ABC's Gibson Toasts House Democrats for Completing 100 Hour Agenda in 42 Hours

Exactly two weeks after ABC anchor Charles Gibson trumpeted how video of Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the House floor holding a baby while she talked to colleagues demonstrated “the ultimate in multitasking: Taking care of the children and the country” (my NewsBusters item with video of his January 4 oozing), he celebrated how House Democrats “completed their scheduled hundred hours of work in just about 42 hours, so they can put the other 58 in the bank.” In stark contrast to how ABC's evening newscast scrutinized the Republican agenda in 1995, on Thursday's World News Gibson triumphantly listed the liberal policy accomplishments, naturally without any such ideological label, and didn't paint any as controversial or cite any criticisms of them.

“A short while ago, the Democratic-led House passed the final measure of its self-declared first one hundred hours in office,” Gibson touted as he listed how the energy bill “would encourage investment in alternative energy sources and lower oil industry subsidies.” Gibson listed how the House passed “an increase in the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, a bill that would expand stem cell research and overturn President Bush's restrictions, a measure requiring the government to negotiate lower prescription drug prices on behalf of Medicare patients. And they agreed to cut interest rates on student loans.”

Unmentioned by Gibson: Any criticisms of the measures, such as how the energy bill will discourage domestic energy production, and increase reliance on foreign oil, by raising the cost of drilling rights on federal land and offshore through higher lease rates and taxes; or how the Medicare bill may well lead to less pharmaceutical research and thus fewer future cures for afflictions.

Twelve years ago, however, ABC wasn't so reticent about undermining the premises of the new Republican Congress. As Rich Noyes noted in a January 5 NewsBusters posting, on January 5, 1995, ABC's World News Tonight “offered a lengthy report designed to rebut the very premise of the Republican platform, arguing that conservative voters don’t appreciate all the wonderful services they receive for their federal tax dollars.” Peter Jennings set up the story:
“One of the most persistent criticisms of government during the last election campaign — which proved very effective for those politicians who argued it — was that government had become much too expensive. Besides which, there was too much government in our lives. We thought it might be educational to see what that really meant to people on a daily basis. ABC’s Aaron Brown could have gone almost anywhere in the country to test these notions. He went to Knoxville, Tennessee.”
Aaron Brown concluded:
“When people in Knox County talk of smaller government and less spending, they may mean it; they probably do. But do they want to lose this bus? Or this highway? Or this tunnel? Do they want to lose this lab? This cop? This teacher? Do they really want to make that choice at all?”

Back to this year, on the January 18 World News anchor Charles Gibson announced:
“A short while ago, the Democratic led House passed the final measure of its self-declared first one hundred hours in office.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the rostrum: “The bill is passed.”

Gibson: “It was an energy bill that would encourage investment in alternative energy sources and lower oil industry subsidies. The House began its legislative sprint by voting to make more 9/11 Commission recommendations reality. And then, in this order, an increase in the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, a bill that would expand stem cell research and overturn President Bush's restrictions, a measure requiring the government to negotiate lower prescription drug prices on behalf of Medicare patients. And they agreed to cut interest rates on student loans. The bills head to the Senate next where most of them face an uphill battle and even greater challenges on the President's desk. The House, by the way, completed their scheduled hundred hours of work in just about 42 hours, so they can put the other 58 in the bank.”
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center