MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Thursday worried that a future "right-wing" politician "like Dick Cheney" might one day use drone strikes against his political enemies. The Hardball host was discussing Senator Rand Paul's filibuster on Wednesday and the subject that prompted it: Whether the U.S. has the right to use drones on Americans in a non-war situation.
Matthews wondered if "there is a possibility somewhere out there on the edge that a tough-- not going to say he did it-- but somebody pretty far on the far right like Dick Cheney...will push this thing too far?" The host fumed, "Do you think it's possible that a Jane Fonda could be targeted even by the most right-wing American politician we can imagine?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
World News's Jonathan Karl on Wednesday turned a uniquely skeptical eye on Barack Obama's decision to end White House tours in the wake of sequester. Highlighting the President's claim that the decision was a financial necessity, he chided, "The President is having dinner tonight with Republicans at a restaurant just six blocks from here. He took a 20-car motorcade and, of course, lots of Secret Service agents." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Talking to anchor Diane Sawyer, Karl joked, "Maybe next time, Diane, [Obama] can save a little money by just ordering in." Karl questioned the White House's claim that $84 million in cuts, out of a $1.6 billion budget for the Secret Service, caused the end of the tours. The journalist did the math: "Tours are open 20 hours a week and use 30 uniformed Secret Service officers at about $30 an hour. Total saved? Approximately $18,000 a week."
ABC's World News on Wednesday and Good Morning America on Thursday offered confusing, incomplete and brief explanations for why Rand Paul filibustered John Brennan, Barack Obama's Central Intelligence Agency nominee. According to GMA news reader Josh Elliott, "Paul was protesting the Obama administration's use of drone strikes against Americans." [Video of the terse explanations can be found below.]
World News anchor Diane Sawyer insisted the "Tea party firebrand" was opposing "the use of drones against U.S. citizens." This is hardly a full explanation for ABC's viewers. On the Today show, Chuck Todd produced a more accurate description: "[Paul] decided to filibuster the confirmation of CIA director John Brennan in an attempt to get the White House to once and for all promise to never target Americans with drones on U.S. soil." The "on U.S. soil" part is key. ABC allowed only news briefs on the filibuster. CBS and NBC offered full reports.
[Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Good Morning America as airing the Brandi Hitt story. Her piece was posted on GMA's website, but did not air on the program.] ABCNews.com on Wednesday greeted the death of Hugo Chavez by avoiding the word “socialist.” Instead, journalist Brandi Hitt touted the repressive leader as someone who “appeared to never back down from a challenge.” The reporter never mentioned Chavez’s crackdown on free speech or democracy. Instead, she featured a woman in the streets of Venezuela gushing, “He’s a man that cared about us…He did not give anything to me, but he gave it to my people.”
Over on Today, NBC’s Mark Potter offered this friendly description of the individual who made friends with Iranian dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: “Many here were still surprised when he died, in part because of his larger-than-life personality.” Potter announced that crowds in Caracas were chanting “Chavez lives” and “the struggle continues.” Both Today and Good Morning America made sure to play footage of Chavez’s 2006 appearance at the United Nations. There, the authoritarian leaded mocked George W. Bush as “the devil.”
Surprise! It turns out there is some wasteful spending going on in government. In the weeks leading up to the showdown in Washington, ABC offered story after story lamenting the “massive” government cuts resulting from sequester and warning of criminals running free and a “meat shortage.” Yet on the March 5 World News, David Kerley found that the government has spent $400,000 in the last two years alone on expensive portraits for top officials.
A shocked Kerley explained, “The 29th agriculture secretary? Well, you paid for his painting. The latest for Lisa Jackson, the outgoing EPA administrator, a $38,000 portrait. ..How about $41,000 for the Air Force secretary?” Pointing the figure at Barack Obama, the journalist continued, “We wanted to show you some of those portraits that you paid for. But the White House wouldn't allow our camera to go into any federal buildings to see those paintings.” [See video below.]
Within minutes of the death of death of repressive socialist Hugo Chavez on Tuesday, MSNBC featured ex-Washington Post managing editor Eugene Robinson to fawn over the "quick," "popular" leader. Though Robinson allowed that "freedom of speech suffered greatly" under Chavez, he praised, "He provided medical attention that the poor of Venezuela hadn't received before, and, and, frankly, it was the first time in many decades that a leader had paid that kind of attention to the poor majority in Venezuela." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
With a nostalgic grin on his face, Robinson told guest Hardball host Michael Smerconish about the time he met the "quick-witted" anti-American. "He came to the Washington Post and there were several of us waiting to greet him," the liberal journalist giddily recounted. Robinson continued, "I didn't know if he spoke English at the time, so I introduced myself to him in Spanish when he got to me in the line, and he shook my hand and looked up at me and kind of grinned and said, 'hello, my name is Hu.'"
After hyping a "fiscal emergency" that could "vaporize" America, the journalists at Good Morning America seemed slightly puzzled that daily life has continued. GMA anchor George Stephanopoulos on Tuesday talked to reporter Bianna Golodryga and marveled, "...Investors seem to be shrugging off any economic impact from the stalemate in Washington, those across the board spending cuts."
Golodryga lamented the lack of panic, complaining, "Yeah, isn't that kind of sad? It was basically anticipated that we were going to have these spending cuts." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Isn't that kind of sad? Golodryga admitted, "You're not seeing a huge effect on the economy. Economists are saying that we could have some sort of impact. It could slow growth but not really bring us into another recession." Just last week, on the same program, news reader Josh Elliott opened the show by panicking: "Jobs vaporizing, flights delayed, even criminals walking free."
For weeks, ABC has been hyping sequestration as a "fiscal emergency" that could "cripple" much of America and "vaporize" jobs. Yet, Monday's Good Morning America featured no stories on what the network had been calling "massive cuts." On Friday's GMA, as sequester was about to occur, Josh Elliott hyperventilated, "Jobs vaporizing, flights delayed, even criminals walking free."
Day after day, the morning show conducted a "grim countdown" to sequester. On February 27, Jon Karl parroted, "...The White House's list of terrible things caused by the cuts grows longer, including flight delays, kids losing vaccines, and meat shortages." On another program, the February 24World News, David Kerley warned, "Child care canceled for tens of thousands of kids. Long airport security lines." According to a new study by the Media Research Center, 89 percent of ABC's stories on sequester pushed "budget panic."
According to the journalists of Good Morning America, the end of the world is nigh. The hosts and reporters on Friday hyped the "massive" sequester cuts as leading to near panic. Josh Elliott opened the show by hyperventilating, "Jobs vaporizing, flights delayed, even criminals walking free." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Reporter Jon Karl intoned, "The day is upon us. Those dreaded across-the-board spending cuts will go into effect sometime before 11:59 p.m tonight." He then touted White House talking points: "The administration warns that in the coming weeks, we'll see flight delays, kids thrown out off Head Start and criminals get free due to a lack of federal prosecutors."
The implied threat from the White House to Bob Woodward has thrown the liberal media for a loop. On Wednesday night, Politico published a fawning interview with Woodward. Writers Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei gushed over the "calm, instantly recognizable voice" of the journalist. On Wednesday, the Washington Post, which Woodward famously works for, mocked the Politico piece as nothing different than "fan fiction."
The Politico authors thrilled over being in the same room as Woodward. Allen and VandeHei's first paragraph raved, "Woodward [talked to] us in an hourlong interview yesterday around the Georgetown dining room table where so many generations of Washington’s powerful have spilled their secrets." A simple act of reading an e-mail became: "Digging into one of his famous folders, Woodward said the tirade was followed by a page-long email from the aide."
The Today show on Thursday allowed a scant 16 seconds, out of a possible four hours, to the claim by veteran journalist Bob Woodward that the Obama White House is trying to intimidate him and attack his coverage of the sequester cuts. The NBC program also avoided using the word "threat."
ABC's Good Morning America gave the most coverage to the battle, offering a full report and a news brief. [See video below. MP3 audio here.] CBS This Morning covered the story as part of a bigger report on the looming cuts. On Today, reporter Kristen Welker blandly explained, "As a backdrop to all of this, veteran reporter Bob Woodward is telling reporters that the White House is lashing out at him for writing an article which claimed that the sequester was all President Obama's idea." She then helpfully presented the President's case: "The White House has made the point that Republicans overwhelmingly supported the plan as well." This was the extent of Today's coverage.
In a closing commentary on Wednesday, Hardball's Chris Matthews ranted that opposing gun control could lead to the assassination of a future American president or politician. Matthews fumed that he supports new restrictions because "the next mass shooter could well emerge out of this pack" of the "politically nutty."
He lobbied, "Check the shooters of John F. Kennedy and Jerry Ford, who got shot at twice. Look at the men that shot Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and George Wallace. They all had political motives and they all had guns." In the very next sentence, Matthews sneered, "And if you're not against this movement, you're with it." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Good Morning America on Tuesday edited out an inaccurate assertion by First Lady Michelle Obama that the gunman in a Chicago killing used an "automatic weapon." Regarding the death of teenager Hadiya Pendelton, Mrs. Obama claimed, "And she was caught in the line of fire because some kids had some automatic weapons they didn't need." This quote appeared online, but not on the February 26 interview with Robin Roberts.
The Chicago Tribuneexplained, "...A day after her homicide on Jan. 29, Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said the gunman possibly used a revolver because no bullet casings were found at the shooting scene — as there would be if a semi-automatic or automatic weapon had been used." No ABC show on Tuesday or Wednesday offered an explanation as to why the network helpfully covered up for the First Lady's error. [Updated with video.]
The reporters of Good Morning America, who on Monday briefly questioned Barack Obama's hyperbolic talk about the sequester cuts, have returned to promoting dire warnings of meat shortages and children losing vaccines. Guest co-host Elizabeth Vargas on Wednesday hyped "the grim countdown to the massive spending cuts that will kick in on Friday."
To underline the point, an ABC graphic proclaimed, "Countdown to Massive Cuts: Will Illegal Immigrants Be Released From Jail?" Correspondent Jon Karl parroted Obama: "Each day, the White House's list of terrible things caused by the cuts grows longer, including flight delays, kids losing vaccines, and meat shortages." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Two days ago, in a moment of clarity, Karl acknowledged, "But those cuts, five to seven percent for most government departments, will be phased in over the next seven months."
Last week, ABC scored an exclusive "get." Barack and Michelle Obama appeared on Good Morning America to welcome back co-host Robin Roberts from a serious illness. On Tuesday, Roberts paid the White House back, fawning over the "trend-setting" First Lady and her "hot" bangs. The anchor asked not a single tough question during the two part, eight and a half minute segment.
Co-anchor George Stephanopoulos compared Mrs. Obama's appearance at the Oscars, Sunday, to the real mission in the movie Argo: Rescuing American hostages from Iran. He thrilled over the secretive appearance: "Producers go undercover to the White House in a move straight out of Argo." Elizabeth Vargas echoed, "It was like something out of Argo." The hostages in Iran faced death, not the revelation of a TV appearance. [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
ABC on Sunday continued to hype Barack Obama's hyperbolic claims about sequester cuts. World News reporter David Kerley played a clip of the President and then insisted that $85 billion in spending "sounds like a disaster movie." Kerley warned, "Child care canceled for tens of thousands of kids. Long airport security lines. Flight delays with a shortage of controllers. And military cuts that will leave us 'second rate' according to the Defense Secretary."
Reason Magazine's Nick Gillespie on Monday pointed out: "Widely quoted as $85 billion for spending in fiscal year 2013 (which ends on September 30), the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) underscores that just $44 billion of spending reduction are slated for 2013, with the rest coming in later years." That amounts to $44 billion in a 2013 budget of $3.6 trillion. Kerley allowed two sentences acknowledging that the cuts "will be phased in over the next seven months."
According to Good Morning America's David Wright on Monday, the upcoming "papal election campaign is getting ugly." The ABC correspondent then declared that Pope Benedict an "absolute monarch."
In a report live from Rome, Wright explained, "Pope Benedict is expected to issue new rules about the timing and procedures of the conclave [the meeting of cardinals to elect a new pope.]" He added, "[Benedict] can do that by degree. The Pope is an absolute monarch." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Of course, Wright's experience in judging any kind of election is questionable. Back in 2002, he reported from Iraq and insisted, "Seven years ago, when the last referendum took place, Saddam Hussein won 99.96 percent of the vote. Of course, it is impossible to say whether that’s a true measure of the Iraqi people’s feelings."
Apparently, objectivity just isn't needed on some issues. On March 16th, Good Morning America's Josh Elliott, Sam Champion and Lara Spencer will co-host the 24th annual Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) awards. The event will honor another journalist, Anderson Cooper, for being "an advocate for the LGBT community."
This isn't the first time Elliott, supposedly a neutral journalist, has appeared atthe GLAAD event. On March 24, 2012, the anchor accepted a media award and declared of ABC: "I'm proud to work at a place that believes in advocacy journalism!" Elliott fawned over the group, saying "I will never be in a braver room than this!" (As if it's tough to be in a place where everyone has the exact same opinion as you.)
The journalists of Good Morning America on Friday adopted White House talking points, foreseeing a "fiscal emergency" that will "cripple" flights in the United States. Jon Karl warned, "When it comes to air travel, the first thing we'll all see are longer lines at airport security. Expect ten percent fewer TSA agents on the job." An ABC graphic blared, "Seven Days to Fiscal Emergency: Air Travel Could Be Crippled." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Karl highlighted Erskine Bowles, a Democrat and former chief of staff to Bill Clinton. It's true that Bowles is now on a bipartisan debt reduction panel, but he's certainly a partisan. Instead of informing viewers of this fact, Karl labeled him simply as a "prominent budget expert."
MSNBC's Chuck Todd on Thursday echoed a liberal columnist and mocked the idea of blaming Barack Obama for sequester spending cuts, even though it was the President's idea. On Thursday's Daily Rundown, Todd sneered, "Of all the dumb things Washington does, this 'who started it' argument has proven to be one of the dumber ones, especially since we're so close to the actual cuts going into place." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Todd's talking points sound very similar to assertions made by liberal Newsweek/Daily Beast writer Michael Tomasky. On Tuesday, he admitted that Obama came up with the plan, but wondered why it matters. The sub-headline offered this Daily Beast article proclaimed, "Conservatives keep reminding everyone that the sequester was Obama’s idea. But, says Michael Tomasky, that doesn’t mean he’s to blame for the current crisis."
On Wednesday's Hardball, Chris Matthews, who previously ranted about too much "hate" in politics, sneeringly compared the House GOP to Hamas. Talking to Jonathan Allen of Politico, Matthews snarled at Barack Obama's congressional opponents: "Who is the President talking to? Is it just a clique of a bunch of right-wingers who don't want to talk to anybody? Are they Hamas?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
It was left to Allen, no conservative, to talk Matthews down: "They are not Hamas." It's clear that the cable anchor doesn't listen to himself when he talks. On January 21, he whined about too much partisanship and over-the-top language: "Why can't politics be a matter of belief and honest disagreement, not hatred?" If only the January 21 Matthews could ask the February 20 Matthews this.
What does it take for the networks to focus on a Joe Biden gaffe? Apparently, it's enough to suggest that a shotgun is ideal for home defense. On Tuesday's Nightly News and the morning shows on Wednesday, journalists, who often overlook the Vice President's verbal miscues, highlighted his comments about shotguns.
In an online chat with Parents magazine, Biden suggested, "If you want to protect yourself, get a double-barreled shotgun." He went on to say that he owns two such weapons and has instructed his wife to use them if needed. This led Nightly News anchor Brian Williams to joke, "VicePresident Joe Biden is out with another one of those sound bites that could live on for a long time." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] On Wednesday's Good Morning America, George Stephanopoulos described Biden as "unplugged." He warned, "Biden and those [Parents] magazine readers got a little more than they had bargained for."
ABC's Good Morning America on Wednesday welcomed Robin Roberts back from sick leave by surprising the co-host with her biggest fans, Barack and Michelle Obama. Within two minutes of the show's open, George Stephanopoulos kicked off the celebration by cutting to the Obamas. He hyped, "We have a lot of surprises for you this morning. We're going to start with one from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."
After Barack Obama touted the journalist as an "inspiration," Michelle Obama teased, "And personally, I am looking forward to our interview together in a couple of days." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] How, exactly, is Roberts supposed to conduct tough interviews after that kind of praise? The ABC reporter has long been a favorite of the White House and her fawning coverage has to be part of the reason. After the President flipped his position on gay marriage, Roberts got the first interview. On May 10, 2012, she gushed, "I'm getting chills" just thinking about Obama's new stance.
In 2008, a then-MSNBC host mocked George W. Bush's senior adviser, Karl Rove, for signing up with the "home team" of Fox News. Yet, on Tuesday it was announced that Barack Obama's senior adviser, David Axelrod, will be joining NBC and MSNBC as an analyst. A NBC press release hyped that Axelrod "will contribute frequently across all broadcasts and platforms of both networks." (There was no mention as to whether MSNBC is Obama's "home team.)
On February 6, 2008, then-MSNBC anchor Dan Abrams trashed Fox News for signing Rove: "The folks over at Fox News are just thrilled about what I'm calling Karl Rove's homecoming, his debut last as a political commentator and the home team cheered them on again and again." Abrams, who is now at ABC, sneered, "Come on. Give me a break."
ABC journalist Jon Karl continued his role as White House stenographer, Tuesday, repeating Barack Obama's talking points on the upcoming sequester cuts. Karl insisted that the President is "really trying to shame Congress into doing something to replace these cuts." Former Democratic operative turned journalist George Stephanopoulos asserted that Obama is going to "ratchet up the pressure on Congress." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
The Good Morning America segment featured Karl uncritically hyping the impact of the sequester cuts: "And the White House says that would mean hundreds of thousands of middle class jobs potentially at risk." Considering that the tiny cuts amount to $85 billion in a $16 trillion debt, some skepticism might have been warranted.
Although every holiday may seem like Obama Day to Chris Matthews, the MSNBC host used the date often devoted to Lincoln and Washington as an excuse to wonder if the current President is headed to Mount Rushmore. On President's Day, Matthews thrilled, "Is Barack Obama going for it? Is he set on becoming one of the great presidents in history?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
The cable anchor, who famously declared that Obama caused a "thrill going up my leg," first declared, "I'm not talking about Mt. Rushmore but perhaps the level right below it." He later went back on this and fantasized about the President watching him: "If [Obama] were hearing us talking about him maybe mounting Mount Rushmore, getting up there with the great presidents...what would he be thinking? 'That's exactly what I'm doing?'"
All three network newscasts on Friday featured Chicago as an example of Barack Obama's call for more gun control. ABC and NBC ignored the inconvenient fact that the city already has some of the strictest gun control in the country. (It took a Supreme Court ruling to overturn Chicago's ban on handguns.) Only the CBS Evening News mentioned this point.
On the NBC Nightly News, Lester Holt explained that the President traveled to Chicago "where dozens of children are victims of gun violence every year." Chuck Todd highlighted, "For years, it's the NRA that has used emotion to win big political battles. The president hopes the emotions of Newtown change the equation." He also noted that Chicago saw almost "nearly 500 gun shot-related murders in 2012."
Former Democratic Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. was charged on Friday with improperly spending $750,000 of campaign funds on items such as Michael Jackson and Bruce Lee memorabilia (among other things). Yet, ABC's World News did not cover the story at all. On Saturday, Good Morning America allowed the news a mere 18 seconds. Over the course of the weekend, NBC's Nightly News, the CBS Evening News, Saturday Morning, Today and GMA never mentioned that Jackson is a Democrat. There was no coverage on Sunday.
Most, such as Evening News guest-host Anthony Mason, simply referred to Jackson as the "former Chicago Congressman." CBS correspondent Nancy Cordes spun, "Jackson, Jr., came to Congress in 1995, the promising and personable son of a civil rights leader, the Reverend Jesse Jackson." Cordes did highlight how the ex-representative spent his campaign funds, including "$43,000 on a gold-plated men's Rolex watch, $5,000 on fur capes and parkas and a long list of Bruce Lee and Michael Jackson memorabilia."
All three network morning shows on Friday ignored the fact that the ex-San Diego mayor who gambled away an astonishing $1 billion is a Democrat. ABC's Good Morning America, NBC's Today and CBS This Morning covered Maureen O'Connor and explained how she wasted most of the money on video poker. But none of them mentioned the party affiliation of the politician.
GMA's Josh Elliott simply related, "A former mayor of San Diego has admitted to gambling away a staggering $1 billion, including millions that she took from her late husband's charity." Today's Natalie Morales described the fraud as an "unbelievable debt." She, too, only used the term "former San Diego mayor." On CBS This Morning, Norah O'Donnell did the same. A graphic deemed the massive crime as being committed by an "ex-mayor." On Fox News, however, Fox and Friends host Brian Kilmeade identified "former Democratic Mayor Maureen O'Connor."
For daring to oppose Chuck Hagel's nomination to be Secretary of Defense, Chris Matthews on Thursday snarled that Ted Cruz is the new Joe McCarthy. Comparing the Republican senator from Texas to liberalism's highest villain, Matthews ranted, "You know, I don't often say it, and I rarely say it, but there was echoes of Joe McCarthy there. Really strong echoes." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
The Hardball anchor came to this conclusion after playing a clip of Cruz pointing out that the "government of Iran [is] formally and publicly praising" Hagel's nomination. Matthews's guest, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, unsurprisingly agreed: "It was absolutely McCarthy-like!" Matthews's claim that he "rarely" compares people to McCarthy is just wrong. He's done it a number of times.