Deaths, guns, whistle-blowers and the highest law officer in the land stonewalling a congressional investigation are the juicy ingredients of a story network news reporters would love to cover – if a Republican were in office. However, when Attorney General Eric Holder testified on Thursday (February 2) before a House oversight committee investigating Operation Fast and Furious, the news was completely ignored by NBC and ABC (there was one full story on Friday’s CBS This Morning). The virtual blackout of Holder’s testimony continues an overall trend of ABC and NBC burying one of the Obama administration’s biggest scandals, despite continual coverage by their competitors at CBS, CNN and Fox News.
MRC analysts reviewed the Big Three network evening and morning news shows and found that while CBS aired 29 stories and 1 brief on Fast and Furious, ABC aired only one brief on the June 15, 2011 edition of Good Morning America. That was still better than what NBC did on their morning and evening news programs, as the gunwalking story has never been mentioned on either NBC Nightly News or the Today show. NBC’s Miguel Almaguer, in a report primarily about a Mexican mother accusing border patrol agents of killing her 17-year old son as he tried to scale a wall, did note that “In December, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in a shootout with bandits.” However, Almaguer never tied the Terry killing back to the gunwalking scandal.
In Thursday's interview with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Early Show co-host Chris Wragge asked if Republicans in Congress are basically helping President Obama get re-elected with their ongoing opposition to the Senate's two-month payroll tax cut extension plan.
"Are you essentially handing President Obama his re-election bid here by handling this the way the Republicans have handled this?" Wragge asked guest Senator McCain. The senator has been a noted critic of House Republicans in their refusal to vote for the Senate plan. [Video below the break.]
Former New York City police commissioner Bill Bratton brought his pro-gun control agenda into a segment about the FBI's latest crime statistics on Tuesday's Early Show on CBS, blaming the "the insanity of the lack of gun control laws in this country" for an increase in police deaths during 2011.
Anchor Erica Hill introduced Bratton as the "chairman of Kroll, a worldwide investigative company. He's also the former chief of police in Los Angeles, New York City, and Boston." During most of the segment, Hill and co-anchor Chris Wragge asked their guest for his take about the overall decrease in violent crime, according to the FBI statistics.
On Tuesday's Early Show, CBS's Cynthia Bowers let abortion advocates decry new pro-life legislation at the state level, barely letting supporters speak in her report. Bowers slanted by a three to one margin in the number of sound bites that she played from "abortion rights" supporters versus those from pro-lifers. She labeled Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback a "staunch abortion opponent," while giving no equivalent label to a pro-choicer.
The correspondent led the segment with a clip from an unidentified woman who aborted her unborn child who had been diagnosed with anencephaly, a disorder where most of the baby's brain fails to develop. She continued that the woman's obstetrician "suggested...one of only three clinics in the entire state [of Kansas] that still performs abortions- access that could soon be cut even further."
CBS's Early Show on Wednesday boosted a claim by Democrats that a recent Mitt Romney ad takes a line from a 2008 speech by then-candidate Barack Obama out of context. However, CBS noted at that time that Obama was using that line to counter a McCain campaign ad which played up the Democrat's association with left-wing terrorist Bill Ayers.
Anchor Erica Hill raised the controversy over the Romney ad towards the end of a segment with political correspondent Jan Crawford about the most recent Republican presidential debate. After playing the relevant part of the commercial, which includes a clip of Obama stating that "if we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose," Hill asked, "A lot of controversy over that ad, Jan. Why?"
CBS's Chris Wragge spotlighted a millionaire's bid to raise taxes on the rich on Thursday's Early Show, all the while omitting that his guest is a big money donor to liberal candidates like Al Franken and to Moveon.org. Wragge didn't bring on any opponents of higher taxes, nor did he play sound bites from them. Instead, he played three clips from proponents, including former Clinton aide Robert Reich.
Wragge and co-anchor Erica Hill trumpeted the "so-called patriotic millionaires [who] are begging Congress to raise their taxes" as they teased the segment three different times before it began. Hill did mention once that "they also spoke with a critic who said if they want to pay more, then they should make a contribution on their own, instead of raising taxes on all millionaires."
On Monday's Early Show, CBS's Rebecca Jarvis wondered if Newt Gingrich would "have to play a little more dirty...to take on the other GOP contenders to win the bid." Bob Schieffer replied cynically that Gingrich would "save his criticism for attacking the media, which is always the safe thing to do." Chris Wragge prompted the former Speaker to criticize Herman Cain and Rick Perry on Friday, but he didn't bite.
Jarvis brought on the Face The Nation host for his take on Republican presidential debate hosted by CBS and National Journal on Saturday. Near the end of the interview, the fill-in anchor raised how Gingrich was "gaining momentum" and that he "held true to this no real confrontation with the other candidates" during the debate. She then directed her "dirty" question to Schieffer.
Elaine Quijano continued CBS's consistently glowing coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement on Wednesday's Early Show by spotlighting how two-thirds of Crosby, Stills, and Nash gave a concert for the protesters in New York City. Quijano played 12 clips from the concert and from the demonstrators, without once mentioning the growing examples of violence involving the left-leaning movement [audio clips available here; video below the jump].
Anchor Chris Wragge introduced the correspondent's report by noting only in passing how "anti-Wall Street protesters around the country are under growing pressure to go home...critics in several cities are saying they're just becoming a public nuisance." Co-anchor Erica Hill added that "here in New York City, demonstrators say they are in it, though, for the long haul- yes, even with winter coming. Correspondent Elaine Quijano takes a look at what the future holds for the protests."
On Friday's The Early Show, CBS correspondent Whit Johnson filed a report highlighting a recent Gallup poll finding a majority of Americans opposing new gun control laws at the highest rate ever recorded. After beginning the piece by highlighting a woman who just recently decided to become a gun owner for the first time in her life, Johnson detailed some of the poll's findings:
Thursday's Early Show on CBS provided free air time to Rep. Steve Israel of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and three of his top candidates for the 2012 election. Correspondent Nancy Cordes trumpeted how the Democratic Party is "determined to bounce back from their big losses" to Republicans during the 2010 cycle and highlighted that the three were "running against Tea Party members."
Anchor Chris Wragge teased Cordes's report by touting how Democrats were "finding their own outsiders to run against the Washington status quo. We're going to talk to some of those new recruits, including a former astronaut and a former police chief, who they say with Congress more unpopular than ever, they've got a good chance to make the kind of change in Washington that they feel Washington needs."
On Thursday's Early Show, CBS's Chris Wragge bizarrely wondered if the dissatisfaction with the current GOP field of presidential candidates would give President Obama an edge: "Is this just primary politics, or does this make candidate Obama kind of lick his chops, thinking he's got a real advantage here?" Mr. Obama actually trails a generic Republican candidate in two recent polls.
Just moments before Wragge dropped his question, correspondent Jan Crawford had explained during a report that such dissatisfaction from primary voters wasn't unusual in either party from a historical perspective. Crawford cited the Democratic presidential fields in 1991 and 2003 as examples:
On Wednesday's Early Show, CBS's Chris Wragge complimented GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain for his recent win in the Florida straw poll, but then wasted little time in throwing cold water on the future of his campaign. Wragge, along with co-anchor Erica Hill, asked why Cain would "stick with it," and wondered if the Republican could compete if Gov. Chris Christie entered the race.
The two anchors began the segment by heralding the former Godfather's Pizza CEO's "surprise over the weekend" and how he "shook up the GOP race on Saturday, winning the Florida straw poll with more votes than Rick Perry and Mitt Romney combined." Wragge then congratulated Cain and asked, "Someone like Sarah Palin says late last night that you're the flavor of the week. How do you respond to something like that?"
On Monday's Early Show, CBS's Terrell Brown spotlighted Tinseltown discontent with President Obama, citing an unnamed Hollywood executive who lamented the Democrat is 'not the idealistic guy we thought he would be." However, the three actors Brown turned to who are regulars on CBS programming all heartily endorsed Mr. Obama: "I'm going to do everything I can to help him. He's a really good guy."
Anchor Chris Wragge noted in his introduction for the correspondent's report that the President is "going to Hollywood for a fundraiser next week. But what kind of reception he will receive, now that some of Hollywood's most liberal voices are questioning him more than ever before?" Brown picked up where Wragge left off: "For a town used to measuring success and box office numbers, Hollywood is down on President Obama and his sagging poll numbers."
Two out of three CBS local affiliate political reporters featured on Thursday's Early Show bluntly stated that President Obama faces "major uphill battle" in recapturing key states for the 2012 election. Anchor Chris Wragge noted the "all-time low" approval rating for the President, while an Ohio journalist highlighted how a Democratic strategist thought Obama was "feeling more Carter than Clinton."
Wragge turned to David Crabtree of WRAL-TV in Raleigh, North Carolina; Jim Heath of CBS affiliate WBNS in Columbus, Ohio; and Sam Brock from WTVR in Richmond, Virginia for their takes on the President's recent stops in their states following his jobs bill speech to Congress earlier in September. Crabtree reported on the positive reaction from those who attended Mr. Obama's speech in North Carolina, but then outlined that the Democrat faces several challenges in the months ahead:
On Friday's Early Show, CBS somehow thought it was appropriate to bring on former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin to offer "lessons learned from other hurricanes," as Hurricane Irene bore down on the East Coast. Anchor Chris Wragge not only failed to ask Nagin about his failures in leadership in the lead-up to Hurricane Katrina, but also twice labeled his guest an "expert in the field" [audio clips available here].
After making his first reference to the former mayor as an "expert," Wragge first asked the Democrat, "What comes to mind for you when you hear about a hurricane this size bearing down on the East Coast, a region- especially up here in the Northeast, it's not always used to this kind of weather conditions?" In reply, the politician took the time to not only promote his new book, but also tried to rehabilitate his damaged image:
[Video clips from the segment available after the jump]
CBS referenced Vice President Joe Biden's recent gaffe about "fully understanding" China's one-child policy on Friday's Early Show as "off-the-cuff remarks" and "interesting comments," but failed to get to it during the segment. Anchor Chris Wragge merely explained that viewers would find "more on that on our website." Oddly, Wragge and his colleagues did broach the subject in an online video segment.
The anchor, along with co-anchor Erica Hill, brought on political correspondent Jan Crawford to discuss "the busy week in politics" 46 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour. Besides mentioning the Vice President's "off-the-cuff remarks," Wragge also previewed another subject of the segment, which was Senator Marco Rubio Tuesday save of former First Lady Nancy Reagan, who stumbled while walking with the Florida politician. But even before getting to that, the three first discussed Texas Governor Rick Perry becoming the presumptive front-runner in the race for Republican presidential nomination. After briefly noting Perry's lead in the polls, Crawford decided to zero in on the possible drawbacks to his candidacy and highlighted one of the caricatures of the governor:
CBS's Jan Crawford highlighted Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney 's fortune on Tuesday's Early Show and how "wealthier candidates, like Romney, John Kerry, and Jon Huntsman, are...hit with that nasty insult they're an elitist." Crawford did mention how that label has also been leveled at President Obama on more than one occasion, but also forwarded a myth about former President George H. W. Bush's 1992 encounter with a supermarket scanner.
Anchor Chris Wragge didn't use the "elitist" term as he gave the lead-in for the correspondent's report, but stated, "With millions of Americans out of work, and countless more struggling to pay the bills, how can a multi-millionaire presidential candidate not seem to be out of touch?" Crawford continued that "it's not exactly an issue of money, but how its used and...how you carry yourself. And now, Romney is certainly getting some criticism, as he tries to expand this home away from home. But this kind of criticism is always an issue, and other presidential candidates, and the President himself, are getting hit with it, too."
On Thursday's Early Show, CBS brought on Dr. Logan Levkoff, a radical sexologist, who not only advocated distributing birth control to 11-year-olds during an October 2007 appearance on ABC's Good Morning America, but also wouldn't rule out giving contraceptives out to elementary school students. When anchor Chris Wragge asked if "eleven is too young" for sex education, Levkoff replied, "There's no such thing as being too young."
Wragge and fill-in anchor Rebecca Jarvis turned to the sex educator for her take on a recently-passed New York City law which mandates sex education in schools. Instead of having guests on from both sides of the issue, Levkoff appeared by herself during the segment. Jarvis first asked, "Parents will tell you- or some critics will tell you, parents should be teaching this, right? But why do you think it should be taught in the schools?" The sexologist made her extreme view on teaching sex ed pretty clear in her initial answer: "There's no question that parents should be talking to their kids about sex and sexuality, from the time they're born on....We're talking about anatomy. We're talking about sexual development, healthy choices, responsibility, consent, respect. And these are all, you know, topics that it's never too young to learn about."
On Monday's Early Show, CBS's Norah O'Donnell promoted the left-of-center talking point that Standard & Poor's recent lowering of the U.S.'s credit rating is a "Tea Party downgrade." O'Donnell played three sound bites of notable liberals using this line of attack, versus only one opposing from a center-right politician. She also spun Treasury Geithner's decision to stay as "good news for the President."
The correspondent began her report by trumpeting how apparently, "this was supposed to be a week when President Obama was going to turn his attention toward jobs with a positive message. But instead, he's dealing with this talk of a double-dip recession, that the terrible week in the markets last week, and that credit downgrade."
On Monday's Early Show, CBS slanted towards supporters of a new Obama administration mandate which requires private insurance companies to cover contraception as part of women's "preventative services." Anchor Chris Wragge labeled the development "good news," while correspondent Michelle Miller failed to include sound bites from opponents during her report on the new regulation.
After using his "good news" phrase, Wragge trumpeted the "historic new women's health guidelines" during his introduction for Miller's report, which aired at the bottom of the 7 am Eastern hour. The correspondent herself picked up where the anchor left off when she stated that new mandate was "welcome news to the women we spoke to." She then played two sound bites from women on the street who gave supposed horror stories about the cost of birth control.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 1: Sometimes, $20 a month can definitely be hard to scrape together.
On Friday, all three network morning shows played up the theme of stubborn House GOP conservatives opposing Speaker John Boehner's debt ceiling plan. On CBS's Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge proclaimed: "House Republicans will meet again this morning after hardline conservatives handed House Speaker John Boehner a major setback."
On ABC's Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos announced: "The House Speaker's debt plan melts down after hours of arm twisting failed to subdue a Tea Party rebellion." On NBC's Today, Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O'Donnell declared: "A parade of those rebellious holdout Republicans were summoned to the Speaker's office."
CBS's John Blackstone apparently couldn't find many opponents of imposing sales taxes on online retailers for his report on Thursday's Early Show, as all but one of his sound bites came from proponents. Blackstone also warned that "states that are already suffering under huge budget deficits will lose more than $11 billion in uncollected sales taxes next year."
The correspondent first outlined that "for many online shoppers, the checkout screen noting zero sales tax seems a good reason to buy on the Internet. But now, a new law in California requires online retailers to collect sales tax. And Amazon, the world's biggest Internet retailer, with 34 billion [dollars] in sales last year, isn't happy." He then played two clips from a member of California's "board of equalization," which oversees the state's sales, alcohol, and tobacco taxes, who vouched for the new levy: "You have the obligation to collect the tax on behalf of the consumer, and remit it to the State of California."
Of the three morning shows on Wednesday, only NBC's Today speculated that Barack Obama might be using "scare tactics" with his dire warning that, barring a deal on raising the debt limit, Social Security checks in August might no be mailed out. Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos simply asserted that the "debt crisis in Washington is getting very scary."
Stephanopoulos uncritically repeated, "And President Obama for the first time yesterday saying that Social Security recipients in August may not receive their checks."
In contrast, NBC's Matt Lauer, skeptically asked, "Scare tactic? President Obama warns millions of Americans Social Security checks may not go out next month if lawmakers fail to reach a deficit deal."
The ABC and CBS morning shows on Wednesday gushed over "baby whisperer" Barack Obama. Both Good Morning America and the Early Show played White House-produced video of the President comforting a baby while working a rope line.
GMA's Lara Spencer lauded, "You know, the President is plenty busy trying to turn the economy around. But he still has time to stop some babies from crying, of course."
On Thursday's Early Show, CBS's Seth Doane and Chris Wragge lauded playwright Larry Kramer and his "brilliantly done...and very good" play, "The Normal Heart," while glossing over his long history of radical homosexual activism. Kramer once denigrated former President Ronald Reagan as "Adolf Reagan" and even went so far to call for "Nuremberg trials" to try not only Reagan, but even the top brass of the New York Times for perpetrating a "holocaust" against homosexuals.
CBS's Erica Hill hounded newly-announced Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Friday's Early Show about his 2008 proposal to allow the Big Three auto companies to go into bankruptcy proceedings instead of bailing them out: "Based on what we've seen in the auto industry, weren't you wrong in this case?" By contrast, her co-anchor, Chris Wragge, went easier on DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Hill interviewed Romney just after the top of the 8 am Eastern hour. After an initial question about his 2008 Republican primary loss to Senator John McCain, the CBS anchor raised the former Massachusetts governor's two-plus-year-old proposal and, like her colleague Dean Reynolds did earlier in the broadcast, touted the apparent success of the Obama administration's bailout of Detroit:
Covering the growing buzz that Sarah Palin might mount a 2012 presidential campaign, the morning shows on Friday repeated liberal talking points proclaiming that it would be a disaster. Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos insisted that the White House looks "at Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann as, basically, re-election insurance." CBS's Chris Wragge hinted that Palin might become a "distraction."
On NBC's Today, David Gregory appeared and lectured that "[Palin's] not seen as a general election candidate." He added that "she's still relevant. She's still using Facebook. She's still opining. She's still attacking the President, but she's lost a little bit of that sting in her punch."
On Wednesday, all three major broadcast networks' morning shows played up a homosexual activist throwing glitter at Newt Gingrich during a book signing in Minneapolis. Both CBS's Early Show and NBC's Today show played footage of the attack on the Republican presidential hopeful at the top of their programs, while ABC's Good Morning initially failed to mention the left wing cause of the protester.
A minute into the 7 am Eastern hour of The Early Show, anchor Chris Wragge previewed a report on the former House Speaker's campaign woes from correspondent Jan Crawford by highlighting the video: "Look at this: a gay rights protester throws glitter all over Newt at an event last night." During the report itself eight minutes later, Crawford noted, "More embarrassment Tuesday in Minneapolis, when a gay rights activist glittered Gingrich at a book signing." The protester, which the AP tentatively identified as Nick Espinosa, shouted during the attack, "Feel the rainbow, Newt. Stop the hate! Stop anti-gay politics!"
This past Friday, April 22, 2011, marked the simultaneous celebration of Good Friday and Earth Day and ABC, CBS and NBC treated the two “holidays” as equals.
Though Good Friday has been celebrated by millions around the world for nearly 2,000 years, the 41-year-old liberal eco-celebration of “green living” known as “Earth Day” was put on the same platform as the sacred day that Christians remember Christ’s death.
There were 21 stories about Good Friday or Earth Day on April 22, and the networks nearly split down the middle in covering the Christian holiday and the “movement” to “save the environment.”