Brad Wilmouth is a contributing blogger to NewsBusters
Brad Wilmouth is a former Media Research Center news analyst and an alumnus of the University of Virginia.
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On Thursday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent John Blackstone gave attention to the danger for small businesses if the final version of health care reform requires employers to provide health insurance for their employees as he highlighted two business owners – one who fears health care reform could close down his night club business while the other is more optimistic about how her business would be affected. Substitute anchor Jeff Glor set up the report: "As we mentioned earlier, the health care bill passed by the Senate today would extend coverage to 30 million Americans. A key element is a mandate forcing many companies to pay for their workers' insurance or pay a fine – a very difficult choice for struggling small business owners."
Blackstone related that "the prescription for change includes some bitter medicine, mandates requiring companies to pay for health insurance or pay a fine." While Blackstone at one point argued that small business owners are likely to benefit "from insurance exchanges in the reform plans which should hold down premiums in many cases by helping small businesses join together for greater buying power," the CBS correspondent also gave substantial attention to nightclub owner Jay Siegan’s fears that " the music will go silent if he's required to provide insurance."
On Thursday's World News, ABC anchor Diane Sawyer took the time to devote an entire story to 92-year-old Democratic Senator Robert Byrd’s vote for the Democratic health care bill, which the West Virginia Democrat dedicated to former Senator Ted Kennedy, whom the ABC anchor described as "health care champion Ted Kennedy." Sawyer recounted that Byrd had to be brought into the Senate chamber in a wheel chair several times recently to cast votes related to the bill.
Sawyer informed viewers of Byrd’s long Congressional career and 98 percent attendance record, and then quoted his declaration that "I do what duty tells me to do" as he arrived to vote for the bill. After recounting the Democratic Senator’s emotional reaction and declaration of love for Senator Kennedy when he learned of Kennedy’s illness, Sawyer concluded: "Old comrades, old friends – one gone, one carrying on."
On Saturday, NBC News host Lester Holt seemed to lament the fact that the climate change conference in Copenhagen did not result in greater regulation of carbon emissions as, on the NBC Nightly News, Holt passed on that "many" called the agreement that was reached "weak and disappointing," and he seemed to accept the premise that more regulations would affect the climate as he relayed that President Obama "admitted a lot more needs to be done to achieve significant changes in global warming." Holt: " President Obama, who took the lead on getting that deal, calls it a breakthrough. But even he admitted a lot more needs to be done to achieve significant changes in global warming."
During the same morning’s Today show, as he introduced correspondent Mike Viqueira, Holt recounted that the conference "fell far short of what many hoped for." Viqueira passed on complaints by environmental activists: "But a lot of people say it falls short. It will monitor emissions cuts, would this agreement, but it sets no target for curbing greenhouse gases, and that has left a lot of people – particularly in the environmental community – very disappointed."
Below are complete transcripts of the relevant stories from NBC’s Today show and the NBC Nightly News from Saturday, December 19:
On Thursday’s Stossel show on Fox Business Network, host John Stossel got to do the kind of show he was not able to do earlier this year when he was at ABC, as he devoted an entire show to the debate over access to health care, and gave attention to the market-based plan utilized by most employees of Whole Foods, which uses health savings accounts and encourages employees to shop around for health care, and to conserve their money for use in future years. Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, who has been the target of attacks from socialized medicine advocates despite the popularity of his company’s program with its employees, was the featured guest on Stossel's show, though he and Stossel at one point did get to debate socialized medicine advocate Russell Mokhiber. When Mokhiber cited the dubious statistic that 45,000 Americans die yearly from lack of health insurance, and contended that "zero Canadians die from lack of health insurance," Mackey charged that in Canada, "They oftentimes die from a lack of health care as they wait for services that are rationed by governmental bureaucrats."
While Stossel argued that too much involvement by a third party like insurance companies or government programs have caused health care prices to increase because consumers shop around less, Stossel and Mackey also charged that government regulations that forbid health insurance companies to compete across state lines, and that require insurance companies to cover procedures in their plans that are not desired by many customers, have helped create the problem of high insurance prices:
On the Sunday, December 20, syndicated Chris Matthews Show – during which the panel weighed in on who should be granted various dishonors for the year – Matthews seemed to lump conservatives like Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh in with what Matthews saw as "white tribalism" as he also fretted over the "birthers" who promote the fringe conspiracy theory that President Obama was not born in America. Matthews had notably expressed frustration about "white tribalism" being stirred up by "idiots" in America at the end of last week’s show.
Matthews seemed to compare Glenn Beck and Limbaugh to swine flu as he introduced the award titled "A Plague on Both Our Houses." Matthews played a clip of Beck going over the top in calling President Obama a "racist" on FNC’s Fox and Friends, but he did not specify any particular quote from Limbaugh. A bit later, after the BBC’s Katty Kay tied Palin to the "birthers," prompting Matthews to interject that "I think it’s white tribalism," Matthews brought up the new book of panel member John Heilemann of New York magazine, and set up Heilemann to blame Palin for "activating" racism against Obama during the 2008 campaign.
Matthews: "Was this something that was simmering, this sort of tribalistic resentment of Barack Obama being what he is?"
On Saturday’s Fox News Watch on FNC, regular panel member Jim Pinkerton of the conservative New America Foundation corrected fellow panel member Douglas Kennedy – an FNC correspondent and son of former New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy – as Kennedy asserted that "you don't have to be a scientist to know that the world is getting hotter," and that "that's objective reporting to say that the world is getting hotter."
Pinkerton responded: "Actually, it’s inaccurate reporting to say that. The world has been cooling since 1998."
Earlier, Pinkerton also seemed to pick up on a Newsbusters posting by the MRC’s Geoffrey Dickens as he cited a polar photographer who appeared as a guest on Thursday's Today show on NBC and declared that the debate over global warming is over. Pinkerton also alluded to a story by ABC's Jake Tapper which ran on Thursday's World News in which clips of drought and flooding were shown during a soundbite of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown talking about climate change.
Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Saturday, December 19, Fox News Watch on FNC:
On the Sunday, December 13, syndicated Chris Matthews Show, as he ended the show with words of praise for Morgan Freeman’s latest film, Invictus, and its depiction of Nelson Mandela uniting blacks and whites in South Africa in the 1990s, host Matthews referred to "white tribalism" having been stirred up in America, and showed
On This Week with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, December 13, during the show’s Roundtable segment, liberal blogger Arianna Huffington argued that the war in Afghanistan is "the gold standard of a dumb war, immoral and unnecessary," during a discussion of President Obama’s recent speech at West Point announcing that he would send more troops to Afghanistan, and his speech in Oslo accepting the Nobel Peace Prize.
Huffington also criticized fellow liberal panel member John Podesta -- a former Clinton administration member who is now president of the Center for American Progress -- charging that, "You now sound like George Bush," after Podesta explained President Obama’s rationale for sending more troops into Afghanistan.
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the December 13 This Week on ABC:
While it is not uncommon to see those who are climate change skeptics challenged in the media for having a pro-business financial interest in voicing their views, on Saturday's Fox News Watch, conservative columnist and regular panel member Cal Thomas made an observation that cuts in the opposite direction rarely given attention in the mainstream media -- that there are financial incentives that can also pressure scientists to voice agreement with the climate change theory that blames human activity for affecting climate patterns.
After panel member Judith Miller argued that Climategate should have inspired more public debate among scientists -- which could then have been covered by the media -- Thomas responded:
Well, one of the reasons it didn’t happen, of course, is because of the oppression of much scientific opinion. I’ve talked to scientists who say they can’t get the grants if they don’t toe the line. And many in the media don’t ask those kinds of questions, and so they feel, you know, shut out and shut up.
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Saturday, December 12, Fox News Watch on FNC:
Appearing as a guest on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report on Thursday, CBS News correspondent Lara Logan defended America’s continued war effort in Afghanistan, and argued that it is "crap" that some have made comparisons between Afghanistan and the Vietnam War. Logan: "You know, the ridiculous thing about all these comparisons – it’s the graveyard of empires, it’s Obama's Vietnam – it’s all that crap, right?"
Logan, who has spent years in the field covering the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq, went on to make a strong case in favor of staying in Afghanistan and continuing the fight against Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terror group because of the threat the group still poses, as she cited bin Laden's stated desire to attack America's homeland with weapons of mass destruction:
The truth is that when the Vietnam War ended, the Viet Cong didn't follow the U.S. back home. And that's the big difference. You don't have to listen to one President or another President. It's not political. Listen to bin Laden. Go and read what he has said: We will follow the United States, we will attack the homeland again, we will use nuclear weapons, we will use biological warfare. I mean, it's very simple. Everything al-Qaeda has ever said they were going to do before, they've done. There is no reason to doubt his intentions.
Friday's Joy Behar Show on CNN Headline News showed a pre-recorded interview with Roseanne Barr in which Barr opined that, although Sarah Palin is "likable," the "stuff she says is half nuts," and she's "half crazy and out of her mind." Barr -- who herself has a recent history of doing such bizarre things as appearing in Heeb magazine dressed as Adolf Hitler removing Jewish gingerbread cookies from an oven -- went on to declare that Palin is "like a slave to these, you know, right-wing men. That’s like the only way a right-wing woman can make it."
Barr soon added: "The only way a woman can make it in the right wing, or the conservative, whatever the hell you want to call it, Republican, is to be against all other women. And that is what she does."
Ironically, just moments later as she and Behar expressed disapproval at the man who recently threw tomatoes at Palin, Barr was critical of liberals who have treated the former Alaska governor "badly because she's female," calling it "disgusting." Barr: "I don’t like where she is treated like badly because she’s female. I think that’s so wrong, and I think the left and the liberals are disgusting to do that."
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Friday, December 11, Joy Behar Show on CNN Headline News:
On Thursday’s The O’Reilly Factor, FNC host Bill O’Reilly slammed Dick Wolf, the left-wing executive producer of NBC's Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, because Wednesday's episode – featuring a killer who targeted the children of illegal immigrants – contained dialogue of a character blaming conservatives like O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck for inciting violence against immigrants.
O’Reilly showed a clip of dialogue from the show in which left-wing lawyer Randall Carver -- played by John Larroquette -- made a comparison between a racist conservative talk show host character -- named Gordon Garrison -- and real-life conservative talk show hosts. Larroquette: "Garrison, Limbaugh, Beck, O'Reilly, all of them, they are like a cancer spreading ignorance and hate. I mean, they’ve convinced folks that immigrants are the problem, not corporations that fail to pay a living wage or a broken health care system."
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Thursday, December 10, The O'Reilly Factor on FNC:
On Tuesday night’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on NBC, during an interview with MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, when Maddow recounted a recent incident in which a man unsuccessfully threw a tomato at Sarah Palin at a public event at a mall, Fallon joked that it was "awful" because the thrower "didn’t come close" to hitting Palin. Fallon: "Didn’t hit her at all? Didn’t come close? Awful."
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the late Tuesday/early Wednesday, December 8th/9th Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on NBC:
While it has been documented that CNN's Howard Kurtz chided his own news network for ignoring the recently-revealed scandal involving Montana Democratic Senator Max Baucus nominating his girlfriend for a U.S. attorney position -- after the CNN anchor had monitored CNN on Saturday -- it turns out that on Sunday morning, even before Kurtz's Reliable Sources show had begun, CNN had already started to pay more attention to the scandal than the news network had on Saturday, but -- while one may argue the story deserves even more attention -- CNN Sunday Morning actually devoted somewhat more time to the story than the other morning newscasts on ABC, CBS, NBC, and even FNC.
Baucus was also directly labeled as a Democrat by CNN Sunday Morning co-anchors T.J. Holmes and Betty Nguyen, which the two had done in the previous day's story on CNN Saturday Morning. The Baucus scandal was mentioned several other times during the day on CNN NewsRoom, each time with Baucus clearly identified as a Democrat.
On Sunday, during the 6:00 p.m. hour and again during the 7:00 p.m. hour, CNN NewsRoom, hosted by Don Lemon, ran a report by correspondent Mary Snow on ClimateGate -- which was somewhat more balanced than the piece aired on November 25 -- though this report similarly did not quote any of the emails that suggest manipulation of data on global warming by scientists at the UK's University of East Anglia. But both times after Snow's report aired, Lemon followed up by talking with a guest or reporter who disputed the credibility of ClimateGate, without interviewing any global warming skeptics.
After Snow’s report aired during the 6:00 p.m. hour, Howard Gould of Equator International opined that "I don't see any importance" in the emails, and later asserted: "I think people are making a big deal out of nothing. I think it's the climate debunkers that are out there, it's their last ray of hope, and they're trying to cling on to something. But it's really, you know, I think it's a bit of a joke."
Note: See update in bold below.
On Sunday’s Reliable Sources, CNN's Howard Kurtz brought up the scarcity of media attention paid to the revelation that high-profile Democratic Senator Max Baucus nominated his girlfriend to be a U.S. attorney for his home state of Montana, as the CNN host even took to task CNN for ignoring the scandal, calling it a "stunning lapse in judgment," and recounted that he had monitored the news channel on Saturday and did not see Baucus mentioned. Kurtz: "Washington Post has it on page three, New York Times has it on page 33. I watched CNN all day yesterday. I didn’t see any mention of this story, which I thought was a stunning lapse in judgment."
When Kurtz questioned why there was so little media attention, guest Chip Reid of CBS News asserted there was "no scandal" in the story. Reid: "I don’t think it has legs because there’s no sex scandal, and it’s not like Vitter. It’s not like Ensign. There’s no scandal here."
Update: It turns out that CNN increased its attention to the Baucus scandal on Sunday. For more, see "CNN Catches Up On Baucus Scandal & Labels As Dem More Than Other Nets."
Friday’s CBS Evening News devoted a full story, filed by correspondent Jim Axelrod, to late-term abortion Doctor LeRoy Carhart – who stepped in to succeed Dr. George Tiller, known for performing many partial birth abortions, after his murder last spring – during which Carhart was given several soundbites to justify his work. At one point gushing that "Until I can find someone else to care for women, they still need somebody to care for them," he later asserted: "I totally believe in this cause every bit as much as I did believe every morning when I got up in the military that I was doing the right thing. And if dying for this cause is what I have to do, then that`s what I will do."
But CBS’s Axelrod never used the term "partial birth abortion," or described the horrific procedure involved in some abortions. And, after anchor Katie Couric described Carhart’s work as "controversial" as she introduced the report, she also conveyed a more positive connotation as she referred to his and Dr. Tiller's activities as a "cause," as did Carhart himself. Couric:
On Saturday’s Fox News Watch, as the panel discussed media coverage of former Republican Governor – and current FNC host – Mike Huckabee’s involvement in commuting the prison sentence of Maurice Clemmons – who would later go on to murder four police officers in Washington state – panel members at first left the impression that Huckabee had commuted Clemmons's sentence after his child rape conviction. (Credit to NewsBusters reader Dana Christianson for emailing in a tip on the matter.) Conservative panelist Jim Pinkerton of New America Foundation had to point out that Huckabee commuted the sentence at a time when Clemmons serving time for the non-violent crime of committing burglary – which he did in 1989 while he was under age 18. Pinkerton even had to directly correct liberal FNC analyst Kirsten Powers, who seemed to convey that she thought Huckabee had commuted the sentence after the child rape conviction:
JIM PINKERTON, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: The kid was 17 years old and convicted of nonviolent – not – without a gun burglary and sentenced to 108 years. I think most people would see that as excessive. The real scandal is that he had at least three brushes with the law since the year 2000, and nobody then ever chose to revoke his clemency. That wasn't Mike Huckabee's fault. That was other people.
KIRSTEN POWERS, FNC ANALYST: What about the child rape?
PINKERTON: That was in Washington state.
On Friday’s The O’Reilly Factor on FNC, during the regular "Dumbest Things of the Week" segment, host Bill O’Reilly and guest Greg Gutfeld of FNC’s Red Eye, possibly picking up on an item posted the day before on Newsbusters, highlighted ABC’s The View co-host Joy Behar’s recent defense of Tiger Woods as she opined that at least the golf star is not being a "hypocrite" like "one of these pro-marriage, right-wing kind of guys who is anti-gay."
After playing a clip from The View, Gutfeld responded: "I just can't believe she's still single. What a catch. ... This angers me, one, that she says that if you're a conservative you're anti-gay, which is bigotry, her own form of bigotry. Number two, she insults the left. She's saying that the left, because they have no standards, cannot be hypocrites. Therefore, they can get away with things."
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the segment from the Friday, December 4, The O’Reilly Factor on FNC:
On the Thursday, December 3, The View, on ABC, co-host Joy Behar found Tiger Woods worthy of being partially defended over his adultery saga – according to her, at least he’s not a "hypocrite" like "these pro-marriage, right-wing, kind of guys who is anti-gay," like former Republican Senator Larry Craig. As the group discussed the latest news of women who have alleged having affairs with the golf star, Behar offer up her defense of Woods, with conservative co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck struggling to rebut her while Behar sang, "La, la, la, la," as Hasselbeck spoke: