At the top of Thursday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez proclaimed: "The health care debate gets ugly as Democrats who voted for reform report violence and death threats." In a report that followed, correspondent Nancy Cordes promoted left-wing talking points blaming the GOP: "Democrats accuse Republicans of stoking the anger with violent rhetoric and imagery."
As one example of the threats against Democrats, Cordes played phone messages left for Michigan Congressman Bart Stupak: "You and your family are scum....We think you're a devil....I hope you die." However, the Early Show failed to mention any of the threatening phone calls made to Stupak last week, by liberals upset over the pro-life Democrat still being on the fence over the abortion language in ObamaCare. As NewsBusters' Tim Graham pointed out, CBS's own Political Hotsheet blog reported: "Stupak...says his life has become a 'living hell' because of the debate....'All the phones are unplugged at our house – tired of the obscene calls and threats,' Stupak said in an interview with The Hill."
Citing more examples, Cordes noted that Democrats "point to Sarah Palin's Facebook page, which uses cross hairs to denote districts where vulnerable Democrats voted for health care reform. 'Don't retreat, instead, reload,' Palin told fellow conservatives on Twitter." In addition, a picture of the Republican National Committee website appeared on screen, which featured an image of Nancy Pelosi surrounded by flames and the words 'Fire Pelosi'. On Tuesday, Rodriguez asked RNC Chair Michael Steele if such imagery was "a little bit extreme."
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.”
At the top of Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith proclaimed the passage of ObamaCare: "A major victory for President Obama as House Democrats work late into the night to pass health care reform." A headline on screen read: "Historic Victory."
Co-host Maggie Rodriguez later introduced a report on the legislation by remarking that Smith, who was pleased with his NCAA March Madness bracket picks, was "not the only one who's happy this morning. So is President Obama." She went on to declare: "We begin with Congress's historic passage of health care reform late last night." Rodriguez recited ObamaCare talking points: "Now under this law...insurance companies will not be allowed to drop your coverage if you get sick. There will be no cap on lifetime insurance benefits and you can keep your children on your health insurance through the age of 26. Also, coverage will be available for uninsured Americans with pre-existing conditions."
In the report that followed, correspondent Nancy Cordes began by describing the "sense of relief for Democrats," in the wake of the bill's passage. The on-screen headline read: "Historic Vote; Health Care Reform Passes; Heads to Obama's Desk."
On Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez proclaimed: "After more than a year of debate, Democrats say they're on the verge of passing historic health care legislation." And touted the massive legislation as fiscally responsible: "The government says the final version of the bill will cost $940 billion over ten years, but will reduce the projected budget deficit by $138 billion."
In a report that followed, correspondent Nancy Cordes gave a fully positive description of the legislation: "The final bill would extend coverage to 32 million Americans who are currently uninsured. It would close the gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage for seniors by the year 2020 and it would penalize businesses with more than 50 workers if they don't offer insurance."
After Cordes's report, Rodriguez spoke with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who praised CBS's adherence to the Democratic Party line: "Maggie, what I think is that we have seen yesterday very important information from the Congressional Budget Office, which as you indicate and Nancy indicated, shows that we are doing exactly what we said we would do."
“Democrats used the word 'giddy' to describe their reaction when they got the cost estimates from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO),” NBC's Kelly O'Donnell relayed Thursday night, but she could have been talking about CBS's Katie Couric and Nancy Cordes who shared the giddiness in touting the CBO numbers, favorable to Democratic spin on the health bill, without any caveats or reservations -- yet with a dose of exaggeration.
“The price tag certified,” Couric trumpeted in teasing the CBS Evening News before leading with how the CBO “put out a report that may help win over some Democrats,” reciting: “It says the plan, which would cost $940 billion over 10 years, would reduce the deficit over that same period by $138 billion.” She then cited a claim CBO didn't make: “It would cut the deficit over 20 years by more than $1 trillion.”
Cordes pegged $1.3 trillion as “the amount by which the final health care bill would reduce the deficit over the next 20 years,” bucking up the CBO's credibility: “That's according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, which is trusted by both parties as the authority on budget matters.”
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.”
What is Katie Couric drinking these days? Who has taken over her body? The CBS Evening News anchor on Wednesday night cited hypocritical positions or actions taken by President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
On the day when Obama pressed forward with using “reconciliation” to pass his health bill in the Senate -- and while MSNBC hosts obsess over Republican hypocrisy in now opposing it when they used it to pass bills when the GOP had the Senate majority -- Couric recalled that “in 2007 when President Obama was a Senator, he criticized the use of the reconciliation process in health care reform.”
Following a story on the ethics violations swirling around Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel which forced him to step down Wednesday as Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, and how additional issues are still being probed, including his failure to report income and pay taxes on a villa in the Dominican Republic, his use of four rent controlled apartments in Harlem and his failure to report $500,000 in assets, Couric remarked:
And yet House Speaker Nancy Pelosi...stood by him for a year. How does that square with her famous promise 'to drain the swamp' and clamp down on ethics breaches?
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.”
After the Democrats regained control of the House in 2006, Nancy Pelosi promised NBC's Brian Williams that she would "drain the swamp" and "turn this Congress into the most honest and open Congress in history." So when news broke that a House Ethics committee found that long time New York Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel accepted corporate money for trips to the Carribean one would think Williams would be all over the story – he wasn't.
On Thursday's NBC Nightly News Williams completely ignored the charges, as did ABC's World News Tonight. Of the three broadcast network evening news shows, only Williams' competitors at CBS Evening News covered the Rangel scandal as Katie Couric reported Rangel "broke House rules," and Nancy Cordes told viewers he could be "censured," but didn't tell them that he was a Democrat.
[UPDATE, 7:30 PM EST Friday, February 26: ABC's World News caught up with Rangel on Friday night as anchor Diane Sawyer identified him as a Democrat and the Friday NBC Nightly News rolled Rangel into a “Democrats' Disarray” story with Desiree Rogers and David Paterson.]
Williams' NBC News colleague Amy Robach did mention the investigation into Rangel's wrongdoing, the next morning on the Today show, but omitted Rangel's party affiliation in the one and only story aired on the morning show:
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?”
In a new CBS News/New York Times poll, President Barack Obama’s disapproval level jumped five points, to 45 percent since the last survey in mid-January, with approval now at just 46 percent, but Thursday’s CBS Evening News skipped that bad news for Obama and instead highlighted some better news for the President.
Though 80 percent said “members of Congress [are] more interested in serving special interest groups” than the American people, “the President gets better marks on that score,” Katie Couric touted, as “most think his priority is serving the people.” Reporter Nancy Cordes relayed how “only 29 percent think the GOP is trying to work with the President, while 62 percent think Mr. Obama is reaching across the aisle.”
Cordes proceeded to report how 18 percent, of whom she pointed out are 95 percent white, consider themselves part of the Tea Party movement, “but for more than half the country, the Tea Party movement remains a relative mystery.” Nonetheless, “the Tea Party mentality is spreading” since “56 percent of everyone polled said they'd prefer a smaller government, providing fewer services. That's the highest percentage in more than a decade.” (In 1996, it stood at 61 percent.) At the very end, Cordes squeezed in how “concern about government spending is so great, that a majority of Americans -- 53 percent -- now believe the U.S. cannot afford to fix health care at this time.”
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?)
While concluding a story on the Massachusetts Senate race on Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez acknowledged the possibility that Republican Scott Brown could win the long held Democratic seat but wondered: “It’ll be interesting to see if Brown, the Republican, wins, if the Democrats can defer his swearing in and get health care passed. We will watch that.”
At the top of the show, Rodriguez teased the story: “In Massachusetts it’s more than just a Senate race, it’s a battle that could end President Obama’s fight for health care reform.” Correspondent Nancy Cordes followed up with a report that also focused on the impact the race would have on health care: “The President was here campaigning yesterday for the Democrat. And no wonder, if she loses, it will be a major blow to his ability to get his agenda passed.”
Cordes observed how affective Brown’s opposition to ObamaCare has been: “Coakley’s Republican challenger...has made stopping the health care reform bill a signature issue. A message that seems to be resonating with voters.” She then fretted: “If Coakley loses this race, Democrats will lose their supermajority in the Senate. Meaning they won’t be able to pass Democratic priorities like health care reform unless they can convince a few Republicans to vote with them.”
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith followed President Obama’s lead by wondering if it was time to move on from the Harry Reid racial controversy, as he asked Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez and Democrat Dee Dee Myers: “Is the Reid story over and should it be?”
Sanchez rejected the notion that the story, which just broke over weekend, was over: “I think it’s just the beginning. It’s actually compounding....you look at his declining poll numbers in his state, declining support for health care reform, and overall his ineffectiveness in leadership.” Predictably, Myers took the opposite view: “Yeah, it’s pretty much over and it should be. Senator Reid has apologized....African-American leaders across the country have been largely supportive, including the President....he has been an effective leader. He’s gotten health care further than any Senate Majority Leader in 50 years.”
In a prior report, correspondent Nancy Cordes declared: “...the President needs Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid working at full steam if he wants to pass a health care bill quickly....that’s one of the reasons that he’s giving the leader some very high profile defense.” A clip was played of Obama arguing: “This is a good man who has always been on the right side of history....for people to try to make hay out of that makes absolutely no sense.”
Centering a Friday night story on how, as anchor Katie Couric explained, “Republicans are doing everything they can to block” the “health reform” bill, “including delaying tactics in this race against the clock,” CBS put front and center Senator Robert Byrd's “shame, shame” admonition of Republicans.
Reporter Nancy Cordes began her story by showcasing the aging Democrat: “As he was wheeled into the Senate chamber shortly after 1:00 AM, 92-year-old Robert Byrd made it clear how he felt about being pulled out of bed to vote.” CBS showed a wide-shot of the Senate chamber with the area around the wheelchair-bound Byrd lightened with his words on screen as viewers heard the matching audio picked up by a nearby microphone: “Shame, shame.”
Cordes elaborated: “His ire was directed at Republicans who intentionally dragged out debate on a defense spending bill, hoping that in turn would hold up the health care bill Democrats desperately want to pass before Christmas.” She soon demanded of Republican Senator Orrin Hatch: “What's the point of forcing these votes to be held at the dead of night on Christmas eve? Why not just move along?”
At the top of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Nancy Cordes excitedly proclaimed that Senate Democrats “are tantalizingly close” to passing a health care bill and derided Republicans for trying to “thwart” the legislation using “stall tactics.”
Cordes reported on the urgency of Democratic efforts to get 60 votes in the Senate: “Leaders are trying to craft a compromise that everyone can live with and soon...to pass a bill by the holidays, they must file the bill by this Saturday.” She lamented that “...they could get thwarted by Republican stall tactics....[who] suddenly demanded that clerks read a 767 page health care amendment out loud on the Senate floor.”
After explaining that “Senate business got tied up for three hours,” Cordes declared: “Democrats were predictably outraged.” She concluded her report: “And that’s the kind of stunt that Republicans would happily pull again if it will slow down the Democrats’ goal of getting this bill passed.”
A night after MSNBC's Keith Olbermann demanded Senator Joe Lieberman “just resign already” as he shrieked “you are embarrassing humanity!”, CBS joined in targeting Connecticut's “independent Democrat” for daring to oppose liberals on health care. “He holds the 60th vote needed to get the health care reform bill passed in the Senate,” anchor Katie Couric intoned, “and Nancy Cordes tells us supporters of reform are angry and confused about Lieberman's position.”
Cordes soon expanded the exasperation to include “Democratic Senators Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln and Ben Nelson” who “successfully blocked the public option even though the other 55 Democrats support it. Nelson is still holding out for stricter anti-abortion language, leading some liberals to complain their agenda is being hijacked by a few.” She demanded of Lieberman: “Does it trouble you that you're going against an overwhelming majority of your caucus?” (Hard to imagine a CBS reporter ever scolding a more liberal Republican for defying the party's conservative majority.)
A frustrated Cordes concluded: “So this small group of four or so Senators has managed successfully to impose their will on the other 530 members of Congress because the changes that they're demanding to the Senate bill will likely have to be made to the House bill, too.”
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Nancy Cordes reported on the Obamas hosting their first state dinner in the White House and declared: “Everyone wants one, but only a few hundred are lucky enough to get an invitation to the hottest ticket in town...”
Cordes concluded her brief report by mentioning: “Pop entertainer and Chicagoan Jennifer Hudson will entertain the guests, giving everyone, including the Obamas, ample opportunity to dance.” Footage was played of the first couple dancing as co-host Maggie Rodriguez added: “Which we know they love to do.”
Rodriguez spoke with former Clinton White House official Laura Schwartz, who remarked: “What an exciting day today.” Rodriguez agreed: “I know.” She then asked Schwartz: “...what do you think the Obamas want this dinner to say about them?” Schwartz described the event as the Obamas “inviting the world into their home” and noted the couple’s frequent global travel: “...the Obamas have been traveling quite a lot this first year, which is very exciting, it’s good for America. It’s good to be involved.”
On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Nancy Cordes celebrated one GOP Senator’s support for health care reform: “Democrats can claim a smidge of bipartisan support and that’s because of one yes vote from one rebel Republican....When Olympia Snowe cast the lone Republican vote for the Senate Finance bill, she reaffirmed her place as a power player on Capitol Hill.”
Cordes went on to tout Snowe’s history of going against the Republican Party: “This is not the first time Snowe has bucked her party. In 2006, she helped kill an amendment that would’ve federally banned gay marriage. And she voted in favor of allowing federal funding for stem cell research. This January, she joined Democrats to pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and was one of only two Republican senators to support President Obama’s stimulus package.”
After Cordes’s report, co-host Harry Smith spoke with Senator Snowe and wondered why other Republicans on the Finance Committee did not support the legislation: “You’ve described this crisis as like the Titanic heading toward an iceberg and this being an opportunity to turn away from it. If there is no bill, and if there is no Republican support, will they be abrogating their responsibility to avert this crisis?”
The Senate Finance Committee's ObamaCare bill will spend $829 billion over ten years, but fill-in CBS Evening News Maggie Rodriquez trumpeted how “according to a new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the plan costs less than expected and would actually reduce the deficit. So why do Republicans still oppose it?”
Instead of explaining the skepticism toward how the massive additional spending could lead to less spending, reporter Nancy Cordes touted how “the new numbers give health care reform a much-needed boost” and credulously recounted the spending would be offset by fees, taxes “and trims to Medicare.” When Republicans proposed a reduction in the rate of increase of Medicare spending the media screamed about “cuts.” Now a $400 billion change is merely a “trim.” And who really believes that proposal will ever pass?
“The result,” Cordes maintained, “a net savings to government of $81 billion over 10 years” before she championed: “It's estimated the new bill would allow 29 million Americans who don't currently have coverage, Americans like Javier Salinas, to buy it.” Nonetheless, “Republicans still oppose the bill, despite the lower price tag.”
Following the talking points of the Democratic Party, at the top of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared a win for health care legislation being pushed by Montana Senator Max Baucus: “President Obama’s health care plan gets a green light from the Congressional Budget Office, as a key bill not only pays for itself, but actually saves billions.”
Rodriguez later introduced a report on the CBO estimates by declaring: “This morning Democratic leaders are cheering a report that shows that the Senate Finance Committee’s health care bill actually saves money.” Correspondent Nancy Cordes followed: “The new bill would actually reduce the federal deficit by $81 billion according to the new estimates. The price tag, $829 billion over ten years, would be fully paid for, and then some, by an excise tax on top dollar insurance plans, by fees on drug makers and medical device manufacturers, and more.”
During the segment, an on-screen headline read: “One Step Closer? New Health Care Estimate Raises White House Hopes.” In her report, Cordes cited Jonathan Cohn, the senior editor of the liberal magazine, The New Republic, who praised the bill: “You’re average family will have security they don’t have, they won’t – they’ll know they won’t lose their insurance if they lose their job. If they need financial assistance paying for their health care, that will be available to them.”
Trying to boost the rationale for ObamaCare, Thursday's CBS Evening News ran two stories from far-left sources, but the network disguised the agenda behind both. Katie Couric announced that “while the debate goes on over the cost of insuring everyone, a new study reveals the cost of not doing it. The Harvard study says nearly 45,000 American deaths every year are linked to a lack of insurance.” Neither she, nor reporter Jim Axelrod, noted that the report was really produced by Physicians for a National Health Program, “the only national physician organization in the United States dedicated exclusively to implementing a single-payer national health program.”
Next, Nancy Cordes touted “a rare sight – leaders from the nation's largest insurers sitting down to get grilled,” without pointing out it occurred at a hearing held by the Domestic Policy subcommittee of the House's Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, a subcommittee chaired by far-left former presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.
Big liberal protests, such as the Million Mom March (for gun control), the 2006 demonstrations in favor of illegal immigrants’ “rights,” and numerous anti-war marches all garnered heavy play and adoring coverage from the broadcast networks, cable news outlets, and big papers like the New York Times. So how did those news outlets react to Saturday’s huge protest with conservative themes? MRC’s analysts scrutinized the coverage; here’s their report card:
■ ABC, CBS and NBC: The broadcast networks did not offer any pre-rally coverage before Saturday’s protests, but offered decent coverage of the event itself. ABC’s World News on Saturday was pre-empted by college football, but Good Morning America offered full reports on both Saturday and Sunday, as did NBC’s Today. Both the NBC Nightly News and CBS Evening News led with the rally on Saturday night, although CBS’s morning news shows gave the protest almost no attention.
The tone of coverage, however, was largely antagonistic.
Media minds think alike. ABC: “It was the shout heard 'round the world.” CBS: “It was the shout heard 'round the world.” NBC, slightly creative: “The outburst heard 'round the world” and the “heckle heard 'round the world.” Congressman Joe Wilson's “you lie” shout during President Obama's Wednesday address to Congress on health care animated the Thursday evening newscasts, though it at least prompted ABC and NBC, but not CBS, to grudgingly take up, briefly, Wilson's contention illegal immigrants would receive health benefits.
“As the President spoke last night, there was a stunning moment. As the President tried to refute criticisms of his health care reform, a Republican Congressman from South Carolina yelled out 'you lie,'” ABC anchor Charles Gibson announced. On CBS, Katie Couric maintained “Presidents appearing there as respected guests have been interrupted before by boos and hisses, but this was different. A Congressman last night calling a President an outright liar to his face. Just the latest indication of how ugly the debate over reforming health care has gotten.”
Brian Williams teased the NBC Nightly News: “On our broadcast tonight, the speech on health care and the outburst heard 'round the world.” In the subsequent story Kelly O'Donnell portrayed “a stunning outburst. South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson accused the President of lying in a fit of anger that reverberated today.”
At the top of the 8AM ET hour of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Russ Mitchell wondered if Ted Kennedy’s death could "spur Congress to pass a health care reform bill?" Correspondent Nancy Cordes answered that question: "Kennedy’s death, in a way, gives new life to health care legislation, which has really taken a beating the past few weeks at town halls across the country."
Cordes went on to declare: "Supporters of health care reform say they’re going to fight even harder to achieve Kennedy’s dying wish, universal healthcare. With Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia even suggesting that the legislation be named after the late great lawmaker."
Earlier on the show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez interviewed Utah Senator and Kennedy friend Orrin Hatch, and asked about the "dying wish" of the Massachusetts Senator: "I’d be willing to bet that he would be smiling down on the capital if Republicans and Democrats could finally compromise to fulfill his dream of health care reform. Do you think that Senator Kennedy’s passing could be the impetus that could finally make that happen, or do you think that the only bridge builder who could have done that is gone now?"
ABC, CBS and NBC on Wednesday night all showcased liberal Democratic Congressman Barney Frank's rejoinder -- “On what planet do you spend most of your time?” -- to a woman's question: “Why do you continue to support a Nazi policy as Obama has expressly supported this policy?” As if the premise were coming from a typical anti-ObamaCare conservative, ABC's Charles Gibson set up the exchange by asserting “the contentious rhetoric over health care reform has gone up another notch. It happened in Massachusetts, after protesters brought pictures of President Obama with a Hitler-style mustache to a town hall meeting with Congressman Barney Frank.”
Though ABC showed a picture of the poster with “LaRouche PAC.com” visible at the bottom, neither Gibson nor CBS's Nancy Cordes (who did not show the LaRouche credit) noted the posters were created and distributed by the group affiliated with Lyndon LaRouche, a seven-time far-left Democratic presidential candidate who spent many years as a Trotsky-ite and is best-known as a propagator of wild conspiracy theories. The New Bedford Standard Times identified the woman as “with the LaRouche Political Action Committee.”
On the NBC Nightly News, fill-in anchor Lester Holt referred to “more rowdy town hall meetings” which led Frank to decide “he'd had enough and faced off against a woman holding a picture of President Obama that was doctored to make him look like Hitler.” After video of the exchange Tuesday night in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, Holt benignly described the source: “That anti-Obama image is being disseminated by supporters of perennial presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche who are campaigning against health care reform.”
After depicting the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ car buying program as a "runaway success" on Friday, on Tuesday’s Early Show, correspondent Nancy Cordes argued: "The Department of Transportation says the program has been great for the environment. 80% of the clunkers have been pickups or SUVs, traded in for new cars with an average mileage nearly 10 miles per gallon higher."
Following that declaration Cordes cited car salesman Mario Sosnowski, who praised the program: "Starting from 8:00, 9:00 in the morning, we’re here till – till midnight every day because of the program, because of the excitement."
At the top of the show, co-host Julie Chen depicted Republican opposition to increased funding for ‘Cash for Clunkers’ as a desire to "put the popular program on the scrap heap." Following Cordes’ report, co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint about his objections: "We now see this morning that this program is, in fact, getting more fuel-efficient vehicles on the road. It’s getting people to spend money. So do you still believe, as you have said in recent days, that this is quote ‘a great example of the stupidity coming out of Washington’?"
Reporting on the Obama administration’s ‘Cash for Clunkers’ car buying program running out of money, CBS correspondent Nancy Cordes offered a mixed message: "‘Cash for Clunkers’ has been such a runaway success....The program is so popular...word spread it would be suspended...because of fears that sales would soon swallow up the $1 billion for rebates the government had set aside."
At the top of Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: "It’s a week old and incredibly popular. But is the government’s ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program coming to a screeching halt? We’ll see why it may run out of gas and why so many are angry." She later introduced Cordes’ report by explaining: "It appears that ‘Cash for Clunkers’ could be kaput. There’s been a lot of criticism that the week-old federal program is just too confusing. But the White House says it’s so popular that it’s already running out of money, so they’re reevaluating."
In highlighting a new study which found $147 billion a year is spent on obesity-related health care and obese people spend $1,400 more a year for health services, ABC and CBS on Monday night couldn't resist interjecting a plug for imposing a tax on soda to bring in revenue to pay for ObamaCare.
ABC's Sharyn Alfonsi asserted “health officials seem to like the idea of a federal soda tax” since “adding a tax of three cents a can to high-calorie sodas could generate $24 billion over the next four years,” and while “opponents argue Americans won't tolerate another tax,” supporters “say it could cut health care costs and America's ever- expanding bottom line, all at once.”
Following a full CBS Evening News story on the obesity report, anchor Katie Couric set up a story on the tax idea: “Now, some believe another way to help pay for health care reform is to put a tax on one of the causes of obesity: soft drinks full of sugar. Nancy Cordes has more on that.” Cordes began: “Americans consume roughly 250 more calories everyday than they did in the '70s and half those calories come from sugary drinks, which is why some health advocates are urging Congress to help pay for health care reform with a tax on non-diet sodas...”
On Monday’s Early Show, co-host Julie Chen teased an upcoming story on Sarah Palin’s political future: "Also ahead, the always controversial Sarah Palin remains in the headlines this morning. We're going to tell you what she's now saying about her future plans as well as what she's planning to do right after she leaves office later this month."
Chen teased the story later, again labeling the Alaska Governor as controversial: "We're going to tell you where the controversial Alaska governor is headed once she leaves office." In the report that followed, correspondent Nancy Cordes cited new poll numbers: "According to a new CBS poll out this morning, Sarah Palin faces doubts, even from Republicans, about her ability to be an effective president. Less than 1 in 4 Americans think she has the ability. Among Republicans, only one-third say Palin could be effective."
Cordes went on to describe Palin’s future plans, including an upcoming speech in California: "Her appearance is almost certain to raise speculation about her political ambitions. But some say Palin hasn't done enough to change how people feel about her." After mentioning that Palin was offering to stump for Republican candidates, Cordes observed: "But a couple of Republicans running for governor this year have already appeared cool to the idea of having her in to support them."