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:
In an interview with Al Gore aired on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Andrea Mitchell treated the former Vice President like a climate change prophet: "Floods. Fires. Historic drought. Some of the dire consequences Al Gore warns about if we don't act on climate change. Do we still have time?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Gore replied: "...the worst of it can still be avoided. But we do need to act quickly." He then applauded President Obama for prominently mentioning the issue in his inaugural address, prompting Mitchell to lament: "But Gore has been disappointed before. 2008 campaign promises on climate change were trumped by the economic crisis and died in the Senate."
ABC on Wednesday and Thursday continued to ignore the developing prostitution scandal surrounding Democratic Senator Robert Menendez. NBC highlighted the story on the Today show. CBS covered the story, but reporter Jan Crawford suggested the allegations have "all the earmarks of an orchestrated smear campaign."
ABC's World News on Wednesday and Good Morning America on Thursday skipped the news that federal agents are removing evidence from the office of Solomon Melgen, a Florida doctor who flew Menendez on trips to the Dominican Republic. There, the New Jersey senator allegedly engaged prostitutes. On CBS This Morning, Crawford charitably explained, "Now, on the one hand, they've got all the earmarks of an orchestrated smear campaign. But the question is, are they true?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
During a panel discussion on Wednesday's NBC Today, the morning show's regular liberal pundits had a panic attack over Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke putting out a radio ad calling on local citizens to "Consider taking a certified safety course in handling a firearm so you can defend yourself." Chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman was aghast: "This is so irresponsible it's dangerous." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Attorney Star Jones chimed in: "I think it's so irresponsible." Snyderman accused the Sheriff of advocating "vigilantism" and ranted: "I don't hear anything in there about safety. It's, 'Arm yourself, the cops won't be there.' Terrible." Advertising executive Donny Deutsch went so far as to suggest that a police officer suggesting people exercise their Second Amendment rights should be illegal: "I'm surprised legally they were able to run that ad." Jones, the supposed legal expert on the panel, agreed: "I'm absolutely surprised that's legal for him to even say."
The headline NBC chose promote from chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell's Tuesday interview with outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was that Clinton really couldn't accomplish much given the situation she "inherited" from the Bush administration, with Nightly News anchor Brian Williams proclaiming: "...[Clinton] said, among other things, it's tougher these days to pull off the sweeping diplomatic achievements of the old days." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On Wednesday's Today, Mitchell parroted Clinton's talking points: "Clinton told me that it is hard for her to imagine waking up next week with no place to go, after four years and almost a million miles circling the globe. Hillary Clinton said the traditional way of doing diplomacy was not good enough for the crisis the Obama team inherited."
After initially hitting Al Gore from the left for global warming "hypocrisy" during an interview on Tuesday's NBC Today, in the second part of that interview later on the broadcast, co-host Matt Lauer praised the former Vice President for having "never shied away from the very tough issues" and wondered: "After years of calling people's attention to this issue, and now we've seen Superstorm Sandy and tornadoes and drought and extreme temperatures, do you feel vindicated?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Gore somberly replied: "Well, I wish that I had been wrong. And I wish that the scientists whose message I was carrying had been wrong. It's not about me. It's about us and what we do to safeguard our future." In the first part of the interview, Gore eagerly used such disasters to promote the cause: "Today is the three-month anniversary of Superstorm Sandy....These storms, it's like a nature hike through the Book of Revelation on the news every day now."
The three networks on Monday night and Tuesday morning hailed a "historic" potential change by the Boy Scouts that would lift the ban on gays in their organization. ABC compared the move to a famous Norman Rockwell painting. NBC featured voices complaining that the decision doesn't go far enough.
On Monday's World News, Diane Sawyer trumpted that change is "afoot in an iconic American institution." She lamented, " For generations, becoming a Boy Scout was an American tradition. But not for all." Regarding the move to allow gays in, Sawyer prompted her colleague, reporter David Muir, "But we were talking earlier about the Norman Rockwell painting, the classic painting of the Cub Scout dreaming one day of becoming a real Boy Scout. And you were saying, the caption to that painting is?" "Can't wait," he solemnly responded. "Can't wait," Sawyer marveled. [See video below MP3 audio here.]
In an interview with former Vice President Al Gore on Tuesday's Today, co-host Matt Lauer fretted over the "hypocrisy" of the global warming crusader selling his news channel Current TV to the oil-funded Al Jazeera network. However, Lauer completely ignored the Arab news organization's history of anti-Americanism and promotion of Islamic fundamentalism. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
When Lauer questioned Gore about selling Current to Al Jazeera for $500 million, Gore declared: "I'm very pleased that Al Jazeera has established itself as a really respected news-gathering network." Rather than challenge that assertion, the only criticism of the network Lauer could think of was this: "But if they get funding from a country that has – that bases its wealth on fossil fuels, and fossil fuels are the enemy you target in climate change, isn't there a bit of hypocrisy in that?"
After gushing coverage on Monday's NBC Today over Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton "finishing one another's sentences" in a joint interview, a four-minute panel discussion at the top of the morning show's 9 a.m. et hour was devoted to the topic as well, with co-host Tamron Hall declaring: "I was looking at the body language a lot, other than the words, and they leaned in together...both leaning in like, 'I got your back and I'll be voting for you.'" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Monday's NBC Today was quick to seize on Sarah Palin ending her tenure as a contributor for Fox News, with correspondent Kelly O'Donnell announcing: "Sarah Palin has people guessing again this morning...After a breakup that seemed unlikely between the former governor and her conservative home at Fox News."
O'Donnell remarked that Palin had "carved out an unusual space, at the intersection of politics, celebrity, and pop culture," followed by a clip of comedian Tina Fey mocking the former Republican vice presidential candidate. O'Donnell then observed that "Palin's main gig is over."
Following the friendly chat President Obama and outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had with CBS's Steve Kroft on Sunday's 60 Minutes, NBC's reporters could barely contain their glee over the duo getting along so well, with correspondent Peter Alexander proclaiming on Monday's Today: "There they were, side-by-side, at times chuckling together, it seemed even finishing one another's sentences." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Alexander fawned over Obama and Clinton repeatedly patting each other on the back during the self-promotional interview: "The President said he simply wanted to thank Hillary Clinton for being what he called one of the finest secretaries of state we have ever had. But the mutual gushing did not end there....the bitter rivals turned partners showed just how far their relationship's evolved. The President lavishing Clinton with praise for her discipline, stamina, and thoughtfulness."
During fawning reports on Thursday's NBC Nightly News and Friday's Today, the network's news personalities expressed thrill over the discovery of a collection of JFK memorabilia once owned by Kennedy aide Dave Powers, with anchor Brian Williams raving: "It's an intimate collection of time spent with the President of the United states and his family. It's the kind of memorabilia only a close friend would have. And it shows a man, our president, up close." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
What the coverage failed to mention was the recent shocking revelation by former White House intern and Kennedy mistress Mimi Alford that the late President once pressured her to perform oral sex on Powers during one their trysts. The omission was particularly surprising since Alford recalled the incident in an exclusive interview with Meredith Vieira aired on NBC's Rock Center in February of 2012.
On their evening and morning news shows on Thursday and Friday, NBC and CBS were quick to tout Democratic efforts to reimpose an assault weapons ban, with NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams proclaiming the move to be "the latest step in the ongoing response to the Newtown, Connecticut school shootings."
On CBS Evening News, correspondent Nancy Cordes described the scene as the legislation was announced on Thursday: "Flanked by police officers, doctors, and mayors, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California made her case today for banning the types of weapons used to carry out mass shootings." Cordes further highlighted the stagecraft: "Feinstein also asked half a dozen gun victims to share their stories, to give the measure a human face. Lilly Habtu was shot three times at Virginia Tech."
At the top of the 9 a.m. et hour on Thursday's NBC Today, the morning show cast devoted a four-minute panel discussion to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton getting emotional during her congressional testimony on Wednesday. News reader Natalie Morales gushed: "She was speaking passionately about, you know, that heat of the moment. And also, you know, I think she just loved those people [who died in Benghazi]. So that was true emotion." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Co-host Savannah Guthrie observed: "I don't know if there's as much a stigma anymore from public figures crying from time-to-time. I mean, this is not somebody who is crying all the time. We've seen her well up in the past. I think this is probably the most emotional we've ever seen her." Morales proclaimed: "Right, she's a strong leader."
At the top of Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie hyped Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's performance during congressional testimony on Wednesday: "Vigorous defense. A fired up Hillary Clinton takes on her critics during her testimony about the terror attacks in Benghazi." Introducing a later report, Guthrie described it as "an emotional and at times heated appearance before Congress." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell decried "the hostile interrogation that Republican committee members gave Clinton over Benghazi." The headline on screen throughout the segment declared: "'It's Personal'; Clinton Gets Emotional During Benghazi Hearings."