2. Only Couric Notes Hsu Sentencing, Leads with 'Looming Recession'
3. CNN's Roland Martin Suggests Most Pro-Lifers Seem 'Hateful'
4. 'Top Ten Signs Your Presidential Campaign is in Trouble'
ABC News and Charles Gibson are no CNN and Anderson Cooper when it comes to skewing the agenda of presidential debates. In the back-to-back Republican followed by Democratic debates from New Hampshire aired between 7 and 11 PM EST Saturday night on ABC, moderator Gibson challenged the presumptions of both sets of candidates with a key talking point being pushed by the other party: He hit Republicans on the lack of national health care and Democrats on the success of the surge in Iraq.
To the six Republicans: "We're the only industrialized nation in the world that doesn't insure all of our citizens. If we can afford a trillion dollar war in Iraq, why can't we afford medical insurance for everybody?"
To the four Democrats: "We started the surge early this year. You all opposed it. But there are real signs it has worked....Are any of you ready to say that the surge has worked? And Senator Clinton, let me start with you, because when General Petraeus was in Washington in September, you said it would take 'a willful suspension of disbelief' to think that the surge could do any good."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted late Saturday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org  ]
Unlike with the CNN/YouTube debates, ABC and Gibson did not slant the questions and topics raised to advantage Democrats and make Republicans look extreme.
For the November 30 CyberAlert item, "Fred Barnes: CNN's Debates: 'Screw Republicans...Boost Democrats,'" go to: www.mrc.org 
For the July 24 CyberAlert item, "CNN's You Tube Debate Delivers Questions from the Left," go to: www.mrc.org 
(Oddly, on Sunday night CNN re-ran, in its entirety, ABC's debate coverage from the night before, complete with promos for ABC News.)
Another noteworthy moment: When Scott Spradling, the political reporter for WMUR-TV channel 9 (ABC's affiliate in Manchester), who joined Gibson in the second halves of each debate, channeled 1970s Jimmy Carter economics in suggesting government action to limit profits in order to lower the price of home heating oil:
When Thompson asked what Spradling thought should be done, Gibson interjected to name what Spradling seemed to be pushing Thompson to advocate: "Excess profits tax?" Thompson had to explain supply and demand.
Fun fact: Spradling has the job FNC's Carl Cameron held before moving up to the national cable network.
Of the three broadcast network evening newscasts on Friday, only the CBS Evening News squeezed in a mention of how a California judge sentenced Norman Hsu -- the fugitive donor to many Democrats including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama -- to three years in prison on a 16-year-old fraud conviction. Unlike ABC and NBC, CBS's Katie Couric didn't lead with the Iowa caucus results, but with "more signs of a looming recession." Couric's brief item on Hsu:
Hsu, however, also helped Barack Obama, the big winner in Iowa, but that didn't make it into Couric's brief or prompt any interest from ABC or NBC. Back on October 16, the Los Angeles Times reported "a political action committee for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill) received $24,500" from Hsu associates.
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Friday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org  ]
An excerpt from the LA Times article:
The full extent of accused swindler Norman Hsu's political network was revealed for the first time Monday in campaign finance reports filed by presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), who refunded $804,850 in contributions from 249 Hsu associates...
In the 2005-2006 election cycle, the 249 donors gave as much as $670,000 to federal candidates other than Clinton, a comparison of the names with other campaign records shows. Among the other recipients, the largest appeared to be the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee at $78,000, followed by Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill with $43,000, and Harold Ford, a Tennessee Democrat who lost his race for the U.S. Senate, at $42,000.
Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.) received $28,000 and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee received $27,000. A political action committee for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill) received $24,500, and California Sen. Dianne Feinstein's campaign got $19,000....
END of Excerpt
Couric opened the January 4 CBS Evening News with a subject ABC and NBC got to later in their newscasts:
On Friday afternoon, CNN's liberal contributor Roland Martin suggested that most people who are pro-life seem "hateful" as he was describing Mike Huckabee's need to reach out to non-evangelical voters. During an appearance on CNN Newsroom at about 1:47pm EST with anchor Kyra Phillips, Martin contended that Huckabee needs to pursue a strategy similar to that of President Bush in 2000: "Sure, [Huckabee is] a staunch pro-life person, but he isn't perceived as being hateful as other people who are pro-life."
[This item, by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, was posted Saturday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org  ]
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of Martin's comments from the Friday, January 4 CNN Newsroom:
From the January 4 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Signs Your Presidential Campaign is in Trouble." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com 
10. When asked what you'd do about Iraq, you say, "Do I Rock?"
9. You're often described as "John Kerry without Charisma"
8. Many of your supporters have been hospitalized because you ordered your campaign buttons from China
7. You've been running negative ads about yourself
6. Only Endorsement you've received was from "Burrito Afficionado" magazine
5. When reporting caucus results, media refers to you as "Other"
4. Meet the Press appearance turns ugly when you put Tim Russert in a headlock
3. Budget director blew most of your campaign funds betting on the Knicks
2. You've primarily been campaigning in Canada
1. You often ask, "What would George W. Bush do?"
And this week's Late Show "Top Ten Contest" topic: "Top Ten Little-Known Facts About Mike Huckabee." Submit an entry by Thursday for a chance to win a T-shirt: www.cbs.com 
Winners will be posted on Saturday.
-- Brent Baker