Update: CBS earlier declined comment on Johnston apology.
On Friday's CBS Early Show, fill-in co-host Erica Hill confessed Levi Johnston's apology for making false statements about the Palin family was "highly under-reported." During the 'Early Wrap' segment, Hill told a panel of media pundits: "My favorite story of the week, which was highly under-reported...is that Levi Johnston came out and said....Some things he said about the Palin family were not true."
It's interesting that Hill used the phrase "under-reported," when CBS did not cover Johnston's admission at all since he made the statement in a Tuesday interview with People Magazine. Meanwhile, the network, and the Early Show in particular, heavily promoted Johnston's claims about the Palins last year.
Update: In a Wednesday article entitled "Will Levi's apology lead to media corrections?," Michael Calderone of Yahoo News observed: "Johnston used to have a lot to say. And the media — whether they were news, politics or celebrity outlets — listened. He appeared on the 'CBS Early Show,' 'Entertainment Tonight' and 'The Tyra Banks Show.'" Calderone attempted to get a response from CBS on Johnston's apology but they "declined comment."
In response to Hill, panelist Joe Levy, editor-in-chief of Maxim Magazine, dismissed the revelation: "Wow. So, a teenager who breaks up with his girlfriend says untrue things about her and her family? That is a shocker. I don't think that's ever happened before." Fellow panelist, Daily Show correspondent Olivia Munn, chimed in: "I think he needs to apologize for his Playgirl spread first and then go to the Palins....Because America is hurt, first and foremost, and then some people in Alaska."
The morning programs of the Big Three networks all sang the praises of CNN host Larry King after he announced on Tuesday his upcoming retirement from his program, while overlooking his liberal bent at times. Both Willie Geist on NBC's Today show and CBS's Harry Smith labeled King "legendary," while ABC's George Stephanopoulos heralded how he was "on top of his game" for most of his career.
NBC correspondent Peter Alexander reused Geist's "legendary" label, and chronicled the CNN personality's "perch in prime time" during his 25 years on his Larry King Live program, spotlighting how he "has interviewed nearly 50,000 people over more than 50 years in broadcasting." Alexander underlined this with clips from King's interviews of Frank Sinatra, Ross Perot, and Paris Hilton, noting that "if you wanted the country to listen, you sat down with Larry King." The correspondent also included a clip from Ken Baker of E! News, who stated that "whoever is going to replace Larry King has obviously very big shoes to fill."
On Thursday's Today, the NBC program ignored the revelation that the Obama administration attempted to persuade a Democratic Senate candidate to drop out of a primary race. ABC's Good Morning America and CBS's Early Show both highlighted the story in full reports.
CBS's Erica Hill announced, "There are new allegations of back room politics by the White House. A Colorado politician says the Obama administration hinted at a job offer if he stayed out of the Senate race."
ABC's Jake Tapper pointed out the potential problems for the White House: "But this does look bad. It looks, again, like politics as usual. And Republicans, you can expect them to make a lot of hay about this today."
The White House may have to waterboard its congressional allies to compel enough Democrats to support the health care bill and Congress will definitely have to raise taxes if the bill passes, insisted Bob Schieffer, host of Face the Nation on CBS, this morning on The Early Show. [Audio available here.]
As liberals focus on extending coverage to millions of uninsured Americans, Schieffer departed from the liberal talking points by pointing out that the current bill would definitely force Congress to raise taxes.
“These Democrats don’t know yet how much this bill is going to cost, they don’t know exactly who’s going to pay the taxes—there is no question some taxes are going up on this,” he said.
A Mississippi high school cancelled its prom due to the controversy surrounding Constance McMillen, a lesbian student, who wanted to bring her younger girlfriend to the prom. On March 12, CBS’s “The Early Show” featured McMillen and her lawyer. The sympathetic segment didn’t include anyone from the high school.
CBS’ Mark Strassmann stated, “Proms and high school go together like boyfriends and girlfriends, at least in Fulton, Mississippi. But now charges of discrimination and violation of a teenager's rights have scrapped the big night.”
Near the end of Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Erica Hill touted a new Parade magazine survey on volunteerism in America: "it indicates America is in the midst of what some are calling a compassion boom." Moments later, the magazine's contributing editor, Emily Listfield, argued: "There's something we call the 'Obama Effect.' People are responding to the President's call to service."
Interestingly, the Parade article made no mention of an "Obama Effect" in explaining why people are volunteering more. Apparently Listfield only felt the need to make that observation when appearing on CBS.
Hill set up Listfield's explanation by noting: "91% in the survey said community service, their community service involvement has gone up over the past 18 months." Hill then asked: "Why are you seeing that increase, and where are you seeing it the most?" A headline on screen read: "Compassion Counts; America's New Volunteering Boom."
Despite last year's oral-sex-insult fiasco, left-wing comedienne Kathy Griffin is co-hosting CNN's New Year's Eve coverage with Anderson Cooper again in 2009. On Wednesday night's Anderson Cooper 360, Griffin joked to CNN anchor Erica Hill: "This year, there's a stipulation in my contract, which I'm almost sure is not in yours or Wolf's or Jack Cafferty's, which is if I cuss like I did last year, by accident, I -- I have to write the [pay] check back."
Griffin stood out for calling Carrie Prejean a "moron" for opposing gay marriage, and then displayed her own lack of intelligence by suggesting current FBI director Robert Mueller was actually head of the CIA. Oops. Is that close enough when grading on the celebrity curve? Here's the first half:
ERICA HILL: But what I really need to know, speaking of guys, whose team are you on, looking back at 2009? Are you Team Larry King or Team Carrie Prejean?
CNN’s Roland Martin on Wednesday’s “No Bias, No Bull” program featured another panel which leaned overwhelmingly to the left, during a discussion about the California Supreme Court upholding Proposition 8. Four of the five participants -- CNN correspondent Erica Hill, Lisa Bloom of TruTv, New York Observer columnist Steve Kornacki, and the Reverend Byron Williams of Resurrection Community Church in Oakland, California all sided with advocates of same-sex “marriage.”
Rev. Williams, who is affiliated with the liberal People for the American Way, argued that the decision “seems to go against our democratic values.” Hill asked the pastor, “Should that decision on marriage be left up to different religions, different faiths to make, and leave this to be more of a civil matter? And if that’s the case, why should God enter it at all?” Kornacki argued that there was an “inevitability” to the legalization of same-sex “marriage,” explaining that “you’ve got four states legalizing it. You’ve got people under 35 supporting it overwhelmingly. I mean, isn’t this just really a question of time, and we shouldn’t be that exercised about it?” Bloom thought that it was a “huge civil rights issue, and this is the first court ruling that I’m aware of that says that a majority vote -- a bare majority vote, can take away the constitutional rights of a protected minority group.”
Two Catholic priests who appeared as guests during back-to-back segments on Thursday’s No Bias, No Bull program were treated noticeably differently by CNN’s on-air personalities. Father Michael Pfleger of the Archdiocese of Chicago, who is best known for his racially-charged rhetoric against Hillary Clinton during the 2008 Democratic presidential race, as well as his defense of former Obama pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright, faced only a couple of pointed questions, most notably about his recent decision to fly an American flag upside-down. In the following segment, Father Mitch Pacwa of the orthodox Catholic TV network EWTN faced a more skeptical and sustained line of questioning from the CNN panel about the practice of priestly celibacy.
Anchor Roland Martin brought on Father Pfleger 43 minutes into the 8 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program to talk about his continuing push against street violence in Chicago, especially when it involves minors, as 36 school-aged children so far this year have been violently killed . He only introduced the priest as the “pastor of the faith community of Saint Sabina from the South Side of Chicago.” Neither he nor any of the other journalists participating in the panel mentioned any of Father Pfleger’s past controversies during the segment.
During a panel discussion on Tuesday’s No Bias, No Bull program, Jane Velez-Mitchell, the Headline News anchor who replaced Glenn Beck after he switched over to the Fox News Channel, vehemently defended Perez Hilton’s crude remarks against Miss California USA Carrie Prejean. After TruTV’s Lisa Bloom blasted Hilton’s use of “the ‘B’ word and the ‘C’ word, that rhymes with ‘rich and runt,’” Velez-Mitchell replied, “Why is it that people should be very polite when they’re told that they’re second-class citizens?...If someone said to you...I don’t think you should have the right to get married, wouldn’t you be ticked off?”
The panel discussed the controversy between Prejean and Hilton, and besides Bloom and Velez-Mitchell, included CNN correspondents Erica Hill and Jessica Yellin, and anchor Roland Martin. Despite her criticism of Hilton, the TruTV anchor twice expressed her support for gay marriage. Velez-Mitchell herself is not an uninterested party on the wider issue of same-sex “marriage,” as she is an open lesbian who defended anti-Proposition 8 protesters during her Headline News program in November 2008: “I believe that gay marriage should be a right for all Americans. In other words, this should be ok across the country” [video available here; her remarks start 5:25 in].
During a 6-minute segment on the Saturday Early Show on CBS, co-host Erica Hill spoke with liberal journalists Mort Zuckerman, editor in chief of U.S. News and World Report, and Steven Kornacki of the New York Observer, about the future of the Republican Party. Republican strategist and CNN contributor Leslie Sanchez was also part of the panel discussion, but was only allowed 44 seconds to speak during the segment, frequently being cut off by Hill, Zuckerman, and Kornacki.
Zuckerman described the future of the GOP this way: "Obama's popularity is surging and the support for the Republican Party is declining, in part because if there is any symbol of the Republican Party, it was Bobby Jindal, the Governor of Louisiana, speaking after President Obama, and articulating a philosophy that was so completely discredited under the Bush administration that it's hard to imagine that they think they're going to do anything other than consolidate their support in a very small number of arch-conservative districts in the United States."
Kornacki shared a similar view, suggesting Republicans give up on conservative principles and simply follow Democratic Party ideals: "Republicans in Congress, the Republicans on talk radio, on Fox News, Republicans who are dominating the party and driving the philosophy of their party right now and they are denying reality...2008 was a revolt against the excesses of the Reagan philosophy, and the Republicans right now seem to be saying...'we got to click our shoes together three times, repeat our favorite Reagan catch phrase and poof, we're going to be good again.' It's not going to work. The public is looking for people who want government to take a leading, active, and aggressive role. Republicans aren't even speaking to that."
On the Saturday Early Show on CBS, President-elect Barack Obama’s Cabinet picks were presented positively as correspondent Kimberly Dozier referred to a "superstar Cabinet," and its members as "bold" and "inspired," while co-anchor Erica Hill called the Cabinet "star-studded." The terminology was similar to that employed by NBC's Andrea Mitchell on the previous night's Nightly News, as she referred to Obama's "all-star Cabinet."
During the 8:00 a.m. hour of the Saturday Early Show, as she filed a story regarding Obama’s choices of Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State and Timothy Geithner, also from the Clinton administration, for Treasury Secretary, Dozier introduced her report: "Well, Obama’s Cabinet picks are coming one by one, and they’re calling it, in some cases, a ‘superstar Cabinet.’" After informing viewers that Obama may ask Defense Secretary Robert Gates to stay on, Dozier repeated the "superstar" label as she passed on praise from former Reagan Chief of Staff Ken Duberstein. Dozier: "Ronald Reagan’s former chief of staff says Obama’s taking a page from his boss’s book, choosing a superstar team for their skills, not their political persuasion."
Watching Saturday’s network morning shows, the talking heads seemed to agree that Friday night’s debate did not produce “a clear winner” or any “knockout punch,” and that it was unlikely that any “needle was moved” among undecided voters. Yet those same networks tried to also argue that Obama had really won the debate, superficially suggesting that McCain’s “disdainful” body language poorly contrasted with the “warm” and “deferential” Obama.
On style, “Barack Obama did a much better job,” ABC contributor Matthew Dowd asserted. NBC’s Chuck Todd insisted that “McCain barely could look at Obama, was disdainful at times, almost annoyed that he was having to share the same stage....Here was Obama being deferential, and here is McCain being disdainful.”