[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:
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."