On Friday’s "Good Morning America," ABC host George Stephanopoulos raved about singer Melissa Etheridge’s hosting of Thursday’s Democratic debate on gay issues. He enthused, "Melissa Etheridge is the new Ted Koppel!" Stephanopoulos, a former top Clinton aide and now the host of "This Week," also framed the debate from a decidedly pro-gay rights angle:
George Stephanopoulos: "...This is remarkable that a forum like this is happening. It would never happen on the Republican side, at least not yet."
Would Stephanopoulos spin a GOP debate on defending the Second Amendment as something the Democrats wouldn’t be interested in, at least not yet?
The tide may be turning now with glimmers of good news emerging out of Iraq. On Thursday’s Today, Matt Lauer’s questions to John McCain signaled that success in Iraq won’t be an impediment to Democrats sticking with the doom line and demanding rapid "redeployment." Suddenly, the once-crucial Petraeus report in September is now developing into a so-what moment:
LAUER: "You, you've been in Congress a long time, in the Senate for an awfully long time. You now which way the wind is blowing. There are some people who say, Senator, that the momentum, right now, in Congress is so strong to pull the troops out of Iraq that it doesn't matter what's in that report, in the middle of September from General Petraeus, or even in reports that follow that. Even if we start to change momentum in Iraq and start to see more success, the momentum in Congress is already so strong that it's unstoppable. How do you feel about that?"
On this morning's "Today" show it was a tale of two candidates who have fallen behind in the polls. One was eulogized and left for dead, the other one was glowingly profiled. Can you guess which one was a Democrat and which one was the Republican?
First, Sen. John McCain sat down on the "Today" set and had to endure NBC's David Gregory burying his campaign in a set-up piece that was so tough "Today" co-host Matt Lauer awkwardly apologized: "It's always strange for me to be sitting here with a guy and we're running a tape that's a little bit like a political obituary there."
On Thursday’s "Good Morning America," anchor Diane Sawyer gushed over new photos of 2008 Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards renewing his wedding vows with wife Elizabeth. Sawyer touted having "the very first pictures of a very personal backyard ceremony."
Reporter David Muir also found the pictures to be "incredibly personal," despite the fact that the Edwards campaign provided them to both People magazine and ABC News. And, of course, Sawyer couldn’t resist mentioning the story, highly touted in the media, that the couple spends their wedding anniversaries at Wendy’s. The GMA host enthused, "And we should say, however, they did also have their ritual anniversary Wendy's burger." This observation came only nine days after the last story on the Edwards’s trip to Wendy’s:
On Tuesday’s edition of "Nightline," anchor Martin Bashir interviewed businessman Tom Monaghan, founder of a new Catholic university in Florida and also a community called Ave Maria that will be based around Catholic values. Bashir parroted criticism that the town has "been described as a Catholic Jonestown, a kind of Catholic Iran, where individual rights and liberties are curtailed."
Earlier in the segment, Bashir asserted that the community, which will encourage traditional values but be open to all,has "been called a Disney World for Catholics, a country club Christianity."
CBS, the Rathergate network, offered up another misleading report. The August 8 edition of "The Early Show,"at 7:09 AM, edited a Hillary Clinton quote from the August 7 AFL-CIO debate to portray her as a populist.
JOIE CHEN: Front-runner Clinton also came up against sharp elbows with rivals accusing her of cozying up to big-money lobbyists. Before thousands of union members, the New York Senator sought to portray herself as champion of the little guy.
CLINTON: So if you want a winner who knows how to take them on, I'm your girl.
What she actually said was in the context of her preference in attacking the Republicans. The full quote is much more divisive than portraying herself "as champion of the little guy."
When New-York based "Today" went looking for a local sports reporter to defend Barry Bonds the morning after he set the career home run record, it didn't turn to the New York Post, whose headline this morning reads JUNK BONDS: ‘SULTAN OF SYRINGE'. Nor was it likely that the designated hitter would be someone from the Daily News, whose back page screams "King of Shame." Instead, "Today" looked to the New York Times, and in particular to sports writer William Rhoden [pictured here with Matt Lauer], to embrace Bonds.
'TODAY' CO-ANCHOR MATT LAUER: You've been very critical of baseball actually leading up to this milestone for the way they've been wringing their hands trying to figure out what to do with this record. Barry Bonds you wrote, quote, "he will be baseball's king, it's emperor, it's czar." How are you feeling this morning?
NYT SPORTS REPORTER WILLIAM RHODEN: I think it's a great moment, Matt. It really is. It's an historic moment. The number's there, no matter. There's going to continue to be hand-wringing, but there's no hand-wringing in the Bonds household [proving what?] . . . It's just a tremendous accomplishment . . . I don't think anyone doubts that.
There’s some funny items sitting around on the transcript shelf here. On Monday’s Today, Matt Lauer and Chris Matthews briefly discussed the hard-left Yearly Kos convention, and Matthews insisted that the junior Senator who adopted New York didn’t really belong to the bloggers: "Hillary’s not one of them. Hillary’s not a lefty in this campaign and she’s pro-corporation."
Sunday’s Chris Matthews Show began with Matthews wondering "Is there anything that’ll stop the Democrats?" He said no: "We put it to the Matthews Meter, 12 of our regular panelists. ‘Is the ‘08 election the Democrats’ to lose?’ It’s a wipe out. Rarely do we see this perfection. Twelve to zip. Everyone says yes, it’s the Democrats’ to lose. In other words they’re probably gonna win easily."
Whenever NBC News needs someone to put the current presidential campaign into historic context they usually go to liberal historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and in recent days, on two different NBC News outlets, Goodwin has delivered with her unique historic and liberal perspective on Hillary Clinton.
On this morning's "Today" show, NBC's Andrea Mitchell went to Goodwin for a critical take on Hillary, but even when asked to find a negative about the Senator from New York, Goodwin couldn't help but fill her critique with superlatives as she determined Hillary may need to soften her "articulate" and overly "prepared," image by intentionally making a mistake. The following analysis was aired on the August 7, "Today" show:
Larry King, best known recently for his scintillating interviews with thinkers such as Paris Hilton, proved that he can still ask tough questions, to conservatives that is. In an interview with Vice President Cheney about Guantanamo, he wondered, "You have to torture them when they’re there?" Former VP Al Gore, on the other hand, received puff questions about Madonna and penguins.
Speaking of media coddling, "Good Morning America" anchors Diane Sawyer and Robin Roberts appeared to be infatuated with the story that 2008 Democratic candidate John Edwards and his wife Elizabeth spend their wedding anniversaries at Wendy’s. Roberts even promoted the former senator by referring to him as "Presidential nominee" John Edwards.
On Friday, the network morning shows downplayed or ignored 2008 Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s muddled comment that nuclear weapons shouldn’t be used in "any circumstances" in Afghanistan or Pakistan. On CBS, the "Early Show" didn’t cover the story at all. During the three hour broadcast of the "Today" show, NBC found time for only one brief anchor read.
ABC’s "Good Morning America" provided the most coverage, but that simply amounted to a solitary anchor brief and then a quick, defensive summery of Obama’s statement by "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos:
George Stephanopoulos: "...Barack Obama, appearing to rule out the use of nuclear weapons in going after al Qaeda or the Taliban in Pakistan....What he's drawing fire for though is talking about it. A lot of nuclear strategists say you should never talk about how or when you're going to use nuclear weapons. The Barack Obama people though say they make no apologies. They're not going to back down at all and that they’re saying, uh, the correct policy that people need to hear."
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?"