On Friday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Randall Pinkston described President Obama’s Thursday address to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People: "The crowd responded to his soaring, almost sermon-like rhetoric."
Obama’s speech was part of the NAACP’s annual convention and marked the 100th anniversary of the organization’s founding. Fill-in co-host Jeff Glor introduced Pinkston’s report by declaring: "The NAACP has spent a century trying to break down racial barriers...last night's anniversary party in New York featured the man who broke the ultimate barrier."
In contrast to the two news briefs the Early Show dedicated to the President’s speech, both ABC’s Good Morning America and NBC’s Today offered only single-sentence reports. [audio available here]
As the media mark the tenth anniversary of the death of John F. Kennedy Jr., it's worth recalling the overwrought coverage of ten years ago. Here is an op-ed by MRC's Brent Baker, originally published in Human Events on August 6, 1999 detailing the media elite's reaction to Kennedy's demise.
The sudden death at too early an age of the only son of an assassinated President is certainly a major news story, but the television networks wouldn't leave it at a few stories reviewing the good works of John F. Kennedy's Jr.'s life. Instead, they used his July 16 death as a chance to launch a week-long tribute to him as America's "crown prince," gushing about the wonderful contributions of the entire Kennedy family, recreating the myth of "Camelot" and praising the achievements of Sen. Ted Kennedy (D.-Mass).
"He laughed off the attempts to elevate his status but, in fact, he was as close to royalty as this country had," declared NBC's Tom Brokaw barely nine hours after the news broke that JFK Jr.'s single-engine plane was missing.
But the networks certainly did "elevate his status" by giving him the royal treatment. As soon as the networks learned on Saturday morning, July 17, that his plane was missing they all went wall-to-wall with live coverage, though they had little new to report as the day progressed. ABC and NBC even shifted their sports programming to sister cable channels. That night ABC, CBS and NBC rushed to produce prime time specials.
Two months ago, as President Obama was contemplating a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter, many in the media elite — particularly NBC News reporters and anchors — sycophantically touted Obama’s credentials as a constitutional law professor as evidence of his deep experience when it came to the judiciary.
Yesterday, however, Obama’s pick for the Court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, explicitly repudiated Obama’s belief that judging should be based on “empathy” or “the heart.” Sotomayor told senators: “I don’t, wouldn’t, approach the issue of judging in the way the President does.”
None of the broadcast networks juxtaposed Sotomayor’s slap at Obama with the President’s supposed brilliance as a constitutional scholar, or explored whether it was credible that Obama’s nominee really disagrees on the role of empathy, what the President previously declared the “essential ingredient” of a good judge.
President Obama's healthcare initiative is currently in a lot of trouble on Capitol Hill as legislators grapple with finding money -- amidst staggering budget deficits and a declining economy -- to fund the new program.
As a result, on Wednesday, the news divisions of all three broadcast networks have decided to come to Obama's rescue, and on the very same evening, air interviews with the President concerning this issue.
It's good to be a Democrat president the press are in love with, isn't it?
As reported by TVNewser Tuesday (h/t Stewart Thomas):
NBC's Ann Curry, on Tuesday's "Today" show depicted a political minefield for those Republicans who dare to challenge Sonia Sotomayor during her hearings. The co-anchor, in a 9am half-hour news brief sketched out the arduous task the GOP senators have in front of them as they attempt to avoid "offending women and Hispanics," in their questioning of the Supreme Court nominee.
The following was aired on the July 14 edition of the "Today" show:
Last year, banks were “too big to fail” and were arm twisted into taking a federal bailout. Now that many of them have repaid the TARP money, the media deems their profits to be a betrayal of the taxpayers.
NBC “Today” host Meredith Vieira began the segment on Goldman Sachs by pitting the average American against the big companies, “While you may be struggling financially these days, happy days appear to be here again for some companies on wall street, and now they are getting set to pay out some big bonuses.”
Correspondent Melissa Francis also continued this storyline in her report. “With the nation’s unemployment rate moving closer to ten percent, a housing market still plagued by foreclosures and households struggling to make ends meet, it might be hard for most Americans to believe that it’s back to business as usual on Wall Street,” she said.
When a well-known individual creates a disruption at a highly public, widely televised event and is then arrested, any news organization worth the name would include the incident in its coverage of that event. Right?
Not CBS’ “Evening News with Katie Couric.” And NBC’s “Nightly News” only gave the story 21 words. On July 13, Norma McCorvey, better known as “Jane Roe” in the infamous Roe v. Wade case that made abortion legal, was arrested for disrupting Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill.
Over the weekend, on his syndicated "The Chris Matthews Show," Chris Matthews asked his media panel if Barack Obama was governing as "more clearly a radical like FDR was, or more like a true conservative?" The latter part of the question -- the rather absurd proposition of Obama being a conservative -- actually drew a couple of affirmatives from the panel.
The USA Today's Joan Biskupic responded she thought the President was being more conservative, at least in his judicial nods, "If you look at what he's doing, not just with his Supreme Court choice but his appeals court choices. None of them have really caused a big problem. You probably couldn't name one of those appellate judges off the top of your head. They're sort of middle-of-the-road folks. Not taking a page from Ronald Reagan in terms of seeking lightning rods."
It’s like clockwork. Gas prices have fallen, and so has network news coverage of them. This direct correlation between prices and coverage has caused news of gas prices to essentially disappear in the past week.
The latest Lundberg Survey of fuel prices, released on July 12, showed that gas prices have fallen more than 10 cents over the past two weeks. However, in keeping with the warped coverage of gas prices, the largest drop in prices since December went unreported by all major network morning shows except NBC’s “Today Show”, and even this was hidden away in the hourly news reports.
Perhaps Americans have lost interest in gas prices, and therefore networks now fail to find the topic newsworthy. If that’s the case, the public must have changed its mind since mid-June when, with prices on the rise, coverage was extensive.
Democrat strategist Bob Shrum on Sunday not only praised Reaganomics, but used it as an example as why Americans should be patient in allowing President Obama's stimulus plan to take effect.
During the panel discussion on Sunday's "Meet the Press," host David Gregory asked his guests, "Why shouldn't the Republicans, who certainly spent a long time spending a lot of government money and under whose watch the economy took the turn that it did, why shouldn't there be more patience from the Republican aisle?"
Shrum amazingly offered the following answer (readers are advised to prepare for an alternate reality):
We're in the middle of the worst recession in decades.
Congress is currently debating sweeping changes to healthcare and energy policy that could cost trillions of dollars in new taxes in the foreseeable future.
We've got soldiers risking their lives on two fronts in the Middle East, and despots in North Korea and Iran developing nuclear weapons.
Yet, when one of the most powerful men in Washington visited "Meet the Press" Sunday, host David Gregory spent almost 30 percent of the time allotted grilling him about -- wait for it! -- Sarah Palin.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, of the 19 1/2 minutes Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) spent Sunday morning chatting with Gregory, he was questioned for 5 3/4 minutes about Palin's resignation and her future in politics (video embedded below the fold with transcript):
In yet another moment of Obama puffery the "Today" show highlighted a hotel dedicated to Barack Obama. During a segment headlined: "Hotel Obama, Small Country Goes Wild For President," NBC's Mara Schiavocampo, on Friday's "Today," showcased a new hotel in Ghana named after the President that is run by a former campaign worker and joined her as she took viewers on a room-by-room tour devoted to places and people important in Obama's life history [audio excerpt available here]:
MARA SCHIAVOCAMPO: It's run by Ghanaian-American Coretta Owusu, whose father owns the business. She worked for this Obama during the campaign and then moved to Ghana to work for this one. It's a budget conscious hotel featuring 18 themed rooms priced at $60 to $100.
CORETTA OWUSU, HOTEL MANAGER: And this room is the Obama suite. Most people stay here if they come for a special occasion or they're coming with their family. Well we have Michelle Obama right next to Barack Obama. Across from Obama it's Joe Biden's room.
In January, NBC News couldn't breathe a single word about the thousands of pro-lifers who came to Washington for the annual March for Life. But Brian Williams hailed 12 hard-left Greenpeace activists illegally hanging a banner at Mount Rushmore on Wednesday's Nightly News and showed their banner on screen for a full 15 seconds. Williams announced:
Look at what they did to [Mount] Rushmore and Abe Lincoln today. Three Greenpeace climbers rappelled down to hang a 65-foot-tall banner featuring President Obama's face. There were 12 arrests in all of environmental activists. They say they timed their message to coincide with that G-8 conference going on in Italy, and to remind the president that great presidents show leadership.
The banner read "America honors leaders, not politicians. Stop global warming." Obama's eyes and nose appeared between the sentences. Note Williams never even called Greenpeace "liberal."
There's no doubt about it. Celebrity is the media's top priority.
Michael Jackson's June 25 death overshadowed all other news for almost two weeks.
Nightly news programs on ABC, CBS and NBC featured at least one story each night about Jackson since his death. More than half of those broadcasts aired since June 25 lead with a story about Jackson. A Pew poll found cable news devoted 93 percent of its coverage to Jackson on June 25 and 26. The broadcast networks joined CNN, MSNBC and Fox News in airing Jackson's July 7 memorial from Los Angeles' Staples Center.
Despite a separate Pew poll that found 64 percent of people believe there was too much coverage of Jackson, the media continue to hit the story hard. CNN's Don Lemon even labeled critics of the coverage "elitist," and said, "Michael Jackson is an accidental civil rights leader, an accidental pioneer. He broke ground and barriers in so many different realms in artistry, in pictures, in movies, in music, you name it. So, no, I don't think it's overkill."
Previewing Barack Obama's trip to Italy for the G8 summit, on Wednesday's "Today" show, NBC's Matt Lauer asked Savannah Guthrie what kind of reaction the President will receive as Lauer noted the President got a "chilly reception" in Russia. Guthrie responded that "It was a real contrast," because she is used to seeing, "really swooning Europeans who are very excited about Mr. Obama." [audio excerpt here]
MATT LAUER: And, and what kind of reception will the President receive from the Italian people? We all know that it was a rather chilly reception when he went to Russia the other day.
Reacting to Media Research Center (MRC) analysis showing the deaths of seven U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan recently has received just 1/20th of the network coverage devoted to Michael Jackson, NewsBusters Publisher and MRC President Bozell Bozell released the following statement earlier today:
This is a prime example of why network television news audiences are disappearing before our eyes. There is no justification for determining that the death of a celebrity over a week ago merits 20 times more news coverage than the tragic deaths of American soldiers in Afghanistan.
For anyone to say - with a straight face - that such a disparity was an ‘editorial judgment' only further insults the collective intelligence of the audience these newscasts claim to serve. In fact, it's just more evidence that network ‘news,' for all practical purposes, no longer exists.
As the broadcast network evening newscasts on Friday reported on Sarah Palin's decision to resign as Alaska's Governor, they gave little attention to the toll taken on the Governor by the onslaught of frivolous lawsuits from her political enemies. But, by contrast, FNC gave much of the credit for Palin's decision to these lawsuits that have tied up the Governor's time and forced her family to spend a fortune in legal expenses.
On Friday's Fox Report, FNC correspondent Carl Cameron informed viewers: "Those ethics complaints have all been dropped or dismissed, and yet they've taken a toll and she acknowledged as much earlier." Then came a soundbite of Palin from her news conference, which was partially played on the CBS Evening News but not on ABC or NBC. Palin:
Todd and I, we’re looking at more than half a million dollars in legal bills just in order to set the record straight. And what about the people who offer up these silly accusations? It doesn't cost them a dime. ... My staff and I spend most of our days, we're dealing with this stuff instead of progressing our state now.
As the broadcast network evening newscasts reported Friday on Sarah Palin's decision to resign as Alaska's governor, some of the negative wording on the CBS Evening News sounded eerily similar to the partisan statement attacking Palin that was released by the Democratic National Committee, which was quoted the same evening on FNC's Fox Report, and on Special Report with Bret Baier.
As she began her report, correspondent Nancy Cordes used words with a negative connotation -- "abandoning her job" -- to describe Palin's departure from office. Cordes: "Surrounded by family at her home in Wasilla, Alaska, Sarah Palin said she was abandoning her job because she has no interest in being a lame duck."
Similarly, the statement issued by DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse also used the word "abandon" to refer to Palin's resignation: "Her decision to abandon her post and the people of Alaska who elected her continues a pattern of bizarre behavior that more than anything else may explain the decision she made today.”
In announcing that she was stepping down as Alaska Governor on Friday, Sarah Palin noted the unrelenting hostility of liberal media elites. In the barely ten months since she burst onto the national scene, Palin has been scorned and mocked by journalists -- including many supposedly objective reporters -- like few other politicians. Here are a few of the choicer attacks, as compiled from MRC's Notable Quotables newsletter:
"She is a far-right conservative who supported Pat Buchanan over George W. Bush in 2000. She thinks global warming is a hoax and backs the teaching of creationism in public schools. Women are not likely to be impressed by her opposition to abortion even in the case of rape and incest." — Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter in a "Web exclusive" posted on his magazine’s Web site, August 29, 2008.
"[McCain has] done it [picked Sarah Palin] at great cost, because the whole Republican convention...was going to be the slogan, ‘He’s not ready to lead,’ meaning Barack Obama. Well, Sarah Palin makes Barack Obama look like John Adams. I mean, it’s just, it’s no contest." — Newsweek’s Howard Fineman on MSNBC’s Countdown, August 29.
Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift: "This [McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin] is not a serious choice. It makes it look like a made for TV movie. If the media reaction is anything, it’s been literally laughter in many places across news-" Host John McLaughlin: "Where is that? See that?" Clift: "In very, very many newsrooms." — Exchange on The McLaughlin Group, August 31, 2008.
On Thursday's Today, Meredith Vieira tossed mostly softballs to Senator-elect Al Franken, offering no hard questions about the disputed 2008 election, instead fawning, "...Are you more worried about becoming a target for the GOP or a target for Saturday Night Live, your old stomping ground?" In regards to the post-election wrangling for the Minnesota Senate seat, the best Vieira could do is to wonder, "It did get a little contentious, didn't it?"
To be fair, she did reference the closeness of the election. Noting Franken's 312 vote margin of victory, Vieira observed, "Are you conscious of that as you head to Washington D.C. next week?" However, there was no mention of the reports of irregularities in the state. If the co-host wished to challenge the incoming senator, she could have read from a July 1 Wall Street Journal editorial which asserted, "Mr. Franken now goes to the Senate having effectively stolen an election."
The Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released on July 1 the “F as in Fat Report,” which studied obesity rates in America While it is certainly worth reporting the facts of the study, NBC managed to take its report to another level. On the July 2 “Today,” host Meredith Vieira interviewed NBC News Chief Medical Editor, Dr. Nancy Snyderman. Snyderman used the report to give her over-the-top personal opinions about America’s role in the world and drive through pharmacies.
Vieira cited study findings, saying that obesity has tripled since 1980 in children and not a single state has decreased its obesity rate in the past year. Snyderman chimed in, “And we know that now almost forty percent of these heavy kids- teenagers- have diabetes, they already have plaque in their arteries, they grow up to be bullies. These are kids who already start to have problems sort of fitting in.”
NBC's Meredith Vieira on Thursday conducted a defensive interview with Fox News contributor Dick Morris, at one point skeptically wondering if "the Republican tactic from this point on" would be "to sit and watch Obama fail." Later, when Morris pointed out the problems with the Canadian health care system, the Today host retorted, "But, the President clearly has said that's not the road he's headed down."
On one level, NBC should be commended for actually featuring Morris to talk about "Catastrophe," his new anti-Obama book. But, the interview didn't air until 8:51am, long after many Americans had left for work. Co-host Matt Lauer dominated most of the program's first two hours, reporting live from the late Michael Jackson's Neverland ranch.
This led Morris to make a dig at the show's excessive coverage. Speaking of Canada's government-run health care, he quipped, "So in Canada, there's a 16 percent higher death rate from cancer than in the United States. And that's not Neverland, that's U.S."
In the week since South Carolina’s Republican Governor announced he had flown to Argentina to carry on an extra-marital affair, the broadcast morning and evening news shows have gone full bore on the scandal, cranking out 49 stories even in the midst of other major stories like Michael Jackson’s death and the continuing repression in Iran.
The morning after Sanford announced his affair, on the June 25 Good Morning America, longtime correspondent Sam Donaldson used the scandal to broadly charge Republicans with being “sanctimonious. They thump the Bible. They condemn everyone else, and when they [act] human, they don’t have much credit in the bank for forgiveness.” Unlike when New York Democratic Governor Eliot Spitzer was caught consorting with a prostitute in March 2008, all three broadcast networks immediately identified Sanford’s party ID.
A number of top Democrats are enmeshed in embarrassment or facing allegations of wrongdoing, but the networks have far less interest in publicizing those cases. A rundown of ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening coverage so far this year:
Following up on Monday’s Supreme Court ruling in favor of New Haven firefighters who were denied promotion after no black applicants passed a written exam, ABC’s Bob Woodruff on Tuesday’s Good Morning America approached the decision from a liberal perspective, wondering if “the ruling really make future workplace discrimination harder to prove” — as opposed to wondering whether the ruling will protect workers from discriminatory tactics from employers seeking to achieve nebulous goals such as workplace “diversity.”
Woodruff also asked correspondent Jan Crawford Greenburg whether the ruling could “tarnish” the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, who was part of a three-judge panel that ruled against the firefighters.
Greenburg stressed the arguments of Sotomayor’s supporters: “Oh, Bob, right away we saw critics say this was a clear rebuke to Judge Sotomayor, since she had ruled against those white firefighters. But, her supporters said, ‘Look, she was just following the law,’ and they pointed out that the Court, the Court itself, was deeply divided. The four liberal justices would have agreed with her, including that justice she’s been nominated to replace, David Souter.”
Chris Matthews, on his syndicated "The Chris Matthews Show," over the weekend, wondered if the Mark Sanford scandal will make the GOP a more tolerant party as he asked his panel: "Have Republicans finally embarrassed themselves out of calling themselves the family values party?"
His guest panel, for the most part, agreed with the premise as Dan Rather opined: "The Republican Party was already in the process of trying to make a bigger tent with more tolerance. This will, in some ways, help that movement." The New York Times' Helen Cooper admonished: "I think the one thing the Republican Party probably learned this week is that, you know, people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."
While discussing the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court on MSNBC Monday, guest Eliot Spitzer made a startling observation: "Democratic presidents nominate very centrist justices to the Supreme Court. The Republican presidents over the past 10-15 years have nominated very extremely conservative justices and that’s why the court has eschewed to the right."[audio available here]
Spitzer, the former Governor of New York who resigned from office in 2008 amid a sex scandal with a prostitute, went on to lament the unwillingness of Democratic presidents to appoint more liberal justices: "And the role of the Democratic judges – justices – has been to play the middle... And that is, I think, at a larger ideological point, a discussion we should have, because Democratic presidents have been hesitant to put really liberal justices on the court."
MSNBC anchor Dylan Ratigan, who was premiering his new show "The Morning Meeting," did not challenge Spitzer’s absurd assertions, but rather turned to Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart and asked: "Yeah, Jonathan what do you think about that? That the Republicans have papered it with very conservative judges and that Democrats have tried to go more middle or slightly left of center, as opposed to way left judges?" Capehart agreed with Spitzer: "Well look, I respect everything my – Governor Spitzer says."
In a passionate Wall Street Journal op-ed this morning ("Silence Has Consequences for Iran"), former Spanish Prime Minister José Aznar who, in case anyone cares, serves on the board of WSJ parent News Corp., says that "It would be a shame .... if our passivity gave carte blanche to a tyrannical regime to finish off the dissidents and persist with its revolutionary plans."
Shaking off passivity requires visibility. America's media establishment almost across the board is providing very little. The Associated Press and the New York Times reports exist, but their distribution is dwarfed by the death of a pop star and a governor's infidelity.
Here are useful comparisons (all searches were done at Google News at about 8:45 a.m. for June 23-27, limited to USA sources):
The three network morning shows on Thursday devoted a staggering 18 segments to the revelation that South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford was having an affair with a woman from Argentina, adding up to over 54 minutes of coverage. NBC's Today show spent the most time on the subject, highlighting the infidelity with six segments and 25 minutes of air time.
Co-host Matt Lauer even talked to disgraced former Governor Jim McGreevey to get his thoughts on the matter. (However, while NBC made sure to label Sanford a Republican, the Today anchors failed to do so for the Democratic ex-New Jersey governor who resigned under a cloud of scandal.)
ABC's Good Morning America touted the sex scandal for 17 minutes and 26 seconds, featuring seven stories on Sanford. (It should also be pointed out that GMA came within seven minutes of Today's total, despite the fact that the NBC program is four hours, double the time of ABC's show.) During one such segment, Sam Donaldson insisted that it's hard to forgive Republicans who get involved in sex scandals: "They thump the Bible. They condemn everyone else, and when they- human- they don’t have much credit in the bank for forgiveness."
A House vote on Waxman-Markey’s American Clean Energy & Security Act to cap-and-trade emissions was imminent June 26. Some Republicans have called the bill “the largest tax increase in American history,” but despite the enormous burden to taxpayers the three major networks failed to cover the bill the night before.
ABC, NBC, and CBS instead devoted June 25 evening news programming to recently deceased celebrities, Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett. While the deaths of such iconic figures was certainly newsworthy, failing to provide coverage over legislation that would cost every American family $1,241 a year in higher energy bills was irresponsible.
The lack of network coverage on the cap-and-trade issue isn’t new (only 13 stories between Jan. 20 and May 25) and has contributed to ignorance and confusion about the issue.
In the wake of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s admission to having an affair, evening and morning newscasts on NBC, CBS, and ABC all immediately identified him as a Republican. In contrast, in March of last year, the networks rarely identified disgraced New York Governor Eliot Spitzer as a Democrat in the wake of his affair with a prostitute.
In a 2008 study of evening and morning network newscasts following the Spitzer scandal, NewsBusters’ Rich Noyes found that within the first week of news coverage Spitzer was only identified as a Democrat 20% of the time. However, within the first 24 hours of Sanford’s confession to having an affair, he was identified as a Republican 100% of the time, during coverage on all the networks.
On Wednesday, the NBC Nightly News, which failed to give Spitzer’s party affiliation for three days following his scandal, immediately focused on Sanford’s national role in the Republican Party as anchor Brian Williams declared: "In a Republican Party hungry for young stars, he was one of them: Mark Sanford, the governor of South Carolina...Tonight his political career is in tatters. His state, his party are in some turmoil. And Mark Sanford is no longer being mentioned as a possible GOP nominee for the White House."