CBS This Morning and NBC's Today couldn't be bothered to give Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s political affiliation as they devoted just 35 seconds of air time on Wednesday to his upcoming sentencing. Both morning newscasts merely identified the onetime Democratic politician as a former congressman.
The same morning, ABC's Good Morning America completely ignored the story about Jackson, who pled guilty in February 2013 to misusing campaign funds to buy big ticket items, such as a $43,000 Rolex watch, and Michael Jackson memorabilia.
Rather than update viewers on the latest details of the scandals plaguing the Obama administration, or the President's foreign policy failures in the Middle East, the hosts of NBC's Today devoted over a minute of air time Wednesday to discussing whether broccoli was really Obama's favorite food. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
News reader Natalie Morales sparked the exchange by proclaiming: "You know it's July in Washington when there's a broccoli brewhaha." She explained how President Obama told a kid reporter at a White House children's event that the vegetable was his favorite food, "with many greeting the President's claim with skepticism."
On Tuesday, the Associated Press (AP) reported that smokers may not be subject to new tobacco-use penalties built into the Affordable Care Act, due to a “computer system glitch” that could take more than a year to repair. The AP claimed that some see the stumble as part of “an emerging pattern of last-minute switches and delays” for President Obama’s signature health care law, citing the administration’s recent postponement of the so-called “employer mandate” until 2015. [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
But you wouldn’t get that sense from the mainstream media, as most major outlets have devoted little or no time to the story since it broke early Tuesday morning. The Tuesday morning shows (Today, Good Morning America, and CBS This Morning) ignored the development, save for a 10-second mention from Today’s Natalie Morales.
During a news brief on Wednesday's NBC Today, anchor Natalie Morales noted that following "tough new abortion laws" being approved by the Texas house of delegates, "Demonstrators on both sides of the issue descended on the state capitol building and erupted in screams and cheers immediately following last night's vote." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
However, the footage that rolled on screen as Morales talked was only that of abortion activists chanting "Shame on you!" throughout the Texas state house. Such footage belies the fact that sixty-two percent of Texans agree with the ban on abortions after twenty weeks, not to mention a plurality of Americans.
Two weeks after Texas state senator Wendy Davis and a mob of abortion activists prevented popularly supported pro-life legislation from being passed in the Lone Star State, on Tuesday's NBC Today, news reader Natalie Morales warned of another upcoming vote on the bill: "The battle over abortion rights is focused on Texas, where a controversial bill that failed last month will be back up for a vote." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the report that followed, correspondent Gabe Gutierrez declared Texas to be at "the epicenter of the national debate over abortion" and hyped "another showdown" at the state capitol. He detailed the bill's "controversial" measures: "...banning abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy and mandating that abortion clinics meet the same standards as hospital-style surgical centers. It would also require that a doctor who performs abortions be able to admit patients at a nearby hospital."
Leading off a panel discussion on Thursday's NBC Today applauding the Supreme Court's gay marriage decisions, co-host Natalie Morales proclaimed: "Wednesday's historic ruling on same-sex marriage is being celebrated across the country, but it was sixteen years ago when Ellen Degeneres marked a milestone, breaking a huge barrier in front of millions of people on primetime TV." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
After a clip played of Degeneres coming out on her sitcom in 1997, fill-in co-host Carson Daly posed the question: "So how much influence has pop culture had on America's changing attitude and the Supreme Court decision?" Later in the segment, Morales observed: "I mean, pop culture always seems to be ahead of the courts in these instances, right?"
ABC and NBC led their morning shows on Tuesday with nearly 10 minutes of "breaking news" coverage of Angelina Jolie's double mastectomy. This celebrity-driven story was apparently deemed more important than abortionist Dr. Kermit Gosnell being found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder, as Good Morning America and Today devoted just 38 seconds to the Gosnell trial. (audio clips of Jolie coverage available here; video below the jump)
Altogether, the ABC and NBC morning newscasts aired 19 minutes and 3 seconds of coverage on Jolie. Tuesday's CBS This Morning waited 12 minutes to cover the Hollywood news item, but ultimately ended up setting aside 7 minutes and 49 seconds of air time to the surgeries, versus a 18 second news brief on Gosnell. The total Big Three coverage of Jolie on Tuesday morning, including CBS's reporting, added up to 26 minutes and 52 seconds, as opposed to 56 seconds on the Gosnell case.
While the Big Three (ABC, CBS and NBC) networks have all done stories on the Obama administration's seizure of Associated Press (AP) reporters phone records, what is striking is their reluctance to attach Barack Obama's name to the controversy. In seven total stories aired on their evening and morning shows, since the story broke on Monday afternoon, Obama's name was used only six times. Reporters were much more likely to use the generic term "government." For example, CBS's Bob Orr on Wednesday's This Morning described the controversy this way: "The government just simply came in, got the subpoenas, took the phone logs and then notified the AP after the fact."
The reluctance to put Obama's name in these stories is important because it allows the low-information voter to write off the scandal as one caused by faceless government bureaucrats.
On Wednesday's NBC Today, news anchor Natalie Morales complained about having a flight delayed due to the FAA furloughing air traffic controllers in the wake of the sequester: "I was traveling to Boston yesterday, which is a 50-minute flight, shuttle. And it took me about two and a half hours to get there....the pilots got on and they said, 'It's not the airline's fault....you can go online and sign the petition to end the furloughs.'" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
The account echoed a similar report from CNBC's Jim Cramer, who on Tuesday's Squawk Box explained: "We were about to take off and the pilot comes back and doesn't see me initially, CNBC. And says, 'look, we just got word the FAA says that we don't have enough air traffic controllers to take off. It's part of the sequester.'"
ABC, CBS, and NBC's Friday morning shows all devoted air time to President Obama labeling California Attorney General Kamala Harris "the best-looking attorney general in the country" at a fundraiser on Thursday. Unsurprisingly, a panel on NBC's Today tried to explain away the remark. Willie Geist asserted, "I think he [Obama] was making a joke." CBS This Morning's Norah O'Donnell was tougher on the President: "Maybe, [it] was not the right thing to say."
However, the Big Three newscasts didn't report that Mrs. Obama also got caught in a verbal misstep on Thursday. ABCNews.com's Arlette Saenz devoted a Friday morning item to how Michelle Obama mistakenly referred to herself as a "single mother" during an interview with WCAX, a CBS affiliate in Vermont.
NBC's Al Roker was appalled by a poll of conspiracy theories that showed 37 percent of those surveyed believed global warming was a hoax. During a discussion, on Wednesday's Today show, of a Public Policy Polling survey that included respondents' views on everything from the John F. Kennedy assassination to the existence of Bigfoot, co-host Willie Geist reported: "Global warming is a hoax. Thirty-seven percent believe that."
To which Roker responded with an audible, "Wow!" and then later scolded global warming skeptics: "Okay, two words: Superstorm Sandy!" (video after the jump)
Social conservative Peter LaBarbera crashed a big liberal-media party in New York – the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association “Headlines and Headliners” fundraiser, hosted by NBC Universal. The long list of media elite guests raised $75,000 for the gay activist group.
Former daytime MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer (now consigned to hosting the Sunday night show "Caught on Camera") bluntly told LaBarbera that anyone wanting equal time for conservatives on a gay issue is like advocating “fair coverage for racists”:
ABC continued ignoring Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's move on Tuesday to drop a proposed federal ban on so-called assault weapons. Neither Wednesday's World News nor Thursday's Good Morning America covered the congressional development. This lack of coverage stands out in light of the network's hype of President Obama's supposedly "dramatic and emotional" lobbying effort for the ban during his State of the Union address.
NBC and CBS's Wednesday evening newscasts also ignored Senator Reid's deep-sixing of the gun control legislation. Their morning shows on Thursday devoted news briefs to Vice President Joe Biden and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's "renewed call" for the assault weapons ban, but failed to explicitly mention the Nevada Democrat's role in dropping the bill.
On Tuesday's NBC Today, news reader Natalie Morales warned viewers: "With a potential government shutdown looming later on this month, the White House may have to cancel its annual Easter Egg Roll." In the report that followed, White House correspondent Kristen Welker added that the "event might be in jeopardy....due to the ongoing budget battles here in Washington." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
While Welker simply repeated administration talking points without skepticism, she completely ignored the fact that just days ago, during a Fox News interview on March 15, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney testily told anchor Jenna Lee that while tours of the executive mansion had been cancelled, the Easter Egg Roll was safe: "Well actually, Jenna, again, if you did a little reporting...it's paid for by the sale of those eggs that come out, as well as from donations on the outside, so it's a totally different budget. These are apples and oranges."
On Monday's NBC Today, news reader Natalie Morales hyped how "Republican infighting broke out this weekend at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference." In the report that followed, political director Chuck Todd bolstered the meme: "...the party is trying to rehabilitate its image, solve an identity crisis, and it means that feuds are breaking out all over..." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Todd particularly focused on one such "feud" between Sarah Palin and Karl Rove, with the headline on screen throughout the segment reading: "Family Feud; Sarah Palin & Karl Rove Trade Barbs at CPAC." Todd derisively remarked that while Palin "stole the show" at CPAC, she was "playing more the role of entertainer and stand-up comedian than of serious politician."
Introducing a brief report on Friday's NBC Today about the funeral proceedings for socialist Venezuelan strong man Hugo Chavez, news reader Natalie Morales announced: "In Venezuela, a hero's send-off today for Hugo Chavez, a harsh critic of the U.S. who ruled for 14 years." The headline on screen during the segment read: "Saluting Chavez; World Leaders in Venezuela for President's Funeral."
Correspondent Mark Potter, reporting from Caracas, noted that Chavez would "lie in state for another seven days so more Venezuelans can pay their respects" after "thousands and thousands of people stood in a mile-long line for the chance to quickly file past the casket." Potter added: "Chavez's body eventually will be preserved, much like those of historic communist figures Lenin and Mao, for future public display in a special tomb."
On Wednesday and Thursday, two of the Big Three networks ballyhooed how the Arkansas state legislature overrode Governor Mike Beebe's veto of a pro-life bill that outlaws abortion once the unborn baby's heartbeat is detected. Scott Pelley hyped "the most restrictive abortion law in the country" on Wednesday's CBS Evening News, echoing the New York Times' label of the new law – "the country's most restrictive ban on abortion".
Natalie Morales used nearly identical language to Pelley on Thursday's Today on NBC. ABC punted on covering the move by Arkansas state legislators on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning newscasts. By contrast, Norah O'Donnell didn't use such language during her news brief on the story on Thursday's CBS This Morning:
Sadly, MSNBC cannot follow sister network NBC’s lead in reporting the story of disgraced Democrat Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill) and his impending prison sentence for illegally using campaign funds for personal usage.
On the February 20 edition of NBC Nightly News as well as on the February 21 edition of Today, both shows correctly identify Jesse Jackson Jr. as a Democrat, but their MSNBC morning show Morning Joe skipped the important detail. [See video after jump. MP3 audio here.]
After gushing coverage on Monday's NBC Today over Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton "finishing one another's sentences" in a joint interview, a four-minute panel discussion at the top of the morning show's 9 a.m. et hour was devoted to the topic as well, with co-host Tamron Hall declaring: "I was looking at the body language a lot, other than the words, and they leaned in together...both leaning in like, 'I got your back and I'll be voting for you.'" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
At the top of the 9 a.m. et hour on Thursday's NBC Today, the morning show cast devoted a four-minute panel discussion to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton getting emotional during her congressional testimony on Wednesday. News reader Natalie Morales gushed: "She was speaking passionately about, you know, that heat of the moment. And also, you know, I think she just loved those people [who died in Benghazi]. So that was true emotion." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Co-host Savannah Guthrie observed: "I don't know if there's as much a stigma anymore from public figures crying from time-to-time. I mean, this is not somebody who is crying all the time. We've seen her well up in the past. I think this is probably the most emotional we've ever seen her." Morales proclaimed: "Right, she's a strong leader."
In a panel discussion on Wednesday's NBC Today, the morning show cast excitedly touted the possibility of left-wing actress Ashley Judd running for senate against Mitch McConnell in 2014, with co-host Willie Geist declaring: "She was a delegate to the Democratic convention this summer, she's very involved in politics, she's outspoken." [Watch the video after the jump]
News reader Natalie Morales heaped praise on Judd: "She's a brilliant woman....Harvard, I think....she's a U.N. goodwill ambassador, speaks out on HIV/AIDS prevention. And also, you know, she's done so much good for public – public good and she's a great, very smart woman." Celebrity chef Paula Deen, a guest on the show, chimed in: "I've heard that she's an extremely bright woman." Morales added: "Very."
At the top of the 9 a.m. et hour on Friday's NBC Today, news anchor Natalie Morales eagerly touted a study released by Washington University in St. Louis on contraception: "A new study suggests that free birth control can dramatically lower rates of abortion and teen births."
Morales then quickly used the findings to promoted ObamaCare: "The report comes as millions of women are about to gain access to free contraception under most workplace insurance plans as part of President Obama's health care law."
ABC's Good Morning America hasn't once reported on U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's claim on the September 16, 2012 edition of This Week that the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya was "a spontaneous - not a pre-meditated - response to what had transpired in Cairo." Even worse, the morning show hasn't reported on the subsequent developments on the consulate attack over the past 12 days that cast doubt on Ambassador Rice's statement.
NBC's Today show also hasn't covered Rice's talking points on the attack, after she appeared on Meet the Press on the same day as her This Week appearance. News reader Natalie Morales merely reported on September 19 that "the White House says there is currently no evidence that last week's deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya was planned and pre-meditated. Officials say it appears that the violence was sparked by that anti-Islam film made in the U.S." Two days later, Morales gave an update on how "the White House is now classifying the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya as a terrorist attack....But intelligence officials now believe it was a planned attack in the guise of a protest."
Both of those programs provided voluminous coverage of Romney's "47%" tape, but have no time to scrutinize the Obama administration's public statements about an incident that claimed the life of an American ambassador?
In what was billed as a profile of Ann Romney set to air on Thursday's NBC Rock Center, a portion of the interview played on Thursday's Today featured news anchor Natalie Morales grilling the Republican candidate's spouse on taxes: "...she fiercely defended the Romneys' decision not to release tax returns from before 2010. A lot of people still are asking why not be transparent and release more than the 2010 and the estimates for 2011." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Romney responded forcefully: "Have you seen how we're attacked? Have you seen what's happened?" Morales continued to press the issue: "It's been in the press quite a bit. Now are you angry that it's been in the press? I mean, should you not be questioned about your finances?" Romney pushed back: "We have been very transparent to what's legally required of us. But, the more we release, the more we get attacked. The more we get questioned, the more we get pushed."
The broadcast networks promoted gay activists’ protest of the fast food company Chick-fil-A, but when that protest fizzled, they did little to cover the failure.
ABC’s Steve Osunsami hyped the protests ahead of time, saying “nearly 100,000 friends and family have been invited online.” After the apparent lack of turnout at the kiss-in, however, the networks stopped reporting on the protest. Only ABC briefly mentioned the results of the kiss-in, after all three networks talked about the protests on the morning of Aug. 3.
On its Wednesday evening and Thursday morning newscasts, CBS didn't file one report or news brief on the controversial federal abortifacient/contraception mandate going into effect. Even worse, the only mention of religious liberty scandal over the regulation was CBS This Morning playing a clip of liberal comedian Stephen Colbert making fun of it.
ABC's Diane Sawyer heralded the mandate taking effect as "an important day for women's health" on Wednesday's World News, and forwarded the White House's talking points on the regulation: "Religious employers, like Catholic charities and hospitals, do not have to directly include free birth control under their health plans." On NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams lamented that "simply by taking effect, it started up the health care fight all over again."
In a news brief on Monday's NBC Today, anchor Natalie Morales touted how "Palestinian leaders are slamming Mitt Romney" for remarks he made during a "fundraising visit" to Israel: "Romney sparked outrage by suggesting that he would move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, calling it Israel's 'capital city.' Palestinian leaders say the comment is, quote, 'unacceptable.'"
All three networks on Tuesday absolutely gushed over Barack Obama kissing his wife at a men's Olympic basketball game on Monday night. CBS This Morning guest anchor Norah O'Donnell thrilled, "Whoo-hoo-hoo! Hot in here!" Good Morning America news reader Josh Elliott cheered on the President's ability to kiss his wife in public: "[Obama] is showing the world he's got a little game off the court as well!" [See a video montage below. MP3 audio here.]
Today's Natalie Morales recounted how the President, after being spotted by the Kiss Cam, at first refused to kiss Mrs. Obama. Morales hyped, "...They got a second chance when the "Kiss Cam" found them again. So this time he delivered, planting a very presidential pucker on the First Lady and the crowd went wild." Weatherman Al Roker joked, "Mr. President, get a stadium."
Offering some pro-Obama fluff on Tuesday's NBC Today, news reader Natalie Morales gushed over the President and First Lady getting caught on the "Kiss Cam" at a basketball game during a "date night." After the First Couple initially just waved to the camera, Morales excitedly told viewers: "Not to worry, they got a second chance when the 'Kiss Cam' found them again. So this time he delivered, planting a very presidential pucker on the First Lady and the crowd went wild."
In a particularly petty attempt to pump up President Obama and denigrate Mitt Romney, Tuesday's NBC Today brought on left-wing MSNBC host Alex Wagner for a supposed pop culture segment that devolved into Democratic campaign talking points. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Co-host Natalie Morales touted a new viral video that "reveals details about President Obama and Mrs. Obama's first date." Wagner gushed: "They always sort of had a high bar, as far as their husband and wife interactions.....The First Lady and the President first went and had lunch at the Art Institute of Chicago, then they took a walk down Michigan Avenue, and then they ended the date with a screening of Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. The First Lady said it showed that he was hip, he was culturally sensitive. We know that it all ended in marital bliss."