Tuesday’s CBS Early Show devoted four separate segments to news that the teenage daughter of McCain running mate Sarah Palin is pregnant, with co-host Maggie Rodriguez declaring: "Private lives, pregnancy, and politics. A stunning start to the Republican convention, as delegates grapple with Sarah Palin's family life. I'm Maggie Rodriguez in St. Paul. The bombshell pregnancy announcement that's stolen John McCain's limelight and why some insiders say it may help him." Later, Rodriguez explained: "We've got a couple of storms brewing here in St. Paul, as well. The headline in the local paper calls day one of the Republican National Convention 'A Day of Distractions' for the GOP. The focus not on John McCain, but on Hurricane Gustav and on the political storm involving the presumptive vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, and the revelation that her teen daughter is pregnant."
In the first segment on the issue, in the 7am half hour, correspondent Jeff Glor announced: "Four days ago, hardly anybody knew anything about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Now they know a lot, including that news that her teenage daughter is indeed pregnant." Glor concluded his report by seeming to suggest that a planned address by Palin to the Republican convention was cancelled in the wake of the controversy: "Interesting to note that on the original schedule, Sarah Palin was scheduled to speak tonight. That will not happen." However, Glor never explained that while Palin was originally scheduled to give a prime time speech on Tuesday night of the convention, that speech was scheduled before she was named the vice presidential nominee, who traditionally accepts the party nomination on Wednesday, with McCain accepting the presidential nomination on Thursday.
Yet the CBS Evening News centered a story around “disappointing” news about the supposedly “struggling economy” (with that on screen) -- while ABC and NBC, which on April 30 led with full stories on the news of a 0.6 percent (since revised to 0.9) first quarter GDP, didn't utter a syllable Thursday night about the big GDP jump. On the last day of April, ABC's Betsy Stark declared the economy had “flat lined” and NBC anchor Brian Williams warned “it's getting rough out there” as the new GDP number “stops just short of the official declaration of a recession.” Thursday night, however, ABC's World News and NBC Nightly News made time for full stories on outrage over ExxonMobil earning “the largest profit ever made by a U.S. company.” The “oil industry says it is not out of line, but some motorists feel otherwise.”
CBS anchor Katie Couric, picking up on the 4th quarter 2007 GDP revision from 0.6 percent to a minus 0.2, stressed how “the government now says the economy was receding, not growing, in the final quarter of last year” though “it picked up a bit in the first quarter of this year.” She then twisted the fresh news of a 1.9 percent jump into a negative:
But look at this: In the second quarter, when all those rebate checks were supposed to stimulate the economy, it grew less than two percent. Jeff Glor has more about the disappointing numbers.
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," correspondent Jeff Glor did a report on "five things you should know about John McCain" and highlighted details such as: "Number four, a maverick even back in high school, John McCain was nicknamed ‘the punk’...A reputation that followed him to the naval academy." During the segment, USA Today columnist Walter Shapiro added: "John McCain graduated five slots from the bottom of the Annapolis class of 1958."
Contrast those bits of information with the hard-hitting facts revealed about Barack Obama during a similar segment on last Wednesday’s show: "Number four -- in addition to enjoying basketball and cycling during down time, Obama loves to play Scrabble...Obama's job as a teenager was at a Baskin Robbins and to this day he does not like ice cream." The segment on Obama also described how he and Michelle met and where he buys his suits.
Meanwhile, on Monday’s show, Glor also focused on McCain being born in Panama: "Number five, McCain was not born in any of the 50 United States...His father had been stationed there by the Navy, creating an eventual source of controversy." Shapiro added: "The Constitution says a president has to be a natural born citizen." Glor also questioned McCain’s skill as a pilot: "Number three, when McCain was not down in Vietnam, it was not his first. It was not his second. But his third plane crash as a pilot." Finally, Glor got to number one: "...when he first ran for Congress he was charged with being a carpet bagger."
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Julie Chen teased an upcoming segment on Barack Obama: "...during the long primary season, we all learned a lot about Barack Obama. He is a Senator. He's a Harvard grad. He's a husband. And he is a father. But this morning, you're going to learn five things you probably don't know about Barack Obama." Later, in David Letterman style, correspondent Jeff Glor introduced the story: "...here are the top five things you likely don't know about Barack Obama."
Among those things, were important facts such as "Number four -- in addition to enjoying basketball and cycling during down time, Obama loves to play Scrabble." In addition to the top five, Glor later added: "Now one more thing we learned that didn't quite make our list, Julie. Obama's job as a teenager was at a Baskin Robbins and to this day he does not like ice cream." Chen responded: "So rocky road is like his Kyrptonite?" While Glor and Chen focused on Obama trivia, earlier in the show, co-host Russ Mitchell offered a mere one sentence news brief on the Illinois Senator’s opposition to a Republican plan to allow offshore oil drilling.
In his report, Glor also described how: "...many people know Obama made history at Harvard by becoming the first African-American president of the Law Review. But did you know it was the conservative students who gave him the victory?" Glor then played a clip of Obama’s communications director, Robert Gibbs, explaining that: "I think it would be a surprise for some people today that the conservative faction, along with another group, threw its support to Barack Obama because he believed they'd give him -- he'd give everyone a fair shake."
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," correspondent Jeff Glor praised the courage of Barack Obama for promoting fatherhood during a speech on Father’s Day while running for president: "A job that usually requires safe, focus-group tested messages. This one seemed like anything but." Obama’s speech, in which the Illinois Senator declared that many fathers, particularly in the African-American community, are "M.I.A.," "AWOL," and "...acting like boys instead of men," was described by co-host Maggie Rodriguez as "A blunt Father's Day message from Barack Obama to African-American men."
On ABC’s "Good Morning America," correspondent Jake Tapper reported: "...it was a provocative speech, the first major party African-American presidential candidate in history took the opportunity of Father's Day to deliver some tough love to the African American community on the subject of the disintegration of the black family." The report also featured a clip of Obama’s speech that lasted a full 1 minute and 12 seconds.
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show" co-host Julie Chen introduced a segment on rising gas prices and what people are doing to ease the cost: "This morning in our series 'Running on Empty' the news gets worse about gas prices. They jumped 15 cents in one week to a national average of $3.94 a gallon, according to the Energy Department. That is a record price. And it's forcing some drivers to take extreme measures to save money on gas."
Correspondent Jeff Glor then reported on how, "...desperate times call for desperate measures. Some people are doing anything they can to save on gas, while others are trying to avoid buying gas altogether." As one example, Glor highlighted a woman from San Antonio, Texas named Jessica Busby: "Then there's Jessica Busby, using her bike to get to a blood donation center two times a week. She pumps out her own blood, making $40 a pop so she has enough money to pump gas."
In an April Fool’s edition of the Media Research Center’s Notable Quotables in 2005, the MRC’s Rich Noyes came very close to Glor’s report with this fictional quote from "Early Show" correspondent Thalia Assuras: "The evidence is all over the Internet: healthy young people are putting their own organs up for sale, desperate for money to deal with fast-rising gas prices. Grad student Julie Potts just sold her kidney on Ebay."
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith talked to Democratic strategist Bob Shrum about Senator Ted Kennedy being hospitalized over the weekend and asked: "How important -- is there a way to measure this? Because everybody took a deep breath on Saturday and took a second to say, ‘oh, my gosh.’" Shrum responded: "I thought it was an incredible acknowledgment of the fact that this is probably the most effective and significant Senator in the last 50 years, one of the most significant in American history."
Shrum continued to lionize Kennedy: "...this is someone who literally has touched almost everybody's life in America. There isn't a bill for economic or social justice that doesn't bear his imprint. He's lived the Kennedy legacy, which we're all fascinated with, but he's vastly enlarged it." Smith followed up by describing how Kennedy even garnered respect from the Republican nominee:
We put a little bit of John McCain's statement up just a second ago. I want to put it up in full because this is really important. Here's a guy who should be his ideological opposite theoretically and this is what John McCain says: 'Senator Kennedy's role in the U.S. Senate cannot be overstated. He is a legendary lawmaker, and I have the highest respect for him.’
Just when you thought every possible gas price angle had been explored by the media, they found another fresh angle - gas prices are forcing cutbacks within the Louisville, Ky. municipal government, including swimming pools that little girls will be deprived of.
"When we arrived in Louisville [Ky.], we headed straight for the Breslin Park pool," CBS correspondent Nancy Cordes said on the May 15 "Evening News." "Half the city's public pools will be padlocked this summer leaving these little girls high and dry."
Cordes's "CBS Evening News" story was a part of its "Eye on the Road" series - an effort to show how people are affected by gas prices throughout the country. For the series two reporters have been driving across the country in opposite directions, one in a Toyota Prius and the other in a Ford Fusion.
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to liberal priest, Fr. Thomas Reese, who also appeared on Monday’s show, and asked about the sex abuse scandals in the American Catholic Church as well as the comments of Pope Benedict XVI regarding the issue: "We heard from some victims' families that a mea culpa is not enough. That merely saying you're "deeply ashamed" is not enough. Do you think anything more will come of this?"
This question followed a report by correspondent Jeff Glor, who began by declaring:
It's believed the Pope could address the issue even further on his visit, either here in Washington or in New York, but some are wondering, why not Boston? For Gary Bergeron, the Pope not going to Boston on this trip is like saying the Pope's not Catholic. It just doesn't make sense... Bergeron was abused and still lives in New England, the epicenter of the scandal.
Glor also played clips of Bergeron, who said of the Pope: "I think it's an opportunity he missed...I would hold out my hand to him so that he could shake it, understand that I'm not the demon here." Of course, the Pope has not "demonized" any victims of abuse, but Glor still decided to use the quote for his report. Despite Rodriguez’s claim that "not enough" had been done, Bergeron actually helped win an $85 million dollar lawsuit for church abuse victims and met personally with Vatican officials.
Following Monday’s sanitized coverage of the controversial comments of Barack Obama’s pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show" continued to gloss over the most inflammatory of Wright’s comments, spending over 6 minutes on Obama’s upcoming speech on the issue while devoting only 16 seconds of video to Wright’s more mild statements. Following this video, co-host Russ Mitchell asked left-wing commentator Nancy Giles: "How careful does he [Obama] have to be today not to denounce Jeremiah Wright and make some black voters angry?"
The rest of the analysis with Giles, who was ‘balanced’ with Democratic strategist Joe Trippi, was entirely about political strategy, not about Wright’s statements. Mitchell asked Trippi about the possibility of race affecting Obama’s appeal: "Joe Trippi, sticking with the risk factor for a second. There are folks out there who are going to look at Barack Obama, who's made no secret of the fact that he's black of course...And look at this speech and say 'you know what honey, I just realized something today, he brought up race. Barack Obama is black.' How risky is that in this speech?"
At the top of Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show"a 1,612 word story on New York Governor Eliot Spitzer’s sex scandal did not feature the word ‘Democrat’ even once, nor was the word used in any further coverage of Spitzer during the show. A 'D' did appear briefly next to Spitzer's name on screen at two points during the show, for a total of 14 seconds. In addition, the story portrayed Spitzer as a great crusader against corporate corruption as reporter Jeff Glor explained: "Eliot Spitzer was once called 'Crusader of the Year' by "Time" Magazine...Spitzer built his career by taking down white-collar criminals and righting the wrongs of Wall Street."
During his report, Glor mentioned Spitzer’s "political opponents" calling for the Governor’s resignation making sure not mention those "opponents" were Republicans. At the very end of the segment, co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to political correspondent Jeff Greenfield and hinted at Spitzer’s party affiliation as she mentioned that Spitzer was a Hillary Clinton superdelegate: "You're our political guy, so I have to ask you, Eliot Spitzer was a superdelegate for Hillary Clinton. That meant one vote for the nomination towards her. What happens to that head count now?"
After months of declining violence in Iraq as a result of the troop surge, Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show" jumped on news of a car bombing in the Iraqi city of Amarah as co-host Russ Mitchell declared: "There's breaking news out of Iraq this morning. Three car bombs exploded today in one of the deadliest attacks in months."
CBS Correspondent Jeff Glor reported from Baghdad and tried to frame the bombing as part of an overall violent trend in the country:
Following a recent spike in violence in Baghdad in central Iraq, this is not good news in southern Iraq...They appear to follow a ruthless pattern, allowing insurgents to inflict maximum casualties, set off one explosion, wait for people to gather, then set off another...It also comes on the heels of an uptick in violence in Baghdad, which has been surprisingly quiet in recent months. In the past week, more than 100 Iraqis have died.
As a recent Media Research Center report on Iraq coverage has shown, as violence in Iraq has gone down in recent months, media coverage has fallen just as sharply. It is interesting that as soon as there was something bad to report, CBS suddenly became interested in Iraq again. However, former co-host Hannah Storm did make reference to troop surge success during an interview with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on October 16th, when she wondered if victory over Al Qaeda in Iraq was just "semanitcs."