Aug
16
2012

ABC's Unrealistic Paul Ryan Reality Check

Campaign rhetoric, we're led to believe, can be hard to sort out. If Paul Ryan says his budget plan protects Medicare and the Democrats say it "ends" it, what should we believe? Those are the kinds of questions journalism is supposed to answer. Which is why ABC World News' August 14 "Reality Check" on Medicare was such a failure. Actually, the fact that it wasn't very good wasn't a total shocker. That was to be expected as soon as you heard Diane Sawyer said this: So we asked ABC's Jon Karl for a reality check on the plan and what […]

Aug
08
2012

Harry Reid, the New Joe McCarthy

Senator Harry Reid started a whole lot of trouble on the campaign trail when he told some Huffington Post reporters that he'd heard that Mitt Romney paid no taxes. As in zero. For an entire decade. Now there are reasons to be skeptical of Reid's account. As Dana Milbank pointed out, Reid's record does not inspire confidence. He says he got this scoop in a phone call with a Bain Capital investor. There is no other documentation or information to substantiate the allegation. Of course, Romney could settle the issue by releasing his tax returns– which is presumably why Reid […]

Nov
21
2011

Jonathan Karl Plays the Freddie/Fannie Blame Game

News that Newt Gingrich was receiving millions of dollars to advise Freddie Mac has to be a little unsettling for at least some conservative voters, who are accustomed to demonizing the government-sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for causing the housing bubble, and hence the recession. But it's not just right-wing pundits like Bill O'Reilly who are fond of blaming it all on Fannie and Freddie. Here's ABC reporter Jonathan Karl, speaking in conservative shorthand in his job as network news correspondent on This Week yesterday: Meet this week's new front-runner. He's a good debater, man of ideas, and […]

Oct
03
2011

Chris Christie Doesn't Say He's NOT Running for President!

The New York Times had a headline on Saturday that read, "Imagining a Christie Campaign for President." That seems appropriate–if we're talking about how it's the corporate media doing the imagining. On ABC's This Week (10/2/11), Jonathan Karl announced that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's speech at the Reagan Library "was the most electrifying event of the campaign so far." That speech was treated like a big event on the NBC Nightly News (9/28/11), with anchor Brian Williams saying up front that Christie is "the man whose every word is being watched and listened to so very carefully." Reporter Chuck […]

Aug
04
2011

Senate Dems Getting Wise to Media's 'Balance' Bias?

There's an interesting piece by Alexander Bolton in the Hill (8/3/11) that suggests Senate Democrats are frustrated by the Beltway media's tendency to cover political standoffs between the parties as situations where everyone's to blame. Bolton writes: This frustration boiled over during a Wednesday press conference on the partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration and what Democrats call the GOP's extortionist tactics. The FAA had to temporarily lay off 4,000 workers because Senate Democrats and Republicans cannot agree to a reauthorization of the agency. Democrats are angry that members of the media appear to be accepting the GOP argument […]

Jun
21
2011

Jon Huntsman Couldn't Possibly Run For President

I stumbled upon this ABC report not too long ago, and it seems especially timely given Huntsman's announcement today. It's not to say that ABC was uniquely off the mark. The point is that much of what passes for political coverage– the handicapping, the horserace, the insider chatter– is useless. ABC News Transcript WORLD NEWS SATURDAY May 16, 2009 Saturday SURPRISE PICK; A POLITICAL MASTER STROKE DAVID MUIR (ABC NEWS): President Barack Obama made a surprise appointment today that has both parties in Washington buzzing tonight. The President had pledged to reach across the aisle, and today, he did just […]

Jun
01
2011

ABC's Karl: There's No Dem Plan for Medicare (Except for the New Law)

The roundtable panel on ABC's This Week (5/29/11) spent some time talking about the politics of Medicare, specifically the idea that the recent Democratic victory in a special Congressional election in New York could mean that Paul Ryan's Medicare plan might be a tremendous liability for the GOP. One of the most prevalent talking points from the Republican side is to complain that while Ryan's plan might have its flaws, at least they have something–unlike the Democrats. It was a point that ABC reporter Jonathan Karl passed along as fact: [Bill Clinton] said that I hope Democrats don't use this […]

Apr
12
2011

ABC: That's What They Call Journalism!

ABC reporter Jonathan Karl clarifies the budget stalemate that nearly shut down the federal government (ABC World News, 4/7/11): KARL: And believe it or not, the issue of abortion could be what causes the government to shut down. GRAPHICS: DEMOCRATS CLAIM KARL: Democrats say Republicans are trying to use the funding bill to force new restrictions on abortion rights. GRAPHICS: REPUBLICANS CLAIM KARL: But Republicans say they are simply trying to restrict public funding of abortion. "Democrats say, Republicans say." ABC could save money and program a computer to do this. Later Karl said this: Today, House Republicans did pass […]

Apr
04
2011

Only Hotheads Talk About the Effects of Budget Cuts

Corporate media's preference for"centrism" canoftentranslate intoreporting that casts two sides of a debate as equally belligerent or unwilling to compromise. ABC reporter Jonathan Karl's report yesterday on This Week (4/3/11) offers a perfect example of the absurdity of this worldview. His focuses was on the battle over the federal budget. On one side are Tea Party activists who want deeper spending cuts. Karl notes that this createssome frictionbetween the activists and GOP leaders. Then there's the other side of the debate: KARL: Democrats have their hot heads, too. One Obama administration official said the Republican bill, which cuts $5 billion […]

Aug
04
2010

Animals Are Funny, and Other News From ABC

Matthew Yglesias (8/3/10) has a good takedown of senators John McCain (R.-Ariz.) and Tom Coburn's (R.-Ok.) list of supposedly wasteful stimulus projects that generated an "exclusive" on ABC's Good Morning America (8/3/10): Jon Chait observes that McCain and Coburn also seem to have decided that anything relating to animals is necessarily waste. Hence a small grant to fund research on cocaine addiction and relapse is turned into "Monkeys Getting High for Science." Hardy-har-har. There's a case to be made that the government has no role to play in funding scientific research, but it's a mighty bad case. If you think […]

Feb
26
2009

ABC Finds Funny Animals, Foodstuffs in Spending Bill

You'd think that reporting on federal budget bills costing billions of dollars would be difficult. But it's easy, really: All you have to do is remember that budget items involving animals or unusual foods are funny. ABC's Jonathan Karl has mastered the genre. Reporting on the ominous spending bill (World News, 2/24/09), he declared: "The bill is supposed to fund government operations, but it includes things like more than $1 million for so-called 'Mormon crickets' in Utah, $200,000 for tattoo removal in Los Angeles and $443,000 to control beavers in Mississippi." Hee hee! Bugs are funny, as are government efforts […]