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“Irresponsible Knee-Jerkery”: Very Bad News From ABC, NBC And CBS

Despite completely misreporting on administration emails related to the pretend Benghazi “scandal,” after they were misquoted (and/or fabricated) to him by a reportedly Republican source, ABC News and their White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl still refuse to properly correct and apologize for having lied about“obtaining” those emails.

Had Karl’s error — compounded by his “cover-up” even more than his original “crime” — contained news that falsely appeared good for Democrats instead of for Republicans, he would have been hammered and forever discredited by the right until finally fired by ABC News. But, alas, his completely false report on Benghazi benefited Republicans rather than Democrats, so no biggie, it seems. He gets to keep his career!

ABC’s Karl, however, wasn’t the only top-tier network newsman who blew it big time, further tarnishing the profession over the past week. Not by a long shot.

Here’s how NBC’s Brian Williams opened — opened! — NBC Nightly News last Tuesday, the same day that the Treasury Department’s Inspector General report was released, offering zero evidence of White House involvement in the so-called IRS “scandal”

BRIAN WILLIAMS: “As a lot of American adults not so fondly remember, the last time the government was found looking into the phone calls of reporters and using the IRS for political purposes, it was the Nixon era, and while times have changed and circumstances are different, that subject came up at the Obama White House today as the administration now scrambles on several fronts.” (NBC Nightly News, May 14, 2013)

Odd. The “last time” we ”not so fondly remember…the government…found looking into the phone calls of reporters and using the IRS for political purposes”, was during the George W. Bush era, not the Nixon era. Did Williams sleep through that decade? Seemingly so. Or, it’s safer to allude to the discredited Nixon than the off-scot-free Dubya. Or, Williams simply felt like lying to his audience. Either way, why has Williams also failed to correct or apologize for his grotesquely absurd, remarkably misleading and demonstrably inaccurate opening? And why has he seemingly faced little or no pressure to do so (unlike Karl) from others in the media?

Finally, the network Sunday news shows this week — what we were able to catch of them, anyway — proved to be the usual misinformative lockstep knee-jerkery that keeps us from even bothering to check in on them much anymore. From ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos (which, astonishingly failed to even mention Karl’s extraordinary journalistic lapse, but managed to end its broadcast nonetheless with the straight-faced voice-over: “ABC News: Accurate. Credible. Unmatched.”) to NBC’s Meet the Press to Fox “News” Sunday, they all pretended that last week’s week of “scandals” was on par with Watergate, Iran-Contra, Teapot Dome and other actual presidential scandals. That must be what they train for.

But the award for irresponsible knee-jerkery under the guise of seasoned journalistic commentary must certainly go to CBS’ Bob Schieffer, who, as seen on his Twitter account, appears quite proud of his breathless “dumb and dumber” finger-wagging on this week’s Face The Nation, despite its lack of tether to reality or verifiable facts…http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50147143n

So, ya didn’t even bother to read the IG’s report before describing the IRS scandal as “dumb and dumber”, did ya, Bob? We’ve sent that question to CBS and will update if we receive a response. But based on his commentary, it seems he clearly has not. Else, he could not have described the IRS as trying to “get away with” having “gone after the Tea Party” — not based on the currently existing evidence, anyway. Nor could he have made his completely irresponsible comparison to Watergate in the bargain.

So that’s a major fail, by the very highest echelons of each and every broadcast news outlet in a single week. And yet some dare to criticize us — a mere “blog” after all — for getting the story right, time and time again?! Seriously?!

 

By: Brad Friedman, The National Memo, May 20, 2013

May 22, 2013 Posted by | Media | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Sixty Festering Minutes Of Crap”: Why Do The Sunday Shows Suck So Much?

In the American media landscape, there is no single forum more prestigious than the Sunday shows—particularly the three network programs, and to a slightly lesser extent “Fox News Sunday” and CNN’s “State of the Union.” The Sunday shows are where “newsmakers” face the music, where Washington’s most important people are validated for their importance, where issues are probed in depth. So, why do they suck so much?

I live and breathe politics, yet I find these programs absolutely unwatchable, and I can’t be the only one. On a typical episode, there is nothing to learn, no insight to be gained, no interesting perspective on offer, nothing but an endless spew of talking points and squabbling. Let’s take, for instance, yesterday’s installment of “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.” We start off with dueling interviews with Obama adviser Robert Gibbs and Romney adviser Ed Gillespie. Were you expecting some candid talk from these two political veterans? Of course you weren’t. “If you’re willing to say anything to get elected president,” Gibbs says about Mitt Romney, “if you are willing to make up your positions and walk away from them, I think the American people have to understand, how can they trust you if you are elected president.” Which just happens to be precisely the message of a new Obama ad. What a fascinating coincidence! And you’ll be shocked to learn that Gillespie thought Romney did a great job in the debate: “Governor Romney laid out a plan for turning this economy around, getting things moving again. He had a fact-based critique of President Obama’s failed policies that the president was unable to respond to.” You don’t say!

Then we move to the roundtable, featuring, naturally, the stylings of James Carville and Mary Matalin. I just have to know what these two are thinking, because whatever it is, it certainly won’t be just “Your guy sucks! No, your guy sucks!” Of course, that’s exactly what it will be. Add in Peggy Noonan and her empathic super-powers to determine what the country is feeling and feel it right back at us, Jonathan Karl to repeat some poll numbers and conventional wisdom, and Paul Krugman to grow increasingly exasperated as he attempts without much success to yank the discussion back to reality, and you’ve got yourself a barn-burner of a debate.

Switch channels, and you’ll find some politicians angling for a 2016 presidential nomination come on one of the other Sunday shows to get asked questions about the polls and repeat the same things their co-partisans are saying. If you’re lucky (actually, it won’t take luck, because you can find it every Sunday), you can watch one of the two party chairs deliver those same messages. Has there ever been a single human being in America who has said, “Wow, that interview with Reince Priebus was really interesting”? Or said the same thing about an interview with Debbie Wasserman Schultz? It’s not because they’re terrible people, it’s because as party leaders their job is to come on the air and spout talking points with maniacal discipline, no matter what they get asked. And they’re good at that job. But if you listen to them for a while, it begins to feel like a virus of cynicism is eating its way through your brain.

I wonder what the producers of these shows say to each other as they’re putting together their programs. “Hey boss, we locked down Reince Priebus for Sunday!” “Awesome—the show is going to be great!” “I hope Carville and Matalin aren’t busy—they’ll bring the heat!” “Ooo, you know who we should try for? John McCain! He’s only been on our show 12 times this year, and I know people are dying to hear what he has to say.”

There could be another way. For instance, “Up With Chris Hayes” on MSNBC shows what the Sunday shows could be. Hayes doesn’t bother interviewing politicians or party hacks; instead, he brings on people who know a lot about whatever issue they’ll be discussing, aren’t constrained by the need to score partisan points, and might have something interesting to say. With a little creativity, you could come up with any number of models for how to make programs that are interesting and informative.

But the Sunday shows don’t seem to have any desire to change the 60 festering minutes of crap they splurt through the airwaves every weekend. The three network programs combine for around eight and a half million viewers every week, and I’m sure everyone involved thinks they’re a great success.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, October 8, 2012

October 9, 2012 Posted by | Media, Politics | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Meet The Republicans”: If It’s Sunday, It’s John McCain

Not long ago, I stopped watching the network Sunday shows. After all, who needs to spend an hour or two of valuable weekend time listening to elected officials and party hacks regurgitating the same tired talking points you’ve been hearing all week? But there’s no denying that Meet the Press, This Week, Face the Nation, and to a lesser extent Fox News Sunday are enormously influential. They confer status on the people who appear, they define the limits of official debate, and they help set the agenda for the rest of the media. So while they are often tiresome to sit through, they can’t be completely ignored. That’s why I couldn’t stay silent after seeing this celebratory tweet from Betsy Fischer, the longtime executive producer of Meet the Press:

Yay!

If you watch the Sunday shows, the only thing you’ll be surprised about is that McCain hadn’t passed Dole (or anyone else) already. In fact, I wrote a column three whole years ago asking why the hell anyone still cares what John McCain thinks, and the question has become even more relevant in the time since. He’s a member of the minority party in the Senate who is not part of the leadership and has virtually no influence over his fellow senators. In 29 years in Congress, he has managed to produce exactly one significant piece of legislation (the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law), which got gutted by the Supreme Court. His knowledge of and ideas about policy are notoriously shallow and self-indulgent, running more toward phony moralism about tiny earmarks than the search for actual solutions to thorny problems. In his supposed area of expertise, national security, he can be relied on to offer the most simple-minded and uninformed opinions possible (Of course we should use military force! Which country were we talking about again?). So the public needs to hear his sage words in about the same measure as they need to hear those of other presidential losers. Why isn’t Michael Dukakis getting on Meet the Press? I’ll bet he’d be a more interesting guest than McCain.

Yet all the Sunday shows call McCain, again, and again, and again. Why? There are a few reasons, but what they all come down to is that people in the DC media just love, love, love them some John McCain (God help me, I wrote a whole book about it). He spent a couple of decades massaging their egos and convincing them that he was their best buddy, an investment that paid off splendidly. They love his alleged mavericky maverickness (don’t get me started on what a crock the whole “maverick” thing is). On the Sunday shows, McCain is what passes for “unpredictable.” So they’ll keep inviting him on. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day Betsy Fischer tweets, “Congratulations to John McCain on his 100th appearance on Meet the Press!”

By: Paul Waldman, The American Prospect, March 18. 2012

March 19, 2012 Posted by | Foreign Policy, Media | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Liberal Media Bias?: The Sunday Shows Can’t Help Themselves

I promise not to do this every Sunday morning — it only seems like I will — but take a look at today’s guest lists for the five major Sunday shows.

* NBC’s “Meet the Press”: Disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.)

* CBS’s “Face the Nation”: House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)

* ABC’s “This Week”: South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R)

* Fox News’ “Fox News Sunday”: Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) [Update: Mike Huckabee (R) is a late edition to the line-up]

* CNN’s “State of the Union”: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), former Bush administration officials Dennis Blair and John Negroponte

For those keeping score at home, that’s two Republican presidential candidates, two House Republican leaders, two Senate Republican leaders, one Republican governor, one former Republican governor, two Bush administration officials, and one Democrat.

Liberal media, indeed.

In fairness, it’s worth noting that after these headliner guests, the shows will feature panel discussions, and some of the voices will be center-left. Paul Krugman will be on ABC, E.J. Dionne Jr will be on NBC, and Joe Lockhardt will be on CNN.

But (a) this doesn’t make up for the seven-to-one imbalance among officeholders and candidates; and (b) each of the center-left guests will be featured alongside a conservative, presumably to offer the kind of “balance” viewers won’t get with the headline guests.

Rachel Maddow noted the other day, “The Sunday shows are supposedly the apex of political debate — the pulsing, throbbing heart of what’s going on in American politics.”

Right, and week in and week out, this debate is dominated by voices from only one party.

A couple of years ago, Josh Marshall talked about how the Washington establishment is simply “wired” for Republicans. It’s GOP ideas that get attention; it’s GOP talking points that get internalized; it’s GOP voices that get aired.

The Sunday show guest lists help drive the point home nicely.

By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly, May 15, 2011

May 15, 2011 Posted by | Conservatives, Democrats, Elections, GOP, Ideology, Journalists, Media, Politics, Press, Pundits, Republicans, Right Wing, Voters | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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