‘Big Three’ Networks Provide Free Publicity For Obama’s Ferguson Summit

On Monday, President Obama hosted “activists and officials including police” for a summit in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting. Following the event, all three network morning shows gave the White House event ample publicity during their Tuesday morning broadcasts. 

While the “big three” (ABC, CBS, and NBC) networks did their best to promote President Obama’s initiative, all three omitted the fact that no members of the Ferguson Police Department were invited to attend Monday’s meeting at the White House.

In total, the “big three” gave 10 minutes 13 seconds of coverage to Obama’s summit and included 8 soundbites of the president but found no time to include any quotes from individuals questioning the president’s proposals or anyone from the Ferguson Police Department who had been excluded from the meetings.     

On CBS This Morning, co-host Charlie Rose highlighted how “President Obama is vowing to improve race relations between police and the communities they patrol” and then brought on reporter Bill Plante to promote the president’s proposals. 

Plante began his report by noting how “the president brought activists and officials including police, to the White House Monday to begin what he hopes will become a national conversation.” Instead of informing his audience that there was no Ferguson police presence at the meeting, the CBS reporter chose to detail other law enforcement officials in attendance: 

First, a new task force led by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Chuck Ramsey and former Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson. It will present the president with recommendations early next year on how to improve relations between the police and minority communities. 

The CBS reporter even chose to spotlight how Attorney General Eric Holder sympathized with Ferguson protestors who interrupted his speech in Atlanta Monday evening: 

On Monday evening, Attorney General Eric Holder carried the president's message to Atlanta where he praised the dedication of protesters who interrupted his remarks...Holder will travel to other American cities to continue this discussion. And he'll soon be announcing new stronger Justice Department standards aimed at ending racial profiling. The president also vowed to continue the conversation.

Over on NBC’s Today, reporter Ron Allen began his coverage of the White House summit by promoting the latest Ferguson protestors, including those that interrupted Eric Holder: 

On Monday, students and colleges nationwide from Harvard to Stanford formed demonstrations, tweeting pictures with the #handsupwalkout. Attorney General Eric Holder interrupted in Atlanta, his first stop of several across the country, sent by President Obama to start a national conversation about what he called the simmering distrust between police and communities of color.

On ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos introduced the network’s Ferguson coverage by channeling the protestors’ anger: 

Protests of the grand jury’s decision spread across the country. Walkouts from work and school. And President Obama focused on Ferguson at the White House yesterday, taking action to address the anger.

The ABC co-host then turned to Jonathan Karl, ABC News Chief White House Correspondent, who offered similar coverage by detailing Obama’s actual proposals for reforming police departments across the country:  

The president says the issues raised in Ferguson extend far beyond Missouri, and that he is determined to improve police-community relations nationwide. With Ferguson protests scattered around the country from New York to Iowa City to Washington, President Obama brought community leaders and youth activists from Ferguson to the White House. He said he was moved by what he heard. 

Unlike his CBS and NBC colleagues Karl did mention that most Americans disapprove of the president’s handling of Ferguson: 

A New ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that 48% of Americans agree with the decision not to bring criminal charges against Wilson, but there is a huge racial divide. 58% of whites agree with that decision, and only 9% of blacks. As for President Obama's handling of the situation, only 39% approve. 

While ABC, CBS, and NBC spent ample time promoting the Ferguson protestors, they completely ignored the recent protests in St. Louis following the murder of a Bosnian-American man by a group of teenagers wielding hammers.    
  
See relevant transcripts below. 

CBS This Morning 
December 2, 2014

CHARLIE ROSE: Welcome to CBS This Morning. President Obama is vowing to improve race relations between police and the communities they patrol. He spoke as several hundred protestors hit New York City streets. It was one week after a grand jury rejected criminal charges in the Ferguson, Missouri police shooting. New York officers arrested some people after staying on the sidelines during last week's rallies. 

NORAH O’DONNELL: Demonstrations also continue in the west. Protesters in Seattle stopped traffic and challenged police. Bill Plante is at the White House with the president’s plan to ease neighborhood tensions. Bill good morning. 

BILL PLANTE: Well, good morning. The president brought activists and officials including police, to the White House Monday to begin what he hopes will become a national conversation. And also the beginning of the rebuilding of trust between them which he says has been lost. 

BARACK OBAMA: Ferguson laid bare a problem that is not unique to St. Louis, and that is a simmering distrust that exists between too many police departments and too many communities of color. 

PLANTE: President Obama announced three new initiatives Monday, aimed at addressing problems brought to light following the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown. First, a new task force led by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Chuck Ramsey and former Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson. It will present the president with recommendations early next year on how to improve relations between the police and minority communities. The president will also sign an executive order aimed at improving oversight on how military equipment is used by local police forces. And he's proposing federal investment in community policing, including $75 million to help purchase up to 50,000 body-worn cameras and train local police officers to use them. 

OBAMA: There have been commissions before, there have been task forces, there have been conversations, and nothing happens. And part of the reason this time it will be different is because the President of the United States is deeply invested in making sure that this time is different. 

PLANTE: On Monday evening, Attorney General Eric Holder carried the president's message to Atlanta where he praised the dedication of protesters who interrupted his remarks. 

ERIC HOLDER: It is through that level of involvement, that level of concern, and I hope a level of perseverance and commitment that change ultimately will come. And so, let me be clear, let me be clear, I ain't mad at you. All right? 

PLANTE: Holder will travel to other American cities to continue this discussion. And he'll soon be announcing new stronger Justice Department standards aimed at ending racial profiling. The president also vowed to continue the conversation. And the White House continues to look for the right moment for the president to visit Ferguson. Gayle?

GAYLE KING: Bill, thank you. 

 

CBS This Morning 
December 2, 2014

CHARLIE ROSE: President Obama wants to rebuild trust this morning after the police killing of Michael Brown. A new White House task force will look for ways to improve relations between officers and minority communities. The president also wants more oversight of how the police use military equipment. 

GAYLE KING; The president proposing a $75 million investment to step up community policing. He says it will benefit future generations. 

BARACK OBAMA: When I hear the young people around this table talk about their experiences, it violates my belief in what America can be. To hear young people feeling marginalized and distrustful, even after they’ve done everything right. That’s not who we are. And I don’t think that’s who the overwhelming of majority of Americans want us to be. 

KING: The president’s task force will present more recommendations early next year. 


ABC’s Good Morning America
December 2, 2014

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We’re going to get the latest on the fallout from Ferguson. Protests of the grand jury’s decision spread across the country. Walkouts from work and school. And President Obama focused on Ferguson at the White House yesterday, taking action to address the anger. ABC’s Jon Karl has all the details. Good morning Jon.  

JONATHAN KARL: Good morning George. The president says the issues raised in Ferguson extend far beyond Missouri, and that he is determined to improve police-community relations nationwide. With Ferguson protests scattered around the country from New York to Iowa City to Washington, President Obama brought community leaders and youth activists from Ferguson to the White House. He said he was moved by what he heard. 

BARACK OBAMA: It violates my belief in what America can be. To hear young people feeling marginalized and distrustful even after they've done everything right. 

KARL: But the question this morning, what's he going to do about it? The president is calling for $75 million in aid to help local police departments buy body cameras for on-duty police officers. Something the Brown family has been calling for and which could have resolved the dispute between eyewitnesses in Ferguson. Obama is also announcing a new task force on community-police relations, and vowing to improve the standard for military-grade equipment for local police departments. 

OBAMA: This time it will be different is because the President of the United States is deeply invested in making sure that this time is different. 

KARL; But the president did not want to talk about the grand jury's decision not to indict Darren Wilson. [To President Obama] Do you think justice was done in the case of Darren Wilson? 

OBAMA: Thank you very much, Jonathan. 

KARL: A New ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that 48% of Americans agree with the decision not to bring criminal charges against Wilson, but there is a huge racial divide. 58% of whites agree with that decision, and only 9% of blacks. As for President Obama's handling of the situation, only 39% approve. And, George, about that image of those St. Louis Rams football players at Sunday night's game, there's a dispute now between the St. Louis Police Department and the Rams about whether or not the team apologized. The cops say the Rams did extend an apology through a senior official of the team, they Rams say that simply did not happen. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah some very delicate wording there. Okay, Jon thanks very much. 

 

ABC’s Good Morning America
December 2, 2014

AMY ROBACH: Good morning, everyone. And we begin with the ongoing fallout over the grand jury decision in Ferguson as protesters across the country voice opposition to the Michael Brown shooting by walking out of school and work. President Obama inviting community leaders and activists from Ferguson to the White House. The president vowing to improve relations between the community and police nationwide. Also calling for $75 million for body cameras for officers. 


NBC’s Today
December 2, 2014

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Alright, but we’re going to begin this morning in Ferguson and an unusual argument between police in St. Louis and that city’s NFL team over what defines an apology. This in the wake of an on-field show of support for the protesters in Ferguson. NBC’s Ron Allen has the latest on this for us. Ron, good morning to you. 

RON ALLEN: Good morning, Savannah. The St. Louis Rams and the St. Louis police have been trying to settle their differences. But now they're arguing about the meaning of the word “apology.” The bottom line is that the police are incensed that several Rams players took the field on Sunday making that “hands up” gesture now that Darren Wilson has been cleared by a grand jury and he claims that Michael Brown never tried to surrender.  

JEFF FISHER: They will not be disciplined by the club nor will they be disciplined by the National Football League. 

ALLEN: Rams coach Jeff Fisher backing his players’ right to free speech after this pre-game statement that has St. Louis police fuming. 

JEFF ROORDA: To us, it seems like rather than allowing wounds to heal that there are folks are picking at scabs. 

KENNY BRITT: We just want the community to know that we support them. 

ALLEN: But that wasn’t the end of it. In a testy and bizarre exchange of tweets and statements overnight, police say claim the Rams apologized after a Rams official called the police chief and said he “regretted any offense their officers may have taken.” Police told the officers the Rams apologized but the Rams said no. Then police tweeted the definition of apology, including the words expression of regret. Feelings are still very raw. On Monday, students and colleges nationwide from Harvard to Stanford formed demonstrations, tweeting pictures with the #handsupwalkout. Attorney General Eric Holder interrupted in Atlanta, his first stop of several across the country, sent by President Obama to start a national conversation about what he called the simmering distrust between police and communities of color. 

BARACK OBAMA: I think Ferguson lays bare a problem that is not unique to St. Louis or that area and is not unique to our time. 

ALLEN: At a meeting with civil rights leaders, Mr. Obama said he would make a program that provides military-style equipment to local police more transparent and accountable. And he called for millions of dollars for new community policing initiatives, including $75 million for 50,000 body cameras for police, now being worn by departments like the Ferguson police since the death of Michael Brown. Here in Ferguson, we've had another night of relative calm. One thing helping out is that police have been closing off the small part of town hit hardest by the violence. Hundreds of National Guard troops remain on duty, unclear when they will leave and Ferguson remains under a state of emergency. Savannah? 

GUTHRIE: Fragile situation there. Ron Allen, thank you very much. 

 

NBC’s Today 
December 2, 2014

NATALIE MORALES: President Obama is asking Congress for money to buy body cameras for police officers in the aftermath of Ferguson, Missouri. He called for 50,000 body cameras to record events such as the shooting that killed Michael Brown.

BARACK OBAMA: I think Ferguson laid bare a problem that is not unique to St. Louis or that area. And is not unique to our time. 

MORALES: The president says he wants a program currently providing military-style equipment to local police to become more transparent and accountable.

Race Issues ABC Good Morning America CBS CBS This Morning NBC Today Darren Wilson Michael Brown Charlie Rose Ron Allen Jonathan Karl Bill Plante George Stephanopoulos Barack Obama

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