ABC News has officially picked Good Morning America co-host Charles Gibson to shore up World News Tonight. Is that good news for conservatives? Well, when he hosted the 2004 town-hall style debate between President Bush and John Kerry, Gibson chose a balanced set of questions that equally represented liberal and conservative concerns. Good for him -- that’s a balancing act that previous town hall moderators, like PBS’s Jim Lehrer and ABC’s Carole Simpson, failed to do.
But as a frequent fill-in on World News Tonight and on Good Morning America, Gibson has rarely tinkered with the media elite’s liberal template:
-- "Obscene" Oil Profits. Just two weeks ago (May 8), Gibson got in the face of ConocoPhillips Chairman and CEO James Mulva, condemning oil company profits: "The estimates are that the six large U.S. [oil] companies will have a total of $135 billion in profits for the year 2006. Don’t consumers have a right to be angry?...The public looks at a total of $135 billion over the year, that’s larger than the gross domestic product of Israel, and says isn’t that an obscene amount?"
-- Throw the Book at Rush Limbaugh? Three times on the May 1 Good Morning America, Gibson wondered if the conservative talk show host was dealt with too gently: "Rush Limbaugh is set to sign a deal with prosecutors today after three years of prescription drug fraud investigations. But did he get off easy? The controversy ahead... Coming up on Good Morning America, a rush to judgment? He’s made a deal with prosecutors. Did Rush Limbaugh get off easy?...We’re going to start the half hour with Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio talk show host. He’s expected to sign a deal with prosecutors later today....But now there are new questions: Is Limbaugh getting off too easy?"
-- Ruing Costly Tax Cuts. On January 21, 2004, the morning after President Bush in his State of the Union address asked Congress to extend his tax cuts, Gibson confronted White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card with the standard liberal complaint: “The President last night called for making the tax cuts permanent. Is that, in a sense, making deficits in the hundreds of billions of dollars permanent?”
-- George W. Bush’s “Obscene” Fundraising. Gibson’s Good Morning America bent over backwards to promote John McCain during his run against Bush in 2000, hosting him far more than all of his GOP primary rivals combined. Gibson seemed especially infatuated with McCain’s efforts to further regulate free speech, inviting the Senator to condemn Bush’s superior fundraising in an October 12, 1999 appearance: “You have been pushing campaign finance reform for quite some time....Given the fact that it is so important, what does it say about the system when one candidate raises more than $50 million? Is that obscene?”
-- Saddam Was Bad for Children, Too. On July 2, 2003, just a couple of months after Saddam was toppled, Gibson appeared on CNN's Larry King Live where he was asked about the war in Iraq: “I grew up in the Vietnam era, which is probably one of the signal events of my life and I think affected everybody of my generation. And we used to have a little framed sign hanging in our bedroom, my wife and I, that said, ‘War is not good for children and other living things,’ and I believe that. So I don’t like covering war and I hate to see them occur.”
-- Clinton Too Conservative. In a June 2, 1999 town meeting, Gibson scolded President Clinton for being timid on gun control: “The polls have shown that this country would accept registration of firearms, and yet we don't do that and we're not fighting about regulation of guns. We regulate every other consumer product out there.” A year later, on the May 12, 2000 Good Morning America, Clinton returned to hear Gibson tell him his efforts weren’t sufficient: “By my count, we have more states rejecting new gun control legislation than have passed it. We have 15 states that have passed prohibitions on cities suing gun manufacturers. That hardly seems like progress.”
-- Jazzed by Democrats. After the first night of the Democrats’ convention this year, Gibson was stirred: “People were juiced like I don't think I've seen at a convention ever before. This place really was moving last night.” Four mornings later, after Kerry spoke, Gibson led the cheers: “For those who doubted John Kerry could pull off a stirring speech, doubts dispelled. For those who doubted John Kerry could unite a traditionally fractious party, doubts dispelled.”
-- No Compassion on the Right. “Bush is using this term ‘compassionate conservative' as he campaigns, which is an interesting juxtaposition of two seemingly contradictory terms,” Gibson complained to New York Times columnist William Safire back in November 1999.
-- Restoring Constitution = Legislating from the Bench? After President Bush named John Roberts to the Supreme Court, Gibson seemed baffled about how a strict constructionist could support the overturning of the pro-abortion Roe v. Wade decision. On the July 21, 2005 Good Morning America, he challenged Attorney General Alberto Gonzales: "The President has said John Roberts would not legislate from the bench. He didn’t want a nominee who would legislate from the bench. Does that mean that this will be a justice who will not be overturning settled law, i.e. Roe v. Wade?”
-- The "Extreme Conservative" Pope. Just two weeks before he became Pope Benedict XVI, Gibson on the April 4, 2005 Good Morning America suggested Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's extremist views would disqualify him from the post: "German-born Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is also mentioned, but his extreme conservative views and his age might be his undoing when votes are cast in the Sistine Chapel.”