Brian Boyd

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On Wednesday two correspondents reporting from Iraq had dramatically different takes on the protest by followers of Muqtada al-Sadr, who were said to be upset by President Bush’s recent trip to Baghdad. NBC reporter Richard Engel described it as "a relatively small" protest while Lee Cowan of CBS said protesters’ anger had "boiled over".

On Friday, Good Morning America devoted its first three stories to the collection of phone numbers by the National Security Agency. GMA reporters portrayed the news as creating a "firestorm of controversy" and as hitting Capitol Hill "like a ton of bricks." Yet the white-hot criticism was all coming from liberal Democrats during an election year. And as an ABC poll found, by two to one Americans think the program is justified.

ABC seems to love the story of Rush Limbaugh's "drug deal." The same story that led the Friday edition of ABC’s World News Tonight was also mentioned at the top of this morning’s Good Morning America, even though there's nothing new to say.

The media has recently put on quite a show about high oil prices. On Good Morning America reporter Ron Claiborne is spending the week on the road and hunting down motorists who want to "talk back to the oil companies". Today he was live from a gas station in Cleveland, Ohio.

Good Morning America will use even the smallest excuse to give Jane Fonda a microphone. This morning Fonda was invited on the program to talk about the newly released paperback version of her autobiography, "My Life So Far".

In a flashback to last summer and a preview of this summer, Charlie Gibson accused oil companies of dictating the price of oil.

Gibson began an interview with a financial contributor for "Good Morning America" by asking if $3 a gallon was inevitable this summer. Mellody Hobson answered yes, then pointed out that oil prices managed to rally despite the warm winter.

In an appearance today on "Imus in the Morning," Andy Rooney quickly turned down the temperature in the CBS newsroom.

Don Imus: "So what do you think of these changes at CBS News?"

Andy Rooney: "I’m not enthusiastic about it. I think everybody likes Katie Couric, I mean how can you not like Katie Couric. But, I don’t know anybody at CBS News who is pleased that she’s coming here."

In a conversation about gas mileage, Charles Gibson showed he does have some understanding of how when a pie gets bigger, predictions done with static scoring, instead of dynamic scoring, are wildly inaccurate. Unfortunately, he doesn’t apply the same common sense to the affect of tax cuts on the federal deficit.

On Wednesday, Good Morning America asked viewers to go online and vote on which Iraqi story they thought should lead the news. The results were revealed on Thursday’s GMA and as Diane Sawyer said after a segment by Dan Harris, "And we’ll be back to Dan a little bit later in this half hour. He has the news on what you voted about what you wanted to hear from Iraq and it’s a surprise."

Jessica Simpson’s presence can make any story at least a little bit exciting and it seemed to get the best of ABC’s Bill Weir as he filled in for Charlie Gibson on this morning’s Good Morning America. Simpson, due in Washington today to lobby Congress on behalf of her favorite charity, turned down an invitation to a Republican fundraiser. GMA painted it as yet more bad news for President Bush.

Friday’s Good Morning America devoted a segment to something called "bubble-sitting" in which homeowners sell their home, rent an apartment and hope for real estate prices to decline so they can buy back into the market at a lower price. Charlie Gibson was about to explain why he prefers owning to renting when GMA’s real estate contributor, Barbara Corcoran, zinged the modest Gibson.

Charlie Gibson: "I must say I'm an advocate of ownership, because I think there's a certain--"

Barbara Corcoran: "That's because you're rich, you can buy a good home. (laughter) It's true."

The same media that joins the Democrats in accusing the Bush administration of using terrorism to scare the American people, seems to think scare tactics are okay when used to support a liberal agenda. On Thursday's Good Morning America, ABC's Bill Blakemore, for the second time in the past two months, used a one-sided story in an attempt to create paranoia about global warming.

On Wednesday’s Good Morning America, news reader Bill Weir offered two widely different ways of describing the legal case involving the delayed execution of convicted killer Michael Morales in California. Weir’s second blurb on the story came at 8:32 AM and was attention catching:

Good Morning America's third day covering Vice President Dick Cheney's hunting accident was its biggest to date. On Monday's show, the 7:00 half hour started with three straight Cheney stories, followed by two more on Tuesday. This morning, GMA devoted its first four items to the hunting accident.

On this morning's Good Morning America, Robin Roberts read a brief news item about the latest tape from al Qaeda's #2 terrorist, Ayman al-Zawahiri. The tape was produced and released in part as a response to the U.S. effort to kill al-Zawahiri with a Predator air strike on January 14th. Roberts description of that attempt was incomplete, inaccurate and echoed Zawahiri's own propaganda on the air strike.

You can watch Imus in the Morning for a couple of years before this will happen, Don Imus thinks a guest goes too far with a joke. Normally, the I-Man enjoys finding humor in the agony of public figures. On today’s program Craig Crawford tried to play along and tested his new Samuel Alito material at 6:44.

Craig Crawford: "I actually think, you know, the wife leaving the room crying, that made all the evening news and, you know, it was the better video and made him look like a sympathetic figure. Although, you know, she started crying when Senator, when Lindsey Graham said Alito is not a bigot, that seemed to make her cry. I guess she thought she had married a bigot. It was surprising to her to hear that he wasn’t a bigot."

Pope Benedict XVI recently encouraged Catholics to remember the true meaning of Christmas and to not focus on the shopping aspect. After the speech, the first thing Diane Sawyer thought of was his shoes, his Prada shoes, and how they may represent a credibility problem for the Pope.

This morning’s Good Morning America found symbolism in President Bush’s encounter with a locked door when attempting to leave a press conference. In the opening tease at 7:00 AM, Charlie Gibson said, "No way out. President Bush tries the wrong door on his trip to Asia and has fun for the cameras. But the big question now: Does he have an exit strategy for Iraq?"

The media have repeatedly given air time to charges that the oil companies are taking advantage of consumers and earning unfair profits. Throughout the year reporters have alleged "oil companies...are making massive profits," "oil companies have watched their profits soar" and "record profits for the oil producers." But how do these oil profits compare to those of the media companies, themselves?

On November 9th, Congress held hearings and demanded that oil company executives, as ABC’s Jake Tapper said, "explain themselves as to why they’re experiencing record profits." Using Yahoo! Finance, I looked up the profit margin numbers for five of those oil companies and for five of the major media companies.

Mary Mapes, the producer fired from CBS News for her role in the 60 Minutes story about President Bush’s National Guard service, has written a book to explain her side of the story. On today’s Good Morning America she talked to ABC’s Brian Ross about that book and the forged documents used in the Bush story.

A minute or so into the interview Ross and Mapes got into the question of the documents and whether the responsibility was to prove the documents authentic before airing the story, or if any documents could be used until someone else proved them to be false.

Mapes: "I'm perfectly willing to believe those documents are forgeries if there's proof that I haven't seen."

Ross: "But isn't it the other way around? Don't you have to prove they're authentic?"

Mapes: "Well, I think that's what critics of the story would say. I know more now than I did then and I think, I think they have not been proved to be false, yet."

Ross: "Have they proved to be authentic though? Isn't that really what journalists do?"

Mapes: "No, I don't think that's the standard."

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