As if more proof were needed that the broadcast networks don’t get religion, and really don’t get Catholicism, analysis of the evening news programs from Feb. 11 showed a how inadequate the assumptions of liberal secular journalists were in explaining the Church, its mission and its role in the lives of the faithful.
On the day of the surprise resignation of 85-yr-old Pope Benedict XVI, ABC, CBS and NBC all danced the “The Papal Reporting Two-Step”: dwell on the negatives of the recent past before wondering hopefully if the Church will now finally step out of the dark ages of orthodoxy. Of the three, however, ABC was far and away the worst. Video after the Break.
While the networks largely ignored 43 Catholic institutions suing the Obama administration over the ObamaCare contraception mandate, since news broke on May 25 of the Pope's butler leaking classified Vatican documents, those same networks saw fit to provide 13 stories in 5 days proclaiming"another black eye for the Vatican" and supposed "corruption at some of the highest levels." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
ABC News lead the charge, with a total of six reports from May 26 through 28. NBC followed close behind with five reports, one of which was a news brief, from May 25 through 29. CBS had the lightest coverage of the controversy, with only two reports on May 28. CBS was also the only one of the three networks to provide any coverage of the Catholic lawsuit, offering a 19-second news brief on the May 21 Evening News and an interview with Cardinal Timothy Dolan on the May 23 This Morning.
On Monday's Good Morning America, as ABC's Jeffrey Kofman recounted the news that Pope Benedict XVI's butler has been arrested, implicated in leaking Vatican documents to the media, the ABC correspondent asserted that the Pope's "seven-year papacy has been consumed by very public scandals," and then recounted a group of demonstrators who recently accused the Pope of "covering up evidence" in the case of a 15-year-old girl who went missing in 1983. Kofman:
Arson, destruction, thievery, beatings and even murder – they’re the inevitable reaction to increased college tuition fees?
To hear the broadcast news networks spin the violence and looting convulsing English cities in August, the riots were clashes between the “haves and the have-nots” (a term used by NBC reporter Martin Fletcher) in British society. According to the networks, an oppressed minority unleashed pent-up rage against a conservative government hell-bent on cutting government spending and creating economic inequality in the process.
On Tuesday’s World News on ABC, correspondent Jeffrey Kofman asserted that News Corporation founder Rupert Murdoch was a "man infamous for his ruthlessness and his arrogance" as he filed a report on Murdoch’s testimony in front of the British parliament.
Kofman also seemed to mock the News Corp founder as he remarked that "he's the boss, but the buck does not stop with him, and he is not planning to step aside."
On Saturday’s Good Morning America on ABC, after anchor Dan Harris recounted that News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch met and apologized to the family of the 13-year-old murder victim whose phone messages were hacked by a News of the World reporter, correspondent Jeffrey Kofman commented that Murdoch reminded him of Ebenezer Scrooge approaching Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol, rather than a character from a Shakespearean tragedy. Kofman:
On Friday, all three network morning shows expressed sympathy for protestors in London rioting against college tuition increases, despite a Thursday attack on the royal family. While CBS's Early Show, ABC's Good Morning America, and NBC's Today all reported on security concerns over Prince Charles and wife Camilla, each broadcast also lamented Britain's "drastic new budget cuts."
At the top of the Early Show, co-host Harry Smith proclaimed: "There have been these protesters in London for a couple weeks now because tuition hikes for college tuition skyrocketing there." Fill-in co-host Rebecca Jarvis then chimed in by arguing on behalf of the rioters: "Of course they pay very high taxes there so they expect something for those taxes." Later, in an 8:00AM ET hour news brief, anchor Jeff Glor pointed out: "In the last fiscal year, the government spent $60 million on household costs for the royals....But, the government still voted to triple university tuition to $14,000 a year to help control the deficit."
ABC’s Diane Sawyer acted more concerned than the reporter on the scene on Monday’s Good Morning America over a small town in South Carolina arming itself against a serial killer. She asked the local sheriff, “The community has apparently been arming up and we’re reading that ammunition is selling out at some of the stores. How concerned are you that people are standing at their doorways with guns right by the side?”
ABC News correspondent Jeffrey Kofman filed a report from Gaffney, South Carolina six minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour on the five murders apparently perpetrated by the same suspect over the course of a week during late June/early July. After stating the community was “reeling over events of the last week, and it’s not overstating to say that people here are terrified,” Kofman highlighted how people in the Southern small town “left lights on and doors locked. This small South Carolina town is living in fear- and it is arming itself.”
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.
"Good Morning America's" coverage on Monday of the May 31 murder of abortionist George Tiller featured no examples of pro-life organizations condemning the killing. Additionally, co-anchor Diane Sawyer opened the program with an oddly worded tease. "The abortion debate turns deadly. A doctor known for performing late-term abortions gunned down at church." The abortion debate turns deadly? If the procedure is successfully performed, isn't abortion always fatal?
Reporter Kofman highlighted glee on the internet over the slaying of the Kansas-based doctor who carried out late-term abortions. He announced, "On Twitter, one person wrote, 'Oh, happy, day. Tiller the baby killer is dead.' Another wrote, 'God bless the gunman.'" Kofman added, "Clearly, the passions in this issue have not gone away." Of course, other than a bland observation that "many" on both sides of the debate have condemned the killing, Kofman offered no quotes from organizations, such as the Family Research Council [FRC], who denounced the murder. [Audio available here]
Once again, in its quest for a scapegoat for a crisis facing society, the media has set its sights on a large corporation.
A segment on the April 28 "World News with Charles Gibson" by ABC correspondent Jeffrey Kofman, reporting from La Gloria, Mexico, went after Smithfield Foods, Inc. (NYSE:SFD) for operating a pig farm near the city where the swine flu pandemic is believed to have originated.
"When people heard here that a case of swine flu had been traced to this area, few were surprised," Kofman said. "And in the next breath they'll tell you they think they know where it came from."
It may well be that a growing share of the American public favor expanding interaction with Cuba, but in reporting President Barack Obama's decision to allow Cuban-Americans unlimited travel and money transfers to the island, ABC's Jeffrey Kofman and NBC's Andrea Mitchell characterized opponents in a belittling manner -- while Mitchell also advanced complaints Obama did no go far enough. “With today's announcement,” Kofman asserted on ABC's World News, “President Obama is making it clear he is not going to do business as usual.” Kofman then declared: “It is now only the very hard line who want the policy to stay as it is.”
Mitchell, on the NBC Nightly News, acknowledged “some Cuban-Americans...still argue that the Obama White House is only helping Raul Castro and his ailing brother Fidel,” but she dismissed those opponents as “a dwindling number.” She emphasized the view Obama came up short: “President Obama did not propose a far more sweeping step, getting Congress to lift the trade embargo that has lasted for half a century, disappointing opponents of the policy.” Mitchell concluded by adopting that complaint as her own: “For the past year, European countries and the Vatican have been getting Cuba to release political prisoners, but the Obama administration still refuses to negotiate directly with Havana.”
With the symbolic passing of the torch - from Fidel Castro to Raul Castro - comes hope of changes in Cuba, well at least among some in the media.
Even though no one is predicting Cuba to usher in a new wave of Adam Smith-style capitalism, there might be some changes according to ABC's "World News with Charles Gibson."
"[H]e's talking about significant reforms - liberalizing trade, economic reforms designed to ease poverty in a country where the average person earned $19 a month in the hope of consolidating his own power," ABC correspondent Jeffrey Kofman said on the Feb.19, 2008, ABC "World News with Charles Gibson."
While covering the breaking story on Tuesday of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro's decision to step down from power, various "Good Morning America" anchors and reporters soft peddled the communist leader's crimes. In a profile piece that narrated a brief history of his life, co-host Diane sawyer enthused, "Castro knew life is a stage and played the part of the dashing revolutionary coming to New York, getting rock star treatment."
Now, she did add that many people overlooked the "ferocity of his communism, even as he bankrupted his country and history passed him by." But over the course of five segments, GMA managed to completely ignore Castro's record of firing squads, jailing dissidents, imprisoning AIDS patients and other crimes. Instead, Sawyer found time to romantically state, "The world'slongest-serving political leaderis leaving on his own terms, having survived efforts by ten different U.S. presidents to bring him down..." Note the use of the term "political leader" rather than dictator.
History seemed to repeat itself on Monday's World News with Charles Gibson, as substitute anchor Dan Harris introduced a story, filed by ABC correspondent John Berman, which highlighted the view of "some scientists" that global warming is responsible for an increase in the number of category 4 and 5 hurricanes in recent decades. Not only did the same Harris/Berman team file a similar story over two years ago on the July 9, 2005 show, then known as World News Tonight, but Monday's report also recycled soundbites of two scientists from the earlier story. Berman, from Monday September 3: "Across the globe, the number of category 4 and 5 hurricanes has almost doubled over the past 30 years.