ABC’s Good Morning America on Tuesday devoted two stories to whether the "controversial" Rush Limbaugh would be able to buy an NFL team, but skipped any discussion of the false quotes that have been circulating about the radio host. Co-host Robin Roberts buried that lede and instead fretted, "Opponents say Limbaugh has a history of making racially offensive comments, some directed squarely at NFL players."

As reported previously on NewsBusters, several media outlets have repeated fake Limbaugh quotes about how "slavery had it merits." GMA hosts and reporters didn’t appear to be interested in correcting the slanderous charges. Roberts even compared Limbaugh to a baseball owner who made favorable remarks about Hitler. [audio available here]

Bizarrely, correspondent David Muir played a quip of the conservative defending himself, but didn’t explain the context: "They have to go somewhere to find concocted quotes, which are now bordering on slander, libel, whatever it is, that I never said." What were the concocted quotes? Muir didn’t mention the false slavery quote.



With “Losing Support” as the on-screen heading, ABC's World News on Friday night certainly made clear how President Obama is losing favor with the American people as his approval level and attitudes toward his health care efforts continue steadily downward so now more are opposed (50 percent) than in favor (45 percent) and he's suffered a 29-point drop in agreement with enacting a “public option.” But ABC's Kate Snow still saw a “glass half full” view as she managed to end with a positive spin for Obama:
It's not all bad news for the President. We didn't find an overwhelming majority against health care reform. Instead, if you look at the glass half full point of view, the country is basically split. About half of Americans still favor reform, and about half still favor a public option.
Also skipped by World News: How, despite the loaded wording in the question referring to those “angrily protesting at town meetings,” a majority (51 percent) considered the protests “appropriate” versus 45 percent who called them “inappropriate.” (Question 16 in the PDF.)  


On World News Sunday, ABC News anchor David Muir read a brief story relaying to viewers an attack on former Vice President Cheney by CIA Director Leon Panetta which appeared in the New Yorker magazine. In the interview, Panetta suggested that Cheney may desire to see terrorists hit America again for his own benefit. Muir recounted:



George Tiller, the Kansas doctor notorious for his commitment to performing late-term abortions, was killed May 31 while attending a Sunday morning church service.

By his count, Tiller performed 60,000 abortions. His clinic, Women's Health Care Services in Wichita, was one of only three clinics in the United States that offered abortions after the 21st week of pregnancy.

Loss of human life is a tragedy and should be reported as such, and premeditated murder is always wrong - something all the mainstream pro-life groups were quick to affirm in the wake of the killing. But in reporting this tragic story, the news media have much to say about a man who helped provide women with the "right" to end their pregnancies, but have little to say about lives he helped to end. In failing to highlight what Tiller's work actually entailed, reporters do nothing to help their audience understand why this man was targeted.



On ABC’s World News Saturday, and the same day’s CBS Evening News, correspondents suggested that conservative positions on social issues were responsible for the Republican party’s recent electoral misfortunes, as the two programs filed stories about an appearance in Arlington by Jeb Bush, Eric Cantor and Mitt Romney as part of an effort to rebuild the party’s appeal. ABC cited a recent ABC News / Washington Post poll showing only 21 percent of Americans identify themselves as Republicans, while CBS cited a Pew Research poll finding the number had dropped from 30 percent in 2004 to 23 percent currently.

After a soundbite of Jeb Bush explaining that Republicans needed to spend more time "listening," "learning," and "upgrading our message," ABC’s Rachel Martin contended that "That means moving hot-button social issues like abortion and gay marriage to the side, and shifting the focus to health care, education and the economy."

And, ignoring the fact that a substantial number of moderate House Democrats have taken conservative positions on issues like guns and abortion to win in their own conservative leaning districts, CBS’s Kimberly Dozier more directly charged that conservative positions on such issues by Republicans had hurt the party: "The trio notably avoided controversial touch stones like gun rights or abortion, which are blamed for driving away moderates and independents." Notably, 65 House Democrats recently sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder stating their opposition to a new assault weapons ban.



"World News Saturday" anchor David Muir appeared on the Media Bistro's "Morning Media Menu" podcast on Friday and asserted that the fact that online journalists are now eligible to compete for a Pulitzer Prize might increase the professionalism of bloggers and could, in the future, "give [online reporting] more weight, more credence and people will know that what they're reading isn't simply one version of events or an opinion." One wonders if Muir is referring to such paragons of journalistic integrity as his ABC colleague Bill Weir, who on the January 20 "World News," marveled that "even the seagulls must have been awed" by the inauguration of Barack Obama.

Muir (see file photo above), who was talking to podcast hosts Steve Krakauer and Rebecca Fox, added that the possibility of being awarded such a prestigious journalistic prize could elevate online reporting to "be at the level of journalism that we know is being, you know, fact checked and, and, worthy, worthy of a Pulitzer in the end." On the April 4 "World News" Muir himself said of Obama's G-20 international summit, "...Other heads of state are seemingly trying to get close to the head of the class, or the cool kid in the class, if you will, President Obama." Would that be an example of simply stating "one version of events?"



Will the upcoming ABC special "If I Only Had a Gun" dismiss and deride the concept of using firearms to defend oneself and stop a potential massacre? A promo that aired during Wednesday's "Good Morning America" seemed to suggest yes. As ominous music played in the background, an announcer intoned, "Friday night on ABC, when it comes to protecting yourself, you may think, 'If I only had a gun.'" Video then played of an experiment in which a female college student attempted to pull out what looked like a pellet gun to stop a faux Virginia Tech-style massacre.

The ad's announcer quizzed, "But if you had a gun, could you defend yourself in a crisis?" After an unidentified voice asked the young woman where she would be if this had been real, she responded, "Probably on the floor. Hopefully in an ambulance." More video showed young children pointing real guns at each other and themselves. The announcer solemnly wondered, "What about the irresistible pull of guns on kids and how easy can you get them? Diane Sawyer investigates with David Muir. 'If I Only Had a Gun.' One stunning hour."



On Monday's "Good Morning America," reporter David Muir highlighted a rabidly pro-gun control group as an expert on weapons, without referencing the organization's political stance. The journalist also promoted "If I Only Had a Gun," an ABC special to air Friday night that seems to argue for tighter restrictions on firearms. During a segment on the tragic shootings in Pittsburgh and New York, Muir featured a clip from Michael Wolkowitz, who is a member of the board of trustees for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

No mention was made of his organization's anti-Second Amendment position and the only identification vaguely read, "Board of Trustees, Brady Center." Wolkowitz complained, "We have 32 people being murdered by guns every day in this country. If peanut butter or pistachio nuts or spinach killed that number of people once in one day, they'd be pulled by the FDA." Now, while ABC tried to conceal the group's goals, the Brady Center's campaign website does not. It currently  (as of April 6) shows a picture Wolkowitz's appearance on ABC and a pitch to "pass common sense gun laws that require Brady criminal background checks on all gun sales, including those at gun shows." (Readers are then urged to contact Congress.)



One night after ABC's World News featured Diane Sawyer and Pierre Thomas fretting over the lack of interest by Congress in passing new gun laws in response to recent shooting sprees, Thomas appeared on World News Saturday and again treated as problematic the statistic that there are "more than 250 million legally registered guns in this country," and seemed to complain that Congress is not planning to enact more gun laws. After recounting several incidents of mass shootings in the past month, Thomas fretted: "Even with all that carnage, there's no major gun control legislation pending before Congress." And earlier on ABC's Good Morning America, co-anchor Bill Weir had also brought up the statistic that there are more than 250 million guns in America as he recounted mass murder statistics from various decades.



In a q and a with George Stephanopoulos on Saturday's World News, ABC anchor David Muir decided to sum up President Barack Obama's week in Europe by displaying a picture of jovial Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arm-in-arm with President Barack Obama during the G-20 group photo session, an image Muir contended showed how “other heads of state are seemingly trying to get close to the head of the class, or the cool kid in the class, if you will, President Obama.”

Muir cued up Stephanopoulos: “Have you seen much of this in recent history?” Stephanopoulos put style over substance as he declared “the President's stagecraft on this trip and his star power have really held up all through his trip to Europe.” Though he acknowledged that “on the substance the President hasn't gotten all he wanted either at the G-20 or at this NATO summit,” the host of ABC's This Week decided “he's done a good job of managing expectations.” As Stephanopoulos demonstrated, Obama has certainly met and exceeded media expectations.


Just under 90 minutes before President Barack Obama's Tuesday night news conference, ABC's World News set out to support his contention that his policies have already led to economic improvement. Picking up on how Obama planned to announce at the start of the session that thanks to his economic policies “we are beginning to see signs of progress,” anchor Charles Gibson asked: “Well, is the President right? And are things turning around? We asked David Muir to look at two key sectors of the economy, jobs and housing.”

Muir decided in Obama's favor: “The report card on the economy does show glimmers of hope.” He pointed to how “last month, 651,000 more jobs were lost, a lot of workers. But just two months earlier, that number was 681,000.” Muir proceeded to highlight how because of the “stimulus,” there “are now signs that money is trickling down.” (I thought the media line was that “trickle down” doesn't work?) Specifically, “the U.S. Forest Service is among the first government agencies to hire. Melina Vasquez is among the 1500 people who will now be restoring the parks.” Plus, “outside Portland, Oregon, one contractor fixing U.S. Highway 26 is bringing back 30 laid off workers and hiring ten more.”


Two weeks after ABC championed how the “stimulus” would enable mayors to create many jobs, World News on Wednesday night trumpeted how “the government is now ready to start writing the checks to get people working again in states and cities across the land.” Reporter David Muir touted how “with hundreds of millions of dollars in the pipeline from Washington, contractors are hiring now” and so “in the quiet college town of North Manchester, Indiana, 26 people are expected to be hired to build a water treatment plant. Economists say 26 people in a small town of 6,400 can have a huge impact.” Muir's one and only expert, economist Stephen Leeb, then saw a beneficial ripple effect: 
It's not just 26 people. It's 26 people that are getting more money. Those people are spending money at, say, the corner store, the corner drugstore, maybe buying an extra shirt for their kids; and the people that are receiving that money, in the stores, are also going to spend their money. So you have this kind of ripple effect that can spill all the way through the town.
At the top of the newscast, anchor Charles Gibson, unlike CBS's Katie Couric and NBC's Brian Williams, credited President Obama's home mortgage bailout plan with causing a stock market up tick, citing a “ray of hope: The government outlines how it will help nine million homeowners avoid foreclosure. And the stock market responds positively.”