The Big Three network morning shows on Wednesday highlighted the upcoming sentencing of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, but only CBS's Early Show identified the disgraced politician as a Democrat and devoted a full segment to him. ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today omitted his party ID, and just gave news briefs on the convict's possible sentence.
CBS correspondent Cynthia Bowers wasted little time before noting that "the former Democratic governor was convicted on 18 counts of corruption, after being caught on a profanity-laced federal wiretap offering political favors in return for financial gain." Bowers played two sound bites from the wiretap recording, including the infamous "bleeping golden" clip from Blagojevich.
On Tuesday's Early Show, CBS's Cynthia Bowers let abortion advocates decry new pro-life legislation at the state level, barely letting supporters speak in her report. Bowers slanted by a three to one margin in the number of sound bites that she played from "abortion rights" supporters versus those from pro-lifers. She labeled Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback a "staunch abortion opponent," while giving no equivalent label to a pro-choicer.
The correspondent led the segment with a clip from an unidentified woman who aborted her unborn child who had been diagnosed with anencephaly, a disorder where most of the baby's brain fails to develop. She continued that the woman's obstetrician "suggested...one of only three clinics in the entire state [of Kansas] that still performs abortions- access that could soon be cut even further."
On Saturday's CBS Evening News, correspondent Cynthia Bowers filed a report documenting the success of a charter school in Chicago which has managed to substantially increase the graduation rate and college attendance rate of its African-American male student population as compared to other schools in the city. Anchor Russ Mitchell teased the report: "In a city where most African-American males don't make it through high school, every member of this graduating class is going on to college."
He later introduced the report: "When it comes to African-American high school graduation rates, Chicago's Urban Prep is a shining standout, boasting a rate of almost 70 percent. And that's only the beginning of its success story as we hear from Cynthia Bowers."
CBS's Cynthia Bowers trumpeted the inauguration of incoming Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday's Early Show, highlighting how the former Obama chief of staff went "weeding in a community garden. He called it...weeding out corruption." Bowers also acclaimed the legacy of former mayor and "family man" Richard M. Daley, despite referencing the poor high school graduation in the city.
Reporting on the passage of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's proposal to curb public union benefits and bargaining power, on Thursday's CBS Evening News, correspondent Cynthia Bowers referred to the union protestors in the state capital and declared: "After three weeks of relative restraint, passions ran over today."
That "restraint" has included threats against Republican state lawmakers (with an angry mob surrounding one of them), protestors storming the state capitol building, and signs comparing Governor Walker to Adolf Hitler. As a Media Research Center Media Reality Check detailed, the networks have failed to report on the most extreme actions of the protestors, while they were eager to condemn the "incivility" of the Tea Party.
At the top of Thursday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge declared: "War in Wisconsin. Democrats cry foul as Republicans break a three-week deadlock over the budget battle with a surprise late-night vote." Minutes later, he remarked that the "long standoff over a plan to roll back union rights for state workers is suddenly just about over."
In the report that followed, correspondent Cynthia Bowers described the Republican legislative move as drastic: "In an audacious tactic that will likely be debated for years in Wisconsin, Republican senators yesterday, in a matter of 30 minutes, managed to ram through controversial legislation." She continued to push the idea that it was a shock: "After nearly three weeks of intense protest that sparked a nationwide debate, last night the Wisconsin Senate rushed in to a surprise vote to cut nearly all collective bargaining power from public workers."
During a report on the latest developments in Wisconsin for Wednesday's CBS Early Show, correspondent Cynthia Bowers proclaimed that the 14 Democratic state senators who fled to Illinois to block Governor Walker's budget proposal from passing have "become heroes to protesters." She lamented: "Now comes word, albeit from a Republican, some may be ready to come home and concede."
Bowers used the "hero" label following a sound bite from one of the fugitive state senators, Jon Erpenbach: "For him [Walker] to use dedicated public servants who clear our roads, take care of our sick, teach our kids, as poker chips is ridiculous." At the end of her report, news reader Jeff Glor wondered: "Any timetable right now, as far as you know, of when those Democratic senators might return to Wisconsin?" Bowers replied: "No. But the Senate Majority Leader did indicate to us that some of them want to come home. It's just a matter of how to finesse it, so they don't appear to be the bad guy in this with their constituents, and the protesters."
On Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge touted a new poll claiming people support unions over Republican plans to cut state deficits: "A new CBS News/New York Times poll shows that a majority of Americans, 56%, are opposed to cutting the pay and benefits of state workers to balance budgets while just 37% are in favor of it."
While Wragge called them "state workers," the actual poll consistently used the phrase "public employees," never state workers or government workers. On NBC's Today on Tuesday, pollster Frank Luntz explained how one phrase invokes a positive response while the other does not. Speaking to co-host Matt Lauer about the newly released CBS poll, he noted: "If you call them 'public workers' a majority of Americans respect them. If you call them 'government workers' a majority of Americans don't." Clearly, CBS and the New York Times selected wording that would elicit a response favorable to the liberal position on the issue.
At the top of Saturday's CBS Early Show, co-host Russ Mitchell cheered unions protests across the country: "Workers uniting. 50 rallies are planned in 50 states today, as organizers show solidarity with Wisconsin state workers, fighting to preserve their right to collectively bargain for benefits and work conditions."
Introducing the segment later, fellow co-host Rebecca Jarvis noted how the protests were organized by MoveOn.org. Rather than accurately label the organization as left-wing, she simply referred to it as "an advocacy group." In the report that followed, correspondent Cynthia Bowers announced that "workers who are coming to these rallies around the country to support Wisconsin workers are being told to wear those red t-shirts we've become so familiar with." The headline on screen throughout the segment referenced Karl Marx: "Workers of the Nation Unite; 50 State Rallies to Support Union Rights."
CBS on Monday night tried to corroborate the case for the position on protesting Wisconsin state union workers, claiming without citing any source that they earn less than comparable private sector works, while FNC put the union workers in a less oppressed light, showing how “apparent doctors” were “handing out doctor’s notes for sick days. Our undercover producer got a medical excuse, no illness necessary.”
CBS’s Cynthia Bowers touted “high school history teacher Amanda Bazan, of Deerfield Wisconsin,” who “took a personal day to get her students to the protests.” Bazan insisted: “They were learning about democracy firsthand.” Bowers relayed how “the single mom has been teaching 13 years and earns $41,000,” and while “public sector workers in Wisconsin do make slightly more in salary and benefits than the average private sector worker,” that's “because nearly twice as many of them have college degrees necessary for high-skilled jobs.” Without any citation from her or on screen, Bowers maintained:
When education and other factors are considered, two recent studies found public sector employees end up earning less than their counterparts in the private sector. In Wisconsin, nearly five percent less. Nationally seven percent less.
Discussing the union protests in Wisconsin with political analyst John Dickerson on Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge noted: "You talk about this being a potential Tea Party movement for the Left." In response, Dickerson proclaimed: "...this is the energizing moment on the Left, progressives and unions have always been together....It's about the threat to their benefits."
It's interesting that Dickerson made a positive comparison to the Tea Party, given that last year he appeared on the Early Show and described how Democrats hoped the conservative movement would "overreach" and become "a stain on the Republican Party." On Monday, he further explained to Wragge how liberals "were a little dispirited, Barack Obama didn't turn out to be the president they had hoped. Well now they're quite energized and it's not about President Obama anymore."
“On the broadcast tonight, the uprising at home,” teased NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, touting “another day of fury in Wisconsin. Workers angry about what they call a plan to balance the budget on their backs.” Williams set up his Friday newscast by equating the left-wing protests with those against Arab dictatorships: “From the Mideast to the American Midwest tonight, people are rising up. Citizens uprisings are changing the world,” he championed, citing what “we’ve witnessed from Tunisia to Egypt” and now Wisconsin where “the state capitol has been taken over by the people.”
Without ever mentioning the involvement of President Obama’s Organizing for America, reporter John Yang trumpeted from Madison how “tens of thousands of public workers have come here to make their voices heard.” Scolding incivility certainly didn’t interest Yang, who cued up a protester to trash Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker without making any note of the sign he was holding which showed a hammer and sickle below “Scott Stalin.”
ABC and CBS on Friday night, as they did on Thursday night, ignored the instigation by Organizing for America as CBS’s Cynthia Bowers, who never identified anyone as liberal, concluded: “More protests are planned for tomorrow and for the first time conservative activists are calling upon their supporters -- including Tea Party groups -- to hold rallies of their own.”