When the guilty verdict was handed down in the Steubenville, Ohio rape trial, on Sunday, CNN's Candy Crowley and Poppy Harlow painted the convicted rapists in sympathetic tones. Harlow emoted: "I've never experienced anything like it, Candy. It was incredibly emotional -- incredibly difficult even for an outsider like me to watch what happened as these two young men that had such promising futures, star football players, very good students, literally watched as they believe their life fell apart."
Crowley pondered: "You know, Paul [Callan], a 16-year-old now just sobbing in court, regardless of what big football players they are, still sound like 16 year olds. The other one, 17. A 16-year-old victim. The thing is, when you listen to it and you realize that they could stay until they're 21, they are going to get credit for time served. What's the lasting effect, though, on two young men being found guilty in juvenile court of rape, essentially?"
The initial sympathetic verdict coverage given to actual rapists stood in stark contrast to the harsher treatment CNN gave to the admittedly ignorant and offensive comments about rape, made by GOP candidate Todd Akin, during the 2012 campaign. (video after the jump)
Sitting in on Thursday's Randi Rhodes show, Nicole Sandler was reviewing 2012 and “all the rapey guys” like Senate candidates like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock. “You could say they raped themselves...because they got all rapey on us.” In January, Sandler added, “Frothy Rick Santorum” said the same thing to Piers Morgan on CNN, that a baby, even “horribly created,” is a “gift of human life.” Left out of all this comedy? That it was the liberal Morgans and the stack-decking moderators who kept asking the rape questions to embarrass politicians who want to defend the unborn.
Then she turned her attack to “The disgrace to the female gender, Dana Loesch." She played a clip of Loesch saying that women complaining about a trans-vaginal probe had already been well, probed in their consensual sexual activity. This sent Sandler over the edge, complaining that perhaps Dana Loesch, a married woman and mother, has never had sex:
As NewsBusters readers know, one of my favorite things to do on Saturday is expose the stunning ignorance of HBO's Bill Maher.
The Real Time host didn't let me down Friday actually saying during his prepared opening monologue that Indiana's Richard Mourdock lost his senate bid Tuesday to - wait for it! - "Elizabeth Warren up in Massachusetts" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
AP reporter Andrew Taylor wrote up one of those teasing narratives Tuesday – the kind where he says, gee the GOP could have the Senate majority if it hadn’t managed to nominate Tea Party wackos that were successfully ripped down by harsh national press coverage.
Well, there was no actual reference to the press or its anti-Tea Party aggression. There are only “flawed, gaffe-prone nominees,” and no mention of who in the political world decides what a “gaffe” is and how the media's gaffe patrol never seems to locate them in the vicinity of Joe Biden. Taylor began his “bizarre GOP missteps” narrative this way:
So much for the idea that the children of public figures are off limits when it comes to criticism...
San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford best known to the world for turning himself into a laughingstock four years ago for his inadvertently hilarious suggestion that Barack Obama is some sort of spiritually attuned Lightworker, has demonstrated in his most recent column that he has no problem with wallowing in the spiritual sewer. Morford does not merely mock the daughters of Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin but seems absolutely obsessed in attempting to make them as much the objects of ridicule that he has already become. Read Morford's insane rantings about them and you get the idea that perhaps a psychiatric intervention in the form of restraint straps is needed here:
CBS This Morning anchor Charlie Rose on Tuesday pestered Rick Santorum about Todd Akin and tried to goad the former Republican presidential candidate into bashing Mitt Romney. Highlighting Akin and his gaffe about rape, Rose needled, "What does that say to you? Does that say something about the party and its image?"
Rose followed up by pushing the former senator, who will be speaking at the Republican convention. The host demanded to know the "the differences today between Rick Santorum and the governor, in terms of how you see the world and how you see the particular issues that he will address?" After Santorum side-stepped the question, choosing to attack the President, Rose badgered, "Speak to the differences you have with [Romney] coming into this convention."
It's trapping season. The targets are Republicans, whom the Democratic-friendly media (the trappers) hunt in order to smear -- especially the Romney-Ryan ticket -- forcing them off message.
The bait in the latest case is the issue of abortion in cases of rape. The hunter's target was Rep. Todd Akin, a Missouri Republican, who is running for the Senate against Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill.
On Sunday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Chuck Todd raised the invoked former President Bush and Hurricane Katrina from seven years ago as potential embarrassments for the Romney campaign as Hurricane Isaac heads toward New Orleans the same week as the Republican National Convention.
During a discussion of the GOP convention being delayed from Monday because of the hurricane, Todd asserted that "the sort of shadow of Bush and Katrina does hang over this convention" and also worked in Todd Akin as he observed:
On Saturday's Fox News Watch, as the panel discussed the substantial attention the media devoted to Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin's claim that forcible rape victims rarely become pregnant as opposed to Vice President Joe Biden's "chains" gaffe, two recent studies by the Media Research Center -- parent organization to NewsBusters -- were cited. Host Jon Scott cited MRC analyst Scott Whitlock's study from Tuesday:
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos opened his Sunday show: “Good morning and welcome to This Week. Storms brewing. The GOP convention threatened by Tropical Storm Isaac and that political hurricane from Todd Akin...”
Over on CBS, guest Haley Barbour scolded Bob Schieffer who had wondered how Republicans get the focus “back” onto the economy? Barbour called Schieffer out for his obsession on Akin: “If your first four questions are about it [Akin], it’s kind of hard getting the subject back on the economy when you want to talk about Todd Akin.” Oblivious to his role in deciding what is newsworthy, Schieffer lamely pleaded: “I want to talk about the news.”
With astonishing regularity, media voices that won’t spend more than a minute examining Barack Obama’s support for keeping sex-selection abortion legal, or his opposition to a law guaranteeing equal treatment for children born alive after failed abortions, chime in feverishly when a Republican lawmaker speaks inaccurately about abortion and rape. Representative Todd Akin’s remarks prompted a CNN headline that abortion is now at the "center" of the 2012 campaign. If CNN means a full debate on the issue, so be it, despite this unfortunate entry point. More likely, there will be little real debate.
Rape is a grievous crime, always and everywhere, and the burdens imposed on women so assaulted dissuade many even from reporting the crime. Pregnancy does result from rape. Some women (more than we recognize) are able, through acts of unfathomable grace, to bear children conceived in so terrible a way. These women are heroic. Their children — read anything on the subject by remarkable people such as Ethel Waters and Rebecca Kiessling — are heroic as well, speaking to a world where political advantage, not profound compassion, is cherished first.
On NBCNews.com's "First Read" Kelly O'Donnell attempted to further tie in the Romney-Ryan campaign to Todd Akin's "legitimate rape" comments with this gasp-inducing headline: Ryan backed more than one 'forcible rape' abortion bill.
In the article, O'Donnell made a substantial deal out of the term "forcible," seemingly implying that if there wasn't much violence during the rape, then it would be more "acceptable," and/or if the rape wasn't "forcible," then the woman is out of luck if she wanted an abortion:
Minnesota Democratic State Rep. Kerry Gauthier has had a rough go of it lately. Embroiled in a sex scandal that has attracted the attention of national media outlets, Gauthier has gone from waging a promising reelection bid for his seat, to being caught engaged in oral sex acts at a rest stop with a teenage boy, to pulling out of the race and facing possible expulsion from the Minnesota legislature.
Gauthier does have one place in which he can reliably look for cover on this story however – CNN.
Relying on Todd Akin's sense of decency has not worked. Within hours of his idiotic comments about "legitimate rape," Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS pulled out millions of dollars in funding for the Missouri Senate race. Akin didn't get the hint.
Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, withdrew all funding from the Missouri race. Akin still refused to quit.
Is the New York Times trying to change the subject from the bad economy to social issues, for Obama's sake? On Thursday Michael Shear (pictured) and Jonathan Weisman did their best to tie controversial comments by Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin to Mitt Romney's running mate Paul Ryan: "Romney Strategists Say They’ll Stay the Course Amid Focus on Abortion."
Mitt Romney’s campaign advisers have concluded that they do not need any major adjustments in strategy to respond to the new focus on abortion and reproductive rights caused by Representative Todd Akin, betting that their candidate’s economic message will still resonate with female voters after the controversy over Mr. Akin’s remarks about “legitimate rape.”
The media obsession with a gaffe by Congressman Todd Akin continued on Wednesday and Thursday morning. The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts and morning shows offered five additional segments, bringing the amount of coverage to a massive 96 minutes (and 45 segments) over three and a half days. The disparity between Akin and gaffe-prone Vice President Biden's "chains" controversy from last week is now five-to-one.
The massive amount of coverage is obviously favorable to the Democrats, a point Good Morning America co-host George Stephanopoulos underlined: "Mitt Romney hoping to shake off those controversial comments from Congressman Todd Akin about abortion and rape. President Obama and his team doing everything they can to make it stick."
Eager to keep the Todd Akin controversy alive on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams declared the Missouri Republican's comments were "inflicting unforeseen and great damage on the national party." Correspondent Andrea Mitchell began her report by proclaiming: "...only days before their convention, Republicans remain trapped in a national debate about abortion and rape." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Mitchell quickly attempted to link vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan to Akin: "Ryan co-sponsored one bill with Akin that critics say could outlaw all abortions, even for rape victims." She then tried to connect Mitt Romney: "Romney once supported abortion rights, but reversed course before his first run for the White House. In 2007, he embraced anti-abortion activist Dr. John Wilkie, the man who came up with the discredited rape theory that Akin was citing."
John Dickerson hinted on Wednesday's CBS This Morning that the only radicals in the abortion debate were on the pro-life side. During a discussion about the furor over Rep. Todd Akin's recent "legitimate rape" remark, Dickerson stated that "Congressman Akin...put a highlight on the extreme end of the abortion debate."
The political director's liberal slant came in the midst of his network's 37 minutes of coverage of the Akin controversy since Monday. By contrast, CBS devoted just under 10 minutes of coverage to Vice President Joe Biden's "put y'all back in chains" smear of Republicans over a similar three-day period earlier in August, a nearly four-to-one disparity.
On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams brought on political director Chuck Todd to give a "damage assessment" for Republicans in the wake of the Todd Akin controversy. Todd attempted to blame the conservative grassroots for the uproar: "...the Tea Party effect....will maybe cost Mitch McConnell a shot at controlling the United States Senate. Their own infighting has done this." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
What Todd failed to mention was that Tea Party Express and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin backed one of Akin's opponents, Sarah Steelman, in the Missouri Republican Senate primary.
The New York Times extended the controversy over offensive comments made by Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin to indict the entire Republican Party, misleadingly conflating Akin's remark about "legitimate rape" with the party's traditional pro-life stance. Wednesday's two connected lead stories were ushered in under the banner headline "Ignoring Deadline to Quit, G.O.P. Senate Candidate Defies His Party Leaders: Unexpected Twist in the Election Campaigns."
The headline over Jennifer Steinhauer's story nationalized the firestorm in Missouri: "Unexpected Turn in Campaign for President," and the story's headline on the jump page crystalized Democratic wishful thinking: "Missouri Controversy May Endanger Republican Chances in the Fall."
If Ronald Reagan was the "Teflon President," then Joe Biden is the "Teflon Blowhard." He’s spent his entire career with his foot firmly lodged in his mouth, uttering an endless stream of impossibly stupid, vulgar, and insensitive things. And yet the media fall all over themselves to make excuses for blustery "Old Uncle Joe."
A week after giving relatively light coverage to Joe Biden's "chains" smear, the broadcast networks eagerly dove into the Todd Akin controversy, giving over four times more coverage to an uproar involving a statewide (conservative) politician than a controversy involving a national (liberal) politician. NBC, CBS and ABC's evening and morning shows have devoted an astonishing 88 minutes (or 40 segments) of coverage to Congressman Akin's "legitimate rape" remark. Over a similar three day period, the networks allowed a scant 19 minutes (or ten segments) to a racially charged gaffe by the Vice President of the United States.
CBS This Morning reporter Norah O'Donnell on Tuesday pronounced, "If Akin is still running for the United States Senate, everybody is going to be asking about Akin, abortion rights, women's rights, etc., during the Republican convention." CBS journalists certainly did their best to make sure "everybody" would be talking about the Republican. The network hyped the story the most, pushing the controversy for 13 segments and 37 minutes.
"GOP rejects rape exception in platform," blared a Politico headline yesterday. "Even as Mitt Romney sought to quash the furor surrounding Todd Akin’s 'legitimate' rape comments, the Republican platform committee here approved an abortion plank that includes no exemptions for rape, incest or even to save the life of the mother," James Hohmann noted in the lead paragraph of his August 21 story.
"On Tuesday, not one of the 100-plus members on the GOP platform committee introduced amendments. They kept the identical language from 2004 and 2008," Hohmann groused, comporting to the media's quadrennial fixation on how the GOP is supposedly too extremely pro-life. By contrast, as I noted yesterday, the 15-person Democratic platform committee -- one member of which is NARAL Pro-Choice America's president -- earlier this month stubbornly refused to mildly soften their party's stringent pro-choice abortion plank. Politico, of course, failed to cover that controversy.
Time magazine's Joe Klein made a truly disgraceful comment on MSNBC's Hardball Tuesday.
"The Republican Party has a major grassroots problem which is that a good part of its grassroots now celebrate ignorance. It’s more, it’s more than abortion and women’s rights" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Tuesday continued the effort to tie the entire Republican Party to the gaffe-prone Todd Akin, smearing the GOP as a party that doesn't believe in the concept of rape. Matthews interrogated former Republican National Chairman Michael Steele: "Is it true or not true that you've got people in your party so far to the right that they have a problem with a woman saying she was raped?"
Matthews piled on, hyping, "Your political party has some real troglodytes in it... Guys right out of the Caveman television ads." The Hardball anchor ended the segment on the Republican Party by trashing, "...Our politics is getting more Middle Eastern, where any rumor, any weird theory becomes the thing you fight over."
The network morning shows on Tuesday devoted an enormous 20 minutes and 53 seconds to obsessing over a gaffe by a Republican congressman, hyping Todd Akin's comments for nine separate segments. NBC, CBS and ABC touted Democratic efforts to link the gaffe-prone representative to the GOP presidential ticket.
Former Democratic operative turned Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos zeroed in on Akin's comments what constitutes a "legitimate rape." He breathlessly wondered, "We saw the President pounce in the White House briefing room yesterday. How are the Democrats going to try to capitalize on this today?"
Every four years, without fail, the liberal media wring their hands over the influence of pro-lifers on the GOP platform, suggesting that the party is too "extreme" in its position on abortion and hence out of step with middle-of-the-road voters. Of course, the same concern is not expressed regarding the Democrats' position on the same issue being too out-of-step with most Americans.
This year, the row over Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin's comments on rape and abortion are being seized upon as a springboard to attack the party. Witness MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts on today's MSNBC Live.