President Barack Obama’s birthday was on Wednesday, August 4. The day before, voters in Missouri dealt him and his administration a tough blow by repudiating the individual mandate so integral to the health care legislation passed months ago. Yet, almost as if taking their cue from White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs–who stated that the Missouri voters’ overwhelming decision meant “nothing” and was of no legal significance–the networks overtly ignored the repudiation and instead sweetly noted the president’s birthday.
Contrast, if you will, the nature of the networks’ broadcast on Barack Obama’s birthday this week with the treatment received by former President George W. Bush on his birthday in July 2007.
First up is the coverage of President Obama’s recent birthday. As always, when it comes to instances of media bias, the folks at Newsbusters were all over it. Here, you’ll see an excerpt from “Networks Ignore Missouri Voters’ Rejection of ObamaCare, Instead Celebrate Obama’s Birthday” in which you find a few comments from ABC’s Diane Sawyer and NBC’s Savannah Guthrie. Take a look, but follow the link for a full transcript — it’s worth it.
In the first voter referendum on ObamaCare, Missourians on Tuesday overwhelmingly (by 71 to 29 percent) backed Proposition C which called upon the state to enact a statute to “deny the government authority to penalize citizens for refusing to purchase private health insurance,” an outcome the St. Louis Post-Dispatch described as “rebuking President Barack Obama’s administration.” On Wednesday night, however, the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts skipped the bad news for President Obama – yet all found time to celebrate his 49th birthday.
“At the White House today, they sang to the President,” ABC anchor Diane Sawyer touted over a graphic which declared it Obama’s “Big Day.” Viewers were treated to one stanza of “Happy birthday to you!” before Sawyer related: “He says we’ve watched him go gray, and the photographs since the campaign do show a little speckle in that hair.”
With his wife and one daughter in Spain and the other daughter at camp, “the President [is] flying solo tonight, heading to Chicago to spend his 49th birthday as a bachelor, with only ‘First Dog’ Bo to keep him company,” NBC’s Savannah Guthrie sulked, though “Mr. Obama did get a serenade from winners of citizen medals he handed out at the White House today.”
After reading that piece, I thought I’d look through the archives at Newsbusters for an example of how the mainstream press handled the former president’s birthday, especially in a year where Bush Derangement Syndrome was at an all-time high among those who count the mainstream broadcasts as “Must See TV.” Here, from “NBC Uniquely Reports Liberal Ruling Overturned, Olbermann Continues Impeachment Talk” you get a taste of what was on Lester Holt’s and Keith Olbermann’s minds. Follow the link for a full transcript.
Among Friday’s broadcast evening newscasts, NBC Nightly News uniquely reported a federal appeals court ruling, tagged by anchor Lester Holt as a “victory for the Bush administration,” regarding the controversial NSA spying program that involves warrantless monitoring of international phone calls when one participant is a terrorist suspect. Friday’s court action overruled an August 2006 court decision against the program by a liberal judge appointed by President Carter.
As documented by the MRC’s Rich Noyes, all three broadcast evening newscasts had trumpeted the earlier ruling against the administration on August 17 of last year. ABC’s Charles Gibson had labeled it a “major legal defeat” while ABC’s Martha Raddatz had called it a “significant blow” to the administration. But neither ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson nor the CBS Evening News mentioned Friday’s ruling. But even on NBC, while Holt read news of the ruling, the words “Domestic Spying” appeared on screen, thus not conveying to the audience the international nature of the calls. Those words had similarly appeared during the NBC Nightly News coverage of the August 17 ruling. (Transcripts follow)
MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann also ignored Friday’s ruling on his Countdown show, while last August he had trumpeted that day’s anti-Bush court decision by interviewing liberal law professor Jonathan Turley, who maintained that Bush “could well have committed a federal crime not once, but 30 times.” Olbermann had called the August ruling a “judicial smackdown” and a “stunning ruling” against the program, and had repeatedly referred to the NSA program as monitoring “our” phone calls or “our” emails. But in light of Friday’s ruling that did not go the MSNBC host’s way, there was silence on the issue.
But the Countdown host did introduce Friday’s show relaying comments by former Reagan administration NSA director William Odom about the possibility of impeaching President Bush. Olbermann: “The top National Security officer from the Reagan administration insisting that the only way to protect the troops in Iraq is to get the Bush administration to bring them home, and the only way to do that may be to threaten the President directly with impeachment.”
OLBERMANN: “…Congress clearly and indisputably has two powers over the executive: the power of the purse and power to impeach. Should the first option fail, Mr. Odom saying lawmakers should not be afraid to threaten the second, having ample justification to do so. “An attempt to extort Congress into providing funds by keeping U.S. forces in peril … surely would constitute the ‘high crime’ of squandering the lives of soldiers and Marines for his,” the President’s, “own personal interest.”
Is it surprising? Of course not. First, the media has only had two birthdays to celebrate with their favoritest president ever, while in 2007 they were already beyond weary of George W. Bush. Second, the mainstream press this week is only continuing its organized mission of offering protection to this president when he needs it, and the repudiation of the individual mandate in a second state (Virginia being the first) could be a damaging trend for what Obama considers to be the hallmark legislation of his presidency so far.
Furthermore, it only shows that the mainstream press is still critically out-of-touch with Main Street America. Thanks to everything the president will include in his list of accomplishments, folks living between the coasts have awakened and have become increasingly concerned with how the day-to-day happenings in Washington, D.C. will affect their lives, their lifestyles and their bank accounts however far outside of the Beltway they reside. Gone are the days where the people simply don’t want to know how the sausage is made — here, my friends, are the days where everyday folks are counting their calories and are concerned with what that sausage is doing to their waistlines. And yet, in the isolated studios in lower Manhattan, the likes of Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric and any other preferred mouthpieces of the day are more concerned with concealing anything that could be perceived detrimental to the administration and, instead, focusing on the first family dog, or that speckle of gray in the president’s hair.
Surprising? No. Interesting? Always. Then again, that’s pretty much the standard when it comes to the mainstream press and its obvious liberal bias.