After the Democrats regained control of the House in 2006, Nancy Pelosi promised NBC's Brian Williams that she would "drain the swamp" and "turn this Congress into the most honest and open Congress in history." So when news broke that a House Ethics committee found that long time New York Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel accepted corporate money for trips to the Carribean one would think Williams would be all over the story – he wasn't.
On Thursday's NBC Nightly News Williams completely ignored the charges, as did ABC's World News Tonight. Of the three broadcast network evening news shows, only Williams' competitors at CBS Evening News covered the Rangel scandal as Katie Couric reported Rangel "broke House rules," and Nancy Cordes told viewers he could be "censured," but didn't tell them that he was a Democrat.
[UPDATE, 7:30 PM EST Friday, February 26: ABC's World News caught up with Rangel on Friday night as anchor Diane Sawyer identified him as a Democrat and the Friday NBC Nightly News rolled Rangel into a “Democrats' Disarray” story with Desiree Rogers and David Paterson.]
Williams' NBC News colleague Amy Robach did mention the investigation into Rangel's wrongdoing, the next morning on the Today show, but omitted Rangel's party affiliation in the one and only story aired on the morning show:
Just contrast the current David Letterman sex scandal against the 2004 Bill O'Reilly sex scandal.
Last night, left-leaning CBS Late Show Host David Letterman announced on his program that he had sex with female staffers. Letterman's announcement was spurred by the plot of a CBS producer to force the host to pay $2 million in exchange for his silence on the matter.
ABC, CBS and NBC largely portrayed Letterman as a victim on the morning shows.
CBS, Letterman's network, unsurprisingly went to bat for the comedian. "Early Show" guest host Chris Wragge even used it as way to plug Letterman's show.
A shocking announcement last night. The big headline today for the ‘Late Show' with David Letterman should have been that for the first time in over 15 years since the ‘94 winter games in Lillehammer his biggest ratings gap over ‘The Tonight Show,' but instead he wakes to headlines like this, ‘I had sex with staff' and other various papers here and around the country that are going to lead with this story today. It is big, shocking news.
Correspondent Kelly Wallace began her report by putting Letterman in the victim's spotlight.
The common, everyday act of swatting a bug is something that happens countless times a day at picnics and ball games across the country, especially during the summer, but when Barack Obama was caught on tape by CNBC's cameras doing it, the fawning liberal press couldn't contain their excitement. All three broadcast network morning shows, on Wednesday, praised the presidential kill as they were impressed by the "ninja" Obama's "precision," and "cat-like quickness."[audio available here]
On NBC's "Today" show substitute-host David Gregory opened the show declaring: "You just have to appreciate the, the concentration and the precision! Just a few things going on in the world but it's as if everything was stopped and at a standstill for the President to lower the boom." On CBS' "The Early Show," Chris Wragge marveled: "We've also just confirmed the President is a Ninja." And on ABC's "Good Morning America," they even brought out the Telestrator to break down the video as Chris Cuomo offered play-by-play: "You see? He stares at the fly. How many times have each of us tried to do this? Look at the hand coming up. The poise. The cupping. And the quick slap...Just knocked it away, very rare."
The following exchanges were aired on the June 17 editions of NBC's "Today" show, ABC's "Good Morning America" and CBS's "The Early Show":
All three broadcast network morning shows on Wednesday made a point of labeling Nevada Senator John Ensign as a “Republican” after the Senator came forward last night to admit having an extramarital affair last year. NBC, which refrained for days from calling New York Governor Eliot Spitzer a “Democrat” after his relationship with a prostitute was exposed, called Ensign a “conservative Republican,” while CBS made a point of reciting Ensign’s associations with Christian groups.
ABC’s Good Morning America provided the only full report, with the on-screen headline declaring “Leading GOP Senator Admits Affair.” News anchor Chris Cuomo and correspondent Jonathan Karl noted Ensign’s Republican affiliation three times: “A rising star in the Republican Party is coming forward....” “John Ensign is a member of the Republican leadership....” and “The Republican from Nevada admits cheating on his wife...”
Last year, NewsBusters noted how the networks always added the “Republican” label to GOP politicians caught in sex scandals, but not Democrats; with their coverage of the Ensign scandal this morning, the networks are maintaining their perfectly slanted approach.
On Friday's "Good Morning America," ABC White House correspondent Jake Tapper provided a skeptical, challenging analysis of the Obama administration's claims about the economic stimulus bill. NBC's "Today" and CBS's "Early Show" on Thursday simply regurgitated White House statements that the "economy is looking much healthier these days" and that the President is "taking credit for writing the prescription." [Audio available here]
Tapper, in contrast, referenced a new administration report on the stimulus entitled "100 Days, 100 Projects" and wondered, "But, how much of this is real? And how much is hype?" He asserted, "Critics have long said the administration overstates the impact of the stimulus." After playing a clip of Obama claiming 150,000 jobs have been created by the stimulus bill, Tapper called that "a number based on theory, not fact." University of Maryland economist Peter Morici appeared briefly to point out, "It's simply an implausible statement to say that some 150,000 jobs were created by direct spending, indirect spending and so forth."
On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen teased an upcoming segment on a new way to combat global warming: "Up next, if you could do one thing to fight global warming, would you do it? How about painting your roof white? We’ll explain." Fill-in co-host Chris Wragge later introduced the report: "Could painting your roof white be the best defense against global warming? Some very important people think so. So Early Show national correspondent Hattie Kauffman put that idea to the test."
Kauffman explained: "In any given city, most rooftops are black. And that's the problem. The darker the surface, the more heat it retains...the lighter the surface, the better it is for the environment." Kauffman talked to Bill Nye, ‘The Science Guy,’ who further explained: "The building doesn't get as hot so you don't need to run the air conditioner nearly as long."
Later, Kauffman cited Obama Energy Secretary Steven Chu: "[he] says if all rooftops and roads in the world were made white it could combat global warming." A clip was played of Chu claiming: "That would be the equivalent as if you took off all the automobiles of the world for eleven years." Kauffman added: "Think of it this way, every year you would keep out of the atmosphere 2.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide or the emissions produced by 60 million cars. There’d be even more savings if roads and parking lots were not covered in black asphalt." Nye declared that asphalt was: "...absorbing more heat...squandering billions of tons of carbon dioxide every year."
At the top of the Saturday Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge took a critical look at President Obama's recent media tour: "The Obama blitz, the President’s appearing everywhere but is his media tour taking attention away from his message?" In a later report, correspondent Kimberly Dozier highlighted Obama’s Tonight Show Special Olympics gaffe as evidence: "It can and did go a little bit wrong with what was supposed to be a self-deprecating joke about the President's inability to bowl...The White House has been apologizing ever since...Mr. Obama's critics were not so kind and this gave them another reason to attack in what was arguably one of his toughest weeks in his presidency so far."
Following Dozier’s report, Wragge spoke with Republican strategist Kevin Madden and Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis about the President’s media strategy: "The President likes UNC to win it all, out west on 'The Tonight Show' with Jay Leno, at home, People magazine. Is there a risk of some overexposure here?...when you keep an omnipresent schedule like this, you are bound to make a gaffe here or there. How significant a gaffe was this Special Olympics comment? Because it really got him off message...You know, we've always heard that he's 'the kind of guy I want to have a beer with,' I guess, notion out there. But is that the type of president the nation needs right now, with all of the things that people have, I guess, going against them right now? Is this a wise strategy?"
Neither the NBC’s Saturday Today nor ABC’s Saturday Good Morning America discussed the issue. However, Friday’s GMA did provide extensive coverage of the gaffe, along with Friday’s Early Show. Friday’s Today mentioned it, but only at the very end of a segment on Obama’s late night appearance.
NBC's "Today" show on Friday minimized and neglected a gaffe by Barack Obama that his bowling skills are on the level of the "Special Olympics or something." In contrast, ABC's "Good Morning America" and CBS's "Early Show" heavily covered the remark. GMA devoted the first two segments to the ill advised joke the President made on Thursday's "Tonight Show With Jay Leno." And although "Today" opened the program with Obama's appearance, they didn't get to the Special Olympics crack to the very end of the piece. Co-host Meredith Vieira awkwardly explained that the President "said something that forced the White House to issue an explanation afterward."
Fellow co-host David Gregory vaguely added, "When you're on comedy shows, there's always a chance that a punch line doesn't work." What was the punch line? He didn't say. Chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd then reported on the story and only got to the gaffe at the segment's end. In contrast, "Good Morning America" senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper asserted that Obama "proceeded to put his foot in his mouth" with his remark. GMA featured the offending line right at the beginning of the piece and also included a graphic that announced, "Late Night Gaffe: Obama's Special Olympics Joke." Co-host Robin Roberts even observed that "some have an issue with the venue" of the talk show.
CBS merely brushed off the controversy that upset many members of the Mormon Church when interviewing HBO’s “Big Love” star Bill Paxton on March 16, 2009.
The TV series about a Mormon polygamist has not surprisingly gotten plenty of attention in its three years on air. This time, however, “Big Love” is causing trouble because the March 15 episode showed a highly sacred Mormon temple ceremony. CBS’s The Early Show host Chris Wragge mentioned the controversy during an interview with gave to Paxton:
WRAGGE: Yeah, I want to talk a little bit about last night's episode. There was some controversy there. The show depicted, uh, I guess one of the secret elements of the Mormon Church, an endowment ceremony which is not something that's been widely publicized. A lot of people don't know about it … Bill, I know you weren't in the scene. HBO had issued a preemptive apology. Obviously the episode still aired, but it caused a little controversy. As an actor, with something like this when you're on such sensitive territory, how, I mean, you really have to stay right on script here. There's not a lot of variation you can take or any creative liberties, but how tough was a scene like that?
Newsweek’s Evan Thomas, a former Washington bureau chief at the magazine, was typically blunt as he warmly assessed Obama’s first few days in office on the Saturday Early Show. "He's moving right along, he's not wasting any time. He still seems cool. I think the American public's still with him," he announced. But what about the crisis atmosphere in the economy and the banking sector? Said Thomas: "I don't know if there is a magic solution to it. It may just be throwing more money at it."
Saturday morning anchor Chris Wragge allowed Thomas to unveil a rosy scenario of accomplishment for Obama's early days:
WRAGGE: Four days, how do we grade him so far? Like Kimberly [Dozier] mentioned in her piece there a second ago, a lot of these Bush policies have kind of been turned on their ear here in the past couple of days. What are your thoughts?
THOMAS: He's doing what he did since the election. He's moving right along, he's not wasting any time. He still seems cool. I think the American public's still with him.
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, fill-in co-host Chris Wragge seemed to feel sorry for Barack Obama having to withstand the media spotlight while vacationing in Hawaii: "Coming up, life in the media bubble. How is Barack Obama adjusting to the press following his every move?" However, as correspondent Ben Tracy later reported, that spotlight is not exactly harsh: "Tours of Obama's childhood stop at the apartment building where he grew up, a favorite lunch hangout, and the ice cream store where he had his first job. Tourist shops are also riding the Obama wave. The soon-to-be president is already a global celebrity."
Tracy began the reported by lamenting: "...the other day, the president-elect just wanted to eat his tuna sandwich. This vacation has been a bit of a reality check as to how little privacy Obama now has...He at times bristles at the constant media coverage...Yet at others, offers to buy reporters dessert." Tracy concluded the report by declaring: "And the media's trying to strike a balance between covering the person who's about to be the most powerful man in the world and also giving him his space to just be himself."
Prices shouldn't be set by supply and demand. They should be determined by, well, what prices "should" be. That's the innovative theory Maggie Rodriguez propounded on today's Early Show.
The Early Show anchor's unique take on economics came in the course of a segment on the falling price of gasoline. Rodriguez lamented to co-anchor Chris Wragge that grocery prices weren't falling along with gas prices. In Maggie's view, grocers who set prices based on demand rather than on what prices "should" be are the culprits.