ABC’s Good Morning America on Tuesday devoted two stories to whether the "controversial" Rush Limbaugh would be able to buy an NFL team, but skipped any discussion of the false quotes that have been circulating about the radio host. Co-host Robin Roberts buried that lede and instead fretted, "Opponents say Limbaugh has a history of making racially offensive comments, some directed squarely at NFL players."
As reported previously on NewsBusters, several media outlets have repeated fake Limbaugh quotes about how "slavery had it merits." GMA hosts and reporters didn’t appear to be interested in correcting the slanderous charges. Roberts even compared Limbaugh to a baseball owner who made favorable remarks about Hitler. [audio available here]
Bizarrely, correspondent David Muir played a quip of the conservative defending himself, but didn’t explain the context: "They have to go somewhere to find concocted quotes, which are now bordering on slander, libel, whatever it is, that I never said." What were the concocted quotes? Muir didn’t mention the false slavery quote.
With “Losing Support” as the on-screen heading, ABC's World News on Friday night certainly made clear how President Obama is losing favor with the American people as his approval level and attitudes toward his health care efforts continue steadily downward so now more are opposed (50 percent) than in favor (45 percent) and he's suffered a 29-point drop in agreement with enacting a “public option.” But ABC's Kate Snow still saw a “glass half full” view as she managed to end with a positive spin for Obama:
It's not all bad news for the President. We didn't find an overwhelming majority against health care reform. Instead, if you look at the glass half full point of view, the country is basically split. About half of Americans still favor reform, and about half still favor a public option.
Also skipped by World News: How, despite the loaded wording in the question referring to those “angrily protesting at town meetings,” a majority (51 percent) considered the protests “appropriate” versus 45 percent who called them “inappropriate.” (Question 16 in the PDF.)
On World News Sunday, ABC News anchor David Muir read a brief story relaying to viewers an attack on former Vice President Cheney by CIA Director Leon Panetta which appeared in the New Yorker magazine. In the interview, Panetta suggested that Cheney may desire to see terrorists hit America again for his own benefit. Muir recounted:
George Tiller, the Kansas doctor notorious for his commitment to performing late-term abortions, was killed May 31 while attending a Sunday morning church service.
By his count, Tiller performed 60,000 abortions. His clinic, Women's Health Care Services in Wichita, was one of only three clinics in the United States that offered abortions after the 21st week of pregnancy.
Loss of human life is a tragedy and should be reported as such, and premeditated murder is always wrong - something all the mainstream pro-life groups were quick to affirm in the wake of the killing. But in reporting this tragic story, the news media have much to say about a man who helped provide women with the "right" to end their pregnancies, but have little to say about lives he helped to end. In failing to highlight what Tiller's work actually entailed, reporters do nothing to help their audience understand why this man was targeted.
On ABC’s World News Saturday, and the same day’s CBS Evening News, correspondents suggested that conservative positions on social issues were responsible for the Republican party’s recent electoral misfortunes, as the two programs filed stories about an appearance in Arlington by Jeb Bush, Eric Cantor and Mitt Romney as part of an effort to rebuild the party’s appeal. ABC cited a recent ABC News / Washington Post poll showing only 21 percent of Americans identify themselves as Republicans, while CBS cited a Pew Research poll finding the number had dropped from 30 percent in 2004 to 23 percent currently.
After a soundbite of Jeb Bush explaining that Republicans needed to spend more time "listening," "learning," and "upgrading our message," ABC’s Rachel Martin contended that "That means moving hot-button social issues like abortion and gay marriage to the side, and shifting the focus to health care, education and the economy."
And, ignoring the fact that a substantial number of moderate House Democrats have taken conservative positions on issues like guns and abortion to win in their own conservative leaning districts, CBS’s Kimberly Dozier more directly charged that conservative positions on such issues by Republicans had hurt the party: "The trio notably avoided controversial touch stones like gun rights or abortion, which are blamed for driving away moderates and independents." Notably, 65 House Democrats recently sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder stating their opposition to a new assault weapons ban.
"World News Saturday" anchor David Muir appeared on the Media Bistro's "Morning Media Menu" podcast on Friday and asserted that the fact that online journalists are now eligible to compete for a Pulitzer Prize might increase the professionalism of bloggers and could, in the future, "give [online reporting] more weight, more credence and people will know that what they're reading isn't simply one version of events or an opinion." One wonders if Muir is referring to such paragons of journalistic integrity as his ABC colleague Bill Weir, who on the January 20 "World News," marveled that "even the seagulls must have been awed" by the inauguration of Barack Obama.
Muir (see file photo above), who was talking to podcast hosts Steve Krakauer and Rebecca Fox, added that the possibility of being awarded such a prestigious journalistic prize could elevate online reporting to "be at the level of journalism that we know is being, you know, fact checked and, and, worthy, worthy of a Pulitzer in the end." On the April 4 "World News" Muir himself said of Obama's G-20 international summit, "...Other heads of state are seemingly trying to get close to the head of the class, or the cool kid in the class, if you will, President Obama." Would that be an example of simply stating "one version of events?"
Will the upcoming ABC special "If I Only Had a Gun" dismiss and deride the concept of using firearms to defend oneself and stop a potential massacre? A promo that aired during Wednesday's "Good Morning America" seemed to suggest yes. As ominous music played in the background, an announcer intoned, "Friday night on ABC, when it comes to protecting yourself, you may think, 'If I only had a gun.'" Video then played of an experiment in which a female college student attempted to pull out what looked like a pellet gun to stop a faux Virginia Tech-style massacre.
The ad's announcer quizzed, "But if you had a gun, could you defend yourself in a crisis?" After an unidentified voice asked the young woman where she would be if this had been real, she responded, "Probably on the floor. Hopefully in an ambulance." More video showed young children pointing real guns at each other and themselves. The announcer solemnly wondered, "What about the irresistible pull of guns on kids and how easy can you get them? Diane Sawyer investigates with David Muir. 'If I Only Had a Gun.' One stunning hour."
On Monday's "Good Morning America," reporter David Muir highlighted a rabidly pro-gun control group as an expert on weapons, without referencing the organization's political stance. The journalist also promoted "If I Only Had a Gun," an ABC special to air Friday night that seems to argue for tighter restrictions on firearms. During a segment on the tragic shootings in Pittsburgh and New York, Muir featured a clip from Michael Wolkowitz, who is a member of the board of trustees for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
No mention was made of his organization's anti-Second Amendment position and the only identification vaguely read, "Board of Trustees, Brady Center." Wolkowitz complained, "We have 32 people being murdered by guns every day in this country. If peanut butter or pistachio nuts or spinach killed that number of people once in one day, they'd be pulled by the FDA." Now, while ABC tried to conceal the group's goals, the Brady Center's campaign website does not. It currently (as of April 6) shows a picture Wolkowitz's appearance on ABC and a pitch to "pass common sense gun laws that require Brady criminal background checks on all gun sales, including those at gun shows." (Readers are then urged to contact Congress.)
One night after ABC's World News featured Diane Sawyer and Pierre Thomas fretting over the lack of interest by Congress in passing new gun laws in response to recent shooting sprees, Thomas appeared on World News Saturday and again treated as problematic the statistic that there are "more than 250 million legally registered guns in this country," and seemed to complain that Congress is not planning to enact more gun laws. After recounting several incidents of mass shootings in the past month, Thomas fretted: "Even with all that carnage, there's no major gun control legislation pending before Congress." And earlier on ABC's Good Morning America, co-anchor Bill Weir had also brought up the statistic that there are more than 250 million guns in America as he recounted mass murder statistics from various decades.
In a q and a with George Stephanopoulos on Saturday's World News, ABC anchor David Muir decided to sum up President Barack Obama's week in Europe by displaying a picture of jovial Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arm-in-arm with President Barack Obama during the G-20 group photo session, an image Muir contended showed how “other heads of state are seemingly trying to get close to the head of the class, or the cool kid in the class, if you will, President Obama.”
Muir cued up Stephanopoulos: “Have you seen much of this in recent history?” Stephanopoulos put style over substance as he declared “the President's stagecraft on this trip and his star power have really held up all through his trip to Europe.” Though he acknowledged that “on the substance the President hasn't gotten all he wanted either at the G-20 or at this NATO summit,” the host of ABC's This Week decided “he's done a good job of managing expectations.” As Stephanopoulos demonstrated, Obama has certainly met and exceeded media expectations.
Just under 90 minutes before President Barack Obama's Tuesday night news conference, ABC's World News set out to support his contention that his policies have already led to economic improvement. Picking up on how Obama planned to announce at the start of the session that thanks to his economic policies “we are beginning to see signs of progress,” anchor Charles Gibson asked: “Well, is the President right? And are things turning around? We asked David Muir to look at two key sectors of the economy, jobs and housing.”
Muir decided in Obama's favor: “The report card on the economy does show glimmers of hope.” He pointed to how “last month, 651,000 more jobs were lost, a lot of workers. But just two months earlier, that number was 681,000.” Muir proceeded to highlight how because of the “stimulus,” there “are now signs that money is trickling down.” (I thought the media line was that “trickle down” doesn't work?) Specifically, “the U.S. Forest Service is among the first government agencies to hire. Melina Vasquez is among the 1500 people who will now be restoring the parks.” Plus, “outside Portland, Oregon, one contractor fixing U.S. Highway 26 is bringing back 30 laid off workers and hiring ten more.”
Two weeks after ABC championed how the “stimulus” would enable mayors to create many jobs, World News on Wednesday night trumpeted how “the government is now ready to start writing the checks to get people working again in states and cities across the land.” Reporter David Muir touted how “with hundreds of millions of dollars in the pipeline from Washington, contractors are hiring now” and so “in the quiet college town of North Manchester, Indiana, 26 people are expected to be hired to build a water treatment plant. Economists say 26 people in a small town of 6,400 can have a huge impact.” Muir's one and only expert, economist Stephen Leeb, then saw a beneficial ripple effect:
It's not just 26 people. It's 26 people that are getting more money. Those people are spending money at, say, the corner store, the corner drugstore, maybe buying an extra shirt for their kids; and the people that are receiving that money, in the stores, are also going to spend their money. So you have this kind of ripple effect that can spill all the way through the town.
At the top of the newscast, anchor Charles Gibson, unlike CBS's Katie Couric and NBC's Brian Williams, credited President Obama's home mortgage bailout plan with causing a stock market up tick, citing a “ray of hope: The government outlines how it will help nine million homeowners avoid foreclosure. And the stock market responds positively.”
ABC's World News on Tuesday night celebrated President Obama's signature on the 'stimulus' package by devoting a full story to how mayors will supposedly use their portion to create 1.6 million jobs. Fill-in anchor Diane Sawyer recited “the wish list” of “nearly 19,000 infrastructure projects -- roads, bridges, mass transit -- costing some $150 billion” and “the mayors argue that the projects are ready to go and will bring along 1.6 million jobs.” No word about the inevitable corruption as reporter David Muir trumpeted: “Across this country, mayors and governors tonight are pouring over wish lists -- broken bridges, schools, libraries -- all of which need help.”
Justifying the spending, Muir cited replacing “old boilers” at a high school which Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm insisted would create jobs. Jumping to Elkhart, Indiana, Muir listed worthwhile projects and specific numbers of jobs each would supposedly create: “Fixing one of their main streets would cost $34 million and create 858 new jobs. Fixing the city's pumping facility, $9 million, 225 new jobs and upgrading an airport runway: $5.5 million, 138 people to work.” He moved on to Hoboken, New Jersey's $36 million plan to prevent flooding, a project the mayor declared will lead to “several hundred employees being hired immediately.”
Muir concluded by seeing a harmonious match of money and need: “Here, and across the country, a flood of requests from cities in need of help and workers in need of jobs.”
Is there anything President-elect Barack Obama's very aura cannot make better? Apparently, he has eliminated road rage -- and even honking.
ABC's David Muir, over video of stuck traffic followed by the sound of singing, in a Monday World News story on the crowds coming to Washington, DC:
So many of the streets are closed those that are open are clogged. But there were no car horns, no shouting. Instead, the San Francisco Boys and Girls choruses practicing for their Inaugural moment on the steps of the Capitol.
On World News Saturday, during the show’s "A Closer Look" segment, ABC anchor David Muir gave attention to those who question whether CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta has sufficient qualifications to be Barack Obama’s surgeon general. Muir even played a clip of David Letterman poking fun at Gupta twice during the show: "The choice, it was between a Gupta, Dr. Phil, and a guy on Scrubbs. I don’t know what the hell-" He also recounted that Muir was forced to apologized to liberal filmmaker Michael Moore after making errors in a report fact-checking Moore’s film Sicko. As Muir gave voice to those in the pro-Gupta camp who believe it is important for the surgeon general to be well known to the public, the ABC anchor reminded viewers that Dr. C. Everett Coop talked about AIDS while President Reagan was "largely silent," and that President George W. Bush’s surgeon general resigned in protest in 2006 charging he had been "muzzled by the White House."
ABC correspondent David Muir offered an admiring “window into Camelot” on Monday’s Good Morning America as he reported on U.S. Senate aspirant Caroline Kennedy’s interviews with New York media over the past weekend: “Caroline Kennedy, opening up, calling herself an unconventional choice, offering personal reflections, knowing the political fight that lies ahead.” However, instead of focusing on any political details relevant to the federal office she seeks, Muir focused on her entertainment preferences: “Kennedy calls herself a Yankees fan, whose last movie was ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.... Kennedy, who grew up in the 70s, says the music of that era still fuels her. Her iPod is filled with Al Green, Grateful Dead, and Bob Marley.”
Muir’s report, which aired 15 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour of the ABC morning program, began with anchor Robin Roberts introducing the “Camelot” theme of the report, which the media too often conjures up when covering the Kennedy family: “The daughter of JFK did a series of weekend interviews, giving us a rare glimpse inside of Camelot.” The correspondent then began with a saccharine introduction of the famous First Daughter: “For decades, Caroline Kennedy was seen far more than she was heard....‘Shy Caroline,’ as she was sometimes called, is shy no longer.” He also continued the “Camelot” theme throughout the report by including old family photos and home video of when Kennedy was a child.
"Good Morning America" reporter David Muir on Friday reported live from Mississippi and somehow managed to not feature a single supporter of Senator John McCain, despite the fact that a Research 2000 poll found the Republican candidate maintaining an 18 point lead in the state. In the only allusion to that, Muir began, "In a state considered deeply red, John McCain has family roots here." He then highlighted an Obama supporter: "But those ties aren't enough for Heidi Burell, whose own son is in the Navy. She wants the war to end." In a clip, Ms. Burell hoped that America will regain "respect in the world community."
Muir featured Mississippi resident Todd Molino who stated, "You see it everywhere you look, health care has become unaffordable." The reporter also described an elderly couple: "And it's health care that worries Buddy and Marilyn Hardy who can't afford to buy their prescription drugs." However, despite asserting that the individuals he spoke to were "divided on their pick for president," no enthusiastic McCain backers were featured.
Notes on Friday night coverage of the Wall Street bail out:
On the NBC Nightly News, the always hyperbolic Jim Cramer saw “Great Depression II” avoided by the rescue effort, anchor Brian Williams raised 9/11 as he contended “this was the kind of jittery week in New York a lot of people had to go back to 9/11 to remember how they felt then,” prompting an “oh, wow” from CNBC's Maria Bartiromo, and Williams passed along how “a Democratic politico said to me this week, if the Democrats do their job, they'll make this 'fundamentals of the economy' quote to McCain what 'mission accomplished' was to President Bush.”
ABC's World News brought up Iraq as David Muir referred to how a man in Manhattan “asked today what about the more than $600 billion already spent on Iraq?” Muir also read an e-mail: “Why make the little people bail out these companies?” Of course, the “little people” won't since they barely or don't pay any income tax. One-third of those who file pay nothing or get money back while the bottom 50 percent ($32,000 down), who earn 12 percent of the total income, pay less than 3 percent of taxes collected. The top 25 percent ($65,000 up) pay 86 percent and the top 1 percent ($389,000) pay 40 percent, so maybe the wealthier will get something for all they put in.
A night after ABC's World News and the NBC Nightly News didn't air a word about the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) doubling to 1.9 percent in the second quarter, up from 0.9 percent in the first, the two evening newscasts found newsworthy a rise in the unemployment rate, with NBC using the increase to segue to a story on how “a growing number of Americans are...being downsized from full-time work to part-time.” Fill-in ABC anchor David Muir announced:
We're going to turn this evening now to the unemployment report out today which shows a new flurry of pink slips in July. Employers cut 51,000 jobs last month, as the unemployment rate rose to 5.7 percent. This marks the seventh month in a row with job losses.
NBC anchor Brian Williams, with “Hard Times” on screen, reported:
On the jobs front, the employers cut their payrolls for the seventh straight month in July, total of 51,000 jobs were shed just last month, bringing the total for the year so far to almost half a million. Unemployment rate jumped two-tenths of a percent to 5.7, that's now a four-year high. A growing number of Americans are struggling on the job front even though they're not unemployed. Instead, they're being downsized from full-time work to part-time. That report from NBC's Rehema Ellis.
For the second night in a row, on Sunday night the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts all led with Barack Obama's overseas trip as CBS Evening News anchor Forrest Sawyer trumpeted: “Tonight, Barack Obama on the U.S. challenge in Afghanistan, laying out the stakes in an exclusive CBS News interview.” Reporter Lara Logan set up a condensed version of her interview which had consumed the first ten minutes of Face the Nation: “Speaking out for the first time since arriving in Kabul this weekend, Senator Barack Obama offered a bleak assessment of the worsening conditions inside Afghanistan.”
On ABC's World News, anchor David Muir led with how “Barack Obama is calling it one of the biggest mistakes made in the war on terror: The Bush administration's decision to focus on Iraq rather than Afghanistan.” NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt admired Obama's need to walk on a “diplomatic and political tight rope, trying to balance his role as a U.S. Senator versus that of a presidential candidate” before heralding:
His words tonight are reverberating from the war fronts in Afghanistan and Iraq to the Pentagon.
Three weeks ago when a Newsweek poll put Democrat Barack Obama 15 points ahead of Republican John McCain, the ABC and CBS evening newscasts highlighted the out of sync finding. But when a new Newsweek survey released Friday placed Obama a mere three points in front of McCain, neither ABC's World News nor the CBS Evening News mentioned it on Friday or Saturday night.
“A startling new poll,” fill-in CBS Evening News anchor Russ Mitchell announced during the Friday, June 20 newscast, “Barack Obama now leads John McCain nationwide by 15 points, 51 to 36 percent. This according to Newsweek.” The next night, Saturday, June 21, ABC World News anchor David Muir pointed to “a new poll from Newsweek magazine that shows Barack Obama opening a 15-point lead over John McCain.”
Newsweek's Jonathan Darman failed to consider the inaccuracy of the earlier poll as he expressed his befuddlement on Friday with the slim 44 to 41 lead for Obama: “Perhaps most puzzling is how McCain could have gained traction in the past month.”
During the weekend's coverage of President Bush's trip to the G-8 Summit in Japan, ABC correspondents Martha Raddatz and John Cochran both reminded viewers of faux pas by the President from past G-8 Summits. On World News Saturday, while downplaying expectations of any significant accomplishments at the summit, Raddatz relayed: "In fairness, the G-8 rarely has created any breakthrough announcements. The most memorable moments had little to do with real news. There was the famous shoulder rub with Germany's Angela Merkel, and the live microphone that caught the President talking in less-than-diplomatic terms while he lunched with Tony Blair." (Transcript follows)
ABC showed the clip of Bush startling German Chancellor Angela Merkel by grabbing her shoulders from behind, and a censored clip from 2006 of him using profanity while talking about the terror group Hezbollah with then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Bush: "What they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this [BLEEP]-"
Thursday’s "Good Morning America" used the Fourth of July holiday to exaggerate the effects that food prices are having on consumers. In its "Hitting Home" segment, reporter Sharyn Alfonsi reported on the price increases of certain Fourth of July barbecue staples, claiming that "Americans are gonna eat 110 million pounds hot dogs and that could take a big bite out of their wallets."
On Friday's "Good Morning America," various ABC reporters fretted about the political implications of Barack Obama referring to a female reporter as "sweetie." GMA co-host Diane Sawyer nervously asked, "When do 'honey,' 'sweetie,' cross the line?" Guest host David Muir introduced an investigation into "the debate over what words we can use and can't use when we're talking to members of opposite sex."
To further examine the issue, GMA even dug up previous clips of the presidential candidate using what has become the other S-word. So, only two days after "Sweetie-Gate" broke, the morning show had already provided detail and background on the case. This stands in stark contrast to how GMA (and ABC in general) covered a much more serious subject, Obama's relationship with indicted political operative Tony Rezko, a man that raised money for the senator and was also involved in a questionable land deal related to the purchase of Obama's home in Chicago. In 2006 and 2007, ABC only mentioned Rezko once. Apparently Rezko and the senator's dealings don't measure up to the sweetie story.
A week after ABC focused a story on two pitiable Minnesota families living in the dark because higher energy and food prices mean they “can no longer afford to pay for electricity,” Tuesday's World News highlighted the replies from sad case stories solicited on ABCNews.com, starting with a woman who says she must skip breakfast to put $4 a day toward gas. ABC displayed “FEELING THE PAIN” on screen as Charles Gibson set up the story that David Muir started by fretting about “the price of a gallon of gas jumping more than a dime in just the last week” -- which is a piddling $2 more to fill a 20-gallon tank. Nonetheless, he asserted “the e-mails we've received show the pain is being felt far and wide. Single mother Caroline Saunders wrote to us from New Jersey.” He read aloud from her e-mail with her quote on screen:
I now skip breakfast to save the extra $4 per day. That gives me an extra $20 added to my gas budget.
Muir proceeded to recite two less ridiculous complaints, a trucker upset about a 60 percent hike in diesel fuel over the past in two years and a woman who found a job that requires $110 a week in gas to commute 140 miles round trip.
On World News Saturday, during a story about young Israelis seeking to enjoy life in Tel Aviv to forget about the constant danger of terrorism, ABC's David Muir seemed to suggest that most Israeli cities could be described as relatively "militant" as he compared Tel Aviv to other cities: "Some have called it the 'Tel Aviv Bubble.' But not in a bad way. Other Israeli cities are more religious and more militant."
Then came a soundbite of an Israeli woman who referred to "extremists on both sides," presumably referring to both Palestinians and Jews: "I think it has some kind of stabilizing effect in the country. If it didn't exist, all of the country would be swept by extremists from both sides." (Transcript follows)
“[P]rices are rising across Africa, pushed up by the cost of oil and demand for biofuels,” ABC correspondent Jim Sciutto said.
“Those biofuels are in fact a large part of the equation,” ABC correspondent David Muir added. “Many farmers around the world, who once grew wheat and rice, now grow corn and sugar cane instead, to produce ethanol a more lucrative market.”
Hours later, ABC's "World News" certainly did, actually leading the program with yet another example of how candidate Clinton loves to play fast and loose with the facts when delivering stump speeches.
On Friday's "Good Morning America," for the second day in a row, and the third time in a little over a week, the ABC program promoted the story of a transgendered man who is having a baby via artificial insemination. At no time did GMA feature any guest to challenge or question the psychological ramifications for a child who was born from a pregnant "father."
During the April 4 segment on the subject, GMA guest news anchor David Muir described Thomas Beatie's decision as "very controversial." One would assume that a controversial decision would have two sides to it. But over the course of three segments, totaling ten minutes and 16 seconds, the closest the network program got was on April 3, when psychologist Jeffrey Gardere mildly advised, "It really is incumbent upon this individual, his wife, to try to give this as much dignity as possible, to not make it a joke, to not make it that something that's cheap[sic]."
"Now, to the economy," ABC "World News" anchor Charles Gibson said. "And a word not heard since the 1970s - stagflation. That occurs when prices go up just as the economy slows down - stagnation plus inflation. And the government that wholesale prices shot up 1 percent in January and are now up almost 7.5 percent in the past 12 months."