Nets Trumpet Powell's 'Major,' 'Powerful' 'Endorsement of Year' --10/20/2008
2. Couric Trumpets Chicago Tribune's Obama Endorsement
3. NBC: 'If World Had a Vote, Barack Obama Would Win in Landslide'
4. Nightline Hypes Breaking News: Joe the Plumber Not Named Joe
5. CBS's Early Show Discredits 'The Real Joe the Plumber'
6. CBS: 4 Out of 5 'Average Joes' Would Get More From Obama Tax Plan
7. Guilt by Association? WSJ Profiles McCain Family's Slaves
8. Nets Played Up Foley Scandal Now Skipping Tim Mahoney Sex Scandal
9. Ex-NBC News Chief Advocates Gumbel for Meet the Press Moderator
10. Richard Lewis: 'Constitution Been Trampled the Last Eight Years'
Journalists on TV Sunday heralded the importance and impact of Colin Powell's long-expected endorsement of Barack Obama which he made on Meet the Press. Later in that show, NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell touted Powell's endorsement and critique of the McCain campaign as "a very powerful political statement." On the same panel with Mitchell, Newsweek Editor Jon Meacham declared that "having Colin Powell endorse the Democratic nominee for President is like having the seal of approval from the most important military figure of the age."
MSNBC was so excited by the news the channel produced a special Sunday Hardball devoted entirely to Powell's news. Chris Matthews teased: "Colin Powell, right in the kisser. Barack Obama gets the endorsement of the year. Let's play Hardball." Cuing up a Meet the Press re-play at the end of the 5 pm EDT hour, Matthews celebrated: "This is history in the making, on Meet the Press, right now."
NFL football bumped the EDT/CDT CBS Evening News, but both ABC and NBC made Powell their lead. With "Major Endorsement" as it's on-screen heading, ABC anchor Dan Harris teased, "Tonight on World News: On a roll. Obama wins a major endorsement from a major Republican." CNN's 10 PM EDT Newsroom, which dedicated its first 30 minutes to Powell, plastered "Big-Time Endorsement" on screen before anchor Don Lemon wondered: "I know it is important, but just how important is this?"
On the NBC Nightly News, Lee Cowan framed his story around how Obama "was in a military town in North Carlina, home to Fort Bragg, where seven words from an Army General-" (Powell: "I'll be voting for Senator Barack Obama") "-left the Illinois Senator humbled."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Sunday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
At the top of CBS's 10:30 AM EDT Face the Nation, the only one of the four broadcast network Sunday interview shows not produced at the same time as Meet the Press (9 AM EDT), host Bob Schieffer outlined Powell's case:
Of course, Ayers was a bit more than just a "Vietnam protester."
Powell's choice became known during ABC's This Week and guest panelist David Gergen asserted: "I think it is the most important endorsement of the campaign so far."
In the Meet the Press panel segment, Mitchell dismissed William Ayers and "Joe the Plumber" as "marginal issues" as she emphasized the relevance of Powell's criticisms and endorsement:
"In talking about the narrowing of the party, he's talking, as he told you, about William Ayers, about the robo-calls, about the accusations of socialism, about, let's face it, "Joe the Plumber." A lot of the seemingly marginal issues that the McCain campaign has fixed on in these closing weeks are now undercut by the Colin Powell endorsement. This is a big deal with centrist Republicans, with Republican women in the suburbs. He's appealing, by mentioning the Supreme Court, he's appealing to a lot of those women who may not agree with Barack Obama on a lot of social questions, but feel the tug on Roe v. Wade and also would be influenced by Colin Powell and by a centrist Republican saying that this party is different. I think this is a very powerful political statement."
Every time someone reporters like endorses Obama they jump to publicize it:
# The May 15 CyberAlert item, "Excited by 'Major' Edwards Endorsement to 'Create One America,'" recounted:
Trumpeting the "major endorsement" from John Edwards for Barack Obama, the day after Obama was trounced by 40 points in West Virginia all three broadcast network evening newscasts led Wednesday night with the "dramatic" announcement of the "political prize" that gives Obama a "major boost." Katie Couric returned at the end of the 6:30 PM EST CBS Evening News feed to reiterate "our top story tonight" as she effused over live video of Edwards speaking at the rally: "John Edwards endorses Barack Obama, saying he's one man who knows in his heart that it's time to create one America, not two."
ABC was so excited that its 6:30 PM feed of World News went live at about 6:40 PM to Grand Rapids, Michigan for 90 seconds of Obama introducing Edwards, compete with a Bruce Spingsteen song as Edwards bounded on stage. Gibson then acknowledged: "Timed for maximum exposure, timed to coincide with the evening newscasts, timed to give Barack Obama a needed boost after his bad defeat yesterday in West Virginia. George Stephanopoulos, this is the kind of publicity that you can't buy."
Full rundown: www.mrc.org
# The January 29 CyberAlert posting, "'Mystique' Means 'Audacity of Hope' Has 'Rendezvous with Destiny,'" reported:
The broadcast network anchors and reporters were almost as giddy as Barack Obama over liberal Democrat Ted Kennedy's endorsement of the presidential candidate. ABC, CBS and NBC all led Monday night with it and ABC's David Wright adopted campaign slogans as he enthused about how "today the audacity of hope had its rendezvous with destiny. The Kennedy clan anointed Barack Obama a son of Camelot." CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric teased, "Passing the torch: Barack Obama is tapped as the candidate to continue the Kennedy legacy." NBC's Lee Cowan, who earlier this month conceded "it's almost hard to remain objective" when covering Obama, showed he also has a soft spot for the Kennedys as he radiated over how "the endorsement brought the Kennedy mystique to this campaign, not in a whisper, but a roar." Viewers then got a soundbite of Kennedy yelling during the event at American University.
Later, on Nightline, with "New Son of Camelot" on screen over video of Obama and Ted Kennedy, anchor Terry Moran trumpeted the "new son of Camelot. Ted and Caroline Kennedy pass the torch to Barack Obama to carry the legacy of JFK." Moran soon hailed how "the political world was transfixed by the spectacle of the most powerful Democratic family of the 20th century christening a new torch bearer for the 21st." David Wright repeated his "the audacity of hope had its rendezvous with destiny" line before championing the "merging ideals from two different eras" as "Obama is now an adopted son of Camelot."
Complete summary: www.mrc.org
Plus, on Al Gore endorsing Obama on June 16:
For "CNN's Campbell Brown Giddy Over Al Gore, Pushes Him for VP," see: www.mrc.org
For "NBC Trumpets Gore's 'Return to Electoral Politics' to Endorse Obama," go to: www.mrc.org
"The Chicago Tribune did something today it had never done before -- it had not endorsed a Democrat for President, not even Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson in his two runs," CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric touted Friday night before heralding the endorsement of the candidate from the paper's circulation area: "But today, the Trib endorsed Illinois Senator Barack Obama. It said he's better suited than John McCain to restore a quote, 'common sense of national purpose.'"
The endorsement editorial posted Friday afternoon, but presumably to appear in Sunday's newspaper, acknowledged the paper's admiration for the hometown Senator is nothing new: "On Dec. 6, 2006, this page encouraged Obama to join the presidential campaign. We wrote that he would celebrate our common values instead of exaggerate our differences. We said he would raise the tone of the campaign. We said his intellectual depth would sharpen the policy debate. In the ensuing 22 months he has done just that."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Friday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Neither Friday's NBC's Nightly News nor ABC's World News considered the endorsement newsworthy.
The editorial, "Tribune endorsement: Barack Obama for president," oozed in its conclusion: "It may have seemed audacious for Obama to start his campaign in Springfield, invoking Lincoln. We think, given the opportunity to hold this nation's most powerful office, he will prove it wasn't so audacious after all. We are proud to add Barack Obama's name to Lincoln's in the list of people the Tribune has endorsed for president of the United States."
For the complete editorial: www.chicagotribune.com
Obama is up 3-to-1 in newspaper endorsements (by 4-to-1 in circulation), according to the latest Editor & Publisher count as of today (Friday):
The Obama-Biden ticket maintains its strong lead in the race for newspaper endorsements, picking up 12 more papers in the past day, including the giant Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune on Friday afternoon. This brings his lead over McCain-Palin by this measure to over 3-1 so far, at 51-16....
The readership of the 51 newspapers backing Obama now stands at 6,299,363 daily circulation. He gained two biggies yesterday in The Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle....
The Mountain Valley News in Colorado adds to McCain's endorsement list, bringing his total to 16 newspapers. The daily circulation of his newspapers now stands at 1,502,163.
The E&P article: www.editorandpublisher.com
Couric's short item, in full, on the Friday, October 17 CBS Evening News which she anchored from Charlotte: "One other Campaign '08 note, the Chicago Tribune did something today it had never done before -- it had not endorsed a Democrat for President, not even Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson in his two runs. But today, the Trib endorsed Illinois Senator Barack Obama. It said he's better suited than John McCain to restore a quote, 'common sense of national purpose.'"
Friday's NBC Nightly News devoted a story to how around the world "people want to turn a page on the Bush years" and, as if it's relevant, "if the world had a vote, Barack Obama would win in a landslide." A suggestion to viewers on what they must do to restore America's honor? Reporter Dawna Friesen warned that the next President "faces a grim reality: Much of the world deeply distrusts, even dislikes, the United States" and she rued "much of the sympathy and solidarity that existed after 9/11 evaporated during the Bush years."
Pointing to Iraq as the primary culprit ("so many believed it was invaded on false pretenses"), Friesen also highlighted "other reasons," such as how "after Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. is perceived by many as a violator rather than an upholder of human rights" and "America is seen contributing, but not doing much to solve, global warming." From Istanbul, she concluded: "Here in Turkey, as in much of the world, people want to turn a page on the Bush years. In fact, polls show the image of the U.S. has improved slightly this year simply because President Bush is leaving. And, that if the world had a vote, Barack Obama would win in a landslide. Regardless of who wins, the world is clamoring for a new America in 2009."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Friday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The story on the Friday, October 17 NBC Nightly News:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: We're back now with our In Depth report tonight. As election day approaches we've been talking here recently about the hot spots around the world that will be crowding the next President's agenda. Fact is, the U.S. is on the world's agenda as well and our 44th President will have a lot of work to do. Our report on this tonight from NBC's Dawna Friesen.
DAWNA FRIESEN: The next President, whoever he is, faces a grim reality: Much of the world deeply distrusts, even dislikes, the United States. In France, these bloggers say the world is hungry for change.
Continuing the mainstream media's dogged pursuit of the truth, Thursday's Nightline breathlessly asserted that Joe "the plumber" Wurzelbacher isn't really named Joe. In a segment on the Ohio man who quizzed Senator Barack Obama about his tax plan, co-anchor Martin Bashir derided, "But his name's not Joe and he's not a registered plumber. And those are only half his problems."
Of course, his middle name is Joseph. Continuing to harp on this subject, reporter Jake Tapper alerted: "And it turns out Joe the plumber is not even technically named Joe...His name is Sam, Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher." Now, although it took the media almost a year to report on Jeremiah Wright, Obama's radical preacher, Bashir announced that in the case of Wurzelbacher, "It wasn't long before the media pounced. But with the spotlight has come some scrutiny." Before launching into an investigation of Joe the plumber, Tapper chided, "The McCain campaign did not necessarily vet Joe, it seems." (Do voters need to be vetted before they're allowed to ask Obama a question?)
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Explaining Wurzelbacher's own tax problems, Tapper explained, "And while Joe would certainly appreciate no new taxes, he's not fond of old ones either. It seems the state of Ohio filed a lien against him last year for $1,182.98 in unpaid personal income taxes."
If only members of the media had shown this much interest in Reverend Wright or Obama's associations with terrorist bomber William Ayers, their fascination over a man with a plumbing business wouldn't seem so odd.
A transcript of the segment, which aired at 11:57pm on October 16:
MARTIN BASHIR: And, say it ain't so, Joe. John McCain called Joe the plumber the winner of last night's debate. But his name's not Joe and he's not a registered plumber. And those are only half his problems.
On Friday's CBS Early Show, correspondent Jeff Glor reported on the role of Joe the plumber, a.k.a. Joe Wurzelbacher, in the presidential campaign: "The McCain campaign is using Wurzelbacher to say their opponent would raise taxes. Though it turns out, Wurzelbacher himself owes nearly $1,200 in back taxes and his annual tax bill would actually go down under Obama's plan." Glor then added: "Obama mocked the McCain strategy." At the end of Glor's report, co-host Harry Smith asked: "Yeah Jeff, we're starting to learn a little bit more about Joe/Steven, the plumber?" Smith mistakenly referred to Wurzelbacher's first name being Steven, when in fact it is Samuel, and he corrected himself: "Samuel." Glor responded: "A couple of more things about Joe the plumber -- Samuel, indeed. He is registered to vote. There were some questions about that. He does not have a plumber's license, though. And it turns out his real first name is Samuel. Joe is his middle name." At that moment, an on screen Graphic appeared with the headline: "The Real Joe the Plumber" and listed the details Glor mentioned.
On Thursday, co-host Maggie Rodriguez claimed that Wurzelbacher "feels like he is being used by the Republican Party as a pawn to make their point..." but offered no direct quote of any such comment. See the October 16 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Following Glor's report, co-host Julie Chen talked to former Bush advisor Dan Bartlett and Democratic strategist Joe Trippi about the campaign and specifically Joe the plumber: "Joe, do you think that Senator McCain managed to make the notion of Joe the plumber a game-changer for him?" Trippi tried to portray the focus on Wurzelbacher as a mistake: "You know, it's very dangerous place to go, because the more we've seen in the past, the more people who are worried about the economy and the financial crisis, the more they move traditionally to Democrats anyway and have been moving to Obama. So, to -- so now the fight is on Obama's turf. It's about the economy, it's about the future economic prospects of the nation. That's not necessarily a place that McCain wants to take this." Bartlett countered: "And he doesn't have much of a choice, though. It's on the economy, that's where the Americans people's mind is. There's a little bit of an experience gap here between -- as John McCain will argue, and he's got to take these unprecedented times and turn them to his favor so he doesn't have a choice."
Here is the full transcript of the Glor report:
After smearing Joe the Plumber on Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith turned to a group of his own hand selected "average Joes" to defend Barack Obama's tax plan: "I'll tell you, we have assembled a panel of 'average Joes.' Joe the plumber, the most famous person in America now. Well, we have five Joes here this morning, from various walks of life, and we're going to put their incomes to the test against the candidates' tax plans and see how it will affect them all." Financial analyst Jennifer Openshaw then proceeded to examine the personal financial situations of each "Joe" and concluded that four of them would save more money under Obama's tax plan as promoted by his campaign.
Smith did acknowledge these projections were hypothetical: "...according to the Obama tax plan, and this, of course, is subject to passed by Congress...Talk about a pie in the sky." However, he then continued to assume it would be implemented and focused on the first guest, asking Openshaw: "He would do much better with Obama plan?" Openshaw replied: "You bet, he would do a lot better. But under McCain, what's interesting is, you know, he's got that $2,500 health care tax credit...for coverage, you know, you might not be able to cover both you and your son if you have to go find coverage someplace. So that's something to watch out for."
[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The second guest, Joe Lawless, was the one exception, a self-employed attorney who made over $250,000 a year and would benefit from McCain's tax plan. Even so, Smith couldn't help but again bash Joe the Plumber as he asked Lawless: "So this kind of conversation that, at least theoretically, was happening with Joe the Plumber, who's not a plumber. Would it make a difference to you whether one of these plans or the other worked to your advantage?" Openshaw did explain to Lawless how little money he would save under Obama: "Yeah, the bottom line is as an investor you're going to say good-bye to those lower dividend and capital gains tax rates, because they're going to go from 15%, Joe, to 20% under Obama...Under Obama. The other thing is, your tax bracket's going up to 39%, actually a little over 39%, so you're not going to be too happy there."
For the third guest, Joanne, Openshaw declared: "The bottom line is under McCain you save a hundred dollars or so and under Obama $900. $900 is $900." On the forth guest, Joe Trentacosta, she explained: "Here's the bottom line for you. Is you would be saving $1,000 under McCain and about $1,300 under Obama so not too much of a difference there." On the fifth and final guest, Joe Enoch, Openshaw once again described the greater benefits of an Obama plan: "The bottom line between the two candidates is under McCain you save $300, under Obama, about a thousand dollars, Joe." Showing how Obama's tax plan would work was clearly the main purpose of the segment. McCain's tax policy was treated as a less favorable after thought.
Here is the full transcript of the segment:
7:01 AM TEASE:
HARRY SMITH: I'll tell you, we have assembled a panel of 'average Joes.' Joe the plumber, the most famous person in America now. Well, we have five Joes here this morning, from various walks of life, and we're going to put their incomes to the test against the candidates' tax plans and see how it will affect them all. It's going to be fun, Julie.
HARRY SMITH: How do the candidates' tax plans affect real Americans? Joining us are five 'average Joes' who all happen to be named Joe. Also with us Jennifer Openshaw, president of weseed.com. Good morning to everybody. Alright, this is going to be very personal because we're going to talk about how much money you make in an average year and we're going to compare that then to the proposed tax plans. Are you ready for this? Alright, Joe. First, how much money do you make in a year?
Barack Obama's supporters are whining about any attempt to link their candidate with former Weather Underground bomber William Ayers as "guilt by association" -- even though, as National Review contributor Stanley Kurtz points out, the working relationship between Obama and Ayers can more correctly be described as "guilt by participation." See: online.wsj.com
But Friday's Wall Street Journal treated us to a classic case of guilt by association: a front-page profile of the descendants of slaves owned by John McCain's great-great grandfather before the Civil War. After documenting the poor treatment that the black families (who share the last name "McCain") received over the past century, reporter Douglas Blackmon tags Senator McCain -- whom he placed at the family's former plantation as a young man in the 1940s and 1950s -- as "largely unaware" of the sordid history: "Sen. McCain grew to adulthood largely unaware of his family's ties to slavery. In a statement, he called the abuses of African-Americans in the 20th century 'a dark and tragic chapter in American history' and said that 'cultivating the bond between the two families...is important.'"
October 17 Wall Street Journal story: online.wsj.com
[This item, by the MRC's Rich Noyes, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Blackmon's narrative focused on Lillie McCain, a psychology professor and great-great granddaughter of two slaves freed from the white McCain family by the civil war. After rolling through the sins of the white McCains and ordeals of the black McCain family '€" including bomb threats and a church burning during the civil rights movement -- Blackmon mentioned at the end of the piece: "Lillie and all of her siblings say they support Sen. Obama for president."
While the piece, "Two Families Named McCain," detailed the impressive journey of the black McCains over five generations from the depths of slavery to a family that can boast of corporate executives, PhDs, and community leaders, it also suggested a degree of guilt on the part of the white McCains for the sins of their ancestors.
With McCain the first presidential candidate to face off against a black opponent in the general election, the raising of his great-great-grandfather's slaveholding history is obviously aimed at attaching the modern-day McCain to the evil that last existed in America seven decades before he was born.
Lillie McCain is watching the presidential campaign from a singular perspective....Ms. McCain and her siblings are descended from two of about 120 slaves held before the end of the Civil War at Teoc, the Mississippi plantation owned by the family of Republican nominee John McCain's great-great-grandfather.
In a year when the historic nature of Sen. Obama's candidacy is drawing much comment, the case of the Teoc McCains offers another quintessential American narrative in black and white. For the black McCain family, it is a story of triumph over the legacy of slavery; for the white McCains, it is the evolution of a 19th-century cotton dynasty into one rooted in an ethic of military and national service....
Sen. McCain's family lived primarily on military installations around the world. But they remained attached to Teoc, visiting repeatedly during Sen. McCain's childhood, often for long periods. When they went to the farm in the 1940s and 1950s, the future Sen. McCain and his brother stayed in the rambling house, now abandoned, of their great-uncle, Joe McCain, who had become the plantation's owner.
Sen. McCain's younger brother, also named Joe, said that though their father "moved around as the son of a naval officer, he too always thought of Teoc as his 'blood ground' and loved visiting there."
The McCains in the early 20th century were known among African-Americans for relatively equitable treatment of their workers and tenants, especially compared with the abuses happening on many other farms. A visitor to the plantation in 1923 published an account that described "a tradition and a policy of fair dealing between planter and laborer."
"That's how I remember it," said Frank Bryant, 90, a black former Teoc sharecropper.
The 19th century had been a different story for African-Americans in Carroll County. In 1886, after two black men filed a lawsuit against a white man, a white mob rushed the courthouse and murdered more than 20 blacks there, according to court documents and newspaper accounts at the time. They weren't prosecuted.
Earlier still, just after the Civil War, Sen. McCain's ancestors, like many former slave owners, made use of newly passed laws designed to temporarily force some freed slaves back into the control of their former masters. Records in a dusty storage room in the Carroll County courthouse show that in February 1866, Sen. McCain's great-great-grandmother, Louisa McCain, and her brother-in-law Nathaniel filed petitions to take legal custody of three girls under age 15 whom the McCains had owned before emancipation. In court, the girls were identified with the surname "Freedman," a common practice with emancipated slaves.
There is no record of the full circumstances, but thousands of young African-Americans at that time were forced under such claims to return to their onetime masters as apprentices. Those apprentice laws in the South were later struck down....
[By the mid-1900s] the black McCains were emerging among the county's most important leaders. Charles McCain was a central figure in the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. When civil-rights workers swarmed Mississippi in 1964, the black McCains housed white activists and received bomb threats and harassing calls.
"Daddy didn't want us to roll over and play dead or live as if you are not a person," says Lillie McCain. Her sister Mary McCain Fluker, 53, says their father "would always tell us you are just as good as anybody. 'You are no better than anybody,' he'd tell us, 'but you're just as good as anybody.'"
Civil-rights organizers held secret meetings at the family's church just off the Teoc plantation. The Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, a state agency formed to thwart the civil-rights movement, kept tabs on Mr. McCain, according to commission records. "Daddy was one of the leaders, one of the people out front," says 60-year-old Charles McCain Jr., a retired brick mason and teacher who still lives on the family land.
Lillie McCain remembers seeing Martin Luther King Jr. speak from the back of a flatbed truck in nearby Greenwood. She and her two brothers were arrested at a march in Jackson, Miss., organized by the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, whose leader, Stokely Carmichael, introduced the phrase "black power." Not long after Mr. Carmichael spoke at the McCains' church, it burned down, during a wave of Ku Klux Klan firebombings. The McCain children remember passing its smoking remains on their way to school the next day.
Amid those events, the black McCain children wondered what must be wrong with white people. "I was thinking, 'How can they kill people and they all go to church?'" says Lillie McCain. "I was just baffled by that."
Sen. McCain grew to adulthood largely unaware of his family's ties to slavery. In a statement, he called the abuses of African-Americans in the 20th century "a dark and tragic chapter in American history" and said that "cultivating the bond between the two families...is important."
In the late 1960s, black McCain children were among those who integrated the previously all-white schools in the county seat, Carrollton. In 1969, Lillie McCain was one of the first two African-Americans to graduate from the integrated high school. Four of the six McCain children in her family served in the military and all six earned college degrees....Lillie and all of her siblings say they support Sen. Obama for president.
When George McCain was killed in a traffic accident in 2003, Frank Bryant, the aged former sharecropper, invited to the funeral Bill McCain, the senator's cousin, who owns the remaining 1,500 acres of Teoc plantation and lives nearby. It was the beginning of a modern dialogue between the two families as equals. At the service, Mr. McCain stood in the family section with the black McCains.
END of Excerpt
Two years ago, ABC's Brian Ross broke wide open the scandal of Republican Rep. Mark Foley sending sexual Internet messages to congressional pages. Foley resigned quickly, but that didn't dampen the story. We reported: "On the ABC, CBS, and NBC morning and evening news programs, from the story's emergence on Friday night, September 29, through Wednesday morning, October 11, the Big Three networks have aired 152 stories." On October 11's Good Morning America, news anchor Christopher Cuomo spoke insistently: "Less than a month before the elections and the Mark Foley scandal just keeps growing." Reporter Jake Tapper added: "This is the scandal that will not go away."
[This item, by the MRC's Tim Graham, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
But what about a scandal that will not be acknowledged? Even when a network breaks the story? On October 13, ABC reporter Brian Ross broke the news on his Blotter blog that Rep. Tim Mahoney, the Democrat who replaced Mark Foley in the House, who ran on returning morality to Congress, "agreed to a $121,000 payment to a former mistress who worked on his staff and was threatening to sue him." The FBI is now investigating. ABC has audio of him yelling at the mistress (with profanities) that she's fired. Mahoney didn't resign. He's running for reelection.
Number of ABC stories on the morning and evening newscasts? Zero. Number of CBS stories? Zero. Number of NBC stories? Zero.
It should be noted that our story count of 152 stories is quite incomplete. It counted only through October 11, 2006 and no one would say the Foley story wasn't covered in the weeks after that. To be fair, while Tim Mahoney was a major beneficiary of the massive media coverage against Foley, he was a minor figure in the TV coverage in 2006, but it's still quite instructional to see his clips playing the moralist against Foley at the time.
From ABC, the October 1, 2006 World News Sunday began with the Foley story, as anchorman Dan Harris aerobically played it up as a national issue:
DAN HARRIS: Good evening. I'm Dan Harris. ABC News has learned the FBI is opening a preliminary investigation into Republican Congressman Mark Foley and the sexually explicit e-mails and messages he sent to teenage boys working as congressional pages. It comes as Republican leaders of the House of Representatives are saying their own handling of this situation might be worthy of a criminal investigation. It is an attempt to contain what is a potentially massive metastasizing scandal just five weeks before Election Day...
Mahoney's line was even more aggressive on the October 12 Nightline:
CHRIS BURY: In fact, the scandal has moved to the forefront of several House races from suburban Buffalo...
From CBS, a story airing October 1 on Sunday Morning and the CBS Evening News:
JOIE CHEN: House Speaker Dennis Hastert now admits his office knew about the inappropriate messages a full year ago, but didn't know how lewd they were. Foley's Democratic challenger, Tim Mahoney, yesterday exploited his political windfall.
From NBC, the September 30 Nightly News:
Reporter MARK POTTER: Political analysts say Foley's Democratic opponent, businessman Tim Mahoney, now has a strong chance to win the seat. Today Mahoney made a campaign appearance with Senator John Kerry, chastising Republican leaders who knew earlier about Foley's misdeeds.
Enormous disparities in coverage like this -- where one is a national issue with the media demanding the Speaker of the House resign, and the other one can't score a whisper on the air -- display an enormous amount of unprofessional, partisan behavior on the part of the TV network assignment editors. To whatever extent they claim to practice nonpartisan journalism, they are hypocrites of Tim Mahoney's magnitude.
Bryant Gumbel, back to network television news? Catching up with an item from my pending file originally bumped by Barack Obama's Joe Biden announcement, back in August former NBC News President Michael Gartner, who in 1991 made Tim Russert the moderator of Meet the Press, recommended that NBC now resurrect veteran left-winger Gumbel, whom he hailed as "smart" and "quick," and give him the Sunday morning interview program.
In his weekly Friday column at the end of the Olympics ("NBC's Costas golden; Meet the Press next?"), USA Today founder Al Neuharth urged NBC to pick Bob Costas, who hosted the games from Beijing, to replace interim host Tom Brokaw. Below the August 22 column, the paper ran a reaction from Gartner, now principal owner of the Iowa Cubs minor league baseball team: "Bob Costas -- or Bryant Gumbel. Both are smart, quick, and do their homework. Either would excel. But it's not my call -- or Al's."
The news media's reputation is safer because it's not Gartner's call.
Neuharth's August 22 column: blogs.usatoday.com
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Saturday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Gartner was President of NBC News from 1988 to 1993.
Screen shot [to be added to posted CyberAlert] is from a December 10, 2005 appearance on the late Tim Russert's weekend show on CNBC.
Gumbel, the former co-host of NBC's Today and CBS's Early Show, is now host of HBO's monthly Real Sports news magazine program: www.hbo.com
Another celebrity has used the same tired line that Bush has trampled on the Constitution. This time it was comedian/actor Richard Lewis pontificating on Friday's The View. Calling for Americans to get out and vote, Lewis also blamed "fundamentalists" for America's demise, exclaiming "the Constitution has been trampled the last eight years, period. This is not what this America is supposed to be for" and "it's the fundamentalists that are screwing things up."
Earlier in the show, Joy Behar, bizarrely hypothesized that Republicans are "all blondes," "except for Sarah Palin" (Behar is obviously forgetting Laura Bush). The segment then led the panel to address the rumors that Elisabeth Hasselbeck is leaving The View for Fox News. Hasselbeck denied such rumors, declaring: "I certainly love my ladies here. I'm not going anywhere."
[This item, by the MRC's Justin McCarthy, was posted Friday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Finally, Joy Behar announced she saw the Oliver Stone film, W, and surprise, surprise, she thought it's "fabulous," and added: "It's incredible how close George Bush and Sarah Palin are."
Relevant portions of the October 17 transcript:
JOY BEHAR: You know what? She's a Republican. They're all blondes.
RICHARD LEWIS: The Constitution has been trampled the last eight years, period. This is not what this America is supposed to be for. I have friends if they're pregnant and they don't want to have a child, I go "oh God I respect that." It's the reverse. It's the- this country is a reasonably great country, about 85 percent, I'm just making that up. It's the fundamentalists that are screwing this up. I think it's the, I think it's the- the comedy will mean nothing.
-- Brent Baker