It's not too early to declare Katie Couric a failure as an evening news anchor and to suggest she return to her successful slot as a morning news show host. That's the considered opinion of Jon Friedman, "Media Web" author at Dow Jones's Market Watch. Read "How CBS can salvage the Couric debacle" here.
Friedman's frank assessment::
"America loved the early-morning Katie. Whether she likes it or not, it's evident that viewers embraced her for the 'P' word: perkiness. Fair or not, however, the nation isn't willing to accept her in the traditionally solemn evening-news time period."
As a former aide to Tip O'Neill, Chris Matthews is accustomed to offering advice to Democratic Speakers of House. With President Bush's announcement of a surge apparently imminent, Chris Matthews made clear his marching orders for Nancy Pelosi this morning: don't fund it.
Interviewed by Meredith Vieira on the "Today" show, Matthews opined:
"She better have, it seems to me, a strong voice about the war. And that's not just putting Jack Murtha out there to lose. And she's gotta get out there and win on this argument. This is going to come down to funding, whether anybody like it or not. The purse strings are now controlled by the Democrats; they cannot abdicate that. They have to choose, whether they're for the president's position with this new escalation that seems to be coming or they're not with him. They can't fall back and tut-tut and hiss the president. They've got to do something about it."
Reporting for the Tuesday edition of CNN’s "Newsroom," correspondent Arwa Damon labeled Saddam Hussein’s execution "an act of sheer revenge" and predicted it would have only negative consequences. Damon now joins NBC reporter Richard Engel who last week also described the death of the tyrant as "revenge." Additionally, Ms. Damon characterized the grainy cell phone footage of Hussein’s death as "chilling" and noted that onlookers "taunted" Saddam. The CNN reporter suggested that the execution of the former Iraqi leader would further split the country apart:
Arwa Damon: "With Shia chants defining Saddam Hussein's last moments, it turns his execution into an act of sheer revenge and risks driving even moderate Sunnis further away from the Shia-led government that they already have little faith in to begin with. And so, rather than uniting Iraqis, it appears that Saddam's death is really only further dividing them."
Don't look for Tom Brokaw to turn up in an "Army Strong" ad anytime soon . . .
Brokaw will praise President Ford in the eulogy he will deliver later today. But it was the former NBC anchor in a much more familiar role -- that of criticizing a Republican administration -- on this morning's "Today." Along the way, he did his best to dampen enthusiasm among potential military recruits.
Discussing the execution of Saddam and the possibility of a surge, Brokaw opined:
"The manner in which Saddam Hussein was executed reveals the essential truths about Iraq: that this is a deeply divided country along tribal lines. Andthe idea that we're going to impose the rule of law and democracy there by putting in more troops now will seem to most people,especially those families that may be sending somebody there, like a folly. And a lot of families, and I think a lot of people who are raising their hands to join the armed services are wondering 'I'm giving my life for that?'"
Well, this morning comes a report from a certified MSM source lending credence to W's assertion. NBC's Richard Engel, who nobody would confuse with a Bush administration defender and who only yesterday was deploring the execution of Saddam as "primitive and vindictive," appeared on this morning's "Today" to discuss the aftermath of Saddam's death.
Asked host Lester Holt: "Lots of concern that there would be a violent response to the execution from Saddam loyalists, supporters. What has the reaction been so far?"
This morning's "Today" show characterized the execution of Saddam Hussein with a multiplicity of negative terms. According to NBC reporter Richard Engel, reporting from Baghdad:
"The Iraqi government is now going to great lengths to say that this execution was carried out with the utmost respect for human rights; that it was a very organized, precise event. However, interviews that we've conducted with witnesses, judges and other people who attended and followed all the proceedings say it was much more emotional and chaotic."
Continued Engel: "The execution was primitive and vindictive. "
Engel stated that the site of the execution was one of Saddam's most notorious intelligence headquarters in Baghdad, where Shia radicals were executed, "Shia from the same party now leading the Iraqi government." As video of Prime Minister Maliki, a Shia, flashed on the screen, Engel concluded: "today was their revenge."
NBC began its Friday Today broadcast with the grim-sounding news that Saddam Hussein will be executed soon. Why grim? Isn't this a moment, at least a day, showing some good news from Iraq, and reminding the country that it did something in deposing Saddam that pleased the Iraqi people? For NBC, this is merely a short interruption in the non-stop bad news from Iraq. It's an event they are predicting will be quickly overshadowed by increased violence. Lauer concentrated on the fears of our government, and Russert declared violence was a "huge fear" of the administration. Russert went on to predict that the Bush team would try to justify the war on Saddam around the execution of the dictator, but any echo of celebration "could in fact be very short term, depending on what level of violence follows his death."
An uptick in violence might happen. But it also seems that this prediction helps prevent a single news cycle from sounding any kind of positive note. Lauer began the Saddam part of his chat with Russert this way:
Both ABC’s "Good Morning America" and NBC’s "Today" picked up where they left off yesterday, and promoted a new "Washington Post" story detailing how former President Ford and ex-President Nixon were closer friends than previously believed. Both networks used the opportunity to once again highlight Gerald Ford’s dissatisfaction with the Iraq war, and both networks portrayed Mr. Ford as being more anti-war than he in fact was.
ABC and NBC for the most part played the same audio clips from both the Woodward tapes and a Nixon tape from 1973, including playing the exact same shortened audio clip of President Ford as evidence that the former Republican president strongly disagreed with the war in Iraq:
"I think Rumsfeld, Cheney, and the president made a big mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq."
NBC’s Andrea Mitchell claimed:
"Gerald Ford believed the Iraq war was a mistake...Gerald Ford told [Bob] Woodward that he strongly disagreed with the president’s decision to go to war..."
Was it just good-natured joshing, or did some MSM elitism creep into Matt Lauer's interview-ending question to Tim Russert on this morning's "Today"?
"What's up for the New Year for you? Same thing as usual: keg of Old Milwaukee and a noise-maker?"
What's this? Condescension to Russert's blue-collar image leavened with a dab of drunken-Irishman humor? The camera crew burst into guffaws, but check the video - was Russert's laugh a bit more strained?
Former Senator and Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards announced on Thursday that he will once again be a candidate for president in 2008, and he appeared on all three network morning programs to discuss his aspirations. Given the treatment he received on NBC’s "Today" and ABC’s "Good Morning America," it is clear he is not the darling of the media for this campaign cycle as ABC highlighted a potential campaign by Barack Obama, and NBC portrayed Hillary Clinton as the inevitable Democratic nominee.
On "Good Morning America," George Stephanopoulos accused Senator Edwards of exploiting hurricane Katrina by announcing his candidacy in New Orleans and wondered why Democrats should nominate him over "someone who was against the war from the start, like Barack Obama?" On NBC, "Today" co-host Matt Lauer inquired on whether Edwards can truly connect with the "have-nots" in America, given that he lives a luxurious lifestyle, and would he once again accept a nomination to be vice president, this time with Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket, "So down the road, would you consider a vice-presidential slot for Hillary Clinton?" However, on CBS’s "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith gave Senator Edwards a softball interview. He asked simple questions that did not challenge Mr. Edwards record or current positions such as what advice Edwards would give President Bush on Iraq.
Not surprisingly, all three morning shows featured the Bob Woodward interview with recently deceased former President Gerald Ford, in which Ford criticized the Bush administration for its decision to go to war with Iraq. Good Morning America and the Today show were the most eager to showcase Ford’s critique of the administration, broadcasting full reports and featuring audio clips from the interview during the 7am half hour, while CBS’ Early Show relegated the story to a brief anchor-read at 7:35 am.
On ABC, anchor Robin Roberts, substitute co-host George Stephanopoulos, and reporter Claire Shipman seemed disappointed that the former president had not come forward publicly with his criticism prior to his death, saying that it could have made a difference in the U.S.’s decision to go to war:
You just knew it. "Today" was going to find a way to use the death of President Ford to take a shot at George Bush. You had to wait till the very end of the first half-hour, but sure enough, it came. The preceding twenty minutes had been a respectful review of the life of the 38th president. And after all, if there is one Republican president it's not too hard for the MSM to like, it was Ford, who replaced the hated Richard Nixon. Tom Brokaw even admitted that, in retrospect, Ford had made the right decision in pardoning Nixon.
But then came Ann Curry. Her mild demeanor can obscure one of the more baldly partisan hearts. Speaking with NBC consultant and presidential historian Michael Beschloss about Ford's handling of the Watergate aftermath Curry observed:
"I can't help but think we are now in troubled times as a nation. Very different, but still troubled times. Are there any lessons to be taken away, on this day when we mourn former President Gerald Ford, as we look to the future that still looks very murky."
Appearing on this Boxing Day edition of the Today show to plug tonight's airing of "In the Shadow of the American Dream," the latest in the “Tom Brokaw Reports” series, the former Nightly News anchor offered a variety of views on the subject of illegal immigration straight out of the amnesty-crowd playbook.
Granted, the coverage of the Duke rape matter on this morning's "Today" was heavily skeptical of the prosecutor's case. And yes, host Alison Stewart did preface her remark by suggesting that she "play devil's advocate here." Even so, it's hard to see any journalistic justification for a scurrilous suggestion Stewart made. Speaking with NBC legal analyst Susan Filan, Stewart said:
"Why would she change her story at this point? She told doctors, nurses and police that she had been raped. Yet now she says she doesn't remember. Could someone have gotten to this woman?"
As 2006 draws to a close, the MRC has once again ranked the most egregiously biased quotes from members of the media. So, who made the cut as "the best of the worst?" Click here to find out.
Christmas may be arriving soon, but NPR chose the week before December 25 as the appropriate time to broadcast an atheist message of holiday intolerance. Showing that radio can still compete with television for extreme examples of bias, the taxpayer-supported NPR also wondered if ailing Senator Tim Johnson’s family "has the right" to ruin the Democratic majority.
The media’s flirtation with Senator Barack Obama doesn’t seem to have lessened their love affair with Hillary Clinton. "Today" show co-host Meredith Vieira told Mrs. Clinton that it’s now "more imperative that we need a village to raise healthy, secure children." The New York Senator also received a very warm welcome on "The View."
This week, Dan Rather appeared on CNN’s "Reliable Source" and claimed that Saddam Hussein was more honest than President Bush. Rather also reiterated his attacks on the Fox News Channel.
Kudos to "Fox and Friends" as they were the only morning news program on Thursday to extensively cover the Sandy Berger story. Mr. Berger, former National Security Adviser to President Clinton, pled guilty in federal court for stealing classified documents from the National Archives, but a Wednesday AP story revealed that the details of Mr. Berger's offense were far more damning then we had previously known including that he hid the documents in a construction site before destroying them. CNN’s "American Morning" and ABC’s "Good Morning America" both offered brief news reads on the subject. CNN’s coverage totaled 24 seconds while ABC’s totaled 23 seconds. CBS’s "Early Show" and NBC’s "Today" both ignored the story completely.
A classic MSM damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't moment on this morning's "Today". Tim Russert declared that when it comes to his surge-or-not-to-surge decision on Iraq, President Bush is in "a lose-lose situation."
According to Russert, if the president proceeds with the surge, the Dem-controlled Congress will hold hearings with experts "and they will give the president a very difficult time on the surge capacity."
Continued Tim: "On the other hand, if the president decides not to go forward with the surge of American troops, many members of his conservative base, particularly the neo-conservatives who have been supporting this war, will be agitated with him."
Somebody needs a hug. Asked by David Gregory on this morning's "Today" whether his dismal poll numbers would deter a presidential run, Kerry responded: "Not in the least. You know, most of those other people haven't had several hundred million dollars worth of negative framing against them."
Aw-w-w. Love Hillary or hate her, but I'd say that over the last 12 years a penny or two's worth of "negative framing" has been laid on her. Yet according to the poll NBC displayed she has a more than 3:1 lead over Kerry.
Kerry did offer a huge ray of hope, informing us that he's "sitting here in Damascus, trying to figure out how we're going to solve the problems of the Middle East."
That's Meredith Vieira beaming at Hillary Clinton on this morning's Today. Someone might suggest to Meredith that when trying to ingratiate oneself with Hillary, it's advisable to avoid words bringing "imperious" to mind. But if the execution was flawed, no one can deny the fervor with which Vieira endorsed Hillary's paean to big-government, 'It Takes A Village'. Here's how Vieira opened the interview:
"I want to start with 'It Takes a Village' '07 because this book came out ten years ago, and a lot has happened in the past ten years that makes it I think even more imperative that we will need a village to raise healthy, secure children."
You might think the media, given the fact that they helped engineer a Democratic victory in the midterms, and that it’s almost Christmas (sorry, Holiday), would ease their assault on President Bush. And you would be wrong. "Hardball" host Chris Matthews recently remarked that President Bush is demonstrating "messianic nuttiness." CNN’s Jack Cafferty finds it "strange" that Democrats aren’t racing to impeach President Bush.
Over on MSNBC, the reliably biased Keith Olbermann has become completely unhinged. On December 9, he smeared Bush as "authoritarian" and the "worst ever" president. But, Keith, do you like him or not?
On CBS, "Evening News" host Katie Couric labeled Bush’s new poll numbers "devastating" and "stunning."
But not all politicians are bad, especially those with that "D" next to their names. Long time ABC reporter Barbara Walters named Nancy Pelosi the "most fascinating person of 2006." And, no, the network did not bestow a similar honor on Newt Gingrich in 1994. "The Los Angeles Times" provided an even more glowing description, calling the San Francisco Congresswoman an "American Everywoman."
The longer President Bush refuses to completely accept the Iraq Study Group's recommendations the more irked NBC's Tim Russert and Meredith Vieira seem to get. On this morning's Today show Vieira and Russert seemed dumbfounded that the President has yet to wave the white flag in Iraq as they ran down the results of the latest NBC News poll. Vieira declared to Russert: "As polls go it is as bad as it gets for the President." and after running a clip of Bush cynically pondered: "It sounds like the same old President Bush to me. How much do you think he has taken from this listening tour?" Russert, pivoting off the negative poll results quipped: "Real pessimism. When the Iraq Study Group came out and said the situation was 'grave and deteriorating,' that resonated with the American people. I think the President's political condition as we sit here this morning is 'grave and deteriorating."
Well, at least he didn't blame it on Bush. In his column of yesterday, Market Watch's Jon Friedman tells us not to rule out this explanation of CBS Evening News's disappointing third-place finish under Katie Couric's baton:
"America wasn't truly ready for the first solo woman evening-news anchor, let alone someone smart and attractive with pretensions to sounding puckish and hip."
Oh, please. Does Friedman really believe that? From Maureen Dowd [love her or hate her] to Oprah to Katie herself back in her 'Today' days, millions of Americans are comfortable getting their news and views from women opinion-leaders. Katie hasn't flopped because of her sex. She's been unsuccessful because she's done nothing to distinguish herself from her liberal media competitors - with the exception of letting her show's precious few minutes of hard news be crowded out by the awkward "Free Speech" segment.
Meredith Vieira stopped short of breaking out the pom-poms, but the 'Today' crew otherwise did its best to cheer Barack Obama and his appearance on last night's Monday Night Football. For those who missed MNF, the broadcast opened with a deadpan Obama seemingly on the verge of announcing his candidacy for president, before simply endorsing his home-state Chicago Bears.
Call me a grump, but watching it live last night my first reaction was "how's this for millions in free advertising, courtesy ABC-ESPN?"
But the folks at NBC clearly weren't troubled by a little politicking by their rivals at ABC. Nary a discouraging word was heard, and to the contrary, the Today cast tried to outdo each other with their praise for Barack and his performance:
It was an all-Obama Monday as each of the three network morning shows highlighted the Illinois Senator’s weekend trip to New Hampshire. NBC, ABC and CBS all hyped the prospect of a potential Barack Obama presidential campaign as the senator made his rounds through the state, host of the first presidential primary. The trip was hailed as a successful venture by all the networks. ABC’s Jake Tapper on Good Morning America declared Obama’s appearance to be "very successful", while Norah O’Donnell over on Today, as the MRC’s Geoff Dickens noted, stated that Obama was "mobbed by supporters" and "ignited excitement," among New Hampshire Democrats. CBS’ Harry Smith on The Early Show went further, calling the buzz surrounding Obama’s trip a "sensation," during a question to political analyst Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report:
Harry Smith: "Front page USA Today, Barack Obama right there, front page, Washington Post, Barack Obama right there. I could go on and on and on and on and on. Why is this single appearance causing such a sensation?"
Aside from sharing the same last name NBC's O'Donnells, Kelly and Norah, share the same penchant for liberal bias. On this morning's Today show Kelly O'Donnell highlighted Republican division on Iraq while Norah O'Donnell pointed out Democratic "excitement," over Barak Obama.
First up Kelly O'Donnell, in a report about Bush seeking answers in Iraq, noted, 'while he is seeking advice his party is splitting over the war." Then later in the 7am half hour the other O'Donnell, Norah, fawned over Obama: "Barack Obama's first ever visit to New Hampshire ignited excitement!"
The following are the complete reports filed by both O'Donnells on the December 11 Today show with relevant portions highlighted in bold:
Monday’s edition of "American Morning" featured a decidedly one sided segment that advocated for Democratic legislation, generously highlighted Ted Kennedy and promoted San Francisco as the wave of the future. Correspondent Alina Cho used the piece to boost a bill that would require employers with more than 15 workers to give seven sick days a year. Disparaging America’s primitive stance on the issue, she noted that "139 countries provide paid sick leave for workers. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that does not pay." Cho almost entirely ignored opposition to this plan. Her segment also highlighted a supposed victim of this problem who is actually on the board of directors of a group that lobbies for similar laws. (Somehow, this didn't come up.) The entire story sounded like something taken straight from a DNC press release:
Alina Cho: "...For many Americans, taking a sick day is not a big deal. You take it for granted. But by most estimates, more than half of all Americans who work in the private sector do not get a single day of paid sick leave. Not a single day. Well, all of that could change now that the Democrats are about to take control of Congress. And for some families, it could make all the difference. Rachel Sobel, mother of two, quit her job last December when she was forced to make a choice: her job or her son. Leo had broken his arm and needed her care."
On the Iraq War, Sen. Chuck Hagel has long been one of those people we call the "Even Republicans," that species of politician who often side with the Mainstream Media Party to please reporters, who can say "Even Republicans are opposed" to something liberal reporters oppose. On Friday's Today, MRC's Justin McCarthy noted that just after White House reporter David Gregory was finished underlining the importance of swallowing every bite of James Baker's glorious "fruit salad" of negotiating with terrorists and other acts of political wisdom, this comedic line emerged:
Gregory: "Politically, time is running out. The White House has begun to lose critical support even among Republicans."
What is it about leaving a network gig that makes news anchors even more biased? Ex-host Tom Brokaw told a "Harball" audience that Barack Obama is a "rock star," lavished praise on Jon Stewart, and claimed that Ronald Reagan neglected "Mother Earth."
Speaking of NBC stars who suck up to environmentalists, Matt Lauer recently encouraged Al Gore to run for president and "save the planet." Way to stay objective, Matt!
The "Today" anchor continued his global warming obsession in another segment, lauding actor Leonardo DiCaprio for "standing up to get people thinking" about the issue. (Funny, I don’t recall the "Today" host complimenting many pro-life activists for "standing up.")
Lobbying for global warming can be tiring work, as NewsBusters editor Matthew Sheffield noted when he pointed out that CNN host Miles O’Brien fell asleep during recent hearings on the subject.
This week, the "mainstream" media continued lobbying for a complete acknowledgment of total failure in Iraq. "Time" magazine likened the Iraq Study Report to a drug intervention. Discussing the same subject, "Hardball" guest host Mike Barnicle wondered if President Bush is "delusional," " isolated" or "stubborn." Those are certainly some great options to chose from!
It seems Matt Lauer and Tom Brokaw can't get their story straight. On this morning's Today show Brokaw falsely stated the U.S. went to war in Iraq without allies but apparently this was news to Matt Lauer as he opened the show identifying British Prime Minister Tony Blair as a "war ally." Appearing live from Pearl Harbor, Brokaw comparing World War II to the current action in Iraq declared: "The irony of course is that we're trying to get out of one war in which we had no allies..." But in the same hour Today host Lauer opened the program this way:
"Good morning the study is finished, now comes the test. President Bush meets this morning with his war ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a day after that scathing report from the Iraq Study Group."
How do you know the Iraq Study Group's suggestion of reaching out to Iran is in trouble? When of all people a leading MSM light like Matt Lauer approvingly cites leading neo-con Richard Perle to shoot down the idea.
The Baker-Hamilton duo was making the TV rounds this morning. Appearing on 'Today,' it wasn't long into their chat with Matt that he hit them with this:
"Let's talk about this idea of reaching out to the people in the neighborhood - Syria and Iran. Richard Perle said recently that 'talking to Iran about Iraq will be seen throughout the region as an indication of American weakness."
To drive home the point, 'Today' displayed a graphic with Perle's photo and the language cited above.