Good Morning America's Jon Karl on Tuesday characterized a Republican senatorial candidate in Alaska as a "hard-line, Tea Party conservative" and someone who "has also been known to attract assault weapon-baring weapon supporters at his political rallies." He added, "In a recent interview on ABC's Top Line, [candidate Joe Miller] suggested that unemployment benefits are unconstitutional." [MP3 audio here.]
Karl played a clip of Miller asserting, "The unemployment compensation benefits have got to- first of all, is not constitutionally authorized. I think that's the first thing that has to be looked at. So, I do not favor their extension."
Yet, Karl and GMA ignored one of the day's other big primaries, involving Democratic senatorial candidate Jeff Greene. The Florida hopeful has endured gaffes revolving around drugs, strippers and Mike Tyson. But, Karl made no mention of this.
The news equally excited the TV network journalists. “History was made in this country today when the Senate confirmed Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court,” declared fill-in NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt as viewers were treated to a “Making History” on-screen graphic.
“Tonight on World News, a day of high court history. Elena Kagan confirmed. For the first time ever, three women will be part of deciding the law of the land,” spouted a giddy Diane Sawyer in matching NBC by making Kagan her lead story. Sawyer could hardly contain her excitement:
We are here in Washington on the day a new voice joins the Supreme Court. Elena Kagan, the third woman currently on the court, a woman with a reputation for holding her own in any room. And our Jonathan Karl is right here to tell us about the big vote right over there on Capitol Hill. And I want to know what happens when a new justice dons the robe for the first time, Jon?
Good Morning America's Jon Karl on Tuesday highlighted a new report by two Republican senators on extreme examples of waste in the stimulus bill. Karl rattled off some eye catching data: "$71,000 for researchers at Wake Forest University to see how monkeys react under the influence of cocaine."
The ABC journalist informed viewers that Senators John McCain and Tom Coburn released their new report "exclusively to Good Morning America." Now that the information is public, will CBS and NBC follow up on the story?
"It's so hot outside, you could fry an egg ..." or something like that.
Perhaps ABC News should have rehearsed their attempted dramatic presentation to promote global warming alarmism before going forward. But instead, they have egg on their face - after failing to fry an egg in the heat, that is.
According to a spokesman for Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., a producer for ABC News senior congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl requested an interview about pending climate legislation. However, the producer insisted it be conducted outside instead of in the U.S. Capitol or in any of the surrounding Senate office buildings. Washington, D.C. temperatures have been in excess of 95 degrees. An abbreviated clip of the interview aired on ABCNews.com's "Topline" on July 23.
“For the first time, Americans got to see the woman President Obama called a ‘trailblazer’ in action,” ABC anchor Diane Sawyer trumpeted Tuesday night before Jonathan Karl framed his story on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s hearing around how “a confirmation hearing isn't usually a laughing matter, but if we learned one thing about Elena Kagan today, it's that she has a sense of humor.” Like NBC, Karl featured Kagan joking about how she was probably at a Chinese restaurant on Christmas day.
The three broadcast network evening newscasts, as well as CNN and FNC, highlighted Senator Jeff Sessions pressing Kagan on her treatment of military recruiters. Karl used the exchange to praise Kagan: “We also learned that Elena Kagan can take a punch. As when Republican Jeff Sessions slammed her decision as Harvard Law dean to ban military recruiters from the school's career office....She made no apologies for taking a strong stand against the military's ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell’ policy.”
CBS’s Jan Crawford declared Kagan “held her own, she was confident, showed flashes of wit, but she didn't break a lot of new ground,” while NBC’s Pete Williams touted how “she displayed flashes of humor.” (CNN expressed concern Kagan wasn’t liberal enough: “Some of her answers on hot-button issues may not please all of her fellow Democrats.” More below.)
Only CBS’s Jan Crawford suggested the hearings were more than a ritual leading to Kagan’s inevitable confirmation: “When President Obama nominated her in May, her confirmation was considered a sure bet. But Republicans are emboldened by what they see as a weakened president and sense that support for Kagan in the country has dropped.”
Both Crawford and ABC correspondent Jonathan Karl included Republican criticisms of Kagan’s lack of experience and the hostility to the military she displayed at the Harvard Law School. As for NBC, they mentioned none of those issues, and only included a brief soundbite of Kagan promising to be “impartial.”
Here’s the entirety of NBC’s brief discussion of Monday’s hearing:
Worth noting: Back on June 10, George Stephanopoulos was sitting in for Diane Sawyer. But last night, Sawyer was back in the anchor chair.
In introducing last week's report from correspondent Jonathan Karl, Stephanopoulos touted the Fiorina flap as “the latest caught off guard, caught on tape, all too candid political moment.” The Etheridge scuffle would surely fit that same standard, but ABC’s World News had no time on Monday to mention that embarrassment for the Democrats.
“Congress is on its holiday break this week,” fill-in anchor George Stephanopoulos announced, “but there is no break in the steady increase in the national debt, now up to an astounding $13 trillion.” Stephanopoulos promised that in “watching out for your money, Jonathan Karl found some of the culprits” – though neither cited the news media’s role in incessantly pushing for more spending.
Without displaying any self-awareness of his own hypocrisy, Karl listed some of “the ‘emergency’ bills Congress has taken up over the past few months,” including “$20 billion for highway construction.” Yet back in early March, Karl fretted: “Bunning is also blocking money for highway construction. So across the country today, 41 construction projects ground to a halt, thousands of workers furloughed without pay.”
After ABC's Jonathan Karl painted Senator Arlen Specter's (D-R-D-PA) troubles as emblematic of how “the national anti-incumbent wave has hit Pennsylvania” (complete with a matching full screen graphic), George Stephanopoulos fretted on World News about how voters say “they want the parties to work together, yet they seem to be most against now the Senators, the incumbents, who did work across party lines.”
He cited the single incumbent who has lost – “Bob Bennett in Utah worked with a Democrat on health care” – then raised Specter, touting how “he's been in both parties,” as if that's something noble, before naming “Blanche Lincoln, down in Arkansas, a centrist Democrat. She's in a lot of trouble tonight.” Here's a possibility: Those upset by pro-big government politicians and insider coziness bailing out their donors are out voting and are not the same people who incessantly yap about “bi-partisanship.”
ABC stumbled into that as anchor Diane Sawyer marveled: “And the driving center of this, is the bailout?” Stephanopoulos confirmed: “The biggest issue by far is the bailouts. That's what's fueling so much voter anger out there.”
O'Donnell's story noted “skepticism over how the Tea Party is judged and labeled,” letting an attendee assert: “We're not racists, we're not any of the above that people claim us to be. We're ordinary citizens that love our country, and we're fighting for it.” O'Donnell soon wondered if it all may peter out, asking a man in the crowd: “Do you think this has enough energy to really last to November and to make a difference?”
Over on ABC, Jonathan Karl highlighted how “many of them blamed us, the news media.” A woman demanded: “We want honesty from you. We want fair time from you. We want you, the media, to represent all the people, not just a certain portion of the people.”
Audio: MP3 clip.
Sounding more like MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann than impartial newscasts, ABC, CBS and NBC all led Wednesday night by legitimizing Democratic talking points meant to discredit critics of the just-passed health care bill. “Opposition to health care turns menacing,” ABC’s Diane Sawyer warned. CBS teased with audio clips -- “Baby-murdering scumbag,”“You are a dirtbag” and “I hope you die” -- as fill-in anchor Maggie Rodriguez cited “threats of violence against Democrats who voted for health care reform, even as public support for the plan is growing.”
On NBC, Brian Williams teased: “It's getting ugly as anger over health care reform erupts into some over-the-top rhetoric, including threats now against members of Congress.” He opened by declaring: “It can now be said that the debate over health care reform has gone too far. It's now veered into threats of violence.” Reporter Kelly O’Donnell relayed how “Democrats accuse Republicans of stirring a hostile mood” before Savannah Guthrie rued “Washington's epic 14-month battle over health care has exposed an angry side of America.” She recounted:
Wrapped around the brick that smashed the door of Democratic party headquarters in Rochester, New York, a note with the Barry Goldwater quote: ‘Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice.’ On Twitter, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin told followers, ‘Don't retreat, reload.’ While an Alabama man advocated armed uprising....At a conservative Tea Party protest at the Capitol this weekend, some demonstrators hurled racially and sexually-charged insults at members of the Congress.
CBS’s Nancy Cordes dutifully reported “Democrats accuse their GOP colleagues of inciting such acts with inflammatory rhetoric” as “Democrats complain Sarah Palin is also using violent words and imagery. On Twitter, she urges conservatives: ‘Don't retreat. Instead, reload.’ And the Web site of her political action committee posts bull's-eyes on districts of vulnerable Democrats.”
Good Morning America continued its post-health care victory lap for the late Ted Kennedy on Tuesday. An ABC graphic enthused, "The Lion's Legacy: Kennedy's Widow on Health Care." Reporter Jon Karl talked to Vicki Kennedy and prompted her to lament Republican obstruction: "How disappointed would [Kennedy] have been to see that this was a vote without a single Republican in either chamber voting yes?"
As video of tea party protesters appeared onscreen, Karl wondered, "Did he anticipate in any way, the level of vitriol?" (It seemed lost on Karl that Ted Kennedy often attacked people with his own invective, such as in 1987 when he slimed Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork's America as one of back alley abortions and segregation.)