At the top of Monday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer eagerly promoted the possibility of Chelsea Clinton, currently an NBC News special correspondent, one day running for office: "Following in the footsteps? Chelsea Clinton opens up in a rare interview about her mom's presidential ambitions, while leaving the door open for her own run for office."
In the later report, designed to increase buzz about Hillary Clinton's possible 2016 run, correspondent John Yang heralded: "Chelsea Clinton is stepping out....For the first time taking a leading role with her father at CGIU, the Clinton Global Initiative's meeting for college students, and appearing on the cover of Parade magazine. In a rare TV interview...[she] gives her unique perspective on the clamor for her mother to get into the 2016 White House race....And she's leaving the door open to a candidacy of her own."
On Aug. 1, CBS Evening News ignored the massive crowds that turned out that day at Chick-Fil-A restaurants around the nation in support of traditional marriage, free speech, or simply tasty fast food. ABC and NBC, by contrast, covered “Chick-Fil-AAppreciation Day” with full and surprisingly respectful reports on their evening newscasts.
The August 1 episode of CBS Evening News completely failed to mention the massive crowds at Chick-Fil-A restaurants across the country. And it’s not as though the network was unaware of it. CBSNews.com mentioned Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day (without providing video), reporter Stephanie Condon treated the event as an inside-the-beltway political affair, calling it a “rallying point for conservative pols.” The site also featured commentary from writer Erik Sherman, arguing that Chick-fil-A’s “brand perception” took a major hit because of Chick-Fil-A President Dan Cathy’s remarks.
Anchor Brian Williams led Tuesday's NBC Nightly News with a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation about the rising cost of health care, direly proclaiming: "We're going to begin tonight with a crippling trend in America that simply cannot go on without taking entire families with it." Missing from the coverage was any mention of ObamaCare contributing to the increased costs.
In the report that followed, correspondent John Yang detailed how the new study, "says premiums for family coverage now average more than $15,000 a year, that's a 9% jump from 2010 and triple the rate of the previous's years increase." A sound bite of Kaiser CEO Drew Altman was included: "This is really the first time in as long as I can remember when we've seen a big jump in premiums at a time when wages are actually, not only flat, but actually losing ground."
It used to be a cliche that a threatened federal shutdown would send liberals and journalists scurrying to show people harmed by highlighting a closed Washington Monument and disappointed tourists – a cliche ABC’s Jake Tapper turned into a reality Wednesday night. He, however, shamelessly went even further, invoking not only how “landmarks will close” – citing the Washington Monument, the Liberty Bell and the National Zoo – but also “medical research and hope for desperate patients,” including “children with cancer.”
After illustrating the implication of closed landmarks with video of upset 6th graders from rural Massachusetts, one of whom proclaimed “the government is mean,” Tapper wasn’t done with his parade of victims supposedly to be hurt by a shutdown, which hasn’t yet happened and could last just a matter of days, as he found a 4-year-old refugee from Ethiopia to exploit. Really. Warning that “for those who sent in their taxes by mail, tax refunds may not arrive,” Tapper relayed:
In Louisville Kentucky, J.T. Henderson and his wife had to file their taxes by mail so they could receive the adoption refund after 4-year-old Teddy, from Ethiopia, joined their family last summer.
NBC's Meredith Vieira opened Thursday's Today show alerting viewers that Republicans in Wisconsin had caused a "capitol chaos" with a "surprise maneuver" to pass a "controversial budget proposal without Democrats" and her colleague Ann Curry, in teasing a John Yang story, did her one better calling the vote an "outrage."
In the ensuing Yang piece, headlined: "Outrage In Wisconsin,Senate Republicans Cut Union Rights, Bypass Democrats" Yang never bothered to mention the reason Republicans passed the bill "without Democrats" was because they were hiding out, but he did make sure to include footage of protesters repeatedly chanting "Shame!"
“On the broadcast tonight, the uprising at home,” teased NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, touting “another day of fury in Wisconsin. Workers angry about what they call a plan to balance the budget on their backs.” Williams set up his Friday newscast by equating the left-wing protests with those against Arab dictatorships: “From the Mideast to the American Midwest tonight, people are rising up. Citizens uprisings are changing the world,” he championed, citing what “we’ve witnessed from Tunisia to Egypt” and now Wisconsin where “the state capitol has been taken over by the people.”
Without ever mentioning the involvement of President Obama’s Organizing for America, reporter John Yang trumpeted from Madison how “tens of thousands of public workers have come here to make their voices heard.” Scolding incivility certainly didn’t interest Yang, who cued up a protester to trash Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker without making any note of the sign he was holding which showed a hammer and sickle below “Scott Stalin.”
ABC and CBS on Friday night, as they did on Thursday night, ignored the instigation by Organizing for America as CBS’s Cynthia Bowers, who never identified anyone as liberal, concluded: “More protests are planned for tomorrow and for the first time conservative activists are calling upon their supporters -- including Tea Party groups -- to hold rallies of their own.”
You might think that the three major networks would look favorably upon the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) breaking through the symbolic 10,000 mark. After all, it they could use it as an opportunity to spin the news as a victory for Barack Obama and his economic policies.
But that wasn't the case. Instead ABC, CBS and NBC used the occasion to point out that the rich on Wall Street are getting bonuses for the performance of the stock market, while others across the country are suffering.
"Now, if an economic recovery is under way, not everyone is sharing in it equally," "CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric said. "Pick up today's Wall Street Journal and you'll read banks and securities firms are on track to pay their employees record amounts this year. And, you pick up The New York Times and you'll see some workers are being forced to take huge pay cuts."
Katie Couric’s CBS Evening News on Friday omitted any mention of the murder of pro-life activist Jim Pouillon in Michigan, despite having discussed the murder of abortionist George Tiller on the June 1, June 2 and June 9 newscasts (and then referencing the killing as a recent “hate crime” in a June 10 report on the shooting at Washington, D.C.’s Holocaust Museum).
Both ABC’s World News and the NBC Nightly News, in contrast, offered full reports on the killing of Pouillon and a local businessman, but offered different explanations. According to NBC’s John Yang, prosecutors said the killer, Harlan Drake, had grudges against his victims and another intended target but “none of them were specifically related to anti- or pro-abortion beliefs.”
Over on ABC, however, reporter Chris Bury showed a soundbite from the Owosso police chief that sure sounded like a grudge against Pouillon’s protests: “Mr. Drake did not believe the children should view the graphic material that was on the signs that Mr. Pouillon carried.”
And ABC’s Bury claimed Friday’s killing of the peaceful protester represented “the flip side of the troubling violence surrounding the abortion debate,” and equated the pro-life activist with the doctor who performed late-term abortions: “George Tiller and Jim Pouillon, on opposite sides of the abortion divide, but both victims of the hate that too often surrounds it.”
Since its announcement in March, the University of Notre Dame's decision to invite President Barack Obama to give this year's commencement address and receive an honorary doctorate in law has been a big story for American Catholics. Pro-life Catholics were outraged and more than 366,000 people signed a petition urging Notre Dame to rescind the invitation. Somehow, though, the controversy didn't merit notice by the broadcast networks. They refused to cover it.
Yet after the fact, Obama's commencement address led ABC and NBC's evening news programs on May 17. (CBS' "Evening News" was preempted by golf, but anchor Russ Mitchell did offer a newsbreak that included a brief mention of Obama's address.) The broadcast networks' morning news programs, including CBS, also discussed Obama's speech. In each case they praised his words and ignored what had stirred so much controversy: the president's history of supporting even the most extreme abortion rights measures. And they turned to mostly liberal Catholics to provide context and perspective on the debate.
In an abbreviated edition of Sunday's NBC Nightly News (shorted by golf in the EST/CST), the network still found time to tout as newsworthy how Vice President-elect Joe Biden will chair a “White House Task Force on Working Families.” With “Focus on the Middle Class” on screen below a picture of Biden, anchor Lester Holt, referring to ABC's This Week, asserted Biden had “revealed” his function: “In an interview that aired today, the Vice President-elect, Joe Biden, revealed his role as the new administration's point man on the middle class.” (This Week anchor George Stephanopoulos summarized the interview on Sunday's World News, yet didn't mention the middle class angle.)
NBC reporter John Yang affirmed that “making good on a central theme of the campaign,” Biden “laid down a bold political yardstick for economic policy.” Viewers then heard a fairly pedestrian clip of Biden on ABC: “Is the middle class no longer being left behind? We'll look at everything from college affordability to after-school programs, the things that affect people's daily lives.” Yang then heralded, with “front and center” enlarged on screen from the press release: “Biden will head a cabinet-level task force making sure middle class and working families are 'front and center.'” How reassuring.
Short of going full Ninja hero and snatching the shoes in mid-air, it's hard to see how Pres. Bush could have been any cooler in his handling of the Hush Puppy Hurler. I figure W's feeling pretty good about things this morning. But that didn't stop ABC and NBC from declaring the incident "embarrassing" for President Bush.
For good measure, on Today, Doris Kearns Goodwin discounted Bush's blithe reaction, saying he wouldn't have been that cool a couple years ago, strangely intepreting his nonchalance as evidence of how anxious he is to leave office. And not to leave CBS out of the mix, on the Early Show Richard Roth described the president as being "nonplussed" in reaction to the incident, when he was in fact just the opposite.
"Mr. Bush is to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao this week on the sidelines of the G8 Summit - where leaders will talk about soaring gas and food prices and the thorny issue of climate change," Yang said. "Officials want to build momentum toward next year's deadline for a global agreement to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions blamed for climate change."
President George W. Bush in April announced his support for establishing federal emissions reduction targets with a goal of stopping greenhouse gas emission growth by 2025. That wasn't enough for "Nightly News," which still managed to find a global warming alarmist with anti-Bush sentiments to bash his efforts.
The broadcast network evening news shows took their cues from the Obama campaign Thursday night as all framed their coverage -- of President Bush warning in Israel that “some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals” -- around angry reaction to Bush's perceived attack on Barack Obama with CBS and NBC trying to undermine Bush's argument by contending it contradicts policies of past Republican Presidents and/or Bush administration officials.
CBS anchor Katie Couric, referring to Bush and John McCain, cited “a two-pronged Republican attack today on Barack Obama on a key foreign policy matter.” Reporter Chip Reid saw a “Republican barrage” which “began in Jerusalem today where President Bush appeared to be taking aim at Barack Obama.” Reid soon passed along how “Obama, who has said he would meet with leaders of Iran, Syria, and Cuba, noted that Presidents Kennedy, Nixon, and even Reagan also negotiated directly with America's enemies.” But Mikhail Gorbachev hadn't promised to nuke Israel.
Over on NBC, Brian Williams teased his lead story: “President Bush on the world stage delivers what was widely seen as an attack on Barack Obama.” Williams described it as “today's political shot heard 'round the world. The concussion was instantaneous. Upon hearing the news, one Democratic Senator used a word we can't use on this broadcast.” Reporter John Yang called it “the first salvo of this fall's general election campaign” and, with “THIS IS B******T” on screen, relayed how “Senator Joseph Biden characterized the President's words with a word we can't use.” Yang contended Bush's admonition “would also apply to Mr. Bush's former Secretary of State” who urged engagement with Hamas. But not a personal sit-down with the President of the United States.
My bottom line analysis (11:25): The two R's of bias from this Rose Garden presser: Martha Raddatz on Syria and numerous reporters on the dreaded R-word, recession. Of course a recession is two consecutive quarters of NEGATIVE economic growth, and we've yet to see one quarter of negative growth, much less two. But all the same, NY Times's Stolberg made it sound like Q1 numbers on GDP tomorrow will show a recession.
The questions below will be posted in reverse chronological order:
After months of improving security in Iraq, the big network morning shows on Friday cited one horrific suicide bombing as proof that “mayhem and misery are back in Baghdad,” as CBS correspondent Mark Strassmann put it. But over the last five months, the broadcast networks have consistently reduced their coverage of Iraq, as if the story of American success in Iraq is less worthy of attention than their old mantra of American failure in Iraq.
Media Research Center analysts tracked all coverage of the Iraq war on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts from September 1 through January 31, and we documented a steady decline in TV coverage of Iraq that has coincided with the improving situation in Iraq. Back in September, the three evening newscasts together broadcast 178 stories about the war in Iraq; in January, that number fell to just 47, a nearly fourfold decrease. (See chart.)
On this morning's "Today," weekend co-anchor Holt introduced a segment on Rudy Giuliani's Friday speech to the NRA, in which Rudy tried to take some of the sharp edges off his prior anti-NRA positions . . .
Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, as the New York Times revealed Tuesday, may be concerned about how much evening news program coverage fugitive donor/fundraiser Norman Hsu attracts, but they had nothing to worry about Tuesday night. ABC didn't utter a word about the campaign's decision to refund the largest amount ever, $850,000 solicited by Hsu, yet anchor Charles Gibson found time to note how the New England Patriots broke an NFL rule by videotaping New York Jets coaches giving signals, while CBS's Katie Couric gave Hsu barely 20 seconds -- about half the time she devoted to the death of “Alex the Parrot” -- and NBC allocated 25 seconds, but only after a three-minute piece framed around how Rudy Giuliani's 9/11 image “stirs angry resentment.”