All three morning shows on Monday highlighted gaffes involving two Republican congressmen, touting the "firestorm" that followed a GOP senatorial candidate who discussed "legitimate rape." Both NBC and CBS attempted to link that incident (and one of a congressman swimming naked in the Sea of Galilee) to the Republican presidential ticket.
On CBS This Morning, Nancy Cordes trumpeted "comments made by Missouri Republican Todd Akin [that] have caused a firestorm" and added, "...National Democrats are already seizing on his comments as they try to push the notion that Republicans are out of touch when it comes to women's health." Talking to Chuck Todd, Today co-anchor Savannah Guthrie giddily hyped, "But let me ask you the larger question, do you think this will have an effect on the Republican race for president, where the female vote is so important?"
On Saturday's Today show on NBC, after co-host Lester Holt asked if the issue of Mitt Romney's tax returns has "jumped the shark" yet, MSNBC political analyst Mark Halperin asserted that "the press still likes this story a lot," and that "The media is very susceptible to doing what the Obama campaign wants, which is to focus on this."
On Thursday and Friday, NBC launched an all out assault on Mitt Romney, urging him to release more tax returns. Opening Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams scrambled to resurrect the worn-out line of attack: "Talking taxes. Under intense pressure, Mitt Romney talks about what he has paid." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Introducing the lead story moments later, Williams proclaimed: "It is a topic that won't go away. In the hands of the Democrats, it has dogged Mitt Romney from the start and may follow him all the way to the finish of this campaign." He described Romney's "private life of great wealth" and him being "unwilling to go public with his tax returns beyond the past two years."
In what was billed as a profile of Ann Romney set to air on Thursday's NBC Rock Center, a portion of the interview played on Thursday's Today featured news anchor Natalie Morales grilling the Republican candidate's spouse on taxes: "...she fiercely defended the Romneys' decision not to release tax returns from before 2010. A lot of people still are asking why not be transparent and release more than the 2010 and the estimates for 2011." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Romney responded forcefully: "Have you seen how we're attacked? Have you seen what's happened?" Morales continued to press the issue: "It's been in the press quite a bit. Now are you angry that it's been in the press? I mean, should you not be questioned about your finances?" Romney pushed back: "We have been very transparent to what's legally required of us. But, the more we release, the more we get attacked. The more we get questioned, the more we get pushed."
Over eight hours of broadcast time, Thursday, the network morning shows devoted a scant two minutes and 57 seconds to Wednesday's shooting at the conservative Family Research Council (FRC). Good Morning America on ABC offered the most time, a still tiny two minutes and 22 seconds. But at least guest anchor Josh Elliott revealed key details about the alleged shooter's possible motive, such as the fact that Floyd Corkins "was a volunteer at a local LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] center." CBS This Morning totally skipped the story.
ABC reporter Pierre Thomas added, "Sources say [Corkins] had items from fast food giant Chick-fil-A in his bag, but it was unclear whether Wednesday's incident had any ties to the recent controversy on gay marriage." Thomas then gratuitously noted, "The company's owner recently set off a political firestorm, suggesting he opposed gay marriage." (CEO Dan Cathy created a "firestorm" by simply giving his opinion on an issue? Wouldn't it be fair to say that liberal groups whipped up the anger?)
Reporting for Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, White House correspondent Kristen Welker discussed the "remarkably ugly political week so far" in the presidential campaign following racially-charged comments by Joe Biden, but then touted him as "the ever-outspoken Vice President" who "today doubled down on being the President's other best weapon, attack-dog-in-chief."
In a report for Thursday's NBC Today, Welker similarly proclaimed that Biden had "doubled down on being outspoken" while "still taking heat from Republicans for comments" on Tuesday in which he ranted to a crowd in Virginia that the GOP would "put y'all back in chains" if Mitt Romney won the November election.
Beginning an otherwise positive story on Wednesday's NBC Today about vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's intense exercise regimen, P90X, correspondent Kelly O'Donnell managed to work in this jab: "He's doing a workout you've probably seen all over late night TV. Call it extreme. And we're not talking about his politics here." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In an interview with Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus on Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie slammed Paul Ryan's proposed budget: "And the Ryan budget makes some very hard decisions and has some huge spending cuts....But how can you justify in the Ryan budget defense spending that stays flat and then giving a massive tax cut, which predominantly benefits the wealthy?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In reality, Ryan's budget does not include "huge spending cuts," but simply slows the rate of growth of government spending. That was a "nuance" that NBC political director Chuck Todd made sure to point out on Monday as he attempted to diffuse Republican attacks on the President for taking Medicare funds to pay for ObamaCare.
Of the three morning shows on Wednesday, only CBS acknowledged the racial tinge of Vice President Joe Biden telling a mostly black crowd that Republicans will "put y'all back in chains." ABC's Good Morning America, instead, tried to explain away and provide context for the Democrat. NBC's Today vaguely alluded to GOP concerns about the remark, but didn't mention race. (On Tuesday, the CBS Evening News was alone in making this point.)
Regarding the Vice President's assertion that Mitt Romney wants to "unchain Wall Street," CBS This Morning guest anchor Anthony Mason explained that Biden "seemed to suggest that Republicans want to put black Americans back in bondage." Correspondent Nancy Cordes hinted the Vice President was implying that the GOP "wants to put black Americans back in bondage." In contrast, GMA's David Muir simply told viewers that Biden is now "trying to explain the chains remark."
Teeing up Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to bash Paul Ryan on Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer lobbed this softball: "Do you think that Paul Ryan's addition to this ticket is the best thing that could happen to President Obama's chances for re-election?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Lauer used an article from The Washington Post's Dan Balz to set up the question and tout Democratic bravado on Ryan's selection as Mitt Romney's running mate: "He said quote, 'There was no one on Romney's short list of contenders that they,' meaning the Obama campaign, 'wanted to run against more than the chairman of the House Budget Committee Paul Ryan.' Do you agree with that assessment?"
In an interview with former House speaker Newt Gingrich on Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer worried about vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's commitment to conservative principles: "I've heard Paul Ryan described as a true conservative....Do you honestly think he is someone who will work and reach across the aisle to Democrats or will he be an immovable object on key social issues and issues of ideology?"
On Monday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer actually used the President's own past statements about Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan to grill deputy Obama campaign manager Stephanie Cutter: "President Obama said this of Paul Ryan, that he was 'absolutely sincere about wanting to reduce the deficit'...gave him 'credit for at least being willing to put out there some very tough choices.' Does he still feel that way?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Cutter attempted to rely on the usual Democratic fearmongering, accusing Ryan of a plan "that balances the budget on the backs of the middle class." Lauer called her out for that tactic, again citing Obama's own words: "...he said this, quote, 'We're not going to be able to do anything about these entitlements if what we do characterize whatever proposal's are put out there as well, you know, that's the other party being irresponsible...the other party trying to hurt our senior citizens.' Which sounds exactly what – like what you just said."
Hoping to define vice presidential pick Paul Ryan early with liberal talking points, on Monday's NBC Today, correspondent Peter Alexander painted the Wisconsin congressman as "the architect of a politically polarizing budget plan to slash trillions in federal funding, including cuts to Medicare..." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Alexander began his report by offering this description of Ryan: "To Republicans, Ryan is viewed as a conservative, a courageous and visionary conservative. To Democrats, his views are seen as extreme." At the top of the show, co-host Matt Lauer only saw problems for Republicans and advantages for Democrats with the Ryan pick: "Will Ryan's budget plan hurt the ticket? And how is President Obama using the choice to his own advantage?"
Previewing the choice of Paul Ryan as the GOP vice presidential candidate, the ABC, CBS and NBC morning shows all used Democratic framing to describe the House GOP budget plan that Ryan championed as a plan to, as CBS’s Bob Schieffer put it, “cut more than $5 trillion over the next ten years.” ABC’s Bianna Golodryga passed along the demagogic rhetoric of liberals: “Democrats, meantime, contest that it will destroy Medicare and Social Security.”
But Ryan’s plan would actually increase federal spending over the next ten years, from about $3.6 trillion this year to just under $4.9 trillion in 2022. The $5 trillion in “cuts” are merely reductions from the much-higher spending anticipated by President Obama’s budget. (See tables starting on page 88.)
Still working hard to avoid mentioning an outrageous Obama super-PAC ad that basically accused Mitt Romney of being responsible for the cancer death of a woman, Thursday's NBC Nightly News had the gall to instead promote pro-Obama fluff, as anchor Brian Williams gushed: "Knowing a hot product when he sees one, the President today visited the U.S. Olympic training facility in Colorado."
Williams made sure to inform viewers that Obama "Promptly took his shoes off, got on the mat, and said his grandmother would be proud there were no holes in his socks."
During a report about "why we love the British" on Thursday's NBC Today, special correspondent Tom Brokaw declared: "In one of our election years, the British watch America with a sense of bewilderment." Left-wing BBC anchor Katty Kay sniffed: "When we talk about God, guns, and government, those are the three big things we don't understand." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
She then lamented: "The role of government here [in the United States] is much more complicated, people don't want it in America. In Britain, we expect government to provide things for us."
Appearing on Wednesday's NBC Today, U.S. Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones responded to a New York Times story that trashed her as a "vixen, virgin, victim," telling co-host Savannah Guthrie: "...it was two days before I competed. And then the fact that it was from a U.S. media....they should be supporting our U.S. Olympic athletes, and instead they just ripped me to shreds....they just tore me apart, it was heartbreaking." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
All three evening newscasts on Tuesday and the morning shows on Wednesday skipped a new Super PAC ad (run by former Obama spokesman Bill Burton) that blames Mitt Romney for a woman's death from cancer. While ignoring that, NBC, ABC and CBS made sure to highlight negative news for Romney or White House complaints about the Republican's new campaign spots.
By contrast, CNN on Tuesday demolished the Obama super PAC ad as "not accurate." Anchor Wolf Blitzer asserted it was "full of falsehoods." The spot misleadingly claims that Ranae Soptic passed away from cancer shortly after Bain Capital closed down the steel plant her husband worked at. In reality, she died five years later. Instead of investigating this, Good Morning America's Josh Elliott on Wednesday alerted, "Our new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds [Romney's] personal popularity sinking to a new low, the lowest of any presumptive nominee since 1984."
On Tuesday, ABC and NBC's morning shows omitted covering President Obama Monday night attack on Mitt Romney at a fundraiser in Connecticut, that the GOP presidential candidate is "like Robin Hood in reverse. It's Romney Hood." However, Good Morning America and Today both reported on the "security scare" for the President, after two small planes flew into restricted airspace.
The same day, CBS This Morning played the clip of Obama's "Romney Hood" attack not once, but twice. Correspondent Nancy Cordes did note that the Democrat headlined a $500-a-plate fundraising dinner and how "the President headed to an even pricier fundraiser at the Connecticut home of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein."
The broadcast networks promoted gay activists’ protest of the fast food company Chick-fil-A, but when that protest fizzled, they did little to cover the failure.
ABC’s Steve Osunsami hyped the protests ahead of time, saying “nearly 100,000 friends and family have been invited online.” After the apparent lack of turnout at the kiss-in, however, the networks stopped reporting on the protest. Only ABC briefly mentioned the results of the kiss-in, after all three networks talked about the protests on the morning of Aug. 3.
In an unaired portion of an interview with British Prime Minister David Cameron meant to be featured on Friday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer pressed Cameron to compare the London Olympics with the winter games run by Mitt Romney: "Do you think that Mitt Romney, the challenges he faced in 2002 in Salt Lake City, compared at all to what you faced here in London?" [View video after the jump]
After pushing Cameron to criticize Romney, moments later, Lauer went after Britain's head of Parliament for daring to modestly cut back on the nation's massive government spending: "You put in place some very difficult austerity measures that were controversial, hard for a lot of people to swallow. And yet, in the last quarter, your economy shrunk. So, was austerity the right path to take at that particular time, facing this very stubborn recession?"
The Big Three networks largely yawned at Majority Leader Harry Reid's wild charge on the Senate floor on Thursday that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney hasn't paid taxes in 10 years. ABC, CBS, and NBC failed to mention it on the evening newscasts on Thursday. On Friday morning, CBS This Morning was the lone broadcast morning show to report on Reid's "explosive accusation," as correspondent Nancy Cordes put it.
By contrast, all three networks covered Rep. Joe Wilson's 2009 "you lie" shout at President Obama at the State of the Union within 24 hours and were unanimously scandalized at the "stunning moment" in the House chamber, as then-anchor Charles Gibson labeled it on ABC's World News. Both ABC and CBS trumpeted Wilson's outburst as the "shout heard 'round the world."
The CBS and NBC morning shows on Thursday both highlighted a massive show of support for Chick-fil-A, but failed to explain one of the underlying reasons for the protest: An expression of solidarity by many Americans for free speech against government bullying.
While ABC's Good Morning America completely ignored the sizable effort that saw long lines at Chick-fil-As around the country, CBS This Morning anchor Charlie Rose simplified, "For many religious conservatives, Chick-fil-A was the place to be Wednesday. Thousands went there to eat and to make a statement - a statement against same sex marriage." Many Americans did go as a show of support for traditional marriage, but some went to protest mayors in Chicago, Boston and San Francisco who threatened or bullied the conservative chain.
On its Wednesday evening and Thursday morning newscasts, CBS didn't file one report or news brief on the controversial federal abortifacient/contraception mandate going into effect. Even worse, the only mention of religious liberty scandal over the regulation was CBS This Morning playing a clip of liberal comedian Stephen Colbert making fun of it.
ABC's Diane Sawyer heralded the mandate taking effect as "an important day for women's health" on Wednesday's World News, and forwarded the White House's talking points on the regulation: "Religious employers, like Catholic charities and hospitals, do not have to directly include free birth control under their health plans." On NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams lamented that "simply by taking effect, it started up the health care fight all over again."
In an interview with actor Kevin Spacey on Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer quoted the liberal star's description of his new role in a political drama, playing "a wily murderous politician worming his way to the White House." Spacey quipped in response: "Kind of like this year, isn't it?" Immediately picking up on the reference to Mitt Romney, Lauer chuckled and replied: "No, no, no. Get yourself in trouble, not me." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
The Big Three networks enthusiastically paid tribute to leftist author Gore Vidal on their Wednesday morning newscasts, but not one mentioned his political ideology. NBC's Today devoted two briefs to the "sardonically witty" Vidal, who died late Tuesday. The morning show also labeled him a "cultural icon." ABC's Good Morning America played up his "outsized personality and scathing wit."
However, CBS This Morning surpassed its competitors, with anchor Charlie Rose's retrospective on the "brilliant essayist and a commentator on America."
On Tuesday's NBC Today, campaign correspondent Peter Alexander attempted to spin bad behavior by reporters covering Mitt Romney's trip to Poland as a new controversy for the presidential campaign: "This morning, after reporters tried to shout questions to Romney while he left a plaza near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier....A campaign spokesman angrily intervened....The spokesman later called reporters to apologize." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
The report featured a clip of one female reporter screaming at Romney: "Governor Romney, do you feel that your gaffes have overshadowed your foreign trip?!" A campaign aide chastised: "This is a holy site for the Polish people. Show some respect." He could be heard saying: "Shove it. Shove it." That same aide reportedly also said "Kiss my ass," but NBC did not include that in its coverage.
Only two minutes into Friday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Chris Jansing gushed over "sounds of unadulterated joy"at the opening of the 2012 Olympics and offered this bit of pro-Obama fluff: "From cheers for the torch making its way along the River Thames, to delighted children playing with First Soccer Mom Michelle Obama and superstar David Beckham."
Moments later, anchor Brian Williams continued the fawning: "It's the first time every nation has women athletes on the team. And for the first time on Team USA, the women outnumber the men, as they do in the work place and on college campuses in the U.S. So it's fitting the ranking ambassador from the U.S. is First Lady Michelle Obama..."
In a news brief on Monday's NBC Today, anchor Natalie Morales touted how "Palestinian leaders are slamming Mitt Romney" for remarks he made during a "fundraising visit" to Israel: "Romney sparked outrage by suggesting that he would move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, calling it Israel's 'capital city.' Palestinian leaders say the comment is, quote, 'unacceptable.'"
The same networks that hyped a "humiliating" "fiasco" leading up to the 2012 Olympic games have now turned around and mocked Republican "Mitt the Twit" Romney for pointing out the same thing. NBC's Today, ABC's Good Morning America and CBS This Morning all played up comments by the presidential candidate questioning "disconcerting" problems leading up to Friday's opening ceremonies (the same problems they were previously pointing out).
Holding up a newspaper, NBC's Peter Alexander derided, "Here is a headline from one London tabloid. It reads 'Mitt the Twit.'" Alexander deemed the comments a "political firestorm" and played a clip of an unidentified British reporter snidely noting, "If he's here to make friends, he has got a funny way of showing it." Over on CBS, Jan Crawford eagerly held up the same tabloid and lectured, "Can you see it? 'Mitt the Twit.' That's not the type of headline you want."