On Wednesday night, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly pressed NBC’s Ted Koppel on the state of the country: “...a new Wall Street Journal poll says just 20% of Americans believe the country is headed in the right direction....do you believe the USA is in bad shape right now, Mr. Koppel? And if so, why?” Koppel dismissed the public’s pessimism and tried to minimize the threat from ISIS terrorists: “I don't think the country is in as bad a shape as your question implies. I think we’re scaring ourselves to death with this ISIS threat."
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. His media analysis has been routinely cited by nationally syndicated radio hosts Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin, as well as on Fox News and The Wall Street Journal’s WSJ.com website. He joined the MRC in 2007 after graduating from Providence College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and political science.
Interviewing Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus on Wednesday, the hosts of both NBC’s Today and CBS This Morning pushed the idea that the 2016 Republican field was so divided that there would have to be a brokered convention to pick the party’s nominee. In 2008, instead of discussing a possible brokered convention, all three morning shows excitedly promoted the idea of unifying Democrats around an Obama-Clinton “dream ticket.”
On Tuesday, NBC left it to CBS to report its own poll showing a significant drop in President Obama’s overall approval rating and specifically regarding his handling of terrorism. CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King covered the numbers from the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll: “43% approve of Americans approve of the job that he's doing, and that’s the lowest number in more than a year. But 60% disapprove of the way that he’s handling the current situation with ISIS.”
After covering the upcoming Republican presidential debate on Tuesday, NBC Today co-host Matt Lauer promoted Hillary Clinton preparing to attack her GOP rivals: “Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton is planning a preemptive strike against the barrage of criticism that she's expecting from her Republican rivals on that stage tonight. So today she’ll make her case on how she’d take on the ISIS threat.”
During a segment on her Monday MSNBC show using the third anniversary of the Newtown school shooting to demand gun control, host Andrea Mitchell pleaded for national legislation: “Andrew Cuomo, the governor who passed really tough gun legislation in New York....Yet he has said that it is impossible task because you can't do it state by state.”
On Monday’s CBS This Morning, while covering Ted Cruz’s rise in the polls, correspondent Nancy Cordes noted the Republican presidential candidate’s “outspoken opposition to ObamaCare and his willingness to take on both sides of the Washington establishment resonates with Iowa conservatives,” but warned: “That approach has made Cruz deeply unpopular with leaders in his own party, who worry that he could be just as polarizing of a nominee as Trump.”
In the latest edition of its Note to Self series, Monday’s CBS This Morning featured left-wing actress Jane Fonda reciting a letter to herself in which she praised her own activism against the Vietnam war: “Your biggest strength will be that you won't shutdown and become cynical. You'll become an activist.”
While interviewing Hillary Clinton on Thursday’s NBC Late Night, aired early Friday morning, host Seth Meyers lobbed softballs to the Democratic frontrunner on gun control: “...we have lived through so many tragic shootings...in recent months. You know, obviously, gun control is a big part of your campaign. But how can you convince people now that gun control – considering how many times it’s tried and failed – that it is anything more than a fantasy?”
In a hostile interview with Carly Fiorina on CNN’s New Day on Friday, anchor Chris Cuomo accused the Republican presidential candidate of inciting violence with her criticism of abortion provider Planned Parenthood: “Do you feel any sense of regret about how you characterized what was going on at Planned Parenthood after the attack in Colorado? Because of what the man said, which seems as though he was influenced by some of the rhetoric that was coming out of you and others that painted a very ugly picture, an unfair one, about Planned Parenthood?”
After Florida Senator Marco Rubio rejected demands from the hosts of CBS This Morning for gun control in a recent December 4 interview, Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler took it upon himself to examine the claim. Much to the chagrin of the rest of the liberal media, he found: “Rubio’s statement stands up to scrutiny – at least for the recent past, as he framed it....He earns a rare Geppetto Checkmark.”
On Thursday, NBC’s Today seized on a cabdriver in Toronto attacking the car of an Uber driver as a chance to attack the entrepreneurial car service, with co-host Savannah Guthrie proclaiming: “A cabbie confronts an Uber driver and gets dragged 60 feet down the street, as the battle between the car service app and traditional taxis gets ugly.”
While both NBC’s Today and ABC’s Good Morning America found the time on Thursday to devote minute-long segments to First Lady Michelle Obama rapping about kids going to college, neither morning show bothered to mention President Obama’s strategy or lack thereof to combat radical Islamic terrorism in the wake of the San Bernardino attacks.
On Wednesday, all three network morning shows eagerly seized on the latest Donald Trump controversy to boost Hillary Clinton’s 2016 chances. On NBC’s Today, correspondent Peter Alexander proclaimed: “For the Grand Old Party, an urgent dilemma, fail to stand up to Trump and risk long-term damage to the party or confront Trump and risk his running as an independent....A Trump third-party bid would likely gift wrap the White House for Hillary Clinton.”
Speaking to a Wall Street crowd at the UBS Global Communications Conference on Monday, CBS chief executive Les Moonves gleefully cheered Republican 2016 contenders going after one another in the primary contest: “We love having all 16 Republican candidates throwing crap at each other. The more they spend, the better it is for us.”
Appearing on Fox News’s O’Reilly Factor Monday night, media analyst Bernie Goldberg ripped President Obama’s address to nation on terrorism and argued that even members of the liberal media would start to abandon the commander-in-chief: “There are people in the media who have a lot invested in Barack Obama and they're not gonna throw him under the bus. But when Barack Obama makes you look foolish by defending him, that's another story.”
Covering President Obama’s Sunday night address on Monday’s CBS This Morning, co-host Norah O’Donnell turned to White House correspondent Major Garrett for “new insight on why the President spoke last night.” After briefly noting “lukewarm” reviews of the speech, Garrett proceeded to parrot administration talking points excusing the President’s poor performance. ABC’s Good Morning America labeled the President’s speech as “rare” and “historic.”
Moments before President Obama’s Sunday night address to the nation about the San Bernardino terrorist attack, NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt hoped the speech might be “a defining moment for his presidency.” By Monday morning, reaction from hosts and analysts on the Today show made it clear the presidential remarks were not impressive.
Touting her softball Wednesday sit-down with President Obama that aired on Friday’s CBS This Morning, co-host Norah O’Donnell gushed over the commander-in-chief’s “effort to take historic action” on climate change and how that “could affect his legacy.”
In a contentious exchange with House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday’s CBS This Morning, co-hosts Charlie Rose and Gayle King repeatedly pressed the Republican leader to take up gun control legislation in the wake of the San Bernardino shooting. Rose began: “But why don't you...call the President and say, ‘I'm going to come down Pennsylvania Avenue, let's you and I start off and do something about this right now’?”
At the top of Thursday’s NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer seized on a BBC World News correspondent dismissing the San Bernardino shooting as “just another day” in America: “I don't often start coverage of an event like this by talking about how other people are covering it, but a commentator for the BBC said overnight, ‘Just another day in the United States – another day of guns, chaos, and panic. This time in the city of San Bernardino.’”