ABC Promotes Obama's 'Call to Action,' But Allows a Scant 16 Seconds to GOP Response
The journalists at Good Morning America on Wednesday discussed Barack Obama's State of the Union address for seven minutes and 19 seconds, but only allowed a scant 16 seconds for the GOP response (a 27-to-1 disparity). Unlike the reporters at CBS This Morning who interviewed Rand Paul, GMA's hosts instead featured Joe Biden and could only be bothered with a brief clip of Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers and a snippet of John Boehner. NBC's Today, despite a four-hour running time, managed a mere six seconds of McMorris Rodgers.
Co-host George Stephanopoulos, a former Democratic operative, opened the program by parroting, "Call to action. The President vows to use his executive powers to attack the country's biggest problems." [MP3 audio here.] Jon Karl offered little in the way of skepticism about the President's plan to use executive orders. Instead, he hyped, "But the President promised to work around Republican opposition, saying he would raise the minimum wage for workers on new federal contracts." He added that Obama "tried to shame Republicans into raising it for everybody as well."
On Tuesday's GMA, Karl noted the President's plan to unilaterally act "where he can without Congress" and show that "there are things he can do on his own."
The sum total of the GOP response on the ABC program came when Karl included one clip of Boehner and one of Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers (totaling 16 seconds): "The real gap we face today is one of opportunity and equality and with this administration's policies that gap has become far too wide."
Stephanopoulos followed up with an interview of Biden. The host seemed disappointed that the President couldn't do more with executive orders, pushing, "They're relatively limited. Can he even say how many workers are going to get a raise because of the President's executive order on the minimum wage?"
Stephanopoulos did query Biden on former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, but even that was mild: "[Gates] said you've were wrong on every major foreign policy issue over the past four decades. I know you haven't responded publicly yet. What's your response now?"
A transcript of the January 29 Jon Karl segment is below:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Call to action. The president vows to use his executive powers to attack the country's biggest problems. This morning, Vice President Biden joins us right here one-on-one.
2 minutes and 42 seconds
STEPHANOPOULOS: First, covering the State of the Union last night. Pretty defiant address from President Obama and he promised a year of action even if Congress doesn't go along. The big question, how much action can he actually deliver on his own? ABC's Jon Karl was in the chamber for every moment including that dramatic finale. Jon?
JON KARL: Oh, incredible. On substance, this was a relatively modest call for action. None of the sweeping proposals that we saw from the President in previous years. But that finale, that was the real emotional highlight as the President paid tribute to a genuine American hero. President Obama brought the entire chamber to its feet with the heartbreaking and inspirational story of army ranger Cory Remsburg who was gravely injured more than four years ago on his tenth war zone deployment.
BARACK OBAMA: His comrades found him face down, under water, shrapnel in his brain. "My recovery has not been easy," he says. Nothing in life that's worth anything is easy. Cory is here tonight and like the Army he loves, like the America he serves, sergeant first class Cory Remsburg never gives up, and he does not quit. Cory?
KARL: Earlier in the speech, the President extended an olive branch to Republicans, paying tribute to the life story of Speaker of the House John Boehner as an example of the American dream.
OBAMA: Here in America our success should depend not on accident of birth but the strength of our work ethic and the scope of our dreams. That's how a son of a barkeep is Speaker of the House.
KARL: But the President promised to work around Republican opposition, saying he would raise the minimum wage for workers on new federal contracts and tried to shame Republicans into raising it for everybody else as well.
OBAMA: So join the rest of the country. Say yes. Give America a raise.
KARL: He also pressed Republicans on equal pay for women.
OBAMA: This year, let's all come together, Congress, the White House, businesses from Wall Street to main street to give every woman the opportunity she deserves.
KARL: The Republican response came from Representative Cathy McMorris-Rogers, the highest ranking Republican woman in the House.
REP. CATHY MCMORRIS RODGERS (R-Washington): The real gap we face today is one of opportunity and equality and with this administration's policies that gap has become far too wide.
KARL: The President is hitting the road this morning, taking his State of the Union message beyond Washington. The first stop will be in Maryland at a Costco, a company which has voluntarily raised the minimum wage that it pays its employees. George?
— Scott Whitlock is Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Scott Whitlock on Twitter.