Government & Press

By Curtis Houck | July 1, 2014 | 4:00 PM EDT

The broadcast network morning newscasts came and went on Tuesday with NBC’s Today and ABC’s Good Morning America ignoring President Obama’s latest rant against Republicans. This was despite the fact that both broke their regular scheduling on Monday to cover remarks in full.

For it’s part, CBS This Morning devoted a full 2 minutes and 45 seconds to Obama’s rant against House Republicans for refusing to accept his parameters for immigration reform and bucking their own Speaker on his willingness to take up the matter. In his report, CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante cast Obama in a heroic light, heralding how he: [MP3 audio here; Video and quote below the jump]

By Ken Shepherd | June 30, 2014 | 9:35 PM EDT

The Hobby Lobby ruling will be a blessing in disguise for Democrats, possibly this November but most certainly for 2016. That's the argument put forward by two MSNBC contributors on Hardball this evening, Washington Post columnist Melinda Henneberger and Michelle Bernard of the Bernard Center for Women, Politics, & Public Policy.

"I see this ruling as, definitely on the political front, being a good thing for the Democrats, because people are furious and thinking, I think it goes further than it does," Henneberger argued to guest host Steve Kornacki. Minutes later, Bernard saw a big problem for Republicans with women in 2016, if not 2014, insisting that Mitt Romney's "binders full of women" line and "corporate personhood" would be instrumental in locking down droves of female voters for Democrats in 2016:

By NB Staff | June 30, 2014 | 5:20 PM EDT

Editor's Note: What follows is a statement released this afternoon by Media Research Center president and founder Brent Bozell:

"The Supreme Court's decision in the Hobby Lobby case was a great victory for the First Amendment and religious freedom. In preserving the nation's first freedom, the court rejected the government imposing its will and agenda on people of faith who run companies and organizations. It also rejected the government's heavy handed attempt to punish these corporations and citizens through financially ruinous faith fines the government sought to impose on people who choose not to violate their deeply held religious beliefs. We are confident that this decision helps pave the way for the preservation of the Media Research Center's (MRC) First Amendment rights in our religious freedom case now pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia."

By Ken Shepherd | June 30, 2014 | 3:40 PM EDT

Insisting that he's really been out of the domestic news loop, ABC News Supreme Court correspondent Terry Moran told Dan Joseph of NewsBusters sister site MRCTV.org this morning that he was in northern Iraq the past few weeks and wasn't really aware of his network's recent decisions to ignore stunning new developments in the IRS and VA scandals. What's more, he suggested, if folks really care about news regarding the IRS scandal, well, there are other places to go besides ABC.

"You know, the news judgment of every network and of every person is different," Moran offered. "I understand that for some people, that's a hugely crucial issue, and there are places that they can get that," he added. The former Nightline host then tried to establish distance from the network's story selection process before insisting he was out of pocket anyway because he was overseas. [watch the full exchange below the page break]

By NB Staff | June 27, 2014 | 6:37 PM EDT

"CNN’s Paul Begala said if Obama tried to cure cancer, the GOP would attack him. I don’t know, Paul. Anyone smart enough to cure cancer would never be stupid enough to create ObamaCare."

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By Ken Shepherd | June 27, 2014 | 3:08 PM EDT

So it turns out that Gov. Scott Walker was not a target of a criminal investigation nor is there any evidence that the Wisconsin Republican "engaged in a criminal scheme." Indeed, there "is not such a finding" in recently unsealed documents, Randall Crocker, an attorney representing special prosecutor Francis Schmitz noted on Thursday, according to reporting by the Washington Post's Matea Gold in a June 27 article, "Wisconsin governor wasn't a target of probe, prosecutor's attorney says." The story was buried at the bottom of page A8 on Friday's paper. A similar article by Monica Davey in the New York Times was buried in Friday's paper on page A15. 

But as my colleague Tim Graham noted last Friday, on June 20 both the Times and the Post hyped the notion that Walker, a likely 2016 Republican presidential aspirant, had engaged in a "criminal scheme" by coordinating with outside groups to oppose an effort to oust him from office. Indeed, the headline for Gold's June 20 story, co-written with colleague Tom Hamburger, was freighted with an allegation of wrongdoing: "Prosecutors: Wis. governor involved in illicit scheme."

By Curtis Houck | June 27, 2014 | 2:40 PM EDT

During Thursday’s edition of The Situation Room on CNN, host Wolf Blitzer committed an act of journalism in grilling IRS Commissioner John Koskinen with question after question about the growing IRS e-mail scandal. His questioning included one where he asked (via a Twitter follower), “[w]hy shouldn’t taxpayers use the crashed hard drive excuse when undergoing an IRS audit?”

The interview, which lasted 13 minutes and 47 seconds, is more time than ABC and NBC spent on the IRS e-mail scandal combined on both their morning and evening news programs since the outrage surrounding lost emails of IRS employees, including former employee Lois Lerner, broke on June 13. [MP3 audio here; Video below]

By Ken Shepherd | June 26, 2014 | 8:38 PM EDT

The evening newscasts of all three broadcast networks tonight reported on the unanimous decision in NLRB v. Noel Canning in which the U.S. Supreme Court found that President Obama overstepped his constitutional authority in making recess appointments when the U.S. Senate was technically in session. Rather than couching the ruling as a stunning rebuke of presidential overreach by Mr. Obama, however, coverage on CBS and NBC made it sound like an intrusion on presidential prerogative. ABC's Terry Moran described the ruling as the Court saying "no, no president has [the] power" to make recess appointments when the Senate declares itself to be in session (no matter how sparsely attended).

By contrast a search of Nexis transcripts reveals that on June 28, 2004, when the Supreme Court reached a 6-3 decision in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld -- a Fifth Amendment due process case regarding an American citizen captured in Afghanistan as an enemy combatant -- the network evening newscasts hailed the ruling as "a real blow to the Bush administration" (ABC's Charles Gibson), a ruling that "struck at the very core of the way President Bush has been conducting the war on terrorism" (ABC's Manuel Medrano), with "the justices... say[ing] the Bush administration cannot expect the courts to stay on the sidelines in the war on terror" (NBC's Pete Williams).

By Curtis Houck | June 26, 2014 | 3:10 PM EDT

Thursday’s edition of CBS This Morning featured the latest installment in the media’s love affair with President Barack Obama. CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante switched course from a constructive work of journalism he did Tuesday to a fluff piece on how Obama uses letters Americans send to the White House “to construct his political agenda.”

The story comes as Obama is going to Minnesota today where he’ll have lunch with a woman who wrote to him about how sending her two children to daycare costs more than her family’s mortgage payment. Plante marveled about how the woman’s letter “fit perfectly into the president's agenda to emphasize the difficulties facing working families.” [MP3 audio here; Video below]

By Cheri Jacobus | June 26, 2014 | 9:48 AM EDT

As noted by Washington Post reporter David Nakamura, newly-minted Obama White House press spokesman Josh Earnest managed to anger the White House press corps right out of the gate.
 
While it may not seem like a big deal that press can be "testy" with a White House, consider the contrast at the beginning of the Obama Presidency in 2009.  Traditionally, the White House press corps does not stand when a president enters the briefing room, a measure of respect for their colleagues operating TV cameras in the rear of the small room.  However, the White House press corps was so enamored with the former community organizer, they broke protocol and many stood as Obama entered the White House press briefing room.

By Ken Shepherd | June 25, 2014 | 10:10 PM EDT

Halfway through the Wednesday edition of her eponymous program this evening, CNN's Erin Burnett turned to her colleague Joe Johns for breaking news regarding a fresh development in the IRS scandal: email evidence suggesting Lois Lerner may have pushed for an audit of Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley. 

Immediately afterwards, in a panel discussion, CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin endorsed calls coming from Republicans for a special prosecutor to look into the IRS scandal.

By Ken Shepherd | June 25, 2014 | 8:30 PM EDT

Today a unanimous Supreme Court, in an opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, ruled that police may not search the contents of an arrested individual's cell phone without first obtaining a warrant. While all three broadcast networks reported on the Riley v. California decision in their June 25 evening newscasts, only CBS's Janet Crawford directly referred to the "Obama administration" as having "argued cell phone searches were like a search of a suspect's wallet, briefcase, or coat, which don't require a warrant."

ABC's Terry Moran skirted around a reference to the Obama administration, saying simply that "the government" made the argument that searching a cell phone was akin to searching a wallet. NBC's Pete Williams likewise failed to describe the Obama administration's involvement in the case, to which it was not a party, but in which it took great interest.