Five days after Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was picked as the Republican vice presidential nominee, NBC's David Gregory falsely disputed the idea that the media had crossed a line by suggesting Palin's family life conflicted with her candidacy. Referring to an earlier interview, Gregory argued on Today: "Rudy Giuliani said questions have been asked about whether she can balance this with her kids. That question has not been brought up by the media."
Gregory was wrong — that precise question was posed repeatedly on ABC, CBS and NBC as the networks invaded every nook and cranny of Palin's family life. From August 29 through September 4, the Big Three network morning and evening shows ran a total of 59 stories mentioning Palin's family, or about eight per day. Nearly two-thirds of those (37) brought up the pregnancy of Palin's teenaged daughter; another ten questioned whether she could balance her family obligations with a campaign — the exact suggestion Gregory claimed was never "brought up by the media."
Hard to believe, but Meredith Vieira is apparently not a regular NewsBusters reader. The Today co-anchor would otherwise have avoided an embarrassing lapse. On Today this morning, Vieira claimed that it was only "blogs" that went after Sarah Palin's family matters. That left her vulnerable to McCain senior adviser Steve Schmidt's zinger, pointing out that one of her own network's anchors had questioned Palin's ability to serve as vice-president while attending to her children' needs.
Apparently fed up of hearing what they believe was a phony line being delivered by GOP spokesmen – that women across the country were offended by the media questioning Sarah Palin's fitness as a mother – Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann defied critics to find examples of any news outlets making that charge.
Matthews and Olbermann, spurred on by criticism from Hawaii's Republican governor Linda Lingle at around 8:09pm [EDT] during MSNBC's live coverage of Thursday night's (September 4) Republican convention, threw down the following gauntlet:
When MSNBC’s Chris Matthews suggested in Denver that Barack Obama earned his present elevation in American politics, unlike "showcase appointments" like Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, he reminded the world of the peculiarity of liberalism. John McCain’s selection of Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate underlined it. Liberals find no joy when Republicans select women or minorities for top positions. They are all fraudulent traitors to their own apparent group interests. Conservative blacks aren’t really black. Conservative Latinos aren’t really Latino. Now, conservative women are somehow not really women.
Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift spoke for her colleagues on the Palin selection: "If the media reaction is anything, it's been literally laughter in many places...In very, very many newsrooms."
Just as my colleague Brent Baker found on Friday night, the big broadcast networks on Saturday morning showed no shyness about labeling Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin a “conservative,” with NBC Today co-host Amy Robach calling her “a staunch conservative,” CBS’s Chip Reid tagging her “reliably conservative,” and ABC’s Kate Snow finding Palin to be “quite conservative.”
But seven days earlier, as those same programs reacted to the Obama campaign’s text message heralding Joe Biden as the Democratic vice presidential candidate, none of those broadcast found a moment to call him “liberal,” in spite of Biden’s lengthy record of liberal votes as determined by the nonpartisan National Journal.
Here’s a quick rundown of how the three broadcast networks emphasized Palin’s ideology on their August 30 programs:
On ABC’s Good Morning America on Saturday, co-anchor Bill Weir bristled with hostility during an interview with a McCain campaign spokesman about the choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as the Republican vice presidential candidate, suggesting she was unqualified and too conservative. At one point, Weir even suggested that by running for Vice President, the Governor would be jeopardizing her four-month old daughter, who has Down’s Syndrome.
Weir confronted McCain political director Mike DuHaime: “Adding to the brutality of a national campaign, the Palin family also has an infant with special needs. What leads you, the Senator, and the Governor to believe that one won't affect the other in the next couple of months?” When DuHaime offered a general answer about Palin’s “incredible life story,” an obviously irritated Weir jumped in, exclaiming “She has an infant -- she has an infant with special needs. Will that affect her campaigning?”
Just a few moments later, that line of questioning was quickly criticized by ABC’s Cokie Roberts as sexist. Without mentioning Weir, Roberts said questions “about who’s taking care of the children...traditionally has very much angered women voters when women candidates are asked those questions and male candidates never are.”
You might have thought Bill Weir would have learned. Yesterday, CNN's John Roberts was roundly condemned for suggesting Sarah Palin might neglect her Down Syndrome baby while running for VP. But Weir, the weekend co-anchor of Good Morning America, posed a very similar question this morning. Coke Roberts, to her credit, called him out on it. Weir's guest during GMA's opening half-hour was McCain political director Mike Duhaime.
BILL WEIR: I must ask. Adding to the brutality of a national campaign, the Palin family also has an infant with special needs. What leads you, the senator and the governor to believe that one won't affect the other in the next couple of months?
MIKE DUHAIME: In terms of her personal life? You know, to the extent people want to look at her, she's got an incredible life story: five children, the son going into the military, she's got a --
Weir brusquely interrupted, virtually shouting.
WEIR: She has an, she has an infant with special needs. Will that affect her campaigning?
But those poll numbers gave way to more media spin in an ABC "World News Saturday" report August 9.
"After years of debate over the reality of global warming, 80 percent of those polled now say they accept it as fact," anchor Bill Weir reported. "Seventy-three percent say it is a threat to today's children and 63 percent believe people and industry are to blame.
You'd think a guy who has demonstrated such flexibility on everything from campaign finance to NAFTA to the Second Amendment to the surge could find a way to wangle some townhall meetings with John McCain into his schedule. But gosh darn it, that would just be too tough for Barack Obama, explains George Stephanopoulos. The "This Week" host made his excuses for the Dem candidate on today's Good Morning America.
BILL WEIR: The Obama campaign just agreed to three debates after the McCain campaign called for ten or so townhall meetings. Given his oratory skills, why won't Obama answer that townhall challenge?
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: I think a lot of it had to do with the primary calendar. The primaries ran so late that by the time they were all wrapped up, the Obama campaign felt that if they got into these week-by-week town They wouldn't have been able to go on the European trip; they wouldn't have been able to do their bus trips through the Midwest. He wouldn't be able to take his vacation in August, which he's really looking forward to, from the 8th to the 15th.
"So far some 730 tornadoes have touched down this year, more than double the number for all of last year."—ABC's Bill Weir, GMA 05-10-08, as this graphic was displayed in a segment blaming global warming for increased tornado incidence.
Dispatch from the Department of Glass Houses . . .
The Good Morning America crew had a bunch of yucks today at the expense of the Sparks, NV streets department employee who spelled "scool" on the asphalt. But within minutes, two ABCers made math mistakes of their own, one of a political sort, the other climate-related.
RON CLAIBORNE: In Sparks, Nevada, someone in the streets department could use a spelling lesson. A sign painted on the street announces a nearby facility is a "s-c-o-o-l" [sound of Claiborne chuckle]. The city plans to fix the sign as soon as possible. That's a first look at the headlines, back to Bill and Kate. Everybody knows school is spelled with a "k."
Over a three day stretch, ABC devoted almost 15 minutes of air-time to a documentary filmmaker who asserts in his movie "Bloodline" that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was a massive hoax perpetrated on humanity. Additionally, on Friday's "Nightline," reporter Elizabeth Vargas left out any mention of the bizarre interests of the film's director, Bruce Burgess. He's directed and written documentaries on Bigfoot, the Bermuda Triangle, Area 51 and a secretive look at a U.S. government's supposed cover-up of the alien landings at Roswell.
Wouldn't it be relevant to know that Burgess seems to be fascinated with every weird conspiracy imaginable? (And hasn't the mainstream media mocked bloggers for not being restrained journalists? How serious is Bigfoot and the the subject of the Bermuda Triangle?) On Sunday's "Good Morning America," Burgess's second stop on his ABC tour, co-host Bill Weir at least asked about his extravagant interests: "I do have to point out the fact that some of your other documentary work includes the Bermuda Triangle, Area 51, looking for Bigfoot in Oklahoma." (NewsBusters' Mark Finkelstein blogged this appearance.)
Imagine that a "documentary" film-maker—whose most notable former credit was a work advancing the notion that extra-terrestrials did indeed visit Area 51—brought forth a new work suggesting that key elements of the Prophet Mohammed's story had been fabricated. What are the odds ABC would devote a segment of Good Morning America to a respectful interview of the filmmaker and discussion of his work?
But that's exactly what ABC did regarding someone who has produced a documentary ["Bloodline"] calling into question key aspects of the story of Jesus Christ. Here's how GMA weekend co-anchor Bill Weir introduced the segment this morning:
Well, here's a question, was Jesus married with children? Was the Resurrection a trick pulled off by his widow? The possibility, the world's greatest cover-up, was the basis of the smash novel and movie The Da Vinci Code. And though those ideas have been largely dismissed by academics as fiction, documentary film-maker Bruce Burgess believes he has now found evidence to advance that theory. Here's a clip from his new film.
Religion and the military shouldn't mix. That's the take away message that both CBS and ABC touted when their Sunday morning news programs publicized the plight of an atheist who is suing the Army for religious discrimination.
On April 27th CBS's Sunday Morning and ABC's Good Morning America Sunday each featured the story of Jeremy Hall, an Army specialist who claims he was denied promotion and persecuted because of his atheism. Both interviewed Hall and Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a co-plaintiff in Hall's lawsuit.
Weinstein was described as a loyal patriot (by CBS) and a defender of the religiously oppressed (ABC). Neither network bothered to mention that on the Military Religious Freedom Foundation's Web site American military members are compared directly to Islamic jihadists. A video runs on the homepage of the site which juxtaposes a suicide bomber holding a rifle and Koran with a group of American soldiers holding rifles and Bibles.
You might think MSM support for the raid by Texas state authorities on the polygamist compound in Eldorado would be a slam dunk. After all, the religion involved is the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Not just Mormons: fundamentalists Mormons! Throw in patriarchy and allegations of exploitation of young women, and surely the feminist-inspired liberal media would be cheering on the bust.
But not so fast. Support this intervention, and perhaps a precedent is established for restrictions on unorthodox family arrangements of a more PC tint.
Take the comments of Jonathan Turley on today's Good Morning America. The George Washington law school professor went so far as to strongly suggest that the ban on polygamy is unconstitutional. And co-anchor Bill Weir was anything but unsympathetic to Turley's arguments.
According to ABC reporter Elizabeth Vargas, "Americans are the most wasteful people on the planet. We use more than any other people on the planet." The network correspondent's America bashing came as she appeared on Friday's "Good Morning America" to promote a new "20/20" special on how United States citizens haphazardly abuse such amenities as showers and diapers. [Audio available here]
While appearing in front of hundreds of prop-diapers, Vargas lectured, "Well, if everybody lived like [the United States], we would need four, at least four, planet Earths to meet our resource demand and our dumping ground demand." Now, while Vargas did claim that the diapers she used would be given to a hospital, throughout the segment many more diapers, bottles and cut-down trees appeared as props. The question needs to be asked, did "20/20" and the National Geographic network, who co-produced a companion program, waste products, while at the same time haranguing the United States for doing the same thing?
David Petraeus was diplomatic in his language and careful to honor the primacy of civilian authority over the military. But the commanding general of multi-lateral forces in Iraq has left little doubt that if a new president wanted to withdraw from Iraq faster than would reflect Petraeus's considered military opinion, his family would be happy to have him home.
ABC's Bill Weir interviewed the Gen. Petraeus as part of a Good Morning America special today marking the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq. The opening segment focused almost exclusively on the costs of the war. Some producer had apparently calculated that the war has cost 19 times the annual budget of Los Angeles. Who knew? But a subsequent segment did highlight some of the progress that has been made, notably in terms of former insurgents now come over to the multi-lateral side. Then came the Petraeus interview, which ended with this exchange.
BILL WEIR: You serve at the pleasure of the president. If our new president, a year from now, says general, I want out of here in a year. What do you say? Is that even feasible?
Ads like Hillary's "it's 3 AM" work--and that's a problem. At least in the view of David Wright it is. As I described here, the ABC reporter doesn't work particularly hard to keep his Obama light under a basket.
Wright-the-ABC-Obamacan was back at it today. GMA ran a segment featuring Casey Knowles, whose image as an eight-year old was used in Hillary's ad. Knowles has since grown up to be an active, 17-year old Obama supporter. To set up the interview with Knowles by Bill Weir and Juju Chang, Wright narrated a segment about the ad itself.
Wright spoke as a brief clip of the ad played in the background.
Fred Thompson today blasted the media for propagating a false rumor about his impending withdrawal, while reinforcing the role he has created for himself as the candidate in this race who does not suffer unwelcome questions gladly.
Back in Iowa, Thompson famously refused to respond to the debate moderator/school marm's demand for a hand-show on global warming. On this morning's Today, he declined to engage in horse-race speculation about his own prospects, then took the media to task for its propagation of that false rumor about his impending withdrawal. Weekend anchor Lester Holt interviewed the former Tennessee senator.
If you don't buy into a Goresque view of global warming, you're not just wrong -- you're immoral. That was ABC's implication this morning.
The notion came from Good Morning America co-anchor Bill Weir at the end of his interview of Jim Gooch. The Dem state representative from Kentucky recently had the audacity to hold hearings with witnesses who cast doubt on global warming theories.
Saturday’s Good Morning America kept up the applause for Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize award, featuring a completely one-sided report from correspondent Bill Blakemore -- who said that scientists were “joyous” over the award to Gore because “scientists have been far more worried than anyone about global warming, finding it's far more dangerous, coming much quicker, than they expected” -- followed by an equally slanted interview with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who lectured an admiring Bill Weir that the media have failed to suppress any disagreement with his liberal views “because of a massive propaganda campaign by the Exxon corporation.”
Kennedy claimed: “In the scientific community, there was literally zero dissent. But at the same time, in the United States press, over 60% of the newspaper stories and, particularly, the television stories published, expressed some doubt about this issue. Why is that? The reason is because of a massive propaganda campaign by the Exxon corporation and by others -- but largely funded by Exxon -- that has been very, very successful at persuading the media not to cover this issue seriously and reporters simply don't go read the science.”
I wonder how the media will pretend this is bad news? The latest employment numbers are in and not only are they solid, but last month wasn't the catastrophe first reported.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced 110,000 jobs were created in September and 89,000 were created in August. The August number replaces the 4,000 jobs lost that were first reported. If you flash back to last month, you'll remember how much the media screamed about this. ABC was declaring the August numbers a sign of "new fears this morning about the state of our economy," said Bill Weir on September 8. That's how he lead off a downbeat "Good Morning America" story entitled "Road to Recession? Bleak Signals from Job Report."
It only got worse. "And now many are asking whether the disappointing employment figures, coupled with the housing crisis, may head us, have us headed for a serious economic downturn or even recession," worried Weir.
Stop the presses! ABC's got a scoop: the situation in Iraq isn't ideal.
Trying to pave the way for the rejection of the Petraeus report, today's "Good Morning America" took the tack that the lack of complete calm is proof of the surge's failure.
Co-anchor Kate Snow set the negative tone by displaying a poll finding to the effect a majority of Americans believe the Petraeus report "will try to make things look better" in Iraq rather than portraying the situation "honestly."
Then it was on to a report from Iraq by ABC's Terry McCarthy. Don't miss the video of Snow and co-anchor Bill Weir walking in unison across the GMA stage, crossing a floor-map of Iraq to a video screen displaying McCarthy's report. Their studied maneuver reminded me of a bridesmaid and groom attendant doing their earnest best at a wedding rehearsal.
The leitmotif of McCarthy's report: yeah, things might be better in Iraq, but darn it, they're not perfect.
On Monday’s "Good Morning America," co-host Robin Roberts interviewed Barack Obama in New Orleans and asserted that politicians from "both parties" would be coming to the formerly hurricane ravaged region to "point out the Bush administration's shortcomings in fixing many problems that still exist, like those being forced to still live in trailers." While the ABC co-host didn’t explain who was forcing the residents to live in trailers, she did offer the 2008 Democratic candidate a softball interview where the only tough questions came from the left.
GMA guest co-host Bill Weir teased the segment by optimistically spinning Obama’s "plan to bring New Orleans back." Roberts proceeded to ask the senator about friendly topics, such as his desire to "reach out to Republicans." In fact, the only time she challenged the candidate was with a query from the left. Responding to Obama’s goal of forcing insurance companies to pay into a national disaster reserve, Roberts complained, "A lot of people are going to say, ‘Senator Obama, the insurance company, they have laid many roadblocks, many people think, in this recovery role.’ Is it realistic to think that they would be a part of something like this?" The GMA co-anchor pressed with a follow-up, claiming, "But that's how it's been. How can you change that?"