The mainstream media unabashedly continues its soft-touch approach with Iran and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
On Thursday's "American Morning," CNN foreign correspondent Aneesh Raman gave a report from Amman, Jordan on the release of the 15 British sailors and marines by Iran. He began with the describing the P.R. conducted by Iran and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as one of "precision." Later in his report, Raman then described the P.R. campaign as "sophisticated." These are hardly adjectives CNN employs for American officials.
Though Raman does state that Iran "used the media to its advantage" and that its broadcasts of the British sailors and marines making statements were "staged confessions," it's unsurprising, to say the least, that the CNN correspondent would use such glowing terms for the Iranian regime's propaganda coup. It was only a few months ago that Raman's colleague at CNN, Suzanne Malveaux, asked President Bush for a show of respect for Ahmadinejad.
In an exclusive, TMZ.com broke the story that CNN axed Soledad O’Brien and Miles O’Brien as hosts of the low-rated “American Morning.” Replacing them will be the network's in-house talent, John Roberts and Kiran Cherty, who was recently fired from FNC's morning show "Fox & Friends.”
TMZ says that “the move will be effective in two to three weeks” and that the O’Briens , who are not related, “will remain at CNN.”
In TV personnel moves, Howard Kurtz reports CNN has dumped its American Morning anchors Miles O'Brien and Soledad O'Brien (not related or married) for former Dan Rather heir apparent John Roberts and former Fox & Friends regular Kiran Chetry. (The Post also reported CNN anchor Paula Zahn is calling it quits on her 20-year marriage.)
Jim Benson in Broadcasting & Cable magazine reports that Rosie O'Donnell is saying she will decide in May whether to stay with ABC's crew on "The View" or cash in: "word comes that she is in negotiations about a potentially rich overall studio deal," and her asking price is "believed to be $40 million annually." He adds: "With O'Donnell's View contract ending in June, and recent boycott threats against Disney and ABC over her Sept. 11 conspiracy theories, rumors about her future plans are flying."
CNN correspondent Michael Ware appeared on Monday's "American Morning" and gave a live report from Baghdad on Sen. John McCain's visit to the Iraqi capital. Host Soledad O'Brien asked him during the segment if he had, as suggested in Internet accounts, heckled the presidential hopeful:
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a question. There was a report that said you were heckling and you were laughing during the senator's press conference. Is that true?
WARE: "Well, let's bear in mind that this is a report that was leaked by an unnamed official, of some kind, to a blog, to somewhere on the Internet. No one is going to put their name forward. We certainly haven't heard Senator McCain say anything about it, or any of his staff have come forward to say anything about it.
Never ever blame the victim, isn't that what people say about crime victims?
Apparently no one told CNN, because this morning on "American Morning" Soledad O'Brien and Stephanie Elam attacked TJX Cos., the parent of T.J. Maxx and Marshalls among other stores, accusing the company of dishonesty after the company suffered massive data theft by hackers.
"None of these companies are ever forthcoming about it," O'Brien said in a huge generalization. "You always have to uncover it, investigate it, dig and dig and dig and then eventually they come up with a number which is probably a little on the low side."
"Minding Your Business" reporter Stephanie Elam agreed, complaining about the length of time it took TJX to disclose that 45.7 million credit and debit card numbers had been stolen affecting nearly 500,000 customers.
John McCain was making the rounds on the network and cable news channel morning shows on Wednesday. During his appearance on "American Morning," substitute host John Roberts tried to lay a guilt trip on the Arizona Senator when he brought up the current hot topic of cancer (McCain received treatment for melanoma in 2000). His first question resorted to the old left-wing cliche that throwing more money at a problem will lead to a solution.
ROBERTS: Again this year, in the next budget, President Bush has proposed to cut funding for the National Cancer Institute. I was on their web site this morning and noticed that for all the major cancer groups, spending on research has gone down for the past two years. Your party was in charge during that time. How did you let it happen?
"We should have went to the mob for a loan," said Bronx homeowner Ana Rosado on CNN's March 27 "American Morning."
Her statement, extreme as it was, rivaled network reporting in March about subprime loans and foreclosures.
Reporters called the situation a “meltdown,” an “epidemic” and a “crisis” that could potentially lead to recession, and blamed lenders while almost entirely ignoring personal responsibility for borrowers. Instead, media accounts portrayed borrowers as victims, many of whom seemed shocked when their adjustable-rate mortgages adjusted upward.
While lenders were painted as the bad guys, they were rarely allowed to give any perspective. The networks, ABC, CBS and NBC, have done at least 26 stories on subprime loans just in the month of March, but only six of those included a lender’s voice. That meant an overwhelming 77 percent of stories didn’t even try to explain the lenders’ position.
An excerpt from Roberts' exchange with A.B. Stoddard of The Hill on "American Morning:"
STODDARD: Well, at this point the problem, of course is the cover-up and not the crime. Monica Goodling was the liaison for the White House and the Justice Department. If there was some serious meddling here and the decisions were made for political purposes, she's going to know the most how much the White House was involved. And so, you know, I can see why, if something is up here, she needs to plead the Fifth. But for the purposes of the committee, at this point, it just couldn't -- it couldn't fire them up more. They're going to be looking, of course, to talk to Kyle Sampson, and then, of course, the attorney general later.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. That was the focus of Bob Franken's report on CNN's "American Morning," which focused attention on the pork barrel spending proposals in the emergency funding bill for the military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The key excerpt:
REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) HOUSE SPEAKER: "With today's convening of the 110th Congress, we begin anew."
FRANKEN (voice over): "That was the rallying cry from the newly in-charge Democrats, the wheeling and dealing and hidden pork barrel spending would be no more. Fast forward just 10 weeks. Democratic leaders face their biggest challenge so far. The legislation providing $124 billion in war funding, combined with a troop pullout from Iraq next year. And they're using every tool at their command. The same tools they criticized the Republicans for using -- good, old fashioned pork."
On Wednesday’s "American Morning," CNN co-host Soledad O’Brien must have surprised former Clinton administration official and Illinois Representative Rahm Emanuel (D) with a tough question concerning the Bush administration’s use of executive privilege versus the Clinton administration’s use. Emanuel tried to claim the privilege is usually "reserved for national security," which even CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin wasn’t buying. Here’s the exchange:
SOLEDAD O’BRIEN: "You worked in the White House, the Clinton Administration, where they claimed executive privilege for Bruce Lindsey and for Sidney Blumenthal in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, essentially. Why that time around was the efforts you made -- it failed, but there was an effort to say executive privilege. Let's protect these guys. They shouldn't have to go testify before Congress. It failed. But that was what was claimed, so why this time around does it not seem fair?"
Promoting a recent study by the food police group Center for Science in the Public Interest, a report during CNN's "American Morning" today favored further regulation of restaurants, targeting UNO Chicago Grill and Ruby Tuesday in particular.
"When you go to a restaurant you better be watching what you're eating, because some of the calories you get can be extreme," said reporter Greg Hunter before introducing CSPI nutritionist Jayne Hurley.
In total, Hurley's view was represented with a full minute and 46 seconds, compared to Ruby Tuesday's senior vice president who was given 10 seconds. Read the full Business & Media Institute story here.
My colleague Dan Gainor has the full story here, but basically CNN's "American Morning" aired a story today about some teens who got sick after drinking the new Spike Shooter energy drink. They shouldn't have even consumed the stuff -- the label says those under 18 or elderly (or with asthma, etc.) should steer clear of it. But that didn't matter to anchor Miles O'Brien, who lamented a lack of FDA regulation of energy drinks rather than faulted the kids for failing to heed the warning label.
Spike Shooter's warning label can be read at the product Web site, click "ingredients."
Far left conspiracy theory rants are not enough to lose the praise of a CNN anchor. On the February 20th addition of American Morning, anchor Soledad O’Brien announced that Spike Lee won a Polk award for his film When the Levees Broke. The man who does not think it is "far fetched" that the levees in New Orleans were bombed, earned praise from O’Brien who editorialized, "if you haven’t seen it, you should really run out and get it" and added, "good work Spike!" Additionally, it is very telling that such conspiracy theories can win one a journalism award. The transcript is below.
Soledad O’Brien: "Director Spike Lee, who's been helping us on this project, helping hand out the cameras and giving the kids some tips for shooting, and becoming really film makers. We have a little congratulations in order for him today. His documentary, called When the Levees Broke, it won the George Polk award, which of course, is one of the top prizes in journalism. It showed the government's failed response to Katrina. If you haven't seen it you should really run out and get it. So a big congratulations to Spike Lee for this honor. Good work Spike!"
On Monday's American Morning, CNN’s Soledad O’Brien stuck up for the Reverands Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. In the first report of her "Uncovering America" series O'Brien poses the question, do Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson speak for the African American community? O’Brien offered a puff piece on the two reverends and no voice on their critics. In a question to Sharpton, she even implied his critics, particularly his African-American critics, are hypocrites.
Soledad O’Brien: "A number of people have said, Al Sharpton, you know what, I’m black he does not represent my views. He doesn’t represent a lot of black America, but if I get shot, I’m going to call him."
Despite his natural aptitude for rapping, Velshi will probably keep his day job, in which he earns well above minimum wage to spoon-feed bad economic theory to breakfast hour viewers. For instance, did you know government could grow the economy by mandating a higher minimum wage?
If you're a regular viewer of network morning news shows -- a practice I don't really recommend, we watch them so you don't have to -- you know that CNN's "American Morning" is particularly concerned about the "epidemic" of childhood obesity.
Indeed, just two weeks ago, CNN's top doc, Sanjay Gupta, lamented a lack of regulation on Internet "advergaming" to children You know, playing Spoons with Snap, Crackle, and Pop, that sort of thing.
But this week, well, the crew at "American Morning" actually found it ridiculous that the makers of M&Ms have agreed to stop advertising to children. Not that they do much of that anyway, they just won't anymore, now that European regulators are breathing down their necks. And today, anchor Soledad O'Brien preached the virtues of moderation as she mocked schools that ban cupcakes. [cont'd...]
With NBC and ABC hyping the global climate change news in recent days, CNN jumped on the bandwagon on Wednesday’s American Morning. Miles O’Brien interviewed one of the leading climate change skeptics, Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma. After his previous combative interview, O’Brien attempted to disprove Inhofe’s skepticism with sound bites from various climate change believers.
Inhofe slammed O’Brien for cherry picking data to verify his theory exclaiming: "Now you won’t get the [fourth assessment from the IPCC] from scientists probably until May or June. But this summary is all you’re going to look at."
Miles O’Brien then cited the United Nations report with "2,500 of the world’s leading scientists." The Senator shot back about the Oregon Petition, signed by 17,800 scientists, who said that the increase in the earth’s temperature is part of a natural trend.
CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta found another explanation for why Junior is rolling round the family room with a spare tire: food advertising on the Internet.
It gets better. The study he's citing is 6 months old and hails from the liberal Kaiser Family Foundation. What's more, Gupta didn't give any tips for parents about how to regulate their kids Internet use and only gave 6 seconds to an advertising industry spokesman for comment.
Sounds like Dr. Sanjay has a fever, and the only prescription is bigger government.
UPDATE: I put together clips from Gupta's story, as clips from ABC's "World News" and CBS's "The Early Show" that display similar biases. You can find that video here (Windows Media) and here (Real Player).
With the president mentioning "global climate change" in his State of the Union, CNN’s Miles O’Brien was happy he finally mentioned it. But, of course, he’s not doing enough and "more drastic action is needed.". Because his proposals are voluntary and not mandatory, it is "essentially toothless." O’Brien featured Gene Karpinski of the liberal League of Conservation Voters to call for "mandatory caps on global warming," but featured no contrary view.
The CNN anchor then predicted a very grim future.
Miles O’Brien: "Bush’s remarks were a small concession to what an overwhelming majority of climate scientists believe is a huge problem. They say in the coming decades, climate change will melt glaciers, flooding coastal areas as see levels rise. It will likely increase the frequency of extreme weather events like catastrophic hurricanes and it could lead to entire species going extinct, such as polar bears which are already struggling as their arctic habitat melts."
With puff pieces on Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Nancy Pelosi, the mainstream media just can’t stop fawning over leading Democrats. Their latest is newly elected Democratic Senator Jim Webb of Virginia, who is scheduled to deliver the Democratic response to the president’s State of the Union address.
On Tuesday’s American Morning, reporter Dana Bash showed her love for this freshman Democrat teasing the Senator "I love what you’ve done with the place [his temporary office]." Laughter followed. After mentioning his son serves in Iraq, Bash asked the hardball question, "don’t you think that actually gives you a leg up in some way, that you really have a personal investment?"
On Tuesday’s "American Morning," Miles O’Brien reported on the statement by evangelical leader James Dobson that he could never support Arizona Senator John McCain’s bid for the White House. O’Brien twice referred to the comments as attacks from "the far right." Political correspondent Bob Franken went on to characterize the remarks by Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, as "lashing out at Senator John McCain." Franken followed by recounting McCain’s sometimes rocky relationship with Christian conservatives. In the process, the CNN reporter simplified and omitted some important facts about the Senator’s record. But first, Miles O’Brien led with classic labeling bias:
7:26 (story tease)
Miles O'Brien: "Plus, Senator John McCain takes not-so friendly fire from the far right. Why he is fending off criticism from an evangelical leader."
O'Brien: "Senator John McCain is fending off fire from the far right flank this morning. A leading evangelical minister says there's no way he could support McCain for president. 'American Morning's' Bob Franken joining us live from Washington with more. Good morning, Bob."
Chances are if you hate what you make at your job, you either ask the boss for a raise or seek a job that pays more. Chances are you don't wait 10 years for your pay to increase. But ABC's Charles Gibson apparently thinks millions of Americans are mired in a decade-long drought of minimum wage pay.
"After years of waiting, millions of Americans have reason tonight to plan on a pay raise. The House overwhelmingly voted late today to raise the minimum wage in stages from $5.15 an hour to $7.25," Gibson informed viewers as he introduced a story by reporter Dean Reynolds on the January 10 program.
Only thing is, it's just not true. I explain why here.
It also appears CNN's Miles O'Brien got his econ degree from the Charlie Gibson Correspondence School of Economics.
On Wednesday's American Morning, CNN political correspondent Candy Crowley assembled a piece arguing strongly that President Bush is a "severely weakened commander-in-chief" who is "now running out of cards" on Iraq.
Crowley: "Less than four years ago 71 percent of Americans approved of the way the president was handling Iraq. Each spring thereafter shows a president in slow free fall. Americans come to believe the war was too slow, the objective far from sure; within 12 months the insurgency began to take hold."
Bush (2004 footage): "We will not waiver in the face of fear and intimidation."
Crowley: "Every good thing -- elections, new governments, a constitution -- was followed by something horrendous -- roadside bombings, prison abuses."
Apparently deciding that one puff piece on a Democratic leader isn’t enough, Wednesday’s "American Morning" featured a virtual DNC press release on incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her childhood city of Baltimore. Reporter Andrea Koppel noted that the Congresswoman comes from a neighborhood "full of proud American-Italian Catholics" and that Pelosi hopes voters will recognize the fact that she "places a premium on family values." The piece featured no criticism of the soon-to-be Speaker, only praise for her "historic moment":
Andrea Koppel: "Now, as Congresswoman Pelosi walks into the history books, becoming the first female Speaker of the House, she plans to pay tribute to her Baltimore roots. Professor Matthew Crensen says the visit could help her refashion her image."
Matthew Crensen (John Hopkins professor): "That she's not just a well-dressed lady from San Francisco, who is married to a millionaire, that she came from a working-class ethnic, religious neighborhood, that she's one of them."
Koppel: "And with Democrats set to take control of Congress this week, that message, that Pelosi places a premium on family values, is one that she, and her party, hope will resonate with middle-class America..."
On Wednesday’s "American Morning," CNN reporter Dana Bash profiled incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and revealed some "startling" details: The Nevada Democrat’s childhood nickname was "Pinky." Additionally, Reid enjoys listening to his iPod and reading "People" magazine. Unsurprisingly, Ms. Bash didn’t find time to mention the various scandals swirling around Reid. (Judicial Watch recently named him the tenth most corrupt politician of 2006.) The CNN correspondent, who traveled to Reid’s home of Searchlight, Nevada, began her piece by promising surprising revelations. Apparently the Senator’s musical taste fall into this category:
Dana Bash: "The senator from Nevada fights for Sin City but doesn't gamble or drink. A square-looking guy who listens to hip songs on his iPod."
[On camera: Harry Reid plays a 'Cowboy Junkies' song on his stereo]
Bash: "Cowboy Junkies!"
Reid: "You know the Cowboy Junkies?"
Bash: "And how does he keep up with music? Get this: Did I read that you're a ‘People’ magazine reader?"
Liberal activists and Democratic spokesmen are quick to argue that the minimum wage is too low and unfair. But on the January 2 “American Morning,” that argument came from a CNN business reporter.
While CNN’s Ali Velshi did note that “a lot of small businesses oppose” the new Democratic majority’s proposed wage hike, he insisted “the bottom line is it’s simply not fair that there has been a federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour” or “about $900 a week.”
His math was way off – $5.15 an hour comes to $206 per week. Velshi probably meant that a minimum wage earner would pull down close to $900 a month, given a 40-hour work week. Pay at $900 a week translates to $46,800 a year, a few hundred dollars more than the U.S. median income in 2005. Of course if pay “fairness” could be legislated by Congress as Velshi advocated, that would be a minor detail.
Previewing a segment on the January 1 edition of "Situation Room," a CNN graphic confused the world’s most wanted terrorist with Senator Barack Obama. Anchor Wolf Blitzer teased a piece on the hunt for Osama bin Laden by wondering about "another man feared and hated around the world. That would be Osama bin Laden."Unfortunately, the onscreen graphic asked "Where’s Obama?" Perhaps the cable network was just following the lead of Ted Kennedy, who famously referred to the Illinois Senator as "Osama Obama."
Kudos to "Fox and Friends" as they were the only morning news program on Thursday to extensively cover the Sandy Berger story. Mr. Berger, former National Security Adviser to President Clinton, pled guilty in federal court for stealing classified documents from the National Archives, but a Wednesday AP story revealed that the details of Mr. Berger's offense were far more damning then we had previously known including that he hid the documents in a construction site before destroying them. CNN’s "American Morning" and ABC’s "Good Morning America" both offered brief news reads on the subject. CNN’s coverage totaled 24 seconds while ABC’s totaled 23 seconds. CBS’s "Early Show" and NBC’s "Today" both ignored the story completely.