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ABC Not Like CNN: Charles Gibson Provides Balanced Debate Agenda --1/7/2008


1. ABC Not Like CNN: Charles Gibson Provides Balanced Debate Agenda
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.

2. Only Couric Notes Hsu Sentencing, Leads with 'Looming Recession'
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."

3. CNN's Roland Martin Suggests Most Pro-Lifers Seem 'Hateful'
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."

4. 'Top Ten Signs Your Presidential Campaign is in Trouble'
Letterman's "Top Ten Signs Your Presidential Campaign is in Trouble."


ABC Not Like CNN: Charles Gibson Provides
Balanced Debate Agenda

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:
"Senator [Fred] Thompson, Americans are also watching the profits of companies here in America that are making a lot of money as these prices per barrel [of oil] are skyrocketing. They're bothered by it, people in New Hampshire are bothered by this. Aren't you?...Should something not be done?"

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.

Only Couric Notes Hsu Sentencing, Leads
with 'Looming Recession'

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:
"In California today, Norman Hsu, the so-called fugitive financier, was sentenced to three years in prison. Hsu was convicted of fraud back in 1992 but fled before he was sentenced. While on the run for 15 years, he contributed millions to political campaigns, including $850,000 to Hillary Clinton's campaign which she has since returned."

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:
"Good evening, everyone. Well, no rest for the weary in a presidential race. All the candidates have moved on to New Hampshire today after big wins in Iowa by Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee. We'll have a full report on campaign '08 in a moment. But, first, the economy, something that's of paramount concern to voters. In fact, according to our latest poll, it's the number one issue after Iraq. With good reason. Tonight there are more signs of a looming recession. Unemployment edged up to five percent last month, the highest rate in two years. That news sent the Dow into a nosedive. It fell 256 points. The NASDAQ lost 98. And there's real concern the economy has essentially stopped creating jobs. More now from Anthony Mason...."

CNN's Roland Martin Suggests Most Pro-Lifers
Seem 'Hateful'

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:
"What Huckabee also has to do, though, because the conventional wisdom says Huckabee is only attractive to evangelicals, and so what he is trying to do is what George W. Bush did in 2000. Take his faith and be able to say, 'Now let me be compassionate when it comes to the economy, when it comes to education, when it comes to health care. Sure, I'm a staunch pro-life person,' but he isn't perceived as being hateful as other people who are pro-life."

'Top Ten Signs Your Presidential Campaign
is in Trouble'

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?"


One of Letterman's guests Monday night: Mike Huckabee, in his third late night appearance in less than a week. He was on NBC's Tonight Show last Wednesday evening and on CBS's Late Late Show the next night.

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