Media Blog

Will Rick Warren Mention Rev. Wright?

Rick Warren will interview both of the presidential candidates for an hour apiece on Saturday on CNN. (RedState reports it’s another event from the liberal-leaning group Faith in Public Life, which also sponsored a CNN forum for Obama and Hillary Clinton in April.) At the last forum, Newsweek editor Jon Meacham did oh-so-sensitively ask Obama about Reverend Wright: “You have spoken about how your former pastor in Chicago, … Jeremiah Wright was critical in helping bring you to Christianity and is like part of your family. Can you tell us how he helped bring you closer to God?”

That came before Wright’s incredible performance at the National Press Club, where he underlined that he meant every word from the pulpit about America deserving 9/11 and about the AIDS virus (and add the Ebola virus) being invented by the U.S. government as a tool of black genocide. Will Warren go there? I’ve just completed a study of Rev. Wright soundbites on ABC, CBS, and NBC. Here’s the findings in a big nutshell:

The broadcast networks took an entire year to locate Reverend Wright. Despite a feisty interview on Fox News Channel’s Hannity & Colmes back on March 1, 2007 about Obama’s church’s controversial commitment to a “black value system,” the name of Jeremiah Wright didn’t surface on the Big Three networks until CBS first broached it on February 28, 2008. The first story with Wright sermon soundbites aired two weeks later, on ABC on March 13. By then, 42 states and the District of Columbia had already voted.
The broadcast network evening news shows gave virtually no coverage to Wright soundbites in March. Snippets of Wright’s sermons drew only 72 seconds of evening news coverage in all of March, or an average of 24 seconds per network, less than one commercial.
The Big Three morning shows gave four times as much time to Wright soundbites as the evening shows in March. The morning shows carried almost five minutes of Wright clips (297 seconds), with ABC offering the most at 128 seconds. The other two networks each ran less than 90 seconds.
The networks completely refused to air soundbites of Wright’s conspiracy theory about the U.S. government inventing AIDS to kill blacks, and mostly ignored his comments about the September 11 terrorist attacks being “America’s chickens coming home to roost.” None of the network morning or evening shows found one opportunity to air Wright’s 2003 sermon accusing the federal government of hiding the truth about their “inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color.” His attack on America’s alleged record of terrorism was ignored by all three evening shows, as well as by CBS’s The Early Show.
The broadcast networks gave huge chunks of soundbite time to Obama’s “race speech” on March 18. The evening news shows on March 18 carried almost six minutes (348 seconds) of highlights from the Obama speech. The morning shows carried roughly nine and a half minutes (572 seconds) of sound from the speech. Combined, Obama’s one speech drew about 15 minutes of Big Three network clips in 24 hours, while Wright’s years of sermons drew about six minutes in the whole month of March.
Broadcast network interview segments on the Wright remarks and Obama’s race speech in March were dominated by liberal guests. When the networks allowed Republican or conservative guests, they stayed neutral or praised Obama’s remarks. Overall, the network pundit count was 16 to 5.
Wright’s National Press Club vitriol repeating his opinions about an AIDS conspiracy and America deserving 9/11 went virtually unreported. The broadcast network morning and evening shows aired only two and a half minutes (155 seconds) of soundbites from Wright’s April 28 performance at the National Press Club, but there were no soundbites about AIDS and only 23 seconds about America deserving a terrorist attack. By contrast, these same Big Three shows aired almost six minutes (358 seconds) of clips of Wright’s softball interview with Bill Moyers on PBS.

Tim Graham — Tim Graham is Director of Media Analysis at the Media Research Center, where he began in 1989, and has served there with the exception of 2001 and 2002, when served ...

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