NewsBusters senior editor and Media Research Center director of media analysis Tim Graham appeared on the June 4 O'Reilly Factor to discuss the role that the broadcast network morning shows play in influencing the electorate with their liberal-leaning narratives about the issues this election season.
The morning shows have strong ratings, "have become the profit centers for [broadcast networks'] news divisions and they reach a lot of female voters in particular," Graham noted. "[O]ne of the reasons we pay so much attention to the morning shows... is just a dramatic bias in terms of favoring Obama, favoring the Democrats." [you can watch the full segment in the video embedded below the page break]
Media Research Center intern Kelly McGarey transcribed the segment for us:
June 4, 2012
8:40 p.m. EDT
BILL O’REILLY, host: Thanks for staying with us, I'm Bill O'Reilly. In the unresolved problem segment tonight, TV news and the presidential race. As we’ve been reporting, President Obama has a major advantage because much of the national media seems to be favoring him over Mitt Romney. But here’s something very interesting, the nightly newscasts have lost a lot of influence over the past years. However, the morning programs Today, Good Morning America, CBS Morning News still maintain large audiences and they hours of air time. The question: how much influence will they have in the upcoming presidential election? Joining us now from Alexandria, Virginia, Tim Graham, Director of Media Analysis at the Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog group. So, I'm going to be on Good Morning America tomorrow talking politics off the top. They have always treated me alright over there, and when they ask me a loaded question, I mock them and they laugh along. Same thing at the Today Show, only appearance I made at CBS Morning News a couple weeks ago. I don't have any trouble with any of them, but you see it a little bit differently?
TIM GRAHAM, Media Research Center: I think that these -- you are right that these networks are important shows. They have become the profit centers for these news divisions and they reach a lot of female voters in particular. And we found, and one of the reasons we pay so much attention to the morning shows, there is just a dramatic bias in terms of favoring Obama, favoring the Democrats. They have been very harsh to the Republicans throughout this primary season, to the point where I think Mitt Romney really didn't want to do very many morning show interviews because they were so tough. The important thing is this -- I'm sorry?
O’REILLY: Back that up a little bit. So, you believe that in the primary process, but, remember now, President Obama wasn't involved with that, it was just one Republican slugging it out against another Republican, alright? So they were tough, how? I mean we are generalizing now, but give me a couple of specifics that people can relate to.
GRAHAM: Well, when Mitt Romney was on CBS, they did ask him, “weren't you wrong and wasn't President Obama right to bail out the auto companies?” They were very swift to attack the Republicans who were very substantive. They were very explicit with Newt Gingrich, ‘what about all the baggage you bring to this campaign?” They were very hot to tell Michelle Bachmann she was called a flake by people. So, a candidate that would come on would expect to be attacked, Matt Lauer would read editorial from The New York Times that would attack them, and what we have seen in the last couple of weeks, whether it's Barack Obama or Michelle Obama that get these interviews on the morning shows, and they are not substantive interviews. They are about the kids and the garden and how are you?
O’REILLY: Ya, but that's what Michelle Obama does, I don’t argue that. I, as you know, asked these questions of everybody. I mean, if there is somebody in the news and they are coming on The Factor, I don't care what party they are, in whatever the dominant news cycle is, I'm going to hit them with it. So, I'm saying isn't it good television for the morning programs to confront a politician, no matter what party, with whatever is hot, with whatever is being said? How do you react to it? That's good TV, is it not?
GRAHAM: That would be good TV, the problem is that's not what we get. You know, four years ago when Barack Obama was new on the scene, they were doing these stories. Jake Tapper did a story right after the Oscars saying a large group in hollywood is organizing to throw a tribute to a tall statuesque person of color. No, not Oscar, Obama. I mean, so, they got celebretory coverage. ABC gave the three leading Democratic candidates these large, like 38-minute town meetings so they could relate to the voters. The Republicans did not get that in the 2008 cycle. The Republicans did not get that in the 2012 cycle, and instead what we're getting is these large chunks of air time where Robin Roberts talks to Obama and, again, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama both get the puff-ball interviews. Now, you go back to 2007 when Robin Roberts interviewed Laura Bush, she couldn't get through that interview, which would be a ‘soft’ First Lady interview, without attacking her, and saying, “Desmond Tutu says this country has to do more than bomb people.” That's not the time of question you would expect them to ask Laura Bush, but that's exactly what they did.
O’REILLY: Do you believe that the management of the three news organizations, CBS, NBC and ABC, says to their talent Stephanopoulus, Lauer, Gail King, Charlie Rose, “go light on the president, go heavy on the republicans, go after Romney and give Obama a pass?” Do you believe they say that to them?
GRAHAM: I'm not sure, but let's take a look at who these people are. Obviously, does George Stephanopoulos have to be told to favor the Democrats or to be tough on the Republicans? Gayle King, I mean, CBS brought in, you know, we think of Gayle King as Oprah’s best friend, but Gayle King was there celebrating the Obama inauguration, in the White House, on the night of obama's inauguration. She was just at the Beyonce concert with Michelle Obama. There is no degree of separation between Gayle King and the Obamas.
O’REILLY: Of all three, which one do you think is the fairest?
GRAHAM: I would say CBS This Morning is probably the best. They have less fluff.
O’REILLY: Okay, even with her, Gayle King, on the roster?
GRAHAM: Ya, now, Mitt Romney when he just did an interview there last week, talked to Jan Crawford, and Jan Crawford is one of the better morning reporters. She didn't ask him softball questions, but she is fair. Jan Crawford, that's the kind of person people should be emulating.
O’REILLY: Alright, Tim. Thanks as always, we appreciate it, and by the way, as I mentioned, I will be on GMA tomorrow, about 7:10 AM.