Friday's morning shows offered more of the same election coverage. On ABC, Kate Snow highlighted how everyone Republican is running from Bush (with Rick Santorum touting his work with Hillary, God forbid) and gave Michael J. Fox another huge soundbite. On NBC, David Gregory explored how Democrats would rule. The first rule: hike the minimum wage.
ABC's Megan McCormack took down the Snow report, which is true enough, but has to play to a regular news viewer like the same old news in heavy rotation:
Chris Cuomo: "It's less than two weeks now until the congressional elections and we're seeing a new trend among GOP candidates: putting some distance between themselves and the White House. Here's ABC's Kate Snow."
With less then two weeks to go before the midterm elections, two separate programs, on two different networks, speculated that the Republicans are colluding with big oil to lower gas prices. The "Today" show wondered if this indicated "a vast right-wing conspiracy."
Fox’s Geraldo Rivera speculated that America was seeing a case of "gas pump pimping."
Meanwhile, ABC’s "Nightline" weighed in on political commercials and lamented GOP "mudslinging." They also characterized Rush Limbaugh’s comments about Michael J. Fox as a "vicious attack." (They apparently didn’t find any mudslinging or vicious attacks done by the Democrats)
CNN had their own take on Limbaugh’s comments. They wondered: "Could it be a new low?"
Speaking of the cable network, CNN also previewed a new Bush special by noting that "many say" the President has "stretched" and "trampled" the Constitution.
Thursday's Howard Kurtz profile of NBC Baghdad correspondent Richard Engel in the Washington Post has a real clash of perspectives. First, NBC anchor Brian Williams claimed Engel "is the most agenda-less person I've met in our business." Then Engel declared "I think war should be illegal...I'm basically a pacifist." The story included no critics of Engel's reporting, but praise from Williams and CBS colleague Lara Logan, and Engel's mother.
Williams asserted that Engel's reporting was fearless against annoying media critics: "In an era of instant media criticism, he calls balls and strikes in the middle of a war zone," says NBC anchor Brian Williams. "He is completely unbothered by any Web site that may have problems with his reporting while he's over in Iraq dodging bullets....He is the most agenda-less person I've met in our business, I think, in the past 20 years."
Though there's a harbinger of winter in the air here in upstate New York, it didn't prepare me for the hell-freezing-over moment on this morning's 'Today' show. Matt Lauer went to bat for Rush Limbaugh.
Lauer interviewed conservative commentator Laura Ingraham and USC law prof - and Dukakis presidential campaign manager - Susan Estrich about current campaign tactics. Matt set the tone with this question, which implied that - hand-wringing notwithstanding - there's nothing unusual about the level of nastiness in this campaign season:
"A lot of people are running around all flustered right now about these negative ads, these negative comments in the final stages of the campaign. Have you seen anything lately that you haven't seen in campaigns past?"
Agreeing with Lauer's premise, Laura pointed out that there is a time-honored tradition of negative campaigning in America going right back to the Adams-Jefferson campaign of 1796.
When Matt moved to the Fox/Rush matter, I assumed he was going to jump on the Dem/MSM Rush-bashing bandwagon. Instead, in a display of admirable equanimity Lauer observed:
Dick Cheney is the well-known hunter in the family but it turns out his wife, Lynne, can hold her own when it comes to hunting down bias. Cheney came loaded for bear or network anchor when she appeared on this morning’s Today show. On to promote her latest history book for children, Cheney wasn't allowed to leave before NBC’s Matt Lauer queried her about Iraq's effect on the midterms, asking: "Are the Republicans in trouble?" To which Cheney fired back with both guns blazing as she asked Matt, why Today wasn't doing more to report on all the positive economic news.
The following is the full exchange as it took place in the 8:30am half hour of the October 25th Today show:
On this morning's Today show, NBC's Carl Quintanilla floated the kooky conspiracy theory that the oil companies lowered gas prices to help the GOP. Today co-host Meredith Vieira at the top of the show even postulated: "You know the good news is that gas prices are down but do the elections have anything to do with it? In other words are we being manipulated?"
Co-host Matt Lauer fed the conspiracy, when he introduced the segment: "This morning on Today At the Pump, falling gas prices fueling conspiracy theories. The price of a gallon of gas, the average price, is way down to about $2.21 a gallon just in time for the midterm elections. Is it a coincidence? Some people say no."
To: On-Air Personalities From: NBC News Management Subject: Watch your language!
With less than two weeks left before the election, naturally we're all excited at the prospect, after 12 long years in the wilderness, that we will finally be winning back the majority in one or perhaps even both houses of Congress.
With victory this close at hand, it's important that none of us provide any fodder for Republicans - or those annoying right-wing media critics - to claim that we are, well, doing what we're doing - rooting for a Democratic win.
With rare exception, TV stories just don't happen - they're planned. So we can be quite sure that sometime in the last 24 hours or so, a producer at 'Today' sent out the word: "find me a Republican voter in a key state who has decided to vote Democrat this year."
NBC folks on the ground in Ohio obliged, dutifully disinterring Mr. John Gaylord to be trotted out on this morning's show. NBC's David Gregory offered this silk-purse-into-sow's-ear intro:
"For embattled Republicans, despite falling gas prices around the country, the economy might prove a tough sell. An important bellwether for this election is right here in Ohio, where a combination of an unpopular war in Iraq, a slow state economy, and scandal have set off alarm bells for Republicans. John Gaylord, a lifelong Republican, runs a bookstore in suburban Columbus. He may switch his vote this year."
CNN reporter Dan Lothian resorted, not for the first time, to a classic example of liberal bias on Monday’s "American Morning." Beginning a piece on Republican Governor Mitt Romney’s potential White House run, he described the politician’s positioning this way:
Miles O’Brien: "Now, on the Republican side of the race for the White House, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney thinking hard about that. ‘American Morning’s’ Dan Lothian looking at that potential run. Dan, good morning."
Dan Lothian: "Good morning, Miles. Well, polls seem to favor Senator John McCain and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for the nomination in 2008. But Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney seems to be carving out his base by appealing, political experts say, to the far right. It might feel like he's running for president in 2008, but Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney insists he's just doing his homework."
Meredith Vieira let her anti-war roots show on this morning's Today show. During her interview with White House counselor Dan Bartlett, the Today co-host repeatedly stated about the Iraq policy: "It's not working." Now while constructive criticism on the war policy is welcome from those who want to win, it's somewhat transparent and dubious coming from a longtime war critic like Vieira. The following are Vieira's questions to Bartlett in the 7am half hour of the October 23rd Today show:
Meredith Vieira: "So will the White House change course in Iraq and put more pressure on the government there? Dan Bartlett serves as counselor to President Bush. Mr. Bartlett, good morning to you."
(AP) London, March 2, 1867: Karl Marx, a rising star among centrist economists, announced today the publication of the first volume of his treatise, 'Das Kapital'.
OK, perhaps I exaggerate a tad. But is there any man of the left that the MSM is unwilling to cast as a "centrist" or moderate, particularly when he is seen as a potential Democratic presidential nominee?
The Associated Press offers a perfect case in point this evening. This article reports Barack Obama's acknowledgement on today's Meet The Press that, earlier protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, he is indeed contemplating a run for the presidency. Writes the AP:
"In recent weeks, his political stock has been rising as a potentially viable centrist candidate for president." [emphasis added]
The midterm elections are approaching and some members of the media are revving up their bias. MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann recently suggested that President Bush might be as big a threat as the terrorists. This was only a day after referring to conservative talk show hosts who visited the White House as the "Legion of Doom." CNN’s Jack Cafferty wondered if Karl Rove is planning an "October surprise" to salvage the Republicans’ chances in the midterm elections.
The print media have also offered unrestrained attacks from the left. A "Washington Post" report described House Speaker Dennis Hastert appearance as "a cross between Wildford Brimley and Jabba the Hutt." Nothing quite like objectivity, huh? A former "New York Times" bureau chief recently characterized the Christian right as "fascist." Perhaps he’d been chatting with "Newsweek" columnist Jonathan Alter. Alter told Don Imus he hoped the country has seen the last of "values voters."
The "Today" show fawned over Barack Obama, describing him as "electrifying" and a "rock star." This was on the same day that they giddily predicted a "perfect storm" to wipe out the Republicans in the midterms. Another early AM program, CNN’s "American Morning"encouraged author David Kuo to call for Christians to boycott the upcoming election.
Now, it seems Pelosi’s media admirers are trying to coronate her as the next Speaker of the House even before the voters go to the polls. CBS News is touting a profile of Pelosi (“Two Heartbeats Away”) set to air on Sunday’s 60 Minutes, and this morning’s (Friday’s) Today show on NBC aired a long, nearly all-positive profile that carried the on-screen headline “Speaker Pelosi? The Race of Her Life.”
One day after getting the celebrity treatment on "Today," Senator Barack Obama stopped by CNN’s "American Morning" to receive fawning questions from Soledad O’Brien. The big difference in the coverage is that while NBC's Meredith Vieira referred to Obama as a "rock star," O’Brien only mentioned that "some people say he is the brightest star in the Democratic Party." Isn’t it great when one media outlet differentiates itself from another? The morning host, who only mentioned Iraq and North Korea in passing, found time for particularly tough questions, including this hardball: "What’s your biggest fear?" Most of the anchor’s queries were of the short variety:
O’Brien: "Politics seems particularly mean these days."
O’Brien: "I think, we see partisanship that you see. And sort of, as you mentioned, in D.C. that you don't necessarily see in the American people. So why don't politicians get that?"
These days, it is almost as telling what little gems media organizations choose to hide from the public about their own polls as what they share. The release of the most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll is a fine example. As NewsBusters reported, the good folks at the “Today” show on Thursday seemed quite giddy over numbers that suggest the Republicans are in a lot of trouble in the upcoming midterm elections. However, as is typical, what wasn’t shared from this study conceivably gives a different picture.
For example, as is typical these days, news organizations don’t like to share the political affiliations of those questioned. Certainly, you can’t blame them, for this might give the public some pause to trust the veracity of the data. This instance was no exception, for those that were either “strong Democrat,” “Not very strong Democrat,” or “Independent/lean Democrat” totaled 43 percent of the respondents. The tally for “Strong Republican,” “Not very strong Republican,” and “Independent/lean Republican” was only 37 percent. As such, 16 percent more Democrats or those who leaned Democrat were polled versus Republicans and those who leaned Republican. Color me not surprised.
Senator Barack Obama got NBC's Meredith Vieira, Matt Lauer and even Al Roker in a tizzy as he made this morning's Today show his latest tour stop. Vieira called the Democratic senator an "electrifying," "rock star" and never once threw a tough question his way, even getting him to call for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq.
On to promote his book and Democrats in the midterms, Obama received the full TRL treatment on the October 19th Today show, complete with Vieira offering guest musical performer Vince Gill as an incentive for Obama to announce his presidential candidacy.
First up Vieira and Lauer did their best Vanessa Minnillo and Carson Daly imitations as they teased the upcoming interview at the top of the 8:00am hour:
In another apparent win for the Internet and New Media, NBC Universal announced on Thursday (hat tip to Drudge) a restructuring of some of its on-air programming (emphasis mine throughout):
NBC Universal plans to cut US$750 million in operating expenses by the end of 2007 by eliminating employees, cutting back on scripted shows, and slashing its news budget, according to a report Thursday in the Wall Street Journal.
The moves come as more and more viewers and advertisers gravitate toward new media, NBC Universal chairman Bob Wright told the newspaper. He said the moves would restore the company to double-digit growth next year.
Amidst all the MSM reports about this being the deadliest month for US troops in Iraq in a long time, there was a stunning bit of candor today from NBC reporter Richard Engel suggesting this is not mere coincidence, but a conscious effort by the terrorists to elect Democrats.
At the end of his report on this morning's 'Today' on the situation in Iraq, having spoken with US soliders, Engel reported:
"They believe insurgents are intensifying attacks against American soldiers now in an attempt to influence November's mid-term elections."
Let's try an experiment. Imagine that, like me, you were watching the opening of this morning's 'Today.' You hear Matt Lauer - teasing upcoming stories - say: "A mystery on the roads. A dramatic increase in hit-and-run accidents nationwide. What is going on?"
OK, quick: what comes to mind? I immediately thought of the increase in illegal immigration in our country. How about you?
And so I waited to see how 'Today' would deal with the issue of illegal immigration. And waited. And . . .
That's right. In discussing the apparent epidemic of hit-and-run accidents in the United States, 'Today' never once mentioned - even if only to reject - the possibility that the jump in illegal immigration might be a contributing cause.
Aren’t reporters supposed to nail facts down for the public? On Tuesday’s NBC Nightly News, reporter Chip Reid explored the U.S. Senate race in New Jersey, but could not explain to viewers whether or not Sen. Bob Menendez is under federal investigation. "It’s not entirely clear who’s right," Reid claimed. As Menendez denounced Republican opponent Tom Kean Jr. for "the politics of smear," Reid seemed unable to declare a basic fact local media outlets have repeated for weeks: federal investigators subpoenaed a Menendez tenant’s leasing agreement with Menendez. NBC doesn’t even seem to trust its own New York affiliate WNBC to locate the facts, even though it broke the subpoena story in September.
"General Pelosi, I'm Matt Lauer, and I'm reporting for duty!"
OK, Matt didn't quite say that as 'Today' kicked off its 'The War at Home' three-part series this morning on the lives of American veterans once they return home from war. But judging from the opening episode and the tease for what's to come tomorrow, he might just as well. NBC is clearly doing its part to tend the Dems' Victory Garden.
Of all the reporters in the NBC News stable, 'Today' tapped for this segment Jonathan Alter, a regular guest on Al Franken's Air America show and a consistently liberal columnist at Newsweek. And of all the hundreds of thousands of veterans, Today just happened to choose Tammy Duckworth, who lost both legs while co-piloting a Black Hawk helicopter in Iraq, and who now just happens to be . . . running for Congress as a - give me a sec here, OK, got it - Democrat.
How much of a network newscast depends on anonymous sources? And isn't it more suspicious when the anonymous sources all agree on the liberal-media thesis (actually, the John Kerry thesis) that the best we can hope for in Iraq is a stable dictatorship? Friday night's NBC Nightly News led with a British general saying all is lost, and notice how Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski presents Pentagon opinion constantly through anonymous sources (and a couple of prominent and regular Bush war critics). Apparently, all the finest military minds are unanimous, and a debate is unnecessary:
Brian Williams, beginning the show: "It was the shot heard around the world, and it came from the commander of the British Army. He is on the record as saying British troops have no business in Iraq and should come home. While he has since changed his stance a bit, his words sent shock waves through British forces. It wasn't what American forces needed to hear, either, as they are already facing an unraveling and violent situation on the ground, counter to their goal of democracy taking hold. We begin here tonight at the Pentagon with our Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski. Jim, good evening."
Monday's morning shows displayed the Democratic diplomacy that may take over the House and Senate next year. Newsweek's Jonathan Alter was openly dismayed that President Bush refers to North Korea's murderous communist tyrant, Kim Jong Il, as "'The Pygmy'...Not every helpful, actually." On NBC's Today, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman lamented that it's too late for Bush to salvage peace: "North Korea has concluded that this administration wants their, their head on a wall, basically, and therefore there's probably nothing the United States can do now, to really reassure the North to give up their nukes, which is really their life insurance policy." This came just a minute or so after Friedman described Kim as the "Tony Soprano of Pyongyang."
On the syndicated Chris Matthews Show NBC's Andrea Mitchell and CBS's Gloria Borger sounded like Blame America Firsters when explaining what the American public wants in a candidate for '08. Mitchell worried that world views the U.S. as "bullies" and "arrogant." Borger punctuated Mitchell's theory saying the American voter is "done with the arrogance of American foreign policy." The following exchange occurred on the October 15th edition of The Chris Matthews Show:
Andrea Mitchell: "That and I think what might most, could be the most profound problem beyond our men and women overseas in harm's way is how much hated the United States is for a variety of reasons. Fairly or not fairly. There is a perception abroad and it's in Europe and it's in the Islamic world and it's in Asia is that we are bullies, is that we're arrogant. It goes back to decisions that were made or perceptions of decisions, the wars. And whether it's fair or not somebody's gotta fix that and that cannot be fixed with Radio Free Europe or its descendants. It is a big, big problem."
Forgive the slowness of getting to this amazing exchange on Meet the Press, but with all the fuss that Chris Matthews and other national pundits have made over George Allen's "Macaca" salutation, it's amazing (and a testament to media Bush-loathing) that Missouri Democrat Senate challenger Claire McCaskill could completely copy rapper Kanye West and insist President Bush let people die in New Orleans because they were black, and nobody blinked. (Coverage on ABC, CBS, NBC? Zero.) At least Tim Russert brought it up last Sunday, late in the Missouri Senate debate on Meet the Press. But McCaskill wouldn't retract it. She was "acknowledging the feelings" of professional race-baiters and certain rappers who wear pink:
Russert: Let me turn to George W. Bush, because he’s become an issue in the campaign. Ms. McCaskill, you were quoted in the pubdef.net giving a speech which was blogged, saying, “She reminded people that ‘George Bush let people die on rooftops in New Orleans because they were poor and because they were black.’” One, why would you say that, and do you believe it?
Many pundits suspect that any event that makes the world look like a dangerous place might help the hawkish Bush team at election time. NBC was not going to allow that impression to sink in, if you were watching Thursday morning's edition of Today.
David Gregory insisted that despite "partisan finger-pointing," it would be a Republican liability, another growing question mark:
Gregory: "North Korea's apparent test of a nuclear weapon has led to partisan finger-pointing. Did the President, distracted by Iraq and bent on regime change in North Korea, fail to prevent its nuclear rise?"
Sen. Jack Reed: "I think they've been tied up in intramural debate between the regime change advocates and those who want to engage."
As a guest on Friday's Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NBC News White House correspondent David Gregory, to illustrate how he's observed that during press conferences President George W. Bush “particularly likes to kind of pop your bubble or tweak you a little bit,” impersonated Bush as he recalled the President's reaction to him -- “as if I'd committed a war crime” -- switching to French to pose a question to French President Chirac. At the Sunday, May 26, 2002 joint press conference in Paris, Gregory had asked Chirac to also respond to the question he had just posed to Bush about why “there are such strong sentiments in Europe against you” and why “there's a view that you and your administration are trying to impose America's will on the rest of the world?” Chuckling, Bush quipped: “That's very good. The guy memorizes four words and he plays like he's intercontinental!” On the Tonight Show, interspersing his best impression of Bush -- which was pretty good -- Gregory spent about two minutes describing the event and how Bush, to the bafflement of Chirac and others, kidded him about it long afterward. (Video link follows to the 2002 exchange)
This past week, the media made a very clear distinction between how they view a Republican scandal and one involving a powerful Democrat. MRC analysts found that, over a period of 12 days, the big three networks aired 150 stories on the Mark Foley scandal.
How did those same networks cover an investigation into Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and a very questionable land deal? They generally ignored the story. In the case of CNN, the October 12 "American Morning" aired almost 20 minutes of Foley coverage and devoted 35 seconds to Reid
Not to be outdone, print media also glossed over the emerging Reid scandal. "The New York Times" prefaced a story about Reid earning $1.1 million on a property that he hasn’t owned in three years with this headline: "Senator Offers to Amend Financial Forms." The "Times" is certainly generous in offering the benefit of the doubt...as long as you’re a Democrat.
Thursday evening, nationally syndicated radio host Mark Levin treated listeners to a round-up of NewsBuster items documenting how big liberal media outlets like CNN and the New York Times are playing down or totally ignoring questions about Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid’s failure to properly disclose a $1.1 million land sale.
Numerous MRC/NB staffers heard Levin cite NewsBusters in the opening minutes of his 6pm EDT radio show, which is heard live in Washington on WMAL-AM. Levin’s flagship station is WABC in New York City, where his program is the top-rated AM show in its time slot. MP3 Audio (1.35 MB)
The Web site MarkLevinFan.com posted a lengthy audio file of Levin’s entire discourse on Reid from Thursday’s show. MRC’s Scott Whitlock transcribed the portion in which Levin cited postings from himself, MRC’s Tim Graham and TimesWatch editor Clay Waters.
As they did on Thursday, ABC, CBS and NBC again this morning (Friday) omitted any reference to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid’s evident failure to properly disclose $1.1 million land deal (although all three programs broadcast updates on the two-week old Mark Foley scandal). So far, the only broadcast network coverage has been a benign 30-second mention on Thursday’s NBC Nightly News.
One new development skipped by the networks this morning: an editorial in the liberal Washington Post spanking Reid for showing “a casual disregard” for following the ethics rules, and declaring Reid’s claim that his transactions were “transparent” were “transparently wrong.” The networks usually aren’t shy about telling viewers when a conservative editorial page condemns a conservative leader, but they’re apparently uninterested in the liberal Post’s scolding of Harry Reid.
Today’s Las Vegas Review-Journal pointed out that Reid was actually serving on the Senate Ethics committee at the time of the undisclosed transactions, and that his financial disclosure forms were prepared by Claude Zobell, once Reid’s chief of staff.” Tagged at the end of the news story is the interesting disclaimer that Claude Zobell “is the brother of Charles Zobell, managing editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.”