On Friday, all three morning shows dutifully touted President Obama’s defense of paying Iran $400 million on the same day Tehran released American hostages. Rather than hold the current president accountable for his highly questionable statements on the scandal, the broadcasts instead chose to hammer presidential candidate Donald Trump over a gaffe he made while reacting to the controversy.
Kyle Drennen is the Media Research Center's Senior News Analyst and a Contributing Editor to NewsBusters. He is the co-author of the 2014 Media Reality Check study, TV News Blacks Out This Year’s Bad Election News for Democrats.
In 2009, he captured the infamous comment from then-Newsweek editor Evan Thomas comparing President Obama to God. Later that same year, he exposed for MSNBC deceptively editing video footage of a Tea Party rally to conceal the racial identity of an African American participant, forcing the liberal network to respond to criticism and explain its actions.
His media analysis has been cited by nationally syndicated radio hosts Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin, as well as media outlets including Fox News, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal’s WSJ.com, The Washington Times, Washington Examiner, Politico, National Review, among others.
Kyle joined the MRC in 2007 after graduating from Providence College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and political science. He lives in Northern Virginia and can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On her MSNBC show on Thursday, host Andrea Mitchell bemoaned the Obama administration’s “unforced error” in sending Iran $400 million at the exact same time American hostages were released from Tehran in January. She was puzzled by the decision: “...they never explained that this other money was going – the $400 million. It’s unrelated to the nuclear deal. Why do it on the same day?”
After hyping “campaign chaos” for Donald Trump on Thursday’s NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie turned to Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd and freely admitted the glaring media double standard in covering the presidential race: “And what irritates so many Republicans is that if it were any other candidate running against Hillary Clinton, this would be a pretty rough patch for Hillary Clinton given some of the items in the news.”
While both NBC’s Today and CBS This Morning devoted full reports to The Wall Street Journal exposing the Obama administration secretly paying a $400 million ransom in cash to Iran to secure the release of American hostages, ABC’s Good Morning America only managed two news briefs on the topic that amounted to less than a minute of air time.
At the top of Tuesday’s NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie proclaimed: “Donald Trump launches a new attack against Hillary Clinton and says he's concerned the election is going to be rigged against him.” In a discussion with Bloomberg Politics editor Mark Halperin minutes later, she noted: “...he made that intriguing comment yesterday about the system being rigged. Some people interpreted that as he’s laying the groundwork already that if he loses he can say, ‘Well, there was something unfair about the process.’”
Acting like an innocent bystander with no control over NBC’s reporting, on Tuesday, Today co-host Savannah Guthrie declared that the media focus on Donald Trump’s controversies made it impossible for journalists to also cover the scandals swirling around Hillary Clinton: “I mean, this story [of the Khan parents] has now been kept alive for four days...By the way, pushing off some otherwise negative stories about Hillary Clinton that might be leading all the headlines.”
On Monday, both NBC’s Today and CBS This Morning promoted Democrats calling on Congress to cut its recess short in order to approve federal funding to combat the Zika virus. However, both morning shows ignored the fact that Democrats were the ones that blocked legislation to do just that only one month earlier.
On Friday’s NBC Today, correspondent Stephanie Gosk devoted a full report to hyping concerns that Russia could somehow rig the U.S. presidential election in November. In the wake of the hacking of Democratic National Committee e-mails, Gosk warned viewers: “The incident is raising new questions about the security of our country's overall electoral system. Could voting booths or voting tallies themselves be vulnerable?”
Acting more like a doorman than a journalist during PBS coverage of the Democratic National Convention Thursday night, CBS This Morning co-host Charlie Rose invited former Attorney General Eric Holder to blast Donald Trump: “You also said that Donald Trump, you questioned his gray matter. You mean he’s not smart enough to be president?”
Introducing a glowing profile of Hillary Clinton’s political career on Thursdays’s NBC Today, special correspondent Tom Brokaw fondly recalled the first time he heard of the Clintons: “40 years ago, when I was doing the Today show, I began to hear about this bright young couple down in Arkansas. Everybody was talking about maybe he'll run for president some day and everybody said he’s got this terrific wife.”
In a cozy interview with Chelsea Clinton, aired on Thursday’s NBC Today, about her mother’s upcoming speech at the Democratic National Convention,, co-host Matt Lauer fretted over Republican attacks on Hillary Clinton: “As a daughter, Chelsea...what was it like to sit and watch a television and hear people in an arena chanting ‘lock her up,’ hear Donald Trump say ‘crooked Hillary’? How do you digest that?"
After observing during the Republican National Convention that GOP voters were “better about laughing at themselves,” Saturday Night Live Weekend Update hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che appeared again on NBC’s Today on Wednesday to confirm that impression. Following their man-on-the-street comedy skit with attendees of the Democratic National Convention, co-host Matt Lauer asked: “We asked you last week, we'll ask you again. Who’s funnier, Republicans or Democrats?”
In a fawning report on Wednesday’s NBC Today, correspondent Peter Alexander celebrated Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential running mate ahead of his address to the Democratic National Convention: “Hillary Clinton is really doubling down on the value of a political resume in this pick of Senator Tim Kaine, who's governed at almost every level....Tonight the theme is ‘Working Together,’ and Kaine's friends tell me he would make the perfect partner.”
After asking President Obama if the prospect of Donald Trump having control of the nuclear codes was “frightening,” in part two of a White House interview aired on Tuesday’s NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie worried that Trump was the one launching personal attacks: “Does it feel personal? I mean, Mr. Trump has made it pretty personal against you. I could give you a list, which I guess I probably don't need to.”
In a softball exclusive interview with President Obama conducted on Tuesday and aired on Wednesday’s NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie teed up the Democratic commander-in-chief to blast Republican nominee Donald Trump: “Hillary Clinton says that Trump is most dangerous candidate ever to run for president. On this very specific issue, do you personally find it frightening the prospect of him having the nuclear codes?”
As the media swooned over First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech to the Democratic National Convention Monday night and applauded her defense of America’s “greatness,” journalists seemed to suffer from collective amnesia as they forgot Mrs. Obama’s controversial revelation that she was “proud” of the country for the “first time” during her husband’s 2008 presidential run.
In a report previewing Bill Clinton’s upcoming address to the Democratic National Convention, on Tuesday’s NBC Today, correspondent Peter Alexander actually alluded to some of the former president’s problems: “As a surrogate, President Bill Clinton, he boasts an incomparable resume – husband, adviser, and past president himself. But he also brings to the table tonight some significant personal and political baggage.”
In an effort to downplay the chaos and division on display at the first day of the Democratic National Convention, on Tuesday’s NBC Today, correspondent Andrea Mitchell celebrated Monday night’s speech from Bernie Sanders as “everything Hillary Clinton could have wanted, an unqualified endorsement.” The reporter gushed: “Passion and purpose at the Democratic National Convention."
Longtime Democratic operative Donna Brazile being named interim head of the Democratic National Committee on Sunday following the ouster of chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz amid the DNC e-mail scandal created some awkward moments for CNN and ABC. Hosts on both networks had to explain that Brazile was stepping down as a political analyst as she took over the new partisan position.
In a desperate attempt to downplay chaos in the Democratic Party following leaked Democratic National Committee e-mails and the resignation of chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz, on Monday’s NBC Today, Meet the Press moderator Chuck actually tried to spin the controversy as a positive: “Look, the only piece of good news out of this for Democrats, Jeff Weaver, Bernie Sanders's campaign manager, told me yesterday the best thing for Democratic unity is her resignation and that actually could calm the waters today.”