The transition from Al Gore's low-rated Current TV cable channel to Al Jazeera America will conclude on Tuesday, August 20, when the newest addition to the Qatar-based international news network will be sent into about 40 million homes in the U.S.
Ever since the purchase was made public in early January, Ehab Al Shihabi -- the channel's executive in charge -- has been attempting to hire high-profile staff members, including long-time Cable News Network reporters Ali Velshi and Soledad O'Brien, to draw viewers to the new network, even though it doesn't yet have a chief executive or chief programmer.
Politico’s Dylan Byers reports NBC News Capitol Hill reporter Mike Viqueira is leaving the Peacock Network after 15 years to join Al-Jazeera America (the oil money must have been very good). He joins CNN anchor Ali Velshi as veteran network names at the new venture.
Viqueira will return to the White House beat for the Qatar-owned network. The NBC vet dismissed the thought that AJA would have a “bias,” say, toward Islamists. That would never happen:
While discussing gun control on Wednesday's The Daily Rundown on MSNBC, correspondent Mike Viqueira lamented: "...the anti-gun control, pro-gun rights crowd has won the argument at this point....they've succeeded in framing the issue as one of essential American national values." In response, host and chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd ranted: "...nobody has sort of a rational policy debate about it." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Todd began the segment by whining over the lack of gun regulation:
On Sunday, both morning and evening newscasts on ABC and NBC touted the Des Moines Register's endorsement of Mitt Romney as a boost for his campaign for President, in spite of the paper's left-wing tilt in a state where the Republican Party is predominantly conservative. While they did at least note the paper's liberal slant, both networks still played up the liberal endorsement.
While morning and evening newscasts from all three broadcast networks in the last few days have focused on anti-Mormon sentiment within the Republican Party that may hinder Mitt Romney's bid for the presidency, FNC's Special Report with Bret Baier on Monday noted that self-identified Republican voters are substantially more willing to accept a Mormon President compared to Democrats.
FNC correspondent Carl Cameron observed that Democrats are "least tolerant" compared to Republicans and independents as he recounted the findings of a Quinnipiac poll:
The ABC and NBC morning and evening newscasts on Sunday gave attention to President Obama's attack on the Republican presidential candidates for not scolding a couple of audience members who booed a gay solder asking a question at a recent debate. Monday's "Special Report with Bret Baier" on FNC noted that Obama has his own history of standing by without condemning inappropriate comments at public events.
On his 3PM ET hour show on MSNBC on Wednesday, host Martin Bashir enthusiastically reacted to President Obama's budget speech: "'We will invest in the future of America,' that's what President Obama just said in a much-anticipated speech on the budget....He offered a series of broad proposals and said it's time for the wealthiest Americans to pay their way and share in taxes."
Moments later, White House correspondent Mike Viqueira joined Bashir and proclaimed: "..the President's speech was part soaring, speaking to the aspirations and character of a nation, if you will." Bashir observed: "Mike, I don't want to sound as if I'm misrepresenting the President, but it appeared to me that he was suggesting that we can't be self-centered as far as fiscal policy is concerned. We can't simply slash programs everywhere without somehow expecting the wealthiest in society to contribute. Is that your impression?"
Catching up on an item from last weekend, Friday’s World News on ABC, Saturday’s Good Morning America on ABC, Saturday’s CBS Evening News, and Saturday’s NBC Nightly News all highlighted California Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier’s defense of partial birth abortion as a procedure she had herself gone through as she berated New Jersey Republican Congressman Chris Smith for describing the horrific nature of the procedure during a debate over federal funding of Planned Parenthood. The sympathetic treatment of Speier's outrage over having to hear the technique's description contrasts with media eagerness to describe rough interrogation techniques used on detainees in the War on Terrorism during the Bush administration.
These same shows devoted little to no time to showing Smith’s description of the controversial abortion technique or his reading from the book, Unplanned, by Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director who famously turned against abortion after observing the ultrasound of an abortion as it was carried out. Rep. Smith had given a speech on the House floor that was over eight minutes long.
Of the three network morning shows, only Good Morning America has highlighted conservative outrage over Barack Obama's decision to limit the situations in which the America can use nuclear weapons. CBS's Early Show has mostly ignored the development.
On Wednesday's Today, reporter Mike Viqueira enthused, "...It was Prague about a year ago when the President made a speech outlining his vision for a world with no nuclear weapons. Well this is a start in the right direction."
On GMA, Jake Tapper alerted, "The pledge fueled conservative outrage across the air waves." He then played a clip of Rudy Giuliani and one of Rush Limbaugh slamming the President for "announcing to every regime out there, under circumstances they can nuke us."
On Saturday, NBC News host Lester Holt seemed to lament the fact that the climate change conference in Copenhagen did not result in greater regulation of carbon emissions as, on the NBC Nightly News, Holt passed on that "many" called the agreement that was reached "weak and disappointing," and he seemed to accept the premise that more regulations would affect the climate as he relayed that President Obama "admitted a lot more needs to be done to achieve significant changes in global warming." Holt: "President Obama, who took the lead on getting that deal, calls it a breakthrough. But even he admitted a lot more needs to be done to achieve significant changes in global warming."
During the same morning’s Today show, as he introduced correspondent Mike Viqueira, Holt recounted that the conference "fell far short of what many hoped for." Viqueira passed on complaints by environmental activists: "But a lot of people say it falls short. It will monitor emissions cuts, would this agreement, but it sets no target for curbing greenhouse gases, and that has left a lot of people – particularly in the environmental community – very disappointed."
Below are complete transcripts of the relevant stories from NBC’s Today show and the NBC Nightly News from Saturday, December 19:
NBC’s Today show on Sunday devoted a three-minute report to President Obama’s speech to “gay rights” proponents, where he promised a repeal of the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The report had several sound bites from homosexual critics of the President, and none from proponents of keeping the policy. On the other hand, ABC’s GMA on Sunday had only one 23-second news brief on Obama’s speech.
It took Van Jones' resignation, around midnight Saturday night on a holiday weekend, for ABC and NBC to mention him for the first time in Sunday morning news shows which broached, but failed to quote, the insidious “911truth” petition he signed, while ABC's George Stephanopoulos, seemingly trying to rationalize ABC's spiking of the subject, came aboard Good Morning America to dismiss the matter as “a summer squall.” Stephanopoulos was impressed by how the White House handled it: “The fact they got it out of the way before the end of the Labor Day weekend, before his spokespeople like Robert Gibbs, who's appearing on This Week come on this morning, I think will contain any kind of damage.”
That, and a compliant news media. As Bill Kristol observed on Fox News Sunday: “The mainstream media did not cover this story.”
Mike Viqueira reported on NBC's Today: “Van Jones, that's the President's 'green gobs' czar, has resigned overnight after it became known that before joining the administration he signed a petition put forward by those who believe that the government had a hand in 9/11.” Later, Viqueira relayed how “Jones says he is the victim of a 'vicious smear campaign' from the right, but he says he's resigning because he doesn't want to draw attention from the fights to come this fall over health care and energy and climate change legislation.”
Newsweek engaged itself deeper in the battle for nationalized health care by turning over its cover story -- “We're Almost There” -- to Senator Ted Kennedy for his lengthy personal recitation of “the cause of my life.” ABC and NBC on Sunday night dutifully championed his cause as World News anchor Dan Harris highlighted how “Kennedy is using his own battle against brain cancer to make an emotional pitch for health care reform” and NBC reporter Mike Viqueira touted:
Today, another dramatic push, this time from an ailing Ted Kennedy, absent from Washington but appearing on the cover of Newsweek and writing: “This is the cause of my life. We will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not just a privilege.”
This wasn't the first time NBC has enlisted Kennedy to trumpet Obama's quest. Back in early March when the White House held a summit on health care, reporter Chuck Todd appropriated the coach who inspired “win one for the Gipper” by touting on NBC Nightly News how “the President's drive to pass health care got a Knute Rockne-like boost with a surprise appearance” by Kennedy.
A night after NBC White House reporter Chuck Todd predicted Sarah Palin will now make fundraising appearances for GOP candidates where she'll draw in “car-wreck watchers,” Todd's colleague, NBC's Mike Viqueira, after relaying how Alaska's Lieutenant Governor “says the decision was vintage Palin,” asserted over video of Ross Perot dancing: “Others describe her performance yesterday as erratic, comparing it to Ross Perot's on-again/off-again presidential run in 1992.” Unlike Palin, Perot did leave and enter the presidential race months before the election date.
Viqueira, Capitol Hill producer for NBC News who regularly appears on MSNBC, earned rare air time on the real network's NBC Nightly News because of the holiday, and proceeded to highlight how “Democrats, meanwhile, are questioning Palin's motives.” So who are these “others”? Viqueira's press corps colleagues? After all, as Rich Noyes reminded us in “Notable Quotables Flashback: Ten Months of Media Scorn for Sarah Palin,” when John McCain named Palin last year Newsweek's Eleanor Clift revealed the media reaction: “It’s been literally laughter...in very, very many newsrooms.”