President Obama lacked the courage to stand up to his Democratic base: "And by calling the President of the United States out in such harsh terms today, on the day of the State of the Union address....I think a lot of people are going to say, 'Here we go. Same old division. Same old animosity.' Don't they have a right to say that?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Boehner began to reply: "No. Listen, the President and I get along fine...We have a very good relationship." Lauer interrupted: "So this all politics, these questions you raise today?" Boehner continued: "...the American people on election day gave us a mandate, a Republican congress and a Democratic president, and the mandate was to find a way to work together, find common ground."
In an interview with House Speaker John Boehner aired on Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer highlighted the Speaker inviting two girls from a Washington D.C. inner city school to the State of the Union address, but rather than focus on the scholarship program Boehner supports, Lauer wondered: "They're your guests. Could you blame them, though, if they're not a little mesmerized by Barack Obama tonight? The nation's first African American president?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Continuing to aggrandize Obama, Lauer went further: "Is he, in your opinion, the most inspirational African American living right now?...You think that's the way these kids will feel when they watch?"
At the top of Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie suggested ulterior motives behind Pope Benedict XIV's abdication: "Vatican intrigue. Is there more to Pope Benedict's sudden decision to step down?" In the report that followed, chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel also insinuated something more: "Although there's no evidence to suggest a motive, other than old age, the Pope's unusual departure has left some wondering." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Engel then turned to a random man on the street wearing a fedora, who speculated: "It could be deeper, you know, than what we've been told at the moment." Moments later, Engel provided more anonymous rumors: "Italians say his age and the weight of scandals, especially revelations of sexual abuse by priests, may have gotten to the scholarly Pontiff."
As the nation moves closer to the sequester, set to take effect on March 1, NBC is digging in its heels in opposition. On Saturday’s Today, the network ran a story that leaned heavily against the looming automatic spending cuts (surprise, surprise). NBC aimed right for the heart strings by featuring a Colorado high school counselor who had the following “message for Congress”: “At the time when we are looking at ways to keep our schools safer, these across-the-board cuts would impact those positions and those people who keep our schools safe.”
Very clever. It appears NBC is using the gun issue to try and persuade conservatives to give up on the sequester, which would cut spending by $85 billion and greatly help reduce the federal deficit. But NBC, like the president, is uninterested in deficit reduction through spending cuts. [Video after the jump. MP3 audio here.]
NBC's Savannah Guthrie pressed White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett on Tuesday's Today over President Obama's apparent inaction on many key issues. After reading an excerpt from the President's 2009 address to Congress, Guthrie wondered, "You know, Americans have heard these refrains over and over again. What can you guarantee to the American people that will turn these words into actual action?"
By contrast, on Tuesday's CBS This Morning, anchor Charlie Rose merely prompted Jarrett to provide the Obama administration's talking points on the upcoming State of the Union address:
On the day Pope Benedict XVI announced that he would be stepping down from the Papacy, NBC's Monday Today featured a report by correspondent Michelle Kosinski, who offered these highlights of the Pontiff's tenure: "As a Cardinal, some criticized him for being strict and conservative, calling him, 'God's Rottweiler.' Becoming Pope meant he had to take on the Church's sexual abuse scandal that reverberated throughout America and Europe, and for which he apologized." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
As Kosinski mentioned the Pope's response to the sex abuse scandal, footage appeared on screen of protesters holding signs with pictures of Benedict and the words: "Catholic Paedophile Cover Up."
The release of Apple’s iPhone was a godsend, or so thought J.P. Morgan’s chief economist Michael Feroli. In September of 2012, the release month of the latest version of Apple’s iPhone, NBC, CBS, and ABC all reported Feroli’s prediction that the sales from the iPhone 5 could boost U.S. GDP by a quarter or half of a percent.
But the recent drop in GDP by .1 percent and Apple’s own stock drop have showed that predictions sometimes don’t come true. Unfortunately, not one of the networks has pointed that out.
Allegations of shady campaign contributors and procurement of prostitutes are usually the ingredients of a political scandal that send the media into a feeding frenzy – unless, of course, the figure involved is a Democrat.
When news broke that the FBI opened an inquiry into New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez’s jaunts (that may have included solicitation of prostitutes) to the Dominican Republic with a longtime campaign contributor, the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks responded with barely a murmur.
While the NBC and CBS morning shows on Friday both covered troubling Thursday testimony from outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that revealed President Obama's lack of engagement during the Benghazi terrorist attack, ABC's Good Morning America completely ignored the story. In addition, none of the networks mentioned the testimony on their Thursday evening newscasts.
Friday's CBS This Morning provided the most coverage, with a full report by correspondent Nancy Cordes, who explained: "Panetta revealed that he briefed the President at the start of the attack, but the two men did not speak again that night....Republicans say it's a sign that the President was disengaged the night of the attack. Panetta said his aides and the President's were in touch, but he said as well that he did not speak to Secretary Clinton the night of the attack either."
In an interview with Pattie Mallette, mother of pop star Justin Bieber, on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie worried about Mallette's producing role in an upcoming film: "...you wanted to talk about your involvement in a movie called Crescendo....[which] tells the story of Beethoven's mother, who, while she was pregnant, attempted to have an abortion and even attempted suicide....it's a movie with a decidedly pro-life/anti-abortion purpose." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Guthrie invited Mallette to distance herself from that purpose: "But you feel like people, as I understand it, are getting the wrong message about what you are trying to say by your participation?" Mallette replied: "Yeah, I don't feel that it is a pro-life message. I mean, people are going to get from it what they want to. It's just – it's a true story, it's a historical piece." Guthrie pressed further: "Do you feel misled at all by the producers of the film? I mean, if the film has this message and its goal is to – is an anti-abortion message, I mean, are you okay with that? I guess I'm confused about what your position is."
Wrapping up a panel discussion on Tuesday's NBC Today about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie poking fun at his weight during a David Letterman appearance, co-host Willie Geist argued the issue was a major political obstacle to Christie: "I think if he didn't weigh what he weighed right now, he'd be talked about as the shoo-in to be the nominee next time. But that's a real problem that people have to think about if they want to cast a vote for him, is his health." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
The CBS Evening News on Tuesday completely ignored the revelation, uncovered in a leaked government memo, that the Obama administration claims the power to legally kill al Qaeda terrorists, even if they're American citizens. ABC's Good Morning America on Wednesday allowed a mere 42 seconds to this rather important topic. ABC's World News, NBC's Nightly News and the Today show all covered the story. Of the six evening and morning shows, however, only three featured the liberal American Civil Liberties Union decrying this move by a Democratic president.
World News reporter Jon Karl at least pointed out the obvious contradiction of liberals who railed against supposed torture by George W. Bush, reminding, "As soon as he became President, Barack Obama stopped CIA tactics like wateboarding that he considered torture. But this justifies outright killing a suspected terrorist." The journalist added, "How does dropping a bomb on an American citizen without any judicial review, any trial, not raise any human rights questions, or more human rights questions than something like waterboarding?" (Or, one might also wonder, putting a catepillar in a box with a terrorist. Under George W. Bush, ABC labeled this "torture.")
On NBC's Wednesday Today, White House correspondent Peter Alexander wrung his hands over the possibility of sequester budget cuts happening next month: "If you think of the federal budget as a t-bone steak, the sequester is like a butcher's knife loping off a big piece, roughly a trillion dollars worth in defense and domestic spending. What experts call the worst way to deal with a budget." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In contrast, back in February of 2009, when President Obama was pushing the nearly trillion-dollar stimulus package, Today co-host Matt Lauer grilled former Bush advisor Karl Rove about Republicans daring to oppose the massive government spending: "Doesn't it seem that quick and bold action was necessary?...216 Republicans [who voted against the stimulus] seem to have placed a bet on failure. Isn't that safe to say?"
During a panel discussion on Tuesday's NBC Today about the White House releasing a photo of President Obama skeet shooting to dispel doubt about his claim of doing it "all the time," co-host Matt Lauer worried about the precedent that had been set: "So like releasing the birth certificate a year or so ago, this is the next step, that now the President always has to back up his words with proof?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Lauer's concern seemed to follow administration talking points perfectly. On Sunday's Today, correspondent Peter Alexander reported: "This weekend, the White House tried to shut down the doubters. The President's former senior advisor [David Plouffe] even referred to those who still question where Mr. Obama was born. [Image of Plouffe Tweet] 'Attention, skeet birthers. Make our day – let the photoshop conspiracies begin!'"
On Tuesday's Today, while teasing NBC's third full report on the unfolding scandal surrounding New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, co-host Matt Lauer proclaimed: "...we're hearing from [him] this morning for the first time about claims that he was with prostitutes during some overseas trips. Coming up, his emotional response to what he says is a false attack."
In the segment that followed, Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O'Donnell teed up a series of sound bites of Menendez denying the allegations and attacking those making them: "[He] denied that online story and grew emotional, saying political enemies launched a false attack." Referring to the story that broke on The Daily Caller, Menendez ranted: "...smears that right-wing blogs have been pushing since the election...It's amazing to me that anonymous, nameless, faceless individuals on a website can drive that type of story into the mainstream..."
At next week’s State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama is likely to continue his ongoing push for more gun control. It’s a push first spurred on by Obama’s gun control allies in the liberal media. In the wake of the horrific school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks quickly moved to exploit the tragedy to push for more gun control legislation while mostly ignoring solutions that respect gun owners’ Second Amendment rights.
Marking Hillary Clinton's final day as Secretary of State on Friday's NBC Nightly News, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell gushed: "Clinton's State Department farewell was bittersweet. She took time to tour the building, saying goodbye to cafeteria workers....[her] departure had the energy of a campaign rally. As she left, some women were shouting, '2016.'" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On Saturday's Today, White House correspondent Kristen Welker continued the lovefest, proclaiming that Clinton was "starting a new chapter in her storied life," and noting: "Her journey to secretary of state was somewhat improbable. From the White House's first lady, to the Senate, to a tough campaign against her now-former boss."
On February 1, 2003, seven astronauts on board Space Shuttle Columbia died during re-entry as they returned to Earth from the STS-107 mission. Friday was the 10th anniversary of the disaster, but none of the Big Three networks morning newscasts marked this somber occasion.
ABC's Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, and NBC's Today understandably devoted considerable broadcast time to the upcoming Super Bowl on Sunday. However, this coverage contained segments to frivolous, celebrity-driven stories that could have been whittled down to air even a mere brief on the anniversary of the tragedy. Here are examples from each morning show: