ABC Touts 'Dream Ticket,' Underplays McCain Religion Rejection

On Friday's "Good Morning America," co-host Diane Sawyer and guest George Stephanopoulos continued the ABC tradition of referring to an Obama/Hillary Clinton match-up as a "dream ticket." In an intro to the piece, Sawyer asked, "Will there be a Obama/Clinton dream ticket?" A few seconds later, she reiterated, "So, dream ticket?" Back on March 6, 2008, Sawyer giddily wondered about the "dream solution" of Clinton and Obama running together on a Democratic ticket. On February 1, GMA correspondent Kate Snow also mused about the possibility of a "dream ticket."

Also, after giving prominent play to a story on Thursday that accused John McCain of close ties to a reverend harshly critical of Islam, "Good Morning America" on Friday allowed only 50 seconds for the senator's rejection of those charges. The Republican presidential candidate has distanced himself from Reverend Rod Parsley and his comments about the Muslim faith. However, GMA featured only a brief discussion between Sawyer and Stephanopoulos on Friday.

There was no story, news briefs or even sound bites of McCain, who just didn't reject the support of Parsley and another reverend, he also refuted attempts to draw a comparison between his situation and that of Barack Obama and Reverend Jeremiah Wright. This is a quote the network didn't see fit to share: "I've never been in Pastor Hagee's church or Pastor Parsley's church. I didn't attend their church for 20 years, and I'm not a member of their church. I received their endorsement, which did not mean that I endorsed their views." Perhaps the reason the morning show ignored this is that Thursday's report attempted to subtly connect the pastor situations. Sawyer, in an intro to the Brian Ross investigation, asserted the piece was "about the new pastor problems plaguing another presidential hopeful." The Web version of the segment falsely labeled Parsley as the "McCain Pastor."

A transcript of the May 23 segment, which aired at 7:07am follows:

SAWYER: We're going to turn now to the race for '08. And the question rising again this morning: Will there be a Obama/Clinton dream ticket? Is one of the loudest voices calling for the union the former president? For the bottom line on all of this, we turn to chief Washington correspondent, host of "This Week," George Stephanopoulos. Good morning to you, George.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Hey, Diane.

SAWYER: So, dream ticket? What do you hear this morning and what about former President Clinton leading basically leading the election campaign for the nomination as vice president?

STEPHANOPOULOS: He is definitely talking it up. He's making no secret that he thinks it would be a good, strong ticket for Barack Obama and that Senator Clinton, Hillary Clinton has earned, basically, the offer of vice president. You're also seeing other Clinton supporters starting to talk it up as well, like Senator Dianne Feinstein of California. Now, you have strong Obama allies taking the opposite view. Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, saying it's not going to happen but Barack Obama will be under more pressure to at least give this serious consideration as this whole process winds down. Senator Clinton has won more than 18 million votes by the end of this process. And in fact, Senator Obama was asked this question pretty directly yesterday in Boca Raton. Here's how the question came in: Will you be willing to consider everyone a possible running mate, even if his or her spouse is a pain in the butt, one person asked. Now, Senator Obama put that question off. But he did say like Lincoln he would be willing to consider his rivals for his government.

SAWYER: Let's turn to Senator John McCain. Tell me about this. Because, he's invited, basically, the vice presidential short list to his house for a barbecue Memorial Day weekend. And one of the late night comedians joked that is he going to give a rose at the end of the evening? What's that about?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, he's got about ten couples coming, including three top choices, perhaps, for vice president, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, former Governor and rival Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Florida Governor Charlie Crist. Now, now, the campaign denies that this is any kind of interview for vice president. You'd expect them to do that. What they may be hoping is that the press takes the opportunity to vet these candidates a little more, to see if there's any candidates in the background. But, McCain has also reportedly been looking at about 20 people in total, including, perhaps, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

SAWYER: Uh-huh. And some other headlines coming out of the McCain camp. We said earlier that he had renounced the support of a couple of pastors. Also his medical records coming out today?

STEPHANOPOULOS: This is dump week for, for John McCain. Yesterday, he dumped two pastors. You heard Brian Ross's report yesterday morning on Reverend Rod Parsley who had extreme views, anti-Muslim views. When these comments came to light, McCain took the opportunity yesterday to reject the endorsement Rod Parsley. He also rejected the endorsement of Reverend John Hagee, who he had stood by in the past. But yesterday comments came out in which Reverend Hagee suggested that Hitler was brought to the Earth by God in order to help create the state of Israel, have the Holocaust create the state of Israel. After that came out, Senator McCain dumped both Reverend Hagee and Reverend Parsley. And as you pointed out, the medical records will be coming out today. Reporters will be given the chance to look at John McCain's medical records. This is a serious concern of voters who are concerned about his age. But the bottom line of these records we are told is that John McCain, seven years after having melanoma is cancer free and his heart is healthy.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org