In a striking contrast to his fellow reporters, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz took NBC to task for the extensive Live Earth coverage on NBC and its sister cable channels (earlier NewsBusters item on this very same column, with transcript of Kurtz's discussion on CNN's Reliable Sources.) Shockingly, Kurtz even used quotation marks when mentioning the global warming “crisis.” In his “Media Notes” column, Kurtz rightfully questioned the ethics of a network taking sides on a political issue (a General Electric senior VP said he doesn't “think climate change is a political issue”) and helping a “prominent Democrat” who potentially has presidential ambitions to raise money.
These are important points that most reporters have failed to raise, but Kurtz was not intimidated by the peer pressure and got down to the nuts and bolts (emphasis mine):
NBC and its cable networks devoted a total of 35 hours of air time Saturday to the Live Earth concerts, organized by Al Gore to call attention to what he calls a global warming "crisis."
It turned out that Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the radical environmentalist, had some strong words for politicians who stand against climate change legislation.
“Get rid of all these rotten politicians that we have in Washington, who are nothing more than corporate toadies … This is treason. And we need to start treating them as traitors,” Kennedy said at the July 7 concert held in New Jersey, according to Newsday.
Sting and his wife, environmental activist, Trudie Styler, were welcomed like old friends by Today co-host Ann Curry, on NBC's prime-time coverage of Live Earth. Curry, who has gushingly interviewed Styler before, implored the rock star and his wife to send a message to all those participating in the "rising fervor" for the environment. However, Curry worried that "fervor" would cool as she asked the 80s pop icon: "Well the iron is hot. People are listening. Irons cool, Sting. So what is the strongest thing you can say tonight to people listening?"
The following is the full interview as it occurred around 8:24pm on NBC's live July 7th coverage of the Live Earth concert:
It seems not even Al Gore and his stable of celebrity talent could keep Live Earth at the top of the ratings this past weekend. Greg Pollowitz from The Corner has the breakdown from Nielsen Media Research:
Saturday 7/07/07 Note: The following results are based on the fast affiliate ratings (Live Plus Same Day data).
That's right; NBC had a total of 2.75 million viewers for their three-hour airing of the Live Earth concerts. As a small consolation, they had more viewers than this spot in Brisbane, Australia, where a large outdoor screen had been set up for the anticipated throng.
Appearing with Today co-host Ann Curry during NBC’s exhaustive coverage of his Live Earth concert, Gore gave a shout out to the network for its donation to his global warming cause, as Gore told Curry: "Thanks for what NBC has been doing." Curry, as expected, didn’t exactly deliver a hard-hitting interview and even pressed Gore about running for president.
Curry to Gore: "A lot of people want me to ask you tonight if you're running for President. And I know what you're answer is gonna be, believe me. I gotta ask you though. After fueling this grass roots movement if you become convinced that without you there will not be the political will in the White House to fight global warming to the level that is required, because the clock is ticking.Would you answer the call? Would you answer the call, yes or no?"
Last August, a federal judge ruled that it was unconstitutional to monitor overseas conversations with suspected terrorists. On August 18, 2006, ABC’s "Good Morning America" treated the decision as a monumental event. However, Saturday’s GMA greeted the overturning of that decision by a federal appeals judge with a solitary 13 second news brief.
In contrast, reporter Jessica Yellin described the original ruling last August as a "stinging setback" and the program highlighted a professor who said it could ultimately lead to President Bush’s impeachment. Yellin, who colorfully described the decision as "essentially accus[ing] the President of acting like a king,"also highlighted this comment about Bush from George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley:
Jonathan Turley: "He could be impeached. And people should not be underestimating that."
Regardless of your views on global warming and climate change, Live Earth’s use of school-aged children as political spokesmen was, by anyone’s standards, in poor taste. Bravo’s coverage of the Al Gore-produced musical festival began with several innocent, gapped-tooth children sharing their all-too-adult frustrations and concerns over the environment. One poor girl, clearly shaken by the doomsday philosophy of extreme environmentalism, actually burst into tears (pictured at right).
Unidentified girl: "I’m really afraid of my children growing up and not being able to see like a blue sky or green grass. [Crying] If I don’t do something who will, you know?"
At the end of his Monday "Media Notes" column -- which mostly focused on the Huffington Post, in which former WashPost reporter/new HuffPost hire Tom Edsall acknowledges its audience is "very liberal" -- Howard Kurtz asked NBC about the perception of imbalance created by their massive promotion of the Live Earth concerts:
[UPDATED BELOW with Kurtz's discussion on Sunday's Reliable Sources on
CNN in which the BBC's Katty Kay marveled at “how critical the coverage
was” of the Live Earth concerts and Ryan Lizza of The New Republic
conceded “the environment is one of those issues where the media tends
to skew a little bit to the left. There's no doubt about that.”]
Doesn't this strike a discordant note? Wasn't NBC, whose news division covers the debate over climate change, providing a huge platform for advocates on one side of a contentious issue? And isn't the network helping a prominent Democrat -- who granted "Today" an interview last week in which he was asked again about his presidential ambitions -- raise money?
Dan Harrison, an NBC senior vice president, does not back away from the message. He calls the Gore effort "an initiative we believe in," including parent company General Electric. "I really don't think climate change is a political issue," Harrison says.
Live Earth's TV ratings might have been dismal, and the extravaganza took heat for the liberal use of profanity by its performers. But at least the concert series served some purpose: providing comedic fodder for today's "Morning Joe." Host Joe Scarborough and sidekick John Ridley had considerable fun at the expense of Ann Curry, a host of NBC's coverage of the event (see related NB item), whose interview of Al Gore gave new meaning to "touchy-feely."
At about 6:45 A.M. EDT this morning, the MSNBC show rolled a clip from the Curry-Gore interview in which Curry repeatedly grabbed Gore's arm and ended with a manic hand-pump.
Just in case you wanted some confirmation on what kind of leftist garbage NBC endorsed with the Live Earth concert, let’s flash back to singer Macy Gray and her back-up singers. Gray, as you might recall from my earlier post, had several things on her dress – a peace sign and the words “Darfur” and “Red Alert.” Not exactly controversial, just comical.
Her band was less subtle. You’ve got the guitarist with the name “George Bush” and a big X through it. How edgy. Then you have the intelligence-challenged guitarist with the name “Dick Chaney” and a big X through that. (For those who call the public school system home, the name is “Cheney.”) Here’s a hint for the left: Don’t go on global TV without a copy editor.
Live Earth or Live Al (as opposed to the version we’ve always seen) was a laugh riot. Lots of know-nothing rockers interspersed with juvenile Youtube-esque videos made for a day few could survive without nausea. It was a celebration of hypocrisy on a global scale and for NBC it was a marathon contribution to lefty causes. (Anyone think the Fairness Doctrine would ever stop something left-wing like this?)
The kicker comes courtesy of our friends at Sunday’s Washington Post. Matt Bellamy from the band Muse called the event “private jets for climate change.” And John Buckley of Carbon Footprint, an eco group that helps firms cut their footprint, said “We would have to plant 100,000 trees to offset the effects of Live Earth.”
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.