ABC has aggressively pushed Barack Obama's gun control scheme in recent weeks. But on Sunday and Monday, the network resorted to playing clips of a rival channel's comedy show, Saturday Night Live. Sunday's World News and Monday's Good Morning America both touted Democratic talking points, lamenting how hard it is to get such legislation passed. On Monday morning, Jon Karl hyped, "Congress is just not eager to enact new gun laws. A fact lampooned on Saturday Night Live."
He then featured a clip of comedian Jay Pharoah impersonating Obama. Pharoah mocked, "This week, the Senate voted 68-31 to begin debating the idea of discussing gun control. Let me say that again. They have agreed to think about talking about gun control." On Sunday's World News, reporter Rena Ninan didn't even bother coming up with much of a justification. She simply introduced, "SaturdayNight Live, overnight."
The journalists at Good Morning America on Wednesday could barely contain themselves, hailing the compromise over gun control legislation as a "major," "big, significant breakthrough." Guest host Elizabeth Vargas marveled, "Boy, is that big news."
Yet, the reporters on NBC offered less effusive coverage. Today's Kristen Welker conceded, "Democrats had been hoping for background checks to be universal. They didn't get that. This is going to be a pared down, watered down version of background checks." She asserted, "The deal is far less than the President was hoping for." In contrast, ABC's Jon Karl promoted, "And it is a big, significant breakthrough. It doesn't get you all the way there, but it gets you a long way there." Former Democratic operative turned journalist George Stephanopoulos trumpeted, "Looks like a major breakthrough."
All three network newscasts on Monday and the morning shows on Tuesday promoted Barack Obama's "urgent plea" for gun control. These programs pushed the emotional angles, focusing on the Newtown families. Opposition to new restrictions on the Second Amendment was mostly ignored. On World News, guest host George Stephanopoulos hyped, "Tonight, urgent plea. The President goes all out in the fight over guns in America. Calling in the families of the children slain in Newtown." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Reporter Jon Karl parroted administration talking points: "The President portrayed his gun plan as a moral imperative." The ABC reporter then played two clips of Obama, including one where he lectured, "This is not about me. This is not about politics." (How can journalists allow a politician promoting legislation to get away with saying something "isn't about politics"?) Karl also highlighted Gabby Giffords's husband arguing for more restrictions, but no pro-Second Amendment voices. On the CBS Evening News, anchor Scott Pelley introduced three segments on gun control.
World News's Jonathan Karl on Wednesday turned a uniquely skeptical eye on Barack Obama's decision to end White House tours in the wake of sequester. Highlighting the President's claim that the decision was a financial necessity, he chided, "The President is having dinner tonight with Republicans at a restaurant just six blocks from here. He took a 20-car motorcade and, of course, lots of Secret Service agents." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Talking to anchor Diane Sawyer, Karl joked, "Maybe next time, Diane, [Obama] can save a little money by just ordering in." Karl questioned the White House's claim that $84 million in cuts, out of a $1.6 billion budget for the Secret Service, caused the end of the tours. The journalist did the math: "Tours are open 20 hours a week and use 30 uniformed Secret Service officers at about $30 an hour. Total saved? Approximately $18,000 a week."
For weeks, ABC has been hyping sequestration as a "fiscal emergency" that could "cripple" much of America and "vaporize" jobs. Yet, Monday's Good Morning America featured no stories on what the network had been calling "massive cuts." On Friday's GMA, as sequester was about to occur, Josh Elliott hyperventilated, "Jobs vaporizing, flights delayed, even criminals walking free."
Day after day, the morning show conducted a "grim countdown" to sequester. On February 27, Jon Karl parroted, "...The White House's list of terrible things caused by the cuts grows longer, including flight delays, kids losing vaccines, and meat shortages." On another program, the February 24World News, David Kerley warned, "Child care canceled for tens of thousands of kids. Long airport security lines." According to a new study by the Media Research Center, 89 percent of ABC's stories on sequester pushed "budget panic."
According to the journalists of Good Morning America, the end of the world is nigh. The hosts and reporters on Friday hyped the "massive" sequester cuts as leading to near panic. Josh Elliott opened the show by hyperventilating, "Jobs vaporizing, flights delayed, even criminals walking free." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Reporter Jon Karl intoned, "The day is upon us. Those dreaded across-the-board spending cuts will go into effect sometime before 11:59 p.m tonight." He then touted White House talking points: "The administration warns that in the coming weeks, we'll see flight delays, kids thrown out off Head Start and criminals get free due to a lack of federal prosecutors."
The Today show on Thursday allowed a scant 16 seconds, out of a possible four hours, to the claim by veteran journalist Bob Woodward that the Obama White House is trying to intimidate him and attack his coverage of the sequester cuts. The NBC program also avoided using the word "threat."
ABC's Good Morning America gave the most coverage to the battle, offering a full report and a news brief. [See video below. MP3 audio here.] CBS This Morning covered the story as part of a bigger report on the looming cuts. On Today, reporter Kristen Welker blandly explained, "As a backdrop to all of this, veteran reporter Bob Woodward is telling reporters that the White House is lashing out at him for writing an article which claimed that the sequester was all President Obama's idea." She then helpfully presented the President's case: "The White House has made the point that Republicans overwhelmingly supported the plan as well." This was the extent of Today's coverage.
The reporters of Good Morning America, who on Monday briefly questioned Barack Obama's hyperbolic talk about the sequester cuts, have returned to promoting dire warnings of meat shortages and children losing vaccines. Guest co-host Elizabeth Vargas on Wednesday hyped "the grim countdown to the massive spending cuts that will kick in on Friday."
To underline the point, an ABC graphic proclaimed, "Countdown to Massive Cuts: Will Illegal Immigrants Be Released From Jail?" Correspondent Jon Karl parroted Obama: "Each day, the White House's list of terrible things caused by the cuts grows longer, including flight delays, kids losing vaccines, and meat shortages." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Two days ago, in a moment of clarity, Karl acknowledged, "But those cuts, five to seven percent for most government departments, will be phased in over the next seven months."
The journalists of Good Morning America on Friday adopted White House talking points, foreseeing a "fiscal emergency" that will "cripple" flights in the United States. Jon Karl warned, "When it comes to air travel, the first thing we'll all see are longer lines at airport security. Expect ten percent fewer TSA agents on the job." An ABC graphic blared, "Seven Days to Fiscal Emergency: Air Travel Could Be Crippled." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Karl highlighted Erskine Bowles, a Democrat and former chief of staff to Bill Clinton. It's true that Bowles is now on a bipartisan debt reduction panel, but he's certainly a partisan. Instead of informing viewers of this fact, Karl labeled him simply as a "prominent budget expert."
What does it take for the networks to focus on a Joe Biden gaffe? Apparently, it's enough to suggest that a shotgun is ideal for home defense. On Tuesday's Nightly News and the morning shows on Wednesday, journalists, who often overlook the Vice President's verbal miscues, highlighted his comments about shotguns.
In an online chat with Parents magazine, Biden suggested, "If you want to protect yourself, get a double-barreled shotgun." He went on to say that he owns two such weapons and has instructed his wife to use them if needed. This led Nightly News anchor Brian Williams to joke, "VicePresident Joe Biden is out with another one of those sound bites that could live on for a long time." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] On Wednesday's Good Morning America, George Stephanopoulos described Biden as "unplugged." He warned, "Biden and those [Parents] magazine readers got a little more than they had bargained for."
ABC journalist Jon Karl continued his role as White House stenographer, Tuesday, repeating Barack Obama's talking points on the upcoming sequester cuts. Karl insisted that the President is "really trying to shame Congress into doing something to replace these cuts." Former Democratic operative turned journalist George Stephanopoulos asserted that Obama is going to "ratchet up the pressure on Congress." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
The Good Morning America segment featured Karl uncritically hyping the impact of the sequester cuts: "And the White House says that would mean hundreds of thousands of middle class jobs potentially at risk." Considering that the tiny cuts amount to $85 billion in a $16 trillion debt, some skepticism might have been warranted.
George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday's Good Morning America delighted over Barack Obama's "dramatic," "emotional" and "ambitious" speech. During live coverage of last night's Republican response, however, the former top Clinton aide lectured viewers that Marco Rubio's speech was "hard-edged."
On Wednesday, Stephanopoulos introduced a segment on the State of the Union by praising, "The speech was ambitious and aggressive on the economy, dramatic and emotional on the need to end gun violence." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Not once in the Jon Karl story that followed did anyone label the President's address liberal." Instead, Karl hyped that Obama "made it clear, he will resist efforts to cut Medicare and insist on more tax increases on the wealthy."
George Stephanopoulos allowed Barck Obama to have it both ways on Tuesday. The Good Morning America co-host explained what the State of the Union address would really be about. First, he parroted that the White House "promises a focus on the economy." He then added, "The audience will be packed with victims of gun violence and advocates of gun rights...This has set up an interesting dynamic. Most of the words will be about jobs. But most of the emotion will be around guns." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Reporter Jon Karl agreed this was a "good way to look at" the speech. He explained that "there will be victims of gun violence throughout the visitors' gallery, including in the First Lady's box. You will have somebody tied to the Newtown massacre." Karl went on to highlight that "many" members of Congress will be giving their one visitor ticket to "the victims of gun violence." Like Stephanopoulos, he assured, "But the message here is all about the economy. The White House says that that is the message here." Left unmentioned was any discussion of the fact that unemployment was 7.8 percent in January 2009 and 7.9 percent in January 2013.
The CBS Evening News on Tuesday completely ignored the revelation, uncovered in a leaked government memo, that the Obama administration claims the power to legally kill al Qaeda terrorists, even if they're American citizens. ABC's Good Morning America on Wednesday allowed a mere 42 seconds to this rather important topic. ABC's World News, NBC's Nightly News and the Today show all covered the story. Of the six evening and morning shows, however, only three featured the liberal American Civil Liberties Union decrying this move by a Democratic president.
World News reporter Jon Karl at least pointed out the obvious contradiction of liberals who railed against supposed torture by George W. Bush, reminding, "As soon as he became President, Barack Obama stopped CIA tactics like wateboarding that he considered torture. But this justifies outright killing a suspected terrorist." The journalist added, "How does dropping a bomb on an American citizen without any judicial review, any trial, not raise any human rights questions, or more human rights questions than something like waterboarding?" (Or, one might also wonder, putting a catepillar in a box with a terrorist. Under George W. Bush, ABC labeled this "torture.")
ABC on Thursday and Friday either downplayed or outright ignored the "bruising day" Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel endured in Washington. Friday's Good Morning America skipped the topic entirely, thus avoiding the tough questions by Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain. Nightline, which now airs after midnight, didn't get to the story until 1:05am.
Thursday's World News did cover the contentious hearings, but Diane Sawyer minimized Hagel's poor performance, which even liberal writer Peter Beinart mocked as "making Biden look rhetorically sure-footed." Sawyer solemnly opened the show: "...One man entered the arena. Chuck Hagel, the purple heart recipient from the Vietnam War, the former senator nominated to be Secretary of Defense. His former colleagues met him with a fuselage of critical questions..." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
After years of downplaying ideological labels for Barack Obama, ABC has seemingly accepted the idea that the President is a "progressive" and a "liberal." While recapping the inauguration, Good Morning America's journalists used the terms four times in just two minutes and 45 seconds. Yet, when Obama was a Democratic primary candidate in 2007, the networks deployed the L-word just twice– in the entire year.
On Tuesday, George Stephanopoulos hyped the ideological content of Obama's second inaugural: "The speech, a call to action, an uncompromising enunciation of liberal principles." Seconds later, the former Democratic operative turned journalist reiterated, insisting that "liberals were cheering yesterday." Jon Karl trumpeted, "He went big. He went lofty. He went ambitious. And he went unmistakably liberal." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Barack Obama's second inaugural met with much praise from the journalists at ABC. World News anchor Diane Sawyer hyped the President's mentions of gays as a recognition of the "modern American family." Jon Karl touted the "Democratic Reagan."
After Stephanopoulos asserted that Obama made the "first explicit mention...in an inaugural of gay Americans," Sawyer seemingly worked in a subtle plug for her network's primetime line-up: "He is talking about a modern American family. He's talking about gay and straight, rich and poor, everyone together." Stephanopoulos made the speech all about Obama: "The President, perhaps thinking of himself as he said 'Americans are made for this moment and we will seize it.' You could almost hear him talking to himself in that moment." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
After spending the first half of the week acting as a stenographer for Barack Obama, Jon Karl on Wednesday night and Thursday morning finally featured some dissenting voices on the rush to promote gun control. The ABC White House correspondent sought out attendees at a gun show and leaders of the NRA. Yet, he still managed to hype the opposition as "ferocious," a word not often used for liberal resistance.
On Wednesday's World News, anchor Diane Sawyer used the President's preferred language, insisting that Obama "made his move" to "curb gun violence in America." (As opposed to his plan to restrict gun rights?) Sawyer touted, "The powerful NRA responded to him immediately, saying they would fight the President hard." Yet, at least ABC sought out opposition to the proposed legislation.
The journalists at Good Morning America on Wednesday howled with outrage over a new ad by the National Rifle Association, deriding the commercial as a "vicious," "harsh" and "personal" attack on Barack Obama. The just-released spot wonders why the President isn't more supportive of armed guards in schools, pointing out that his daughters attend are protected with such security.
White House correspondent Jon Karl railed, "And in a sign of just how tough this fight will be, the NRA is greeting the President'sannouncement this morning with a harsh, personal attack on the President." The reporter complained, "The NRA video viciously attacks the President." Former Democratic operative turned journalist George Stephanopoulos echoed, "Very tough, very personal video. It even invokes the President's children." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Good Morning America on Tuesday touted White House talking points, promoting Barack Obama's "ultimatum" to Republicans over the debt ceiling and hyping the President's refusal to negotiate. An ABC graphic lobbied, "Obama Draws Battle Lines: Tells Congress He Won't Pay 'Ransom.'" In the segment, reporter Jon Karl featured four clips of Obama lashing out at the GOP, just one of John Boehner highlighting out of control spending.
Karl trumpeted, "President Obama used the last news conference of his first term to issue an ultimatum to congressional Republicans: Raise the debt ceiling." George Stephanopoulos began the piece by parroting, "...The President was clear, it's up to Congress to get this done. He's not going to negotiate." Karl added, "The President insists this is not even a subject for negotiation."
ABC and CBS on Thursday hit Barack Obama from the left, fretting about a lack of diversity for his second term cabinet picks. The two network morning shows ignored substantiative criticism about Treasury Secretary choice Jack Lew, but highlighted the cutesy story of his messy handwriting.
Correspondent Jon Karl chided, "Well, some critics are looking at that emerging second-term cabinet and wondering, where are the women?" He touted a New York Times article fretting about the "all-male look" of the new picks. Karl noted that "the President will have to replace Jack Lew as chief of staff. The top candidates are, you guessed it, men." Rather than worry about meeting a liberal quota, Karl could have noted Lew's total lack of experience in business.
With 11 days until the United States goes over the fiscal cliff, ABC's Good Morning America focused squarely on Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Republicans for the failure to reach a negotiation with President Obama.
On Thursday, newly-appointed Chief White House Correspondent Jon Karl began his first story hyping Boehner's "crushing" loss when his "Plan B" was aborted for lack of GOP votes: [See video below jump. MP3 audio here.]
ABC News, which previously mocked the loss of 18,000 jobs at Hostess, now has concern for the unemployed, worrying about those who will lose benefits if a deal on the fiscal cliff cannot be found. Reporter Jon Karl on Wednesday's World News fretted, "Without a deal, unemployment compensation will end for more than two million people who've been out of work more than 26 weeks."
Karl highlighted the case of Melinda Vega, worrying about "her $450 a week unemployment check, her lifeline." However, ABC journalists were less concerned about unemployment when it didn't involve possible tax increases. On November 16, 2012, Good Morning America's co-anchors mocked the bankruptcy of Hostess, passing out Twinkies.
Good Morning America's reporters on Wednesday continued to fret about the fate of Susan Rice, lamenting the GOP "buzz saw" the UN Ambassador ran into on Tuesday. ABC's Martha Raddatz hyped all the pressing issues in the world as a possible reason to just confirm the potential Secretary of State nominee quickly.
Martha Raddatz worried, "You have got Iran that is trying to acquire a nuclear weapon. You have got North Korea. There's satellite photos just out showing that North Korea would like to test another long-range ballistic missile." She then reminded that this is "such a critical time in Afghanistan." GMA co-anchor George Stephanopoulos referenced the fall of David Petraeus and hyped that all of these vacancies are "happening when there's a lot of hot spots in the world bubbling up."
For the second time in less than 24 hours, ABC's Jon Karl on Tuesday hyped a "newfound willingness" by Republicans to compromise on raising taxes and a possible abandonment of "anti-tax enforcer" Grover Norquist. [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Yet, this didn't appear enough for Karl who lamented that "even Republicans who say they are willing to violate the pledge say they will only do so by closing loopholes, not by doing what the President wants to do, which is raising tax rates." Talking to Norquist on Good Morning America, the journalist quizzed the founder of Americans for Tax Reform on pledges his organization encourages politicians to sign: "If somebody signed this 10 years ago, 18 years ago, 20 years ago, are they still bound by it?"
The journalists at ABC News on Wednesday and Thursday hyped the President for "coming out swinging" and showing "presidential anger" by defending his United Nations Ambassador, Susan Rice, over Libya. These World News and Good Morning America reporters downplayed the issue of what the Obama White House knew and when.
During the November 14 White House press conference, Fox News' Ed Henry spoke of the families of the four Americans who died during the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya. He directly pressed, "...[They] have been waiting for more than two months. So I would like for you to address the families, if you can. On 9/11, as Commander-in-Chief, did you issue any orders to try to protect their lives?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Instead of highlighting this angle, World News anchor Diane Sawyer began her program by exclaiming "...[Barack Obama] came out swinging in defense of one member of his team and ABC's Jonathan Karl was right there in that room asking questions."
ABC journalist Jonathan Karl on Wednesday lectured Paul Ryan about Barack Obama's reelection "mandate" and grilled the Republican about raising taxes. On Good Morning America, he declared, "If there was one issue that the President campaigned on, it was raising taxes on the wealthy." He added, "Doesn't he have a mandate there?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
When Ryan declined to support tax increases, the reporter hectored, "Butcould you see yourself supporting a plan that raises tax rates on the top two percent?...So you don't support a plan?" The Congressman retorted, "I don't want to get into negotiating with the media." In another version of the interview that aired on Tuesday's World News, Karl played a clip of Saturday Night Live "poking fun" at the former vice presidential candidate.
Wold News host Diane Sawyer on Thursday grilled John Boehner, pushing the House Speaker to support tax increases in the wake of Barack Obama's victory. In a clip played on Friday's Good Morning America, the anchor lectured, "[Obama] campaigned on it. Sixty percent of the voters have said that they are ready to raise these taxes. They are ready to have the wealthier Americans pitch in here." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Reporter Jon Karl reminded that Obama "talked about it in every single campaign speech." In the full interview that aired on World News, Sawyer demanded to know about more taxes: "He campaigned on specific increases in tax rates from 35 percent to 39 percent, for those making more than $250,000. So, is that on the table?...Is it on the table to talk about?"
A day after he touted Barack Obama's "presidential leadership" in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Good Morning America's Jon Karl hyped how "cooperation on disaster relief works. It also plays well politically." Karl touted a new ABC poll finding "78 percent of likely voters said the President has done a good or excellent job handling the storm." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
On Wednesday, Karl praised that Hurricane Sandy has "given [Obama] a chance to show some presidential leadership." On Thursday's GMA Karl misleadingly told viewers, "In all eight of the states where the candidates are campaigning the hardest, the President is either tied or winning." Except the ones where he isn't.
Good Morning America's Jon Karl on Wednesday touted Hurricane Sandy as an opportunity for Barack Obama to show "presidential leadership." During the same segment, Karl repeated liberal talking points, using the storm against Mitt Romney. He pointed out that, at an event, Tuesday, the Republican "ignored questions about his views on FEMA funding." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Karl needled, "But during a debate last year, [Romney] suggested he would favor turning over some of FEMA's responsibilities to the states." The journalist then played a primary debate clip of Romney asserting, "Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that's the right direction."