NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams on Thursday fretted about the "very tough spot" a Chinese dissident and human rights activist has put Hillary Clinton in.
On Friday's Good Morning America,
Josh Elliott kept the spotlight on Clinton, lamenting that the
Secretary of State is "caught in the middle" of this ongoing diplomatic
Rather than start his report by focusing on Chen Guangcheng, the man who's life is in danger, Williams warned, "We begin tonight with a man who has changed his mind and by doing so put the U.S. and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a very tough spot in what is already a complicated relationship with China." [MP3 audio here.]
Reporter Andrea Mitchell focused on Chen's apparent change of heart, breathlessly explaining, "In a dramatic reversal of what he told U.S. diplomats in Beijing yesterday, a blind Chinese dissident now says he wants to leave China."
She added that there might now be no "way to avoid offering Chen political asylum" in America.
On Friday's Good Morning America, the program featured very little coverage, just two brief reports. News reader Elliot worried, "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, caught in the middle of it all." Correspondent Martha Raddatz similarly sympathized, "Hillary Clinton has been under intense scrutiny since Chen pleaded for the secretary to fly him to the U.S. because he fears for his life."
In contrast to Nightly News and Good Morning America, World News anchor Diane Sawyer put the emphasis on Chen. She highlighted, "A blind man, that activist hero who made the daring escape, slipping past Chinese guards under cover of night, is now asking her to take him to the United States on her plane."
However, Sawyer also made a point to refer to Clinton as a "champion of human rights."
On CBS This Morning, Bill Plante noticed the potential downside for the Obama administration: "The Chen case has become a diplomatic disaster in U.S./China relations. And now it's generating plenty of political heat here in Washington over the way the administration has handled it."
CBS also stood out from the other networks when Evening News anchor Scott Pelley focused on just what Chen has been protesting, describing him as a "a famous human rights campaigner who exposed forced abortions in China that are sometimes ordered to enforce the policy that allows only one child per family."
A transcript of the May 3 Nightly News segment can be found below: