We’re living through an important moment in U.S. political history, and thankfully we have ABC’s chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl to tell us just how momentous it is. Karl appeared as a guest on Charlie Rose’s PBS show Thursday night to chat about gun control and the president’s budget, among other things. The veteran ABC reporter lamented the fact that neither Republicans nor Democrats on Capitol Hill appreciated President Obama’s budget very much:
"I mean, the Republicans didn't give him really any credit at all. And then you have on his liberal flank people like Barry Sanders [sic] saying this is outrageous that the president is, in the words of some progressives, stealing money from seniors, stealing deserved benefits. So it's hard to find somebody up on Capitol Hill that was truly ready to give the president credit. And to praise his budget." [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
On Thursday, the morning shows on NBC, CBS, and ABC all touted a New York Times Magazine profile of disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner, an article designed to rehabilitate the Democrat's image in preparation for a mayoral run in New York City. On NBC's Today, correspondent Stephanie Gosk explained: "Most people wanted to know whether or not he had learned from his mistakes before they could vote for him. His wife says she forgives him."
Gosk detailed Weiner's expression of regret for the 2011 sexting scandal that ended his congressional career: "Both Weiner and his wife revealing in their own words how it happened, why it happened, and the damage it caused....Weiner describes the shame and the guilt." A sound bite was featured of NYT magazine interviewer Jonathan Van Meter sympathetically recalling: "[Weiner's] still wracked with a sort of shame and pain and guilt about it, and – and he cried, I think every time I interviewed him, at some point."
ABC, CBS, and NBC's Friday morning shows all devoted air time to President Obama labeling California Attorney General Kamala Harris "the best-looking attorney general in the country" at a fundraiser on Thursday. Unsurprisingly, a panel on NBC's Today tried to explain away the remark. Willie Geist asserted, "I think he [Obama] was making a joke." CBS This Morning's Norah O'Donnell was tougher on the President: "Maybe, [it] was not the right thing to say."
However, the Big Three newscasts didn't report that Mrs. Obama also got caught in a verbal misstep on Thursday. ABCNews.com's Arlette Saenz devoted a Friday morning item to how Michelle Obama mistakenly referred to herself as a "single mother" during an interview with WCAX, a CBS affiliate in Vermont.
Radio hosts like Mark Levin and Web sites like Canada Free Press are mocking President Obama’s statement in a press conference yesterday with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, where he compared the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to U.S.-Canada relations. What? Levin called him a "moron" for the comparison.
But ABC, CBS, and NBC failed to notice. They acted like a press release service for Obama on their newscasts Thursday night and Friday morning, offering Obama 18 soundbites adding up to 215 seconds, often ending in applause. Only Chuck Todd on NBC Nightly News aired a soundbite from anyone other than Obama.
In an interview with former Bill Clinton adviser George Stephanopoulos at ABC (transcript here), President Barack Obama claimed that “We don’t have an immediate crisis in terms of debt." Despite his claim, no one can know that for sure, but it's at least consistent with what he said during the 2012 presidential campaign ("we don't have to worry about it short term").
Obama's elaboration on the debt topic, however, was not consistent: "In fact, for the next ten years, it’s gonna be in a sustainable place." Ten years is long-term by any reasonable definition. His statement directoly contradicts what he said In October 2012: "... it is a problem long term and even medium term." Of course, ABC's subsequent coverage of that interview by Jonathan Karl didn't note the President's change of tune, and went further to assist Obama by presenting a misleading visual and by misstating the relative size of this year's officially projected deficit to that seen in fiscal 2009.
While new White House chief of staff Denis McDonough was grilled about the Benghazi terrorist attack on CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday, NBC Meet the Press moderator David Gregory only lobbed a single softball on the scandal, while fill-in host Jonathan Karl ignored the topic all together on ABC's This Week. The White House was unwilling to even allow Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace to interview McDonough.
On Meet the Press, after providing a fawning biographical intro of McDonough, Gregory only briefly touched on Benghazi, hoping the controversy was over: "I've talked to Republican senators, they've wanted to get additional information about what the President did the night of the attack...Has the President finished on the Benghazi matter? Is there anything else he's going to say or anything else he's concluded that should've been done that was not done?"
Newt Gingrich had a fabulous exchange with the Washington Post's Ruth Marcus on ABC's This Week Sunday that really speaks volumes about the media's reaction to Republican Senators filibustering Chuck Hagel's confirmation as Defense Secretary.
When Marcus spouted the typical liberal commentator line "Republicans just want to make themselves look even more obstructionist with a country that’s frustrated with that," Gingrich struck back saying, "This is just such Washington nonsense" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
ABC anchor Diane Sawyer and correspondent Jonathan Karl on Monday night salivated over Republicans breaking Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge. “We did see a sign the paralysis may be ending,” Sawyer relayed over “Tax Revolt?” on screen, touting “a Republican mutiny against a man who had convinced them to take a pledge.” She soon trumpeted the “new sign of flexibility.”
As if that’s a bad thing, Jonathan Karl fretted “the pledge is the biggest obstacle to any deal that would raise taxes.” But he saw hope ahead in how “with a budget crisis on the horizon and a re-elected President insisting on tax increases, some Republicans are now thinking the unthinkable: Ditching the pledge.”
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.
“The high point of that debate for Romney is when he devastatingly leveled the charge of Obama going around the world on ‘an apology tour,’” Charles Krauthammer asserted on the Fox News Channel following Monday night’s third presidential debate. But what Krauthammer saw as so powerful for Mitt Romney, ABC and CNN tried to discredit based on the flimsy reasoning that Obama didn’t use the word “apologize.”
ABC’s Jonathan Karl insisted: “The President didn’t apologize for America...there’s no way you could really call it ‘an apology tour.’” With a big “False” on screen, CNN’s John Berman decided: “Our verdict here is it is false to call the President’s speeches ‘an apology tour’ even if he was critical of past U.S. foreign policy. He issued no apologies.”
On Friday afternoon, Joe Biden lived up to his reputation for committing gaffes, not even a day after Paul Ryan zinged the Vice President over how "sometimes the words don't come out of your mouth the right way" during Thursday's debate. At a rally in La Crosse, Wisconsin, Biden claimed Planned Parenthood "under law cannot perform any abortions." In reality, the organization is the largest abortion racket in the country.
Hours later, none of the Big Three's Friday evening newscasts had covered Biden's patently false claim. But just two days earlier, these programs devoted a combined five minutes and 1 second on Wednesday to Mitt Romney's statement to The Des Moines Register that "there's no legislation with regard to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda." NBC's Brian Williams mouthed the Obama campaign's spin - that "what Mitt Romney said about abortion that sure sounds like a change."
The Associated Press, after an initial acknowledgment in a Tuesday evening timeline from Bradley Klapper, has consistently failed in several subsequent reports to cite State Department officials' unmistakable assertion that there were no protests whatsoever at the Benghazi, Libya U.S. consulate on September 11 before the lethal terrorist attack which killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Instead, later reports create the impression that protests did occur.
It's even getting carried into coverage of different events. In his story (link is to early paragraphs of original version) about the Thursday morning murder of a security official at the U.S. embassy in Yemen, the AP's Ahmed Al Haj (identified as the reporter in the item I originally saw, since revised) betrayed the wire service's uninterrupted obsession with "an anti-Islam video," and wrote as if nothing learned in the past two days has any validity (bolds are mine throughout this post):
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman made a fool of himself on ABC's This Week Sunday.
Seconds after claiming "The press just doesn't know how to handle flat out untruths," Krugman called factual misstatements by President Obama during Wednesday's debate "minor fudges" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
ABC's Good Morning America hasn't once reported on U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's claim on the September 16, 2012 edition of This Week that the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya was "a spontaneous - not a pre-meditated - response to what had transpired in Cairo." Even worse, the morning show hasn't reported on the subsequent developments on the consulate attack over the past 12 days that cast doubt on Ambassador Rice's statement.
NBC's Today show also hasn't covered Rice's talking points on the attack, after she appeared on Meet the Press on the same day as her This Week appearance. News reader Natalie Morales merely reported on September 19 that "the White House says there is currently no evidence that last week's deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya was planned and pre-meditated. Officials say it appears that the violence was sparked by that anti-Islam film made in the U.S." Two days later, Morales gave an update on how "the White House is now classifying the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya as a terrorist attack....But intelligence officials now believe it was a planned attack in the guise of a protest."
Both of those programs provided voluminous coverage of Romney's "47%" tape, but have no time to scrutinize the Obama administration's public statements about an incident that claimed the life of an American ambassador?
Repeating a common mythology that a person’s federal income tax rate equals the effective tax rate they actually pay after deductions, ABC’s Jonathan Karl on Friday night forwarded the canard that Mitt Romney’s 14.1 percent rate is lower than what a $75,000 earner pays. NBC’s Peter Alexander, however, correctly noted “the average middle class American family pays roughly 13 percent.”
On World News, Karl reported that Mitt Romney “made $13.7 million last year and paid nearly $2 million in taxes. His effective tax rate, 14.1 percent.” Then, without citing any source, Karl asserted: “That’s a lower rate than an auto mechanic who made $75,000 in pay.”
Not all members of the media offered a "tepid" reaction to President Obama's DNC address. ABC's Jonathan Karl hyped that Obama's crescendo to his speech that the audience loved was "vintage Obama."
"But that last part of the speech was vintage Obama, trying to get these people here, to get the people that drove his campaign, talking about we have providence on our side. They loved it," reported Karl, who added "Tears in the eyes of a lot of these delegates, a lot of tears." [Video below the break. Audio here.]
A day after CNN salivated over Michelle Obama's DNC address, ABC hyped the enthusiasm at the Democratic Convention as hitting unprecedented levels on Wednesday night.
"Look, I have never seen a Democratic convention like this," insisted commentator Cokie Roberts. "When the President, the former President, comes out, they – it is going to be a moment like no moment you've seen." [Video below the break. Audio here.]
Jonathan Karl would clearly rather ask others about their politics than answer questions about his own. In an impromptu interview at the RNC this morning, asked by NewsBuster Noel Sheppard what his politics are, an apparently uncomfortable Karl answered: "I would say fair and balanced: how about that?" When asked in a follow up whether he thinks he is indeed fair and balanced, Karl sarcastically replied: "No. What do you think?"
Karl and his producer also seemed none too thrilled to be caught on camera by NewsBusters. View the video after the clip.
On Saturday's World News, ABC correspondent Jonathan Karl informed viewers that former Democratic President Bill Clinton had spoken favorably to Republican Rep. Paul Ryan about his budget plan that is so unpopular with other Democrats.
After recounting President Barack Obama's history of clashing with Rep. Ryan, Karl continued:
Breaking the news this morning that Mitt Romney has chosen Paul Ryan as his running mate, ABC’s Good Morning America in a single hour employed no fewer than seven “conservative” labels to label Ryan and his supporters. But four years ago as Barack Obama tapped Joe Biden, there wasn’t a single “liberal” label to be found on GMA’s coverage that Saturday morning.
Ryan, ABC’s team accurately pointed out, is as fill-in co-host David Muir put it, “a favorite among conservatives;” a candidate who “rallies the conservative base,” as George Stephanopoulos later opined. According to the American Conservative Union, Ryan has a solid 91.69 conservative rating (100% being a perfect conservative score).
On Thursday's World News, ABC correspondent Jonathan Karl gave attention to the now-infamous Obama superpac ad that blames Mitt Romney for a man's wife dying of cancer, labeling it "the single most outrageous ad of the campaign."
Karl's piece was devoted to criticizing campaign ads from both sides, and, after a clip of President obama complaining about ads from Romney's side, the ABC correspondent continued:
Make that two mainstream media members singing former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's praises this weekend.
After ABC's Jonathan Karl commended the former vice presidential nominee for her perfect record of endorsing winners in senate primaries this year, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift echoed those sentiments on PBS's McLaughlin Group adding, "She will be a force at the Republican Convention whether she does it from the floor or from the parking lot" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
It's not often that hear a mainstream media member have anything nice to say about former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.
This is why it's worth noting ABC's Jonathan Karl uttering without an audible stammer on Sunday's This Week, "Sarah Palin is 4 for 4 on her Senate endorsements" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
On Friday's World News on ABC, correspondent Jonathan Karl informed viewers of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's unsubstantiated charge that Mitt Romney has not paid taxes in 10 years, with the ABC correspondent dismissing the accusation as "outrageous and apparently unfounded."
On Saturday's Good Morning America on ABC, co-host Bianna Golodryga seemed to admire Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for making an unsubstantiated charge that Mitt Romney had not paid taxes in 10 years, as she ended a short discussion of the smear by gushing: "Harry Reid, always one to speak his mind," inspiring a chuckle from correspondent David Kerley.
Uniquely among the broadcast network evening newscasts, ABC's World News on Thursday ran a report which informed viewers that Democrats in Congress have joined Republicans in accusing the Obama administration of leaking classified information, jeopardizing the country's ability to recruit spies in other countries to help the U.S. in the future.
Host Diane Sawyer introduced the report by suggesting that administration officials have leaked sensitive information to benefit President Obama politically, noting that Democrats have weighed in against the White House as well:
The Big Three networks certainly have their priorities straight. ABC, CBS, and NBC's morning shows on Wednesday dedicated more time to entertainment news than the results of the Wisconsin recall election. On CBS This Morning, Disney's new ban on junk food ads from its kids programming received a minute and a half more than the political story. The same gap occurred on ABC's Good Morning America, but instead of junk food, the Miss USA pageant got the extra time.
NBC's Today, however, one-upped its competitors, as they devoted over six minutes to former Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus getting engaged, while Republican Governor Scott Walker's victory received under four and a half minutes. Today also spent over five minutes on the Miss USA story.