Over the weekend, ABC provided hyperbolic, worried reporting on the 9/12 protest in Washington D.C. And while the other networks had mixed results, Good Morning America co-host Bill Weir opened the program on Saturday by fretting, "This morning, outrage. Protesters descend on Washington to rally against the President's health care plan. As civility gives way to shouting, what's fueling all this anger?"
On Sunday’s GMA, Weir spun that the protesters were "rail[ing]" against higher taxes, government run health care and spending. Reporter Yunji de Nies highlighted a marcher who labeled Barack Obama a "communist." She then pounced, "Do you really believe the President is a communist?" Right after this exchange, de Nies told viewers that those rallying "insist they're not extremists."
However, ABC should be credited for mentioning on Saturday that President George W. Bush received some harsh protests during his two terms in office. De Nies noted that many such protests came "from the left" and then featured video of a liberal rally and this chant: "Who are the terrorists? The Bush regime!"
GMA’s Kate Snow interviewed Senator Jim DeMint on Saturday, a speaker at the rally. She quizzically asked, "Help us understand the sentiment in South Carolina, in your state. Is it anger? Is it resentment of the President?" The co-host then followed up with this query, hinting at racism as a true motive:
KATE SNOW: Talk more, though, about Representative Wilson's outburst the other night. The White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, said afterwards, that no other President has ever been treated that way, in that kind of forum. How do you interpret Emanuel's comment? Was he implying that only an African-American President would be treated this way?
Over on NBC’s Saturday Nightly News, reporter Tom Costello featured a woman who complained, "We think the Muslims are moving in and taking over." But, anchor Amy Robach also offered this relatively fair assessment of the marchers: "A sea of people as far as the eye could see stretched from the Capitol to the White House today. Tens of thousands frustrated and angry over what they feel is too much big government in their lives and a president they don't trust in the White House."
Costello speculated that as many as "hundreds of thousands" could be the total number for the rally: "Park police estimate the crowd at tens of thousands, our own people think hundreds of thousands of people were here to have a voice or to express their voice to Capitol Hill."
On Saturday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Nancy Cordes followed the lead of ABC and NBC and pointed out the few extreme signs that could be seen at the march:
NANCY CORDES: Homemade signs accused Mr. Obama of socialism, communism, and worse.
[ON-SCREEN: SIGN WITH SWASITKA, SIGN SHOWING OBAMA AS CHE, SIGN WITH OBAMA AS HILTER]
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN A: I think his agenda is to actually destroy this country.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN B: I’ve met several people from Russia here today, and they're frightened.
Saturday’s Early Show managed to find no time to mention the march, even though it was just hours away at that point.