Obama's Week Through ABC's Prism: 'Cool Kid in the Class' --4/6/2009
2. Donaldson on Obama:'Just Changing the Tone a Great Plus' for U.S.
3. ABC's GMA Gushes Over Michelle Obama's 'Cinderella Story'
4. CBS's Smith Praises the 'Raw Realness' of Michelle Obama
5. ABC Again Exploits Shooting to Push for More Gun Control
6. News Photogs Flock to Obama's White House, from Time Mag, AP...
In a q and a with George Stephanopoulos on Saturday's World News, ABC anchor David Muir decided to sum up President Barack Obama's week in Europe by displaying a picture of jovial Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arm-in-arm with President Barack Obama during the G-20 group photo session, an image Muir contended showed how "other heads of state are seemingly trying to get close to the head of the class, or the cool kid in the class, if you will, President Obama."
Muir cued up Stephanopoulos: "Have you seen much of this in recent history?" Stephanopoulos put style over substance as he declared "the President's stagecraft on this trip and his star power have really held up all through his trip to Europe." Though he acknowledged that "on the substance the President hasn't gotten all he wanted either at the G-20 or at this NATO summit," the host of ABC's This Week decided "he's done a good job of managing expectations." As Stephanopoulos demonstrated, Obama has certainly met and exceeded media expectations.
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Saturday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The exchange on the Saturday, April 4 edition of ABC's World News:
DAVID MUIR: And George, as we wrap up the week we wanted to take note of these images we've been looking at, particularly this one where other heads of state are seemingly trying to get close to the head of the class, or the cool kid in the class, if you will, President Obama. What do you make of this? Have you seen much of this in recent history?
Reacting with indignation to David Frum's assessment that President Barack Obama was a "failure" at the G-20 summit because European leaders "rebuffed" his quest to get them to follow his lead in enacting massive deficit spending, an aghast ABC News veteran Sam Donaldson sputtered that the change in "tone" from former President Bush was more important than substance: "The last President we had that went to Europe, I mean no one wanted to see him. There was great hostility. This President's changed the tone. Just changing the tone was a great plus for the United States."
On Friday night's Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, Donaldson conceded Obama "was rebuffed when it came to the great stimulus, yes Germany and France said you can't print Euros like we're printing dollars" but, nonetheless, he declared: "This was the best outcome you could hope for."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted late Friday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Donaldson, who retired from ABC News a few weeks ago but will continue to appear occasionally on This Week's roundtable, asserted on the April 3 cable show produced in Los Angeles:
Good Morning America reporter Yunji de Nies continued to fawn over Michelle Obama on Friday, lauding how at a girls school in London "the First Lady shared her own Cinderella story that took her from the south side of Chicago all the way to the White House." An ABC graphic for the segment opined, "Michelle Wows Europe: First Trip Big Hit." Recounting the positive reception the speech received, de Nies cooed, "But it was her personal touch that made the biggest impact."
Tina Brown, liberal commentator and former editor of the New Yorker, was featured to rhapsodize, "I don't see any misstep from Michelle Obama on this trip. She really excited everybody. She's done it right." Of course, de Nies made no mention of Brown's left wing political views. Sounding more like a PR representative, the GMA correspondent asserted, "She [Michelle Obama] leaves the U.K., no longer a stranger, but, now, a friend."
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
De Nies has provided celebratory coverage throughout the Obamas' trip to the G-20 summit. On Thursday, she informed viewers, "Mrs. Obama hasn't lost touch with her sensible chic American roots." See an April 2 NewsBusters posting for more: newsbusters.org
A transcript of the April 3 segment, which aired at 7:03am, follows:
DIANE SAWYER: Okay, thank you, Jake. And, of course, while everyone is waiting and watching in France for that, that encounter with Mrs. Sarkozy, just take a look again at the photo left behind in England, because everyone is still talking about. The extraordinary gesture, where Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth put her arm around the back of Michelle Obama. You never see that happen. And Mrs. Obama did the same. Buckingham Palace released a statement saying it was "a mutual and spontaneous display of affection between the two women," affection that appears to be shared with all of Europe. And ABC's Yunji de Nies has more.
Later, Smith dismissed criticism that Michelle Obama had broken protocol when meeting Queen Elizabeth: "This whole touching of the Queen and everything else, in the end, the Queen says, 'let's please stay in touch.' Whatever affront, or perceived affront, was completely trumped by the fact that those two people charmed the Queen's socks off." Brown agreed: "They completely charmed them. And the Queen wouldn't have taken any offense at that...she's also, I think, getting a kind of almost Princess Di-like empathy going at this point. You know, when she went to that school yesterday and you saw this tall figure bending down to embrace these kids wearing those pearls, it was like, 'oh, my God, it's Di time all over again.'"
[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
At the top of the segment, correspondent Mark Phillips reported on the Obamas arriving in France: "Finally, after having her every outfit and every gesture compared to her French counterpart while she was in Britain, Michelle Obama arrived in France this morning...One, Carla Bruni, the glamorous ex-model and pop star, the other, Michelle Obama, the striking personification of aspirational American womanhood."
At the top of the show, Smith commented: "Barack and Michelle Obama visiting France this morning as they arrive and greet the Sarkozys...Come se va, right? They're like rock stars there."
Here is the full transcript of the 7:30AM EST segment:
Of the three network evening newscasts on Friday night, ABC's World News, substitute hosted by Diane Sawyer, uniquely seemed to lament the lack of political interest in enacting new gun laws to combat what correspondent Dan Harris earlier called "a signature American disaster, a shooting rampage," referring to the shooting spree in Binghamton, New York.
Sawyer introduced a discussion with correspondent Pierre Thomas by reading a statement from the Brady Campaign complaining about the government's lack of interest in more gun control compared to "salmonella poisoning in peanut butter crackers," and then the two fretted over the large number of guns in circulation in America and the unlikely prospects of more gun laws being passed by Congress. Sawyer: "We keep hearing there is a gun for every man, woman and child in this country, and now they have gone up by that much more. But what about Congress? Is there any move in Congress to try to take some kind of action?"
Thomas responded: "Well, one of the reasons why you heard that frustration from the Brady group today is that there's not a lot of sense of urgency on gun control." After mentioning Attorney General Eric Holder's recent expression of interest in a new assault weapon ban, Thomas continued: "But since that time, no real urgency from the White House or from Congress to take any meaningful gun control legislation to fruition."
[This item, by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, was posted Friday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The show's first report featured Harris recounting details of the Binghamton murder spree, as he began his piece by coining the term "signature American disaster" to refer to mass shootings. Harris: "Most of the people who died in that building over there behind me today were immigrants. They came to this country to start a new life, and they ended up dying in what has become a signature American disaster, a shooting rampage."
As Sawyer set up a second story giving more details, she also used the term "signature crime" to refer to shooting sprees: "And Dan talked about this as a signature crime in America. This month, April, is a month of tragic anniversaries. The shootings at Virginia Tech, April, two years ago. At Columbine, April, 10 years ago. And add to them now, Binghamton. Here's Stephanie Sy."
After Sy filled in viewers on more details, Sawyer read a statement released by the Brady Campaign, with the text on screen: "Well, in the two years since Virginia Tech, more than 50 multiple shootings taking a total of more than 200 lives. Today the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence called for action, saying, 'We had nine people in this country presumed to have possibly died from salmonella poisoning in peanut butter crackers, and the government went into overdrive.'"
After bringing aboard Thomas, Sawyer asked if the Justice Department felt "compelled to do something," Thomas ominously passed on what he referred to as "serious facts" about the large number of guns in circulation. Thomas: "They're clearly very concerned about it, but I talked to a number of officials today, and they pointed out a couple of very serious facts. The fact is, there are more than 250 million guns already in circulation, they say, and what that means is when someone gets angry or when they snap, they are going to be able to have access to weapons. And the FBI says, in the two years since Columbine -- excuse me -- the Virginia Tech shooting, gun sale background checks went up by 14 percent. In fact, from 2007 to 2008, there were 1.5 million more gun sale background checks."
As neither Sawyer nor Thomas made any mention of the evidence that high rates of gun ownership can reduce crime rates while too much gun regulation can increase crime by shifting gun ownership away from the law-abiding so that criminals are disproportionately better armed, Sawyer responded by quoted the liberal talking point that "there is a gun for every man, woman and child in this country," and asked if there is "any move in Congress to try to take some kind of action?"
Thomas responded: "Well, one of the reasons why you heard that frustration from the Brady group today is that there's not a lot of sense of urgency on gun control. A couple of weeks ago, the Attorney General, Eric Holder, talked about the fact that he may wanted to, may have wanted to revisit the issue of the assault weapons ban, which was allowed to sunset. But since that time, no real urgency from the White House or from Congress to take any meaningful gun control legislation to fruition."
Before moving on to other news, the ABC anchor informed viewers that there would not only be more coverage of the shooting spree on tonight's 20/20, but that next Friday the network would air a special on the "epidemic of mass shootings in America." Sawyer: "And, also, a week from tonight, ABC News is going to bring you the results of a year-long exploration of this epidemic of mass shootings in America -- why it is happening and what lessons there are about staying safe if it is happening to you, and that is one week from tonight."
Back in April of 2007 ABC also used a shooting tragedy to push its political agenda. A CyberAlert item at the time, "ABC Rues: 'Politicians & Gun Control: Why Aren't They Outraged?' recounted:
ABC's Good Morning America and World News on Friday displayed disappointment that liberals and Democrats have not pursued gun control in the wake of the mass murders at Virginia Tech. GMA's on-screen graphic for a 7am half hour story demanded, "Politicians and Gun Control: Why Aren't They Outraged?" Co-host Robin Roberts rued: "After every major shooting in the U.S., without fail, there has been a heated debate about gun control on Capitol Hill. But not this time. In fact, most politicians have been running away from the debate on guns. So, why is this happening?" Reporter Jake Tapper echoed the theme: "It was the worst school shooting in American history, and yet what some liberals are referring to as a deafening silence from Democrats on Capitol Hill. After reciting how Democrats fear the electoral impact of the agenda, Tapper concluded by relaying how "in the rest of the world, of course, gun rights in the United States are viewed somewhat oddly."
Just over 12 hours later, World News anchor Charles Gibson recalled how "when I spoke to President Bush at Virginia Tech, he told me he thought the killings at that college would spark new debate on gun laws. So far, it hasn't. The discussion, in fact, has been surprisingly muted." (Naturally, Gibson had prompted that answer: "After Columbine, there was ignited a national debate on guns. Do you think this is going to rekindle the national debate?") In Friday's story, Tapper highlighted how "for gun control activists...the Democrats' silence was deafening." He went on to explain that "many Democratic strategists think Al Gore's liberal gun control stance cost him key states like West Virginia and Tennessee in the 2000 election" and "Democrats recaptured the Congress last November partly because of pro-gun Democrats." Tapper showcased how "this weekend a TV ad campaign begins airing that faults the Democratic Congress for not backing a gun control measure."...
For the full rundown: www.mrc.org
Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Friday, April 3 World News with Charles Gibson on ABC:
DAN HARRIS: Most of the people who died in that building over there behind me today were immigrants. They came to this country to start a new life, and they ended up dying in what has become a signature American disaster, a shooting rampage.
DIANE SAWYER: And Dan talked about this as a signature crime in America. This month, April, is a month of tragic anniversaries. The shootings at Virginia Tech, April, two years ago. At Columbine, April, 10 years ago. And add to them now, Binghamton. Here's Stephanie Sy.
SAWYER: Binghamton adding to this roll call of violence in America, in addition to Virginia Tech and Columbine. Well, in the two years since Virginia Tech, more than 50 multiple shootings taking a total of more than 200 lives. Today the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence called for action, saying, "We had nine people in this country presumed to have possibly died from salmonella poisoning in peanut butter crackers, and the government went into overdrive."
The Obama White House is serving as a convenient new employer for members of the media as news outlets downsize, but would they have felt so comfortable coming aboard a GOP President's staff? The latest hires: Three news photographers -- from Time magazine, Cox Newspapers and U.S. News & World Report magazine -- are joining the team of photographers snapping pictures at events and meetings in and around the White House complex. The chief White House photographer, Pete Souza, "announced the hires to PDN," DCRTV.com reported Thursday in picking up the item from the week before on the Photo District News site. Souza had already tapped photographers from the McClatchy-Tribune News Service and the Associated Press.
The March 24 PDNonline post, "Time Magazine's Top Photo Editor Exits for White House," relayed the names of those leaving DC press corps slots for the Obama administration:
# "Alice Gabriner, chief picture editor and acting director of photography for Time, will become White House photo editor and deputy director for the photo office."
# "Rick McKay, photo editor and photographer for Cox Newspapers's Washington bureau, will become a deputy photo editor at the White House. Cox...plans to shut down its Washington bureau next month."
# "Jennifer Poggi, who had been photography deputy director at U.S. News & World Report, will also become a deputy photo editor in the White House."
(U.S. News is going to monthly "consumer service" issues and moving what's left of its news operation online.)
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Saturday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
PDNonline also reported: "Last month, Souza announced the hiring of photographers Chuck Kennedy of McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Lawrence Jackson of the Associated Press and freelancer Samantha Appleton to assist in White House coverage."
Souza, the un-bylined PDNonline post noted, also went through the revolving door, but for a Republican President: "Souza is a former photojournalist for the Chicago Tribune and was a White House photographer for President Reagan. He joined the Obama administration in January."
The PDNonline post: www.pdnonline.com
-- Brent Baker