Throughout coverage of President Obama's address to Congress Thursday night, anchors and correspondents on both CBS and NBC gave fawning reviews of the new jobs plan, in some cases, even before the speech began. In contrast, ABC took a much more skeptical tone, with a focus on the President's falling poll numbers.
Evening News anchor Scott Pelley opened CBS's coverage by proclaiming the President was "hanging out a 'help wanted' sign" for unemployed Americans, with chief White House correspondent Norah O'Donnell excitedly announcing moments later that Obama would put forward "an extraordinarily bold plan" to create jobs.
Despite slipping mostly under the radar, John Stossel disclosed something on his FBN program last Thursday that should have garnered a lot more attention.
As he chatted with guest Andrew Breitbart, Stossel admitted that the conservative publisher had offered him the James O'Keefe/Hannah Giles/ACORN scoop, but the former ABC Newser declined due to politics at the network he used to work for (video follows with transcript and commentary):
If they ever take a break from publicizing Charlie Sheen’s cocaine dos and dont's, or detailing the power politics within his Beverly Hills harem, the networks should grab a copy of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics. And they may want to pay special attention to this entry: “Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.”
From Feb. 1 through March 6, the three networks distinguished themselves by devoting 20 times more broadcast time to Charlie Sheen’s porn stars and drug issues than to the Planned Parenthood video scandal and the subsequent vote in the House of Representatives to defund the organization.
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ABC and reporter John Quinones on Thursday stretched the bounds of journalism, hiring an actor to play a racist security guard as a way of testing how the people of Arizona would react to the state's "anti-immigration law."
Previewing the network's "What Would You Do?" segment for Friday's Primetime Live, Quinones explained the undercover concept: "So, I go undercover, pretending to be someone who is about to be arrested and deported, simply by the way I look."
The piece featured a cartoonish "security guard" harassing Mexican actors in Tucson, Arizona. Presumably, ABC chose a security guard because impersonating a police officer is illegal. The actor walked into a restaurant and spewed, "I'm just looking to make sure these guys are legal citizens. And if they're not legal citizens, they shouldn't be here. They should be deported. They look Mexican."
Of course, having this man pretend to be a security guard really makes no sense. (A security guard is going to deport people?) Secondly, for journalists that often attack conservative sting operations, it's rather odd to see ABC manipulate such a scenario.
[See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Over a span of five days and three programs, ABC donated 24 minutes of coverage to Ron Reagan's new book and the allegations that his father had symptoms of Alzheimer's while being President. On Tuesday, he appeared on Good Morning America for almost eight minutes of promotional coverage.
Guest co-host Elizabeth Vargas teased the segment by proclaiming, "Coming up in just a moment, new revelations about President Reagan and when he developed Alzheimer's." Wouldn't "allegations" have been the fair way to describe the claims of Ronald Reagan's liberal son?
In addition to appearing on Tuesday's GMA, the book was discussed on the Monday, Sunday and Saturday edition of the program. Vargas interviewed Ron Reagan for almost nine minutes on Friday's 20/20. Additionally, World News anchors highlighted the insinuations on Friday, Sunday and Monday. The grand total comes out to 24 minutes and 12 seconds of interviews or coverage.
Asking a wife if she loves her husband isn't exactly the most insightful question, but that's one of the softballs that Barbara Walters tossed to Michelle and Barack Obama during an hour long edition of 20/20 on Friday. She also asked the President if he curses and what Lincoln means to him.
At one point, the journalist lauded Michelle Obama as "comfortable" and "outspoken." Walters then cooed, "You love him very much, don't you?" (The First Lady's unsurprising answer? "Yes, I do.")
Digging for answers, the reporter investigated Mr. Obama, "Do you ever curse?...You pray?" Walters also allowed the President the chance to attack the internet, bringing up insinuations that he's a Muslim: "Why do you think it is that so many people think you're a Muslim and why is that confusion?"
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Barbara Walters on Friday allowed Barack and Michelle Obama advance the myth that presidents always lose Congress during midterm elections.
This not surprisingly happened during a special "20/20" interview with the first family at the White House (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Is it a case of removing the plank from your own eye before removing the speck from your brothers - or political correctness run amok?
In a tweet Aug. 26, ABC "20/20" anchor Chris Cuomo told his 987,000 followers not to condemn Muslim violence because other religions have perpetrated violence in the past.
"To all my christian brothers and sisters, especially catholics - before u condemn muslims for violence, remember the crusades....study them," Cuomo tweeted around 9:30 am.
So does past violence justify modern violence? If so, maybe Cuomo should take his own advice and study the Crusades. Even a brief study would reveal a much more complicated situation than Cuomo's tweet suggests about who struck first.
Ex-Clinton operative tuned journalist George Stephanopoulos on Monday touted allegations about a supposed affair between South Carolina's Nikki Haley and a lobbyist. Recounting the details of the charges leveled against the Republican politician, the Good Morning America host marveled, "And down in South Carolina, they can't just seem to get enough of it, in the gubernatorial primary, the leading candidate embroiled in a bit of a sex scandal."
Stephanopoulos and reporter Steve Osunsami engaged in gossip over the accusations. Osunsami warned that one of Haley's accusers is "sharing phone records that he says details conversations he had with Haley at all hours of the night." Stephanopoulos chided, "Yeah. Something like 600 phone conversations. Boy, that state is going through a lot."
It seems rather hypocritical for the GMA host to push this story. When FBI agent Gary Aldrich wrote a damaging book about Bill Clinton in 1996, the then-Democratic operative tried to bully the media into not covering the story.
Since Friday, ABC has devoted 60 minutes and 23 seconds to interviews covering the most salacious details of John Edwards' sex scandal. Yet, the network's anchors have refrained from referring to him as a Democrat. 20/20 on Friday spent the entire hour talking to Andrew Young, a former top Edwards aide who allegedly holds a sex tape involving the politician. The D-word was never used by reporter Bob Woodruff.
Good Morning America again featured the story on Saturday. On Monday’s GMA, former Democratic operative turned journalist George Stephanopoulos interviewed Young about his role in covering for Edwards. Over two segments that lasted 14 minutes and 50 segments, Stephanopoulos never highlighted Edwards’ party affiliation.
The only time it came up is when Young, who has written a tell-all book about Edwards, tried to justify covering for the candidate: "At that point, I genuinely- genuinely believed that he was the only Democrat that could beat McCain or any other opponent."
Tuesday’s World News with Charles Gibson showed clips of an interview between Barbara Walters and Sarah Palin which will air on Friday’s 20/20. At one point, Walters seemed to allude to the fact that there is a misconception that Palin once claimed that “I can see Russia from my house,” during the 2008 campaign, as evidence of her foreign policy experience.
On Tuesday's The O'Reilly Factor on FNC, former ABC News anchor John Stossel -- now with Fox Business -- came aboard to discuss the New York Times's recent attack on him for speaking in front of the conservative/libertarian group Americans for Prosperity. After charging that the Times never showed interest in his speeches to conservative groups before he joined Fox Business, the former 20/20 host also relayed that during his early days as a consumer reporter, he received a number of Emmy Awards because "they loved me" for his left-leaning work. But after, in Stossel's words, "I got smarter," turning more pro-business and anti-regulation, the Emmy Awards were no longer forthcoming.
Stossel even recounted an incident in which a person he met on the street expressed a desire that he "die soon" for his conservative views.
After starting the interview by asking Stossel about Web sites that engage in gambling based on election predictions, O'Reilly brought up the Times's newfound interest in the former ABC anchor. Stossel pointed out the double standard: "I make speeches. I make about 25 a year. I've done that for years. And suddenly, now that I'm at Fox, critics are leaping to attack me, according to the New York Times."