“For the first time, Americans got to see the woman President Obama called a ‘trailblazer’ in action,” ABC anchor Diane Sawyer trumpeted Tuesday night before Jonathan Karl framed his story on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s hearing around how “a confirmation hearing isn't usually a laughing matter, but if we learned one thing about Elena Kagan today, it's that she has a sense of humor.” Like NBC, Karl featured Kagan joking about how she was probably at a Chinese restaurant on Christmas day.
The three broadcast network evening newscasts, as well as CNN and FNC, highlighted Senator Jeff Sessions pressing Kagan on her treatment of military recruiters. Karl used the exchange to praise Kagan: “We also learned that Elena Kagan can take a punch. As when Republican Jeff Sessions slammed her decision as Harvard Law dean to ban military recruiters from the school's career office....She made no apologies for taking a strong stand against the military's ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell’ policy.”
CBS’s Jan Crawford declared Kagan “held her own, she was confident, showed flashes of wit, but she didn't break a lot of new ground,” while NBC’s Pete Williams touted how “she displayed flashes of humor.” (CNN expressed concern Kagan wasn’t liberal enough: “Some of her answers on hot-button issues may not please all of her fellow Democrats.” More below.)
All three network evening newscasts on Monday downplayed the start of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearings, with NBC Nightly News squeezing in just 24 seconds for Kagan at the tail end of a story about the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor the 2nd Amendment. For their part, CBS and ABC offered full stories outlining Kagan’s first day before the Judiciary committee after packages devoted to the gun rights’ ruling.
Only CBS’s Jan Crawford suggested the hearings were more than a ritual leading to Kagan’s inevitable confirmation: “When President Obama nominated her in May, her confirmation was considered a sure bet. But Republicans are emboldened by what they see as a weakened president and sense that support for Kagan in the country has dropped.”
Both Crawford and ABC correspondent Jonathan Karl included Republican criticisms of Kagan’s lack of experience and the hostility to the military she displayed at the Harvard Law School. As for NBC, they mentioned none of those issues, and only included a brief soundbite of Kagan promising to be “impartial.”
Here’s the entirety of NBC’s brief discussion of Monday’s hearing:
None of the three broadcast evening newscasts had even a few seconds last night for video of Democratic Congressman Bob Etheridge physically grabbing and yelling at an unidentified student attempting to ask him whether he supports President Obama’s agenda. But last Thursday, after Republican senate candidate Carly Fiorina was caught making a flip remark about Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer’s hair, ABC’s World News ran a full report on that “caught on tape political moment.”
Worth noting: Back on June 10, George Stephanopoulos was sitting in for Diane Sawyer. But last night, Sawyer was back in the anchor chair.
In introducing last week's report from correspondent Jonathan Karl, Stephanopoulos touted the Fiorina flap as “the latest caught off guard, caught on tape, all too candid political moment.” The Etheridge scuffle would surely fit that same standard, but ABC’s World News had no time on Monday to mention that embarrassment for the Democrats.
Three months after the networks, led by ABC’s Jonathan Karl, derided Senator Jim Bunning for daring to hold up an “emergency” spending bill which circumvented the “pay as you go” rules, as Karl made a fool of himself chasing the elderly Senator into elevators to cajole him to give in, on Monday’s World News Karl had the chutzpah to scold Congress for approving “emergency” spending which doesn’t have to follow those very same “pay-go” rules.
“Congress is on its holiday break this week,” fill-in anchor George Stephanopoulos announced, “but there is no break in the steady increase in the national debt, now up to an astounding $13 trillion.” Stephanopoulos promised that in “watching out for your money, Jonathan Karl found some of the culprits” – though neither cited the news media’s role in incessantly pushing for more spending.
Without displaying any self-awareness of his own hypocrisy, Karl listed some of “the ‘emergency’ bills Congress has taken up over the past few months,” including “$20 billion for highway construction.” Yet back in early March, Karl fretted: “Bunning is also blocking money for highway construction. So across the country today, 41 construction projects ground to a halt, thousands of workers furloughed without pay.”
After ABC's Jonathan Karl painted Senator Arlen Specter's (D-R-D-PA) troubles as emblematic of how “the national anti-incumbent wave has hit Pennsylvania” (complete with a matching full screen graphic), George Stephanopoulos fretted on World News about how voters say “they want the parties to work together, yet they seem to be most against now the Senators, the incumbents, who did work across party lines.”
He cited the single incumbent who has lost – “Bob Bennett in Utah worked with a Democrat on health care” – then raised Specter, touting how “he's been in both parties,” as if that's something noble, before naming “Blanche Lincoln, down in Arkansas, a centrist Democrat. She's in a lot of trouble tonight.” Here's a possibility: Those upset by pro-big government politicians and insider coziness bailing out their donors are out voting and are not the same people who incessantly yap about “bi-partisanship.”
ABC stumbled into that as anchor Diane Sawyer marveled: “And the driving center of this, is the bailout?” Stephanopoulos confirmed: “The biggest issue by far is the bailouts. That's what's fueling so much voter anger out there.”
“There aren't a lot of African-American men at these events,” NBC News reporter Kelly O'Donnell, a white woman, told Darryl Postell, a black man at a Tea Party rally held Thursday in Washington, DC, pressing him, in an exchange she chose to include in her NBC Nightly News story, to address her prejudiced assumptions: “Have you ever felt uncomfortable?” Postell rejected her loaded premise that race must divide Americans: “No, no, these are my people, Americans.”
O'Donnell's story noted “skepticism over how the Tea Party is judged and labeled,” letting an attendee assert: “We're not racists, we're not any of the above that people claim us to be. We're ordinary citizens that love our country, and we're fighting for it.” O'Donnell soon wondered if it all may peter out, asking a man in the crowd: “Do you think this has enough energy to really last to November and to make a difference?”
Over on ABC, Jonathan Karl highlighted how “many of them blamed us, the news media.” A woman demanded: “We want honesty from you. We want fair time from you. We want you, the media, to represent all the people, not just a certain portion of the people.”
Sounding more like MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann than impartial newscasts, ABC, CBS and NBC all led Wednesday night by legitimizing Democratic talking points meant to discredit critics of the just-passed health care bill. “Opposition to health care turns menacing,” ABC’s Diane Sawyer warned. CBS teased with audio clips -- “Baby-murdering scumbag,”“You are a dirtbag” and “I hope you die” -- as fill-in anchor Maggie Rodriguez cited “threats of violence against Democrats who voted for health care reform, even as public support for the plan is growing.”
On NBC, Brian Williams teased: “It's getting ugly as anger over health care reform erupts into some over-the-top rhetoric, including threats now against members of Congress.” He opened by declaring: “It can now be said that the debate over health care reform has gone too far. It's now veered into threats of violence.” Reporter Kelly O’Donnell relayed how “Democrats accuse Republicans of stirring a hostile mood” before Savannah Guthrie rued “Washington's epic 14-month battle over health care has exposed an angry side of America.” She recounted:
Wrapped around the brick that smashed the door of Democratic party headquarters in Rochester, New York, a note with the Barry Goldwater quote: ‘Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice.’ On Twitter, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin told followers, ‘Don't retreat, reload.’ While an Alabama man advocated armed uprising....At a conservative Tea Party protest at the Capitol this weekend, some demonstrators hurled racially and sexually-charged insults at members of the Congress.
CBS’s Nancy Cordes dutifully reported “Democrats accuse their GOP colleagues of inciting such acts with inflammatory rhetoric” as “Democrats complain Sarah Palin is also using violent words and imagery. On Twitter, she urges conservatives: ‘Don't retreat. Instead, reload.’ And the Web site of her political action committee posts bull's-eyes on districts of vulnerable Democrats.”
Complete with a photo of her late parents, ABC's Jonathan Karl concluded his Friday night story on undecided Democratic House members by conveying the complaint of Pennsylvania's Kathy Dahlkemper, who contended a TV ad about how further government control of health care will lead to delays in cancer treatment as has occurred in Britain, is inappropriate because her parents recently died from cancer.
“Perhaps the most powerful personal story belongs to Pennsylvania's Kathy Dahlkemper,” Karl intoned, pointing out “her father died of leukemia in February, and her mother died just two weeks ago, and now she finds herself among the undecided Democrats targeted by this ad.” Viewers then saw a very brief clip of an ad from Americans for Prosperity in which a woman maintained: “If you find a lump, you could wait months for treatment and life-saving drugs can be restricted.”
Karl relayed Dahlkemper's indignation: “She says the group that made the ad is wrong, and takes it personally.” In a soundbite, the freshman representing the Northwestern area of the Keystone State squeezed between Ohio and New York, decried: “So, for these ads to come out and somehow say that I'm soft on cancer, after having just lost two parents within the last six weeks from cancer, and with having the record I have really for supporting wellness, to me, is wrong.”
ABC and CBS on Tuesday night picked up on the cause of a small anti-health insurance industry protest in DC organized by left-wing labor groups, but instead of denigrating them as the networks did with much larger Tea Party and anti-ObamaCare rallies, the two newscasts empathized with their cause, each relaying an anecdote about a victim of the current system. Both ABC’s Jonathan Karl and CBS’s Nancy Cordes did, however, proceed to point out the small profit margin for health insurance companies.
“Taking their cue from President Obama, protesters took their complaints about insurance company premiums and excess profits to the insurance industry and the streets,” ABC anchor Diane Sawyer announced. Karl noted the ideology of the “coalition of liberal groups” and recognized “the attacks are pretty harsh. They're accusing the insurance company CEOs of bribery, money laundering and manslaughter.” But he then showcased “Leslie Boyd, whose son Michael died of colon cancer after he couldn't get insurance or afford a colonoscopy.”
On CBS, Katie Couric set up the story on how “angry protesters targeted the insurance industry.” Cordes found “eleven-year-old Marcelas Owens” who “flew here from Seattle” because “his mother Tiffany lost her job and the health insurance that went with it after a prolonged illness caused her to miss work. She stopped going to the doctor and died at 27 of pulmonary hypertension.” The kid [in the screen capture] delivered a perfect soundbite: “She ended up passing away because she didn't have the equal rights to health care as some people with more money.”
“During the presidential campaign, candidate Barack Obama often used the phrase ‘fired up’ to do just that to the crowd. Democrats have been openly wondering when he was going to bring that campaign energy and fire to an issue like health care reform,” Brian Williams announced at the top of Monday’s NBC Nightly News,” and “today the President chose an event at a quiet Philadelphia suburb to get loud. He made his case and he rallied the troops and now readies to head into battle yet again on this topic.”
ABC’s Diane Sawyer noted “the President made a direct attack on the health insurance industry, accusing companies of putting profits before patient care” -- which means he was just catching up with Sawyer’s agenda. A couple of weeks ago, Sawyer demanded to know who will “keep insurance companies from jacking up premiums while making huge profits?” and touted “the growing outrage at insurance companies, the ones that raise premiums on ordinary Americans while racking up big profits.”
Jon Karl asserted Obama “hopes to tie into some of that Tea Party anger by focusing on a group that the White House believes is even more unpopular than Congress” as Karl championed a far-left group’s upcoming protest with “wanted” posters “that will highlight the CEOs of the health care companies making the argument that they are the ones to blame.”
ABC's World News on Friday night finally caught up with burgeoning Democratic scandals, though hardly showing the same zeal as when the networks incessantly focused on Republican Congressman Mark Foley back in 2006. On Thursday, the MRC's Scott Whitlock documented how this week the ABC evening newscast had “devoted almost six times as much coverage to Senator Jim Bunning and his temporary hold-up of an unemployment bill as the program did for the ongoing revelations that Democratic Charlie Rangel violated House ethics with his trips to the Caribbean [38 seconds].” Anchor Diane Sawyer set up the Friday night story:
And in political Washington tonight, Democrats on Capitol Hill capping a bad week have to be saying thank heaven this is Friday. The latest: Democratic Congressman Eric Massa, from upstate New York, announced he's quitting his seat under a cloud of harassment allegations. What does this mean for the Democratic Party and the future? Here's Jon Karl.
Karl showed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's promise of the “most ethical Congress in history” and that she would “drain the swamp” as he highlighted Rangel and the announcement Massa, accused of “sexually harassing two male aides,” will resign. Karl recalled:
Democrats rode into power by targeting Republican corruption, and there was lots of it: The Mark Foley sex scandal involving under-age pages and lobbying scandals that landed two Republican Congressmen in jail.
Over the last three days, ABC's World News devoted almost six times as much coverage to Senator Jim Bunning and his temporary hold-up of an unemployment bill as the program did for the ongoing revelations that Democratic Charlie Rangel violated House ethics with his trips to the Caribbean.
World News investigated and followed the Republican for four minutes and 38 seconds over two days. In comparison, the program could only manage a scant 48 seconds of coverage for Rangel. (Anchor Diane Sawyer on Wednesday finally asked George Stephanopoulos about the news that Rangel was stepping down from his powerful Ways and Means committee.)
The difference here is that Rangel's story was an actual scandal and ABC only treated Bunning's actions, which amounted to not giving unanimous consent to a $10 billion spending bill, as a scandal.
ABC on Wednesday continued to berate Senator Jim Bunning for daring to hold up a $10 billion spending bill, despite the fact that the Kentucky Republican has since allowed the unemployment legislation to pass. Reporter Jonathan Karl piled on, "Even after the deal was struck, Democrats lashed out at Bunning for causing such a mess."
Karl replayed video of him harassing Bunning on Capitol Hill and forcing his way into a Senators-only elevator. Yet, Karl spun, "...Unemployment benefits can now be extended, but only after Senator Jim Bunning tied the Senate up in knots for a week, snapping at reporters." As the video shows, Karl seemed be doing much of the "snapping."
For the second straight night, ABC's World News scolded Senator Jim Bunning for daring to block a $10 billion spending bill until it is offset by cuts elsewhere, parading out victims as Diane Sawyer and Jonathan Karl painted him as a nuisance “even fellow Republicans” – that would be a liberal one – oppose. (After the EST broadcast, news broke that Bunning has agreed to some sort of deal.)
Sawyer thundered in teasing her top story: “Tonight on World News, the 'Politics of No.' For the second straight day, one Senator stymies Congress, unemployed Americans struggle and we track that Senator down again.” Sawyer led:
Good evening. Even his fellow Republicans have asked him to stop, but Republican Senator Jim Bunning still has Congress under blockade. For another day, he's kept thousands of unemployed workers from getting their benefits and forced some highway construction projects to stop.
Karl treated the Senator as a child (“Jim Bunning was at it again today”) before he showcased an “unemployed microbiologist in Texas” who, Karl ludicrously relayed -- just two weekdays after unemployment benefits were stopped -- “says no unemployment check will mean she will have to move out of her house” while “Bret Ingersoll of Denver is an unemployed forklift operator, who has already lost his apartment.” So, “today even fellow Republicans were asking Senator Bunning to relent.” That would be Maine's Susan Collins.
A retiring Senator not facing re-election stood up last week for principle, insisting new federal spending be covered by a matching reduction elsewhere, but instead of hailing Senator Jim Bunning as a “maverick” making sure the ruling party adheres to its promise new spending will be “paid for,” television network journalists on Monday night painted him as an ogre, focusing on the presumed victims of delayed spending.
Teasing World News, ABC anchor Diane Sawyer stressed how he’s “denying” people unemployment benefits so ABC decided to “confront” him: “One man's stand. A single Senator stops the whole Congress, denying thousands of people unemployment benefits. We confront him to ask why.” Sawyer framed the story around how Bunning is blocking “life support for the unemployed.”
Reporter Jon Karl concentrated on victims as he played video of himself confronting Bunning by an elevator: “We wanted to ask the Senator why he is blocking a vote that would extend unemployment benefits to more than 340,000 Americas, including Brenda Wood, a teacher in Austin, Texas who has been out of work for two years.” That’s not all: “Bunning is also blocking money for highway construction. So across the country today, 41 construction projects ground to a halt, thousands of workers furloughed without pay.”
A night after ABC anchor Diane Sawyer demanded to know who will “keep insurance companies from jacking up premiums while making huge profits?”, on Wednesday night she again put ABC into service for the liberal spin machine the night before President Obama’s health summit, teasing: “Big insurance executives forced to answer why they're raising your premiums while raking in big profits.” World News devoted a full story to a hearing held by House Democrats to demonize WellPoint:
We turn to the growing outrage at insurance companies, the ones that raise premiums on ordinary Americans while racking up big profits. Today, executives of the company that insures the most Americans had to answer for big bonuses and lavish retreats while socking clients with a double-digit increase in fees.
ABC viewers were treated to demagogic Democrats railing against the salaries and profits of WellPoint. Then, as if it were a coincidence, Sawyer acknowledged “this anger erupts on the eve of President Obama's health care reform summit tomorrow.” (NBC also ran a story pegged to the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, but sans the histrionics.)
Over on CBS, Katie Couric insisted Thursday would bring “that much-anticipated summit at the White House” to “try to save health care reform.” She began with “shades of the Paris peace talks,” ruing “Republicans have been arguing about the shape of the table and the seating arrangement.” Getting to the substance, Couric pleaded: “Does the President have any chance of reaching some kind of compromise with Republicans on health care reform?”
Advancing the Obama administration’s efforts to impugn private insurance companies, ABC anchor Diane Sawyer set up a Tuesday night story on who will “keep insurance companies from jacking up premiums while making huge profits?” Reporter Jonathan Karl explained “the idea from the White House is to keep premiums down by simply limiting how much insurance companies can raise them,” before he relayed the White House spin: “The Obama administration is putting the heat on insurance companies, accusing them of placing profits ahead of health care.”
Karl reported “the top five insurance companies took in $12 billion in profit last year,” as if that’s shameful or excessive, and gave short-shrift to how Republicans would control costs “with a limit on malpractice lawsuits, and increasing competition to allow people to buy insurance policies across state lines.”
He concluded by returning to the Obama team’s claims that their reform regime in itself would lower costs: “As for the White House idea to have that panel control how much insurance premiums can go up, the White House acknowledges that that is only part of the solution – in fact, a temporary fix until health care can go – health care reform can go fully into effect.”
ABC reporter Jonathan Karl reviewed Ken Gormley's huge 789-page Clinton-scandal book The Death of American Virtue for The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. Karl played no favorites among the actors in the impeachment drama, but the review made clear that Bill Clinton stood out for his never-ending bitterness against conservatives:
Mr. Gormley interviewed the former president three times in 2004-05 and found a man still seething at the vast right-wing conspiracy that he blames for bringing the stain of impeachment to his presidency. "They're on a crusade," Mr. Clinton says. "God has ordained them to crush the infidels. . . . Ken Starr was their errand boy, and he danced to their tune, just as hard as he could dance."
Crush the infidels? Was Clinton trying to make his critics sound like Islamic jihadis?
From Monday's broadcast network evening newscasts: CBS and NBC found hypocrisy in Sarah Palin scolding President Obama's incessant use of a Teleprompter while she had “crib notes” written on her hand during her Saturday Tea Party convention appearance, CBS followed by giving Obama two-straight minutes to explain why the public will come around to “connect” with him again and, meanwhile, ABC devoted a full story to “whether Republicans want action or are just the 'Party of No'?”
CBS's Nancy Cordes reported, over a helpful graphic showing the words written on Palin's hand, that while Palin “dismissed the President Saturday night as a 'charismatic guy with a Teleprompter,' she may have been relying on some crib notes of her own.” Cordes concluded: “Her supporters called it an endearing sign that Palin's a real person, while detractors argue it's proof she doesn't know her facts.” On NBC, Brian Williams led the Palin story with how “it happened after a speech where she criticized the President for relying too much on a Teleprompter.”
Next on CBS, Katie Couric highlighted how, in her pre-SuperBowl sit-down with Obama, she had raised with him that “people are not sure who he is or what he stands for.” Viewers were then treated to a two-minute long answer from Obama, ending with his insistance that when the economy improves “we'll do just fine and everybody will be saying what a connection President Obama has with the American people. Which is what they were saying a year ago.” (“They” being journalists?)
NBC and CBS’s morning shows on Tuesday completely ignored the revelation that the Obama administration’s Recovery.gov website claims to have saved or created jobs in congressional districts that don’t exist. ABC’s Good Morning America devoted 21 seconds to the developing story.
On ABCNews.com, Jonathan Karl wrote, "In Arizona's 15th congressional district, 30 jobs have been saved or created with just $761,420 in federal stimulus spending." There is no 15th congressional district in Arizona. On Monday night’s World News, the network did manage a full report by Karl. He elaborated, "And it lists $34 million spent in Arizona's 86th district. That district doesn't exist either. In fact, in virtually every state, the website lists millions of dollars spent and hundreds of jobs created in fictional congressional districts."
Despite the mass shooting at Fort Hood, the ABC, CBS and NBC newscasts Thursday night squeezed in full stories pegged to a “kill the bill” anti-Pelosi/ObamaCare rally outside the U.S. Capitol attended by “angry protesters” as all the stories also stressed how President Obama got a “boost” from “big,” “powerful” “key” and “major” endorsements from the AARP and AMA.
NBC's Brian Williams contrasted “big endorsements by two influential groups” with “a big, noisy rally urging lawmakers to just say no,” while reporter Kelly O'Donnell minimized the conservative event as “a few thousand protesters.” ABC's Jonathan Karl, however, recognized how “the hastily-planned protest drew one of the largest crowds in memory for a congressional event. The crowd extends all the way up around to the House side of the building, across to the Senate side, literally surrounding the western front of the Capitol.”
NBC's Kelly recounted how the House bill would “expand health coverage to 96 percent of Americans, and create government-backed insurance called a public option. Today that plan won a powerful endorsement. AARP, the lobby group for Americans over 50, signed on and showed off boxes of supportive petitions” and that was “followed by another boost, the doctors' lobby, the American Medical Association.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's decision to go to the Senate floor on Tuesday to call out the Obama administration for using the full power of a federal regulatory agency to suppress free speech -- specifically, to silence Humana's predictions about the impact of proposed ObamaCare cuts to the Medicare Advantage program -- led ABC, but not CBS or NBC, to air a story on the “gag order.”
ABC's story began with a McConnell soundbite (“'Shut up,' the government says, 'don't communicate with your customers. Be quiet and get in line,'”), before reporter Jonathan Karl explained McConnell was referring to the “Department of Health and Human Services, telling insurance companies who serve Medicare recipients, to stop 'misleading' and 'confusing' mailings, saying, quote: 'We are instructing you to immediately discontinue all such mailings, and remove any related materials from your Web sites.'”
Karl continued: “The extraordinary order comes in response to a mailing the Humana insurance company sent to customers in the Medicare Advantage program. The Humana mailing warned that because of Medicare cuts in the health care reform bills, quote, 'millions of seniors and disabled individuals could lose many important benefits and services.'”
ABC’s Jonathan Karl on Friday attacked wasteful government spending of stimulus money, even going to the John Murtha Airport in Western Pennsylvania, which he derided as a "ghost town." Providing some refreshing journalistic skepticism about the Obama legislation, Karl described the airport as a "monument to powerful Democratic Congressman John Murtha."
The House member’s portrait could be seen in the background as Karl reported for Good Morning America on the $17 million that the tiny airport has received. (Politico puts the total number at $150 million.) The reporter conducted a tour of the empty, quiet building: "When we visited Murtha Airport earlier this year, the place looked like a ghost town. We have rented a car. But the Hertz counter is as deserted as the rest of the airport." (Karl also traveled to other small town airports that recieved money.)
ABC displayed “Battle Cry” on screen, beneath HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, as anchor Charles Gibson teased Thursday's World News: “Health care reformers hope to win one for Teddy, but the opposition is largely unmoved.” Gibson introduced the story by asserting “some of his allies in Congress harbor hopes that his death might generate a change of heart among opponents,” but it may not come to be: “If that is to be the case, there are few signs of it yet.”
Reporter Jonathan Karl noted continued opposition amongst those at town hall meetings, yet ran soundbites from three Democrats who demonstrated how “many prominent Democrats are hoping to turn an outpouring of goodwill into political magic.” For instance, “the most senior Senator, Robert Byrd, said yesterday, 'my heart and soul weeps' at the loss of the Senator Kennedy and called for naming the health care bill after him, a view wildly held b by Democrats.”
Karl recalled “the tactic has worked before. After the assassination of John Kennedy, President Johnson invoked his memory to revive the long-stalled civil rights bill.” This year, however, while “win one for Teddy” is “already becoming a rallying cry here on Capitol Hill, Karl concluded, “the divisions run deep and will not be easily overcome, even with all that obvious good will for Senator Ted Kennedy.”
The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts in near-unison on Friday night disparaged the anti-ObamaCare protests at town meetings held by Members of Congress as “unruly,” “nasty” and “getting ugly,” while CBS and NBC targeted Rush Limbaugh -- NBC's Kelly O'Donnell charged “some anger...gets stoked by the provocative megaphone of Rush Limbaugh, who went so far as accusing Democrats of wanting the socialized medicine of Nazi Germany” -- without bothering to acknowledge Limbaugh was reacting to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who first put Nazi comparisons into play by accusing the opponents of “carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town meeting on health care.”
Following O'Donnell, NBC's Chuck Todd checked in from a parallel universe at the White House where, except for the pesky health care opponents, Obama's staff achieved great things during the week:
They look back at this week, and they see that they've rescued two Americans from North Korea, that they broke a barrier at the Supreme Court with the confirmation of soon-to-be Justice Sonia Sotomayor, that a major terrorist was killed in, of the Taliban, a figure that is believed, that is somebody that might be able to break up the Taliban in such a way, that the cash for clunkers turned out to be a success, those good unemployment news. So they sit here and say, hey, it's pretty good, but then this health care debate and this town halls that Kelly was reporting on....
ABC anchor Charles Gibson saw “a pattern of disruption -- opponents of change shouting at members of Congress so loud that at times police are called in.” He then pointed to the Obama administration as an authority on civility, highlighting how “White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said today: 'We can discuss these issues without being uncivilized. It's the same thing I tell my six-year-old.'”
Good Morning America's Jonathan Karl on Friday provided a questioning, skeptical analysis of how stimulus money is being spent on road signs promoting the legislation. At one point, the correspondent quipped, "But for now, the signs seem easier to create than jobs." However, former Clinton aide-turned journalist George Stephanopoulos provided White House spin on the total amount of stimulus money spent.
In a follow-up segment, GMA co-host Diane Sawyer pointed out that of the $787 billion allocated in February for the legislation, only ten percent has been spent. Providing White House talking points, Stephanopoulos offered a tortured explanation for how this wasn't so: "They [the Obama administration] argue, though, that more than ten percent has actually been put to work. They would argue that about 20 to 25 percent has been put to work, because money has been obligated that allows these projects to go forward." Continuing this charitable analysis, he added, "Even though the check isn't written until the roads are actually built."
Good Morning America on Thursday unearthed archival footage that featured Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor on the show in 1986 complaining about discrimination against women. The clips highlighted her fretting, "There are different styles. And because of those styles, I think that's what affects the ability of women to get ahead in the workplace."
In the video, Sotomayor can be seen talking to then-GMA host Joan Lunden and asserting that men inadvertently discriminate against women: "Well, I found in my experiences that it's not that men are consciously discriminating against promoting women. But, I do believe that as people, we have self-images of what's good. And if you're a male that grew up professionally in a male-dominated profession, then your image of what a good lawyer is a male image."
All three broadcast network morning shows on Wednesday made a point of labeling Nevada Senator John Ensign as a “Republican” after the Senator came forward last night to admit having an extramarital affair last year. NBC, which refrained for days from calling New York Governor Eliot Spitzer a “Democrat” after his relationship with a prostitute was exposed, called Ensign a “conservative Republican,” while CBS made a point of reciting Ensign’s associations with Christian groups.
ABC’s Good Morning America provided the only full report, with the on-screen headline declaring “Leading GOP Senator Admits Affair.” News anchor Chris Cuomo and correspondent Jonathan Karl noted Ensign’s Republican affiliation three times: “A rising star in the Republican Party is coming forward....” “John Ensign is a member of the Republican leadership....” and “The Republican from Nevada admits cheating on his wife...”
Last year, NewsBusters noted how the networks always added the “Republican” label to GOP politicians caught in sex scandals, but not Democrats; with their coverage of the Ensign scandal this morning, the networks are maintaining their perfectly slanted approach.
ABC News didn’t use any labels such as liberal or progressive to describe Judge Sonia Sotomayor during its Tuesday morning coverage of her nomination to the Supreme Court. On the other hand, when President Bush nominated Justice Samuel Alito to the high court in 2005, the network’s correspondents repeatedly used the conservative label to describe the nominee.
During the first segment of the 7 am hour of Good Morning America, before Sotomayor’s name emerged, This Week anchor George Stephanopoulos summarized who was on President Obama’s short list for the court nomination, including Sotomayor, describing the former or current occupations they have, but no ideological descriptions. When anchor Diane Sawyer asked about “what kind of fight is the White House anticipating” from Republicans in the Senate and “how do they plan to deal with it,” Stephanopoulos further explained that “Republicans and conservatives have already prepared dossiers on all three of the top candidates....I’ve talked to several Republicans in the Senate about this -- that the chances they’re going to defeat President Obama’s nominee are very, very low. The bar they’re trying to set -- they’re trying to have a debate over the future of the court, over the ideological direction of the court.” But he never mentioned Sotomayor’s judicial philosophy or political leaning.
A night after the CBS Evening News ignored CIA Director Leon Panetta's rebuke of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Saturday's newscast continued the blackout as anchor Jeff Glor only mentioned Pelosi in setting up a question by explaining she “put herself in a very awkward position” when “she said the CIA lied to her or misled her about water-boarding,” before he asked Time magazine veteran John Dickerson: “Is this something that's over for the Speaker now or does this continue?”
Though the whole topic is apparently already over for CBS News, Dickerson maintained “it's not over for the Speaker” as he proceeded to empathize with her plight by suggesting she's “got to hope another issue...blows her off the front pages” and that “when Congress goes home for their recesses that somehow she gets out of the news cycle because she's still in a fix.” But not one that interests CBS News.
Nor NBC, which like ABC on Saturday night, didn't utter Pelosi's name – possibly because all three evening newscasts were so exited about what they made their lead stories: President Obama naming Utah's Republican Governor, Jon Huntsman, ambassador to China. “A political masterstroke” declared ABC's George Stephanopoulos on World News in repeating the same phrase applied moments earlier by reporter Jonathan Karl. Stephanopoulos even managed to get in a dig at conservatives as he hailed the pick as “one more sign that this is a party [Republican] where the reformers -- the moderates -- are looking for an exit.”