Barack Obama appeared on all three networks (as well as CNN and PBS) Monday night to try and salvage support for his planned strike against Syria. But it was World News anchor Diane Sawyer who appeared ready to preemptively credit the President with possibly solving the unraveling issue.
The host began the program by touting, "And moments ago, I sat down with President Obama who seemed to be signaling the tough stand by the U.S. may have caused a dictator to back down." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Sawyer added, "If Bashar al-Assad yields control of his chemical weapons to international authority, are we back from the brink?" Both CBS and NBC offered tougher questions to the President, pressing Obama on lack of support from the American people.
It seems even Barack Obama doesn't want to be seen on MSNBC.
The Washington Post reported moments ago that the President of the United States, ahead of his address to the nation about Syria Tuesday, will give interviews to the evening newscasts of ABC, CBS, CNN, FNC, NBC and PBS Monday.
Wednesday's CBS Evening News twice underlined President Obama's 2012 "red line" remark before playing a soundbite of the Democrat's "I didn't set a red line" reversal earlier in the day. Scott Pelley noted that "a year ago, he [Obama] warned the Syrian dictator that a red line would be crossed if the dictator used chemical weapons against his rebellious citizens." Major Garrett soon added that Obama "set a red line on the use of chemical weapons 13 months ago." [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
None of the Big Three evening newscasts played the actual clip of the President's 2012 warning. On NBC Nightly News, Chuck Todd did his best to explain away the President's denial: "The President redefined what he meant by his red line". Jonathan Karl didn't even mention the original "red line" comment during his report on ABC's World News.
Douglas Brinkley predictably fawned over President Obama's apparently "very beautifully written" address marking the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech, mere moments after he finished delivering it: "I think it's one of the great speeches that Barack Obama's ever delivered." [audio available here; video below the jump]
Scott Pelley turned to Brinkley during CBS's special coverage of the anniversary rally. The liberal historian was quick to sing the President's praises:
On Tuesday morning, The New York Times reported the Obama administration had delayed a “significant consumer protection” in the Affordable Care Act, a provision that limits how much individuals and families can pay out-of-pocket for health care, until 2015. Under ObamaCare, the limit on out-of-pocket health care costs was set at $6,350 per year for individuals and $12,700 per year for families.
The Times suggested the delay “underscore[s] the difficulties the Obama administration is facing as it rolls out the health care law” – yet, the development was ignored by both ABC and NBC on their nightly and morning news programs. CBS This Morning also failed to report the delay, while CBS Evening News offered up a short segment on the story.
Scott Pelley devoted a minute and a half segment to the IRS scandal on Wednesday's CBS Evening News, the first time that the Big Three newscast had mentioned the issue in a month. Pelley asked Treasury Secretary Jack Lew if "any political appointee had oversight of the decisions that were made around the Tea Party applications", and reported on some of the recent developments in the scandal.
Mere hours later, Thursday's CBS This Morning didn't even cover the IRS portion of the Lew interview, but did play a clip of Pelley asking the Cabinet official about the economy.
It’s hard to know where yesterday’s Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage met with the most jubilation: West Hollywood, the Castro District, Greenwich Village? Or the newsrooms of ABC, CBS and NBC?
Combined, the three broadcast networks devoted an astounding 25 minutes, 54 seconds of their evening news shows to the Supreme Court’s decisions striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and essentially overturning California’s Proposition 8 referendum on gay marriage. Afraid to spoil the party, they predictably allowed just 3 minutes, 33 seconds to same sex marriage opponents and their viewpoints.
On a big day for news, two of the three major networks downplayed President Obama’s global warming speech on yesterday’s evening newscasts. ABC and CBS reduced the story to a brief anchor-read blurb, while NBC included a sound bite and a full in-studio report from a correspondent.
The speech, delivered at Georgetown University, was notable for Obama’s threat to bypass Congress by directing the Environmental Protection Agency to impose tougher pollution standards on existing as well as new power plants. But on ABC World News Tonight, anchor Diane Sawyer failed to mention this costly power grab, opting instead for an innocent and simplified version of events:
Thursday's CBS Evening News all but hinted that the border security measures included in a new compromise attached to the immigration reform bill in Congress was overkill. Scott Pelley emphasized, "To win over Republicans, negotiators today added a military-style surge for the southern border." NBC's Tamron Hall echoed Pelley on Friday's Today: "It [the bill] would involve fortifying the U.S.-Mexico border and flooding it with a military-style troop surge."
CBS correspondent Nancy Cordes also spotlighted how "the compromise...spares no expense to fortify the southern border....And it would blanket the border with infrared ground sensors, thermal imaging cameras, and drones."
A key to success in business is knowing your competition.
CBS Evening News host Scott Pelley apparently doesn't subscribe to this doctrine, for in an interview with Deadline Hollywoodpublished Saturday, Pelley claimed that Fox News only has 200,000 to 300,000 viewers:
Banks are bad because they make a profit on things requested by their customers, according to both NBC and CBS. The two networks highlighted a study released June 11 by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau [CFPB] that said banks made $12.6 billion in overdraft fees and non-sufficient funds from bounced checks in 2011. Though only 20 percent of customers actually opt-in for overdraft protection, NBC called these fees “one of the most common financial mistakes Americans make.”
Anchor Lester Holt opened the segment with alarmist, accusatory language: “A government report out today makes it clear just how much this country’s banks are profiting from your mistakes. We’re talking about those hefty overdraft charges when checking accounts are overdrawn. Well it turns out the banks are now making most of their fees from these penalties.”
It looked bizarre. After CBS broke the State Department scandal on Monday’s “CBS This Morning,” there was nothing on “CBS Evening News.” The New York Post “Page Six” gossips suggested it was “because Pelley and his EP, Pat Shevlin, were peeved” it broke in the morning, not on their show.
“Pelley called Page Six last night to vehemently deny he had a meltdown — then promptly went into a meltdown,” they reported.
For the week of May 27, the Big Three networks' evening news broadcasts declined, both compared to the previous week and the same week last year, and garnered an average combined daily audience of just under 20 million.
Somehow, Chris Ariens at Media Bistro apparently wasn't looking at the same numbers his readers were when he did his post, and wrote the following while linking back to the related post from last year which contradicted what he wrote (bolds are mine; link is in original):
On Monday's NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams failed to mention Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan's traditional Islamic orientation as he reported on the "anti-government protests" in the Mediterranean country. Williams merely described the demonstrations as a "display of frustration with the prime minister...who has been trying to impose more conservative values on that mostly secular country."
CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley had no such qualms the same evening as he reported on the same rallies. Pelley asked correspondent Holly Williams, "When the protestors say that Erdogan is trying to impose his Islamic values on the country, what are they talking about?"
Already moving on from the IRS scandal? On Thursday night, only the CBS Evening News of the broadcast network evening newscasts bothered to note how Lois Lerner, the IRS official in charge of the division which processes tax-exempt applications, was put on administrative leave after she took the Fifth and refused to answer questions at a House hearing the day before. Anchor Scott Pelley squeezed in 20 seconds on it.
Yet, ABC World News and the NBC Nightly News made room to highlight a photo of a 17-year-old Barack Obama and his prom date along with a friend and his date.
Scott Pelley deserves grudging credit for recognizing something obvious at a Friday luncheon in New York. Readers tempted to go beyond that point would be advised to visit the archive of Pelley-related posts at NewsBusters on his brand of so-called journalism, a few of which will be identified later in this post.
At said luncheon, Pelley received the 20th annual Fred Friendly First Amendment Award from the School of Communications at Quinnipiac University. In his acceptance speech (full YouTube; excerpt here; HT Weekly Standard), Pelley spoke of journalistic failures during the past few months. He wants to believe that the past few months have been extraordinarily bad to a supposedly unprecedented extent.
The evening news broadcasts on NBC, ABC, and CBS on Wednesday all offered full reports on the compelling congressional testimony regarding the Benghazi terrorist attack, but only after all three programs led with coverage of the Cleveland abduction case.
NBC Nightly News and CBS Evening News both at least informed viewers of the hearing during top-of-the-show teases, but ABC World News failed to make any mention of the hearing until a report nine minutes into the program (though anchor Diane Sawyer did find time to preview a story about tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams).
The extent of the media's influence to shape public opinion was on full display in a new Pew Research Center poll that shows, even though gun crime has dropped by half since its peak in the mid '90s, most Americans (56 percent) wrongly think gun violence has increased.
In anL.A. Timesarticle that highlighted the poll, Emily Alpert posited "It's unclear whether media coverage is driving the misconception that such violence is up. The mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., were among the news stories most closely watched by Americans last year, Pew found."
CBS lined up gun control supporters on Wednesday's CBS Evening News and Thursday's CBS This Morning. Chip Reid and Major Garrett played 11 soundbites from President Obama and other Democrats, as well as family members of the Newtown massacre victims. The only gun rights supporter that the two correspondents could find was Chuck Grassley. Reid played two clips from the Republican senator during his reports.
Reid led his second report by hyping how "forces opposed to gun control proved that they are still in control here in Washington". Garrett sounded like a stenographer for the White House as he reported on the "somber and frustrated" President's press conference after the Senate votes.
CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley comes across as a very serious, stoic person.
This seemed hardly the case in his Wednesday interview with the Hollywood Reporter when he uttered this howler concerning his program's coverage of last year's presidential campaign: "I think the viewer saw us as an island of calm in a sea of absurdity."
All three network newscasts on Monday and the morning shows on Tuesday promoted Barack Obama's "urgent plea" for gun control. These programs pushed the emotional angles, focusing on the Newtown families. Opposition to new restrictions on the Second Amendment was mostly ignored. On World News, guest host George Stephanopoulos hyped, "Tonight, urgent plea. The President goes all out in the fight over guns in America. Calling in the families of the children slain in Newtown." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Reporter Jon Karl parroted administration talking points: "The President portrayed his gun plan as a moral imperative." The ABC reporter then played two clips of Obama, including one where he lectured, "This is not about me. This is not about politics." (How can journalists allow a politician promoting legislation to get away with saying something "isn't about politics"?) Karl also highlighted Gabby Giffords's husband arguing for more restrictions, but no pro-Second Amendment voices. On the CBS Evening News, anchor Scott Pelley introduced three segments on gun control.
All three networks on Wednesday and Thursday parroted the exact same talking points from the White House, touting Barack Obama for expressing "solidarity" with struggling workers by taking a five percent pay cut. The President made the move, which amounts to a minuscule $1700 a month, in the wake of sequestration. On Good Morning America, Josh Elliott trumpeted, "[Obama] says he wants to show solidarity with government workers who face a furlough because of budget cuts." [See a video montage below. MP3 audio here.]
Over on NBC's Today, Natalie Morales touted, "In an attempt at solidarity with federal workers feeling the sequester spending cuts, President Obama is giving himself a five percent pay cut on his $400,000-a-year salary." Offering a remarkably similar thought, World News anchor Diane Sawyer rounded up the amount to a year's total: " That's $20,000, to show solidarity with government employees who will be furloughed." In an impressed tone, the host praised, "The White House says Obama will personally write a check to the Treasury."
Does journalistic insistence on catapulting President Barack Obama into historic greatness and relevance know no bounds? CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley on Tuesday night insisted upon trumpeting Obama’s proposal, to spend $100 million to map the human brain, through the hagiographic maneuver of putting Obama into a trilogy with the triumphs of Thomas Jefferson and John Kennedy:
"Finally tonight, for Thomas Jefferson it was the Louisiana Territory; for John F. Kennedy, the moon. Well today, as Bill Plante reports, President Obama announced a mission to explore and map another frontier filled with mystery and possibility."
During CBS's special coverage of the papal election on Wednesday, correspondent Mark Phillips singled out two dissenters from Catholic tradition in the middle of a crowd of hundreds of thousands in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City, mere minutes after the white smoke went out of the Sistine Chapel's chimney, and before Pope Francis emerged onto the balcony over the piazza.
The two activists, who wore pink "ordain women" pins, not only sought to change the Catholic Church's teachings on the all-male priesthood, but spotlighted "LGBT issues [and] reproductive health care" – a thinly-veiled reference to abortion and contraception – as issues that need to be drastically changed inside the Church. [audio available here; video below the jump]
Scott Pelley's liberal bias got the better of him on Monday's CBS Evening News as he interviewed three American seminarians studying in Rome. When one seminarian expressed his hope that next pope continues the "beautiful legacy of John Paul II and Benedict XVI," Pelley replied incredulously, "But you mentioned two popes who have a reputation for being doctrinally conservative. And this is something you'd like to see carried on?" [audio available here; video below the jump]
Hours later, on Tuesday's CBS This Morning, the Big Three network again gave a platform to agitators who aim to radically alter the Catholic Church's traditions from the inside. Fill-in anchor Anthony Mason wondered if "the winds of change [are] wafting through the Catholic Church" as he hyped a CBS News/New York Times poll that found apparent support for the ordination of women among American Catholics.
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:
Barack Obama’s strategy going into the scheduled sequestration was to hit the panic button, over and over again, putting the very Obama-friendly media into a heavy rotation of disaster metaphors.
“Hours, now, until massive government cuts go into effect that could impact every American. Jobs vaporizing, flights delayed, even criminals walking free,” warned ABC morning anchor Josh Elliott. On screen were the words “BUDGET ARMAGEDDON.”
Scott Pelley chided House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday's CBS Evening News, indicating the Republican leader was largely to blame for the imminent sequester: "You said that the President didn't have the guts to do what needed to be done on the budget. Today, you said the Senate has to get off its ass. Those don't sound like the words of a man seeking to bring people together to compromise."
Pelley had already pointed the finger at Boehner for the impasse over the federal budget back on the February 12, 2013 edition of the evening newscast, mere hours before the State of the Union:
Previewing the State of the Union address, CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley repeatedly scolded Republican House Speaker John Boehner for daring to criticize President Barack Obama’s commitment to reducing the deficit. “There will be a great deal said about compromise and bi-partisanship, but in reality there seems to be very little mood for it,” Pelley despaired, before citing the Speaker as the culprit. He relayed a Boehner quote: “When it comes to the heavy lifting that has to be done, he doesn’t have the guts to do it.”
Pelley expressed disbelief, recounting: “Those of us in the room asked the Speaker if he really meant what he said and he repeated it.” Turning to Bob Schieffer, Pelley mimicked the Obama campaign line, fretting: “He didn’t seem open to change.”