2. NBC VP Insists 'Live Earth' Didn't Promote a 'Political Issue'
3. NBC Again Sees 'Tipping Point' as Sen. Breaks with Bush on Iraq
4. ABC Minimizes Bush Court Victory; Had Speculated on Impeachment
[This item is adapted from a Monday posting, by Geoff Dickens, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
As for the extent of NBC Universal's gift to Gore's cause, the June 6 CyberAlert recounted:
In what will surely be one of the largest ever, if not the largest, in-kind contributions to a presidential campaign if Al Gore decides to run, NBC Universal announced late last week that its networks will devote an incredible 75 hours of time on Saturday, July 7 to showing Gore's "Live Earth: The Concerts for a Climate in Crisis."
In addition to the entirety of NBC's prime time that night hosted by Ann Curry of NBC News, CNBC will carry seven hours of coverage from 7pm to 2am EDT; Bravo will show the concerts around the world for 18 hours starting at 8am EDT; and both the Sundance channel and the Universal HD channel will showcase the concerts for 22 hours each beginning at 4am EDT. Rounding out the 75 hours, mun2 will run a two-hour show at 5pm EDT and Telemundo will air a one-hour special at 7pm EDT.
For the June 6 CyberAlert item in full: www.mrc.org
On July 2, the MRC posted a Media Reality Check, researched by Geoff Dickens, with a look at the views of Ann Curry of NBC News, who co-hosted the 8-11pm EDT/PDT prime time coverage on NBC of Gore's July 7 concerts. For "NBC's Queen of Green Hosts 'Live Earth': Today News Anchor Ann Curry Has History of Sappy Promotion of Celebrity Environmentalists," go to: www.mrc.org
The following is the full Curry interview with Al Gore, from the site of the concert in New Jersey, as it occurred at around 9:30pm EDT during NBC's prime-time coverage of the July 7 Live Earth concerts:
Ann Curry: "Live Earth involves 130 countries, 7 continents, 2 billion viewers, dozens of bands and it's all in a days work for this man, who's worked tirelessly to raise the issue of global warming, the Chairman of the Alliance for Climate Protection, Al Gore. Al, good evening."
At the end of his Monday "Media Notes" column, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz asked NBC about the perception of imbalance created by their massive promotion of the Live Earth concerts on seven of their channels throughout the day Saturday, but an NBC corporate Senior VP insisted: "I really don't think climate change is a political issue." On Sunday's Reliable Sources on CNN, Kurtz had asked his guests about "NBC taking sides." The BBC's Katty Kay marveled at supposedly "how critical the coverage was" of the Live Earth concerts and New Republic Senior Editor Ryan Lizza conceded "the environment is one of those issues where the media tends to skew a little bit to the left. There's no doubt about that."
[This item is adapted from a Monday morning posting, by Tim Graham, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
From Kurtz's July 9 "Style" section column:
NBC and its cable networks devoted a total of 35 hours of air time Saturday to the Live Earth concerts, organized by Al Gore to call attention to what he calls a global warming "crisis."
The worldwide series of concerts, featuring 150 artists from Madonna to Red Hot Chili Peppers, was also designed to raise money for the Alliance for Climate Protection, a nonprofit group chaired by the former vice president. Commercials aired at a reduced rate.
Doesn't this strike a discordant note? Wasn't NBC, whose news division covers the debate over climate change, providing a huge platform for advocates on one side of a contentious issue? And isn't the network helping a prominent Democrat -- who granted Today an interview last week in which he was asked again about his presidential ambitions -- raise money? Dan Harrison, an NBC senior vice president, does not back away from the message. He calls the Gore effort "an initiative we believe in," including parent company General Electric. "I really don't think climate change is a political issue," Harrison says.
"Everyone agrees it's happening. If it's a political issue, it's whether the political will exists to address that change. We know we need to do something, and this is a way to heighten awareness."
END of Excerpt
For Kurtz's July 9 column in full: www.washingtonpost.com
As for Harrison's contention, this is like saying everyone agrees that terrorism is happening. But there are many people who are incredibly casual about that threat. Would NBC air 75 hours of an anti-al-Qaeda concert (okay, as if pretentious liberal rock stars would ever submit to such an idea)? Or would they see it as a big Bush-Cheney commercial? Then they ought to see how it looks like an Al Gore commercial they just plastered all over their airwaves for free.
Kudos to Kurtz for pressing forward against the lame pretense that everyone somehow agrees on the Al Gore seven-point plan for energy reduction and it's not contentious to impose draconian environmental mandates.
On Sunday's Reliable Sources on CNN, Kurtz had raised the same concern as he did in Monday's Washington Post. From the July 8 discussion with San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders, Katty Kay of the BBC and Ryan Lizza of The New Republic:
HOWARD KURTZ: All right. Let me pick up another issue with you, Debra Saunders, and that is the Live Earth concerts, which took place around the globe yesterday. NBC and its cable networks carrying more than 30 hours of the musical proceedings, which were not only designed to heighten awareness of global warming, but to raise money for Al Gore's nonprofit group on climate change. Debra, does this amount to NBC taking sides on this issue?
Like the old adage which says a stuck clock is accurate twice a day, on Monday another public figure broke with President Bush on Iraq and, for at least the fourth time in the past two years, the NBC Nightly News saw a "turning point" or a "tipping point" on the war. If NBC says it enough, eventually they may, indeed, be correct and consider themselves prescient.
"Tonight," Brian Williams teased, "is Iraq policy at a tipping point?" With "Tipping Point?" on screen, he proceeded to lead his July 9 broadcast with how "there are signs and signals and indications that a turning point may be nearing on U.S. involvement in the Iraq war" because of defections by Republican Senators. Reporter David Gregory cited White House "high-level strategy sessions and meetings with Republican lawmakers whose criticism of the President's war policy has accelerated a push to withdraw troops." Gregory then asked: "Is this the tipping point on Iraq? Tonight, another Republican Senator, Olympia Snowe of Maine, called on the President to set a timetable for troop withdrawal, saying the surge is not working."
Two weeks ago, when Senator Richard Lugar "broke with the President on the Iraq war," Williams proposed: "Tonight many are wondering if we're witnessing the beginning of some kind of turning point?" Williams earlier teased the newscast with the same formulation: "Is this a turning point in the war?" NBC, however, has a poor record of picking Iraq war "turning" or "tipping points." In 2005 the network hailed Cindy Sheehan's protest near Bush's ranch as a "turning point" and last October Williams heralded comments from Senator John Warner on Iraq as he asked: "Is this a new turning point?"
For the Lugar coverage, see the June 27 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
[This item was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
On the August 25, 2005 NBC Nightly News, reporter Carl Quintanilla asserted: "Sheehan, say some historians, may be evolving as an icon in the war's turning point, if this is one. For three weeks, she's dominated headlines, mobilized protesters-"
For the entire story, check the 2005 CyberAlert posting which noted how on MSNBC's Countdown that night, fill-in host Amy Robach framed Quintanilla's story around how "there are those who wonder if attitudes toward the war could be reaching a tipping point and whether the Gold Star mom could be the driving force." See: www.mrc.org
A little over a year later, on the October 6, 2006 NBC Nightly News, Williams highlighted Republican Senator John Warner's warning that Iraq is drifting "side-wise," a comment trumpeted by Williams in his tease: "When a key Republican Senator comes home from Iraq and says the U.S. has to re-think its strategy, is this a new turning point?" See: www.mrc.org
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this partial transcript from the start of the July 9 NBC Nightly News:
Brian Williams teased: "Tonight, is Iraq policy at a tipping point? With pressure building on the Bush administration to change course, the White House says no."
Williams opened: "Good evening on this first Monday after the July 4th break. There are signs and signals and indications that a turning point may be nearing on U.S. involvement in the Iraq war. As you'll hear in a moment, the Bush White House is denying anything's been accelerated, but the problem is the very people they used to be able to count on, the Republicans in the Senate who have been steadfast dependable supporters of the war effort. One by one, they have been beginning to defect from the President with the lowest ever recorded approval rating. And where does all of this leave the American men and women who have volunteered to serve their nation? We begin our coverage on this Monday night with our chief White House correspondent David Gregory. David, good evening."
David Gregory began: "Brian, inside the White House tonight, a greater sense of urgency about what comes next in Iraq. High-level strategy sessions and meetings with Republican lawmakers whose criticism of the President's war policy has accelerated a push to withdraw troops. Is this the tipping point on Iraq? Tonight, another Republican Senator, Olympia Snowe of Maine, called on the President to set a timetable for troop withdrawal, saying the surge is not working..."
Last August, when a federal district judge ruled that it was unconstitutional to monitor overseas conversations with suspected terrorists, ABC's Good Morning America treated the decision as a monumental event worthy of a full story at the top of the show. News reader Kate Snow set up the report from Jessica Yellin: "We begin with a major blow to President Bush's war on terror. A judge found wiretapping without a warrant was unconstitutional." However, Saturday's GMA, the morning after a federal appeals court overturned that decision, gave the reversal a piddling 13-second news brief.
In contrast, in August Yellin described the original ruling as a "stinging setback" and she highlighted a professor who said it could lead to President Bush's impeachment. Yellin, who colorfully relayed how the judge "essentially accuses the President of acting like a king," also highlighted this comment about Bush from George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley: "He could be impeached. And people should not be underestimating that." (To be fair, Yellin did offer some skepticism in response to that comment.)
For a complete look at Yellin's August 18, 2006 story: www.mrc.org
[This item is adapted from a Monday afternoon posting, by Scott Whitlock, on the MRC's NewsBusters.org blog: newsbusters.org ]
The decision was overturned on July 6 and Good Morning America only covered it in this bland 13-second news brief that aired on July 7 at 7:02am when Ron Claiborne noted: "A federal appeals court has handed a victory to the Bush administration's domestic spying program. In a 2-1 decision, the judges said citizens could not sue because they could not prove that their communications had been monitored by the government. The decision may be appealed."
Note the misleading use of the term domestic spying. (At least one half of the phone conversation has to be out of the country.)
As for evening newscast inconsistency in coverage, the July 9 CyberAlert recounted:
Last August, when one federal judge ruled unconstitutional the monitoring of U.S. phone calls with suspected terrorists overseas, the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts all highlighted the defeat for the Bush administration. But on Friday, after an appeals court overturned the earlier decision, ABC and CBS were silent while NBC again distorted the policy as "domestic spying." Last August 17, ABC's World News anchor Charles Gibson teased: "A federal judge tells the Bush administration one of its main terror-fighting tools violates the Constitution." Gibson introduced the story of the "major legal defeat" for the Bush administration and correspondent Martha Raddatz filed a full report in which she described the ruling as a "significant blow" to the administration. While the words "Domestic Surveillance" were displayed on screen, NBC anchor Campbell Brown relayed that the judge "harshly condemned" the program. MSNBC's Keith Olbermann also ignored Friday's ruling on his Countdown show, while last August he had trumpeted that day's anti-Bush court decision as a "judicial smackdown."
For the full rundown: www.mrc.org
-- Brent Baker