Saturday's CBS Evening News ballyhooed the "enormous strain on resources" that the budget sequester has apparently put on extinguishing a massive wildfire in Colorado. Carter Evans played up how, in addition to fighting the flames, "federal firefighters are facing another challenge: a loss of $50 million, mandated by the budget sequester. That forced the Forest Service to cut 500 firefighters and 50 engines, just when they're needed most."
The CBS evening newscast was actually late to the game, as the network's Big Three competitors also spotlighted the same figures earlier in June.
While ABC's World News declared "a big chunk of the pain at the pump is Wall Street's fault" on Thursday, on NBC's Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams similarly announced: "The problem is gas prices are largely set by commodities traders, also known these days as speculators."
Correspondent Miguel Almaguer reported on "backlash from both sides of the register" as a sound bite played of Los Angeles gas station owner Andre Van Der Valk ranting: "Consumers should be very, very angry and very challenging of the oil companies. That's where it all starts."
NBC anchor Brian Williams, in the argot of the moment, certainly belongs to The One Percent. He lives in the glass-encased Bloomberg Tower in mid-town Manhattan, 34 stories above the tony restaurant Le Cirque at 58th Street and Lexington Avenue. For years he has lived up in the luxury apartment heavens with Beyonce and GE chieftains past and present (both Jack Welch and Jeffrey Immelt). He’s earned it.
Yet night after night on the news, Williams and the other one percent multi-millionaire anchors dutifully chronicle every new publicity line from the people who "occupy" parks (often public parks) to claim to represent the "99 percent." It’s liberal guilt in motion. The anchors lovingly cite old Sixties leftist slogans like "The whole world is watching," which is nonsense if you look at their ratings but they sure do wish the whole world would watch. To the liberal media, these protests are a story of populist heroes bravely standing against what Teddy Roosevelt called "the malefactors of great wealth."
On Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams proclaimed: "Protesters across the country and a lot of Americans who are sympathetic to this Occupy Wall Street protest movement are tonight rallying around a 24-year-old Iraq war veteran who was seriously injured during a violent confrontation with police in Oakland, California on Tuesday."
On ABC's World News, fill-in anchor George Stephanopoulos echoed that sentiment: "...one young man has become a symbol of their resolve." Correspondent Abbie Boudreau followed by declaring: "With tensions mounting daily, the name Scott Olsen has become a national rallying cry for Occupy Wall Street....injured Tuesday night, as police began firing tear gas during the Oakland crackdown."
In a report on the Arizona wildfires on Tuesday's NBC Today, correspondent Miguel Almaguer touted how "The Forest Service says this historic wildfire season is caused in part by climate change." After promoting that politically charged claim, Almaguer declared that Senator John McCain had created a "firestorm" by noting that illegal immigrants have contributed to past wildfires.
At the top of the show, co-host Ann Curry proclaimed: "Heated controversy. A debate blows up over John McCain blaming some wildfires in Arizona on illegal border-crossers." Later, she framed an interview with McCain this way: "Now to more on that controversial comment by Arizona Senator John McCain....We spoke to the Senator earlier this morning. We began by asking him if he was trying to use this current tragedy for a political purpose."
On Saturday, ABC’s World News Saturday and the NBC Nightly News each ran a story touting the high number of patients arriving at a free clinic in Los Angeles, operated by Remote Area Medical, as evidence of the need for health care reform. For the NBC Nightly News, it was the third such story on the facility of the week.
While ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson had run one story on Friday that focused on the generous work of the organization and its founder, Stan Brock, Saturday was the first time World News had touted the clinic as evidence of the need for reform, or compared America’s poor to the Third World, as stories on the CBS Evening News and the NBC Nightly News had already done previously. And on Saturday, ABC and NBC again failed to inform viewers that patients who arrived at the free clinic were not required to prove financial need to receive service, but were merely accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis.
On World News Saturday, ABC anchor Dan Harris set up the piece:
In Inglewood, California, tonight, a vivid demonstration of the health care crisis: A clinic that provides free health care has been inundated with patients. Almost 46 million people in this country do not have health insurance, but the problem is a lot bigger than that. Many people who do have insurance still cannot afford the care that they need.
All three broadcast networks this week have reported on the charity Remote Area Medical's offer of free medical care at a temporary facility in Los Angeles, citing the arrival of many patients as a sign of how many Americans there are who need "free health care," and even relaying the words of program volunteers who compared the health care challenges of some Americans to problems in Third World countries like Guatemala and India.
But only by watching ABC's Good Morning America did one see a soundbite of program founder Stan Brock informing viewers that the free clinic does not even screen patients to learn if they really are in need financially. Brock:
It's first-come, first-served basis, no questions asked, no financial information required. There are a lot of good programs in this country, but they tend to have hurdles that the patient has to leap through in order to get the care.
Reporters seemed shocked that thousands of people would stand in line for hours to receive hundreds -- or even thousands -- of dollars worth of free medical care.
It's one of the few times one can wish the reporting by NBC News was right and CNBC was wrong.
A segment on the July 21 "NBC Nightly News" pointed out some of the key points of a budget deal reached between California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and leaders of the state legislature. The deal means some service cuts - but also includes the possibility of exploration and drilling for oil off the California coast.
"California is our biggest state in terms of population and it long ago ran out of money," "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams said. "They got nothing to pay the vendors they owe and now they have struck a deal for more cuts, and these are going to hurt. They're going to allow offshore drilling for the money it will bring in. The LA Times reports tens of thousands of seniors and children would lose access to health care. Prisoners will spend less time in prison. And the governor is going to sell cars and furniture and office supplies and autograph some of it, he says, to raise more money. It's an unbelievable turn of events."