In a Thursday front page New York Times story it was reported that Friends of Abe, a group made up of Hollywood conservatives like actors Gary Sinise and Kelsey Grammer, became the latest right-leaning group to be targeted by the IRS. Total Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) network time spent on this story: zero seconds.
However there was a celebrity news story the Big Three news networks did jump all over -- Justin Bieber getting arrested for drunk driving. From Thursday morning through Friday morning the Big Three networks, on their evening and morning shows, devoted a total of 36 minutes and 10 seconds to the troubled pop star.
In a live interview with former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Friday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie grilled him on his interactions with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie: "...you see the bridge scandal and other allegations have come forward. And they all seem to have a theme, which is that he uses, allegedly, hardball, sometimes bullying tactics against people who cross him. Have you never experienced that side of him?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Romney dismissed the notion: "No, Chris and I get along very well. We're close friends."
On her Tuesday MSNBC show, host Andrea Mitchell tried to downplay the controversy swirling over the misleading biography put forward by Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis: "[She's] being forced to answer media reports down there that she had slightly altered her resume or focused on the single mom aspects of it and didn't really give the timeline correctly." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Mitchell continued by actually warning Republicans to tread lightly on the issue: "You never want to be on the defensive about giving your biography when you're running for office, but this is a careful balancing act also, given her appeal to many women and the fact that she's potentially running against a man."
During a report on Wednesday's NBC Today about an upcoming Netflix documentary of Mitt Romney's two presidential runs, New York Times reporter Ashley Parker scratched her head over the footage taken by filmmaker Greg Whiteley: "One of the big questions is, why could this 90-minute documentary by a filmmaker convey a personal, human, warm side of Mitt Romney that his team of very high-paid strategists could not?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Perhaps the reason lies in the way Parker and her media colleagues constantly portrayed Romney as being out-of-touch with voters. In one article after another during the 2012 campaign, Parker described Romney as being stuck in a "defensive" posture on every political issue he discussed.
Less than 24-hours after former Governor Bob McDonnell (R-VA) was indicted on 14 charges including conspiracy and fraud, all three network morning shows immediately identified McDonnell as a Republican. While McDonnell’s potential crimes are serious, the media failed to uphold the same party ID standard when it involved a scandal plagued Democratic governor.
NBC led their January 22 coverage of the McDonnell scandal with Today host Savannah Guthrie introducing the segment by saying, “And now to that bombshell indictment of the former governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, a one-time rising star in the Republican Party.” ABC provided an on-screen graphic identifying McDonnell as a Republican and CBS This Morning’s Nancy Cordes said that “McDonnell was once considered a possible presidential contender for the GOP.”
On Tuesday, ABC, CBS, and NBC's morning newscasts all hyped the White House's announcement that President Obama's would meet with Pope Francis in March, and emphasized their apparent agreement on economic issues. On CBS This Morning, Bill Plante touted the "chance for him [Obama] to align himself with the agenda of the very popular new pope, at a time when the President's own popularity here at home is at a low point."
ABC's Robin Roberts even asserted on Good Morning America that the two world leaders are "very similar." However, none of these morning shows reported that just a week earlier, the Pope's secretary of state "expressed [his] concern...for the healthcare reforms in relation to the guarantee of religious freedom and conscientious objection" during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. [MP3 audio available here; video clips below the jump]
All three networks on Tuesday morning continued to pile on Chris Christie, offering gloating coverage about how his “glory days” have gone terribly wrong. After recounting everything that has gone awry for the Republican, Good Morning America's Jim Avila imagined, “You can almost see at the inauguration today, Governor Christie raising his right hand and shaking his head at the same time. “ [See video below.] Co-host Robin Roberts added, “It’s not what they thought today was going to be.”
After reiterating that the new year is “not at all going to plan” for Christie, Avila continued, “Instead, [the governor has been] forced to play scandal whack-a-mole, with new poll numbers falling.” CBS This Morning offered a network graphic that trumpeted, “Christie Crisis.” Journalist Elaine Quijano featured Alex Burns from the liberal Politico to lecture that in order to run for President, Christie needed to “run up the legislative score board in New Jersey. I think we can safely say that all those plans are on hold.”
In a fawning puff piece on Texas gubernatorial candidate Wemdy Davis on NBC's January 15 Today, correspondent Maria Shriver celebrated the liberal abortion heroine as an "overnight sensation" whose "personal story" has "resonated across this country." The only problem with the gushing profile that followed was that key facts and details of Davis's life were either left out or just untrue.
NBC has latched onto the Chris Christie bridge scandal like a leech, so it was no surprise to see a report on the controversy within the first ten minutes of Saturday’s Today show. What was surprising, and dismaying, was that NBC followed up its report with reaction from Debbie Wasserman Schultz. It would be hard to find a less impartial analyst on this matter than the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.
Reporter Kelly O’Donnell first mentioned DWS’s name at the tail end of her piece, announcing, “The chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, she represents Florida in Congress, she'll be doing some of her own public events to try to counter Christie's message.” [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
On Wednesday the Senate Intelligence Committee issued a devastating report that blamed the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton’s State Department for security failures leading up to the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack.
While the Big Three (ABC, CBS and NBC) networks covered the report for a day, they found another event far more compelling -- The First Lady’s 50th birthday bash, spending twice as much time on the White House party than Benghazi. (chart and video montage after the jump)
Calling in to Monday's NBC Today, weatherman Al Roker was giddy as he told his fellow co-hosts about attending Michelle Obama's White House birthday party: "...it was literally a house party. It was a house party that happened to be in the White House. My wife Deborah and I went. And it was – yeah, there were all these stars, which was kind of terrific." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Referencing Roker's long-running bromance with the Vice President, co-host Savannah Guthrie joked: "Did you and Joe Biden do like a conga line or anything like that?" Roker mentioned seeing Biden but was really thrilled by the First Lady: "I actually got to boogie a little with the First Lady....Deborah and I were dancing and all of a sudden I turned around and there was Mrs. Obama....And I'm thinking, 'Oh, my gosh, I'm dancing with the First Lady.'"
Appearing on Monday's NBC Today, MSNBC Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough acknowledged how eager his colleagues at the left-wing network were to take down Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie: "I mean, listen, you can attack the network if you want to, there are a lot of people that go after him gleefully, that's not shocking." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Scarborough was responding to criticism from Christie's administration over MSNBC hyping claims from Democratic Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer that the Governor withheld Sandy relief funds for political reasons. Co-host Savannah Guthrie cited a Christie spokesperson "pushing back not just on the facts of the story, but on the network that broke the story....'MSNBC is a partisan network that has been openly hostile to Governor Christie and almost gleeful in their efforts attacking him.'"
First Lady Michelle Obama celebrated her 50th birthday on Saturday night, and NBC and ABC couldn’t hold back their excitement during their Sunday morning broadcasts. The two networks both offered full reports as they cheered on the First Lady at the “country’s most exclusive dance party.”
ABC’s Susan Saulny began her report and called The White House “party central” and beamed at the long-list of liberal celebrities who attended the birthday bash. Co-host Bianna Golodryga lamented, “We weren’t invited to this but I’m not offended.”
On Monday’s All Things Considered, NPR media reporter David Folkenflik drew this unintentionally hilarious sentence out of NBC executive Alexandra Wallace: “Our job is to report on what's going on in the world. We're not activists. We're observers and analysts.”
Folkenflik’s story pressed on NBC News from the left, that they must campaign against Russian repression before, during, and after the Olympics. NBC protested they'd been interviewing gay athletes like Billie Jean King and Brian Boitano and letting them express their joy at being picked by Obama to represent the U.S. delegation. Russian gay lobbyist Konstantin Yablotskiy represented the Russian leftists:
On Thursday and Friday, NBC's Today provided viewers with gushing over-the-top coverage of First Lady Michelle Obama turning fifty, with White House correspondent Kristen Welker excitedly declaring in a Thursday report: "For days they've been gearing up for a big bash here at the White House. Guests were told to wear comfortable shoes and to be prepared to move around a lot, an indication there will be no shortage of dancing here. You can also bet there will be a long list of celebrities to pull off a party fit for a first lady." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Welker fawned over President Obama acting as "planner-in-chief" for the extravagant celebration and touted: "Just back from an extended stay at Oprah's house in Hawaii, a gift from the President [with her separate flight back to Washington paid for by taxpayers], the First Lady seems to be taking up the big five-zero in stride..."
ABC, CBS, and NBC's Thursday morning newscasts all punted on covering President Obama's Wednesday night meeting with Senate Democrats, where he called on them to reject new sanctions on Iran. These same programs, along with the networks' evening newscasts, also failed to mention the President by name in their reporting on the Senate Intelligence Committee's "scathing" new report on the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya.
By contrast, Thursday's New Day on CNN devoted 40 seconds of air time to the chief executive's plea to his former colleagues in the Senate. John Berman gave two news briefs on the development.
Appearing on Wednesday's MSNBC Daily Rundown, NBC special correspondent Tom Brokaw warned his media colleagues about their excessive coverage of the Chris Christie bridge controversy: "I do think, across the country, however, when they're looking at long-term unemployment, and they're looking at the uncertainty of the ObamaCare, they're saying, 'You've got to move on, guys.'" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Brokaw continued: "You can only close those lanes for so long if you're in the national media. I do wonder if this had happened in Nevada, whether it would have gotten much attention."
In a glowing profile of Texas state senator and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis that amounted to a campaign commercial on Wednesday's NBC Today, correspondent Maria Shriver proclaimed: "Wendy Davis became a familiar name last year when she stood in her pink tennis shoes for eleven hours to defeat a Texas abortion bill. Even though the bill eventually passed, Davis became a star. And her story, her personal story, resonated across this country." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Following footage of cheering Davis supports, Shriver lobbed this ridiculous softball to the Texas abortion heroine: "Everybody says Wendy Davis is an overnight sensation. Does it irritate you that people call you an overnight sensation?" Davis replied: "I'm not an overnight sensation. I'm a Texan. And I'm a Texas success story. I am the epitome of hard work and optimism."
In an interview with former Defense Secretary Robert Gates for Yahoo News on Monday, newly-named global anchor Katie Couric urged him to express regret for criticism of President Obama in his new memoir: "Do you think in any way, shape or form that this was the wrong thing to do? It was just bad form?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Gates replied: "No, I don't. The reality is there are a lot of contemporary issues that are at the heart of this book....And to write about them in 2017, it would be completely irrelevant." Couric followed up: "You have been known in Washington as the consummate team player, a real stand-up guy, a true patriot. Are worried this might tarnish your reputation?"
Between Monday's Nightly News and Tuesday's Today, NBC devoted ten minutes and forty-four seconds to coverage of the now six-day-old controversy surrounding New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Meanwhile, poor ObamaCare enrollment numbers just released Monday afternoon garnered only forty-one seconds of air time on Today and were completely ignored on Nightly News.
On Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams touted investigations into Christie's "bridge traffic scandal" and hyped "an investigation into how some of the emergency relief money was spent after Hurricane Sandy." Williams announced: "It is quite clear that for Christie's political rivals it has now become something of an open season."
While Matt Lauer worried that Robert Gates's criticism of President Obama was "dangerous or dishonorable" on Monday's NBC Today, when disgruntled ex-Bush administration officials wrote memoirs bashing the former president in 2004 and 2008, the network morning show happily cheered them on.
On January 13, 2004 – exactly ten years prior to Lauer's Monday interview with Gates – then-Today co-host Katie Couric hyped former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill's attacks on President George W. Bush in a new tell-all: "I think if I can sort of try to assess your description, as policy having no process, kind of being put together willy-nilly. You do describe him as 'a blind man in a room full of deaf people.'"
During a live interview with former Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Monday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer suggested that criticism of President Obama in Gates's new memoir was endangering American troops overseas: "As this criticism is leveled by you in the book of the commander-in-chief, the acting commander-in-chief, at a time when some 40,000 U.S. troops are in harm's way, do you think that by calling him into question at this stage it is either dangerous or dishonorable?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
After Gates rejected the notion, Lauer insisted: "But you don't think it undermines his credibility with the troops he is commander-in-chief of right now?" At the top of the show, Lauer teased the interview: "Robert Gates on his new memoir and his criticism of President Obama. Is it fair with U.S. troops still in harm's way?"
Introducing her interrogation of former CIA attorney John Rizzo about his new memoir, aired on Friday's NBC Today, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell proclaimed: "...this is an insider's account of the CIA – Company Man – and the key decisions that led to waterboarding and other controversial techniques that were later outlawed. All from this veteran CIA lawyer who offers no apologies and few regrets." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
After Rizzo explained that "extraordinary measures had to be taken" to prevent another terrorist attack after 9/11, Mitchell was aghast: "Extraordinary measures? You mean what was later decided to be torture?" Rizzo pushed back: "What if there had been a second attack? Frankly, how could I live with myself if that were the case?" Mitchell ranted: "How can you live with yourself knowing that what you did and what you got approved by the Justice Department was to many people, not only morally repugnant, but illegal?" Rizzo replied: "...my conscience is clear."
In less than 48 hours, ABC, CBS and NBC deluged viewers with coverage of Chris Christie's traffic jam scandal, devoting a staggering 88 minutes to the story. In comparison, these same news outlets over the last six months have allowed a scant two minutes for the latest on Barack Obama's Internal Revenue Service scandal. The disparity in less than two days is 44-to-one. [See a chart below.]
From Wednesday through Friday morning, the latest on Christie's Traffic-Gate led 11 out of 13 news programs. NBC produced the heaviest coverage, over 34 minutes. CBS followed close behind with more than 30 minutes. ABC came in third with just under 23 minutes.
On Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, chief environmental affairs correspondent Anne Thompson dismissed global warming skeptics pointing to record-low temperatures across the country: "As America the frozen thaws out, some want to reignite the debate over global warming....the Mercury feels like it's been on a bungee jump. Take New York, fifty-five degrees on Monday, down to a daily record low of four degrees Tuesday, back to fifty-five this Saturday. What does that tell us about global warming? Scientists say nothing." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
A sound bite followed of Jeff Masters from the global warming activist group Weather Underground declaring: "You can't look at a single event to prove or disprove global warming. You have to look at a period of 30 years to see what the climate is doing." Thompson added: "Global warming or climate change is measured in decades, not days, and the average temperature trend is up."
On Thursday's NBC Today, political director Chuck Todd reveled in the wall-to-wall media coverage of the bridge closing controversy surrounding New Jersey Governor Chris Christie: "Welcome to the NFL....he has gotten a lot of benefit by being sort of this Republican rising star in the New York City media markets, so he gets a lot of access to media attention, access to national media. And so he's had a free ride, if you will. Well now, welcome to the vetting process." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Todd's comments were prompted by co-host Matt Lauer declaring: "[Christie] is a political star for the Republican Party. He's now the head of the Republican Governor's Association, a lot of power there, so Democrats are gonna work this story for a long time." Todd replied: "Absolutely....Now that he's essentially shown interest in being a presidential candidate, this is what life is like. This is what happens when the bright lights start burning."
In less than 24 hours, the big three networks have devoted 17 times more coverage to a traffic scandal involving Chris Christie than they've allowed in the last six months to Barack Obama's Internal Revenue Service controversy. Since the story broke on Wednesday that aides to the New Jersey governor punished a local mayor's lack of endorsement with a massive traffic jam, ABC, CBS and NBC have responded with 34 minutes and 28 seconds of coverage. Since July 1, these same networks managed a scant two minutes and eight seconds for the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups.
In contrast, journalists such as Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos pounced on the developing Christie story. The GMA host opened the program on Thursday by announcing, "Chris Christie in crisis. Calls at this hour for the feds to step in, investigate the explosive e-mails." [See a video montage below. MP3 audio here.]
ABC, CBS, and NBC ballyhooed former Defense Secretary Robert Gates's attacks on President Obama and other high government officials on their Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning newscasts. NBC's Brian Williams and CBS's Norah O'Donnell also trumpeted the former Cabinet official's "devastating critique" of the President in his upcoming memoir. All three networks also played up Gates's self-identification as a Republican.
NBC's Today and CBS This Morning brought on former Obama administration officials on Wednesday morning. Both guests did their best to counter their former colleague. Matt Lauer touted David Axelrod's "important perspective" on the issue, and asked, "Did you get a sense that he was a guy who...was disgruntled in any way?" The CBS morning show turned to former chief of staff Bill Daley, who slammed Gates for going public: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
At the top of Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer portrayed former Defense Secretary Robert Gates as an ungrateful and disgruntled ex-employee: "Blindsided. President Obama's former Defense Secretary Robert Gates takes on his old boss – the man who awarded him the Medal of Freedom – in a blistering new memoir. This morning, what may have made him turn?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the report that followed later, correspondent Andrea Mitchell fretted: "President Obama's decision to keep George Bush's defense secretary, a Republican, has now blown back on the White House." Like Lauer, she made sure to note how Obama had honored Gates: "Gates gave no hint of his resentment when he left the cabinet two years ago and President Obama awarded him the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor."
In a fawning report on Tuesday's NBC Today, national investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff touted the exploits of two left-wing activists who stole a thousand FBI documents in 1971 and just confessed to the crime: "In an exclusive NBC News interview, the burglars, anti-Vietnam War activists, admit they committed the crime to expose what they believed were illegal activities by the FBI." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Isikoff dramatically described the heist: "Bonnie Raines cased the office posing as a college student, leaving no fingerprints....Her husband, John Raines, a retired religion professor, drove the getaway car." He then proclaimed: "The documents exposed FBI efforts to spread paranoia among left-wing groups and COINTELPRO, a surveillance program started years earlier by then-director J. Edgar Hoover."