Among Friday's broadcast evening newscasts, NBC Nightly News uniquely reported a federal appeals court ruling, tagged by anchor Lester Holt as a "victory for the Bush administration," regarding the controversial NSA spying program that involves warrantless monitoring of international phone calls when one participant is a terrorist suspect. Friday's court action overruled an August 2006 court decision against the program by a liberal judge appointed by President Carter.
As documented by the MRC's Rich Noyes, all three broadcast evening newscasts had trumpeted the earlier ruling against the administration on August 17 of last year. ABC's Charles Gibson had labeled it a "major legal defeat" while ABC's Martha Raddatz had called it a "significant blow" to the administration. But neither ABC's World News with Charles Gibson nor the CBS Evening News mentioned Friday's ruling. But even on NBC, while Holt read news of the ruling, the words "Domestic Spying" appeared on screen, thus not conveying to the audience the international nature of the calls. Those words had similarly appeared during the NBC Nightly News coverage of the August 17 ruling. (Transcripts follow)
Clay Waters, Editor of the MRC's TimesWatch site and a Newsbusters contributor, appeared yesterday on Fox News Channel's "The Big Story" with John Gibson. The topic addressed was NBC's extensive coverage of the Al Gore 'Live Earth' concert airing this weekend.
As noted here, MSNBC's John Ridley went off on Al Gore this morning, suggesting he should hug his kid rather than the planet, save his son, not ice caps. But NBC's "Today" offered up a more predictable MSM response, as the show sought to downplay the Gore incident by pointing to Republican politicians whose kids have caused trouble, while praising Chelsea Clinton as unusually mature.
Introducing the segment, Meredith Vieira shifted the spotlight from Gore's situation to the broader issues.
'TODAY' CO-HOST MEREDITH VIEIRA: And now to politicians and their children. It's tough being a parent, and as former Vice-Pesident Al Gore learned this week, it's even tougher when you're in the public eye and your child makes a big mistake.
NBC reporter John Yang, who narrated the segment, was also in an understanding mood.
YANG: The arrest of his son and namesake on drug charges is giving former Vice-President Al Gore a lesson that millions of parents have learned before.
Cut to a clip of presidential historian Allan Lichtman, happy to let Al off the hook: "There are things you can control, and things you can't control in your own children's conduct." Roll footage of the Bush daughters, including the shot shown here of Jenna.
YANG: The saga of Al Gore III is just the latest example of politicians being embarrassed by their children, something that seems to be part of the political landscape. President Bush's twin daughters gained notoriety with citations for underage drinking.
Meredith Vieira invited on singer/songwriter Paolo Nutini to perform on this morning’s Today show but didn’t let the artist get away without using his spot on the upcoming Live Earth concert, as an excuse to plug NBC Universal’s sweeping coverage of the Al Gore musical marathon for the planet. Before Nutini sang he and Vieira discussed the importance of saving the Earth in the following segment of the July 3rd Today show:
Meredith Vieira: "They are calling it a worldwide event to save the planet and this Saturday more than 100 musical acts will perform in eight cities across seven continents. The Live Earth concert series will bring attention to the issue of global warming. And among the performers, Scottish singer/songwriter Paolo Nutini."
Writing about Lester Holt, I've more than once praised the NBC host for his level-headed professionalism. I may have to re-evaluate after his performance on this morning's "Today." Interviewing Joe Wilson about the Libby commutation, Holt seemed to seek to throw gasoline on the fire with leading questions, while obfuscating an important fact. Later, Meredith Vieira interrupted Bill Kristol to offer a heartelt defense of Wilson.
Holt began by reminding Wilson of his recent statement that the Libby sentence demonstrates that "this remains a nation of laws, not men."
Holt then lobbed in this question.
NBC HOST LESTER HOLT: Do you still believe that this morning?
Wilson knew just what to do with the hanging curveball:
The wicket has gotten sticky for those who, in the wake of terror attacks, seek to blame the West for the disaffection of a few Islamist youths gone wrong. The profile of those involved in the latest rash of terror incidents in the U.K. has stood that theory on its head.
Consider the dialogue on this morning's "Today" at 7:06 a.m. EDT between NBC's Lester Holt and Lisa Myers, both reporting from London.
NBC'S LESTER HOLT: Lisa, we always hear when these sort of things happen in the U.K. about disaffected young Muslim men, sort of home-grown terrorists. When you talk about physicians, does this change the nature of what anti-terror authorities here would expect in these cases?
NBC'S LISA MYERS: Absolutely, Lester. This greatly complicates the profile. Most of the recent plots had been the work of so-called home-grown cells with ties to Pakistan; disaffected young British Muslims who in some cases went to Pakistan for terror training. Here you have a group of highly-educated foreigners, the kind of people that this country actually encourages to come to Britain. So that makes it very tough, Lester.
NBC's announcement that Today news anchor and Dateline host Ann Curry (file photo from 2006 at right) will co-anchor NBC's prime-time simulcast of Al Gore's "Live Earth" concerts on Saturday is an obvious indicator that it won't just be a rock concert. It will include gooey interviews where celebrities and rock stars will be praised for their global conscience.
Curry's big prime-time gig could be a reward for the one-sided environmental activism she's long displayed at NBC's morning show. In her time at Today, Curry has brought her trademark sappy personality along with the expected liberal bias to numerous environmental interview segments. In the last five years, Curry often revealed her soft spot for all things green.
On Saturday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Pete Williams presented a one-sided look at the Supreme Court's "shift to the right," conveying complaints by liberals over recent court rulings, but without showing any conservatives who supported some of the court's recent right-leaning decisions. Williams began his piece by quoting liberal Justice Stephen Breyer's complaint that "It's not often in the law that so few have so quickly changed so much," before playing a soundbite of the ACLU's Steven Shapiro: "Civil liberties and civil rights took a beating virtually across the board from race to religion to abortion to speech to the basic right to come into court and sue when you've been a victim of discrimination." Williams also found that Chief Justice John Roberts "has turned out to be more conservative than even some of the court's liberals thought he would be." (Transcript follows)
On Thursday’s Today, NBC’s Meredith Vieira interviewed Robin Williams, introducing him jokingly that he "has always made people look to the heavens and say what was he thinking? So it's only appropriate that in his latest film, License To Wed, he plays a man of the cloth. And his character, Reverend Frank is more than a little unorthodox." He’s playing an Episcopalian minister, but all his trouble lately has been by making harsh jokes about Catholic priests and pedophilia.
On the June 18 Tonight show, Williams unfurled a whole routine suggesting there were pedophiles everywhere among the Catholic priesthood, a smear on the vast majority of serious and celibate priests, as well as mean-spirited jokes about priests being sexually aroused in the confessional. Ten days later, he smeared his critics – specifically, without citing names, Michael Chapman on NewsBusters -- suggesting they didn’t care whether child-abusing priests were exposed, that keeping it quiet was okay. About halfway into the interview, Vieira steered into his mockery of priests:
At the end of Friday’s Today show on NBC, the marketing of Al Gore’s Live Earth concerts began, just eight days shy of NBC’s big three-hour Live Earth concert in prime time, hosted by NBC anchor Ann Curry and Carson Daly. (Not to mention the other 72 hours donated to Gore by NBC Universal.) NBC’s Friday guest was David DeRothschild, author of "The Live Earth Global Warming Survival Handbook." Like a good NBC employee, anchor Natalie Morales praised the climate-crisis cause: "Fantastic effort. It’s going to raise a lot of awareness."
The author mostly made the usual plugs for compact-fluorescent bulbs and other electricity savings, but the strange part (at least for late June) was urging everyone to wear a sweater and turn the thermostat down. Did they think they were recording a segment for Christmas break?
You'd think successfully preserving the bald eagle and helping its population increase would garner a positive news report. You'd be wrong.
NBC "Nightly News" found reason to worry that the bald eagle, which is now flourishing, will be wiped out now that it has been removed from the endangered species list.
“[Nationwide resurgence of the eagle] is not the end of the story. Now the question is will man maintain the eagle’s habitat or will the eagles adapt to man,” said chief environmental affairs correspondent Anne Thompson on June 28.
While ABC and NBC both led off their Thursday night newscasts with the Supreme Court decision barring an exclusively race-based approach to assigning students to various schools, the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric began with the demise of the Senate immigration bill. CBS’s reporters emphasized how the vote was a defeat for President Bush, even though top Senate Democrats like Ted Kennedy and Harry Reid, plus a few Republicans like John McCain had also fought for the measure and failed.
CBS White House correspondent Jim Axelrod asserted that Thursday’s vote marked “a defining day in the Bush presidency.” CBS’s resident historian (and John Kerry biographer) Douglas Brinkley went even further: “George Bush is beyond being a lame duck President. He’s a dead duck President.”
Still stoking the flames of the fire it started on its cable outlet, MSNBC, NBC kept pushing the Ann Coulter vs Elizabeth Edwards fight, this time on this morning’s Today show. Substitute host David Gregory invited on Elizabeth Edwards to continue to bash Coulter on her "hate language." And while the on screen headline asked, "Out of Control? The Politics of Ann Coulter," 'Today', once again, never bothered to mention the Edwards campaign's own "out of control" bloggers.
To his credit Gregory did ask about Edwards using Coulter as a fundraising tool and noted the hypocrisy of John Edward's $400 haircut and his large speaking fees for a poverty group. However Today refused to identify either Edwards as a liberal but repeatedly labeled Coulter as "conservative," and even tagged her as a "flamethrower."
As the media continue to pile on Ann Coulter in the wake of her being ambushed by Elizabeth Edwards and Chris Matthews on Tuesday’s “Hardball,” a disturbing yet predictable double standard is emerging.
On the one hand, Coulter is being pounded for using “hate words,” so much so that Matthews advocated Wednesday that people not buy her books.
Yet, Edwards and her Democrat presidential candidate husband John appear to be getting a pass regarding the hiring of two anti-Christian bigots back in February as official bloggers for his campaign.
In fact, Mrs. Edwards was interviewed this morning by ABC, CBS, and NBC to get another chance to speak about Coulter's "hate words." Yet, not one host asked her any questions concerning these bloggers.
With that in mind, MRC President Brent Bozell issued the following statement Thursday:
On Wednesday evening, ABC's World News with Charles Gibson and the NBC Nightly News both covered the Elizabeth Edwards/Ann Coulter controversy, noting that the Edwards campaign has eagerly used their run-ins with Coulter to raise campaign money. ABC's Jake Tapper uniquely noted this week's fundraising deadline for the presidential race, while relaying the Edwards campaign's success at raising "Coulter cash." Tapper: "Just as Coulter has a book to promote this week, Edwards has a fund-raising deadline. Enemies can have their uses."
NBC's David Gregory noted the Edwards campaign's immediate use of yesterday's flap to solicit campaign money, but the network also failed to put one of Coulter's controversial quotes in proper context, thus making it appear worse than it actually sounded in full. On Monday's Good Morning America, while answering a question about her joke from last March about John Edwards being a "faggot," Coulter suggested there was a double standard between the outrage over her remark and the greater tolerance by the media and liberals of a question by Bill Maher about whether the world would be a better place if Vice President Cheney had been assassinated. (Transcripts follow)
He shows “compassion” and “generosity,” he’s a great “campaigner” and an “adroit politician,” reporters have declared.
He’s “taking on America’s deeply flawed health care system,” said Terry Moran on ABC’s “Nightline” June 13. And “… the point his movie ultimately makes: fixing health care is a moral, even a religious obligation.”
Billion-dollar returns just aren’t good enough for NBC. On June 26, the “Nightly News” attacked wealthy hedge fund managers for making high-risk investments and for trying to do business with the “vulnerable” upper-middle class.
Reporter Carl Quintanilla mentioned rich investors who want to become “hedge fund rich,” but then focused his segment negatively on such investment firms.
“[T]he people who run them buy mansions, art – paying themselves salaries of over a billion dollars in just the past year.”
But is there anything wrong with that? According to Quintanilla, they’re run by greedy people and too risky for “a new more vulnerable audience.”
“They are beginning to target the upper middle class – the reasonably wealthy professional rather than the millionaire or the super-rich,” said Columbia University Law Professor John Coffee.
The network morning shows all hyped up the recent remarks from Republican Senator Richard Lugar that the war in Iraq is not going well. ABC’s "Good Morning America" ran a brief story and noted that Republican Senator George Voinovich followed as well.
The CBS "Early Show’s" "Capitol Bob" segment focused mainly on the Lugar remarks. Host Harry Smith discovered admiration for the Indiana Senator exclaimed he is a "smart guy" and is "not fickle." Bob Schieffer forecasted "I think we’re going to begin a withdrawal," claimed the troops are in "the middle of this civil war," and editorialized "the policy as we know it is not going to work." Schieffer also claimed inside sources tell him Republicans are "not enthusiastic" about the president’s Iraq strategy.
Update with transcript of Matthews on MSNBC appended below.
After yesterday's ambush of Ann Coulter by Elizabeth Edwards on Hardball, MSNBC's Chris Matthews was rewarded a victory lap by Meredith Vieira on this morning's Today show. Matthews crowed that Edwards came out the winner, long after he stacked the deck against the conservative columnist with the surprise call-in, from John Edwards' wife, on a live show. Like a bribed referee in a fixed match Matthews, proverbially, raised Edwards' hand in victory as he blared: "Elizabeth Edwards has won this round."
The following is the full transcript of the segment, first noted here, as it occurred on the June 27th Today show.
Update (Ken Shepherd | 09:16 EDT): Matthews appeared with Joe Scarborough a few minutes ago on MSNBC to discuss the matter. Expect more coverage in a followup post on NewsBusters shortly.
Chris Matthews should keep his evening job. Appearing on this morning's "Today," the Hardball host was manifestly bleary and off his game.
Matthews was in, at 7:12 am EDT, to discuss with "Today" co-host Meredith Vieira the dust-up on last night's "Hardball," reported here by NewsBuster Geoffrey Dickens, between Ann Coulter and Elizabeth Edwards. Matthews couldn't keep his names straight. He first referred to Coulter as "Ann Edwards," then recycled the "Ann Edwards" moniker in referring to Elizabeth Edwards.
HARDBALL HOST CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well that was a pretty tough [translation: pro-Coulter] crowd, and if you think Ann Edwards is over the top, she had a lot of people behind her last night who agreed with her.
And later . . .
MATTHEWS: Unfortunately, you're dealing with a real-life situation with Ann Edwards' medical challenges, which we all know about, and the fact that they did lose their son Wade, and you don't make jokes about that.
On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, while reporting from Lake Tahoe, correspondent George Lewis relayed one homeowner's complaint that environmental regulations had contributed to the danger of wildfires in the area. She further contended that the only reason her home survived was because she had cleared away brush near her home in violation of the law. Lewis: "She blames environmentalists and bureaucrats for creating rules that, in her opinion, increased the fire hazard. Says she had to break the law to clear brush off adjacent federal land."
Below is a complete transcript of the report by George Lewis from the Tuesday June 26 NBC Nightly News:
GEORGE LEWIS: As the fire has jumped those lines, additional evacuations of people who live here are under way. This, as people who live in the previously burned areas were trying to get back home. This morning, after she pleaded, argued and reasoned with the authorities, Sue Abrams was granted permission to return to her home, still standing in one of the burned out areas.
Bill Dedman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter for MSNBC, recently filed a report on the MSNBC website that won’t win him any Pulitzers. He investigated political donations made by journalists, and found a resounding liberal tilt: 125 journalists gave to Democrats and liberal causes, and only 16 gave to Republicans. Two gave to both parties.
Does this prove cause and effect, a subsequent tilt in the liberal media’s coverage of the news? No, but to believe there is no causation at play here is ludicrous: if a survey of journalists found that 86 percent were donors to the National Right to Life Committee, would anyone dispute labeling the media "pro-life"?
The talk radio lines were ablaze with commentary. Predictably the news media reacted with near silence. Fox News, of course, was on it. MSNBC television lightly covered the result on TV – but refused to discuss the media bias angle. Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post filed a good story, as did a few other "mainstream" newspapers, but that was it.
On Monday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams highlighted a "surprise" letter presented to President Bush by high school students visiting the White House who wanted the President to "stop the practice of torture." Williams: "When they got there, 50 of them [out of 141] presented him with a handwritten letter that they had signed demanding that the United States stop the practice of torture."
During the 37-second segment, Williams recounted the story and at one point showed a copy of the letter on-screen with the sentence "We do not want America to represent torture" blown up so it was readable to viewers. The NBC anchor concluded by relaying the President's response. Williams: "The President told them the United States does not practice torture, the very same thing the President has said publicly in the past." (Transcript follows)
Carrying the left's water, on this morning's 'Today' show, NBC's Kelly O'Donnell furthered the liberal spin of Dick Cheney as a dark and sinister force inside the White House. While refusing to label Melanie Sloan and Michael Blanton as the known liberals that they are, O'Donnell cited them, along with the Washington Post's Barton Gellman, in a segment that portrayed Cheney as a "master of stealth." In the story about Cheney withholding documents from the National Archives, O'Donnell aired three soundbites opposed to Cheney but only aired one from a Cheney advocate, White House Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino.
On June 3, NBC’s “Meet the Press” marvelously demonstrated how wonderful a panel discussion can be when there are an equal number of liberal and conservative pundits present as reported by NewsBusters here.
Three weeks later, host Tim Russert stocked his panel exclusively with liberals: David Broder of The Washington Post, John Harwood of The Wall Street Journal and CNBC, Gwen Ifill of PBS’ Washington Week, and syndicated columnist Roger Simon.
As a result of there not being one conservative present, the discussion was the usual twenty minutes of Bush-bashing, Hillary sycophancy, and attacks on all politicians with an “R” next to their names.
In fact, the liberal bias this Sunday morning came early and often immediately after Russert’s first question: (video available here with relevant segment beginning at minute 22:45):
Barbara Walters, who sometimes plays an objective journalist on TV, chose this week to endorse "Sicko," Michael Moore’s left-wing screed about the health care industry. The veteran news anchor enthused, "Everyone should see it." Conservatives shouldn’t be surprised by this type of propagandizing, however. Last year, Walters endorsed Al Gore’s "An Inconvenient Truth." (See blog for link.)
Speaking of the "The View," an ex-host from that program, Meredith Vieira, gushed on Monday’s edition of "Today" that Hillary Clinton is "unbeatable" and a "teflon candidate." Later in the week, Matt Lauer, a co-anchor on the NBC program, touted Mrs. Clinton’s "Sopranos" parody. He declared it "a hit" and "clever." The other network morning shows were similarly impressed.
On June 22, all three networks covered the Senate bill mandating higher automobile fuel efficiency. NBC's "Today" only ran an anchor brief on the story, but ABC's "Good Morning America" and CBS's "The Early Show" both ran short stories on the news.
On "Good Morning America" David Kerley spun it in a positive fashion hypothesizing the bill "should save you some money." They then played the clip of Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) hailing passage of the bill implying the United States will be less dependent on Middle Eastern oil. GMA did play a clip of General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner stating "we think there are ways to do it that are smarter," but there was no mention of the potential increased danger of automobile accidents as documented by the CATO Institute.
Tim Graham appeared on "Live Desk w/Martha MacCallum" today to discuss what appears to be NBC paying for a post-incarceration interview with hotel heiress Paris Hilton. He joked: "It just sounds like a bad MTV reality show called Pimp My News."