The ratings for the Democratic National Convention for ABC, CBS and NBC fell by a million viewers compared to the opener for the 2004 convention with headliner Bill Clinton TVWeek is reporting. On the other hand, the cable newsers saw a ratings jump from their 2004 convention ratings. This reveals the further decline in the old paradigm with the big three networks steadily losing their news influence bit by bit to cable outlets.
ABC, CBS and NBC brought in 12.1 million viewers in the 10 p.m. hour, down one million from 2004, according to preliminary, fast-national data from Nielsen Media Research. NBC scored the largest audience.
Most prevalent theme during Tuesday night's coverage of the Democratic National Convention, after speculation over healing the Clinton-Obama feud: TV journalists worrying about how the Democrats are not adequately aggressive in their attacks against John McCain as reporters, especially on CBS, repeatedly pressed for more “red meat” and wondered if the speakers are being “hard enough” or “tough enough” on McCain?
CBS's Bob Schieffer rued to keynoter Mark Warner that “normally keynote speeches” deliver “a lot of red meat,” but “I didn't hear a lot of that.” Over on NBC, Brian Williams pushed Warner: “You know there's some in the party who feel that this gathering isn't tough enough against a John McCain who, after all, hasn't let up for a day against this party.” Back to CBS, Jeff Greenfield asserted Barack Obama needs Hillary Clinton “to wake up this hall after a speech that was not only not red meat by former Governor Warner, but more like tofu with sprouts.” Couric even asked Michael Dukakis “if he thought the Democrats were hitting John McCain hard enough?” Clinton's speech left Couric unfulfilled: “We expected a lot of red meat from Senator Clinton tonight...Are you surprised she didn't sort of attack him more vociferously?”
Previewing Ed Rendell early in the evening, CNN's Wolf Blitzer wondered: “Let's see if he has some red meat.” On MSNBC, Chris Matthews was “amazed why they don’t have more fun with the man who calls himself Dick Cheney,” as he lamented: “It seems like they’re pulling their punches.” Analyst Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post yearned:
I am waiting for someone to take the podium and say the word “torture.” I'm waiting for someone to take the podium, say the word “Iraq.” I'm waiting for someone to take, to take the podium and talk about domestic surveillance...
On Tuesday's “Today” show, co-host Matt Lauer practically dared John McCain spokesperson Nicole Wallace to challenge the narrative created by Michelle Obama in her speech during the previous night of the Democratic National Convention. Lauer cited Mrs. Obama's goal as trying to “put to rest some of the stories that have been going around, and a lot of them being talked about on conservative talk radio, about her lack of patriotism.”
The NBC host then challenged Ms. Wallace, “So, let me ask you on the record, how she did, and does the McCain campaign doubt her love of country?” Of course, Lauer offered no specifics as to what he meant by “some of the stories that have been going around,” nor did he mention the now famous quote of Michelle Obama asserting that “for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country,” thus making it sound as though conservatives were just making things up about the candidate's wife.
While the national media fret over whether or not there will be unity in the Democratic Party and gush over Monday night’s speeches by Senator Ted Kennedy and Michelle Obama, pro-lifers are out in Denver, Colorado, protesting and working hard to get their message across. Of course, it would be easier to get their message out if the national media paid attention to their protests.
None of the big three broadcast network morning shows -- ABC’s "Good Morning America," NBC’s "Today" and CBS’s "Early Show" -- reported on these protests. Of course, this should come as no surprise. The broadcast networks also ignored this year’s March for Life as well as the 35th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling.
In contrast, all three of the network evening news broadcasts reported on the anti-war protests on the fifth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq. Moreover, these reports all aired within the first ten minutes of each program.
All three broadcast morning shows were thrilled with the opening night of the Democratic convention in Denver. CBS co-anchors Maggie Rodriguez and Julie Chen were the most effusive, with Rodriguez gushing that it “couldn’t have been a more compelling first night” and Chen describing Michelle Obama as “so impressive, so, just inspiring to watch her speak.”
Over on ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host Diane Sawyer was also swept away, calling it first “an incredible night” and then “a night to remember for all ages.” NBC’s David Gregory called Michelle Obama’s speech “moving” and “heartfelt,” but that “the emotional highlight of the night belonged to Ted Kennedy” for speaking on Obama’s behalf despite his battle against a cancerous brain tumor.
That's what NBC's "Today" show did August 26 in a segment attacking online dealmakers. Co-host Meredith Vieira warned shoppers could find "mysterious and unwanted charges on their credit cards."
"Kathy Danzer wanted to reconnect with old classmates, so she bought a subscription on a popular high school reunion Web site," correspondent Natalie Morales reported. "But when she got her credit card bill there was another unexpected charge: an additional $12.99 for something called ‘GREATFN.'"
With all the complaining - not to mention the foreboding soundtrack the segment featured - a viewer might think Danzer and others like her had trouble getting refunds for the money they mistakenly spent. But that wasn't the case, as the company refunds money to unsatisfied customers, Morales admitted at the end of the segment.
After Michelle Obama's Monday night speech at the Democratic National Convention, ABC and NBC mentioned her “for the first time in my adult lifetime I'm proud of my country” previous slap at the United States, but in the context of how she resolved any doubts. ABC's George Stephanopoulos declared:
“Tonight, there was no doubt. The money line in this speech was that line when she said, 'that is why I love this country,' and she lingered.” Noting how “we heard the word 'America' or 'American' or 'Americans' 12 times,” NBC's Chuck Todd decided “this is definitely a response in some ways to that whole kerfuffle that she created for herself, six or eight months ago, about being proud to be an American.”
CBS didn't touch on the topic during its prime time hour, though during an interview with Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, Katie Couric described Mrs. Obama not as controversial, but as “slightly controversial.” In a taped session later with Craig Robinson, Michelle's older brother, Couric wondered: “What one word would you like viewers all across the country to use to describe your sister?” When he suggested “sincere,” Couric agreed: “That's a good word.”
On the ideological labeling front, Ted Kennedy's appearance the hour before, highlights of which led all three broadcast networks at 10 PM EDT, failed to prompt a single liberal label on ABC or CBS, but NBC applied the tag three times, two of those to describe Kennedy as a “liberal lion.” (CNN and MSNBC provided scattered liberal labeling.)
On Sunday’s Meet the Press, during an interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, NBC host Tom Brokaw brought up Barack Obama’s recent declaration at the Saddleback Forum that the question of "at what point does a baby get human rights," is "above my pay grade." After playing the relevant clip of Obama from the August 16 candidates forum, Brokaw asked of Pelosi: "Senator Obama saying the question of when life begins is above his pay grade, whether you’re looking at it scientifically or theologically. If he were to come to you and say, ‘Help me out here, Madame Speaker, when does life begin?’ what would you tell him?"
After Pelosi, labeling herself as an "ardent Catholic," avoided giving a straight answer, and contended that "over the centuries, the doctors of the Church have not been able to make that definition," Brokaw jumped in: "The Catholic Church, at the moment, feel very strongly it begins at the point of conception."
Ed Morrissey writes about Pelosi's response to Brokaw's question, and includes video here.
To kick off coverage of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, "Today" host Matt Lauer actually posed some challenging questions to Barack Obama's communications director, Robert Gibbs. The NBC host cited examples of newly minted vice presidential candidate Joe Biden praising John McCain's leadership and pointedly asked, "So, now, if Joe Biden goes on the attack against John McCain, isn't he going to come off sounding like just another politician who will do and say anything to get elected?"
Referring to reports that Biden has been warned to stay on message and not go off on verbose tangents, Lauer quizzed, "Can you take me through that warning? Who had the talk with Joe Biden?" After not getting an actual answer from Gibbs, he followed-up: "Well, but as communications director, it's your job to manage the message now coming out of both of these candidates, so wouldn't you have been involved in that discussion?"
Of course, the morning program did feature some typical examples of liberal talking points. A segment with reporter Ann Curry highlighted a clip of liberal historian Doris Kearns Goodwin discussing Barack Obama's speech and spinning, "He's still not that well known in parts of the country and because he [Obama] has been caricatured by the other side, his speech is probably more important than most acceptance speeches are."
When Sen. John Kerry arrived in Boston for the last Democratic convention, the TV news stars thought they’d died and gone to political heaven. Dan Rather said Kerry’s speech drove the crowd in Boston into “a three-thousand-gallon attack about every three minutes,” and Newsweek’s Jon Meacham was comparing Kerry to Abraham Lincoln on MSNBC. If media liberals can get that excited over Kerry, viewers may have to worry about the anchors lapsing into diabetic comas over Barack Obama’s ascension convention in Denver.
It’s easy to forget just how “tick tight,” as Rather once put it, the primary race was between Obama and Hillary Clinton. It ended up with a vote gap of just one tenth of a percentage point. The real difference-maker in the 2008 race was the Obama favoritism of the national media, led by the television networks. It was his margin of victory.
On Thursday's "Good Morning America," the ABC morning show provided a detailed account of an 85-year old great grandmother who thwarted a burglar by pulling a gun on him and then kept the criminal at bay while waiting for police. CBS's "Early Show," however, has thus far ignored the story. On NBC, "Today" provided a scant 15 second news brief on Wednesday.
GMA co-host Robin Roberts appeared impressed with Pennsylvania resident Leda Smith. She interviewed the grandmother and listened as the senior citizen recounted arriving home to find someone inside her house: "...I had my gun under a cushion on a chair. I picked up the gun. I turned around and I snapped it shut and I cocked it and when I did that, he turned around and his eyes were kind of big and he said, 'I didn't do it! I didn't do it!'"
Generally, the three network morning shows have shown an aversion to positive gun news. In late June, when the Supreme Court historically declared that the Second Amendment is an individual right, "Good Morning America," "Today" and "The Early Show" devoted a combined three minutes and 33 seconds of coverage. Back on June 27, the day after the decision came down, "Early Show," which skipped any reporting of the armed grandmother, featured a mere 30 seconds on the Supreme Court's ruling, a total that came nowhere near the four minutes they used to discuss how to Feng Shui your house for pets.
Remember back in November when Nobel Laureate Al Gore actually told NBC's Meredith Vieira that trying to cover global warming from a fair and balanced perspective was wrong, and only climate alarmists should be given any attention in pieces concerning this controversial subject?
Well, a Stanford social psychologist has recently done a study of how people's opinions about global warming change if skeptical views are edited out of news stories, and the results, though not surprising, should scare the heck out of free thinkers around the country.
As reported by USA Today on August 13 (h/t NBer nofate, emphasis added):
Do as we say, not as we do - the new theme for NBC's coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympics? Quite possibly.
WTHR, the NBC affiliate for Indianapolis, reported from Beijing and described the set used for the network's two highest-rated news broadcasts - "Nightly News" and "Today" - as air conditioned, even though it is outdoors.
Even NBC "Today" co-host Matt Lauer remarked about the air conditioning, but complained the weather was still uncomfortable even with the luxury.
"The first couple of nights even with the air conditioning it was steamy in here, but we've been lucky ever since," Lauer said to WTHR. "It's been overcast some days, takes the temperature down. We call it fog smog."
Andrea Mitchell's floating of the Obama-camp accusation that John McCain cheated by overhearing Obama's responses at the Saddleback forum, as NewsBuster D.S. Hube reported, isn't the first time the NBC correspondent has made herself propagator-in-chief of Obama's conspiracy theories. As NewsBuster Noel Sheppard has noted, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis has now written NBC to protest Mitchell's behavior. Here's an excerpt from his letter to NBC News president Steve Capus [emphasis added]:
[I]nstead of taking a critical journalistic approach to this spin, Andrea Mitchell did what has become a pattern for her of simply repeating Obama campaign talking points.
In asserting a "pattern" of such behavior by Mitchell, what did Davis have in mind? Almost surely it included a very similar stunt that Mitchell pulled in connection with Obama's cancellation of his planned visit to injured troops while in Germany for his speech in Berlin. As I noted here at the time, Mitchell passed along the Obama camp's unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that McCain had pulled strings with Pentagon buddies to have them withdraw permission for the visit.
Politico reported moments ago that campaign manager Rick Davis has sent a strongly-worded letter to Steve Capus, president of NBC News, sharply criticizing Mitchell's suggestion that the Arizona senator had somehow cheated at Saturday's Saddleback Civil Forum.
In it, Davis expressed concern that: "the level of objectivity at NBC News has fallen so low that reporters are now giving voice to unsubstantiated, partisan claims in order to undercut John McCain;" "Mitchell did what has become a pattern for her of simply repeating Obama campaign talking points," and; NBC News was "following MSNBC's lead in abandoning non-partisan coverage of the Presidential race."
As my colleague D.S. Hube reported, Andrea Mitchell on Sunday's "Meet the Press" suggested the Obama campaign felt John McCain "may not have been in the cone of silence" during Saturday's Saddleback Civil Forum, "and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were."
Although she claimed this was being "[put] out privately" by Obama's people, CNN is now reporting that his campaign is "not pursuing whether McCain heard any of the other questions," and that they're "assuming McCain had the same information they did."
So where did Mitchell get this idea from? Might it have been a Daily Kos blog posted at 9:22 PM PDT Saturday entitled "McCain cheated? proof he knew the questions ahead of time":
SEN. JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ): Defeat it. Couple of points. One, if I'm president of the United States, my friends, if I have to follow him to the gates of hell, I will get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice. I will do that and I know how to do it. I will get that done.
MR. GREGORY: Andrea Mitchell, that's a pretty clear contrast.
MS. ANDREA MITCHELL: Oh, absolutely. And, you know, there was the crisp, immediate, forceful response by John McCain, clearly in a comfort zone because he was with his base. And Barack Obama, taking a risk in going there but seeing an opportunity. And a much more nuanced approach. The Obama people must feel that he didn't do quite as well as they might have wanted to in that context, because that -- what they're putting out privately is that McCain may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama.
In a recent interview with USA Olympics basketball team member Kobe Bryant, NBC Sports reporter Chris Collinsworth seemed to question Kobe's patriotism when the player said that he was proud to wear the team USA uniform. Wondering if it was "cool" to be proud of being on Team USA, Collinsworth seemed to surprise even Bryant with the temerity of the question. Why Collinsworth wouldn't think it would be "cool" to be proud of being on the American Olympic basketball team is anyone's guess.
In a portion of the interview, Kobe began to say how thrilled he was to get his Team USA uniform and that he "just stared at it" for a while in awe. Collinsworth followed that heartwarming display of patriotism with a jaw dropping series of questions. Worse, he asked these questions with an absurd smirk stealing across his face, seeming to think that he was about to join Kobe in cynicism over the evil America with his doubting Thomas questions.
While ABC’s Good Morning America suspended its coverage of the John Edwards scandal following reporting on Monday, the CBS Early Show continued to cover the affair for a third consecutive day on Wednesday. Even NBC’s Today, covering the Olympics in Beijing, managed stories on Edwards on both Monday and Wednesday. Considering it was during an interview on ABC’s Nigthline on Friday that Edwards confessed to cheating on his wife, it is interesting that GMA was outdone in covering the story.
On Wednesday, the Early Show looked at the money trail leading from Edwards to his mistress, Rielle Hunter, as co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: "We will also talk about new bombshell revelations in the John Edwards affair, including claims that he did know his mistress was being paid and that he rekindled the affair after confessing to his wife." The segment began with a report by correspondent Bianca Solorzano: "According to the National Enquirer, the publication that first broke the story of John Edwards' extramarital affair, Edwards was aware of payments being made to his former mistress Rielle Hunter, something he denied on Friday...The allegations could not only have legal ramifications, it would shed considerable doubt on Edwards' other denial, that he fathered Miss Hunter's child."
You know there are some in the liberal media who have simply lost touch with reality when the headline reads "John Edwards Cheats on Wife With Cancer" and they ask with great detachment whether he'll be able to run for office again soon. These people's morality is so bizarre that they showed more outrage at John McCain featuring a picture of Paris Hilton in a commercial for two eye-blinks than for Edwards catting around on a dying spouse.
For months (and more hotly in the last two weeks), the National Enquirer has been trickling out the goods they collected on John Edwards having an affair and possibly a love child with campaign aide Rielle Hunter, staking out Edwards in a California hotel – and how he hid in the bathroom to avoid them.
There's a quick campaign ad on the two parties in a nutshell. Republican George Bush took on Osama bin Laden and took out Saddam Hussein. Democrat John Edwards hides in a bathroom from the tabloids.
Saturday's Fox News Watch devoted a few minutes to the controversy, which was documented previously by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, over NBC's Matt Lauer claiming during an interview for the Today show that "some very high percentage of the people in China are happy with their lot in life, something around 80 percent," but that in America, "only about 25 percent." Liberal panelist Patricia Murphy of Citizen Jane stated her belief that Lauer simply made an "error" in misstating a Pew Research poll which found that, when asked if they were "satisfied with the direction of the country," 86 percent of Chinese respondents said yes, but when asked about "personal satisfaction," that "the number was much, much lower."
Conservative columnist Jim Pinkerton theorized NBC was being soft on China because the network is making money off the Olympics: "Could it be because NBC paid China a billion dollars to cover the Olympics? And they can't afford to have their reporters and sportscasters kicked out for telling the truth about China. So they have no choice but to cover up." (Transcript follows)
It doesn't matter if they talk about it on the evening news or not according to Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana.
Pence, along with two of his Republican colleagues - Reps. Dan Burton. Ind., and Bob Goodlatte, Va., met with reporters about the protest they are waging against congressional Democratic leaders at the Capitol on Friday. Democrats, led by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, have prevented an up-or-down vote on expanding offshore oil exploration and drilling.
"We don't need to be on the mainstream media," Pence said. "I think the switchboard at the Capitol is melting. Quite frankly, you know, I went home to the state fair and went to the ham breakfast, which starts at 6 a.m. There were 300 farmers from all 92 counties of Indiana. There was no mention made from the podium about our protest, but I stood up and simply said, ‘It's an honor to be here with the governor and the lieutenant governor.' And I said, ‘Quite frankly, it's just nice to be speaking where the lights are on and it brought the house down - people from all 92 counties.'"
On Tuesday’s "Good Morning America," anchors Robin Roberts and Diane Sawyer touted the marital relationship between Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards and his wife. Co-host Robin Roberts recounted the often repeated story of how the Edwards couple spend their wedding anniversary, including their recent 30th, at the restaurant Wendy’s.
Roberts, perhaps in a Freudian slip, even referred to the former North Carolina Senator as "presidential nominee John Edwards." Sawyer gushed that the candidate and his wife "are going to renew their vows." "Happy anniversary," she added.
Yet, this is the same morning show that has vastly underplayed stories that aren’t quite so cute and endearing for the '08 contender. For instance, during a recent GMA town hall with John Edwards on the subject of poverty, Ms. Sawyer only managed to mention the trial lawyer’s 28,000 square-foot mansion once.
The Big Three networks continued to ignore the party affiliation of the now-incarcerated Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick on Friday morning, just as they had done in their evening news programs the previous night. The Early Show on CBS chose to ignore the story of Kilpatrick’s arrest on a bail violation entirely, while ABC’s Good Morning America devoted one 16-second news brief to the story near the beginning of its 7 am Eastern hour.
Ironically, NBC’s Today show, which is devoting most of its programming to the Summer Olympics in Beijing, spent the most time on the subject. It first aired a 12-second news brief just after the top of 7 am Eastern hour, and devoted an entire segment to the story at the beginning of the 8 am Eastern hour. The report by correspondent Ron Allen was just shy of 2 minutes long, but still ignored Kilpatrick’s Democratic affiliation.
Could the NBC honchos be a tad touchy about criticism of the Beijing Olympics—especially when it comes from its own talent pool? Was there a kernel of truth in Mika Brzezinski's light-hearted warning that MSNBC's Morning Joe crew would "get a call" if it persisted in its mocking of the games for whose broadcast rights the Peacock Network has over the years paid billions?
When the subject of the Olympics arose during the opening segment of today's show, the panel went into an extended coughing fit, coupled with cracks about tanks in Tiananmen Square. Mika joined in the joshing for a while, before finally putting her foot down . . .
In a pre-taped segment, delivered from the Forbidden City in Beijing, NBC's Matt Lauer pointed out a poll that showed the Chinese are happier than Americans and repeated his line that protestors could be seen as "party crashers," on Tuesday's "Today" show.
During an interview with NBC News China analyst, Joshua Cooper Ramo, Lauer made the following observation:
LAUER: There's a recent poll that said some very high percentage of the people in China are happy with their lot in life. Something around 80 percent. You compare that to polls in the United States that say only about 25 percent of Americans are, what's the root of their happiness here?
Then a little later in the segment the "Today" co-host, repeating an earlier worryhe made on Monday's program, declared the average Chinese citizen would disapprove of any protests:
NBC's Meredith Vieira, at the top of Tuesday's "Today" show, greeted viewers with the following teaser and jarring charge that "A scathing new book...claims the Bush administration's case for war...wasn't a mistake but deliberate deception...It is worse than Watergate."
Vieira, in the 7am half-hour interviewed journalist/author Ron Suskind about his new book, The Way of the World, and his claim that the Bush administration ordered the CIA to forge a letter that would link Iraq and al Qaeda. While Vieira and David Gregory did cite denials from former CIA Director George Tenet and Condoleezza Rice no Suskind critic appeared, live on the air, to debate him. In fact Vieira, at the end of the interview, noted that Suskind will be on tomorrow's "Today," as well.
The following is a complete transcript of the Gregory set-up piece, followed by the full Vieira interview with Suskind as it aired on the August 5, "Today" show:
This will give you an idea of just how far to the left NBC's Andrea Mitchell is.
Although many industry insiders and media watchers on both sides of the aisle view the cable network MSNBC as being a journalistic disgrace as a result of its blatantly obvious liberal bias, Mitchell says, "Nothing could be more important to our future."
And that's not all. For those with strong stomachs, here's Mitchell's complete response to a question on this subject from TVNewser (emphasis added):
NBC’s Matt Lauer, broadcasting live from the Great Wall of China on Monday’s "Today" show, referred to the "double-edged sword" of the world’s attention being on China for the Summer Olympic Games and asked a Chinese professor about how that "spotlight" might be "co-opted by party crashers who have a bone to pick with this country. He then asked the professor, "How worried are the people here about that?" [audio available here]
Lauer, who will be in China during the next weeks for the Olympics, interviewed Professor Teng Dimeng of the Beijing Foreign Studies University 20 minutes into 7 am Eastern hour of the NBC program. According to the University’s own website, it is a "key university under the [Chinese] Ministry of Education" and that "since her initiation, the [Communist] Party Central Committee and the late Chinese leaders, including Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, has provided great care and teachings for the development of the university." Therefore, Lauer, despite introducing Teng as a professor, was actually speaking to an employee of the Communist Chinese government.