NBC's "Today" show devoted its entire 7:30am half-hour of its Wednesday morning program to Bill and Hillary Clinton as it invited on the former president to tout his wife's candidacy and his new book. During almost 13 minutes of one-on-one interview time with Clinton, Matt Lauer brought up the issue of too much money in politics but never asked about Bill's or Hillary's fundraising scandals, asked about Republican Larry Craig's sex scandal, but didn't mention Bill's own personal indiscretions and even let Clinton rant about the GOP's "Swift boat tactics" against Hillary.
Bill Clinton promoted his new book "Giving" in the second half-hour of NBC’s Today on Wednesday morning. Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira repeatedly promoted how the idealistic former president would arrive to tell viewers "how you can change the world." (That's a play on the book's subtitle.) To set up the interview, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell compiled a story in a typical story on the Clintons, with no conservative or Republican critics in it, and the toughest, most skeptical expert in the piece was Dee Dee Myers, the former Clinton press secretary. Myers declared that Hillary has the problem that her husband is "a global rock star and one of the most popular people on the face of the planet." Mitchell concluded that the former president is "one of her biggest assets."
It was not exactly a plum assignment for a Republican to go on network television to discuss the alleged foot-tapping ways of the soon-to-be former GOP senator from Idaho. But Republicans also could easily see the delight in the eyes of the liberal media when word of Sen. Larry Craig’s Minneapolis airport arrest broke. The press went right back to last year’s smash-mouth Foleygate talking points about how this wasn’t just about the moral turpitude of one member of Congress, but it was about the impending end of the Republican Party, and potential doom for American conservatism.
On Tuesday, NBC’s "Today" show had opened with Matt Lauer asking: "Can the right wing withstand yet another scandal involving one of its own?" (Try imagining Matt Lauer, or any other network journalist out there, asking if "the left wing" could withstand yet another scandal after the breaking news of any one of the endless scandals revolving around Bill and Hillary Clinton.) Ann Curry chimed in, wondering "how does this specter of hypocrisy affect the Party?"
On Tuesday's "Today" show Matt Lauer discovered the solution to all the environmental crises Al Gore and his ilk have warned about, there's just one hitch, it involves the extinction of all mankind. Promoting a book that examined how long it would take for the Earth to clean up "the mess we've made" Lauer and his co-host Meredith Vieira pondered how pristine the planet would be without us:
Matt Lauer: "Then we're gonna talk to the author of a book and this is, really asks an interesting question. The book is called The World Without Us and it asks the question what would happen to planet Earth if human beings were to suddenly disappear. What would happen to our cities? What would happen to our landmarks? How quickly would our streets turn to rivers? How quickly would our farmland turn to forest? What would happen to natural wonders and man made wonders, like the Panama Canal or the Statue of Liberty. We're gonna talk to the author about that. And really it's all about trying to figure out how long it would take nature to reclaim what we've created."
Meredith Vieira: "The mess."
Lauer: "How long it would take nature to fix the mess we've made?"
At the end of the first half-hour of NBC's Today show, the anchors were on camera when they clearly thought they were off-camera. At least here in the Washington area, while Meredith Vieira was looking down and waiting on screen, viewers heard Matt Lauer matter-of-factly critiquing an interview segment: "I wouldn't have echoed that first question...I already saw it in the intro...I already killed it." Meredith then looked up with a practiced smile and said, "Nice to see ya, Debra," and moved into promoting the next half-hour. Then they went back to assuming they were off-camera. Lauer again fussed about his interview prep. Meredith said she couldn't sleep last night and took a NyQuil, and her mouth is so dry this morning.
In a nice touch, Meredith turned around and waved and whispered Happy Birthday to a well-wisher behind her in the window. Did they get an inkling someone had messed up?
Several media outlets used the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina as an excuse to promote the 2008 Democratic candidates. On CNN, right after running a glowing piece on Democrats such as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, anchor Soledad O’Brien sermonized that "no event has damaged the Bush White House more than Katrina." Over on ABC, "Good Morning America" co-host Robin Roberts claimed that candidates from "both parties" would travel to New Orleans to "point out the Bush administration's shortcomings in fixing many problems that still exist, like those being forced to still live in trailers."
"Hardball" regular David Shuster managed to combine both the Katrina coverage with the scandal over Senator Larry Craig. He bizarrely claimed that the Craig incident "adds moral insult to the injuries being suffered today by the victims of Hurricane Katrina."
NBC’s "Today" Show’s heart-touching feature on Geraldine Ferraro’s blood cancer survival on Friday morning gave a hint at the ulterior motive that they had for running it. Substitute host Ann Curry introduced the segment, a "Today’s Update" feature by gushing, "She’s always been a ground-breaker, and she is still at it."
In the segment which ran during the 8 am hour of "Today," NBC News national correspondent Jamie Gangel interviewed Ferraro about her nine-year-long struggle against a type of blood cancer called multiple myeloma. Gangel, in her retrospective look at Ferraro’s 1984 run for vice-president, which introduced the segment, reported, "In 1984, Geraldine Ferraro made history as the first woman picked to run for vice president.... Twenty-three years later, she's making history again, but this time, medical history."
This could be something of a first: a major MSM player admits there's a case to be made that the media is incredibly biased against Republicans.
As I noted here, when Tom DeLay accused the media of bias on this morning's "Today," Matt Lauer stonewalled: "I'm not going to let it, you know, end with that assumption, congressman, because I clearly don't agree with it."
But appearing on this afternoon's Harball, DeLay successfully wangled an admission from host Chris Matthews.
TOM DELAY: If [Craig] has been found guilty of what he's been accused of, then yeah. But I do know that the Republicans will do something about it. I do know that if he were a Democrat they would rally around him and they would not do something about it. I do know that the national media is incredibly biased against Republicans that find themselves [in trouble] --
CHRIS MATTHEWS: That's a charge which I've heard before and I can understand why you make it. You make it a lot. Sometimes you have a case to make. Sometimes.
Associated Press reporter David Bauder wrote a story on the new MRC study on the wide and deep disparity of morning TV news coverage of the presidential candidates in 2007. It's fair and balanced. But for us, obviously, the most entertaining part was hearing the network producers respond to the charges. They said it's all the Republicans' fault for being so shy with interview requests, and declared the Democratic race was so stuffed with historic firsts, it just demands blockbuster coverage:
You've got a former first lady and a black senator fighting for the nomination," said Jim Bell, executive producer of NBC's "Today" show. "That's historic. We're not going to make apologies for covering that."
Stories about the cancer relapse of Democrat John Edwards' wife Elizabeth were also counted in the total. It's unfair to count a personal story like that in a tally that suggests bias, said Jim Murphy, executive producer of ABC's "Good Morning America."
It's rare to see a leading MSM light directly confronted over the liberal media's bias. But it happened in spades this morning as Tom DeLay (R-Texas) called out Matt Lauer on the MSM's double-standard in handling Republican, versus Democrat, scandals.
Watching network morning show anchors interview the Democratic presidential candidates often makes you wonder if you’ve seen tougher interviews on overnight acne-care infomercials. Their questions are often so simple and promotional that you wish they’d just go ahead and wear their "Hillary!" or "Obama ‘08" buttons on the set.
There is no pretense of political balance. They are actively rooting for a Democratic victory next year, and they have the power to make a real difference. Notwithstanding their overall loss of audience in the last decade, ABC, CBS, and NBC morning shows draw nine times the audience of their cable-news competitors and are geared toward the mostly apolitical mainstream, which makes them an important free-media showcase for presidential hopefuls. A new study shows that if this year’s campaign coverage on the TV morning shows were a primary election, the Democrats would win in a landslide of attention and hyperbole.
Rich Noyes of the Media Research Center assessed all morning-show coverage on the Big Three from January 1 through July 31.
For NBC's "Today" show crew it wasn't enough to label Larry Craig's scandal as a crisis for him personally or even to call it a crisis for the Republican Party, no "Today" went even further as it declared it a "crisis" for conservatives everywhere. NBC's Matt Lauer opened the Tuesday "Today" show asking his viewers: "Can the right wing withstand yet another scandal involving one of its own?"
Lauer's colleague Ann Curry, then piled on, as she wondered if the Craig incident spelled doom for the GOP's chances in ‘08: "How does this specter of hypocrisy affect the party, especially as we're now moving into a very critical time for the Republican Party facing this presidential election year?"
On Friday, National Review writer Myrna Blyth unwrapped some of the nuggets in the forthcoming Ed Klein biography of Katie Couric, the one the Katie camp is trying to squash, in very Hillaryesque fashion, as "old news." [Klein appeared Monday night on FNC's Hannity & Colmes.] Before she kindly noted that the MRC has piles and piles of examples of Katie's liberal bias, Blyth dished Klein's claims:
In fact, there is not much unexpected here including the portrait of the young Katie as wildly ambitious and manipulative when she was desperately trying to make her dream “of becoming the next Barbara Walters” come true. Though a bit surprising, Couric, who in her prime was always seen as a feminist icon, often relied on relationships with important men to help her in her climb. According to Klein, she had affairs with both a married CNN executive who saved her from being fired a couple of times, and a media spokesman for Metro Dade Police Department who tipped her off on big stories when she was a TV reporter in Miami.
NBC’s "Today" show continued its global warming alarmism this week. Reporter Bob Dotson profiled a polar explorer who is teaching, or indoctrinating, today’s youths about global warming. The "Today" crew couldn’t refrain from gushing over this "sobering," "beautiful" message from an "impressive guy." However, NBC doesn’t want viewers to get excited over every issue. Correspondent Andrea Mitchell recently told viewers that "internet writers" need to take "a breath" over reports that Michelle Obama was attacking Hillary Clinton during a campaign speech.
"Situation Room" reporter Jack Cafferty, CNN’s answer to Andy Rooney, this week concluded that conservatives are dumb and George Bush should be impeached. Discussing a new poll on American reading habits, Cafferty claimed, "Liberals read more books than conservatives. Why?" Earlier in the week, he railed against Democratic Senator Chris Dodd’s statement that impeaching President Bush would be counterproductive.
Matching the theme of NBC Nightly News from the evening before, the Today show on Friday morning portrayed Republican Senator John Warner's call for 5,000 troops to return home by Christmas as “a major defection” and “sharp rebuke” to President Bush, but to the astonishment of co-host Matt Lauer, who described Warner as “a pretty heavy domino” falling against Bush, guest Bill Kristol rejected the media's presumptions about the importance of Warner's stand. On Thursday, NBC anchor Brian Williams had hailed a possible “turning point in the debate over America's involvement in Iraq” because of “a major defection from President Bush's camp.” (NB rundown of Thursday night hype of Warner) Friday morning, Andrea Mitchell echoed Williams as she trumpeted “a major defection from the most authoritative Republican Senator on all things military. It is a sharp rebuke to the President” from “the Senate's most influential Republican on the Armed Services Committee.”
When Kristol made clear he didn't think Warner's comments were such a big deal since he remains opposed to a pull-out timetable, Lauer argued: “What about the signal it sends to moderate Republicans in Congress? You know everybody talks about some sort of large scale defection. Isn't John Warner a pretty heavy domino?” Kristol countered: “No, because it hasn't fallen. He's not going to vote against the President in September, that's the more important thing.” Turning to the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq, which Mitchell had described as “grim,” Kristol highlighted positive findings about defeating al-Qaeda, prompting an incredulous Lauer to wonder: “Are they looking at the same country that you just saw?” Lauer soon insisted: “It paints a much more pessimistic picture than you just painted for me.”
Almost a year ago, the "Today" show went out of its way to promote the "legendary" Jane Fonda's new liberal radio network but since the Women's Radio Network's final broadcast on Friday, "Today" has yet to mention the latest liberal talk radio failure.
The following excerpt is from an announcement by GreenStone Media's CEO, Susan Ness. Ness blamed the network's demise on, what she believed, was the ignorant perception that they were "too feminist."
There are a few chinks in Cramer’s armor, though. Beyond his infamous meltdown on August 6 and his admission in December 2006 on TheStreet.com (NASDAQ:TSCM), a financial Web site he launched in 1996, of manipulating the press to influence the markets when he was working at a hedge fund, he’s not an all-knowing stock guru.
On Monday's "Today" show, NBC's Bob Dotson profiled Will Steger, a polar explorer who is indoctrinating America's youth about "collapsing" ice shelves and global warming. Dotson never doubted the explorer's theories, instead he chose to portray Steger's work as nothing short of much needed charity work:
"Pitching back in between and forth between the Poles, Will began to notice our warming world, wrote one of the first books about it. Now the old explorer has set himself a new challenge. Here in his home of the great northern Minnesota woods he's teaching the next generation how to rally support and solve the problem."
Cable host Chris Matthews reacted to the resignation of top Bush aide Karl Rove by calling the political operative a "bum" and speculating as to whether he would tell all in an autobiography. Matthews sneeringly wondered if "you have to pay to get the truth from Karl Rove." In general, he contributed to the media frothing by hungering for the scalp of the Bush aide.
Dan Abrams, MSNBC host and general manager of that cable network, continued the political savaging by labeling Rove the "Constitutional Crippler." Abrams went on to slam Rove for "hypocrisy. He also asserted that he wouldn’t "shed a tear at his farewell bash." (I wouldn’t expect an invitation.) The Rove rage wasn’t limited to MSNBC, however. ABC managed to inaccurately blame the Bush operative for the 2004 Swift Boat ads.
Of the three morning shows, only ABC’s "Good Morning America" has reported the comment by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama that part of the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan is made up of "air-raiding villages and killing civilians." Both CBS’s "Early Show" and "Today" on NBC have ignored the August 14 comment. On Friday’s GMA, however, reporter David Wright filed a report on the statement and wondered if Obama is ready to be president. An ABC graphic pointedly asked, "Obama’s Foot in Mouth Disease? Too Inexperienced For Campaign?"
After playing a brief clip of the Illinois senator’s comment, which he made during a speech in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Wright mentioned previous impolitic statements by Obama, such as threatening to invade Pakistan. The ABC journalist noted that Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, raised the issue of civilian casualties with President Bush. He asserted, "...Presumably, Hamid Karzai used language that was more diplomatic, more presidential."
CNBC’s Jim Cramer went on an impassioned rant August 6 calling for the Fed to reduce interest rates.
“Bernanke needs to open the discount window. That is how bad things are out there … in the fixed income markets we have Armageddon,” said Cramer on “Stop Trading!” Following Cramers’ rant, NBC brought him on “Today” to analyze the economy August 10.
NBC’s Meredith Vieira asked “Are the markets about to crash?” on the August 10 “Today” show.
Yet another Democratic candidate played nurse for a day, as part of a stunt to garner labor union support, and once again "Today" show's cameras were there to cover the photo-op. On this morning's "Today" show, NBC's Andrea Mitchell followed Hillary Clinton as she made the rounds with a nurse to, both soften her image, and suck up to the Service Employees International Union.
Interestingly, "Today" didn't give Hillary quite the same glowing profile it gave Barack Obama last week, as Meredith Vieira expressed some skepticism as she asked: "Do you think the public buys any of this?" However, viewers were still treated to shots of Hillary talking to patients and sitting down with the nurse's family to say grace at the kitchen table as Mitchell dutifully declared: "She got her hands wet."
Promoting a new study that claims the longevity of Americans has fallen way behind other countries like France and Australia, "Today" co-host Meredith Vieira offered an explanation that would've made Hillary Clinton and Michael Moore smile - lack of health insurance. After subsitute-host David Gregory noted that the tiny country of Andorra fared better in the survey, with their citizens living an average of 83.5 years compared to America's 77.9 years, Vieira piped up: "They say part of the reason is because so many Americans don't have health insurance."
The following exchange occurred in the 8:30am half-hour of the August 13th, "Today" show:
Talking like a Democratic congressman eager to get Karl Rove's scalp, Chris Matthews seemed to be urging Democrats to grill the President's adviser on the "witness chair." On this morning's Today show, analyzing Rove's announcement that he'll be resigning at the end of the month, the host of MSNBC's "Hardball," declared: "Well you have to wonder about his exposure now because he's used executive privilege to protect himself from Pat Leahy on the Judiciary committee and Congressman Henry Waxman, both hot to trot to get him in a witness chair."
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."