On this morning's Today show, NBC's Meredith Vieira and Dr. Nancy Snyderman became born-again libertarians in their opposition to New York City's ban on bottle feeding babies. Vieira called the measure "drastic" and Snyderman urged, "not so fast." The ban even inspired "Today" to coin a new series segment called "Nanny State." However, back in 2006, when New York City infringed on another right - the right to eat fatty foods, Snyderman struck a different tone, as she gravely warned about the dangers of trans fats.
First up Vieira opened the bottle feeding ban segment on the August 2, "Today" this way:
Democratic catfights are usually papered over on liberal networks. But NBC’s Wednesday morning coverage of the ongoing battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama over his goofy declaration to meet with America-hating tyrants without preconditions came jam-packed with words of praise for Bill Clinton, the "peacemaker" of the duel. Matt Lauer began: "Now to Bill Clinton, peacemaker. Every president would like that label but they don't normally get it for keeping the peace between their own party's candidates, especially when one of them happens to be his wife." Lauer later added that Clinton is an "elder statesman" and "experienced voice of reason" within the Democratic fold.
In David Gregory’s story, viewers witnessed the usual Bill-adoring lingo from John Harwood, CNBC's chief Washington correspondent: "One of the things that we know about Bill Clinton is that his political instincts are second to none, and if he thinks that there's a dangerous point in this fight with Barack Obama that's a pretty good sign that Hillary Clinton ought to back off a little bit."
Video (0:55):Real (1.51 MB) or Windows (1.74 MB), plus MP3 audio (305 kB)
As part of a new segment on the "Today" show called "Candidate Cribs," NBC's Jonathan Alter went on a cab ride, with Democratic candidate Mike Gravel behind the wheel. However, Alter received more than a calm cruise through the city from the former Alaskan senator. In a gimmicky stunt, meant to showcase the candidate's past life as a New York City cabbie, Alter slid into the back seat for a ride but just after Gravel started griping about Iraq he crashed the taxi.
Alter: "Gravel is best remembered for helping end the Vietnam era draft with a filibuster and for reading the Pentagon Papers in the Senate. Now, after a quarter-century out of politics, he's an angry Rip Van Winkle."
Gravel: "I know how to get out of Iraq. I know how to affect the solution, it's a diplomatic solution."
On Tuesday’s "Good Morning America," anchors Robin Roberts and Diane Sawyer touted the marital relationship between Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards and his wife. Co-host Robin Roberts recounted the often repeated story of how the Edwards couple spend their wedding anniversary, including their recent 30th, at the restaurant Wendy’s.
Roberts, perhaps in a Freudian slip, even referred to the former North Carolina Senator as "presidential nominee John Edwards." Sawyer gushed that the candidate and his wife "are going to renew their vows." "Happy anniversary," she added.
Yet, this is the same morning show that has vastly underplayed stories that aren’t quite so cute and endearing for the '08 contender. For instance, during a recent GMA town hall with John Edwards on the subject of poverty, Ms. Sawyer only managed to mention the trial lawyer’s 28,000 square-foot mansion once.
Scanning the columns at Townhall.com is part of my early-morning routine, and it was at about 6 A.M. today that I read Charles Krauthammer's "Obama Bombing." I marveled at how perfectly the Pulitzer Prize-winning author had captured the essence of Hugo Chavez, calling the Venezuelan thug "a malevolent clown."
Krauthammer's words obviously impressed Matt Lauer, too. For barely an hour later, I was pleasantly surprised to find the psychiatrist-turned-pundit's phrase turning up on the screen at "Today," with Lauer clearly seeming to advance the conservative commentator's theory.
Lauer was interviewing MSNBC's Chris Matthews on this week's Hillary-Obama dust-up.
"TODAY" CO-ANCHOR MATT LAUER: Let me ask you about this debate, the issue that came out of the debate, this whole inexperience-versus-change thing, when Barack Obama answered that in the first year of his presidency he would meet with people like Castro and Chavez. Let me read you what Charles Krauthammer wrote in the Washington Post this morning:
Do the Democrats want to risk strike three, another national security question blown, but this time perhaps in a final presidential debate before the '08 election, rather than a midseason intraparty cattle call? The country might decide that it prefers, yes, a Republican -- say, 9/11 veteran Rudy Giuliani -- to a freshman senator who does not instinctively understand why an American president does not share the honor of his office with a malevolent clown like Hugo Chavez.
With any weather related disaster, the mainstream media typically blames it on "global warming." This was no exception on the July 26 edition of "The Early Show." Upon reporting on the flooding in Britain, correspondent Elizabeth Palmer concluded her report blaming the disaster on global warming and predicting more to come.
"But most people think that with climate change, flooding like this, or even worse, could become common place here in Britain."
As if floods did not occur before the industrial age. CBS followed NBC's "Today" as correspondent Keith Miller blamed the disaster on "global warming."
On July 25, two of the major morning news shows, "Today" and "The Early Show," covered the recent foreign policy disagreements between Senators Obama and Clinton with very stark contrasts.
Bob Schieffer on CBS’s "Early Show"hyped her supposedly inevitable nomination exclaiming "it’s Christmas in July for Mrs. Clinton" and "this is going to be Mrs. Clinton’s nomination to lose." Scheiffer, noting Clinton’s response to Obama, fawned "boy...she jumped on this one" and tied it in to her "experience." To top it off, Schieffer claimed "this Clinton machine is now really running."
Tim Russert on NBC’s "Today," by contrast, forecasted "a fight to the finish" because Obama "punches back" by accusing Clinton of irresponsibility voting for the Iraq War. Russert also opined that Hillary risks hurting the left wing base of her party.
In May, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted an above average hurricane season, the media reported the announcement with a vigor.
Two months later, with no serious hurricanes yet hitting the mainland, a private forecaster has reduced its tropical storm expectations.
Less hurricanes should be good news, especially for folks along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, right? Shouldn't this get aggressively disseminated by media outlets that certainly have a public service responsibility?
Before we get there, the following was reported by Reuters Tuesday evening (emphasis added):
The ever present boogeyman that, in the media's eyes, is global warming, reared its ugly head again today. Reporting from England on the rising flood waters there, NBC's Keith Miller, on this morning's 'Today' show, offered the following observation:
Keith Miller: "The damage from the flood waters is already estimated to be more than $100 million. Roads are out, the electricity supply has failed and the water supply is now contaminated. The people of Britain are all asking the same question today, could this be global warming?"
See Update below: Michelle back on the flooding beat!
If you're Michelle Kosinki's agent, you surely have a verboten vocabulary list. Words you don't want your ward ever to say on air. Above all, of course, "canoe." But others too. Ones like "puddle," "slosh," and certainly . . . "row."
But there was Michelle on this morning's "Today," reporting from London on Potter-mania. And you guessed it . . .
As NBC's Matt Lauer advertised Harry Reid’s "all-nighter" to debate Iraq's funding, his colleague, Jim Miklaszewski, buttressed Reid's theatrics by showcasing military families, whose "anger over the war is growing," and even highlighted a group calling for the war's defunding. On this morning's 'Today' show, Miklaszewki, aired soundbites from three war opponents but he didn’t gave any air-time to supporters of the war effort.
The following is the full, unbalanced, segment as it occurred the July 17th Today show:
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States. -- U.S. Constitution Article II, Section 2.
The faces occasionally change at "Today," but the bias remains the same. Natalie Morales sat in for Meredith Vieira this morning, but the show didn't lose a liberal beat, as Natalie knocked President Bush for his temerity in asserting his constitutional role as Commander-in-Chief.
Chatting with Tim Russert at about 7:10 A.M. EDT, Morales offered this take on W's comments of yesterday:
NBC'S NATALIE MORALES: Tim, what was striking yesterday was the aggressive tone the President took with Congress yesterday,with lawmakers, saying it is not their job to manage the war. Not since Vietnam has there been such a clash between the executive and the legislative branches. If the President is trying to build support, did he lose some of that yesterday?
The donations to the global warming cause keep coming in from NBC. On this morning's "Today" show, the band Maroon 5 came on to tease their upcoming performance on the show but couldn't leave without the "Today" show cast urging them to plug their partnership with a liberal environmentalist organization, that gets $1 from every Maroon 5 ticket sold.
When the band's lead singer, Adam Levine, urged viewers to buy tickets for their tour, "Today" co-host Ann Curry mentioned viewers could see the band for free at their August 17th performance on the Rockefeller Center Plaza. However Today's weatherman, Al Roker, quickly rectified Curry's inadvertent undercutting of the cause, as he reminded viewers: "But buy a ticket because a dollar goes to Global Cool."
Ann Curry didn't even bother with the "some say" dodge. On this morning's "Today," she flatly suggested to Michael Chertoff that we are losing the war on terror because of a "misguided focus" on Iraq.
The Secretary of Homeland Security was on to discuss reports that a new assessment from U.S. counterterrorism analysts indicates that al-Qaeda has rebuilt itself and poses the greatest threat to the U.S. since before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
When Chertoff confirmed the report's basic accuracy, Curry went on offense.
NBC'S ANN CURRY: You're saying that this report is true. Well, how is this possible? How is it possible that after six years and U.S. attacks, that al-Qaeda could now could be at about the same level it was pre-9-11?
As Chertoff tried to respond, Curry interrupted, her voice suddenly thick with emotion.
CURRY: And what does it say specifically about whether we're losing this war on terror and if in fact that's because our focus is misguided, that's it's on Iraq, and not on this area of Pakistan?
If I hear one more MSM outlet ascribe the implosion of John McCain's candidacy to his support for the war in Iraq, I'm going to scream . .
Let's see. Why don't we check out this morning's "Today"?
NBC REPORTER CHIP REID: He's been falling steadily in the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll from 29% in December to 24 in March and last month just 14%. His unwavering support of the Iraq war is unpopular with moderate Republicans and he insists he won't change his position for political purposes.
Reid did go on to mention McCain's support for "immigration reform" [read amnesty] as another issue hurting his campaign. But anyone who thinks McCain's support for our Iraq policy [a position shared by the frontrunners] is his main problem with GOP primary voters is as out of touch with the Republican base as only the MSM can be.
Picking up where last night's Nightly News left off, NBC's Today show continued the "tipping point" line of attack on pushing for troop withdrawal from Iraq. Opening this morning's Today show, NBC's Matt Lauer greeted viewers with the following question: "Good morning, if not now, when? The White House says it's not considering pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq right now but with sinking approval ratings and defections from his own party is it just a matter of time before the President changes course?" Then, teasing an interview with White House press secretary Tony Snow, Lauer all but declared defeat:
Does NBC have some inside dope? Is John McCain, till now one of the staunchest supporters of the Bush administration's Iraq policy, about to bug out? An unusual question from Matt Lauer to Tony Snow this morning raised that possibility.
Here's the exchange that came on this morning's "Today" at 7:08 A.M. EDT, toward the end of Lauer's interview of White House press secretary Snow:
TODAY CO-HOST MATT LAUER: If, and you hate hypotheticals, I know, so hate me later, but if John McCain comes back [from his current Iraq trip] and joins the ranks of those other Republicans who say it's time to rethink this strategy, how big a blow is that to the President, considering how supportive John McCain has been to the strategy?
WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY TONY SNOW: You've got to understand that for the President, although politics is clearly important in building public support, succeeding is the most important thing of all. If we fail in Iraq, and this is something [U.S. Ambassador to Iraq] Ryan Crocker was pointing out as well, if you have failure in Iraq, you are going to see consequences that are going to be extraordinarily dire in the region, throughout the world and for the United States.
Sting and his wife, environmental activist, Trudie Styler, were welcomed like old friends by Today co-host Ann Curry, on NBC's prime-time coverage of Live Earth. Curry, who has gushingly interviewed Styler before, implored the rock star and his wife to send a message to all those participating in the "rising fervor" for the environment. However, Curry worried that "fervor" would cool as she asked the 80s pop icon: "Well the iron is hot. People are listening. Irons cool, Sting. So what is the strongest thing you can say tonight to people listening?"
The following is the full interview as it occurred around 8:24pm on NBC's live July 7th coverage of the Live Earth concert:
Appearing with Today co-host Ann Curry during NBC’s exhaustive coverage of his Live Earth concert, Gore gave a shout out to the network for its donation to his global warming cause, as Gore told Curry: "Thanks for what NBC has been doing." Curry, as expected, didn’t exactly deliver a hard-hitting interview and even pressed Gore about running for president.
Curry to Gore: "A lot of people want me to ask you tonight if you're running for President. And I know what you're answer is gonna be, believe me. I gotta ask you though. After fueling this grass roots movement if you become convinced that without you there will not be the political will in the White House to fight global warming to the level that is required, because the clock is ticking.Would you answer the call? Would you answer the call, yes or no?"
Live Earth's TV ratings might have been dismal, and the extravaganza took heat for the liberal use of profanity by its performers. But at least the concert series served some purpose: providing comedic fodder for today's "Morning Joe." Host Joe Scarborough and sidekick John Ridley had considerable fun at the expense of Ann Curry, a host of NBC's coverage of the event (see related NB item), whose interview of Al Gore gave new meaning to "touchy-feely."
At about 6:45 A.M. EDT this morning, the MSNBC show rolled a clip from the Curry-Gore interview in which Curry repeatedly grabbed Gore's arm and ended with a manic hand-pump.
As noted here, MSNBC's John Ridley went off on Al Gore this morning, suggesting he should hug his kid rather than the planet, save his son, not ice caps. But NBC's "Today" offered up a more predictable MSM response, as the show sought to downplay the Gore incident by pointing to Republican politicians whose kids have caused trouble, while praising Chelsea Clinton as unusually mature.
Introducing the segment, Meredith Vieira shifted the spotlight from Gore's situation to the broader issues.
'TODAY' CO-HOST MEREDITH VIEIRA: And now to politicians and their children. It's tough being a parent, and as former Vice-Pesident Al Gore learned this week, it's even tougher when you're in the public eye and your child makes a big mistake.
NBC reporter John Yang, who narrated the segment, was also in an understanding mood.
YANG: The arrest of his son and namesake on drug charges is giving former Vice-President Al Gore a lesson that millions of parents have learned before.
Cut to a clip of presidential historian Allan Lichtman, happy to let Al off the hook: "There are things you can control, and things you can't control in your own children's conduct." Roll footage of the Bush daughters, including the shot shown here of Jenna.
YANG: The saga of Al Gore III is just the latest example of politicians being embarrassed by their children, something that seems to be part of the political landscape. President Bush's twin daughters gained notoriety with citations for underage drinking.
In an interview published today in the Tampa Tribune, Meredith Vieira talks about how wonderful her two jobs are, co-hosting NBC's "Today" and hosting the game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." In particular, she loves the "switching gears" aspect of the stories she covers on "Today":
She says 'Today' is a great challenge 'because you can go from reporting on the presidential pardon of Scooter Libby to grilling hamburgers outside on the patio - from one kind of grilling to another - and I love that. Switching gears makes it so much fun.'
Presidential pardon? Pardon me? President Bush did not pardon Libby, he commuted his sentence. There is a huge difference between a pardon and a commutation. The felony conviction is still on his record, along with the huge fine he was ordered to pay, and he still faces the possibility of having his law license revoked. The only difference is that Libby won't have to serve jail time. And while the White House says a full pardon has not been ruled out, it hasn't happened yet.
The Tuesday broadcast network morning shows all led with President Bush's commutation of the 30-month prison sentence for Lewis "Scooter" Libby, but CBS displayed "Libby Pardon" on screen throughout a report from Bill Plante; over video of Bush and then Libby ABC put "Above the Law?" on screen to frame its coverage; and both CBS and NBC featured Hillary Clinton's slam at Bush's "cronyism" -- yet failed to bring up the name Marc Rich. NBC's Meredith Vieira scolded Bill Kristol for daring to describe Joe Wilson's claims, that President Bush "subverted the rule of law" and could be "a suspect in an ongoing obstruction of justice case," as "ridiculous." Referring to the commutation, not the prosecution, Vieira lectured: "There are many people who feel that this was a travesty of justice."
Meredith Vieira invited on singer/songwriter Paolo Nutini to perform on this morning’s Today show but didn’t let the artist get away without using his spot on the upcoming Live Earth concert, as an excuse to plug NBC Universal’s sweeping coverage of the Al Gore musical marathon for the planet. Before Nutini sang he and Vieira discussed the importance of saving the Earth in the following segment of the July 3rd Today show:
Meredith Vieira: "They are calling it a worldwide event to save the planet and this Saturday more than 100 musical acts will perform in eight cities across seven continents. The Live Earth concert series will bring attention to the issue of global warming. And among the performers, Scottish singer/songwriter Paolo Nutini."
Writing about Lester Holt, I've more than once praised the NBC host for his level-headed professionalism. I may have to re-evaluate after his performance on this morning's "Today." Interviewing Joe Wilson about the Libby commutation, Holt seemed to seek to throw gasoline on the fire with leading questions, while obfuscating an important fact. Later, Meredith Vieira interrupted Bill Kristol to offer a heartelt defense of Wilson.
Holt began by reminding Wilson of his recent statement that the Libby sentence demonstrates that "this remains a nation of laws, not men."
Holt then lobbed in this question.
NBC HOST LESTER HOLT: Do you still believe that this morning?
Wilson knew just what to do with the hanging curveball:
The wicket has gotten sticky for those who, in the wake of terror attacks, seek to blame the West for the disaffection of a few Islamist youths gone wrong. The profile of those involved in the latest rash of terror incidents in the U.K. has stood that theory on its head.
Consider the dialogue on this morning's "Today" at 7:06 a.m. EDT between NBC's Lester Holt and Lisa Myers, both reporting from London.
NBC'S LESTER HOLT: Lisa, we always hear when these sort of things happen in the U.K. about disaffected young Muslim men, sort of home-grown terrorists. When you talk about physicians, does this change the nature of what anti-terror authorities here would expect in these cases?
NBC'S LISA MYERS: Absolutely, Lester. This greatly complicates the profile. Most of the recent plots had been the work of so-called home-grown cells with ties to Pakistan; disaffected young British Muslims who in some cases went to Pakistan for terror training. Here you have a group of highly-educated foreigners, the kind of people that this country actually encourages to come to Britain. So that makes it very tough, Lester.
NBC's announcement that Today news anchor and Dateline host Ann Curry (file photo from 2006 at right) will co-anchor NBC's prime-time simulcast of Al Gore's "Live Earth" concerts on Saturday is an obvious indicator that it won't just be a rock concert. It will include gooey interviews where celebrities and rock stars will be praised for their global conscience.
Curry's big prime-time gig could be a reward for the one-sided environmental activism she's long displayed at NBC's morning show. In her time at Today, Curry has brought her trademark sappy personality along with the expected liberal bias to numerous environmental interview segments. In the last five years, Curry often revealed her soft spot for all things green.
On Thursday’s Today, NBC’s Meredith Vieira interviewed Robin Williams, introducing him jokingly that he "has always made people look to the heavens and say what was he thinking? So it's only appropriate that in his latest film, License To Wed, he plays a man of the cloth. And his character, Reverend Frank is more than a little unorthodox." He’s playing an Episcopalian minister, but all his trouble lately has been by making harsh jokes about Catholic priests and pedophilia.
On the June 18 Tonight show, Williams unfurled a whole routine suggesting there were pedophiles everywhere among the Catholic priesthood, a smear on the vast majority of serious and celibate priests, as well as mean-spirited jokes about priests being sexually aroused in the confessional. Ten days later, he smeared his critics – specifically, without citing names, Michael Chapman on NewsBusters -- suggesting they didn’t care whether child-abusing priests were exposed, that keeping it quiet was okay. About halfway into the interview, Vieira steered into his mockery of priests:
At the end of Friday’s Today show on NBC, the marketing of Al Gore’s Live Earth concerts began, just eight days shy of NBC’s big three-hour Live Earth concert in prime time, hosted by NBC anchor Ann Curry and Carson Daly. (Not to mention the other 72 hours donated to Gore by NBC Universal.) NBC’s Friday guest was David DeRothschild, author of "The Live Earth Global Warming Survival Handbook." Like a good NBC employee, anchor Natalie Morales praised the climate-crisis cause: "Fantastic effort. It’s going to raise a lot of awareness."
The author mostly made the usual plugs for compact-fluorescent bulbs and other electricity savings, but the strange part (at least for late June) was urging everyone to wear a sweater and turn the thermostat down. Did they think they were recording a segment for Christmas break?