On Thursday's Good Morning America, Diane Sawyer and other ABC journalists
spun liberal legislation by Ted Kennedy as gifts to the whole country. While
bills related to the senator appeared on-screen, Sawyer gushed, "Can you see
this going by? It's a scroll. And it's going to continue. We will not finish it
before we take a break, because it's Senator Kennedy's legacy."
Correspondent John Berman uncritically enthused, "If you're in a wheelchair, that ramp is thanks to Ted Kennedy. If you earn the minimum wage, you make more because of Ted Kennedy." Certainly he championed the legislation, but is Kennedy solely responsible for individuals making the minimum wage today?
The reporter talked to a young woman, who, at age six, helped the senator lobby for stem cell research. At no time during the segment did Berman point out that some Americans opposed embryonic stem cell research or found many of Kennedy's proposals to be controversial.
The GMA personalities also failed to consider that some of these legislative items listed on-screen seem rather uncontroversial, such as the AMBER Alert Notification Systems Funding Act. Instead, Berman generalized on most issues, such as this statement: "If you're a child, he worked to make sure you have health insurance."
He did allow that Kennedy's record was "liberal" and "sometimes controversial." However, George Stephanopoulos, who appeared at the end of the piece, fawned, "Boy, not a corner of American life that Ted Kennedy didn't touch." As the Senator's bills endlessly ran on-screen, Sawyer marveled, "Well, as I said, we can continue this right through our break and still not end."
A transcript of the August 27 segment, which aired at 7:16am EDT, follows:
[Video of Kennedy-related legislation begins rolling on screen next to a picture of the Senator.]
DIANE SAWYER: We are going to begin something. Can you see this going by? It's a scroll. And it's going to continue. We will not finish it before we take a break, because it's Senator Kennedy's legacy. Forty six years of service. Three hundred bills passed. And John Berman is at the John F. Kennedy library in Boston, Massachusetts to take a look at what he did and what it means for everyone's everyday life."
ABC GRAPHIC: Kennedy's Legacy of Giving: His Effect on American Life
JOHN BERMAN: The Vice President said that Ted Kennedy changed the circumstances of tens of millions of Americans. But what does that mean for you? If you're in a wheelchair, that ramp is thanks to Ted Kennedy. If you earn the minimum wage, you make more because of Ted Kennedy. And it wasn't just the big bills, was it?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN OUTSIDE JFK LIBRARY: No. It was the small bills that made people love him.
BERMAN: If you're a child, he worked to make sure you have health insurance. If you're Robert Pofvin [PH], you got your first job because of Ted Kennedy.
ROBERT POFVIN [PH]: Teddy Kennedy gave me a break when I was a kid. I was 21 years old and I needed a job as a college student. And I got a job as a ranger at Cape Cod National Seashore.
BERMAN: Kennedy reached into families. Lauren Stanford was diagnosed with diabetes, at the age of six.
LAUREN STANFORD: We went to his office to meet with him. And he was really nice. And it was real easy to connect with him because he was very personal.
BERMAN: He helped her cope with her disease and fight for stem cell research. He read a letter of hers on the Senate floor.
KENNEDY: Is it more important to throw discarded embryos in the trash than it is to let them be used to hopefully save my life?
BERMAN: And brought her to Washington to testify. He stayed in touch with Lauren over the years, with letters and phone calls.
BERMAN: [Phone message] Lauren this, is Ted Kennedy, here in Massachusetts. And I just wanted to give you a call. Thank you for all of your wonderful help.
STANFORD: If I could help someone as much as he helped me, that would be a big life accomplishment.
BERMAN: Christy Coombs [PH] lost her husband on September 11th. Kennedy wrote her every year on the anniversary.
CHRISTY COOMBS [PH]: He had certainly lost enough family members that were close to him in sudden, tragic ways. And so, I had do doubt that he was relating to what I was feeling.
BERMAN: His record was liberal. His politics, sometimes controversial. But if you needed help, Ted Kennedy was there. For Good Morning America, John Berman, ABC News, Boston.
SAWYER: Joined, now, by Ron Claiborne, who is filling in at the news desk. And, George, what do you think as you watch that goes by?
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Boy, not a corner of American life that Ted Kennedy didn't touch. But, not only here- You know, I remember the first time I met him, 1984. I was a cub reporter in the Sudan covering the famine. And he spent his entire Christmas break there to make sure he brought improvement to that part of the world as well.
RON CLAIBORNE: And he was the driving force behind COBRA, so important to so many people out of work right now, which allows people to continue with their employers insurance for a year and a half after they are laid off, keeping a lot of Americans insured after they lose their jobs.
SAWYER: Well, as I said, we can continue this right through our break and still not end.
-Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center.