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?
The landmark Supreme Court ruling which found that schools cannot diversify their student bodies based on race alone gave NBC the launch pad they needed to talk about the conservative nature of the Supreme Court.
NBC’s coverage on Nightly News was remarkably stacked to the left. Reporter Pete Williams led his package with this sentence: “This decision vividly reveals how divided this current supreme court is on social issues.” In reporting the ruling Williams described the majority ruling as coming from “the five most conservative justices.” But he never quoted Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion which included the statement, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race, is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” He did, however, quote this statement from the minority opinion of Justice Stephen Breyer, “It's not often that so few have so quickly undone so -- changed so much.”
Still stoking the flames of the fire it started on its cable outlet, MSNBC, NBC kept pushing the Ann Coulter vs Elizabeth Edwards fight, this time on this morning’s Today show. Substitute host David Gregory invited on Elizabeth Edwards to continue to bash Coulter on her "hate language." And while the on screen headline asked, "Out of Control? The Politics of Ann Coulter," 'Today', once again, never bothered to mention the Edwards campaign's own "out of control" bloggers.
To his credit Gregory did ask about Edwards using Coulter as a fundraising tool and noted the hypocrisy of John Edward's $400 haircut and his large speaking fees for a poverty group. However Today refused to identify either Edwards as a liberal but repeatedly labeled Coulter as "conservative," and even tagged her as a "flamethrower."
As the media continue to pile on Ann Coulter in the wake of her being ambushed by Elizabeth Edwards and Chris Matthews on Tuesday’s “Hardball,” a disturbing yet predictable double standard is emerging.
On the one hand, Coulter is being pounded for using “hate words,” so much so that Matthews advocated Wednesday that people not buy her books.
Yet, Edwards and her Democrat presidential candidate husband John appear to be getting a pass regarding the hiring of two anti-Christian bigots back in February as official bloggers for his campaign.
In fact, Mrs. Edwards was interviewed this morning by ABC, CBS, and NBC to get another chance to speak about Coulter's "hate words." Yet, not one host asked her any questions concerning these bloggers.
With that in mind, MRC President Brent Bozell issued the following statement Thursday:
The network morning shows all hyped up the recent remarks from Republican Senator Richard Lugar that the war in Iraq is not going well. ABC’s "Good Morning America" ran a brief story and noted that Republican Senator George Voinovich followed as well.
The CBS "Early Show’s" "Capitol Bob" segment focused mainly on the Lugar remarks. Host Harry Smith discovered admiration for the Indiana Senator exclaimed he is a "smart guy" and is "not fickle." Bob Schieffer forecasted "I think we’re going to begin a withdrawal," claimed the troops are in "the middle of this civil war," and editorialized "the policy as we know it is not going to work." Schieffer also claimed inside sources tell him Republicans are "not enthusiastic" about the president’s Iraq strategy.
Update with transcript of Matthews on MSNBC appended below.
After yesterday's ambush of Ann Coulter by Elizabeth Edwards on Hardball, MSNBC's Chris Matthews was rewarded a victory lap by Meredith Vieira on this morning's Today show. Matthews crowed that Edwards came out the winner, long after he stacked the deck against the conservative columnist with the surprise call-in, from John Edwards' wife, on a live show. Like a bribed referee in a fixed match Matthews, proverbially, raised Edwards' hand in victory as he blared: "Elizabeth Edwards has won this round."
The following is the full transcript of the segment, first noted here, as it occurred on the June 27th Today show.
Update (Ken Shepherd | 09:16 EDT): Matthews appeared with Joe Scarborough a few minutes ago on MSNBC to discuss the matter. Expect more coverage in a followup post on NewsBusters shortly.
Chris Matthews should keep his evening job. Appearing on this morning's "Today," the Hardball host was manifestly bleary and off his game.
Matthews was in, at 7:12 am EDT, to discuss with "Today" co-host Meredith Vieira the dust-up on last night's "Hardball," reported here by NewsBuster Geoffrey Dickens, between Ann Coulter and Elizabeth Edwards. Matthews couldn't keep his names straight. He first referred to Coulter as "Ann Edwards," then recycled the "Ann Edwards" moniker in referring to Elizabeth Edwards.
HARDBALL HOST CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well that was a pretty tough [translation: pro-Coulter] crowd, and if you think Ann Edwards is over the top, she had a lot of people behind her last night who agreed with her.
And later . . .
MATTHEWS: Unfortunately, you're dealing with a real-life situation with Ann Edwards' medical challenges, which we all know about, and the fact that they did lose their son Wade, and you don't make jokes about that.
Carrying the left's water, on this morning's 'Today' show, NBC's Kelly O'Donnell furthered the liberal spin of Dick Cheney as a dark and sinister force inside the White House. While refusing to label Melanie Sloan and Michael Blanton as the known liberals that they are, O'Donnell cited them, along with the Washington Post's Barton Gellman, in a segment that portrayed Cheney as a "master of stealth." In the story about Cheney withholding documents from the National Archives, O'Donnell aired three soundbites opposed to Cheney but only aired one from a Cheney advocate, White House Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino.
Barbara Walters, who sometimes plays an objective journalist on TV, chose this week to endorse "Sicko," Michael Moore’s left-wing screed about the health care industry. The veteran news anchor enthused, "Everyone should see it." Conservatives shouldn’t be surprised by this type of propagandizing, however. Last year, Walters endorsed Al Gore’s "An Inconvenient Truth." (See blog for link.)
Speaking of the "The View," an ex-host from that program, Meredith Vieira, gushed on Monday’s edition of "Today" that Hillary Clinton is "unbeatable" and a "teflon candidate." Later in the week, Matt Lauer, a co-anchor on the NBC program, touted Mrs. Clinton’s "Sopranos" parody. He declared it "a hit" and "clever." The other network morning shows were similarly impressed.
On June 22, all three networks covered the Senate bill mandating higher automobile fuel efficiency. NBC's "Today" only ran an anchor brief on the story, but ABC's "Good Morning America" and CBS's "The Early Show" both ran short stories on the news.
On "Good Morning America" David Kerley spun it in a positive fashion hypothesizing the bill "should save you some money." They then played the clip of Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) hailing passage of the bill implying the United States will be less dependent on Middle Eastern oil. GMA did play a clip of General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner stating "we think there are ways to do it that are smarter," but there was no mention of the potential increased danger of automobile accidents as documented by the CATO Institute.
NBC Today co-host Meredith Vieira opened her Today at the Pump segment cheering the recent decrease in gas prices as "sweet relief" but then wondered: "Would we be better off...if gas prices were even higher?" On this morning's Today show, Vieira invited on Chevron’s CEO, David O’Reilly, to harass him about getting America off its "dependence" on oil and cited critics of Chevron’s allocation of profits to find alternative sources of energy as merely, "symbolic."
The following exchange occurred on the June 21st edition of Today:
Vieira: "Would, would we be better off, sir, if gas prices were even higher, if it were four, five, six dollars a gallon? Wouldn't that provide the incentive we need to come up with alternative forms of gas and to stop this dependence that we have on foreign oil?"
OpinionJournal.com's James Taranto on Wednesday proposed that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the preferred presidential “candidate of the media, ideologically as well as professionally,” a supposition demonstrated by media excitement over his separation from the Republican Party in preparation for a possible independent bid. “The presidential race just got a whole lot more interesting,” gushed Today co-host Meredith Vieira in plugging Wednesday's top story while, on CBS, Early Show co-host Harry Smith excitedly relayed how “we want to get right to our top story, and that's a bombshell from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.” On ABC's Good Morning America, Diane Sawyer enthused about how “the hugely popular Mayor of New York City ditches the Republican label and declares independence, asking if other Americans are ready for a change.” Robin Roberts insisted that “many are asking now whether he is destined to be a contender.”
All day Wednesday the cable networks were full of speculation over Bloomberg and in the evening all three broadcast network newscasts ran full stories on his possible candidacy. An on-screen graphic on ABC's World News asked “Will He Run?” and the NBC Nightly News looked at the possibility of three candidates from New York. But the CBS Evening News was the most promotional. Katie Couric highlighted how a poll “found more than one out of three Democratic primary voters and more than half of Republicans want more choices. So how about an independent? Today a certain Mayor of New York was the talk of the town and a lot of the country.” More likely, the talk of America's newsrooms. Noting how Bloomberg is “sparking imaginations,” Jim Axelrod recited some of Bloomberg's liberal positions: “So no one really knows what this 65-year-old billionaire who favors gun control, gay marriage, and abortion rights is up to, aside from sparking the imaginations of those uninspired by the current field.”
When Hillary faked a Southern accent in Selma, Alabama the major network morning news shows, *for the most part, ignored her blatant and awkward pandering but when Hillary and Bill played like Tony and Carmela Soprano in a campaign ad, meant to humanize Hillary, it drew widespread praise on those very same shows.
On this morning's Today show, co-anchor Matt Lauer declared it, "a hit" and "clever" while fellow anchor Meredith Vieira exclaimed she "loved" it. On ABC's Good Morning America, George Stephanopoulos called it "effective" in "showing that she's also a human being who can laugh at herself." Over on CBS's The Early Show, Bob Schieffer called the ad, "hilarious," and cheered: "I think it's one of the cleverest things I've seen in a long, long time."
This morning's 'Today' pumped Hillary Clinton as the next nominee of the Democratic Party and even used two former Clinton flacks, Lisa Caputo and Dick Morris to posit she may be unbeatable in the general election. In fact Today co-host Meredith Vieira acted as a third flack as she called Hillary the "Teflon Candidate" and noted two recent anti-Clinton books haven't "made any dent in her popularity."
First up, at the top of this morning's Today, Vieira greeted viewers with Hillary's inevitablity: "And Senator Hillary Clinton definitely on a roll. A new poll out today shows her lead widening. So why is she doing so well and can she go the distance?"
That’s right, a food police group has turned cereal killer. What's worse, the media don't see any foul play.
Fruit Loops cereal’s brightly colored mascot Toucan Sam, along with Sugar Smack’s Dig ‘Em and Rice Krispies’ Snap, Crackle and Pop are likely to be axed due to an agreement between Kellogg Company and the food police group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).
“Early Show’s” Hannah Storm was happy about the announcement. She called getting rid of the popular cartoon figures a “great idea” on June 14.
“[B]ecause you can’t even take your child to the grocery store because they’re clamoring for the products with characters on them. When are we going to see them disappear?” Storm asked correspondent Nancy Cordes.
A quick hit this morning, as I'm on the road . . .
Question for our readers, astute observers of the political scene that they are. Scanning the news this morning, you see a report on the latest presidential poll. John McCain has lost over 1/3rd of his support. What's the first thing that pops into your mind? OK, the headline here is a hint, but isn't it obvious that McCain's pro-amnesty stance has hurt him badly among Republican voters? Well, apparently not so obvious to Tim Russert. Here's how it went on this morning's "Today."
TIM RUSSERT: John McCain's lost eight points since April, Matt.
MATT LAUER: What's wrong with his campaign?
RUSSERT: Well, he's having some fund-raising problems and I think Fred Thompson's presence is starting to draw folks away.
Al Roker was one of the villagers with torches who stormed the castle demanding that Don Imus be fired, but now the foot is in the other mouth. On the June 7 edition of the “Today” show, during a segment discussing London's truly horrible 2012 Olympic logo, which was said to have driven people into epileptic seizures upon viewing, Roker cracked a joke about the disorder. Without turning inflecting a politically correct tone or blowing the situation out of proportion, the New York Post reported his comments and next-day apology (hat tip: Insignificant Thoughts):
"Remember that controversial Olympic logo for the 2012 Olympics in London? Some folks have complained that the campaign actually sent them into epileptic seizures," Roker said on Thursday's show.
"Well, we asked you to weigh in on our Web site in an informal poll; those of you who could get up off the floor after shaking around were able to actually log in…"
I guess things have changed since Roker wrote in his blog that he was sick of the “ 'humor' at others expense” and “the cruelty that passes for funny” (bold mine throughout):
Does Lindsey Graham truly believe that his highest calling as a senator is to work with the likes of Ted Kennedy? Apparently so, judging by the South Carolinian's statement on this morning's "Today." Meredith Vieira interviewed Graham, a staunch supporter of the president's immigration plan, during the show's first half-hour.
TODAY CO-HOST MEREDITH VIEIRA: When you went home recently you were at a GOP meeting and you got booed over immigration. There are a lot of people in a lot of states -- conservatives -- who think this bill is bad and they see this as a litmus test.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM [R-S.C.]: Well here's what I believe. This is a bill that's a million per cent better than the current system. I mentioned working with Ted Kennedy and I got booed. The lady in your piece earlier said no compromise. I'm a Republican conservative who believes my country is at risk by not solving immigration. I'm a member of the United States Senate who believes it's my job to work with Democrats to do hard things. This is no longer about immigration. Can your Congress, can your Senate, come together to do things that one party can't do itself? I think the answer is yes.