Thursday’s network morning shows tripped over themselves in their rush to fawn over President Obama meeting Pope Francis for the first time at the Vatican. At the top of ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host Robin Roberts touted how the President “feels a special bond with the Pontiff.” On NBC’s Today, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd spoke of an “ideological comfort level” between the two leaders, while on CBS This Morning, White House correspondent Major Garrett described their “genuine connection.” While ABC, NBC, and CBS provided a combined 14 minutes 30 seconds of coverage to the papal meeting on Thursday, only 2 minutes 21 seconds of that air time referred to the fundamental disagreements between Obama and the Pope on a host of issues. Instead, the morning broadcasts chose to play up the “common ground” between the two men on issues of “income inequality” and “social justice.”
During coverage of President’s Obama meeting with Pope Francis on Thursday, both NBC’s Today and CBS This Morning hoped the papal visit would boost the commander-in-chief’s sinking poll numbers. Today co-host Matt Lauer wondered: “The Pope, enormously popular….Is there something in just rubbing elbows with the Pope for President Obama?” Chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd observed: “I think that the President, particularly right now where his own approval ratings are not so hot, just being seen with the Pope, particularly in some places where there are a lot of Catholic voters in the United States, it’s not gonna hurt. So, yes, I think the White House sees this as a potential political up side.”
All the networks gave positive coverage on Thursday evening to President Obama’s meeting with Pope Francis, but ABC left out the elephant in the room, the massive conflict between the Obama administration and the U.S. Catholic Bishops over the birth control mandate. Each network reported a happy meeting; both ABC and NBC called it “historic.” All the networks highlighted the consensus between the two men on fighting poverty, as ABC noted a “bond” between the two men. “While the two men don’t see eye-to-eye on social issues like abortion and gay marriage, they have clearly formed a bond in other areas, especially in seeing fighting poverty as a moral responsibility,” ABC’s Jonathan Karl reported. However, ABC skipped the conflict between Obama and the American Catholic Bishops that at least CBS and NBC reported.
New York Times journalists Jim Yardley and Michael Shear on Thursday compared Barack Obama to Pope Francis. According to the writers, the pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage Barack Obama and the pro-life, anti-gay marriage religious leader have a lot in common. Yardley and Shear connected “an Argentine pope and an American president who each burst onto the global scene as a history-making change agent.” They insisted that each arrived “promising to promote a new post-partisan ethos, each having made the cover of Rolling Stone.”
ABC, CNN, MSNBC and PBS on Wednesday and Thursday all covered the “shocking” corruption involving the Democratic mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina. Yet, while talking about the tens of thousands of dollars in bribes he sought, none of these networks identified Patrick Cannon’s political party. Only a Fox News host referred to him as a Democrat. On ABC’s Good Morning America, Amy Robach asserted, “Well, the mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina has resigned after being arrested during an FBI sting.” On CNN’s New Day, Christine Romans informed that undercover FBI agents “got the mayor to take almost $50,000 in bribes in exchange for favorable treatment by the city.” In contrast, Fox News Jamie Colby revealed, “There’s another Democrat in trouble over accusations of corruption.”
On Thursday’s NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer couldn’t resist mocking a nice gesture from House Speaker John Boehner to Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. News reader Tamron Hall explained: “…the House Speaker knows that his Democratic counterpart Nancy Pelosi just loves chocolate. So, for her 74th birthday on Wednesday he gave her something sweet, pints of chocolate gelato.” Moments later, Lauer remarked: “If there’s ever a need for a food taster, that would be it right there.” After a chorus of “ohs” from his fellow hosts, he added: “I’m kidding.