On Monday’s Charlie Rose show on PBS, during a discussion of how the Obama administration might change course after the Democratic party’s loss of the Massachusetts Senate race, Newsweek editor Jon Meacham argued that President Obama has so far pursued “centrist” policies, even claiming that the bailouts could be described as “center right.” After the Washington Post’s Anne Kornblut argued that, at the White House, they are not yet sure which ideological direction they will head next, prompting host Charlie Rose to ask whether they would move “to the center,” Meacham seemed to bristle as he insisted that President Obama is already “in the center,” and scoffed at Tea Party activists:
Brad Wilmouth is a former Media Research Center news analyst and an alumnus of the University of Virginia.
On Wednesday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann defended his recent attacks on Massachusetts Republican Senator-elect Scott Brown by insisting that some of the incorrect claims he made are true when, in fact, two are factually without merit while the third represents one of Olbermann’s typical episodes of distorting the words of a target. Among other complaints, Olbermann on Wednesday claimed that Scott "swore at" high school students at an assembly in 2007, that he has refused to renounce a vulgar threat made against Attorney General Martha Coakley by an audience member at a Sunday rally, and that he demonstrated racism in once suggesting that he wasn’t sure if Barack Obama’s parents were married at the time of his birth.
The Countdown host repeated a myth promoted by the liberal blog bluemassgroup.com that, in February 2007, then-State Senator Scott "swore at a hall full of high school students" as he appeared before a group at King Philip Regional High School in Wrentham, Massachusetts. In reality, Scott was not alleged to have "sworn at" the students, but rather, he angrily responded to and complained about vulgar comments that some students had written about him and one of his daughters – comments which had been posted on the Facebook page of a pro-gay rights teacher at the school – as Scott read the uncensored comments from the site, naming some of the students, in front of the assembly. His actions sparked criticism because he read aloud the profane words as they appeared on the Facebook page, but he was not alleged to have "sworn at" the students.
While it is well known that MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann is the most viciously liberal voice to host a news program within the mainstream media, even he normally tones down his anti-conservative, anti-Republican vitriol when anchoring special events like election results. But during MSNBC’s coverage of the Massachusetts special Senate election, Olbermann’s presentation was more rabidly partisan than if the Democratic National Committee itself were producing the show.
As he anchored a special 10:00 p.m. edition of Countdown, Olbermann not only used one of his "Quick Comment" segments to repeat his infamous attack from the day before on Republican Senator-elect Scott Brown, but he also impatiently interrupted Brown’s victory speech, and, while Brown was still speaking, went on to give a second "Quick Comment" blaming Tea Party protesters and Fox News for the vulgar "tea bagger" term being attached to the Tea Party movement.
At 10:19 p.m., Olbermann delivered a "Quick Comment" in which he sarcastically pretended that he would apologize for his attack on Senator-elect Scott Brown from the previous day in which he had called Brown an "irresponsible, homophobic, racist, reactionary, ex-nude model, tea bagging, supporter of violence against women and against politicians with whom he disagrees."
On Sunday’s Today show on NBC – during which correspondent Savannah Guthrie filed a report which seemed to credit President Obama for "managing to avoid a depression," while also acknowledging that "the President's once sky-high approval rating slumped as unemployment stubbornly stayed in double digits" – after Guthrie’s report, anchor Jenna Wolfe wondered if Republicans were partly to blame for Obama’s plunging poll numbers.
Hosting former Bush Chief of Staff Andy Card and former Clinton White House Spokesperson Joe Lockhart, Wolfe at one point asked Card: "Andy, you mentioned earlier about the President's popularity. Yes, it's down. Recent polls show his approval rating at 47 percent. Yes, the economy accounts for much of that drop. How much of it can be linked to unified opposition from Republicans for initiatives like health care?"
Below is a transcript of Savannah Guthrie’s report, followed by the interview with Andy Card and Joe Lockhart from the Sunday, January 17, Today show on NBC:
On Saturday’s Today show on NBC, anchor Amy Robach brought aboard MSNBC’s Joe Scarbarough to talk about President Obama’s handling of the relief effort in Haiti, and the President’s efforts to prevent Republican takeover of the Massachusetts Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy. Robach introduced the segment referring to the possibility of a Democratic loss of the seat from Obama’s point-of-view of being a "potential political crisis here at home."
After Scarborough answered her first question about relief aid in Haiti -- at one point complaining about "carping from the far right" -- Robach segued from the Haiti earthquake by referring to the Senate race as a "potential crisis looming here at home" which could result from a "historic upset" in Massachusetts. Robach:
On Friday’s The O’Reilly Factor, FNC’s Bill O’Reilly responded to left-wing actor Danny Glover’s recent comments blaming Haiti’s problems on the U.S., invoking America’s failure to reach an agreement at the Copenhagen summit on climate change. In his show’s "Talking Points Memo," O’Reilly recounted the relatively small amount of aid pledged so far by a number of nations, in comparison to the $100 million America has already pledged to Haiti.
Later, during a segment with Columbia University Professor Marc Lamont Hill, after Hill had made his best guess at interpreting what Glover meant in his remarks, O’Reilly took particular exception with the liberal actor praising Venezuela in the same statement in which he condemned America, reminding viewers that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had only pledged one plane full of aid to Haiti. O’Reilly: "I got a kick out of Glover, who's a big friend of Hugo Chavez, saying that Venezuela is one of the countries on the point of attack. As you may have heard in the ‘Talking Points Memo,’ Venezuela has sent exactly one plane full of stuff – one – one plane to Haiti."
During the show’s "Talking Points Memo," after relaying that President Obama had so far pledged $100 million in aid, O’Reilly informed viewers of aid pledges at that point made by several other nations:
On Friday's The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly interviewed singer Ray Stevens about a musical parody titled "We the People," posted on his Web site at RayStevens.com, in which he goes after ObamaCare. Stevens, famous for doing musical parodies since the 1960s -- though previously never political in nature -- on Friday's show joked that he is "right of Attila the Hun" politically.
Below is a transcript of portions of the interview from the Friday, January 15, The O'Reilly Factor on FNC:
On Thursday’s The O’Reilly Factor, FNC host Bill O’Reilly updated viewers on the Black Panthers voter intimidation case from election day 2008 -- involving a Pennsylvania polling place -- which Attorney General Eric Holder declined to prosecute despite strong video evidence. The most recent development, on Wednesday the House Judiciary Committee voted to block any action on the case, as all 15 Democrats voted to reject action while all 14 Republicans voted in favor of more investigation. O’Reilly: "But yesterday the House Judiciary Committee voted 15-14, along partisan lines, not to compel the Justice Department to hand over investigative data in the case. As you may know, Attorney General Holder has stonewalled the investigation, and now the Dems are apparently letting them get away with it."
Guest Kris Kobach, a former Bush administration official, recounted the severity of the case:
On Thursday’s The O’Reilly Factor, FNC host Bill O’Reilly used the show’s regular "Reality Check" segment to highlight comments made by Hearst columnist Helen Thomas in which she questioned whether terrorists really should be called "terrorists," and seemed to express a view of moral equivalence between the United States and the terrorists with which America is at war.
When asked in an interview with Mediaite what her point was in repeatedly asking Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan at a January 7 press conference why al-Qaeda terrorists are trying to kill Americans, as if to suggest that such behavior was provoked by wrongdoing by the U.S., Thomas responded:
I was trying to find out why, why, what’s, look, we’ve been in this war, eight, nine years, against this so-called terrorism. And I do say "so-called" because in the newspapers, if you read, you read about the militants, you don’t read about us bombing everybody, and never really explaining why, and going into three, four different countries, Middle East, Africa, and so forth. Who are we? And why are we doing this?
On Monday’s The O’Reilly Factor, the FNC host had previously highlighted Thomas’s bizarre exchange with Brennan from January 7:
It was a year ago this weekend that the Israeli military halted its three-week campaign, Operation Cast Lead, against Hamas militants in Gaza, during which Israel had responded to thousands of rockets and mortars launched from Gaza over several years. During Israel’s military campaign, on a number of major stories, many American television newscasts were more inclined to report accusations made by U.N. or Palestinian officials that the Israeli military had acted improperly than they were to update viewers after the military held investigations and released reports disputing the accusations made against it. At one point, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric went so far as to claim that the Israelis "may have used a banned weapon."
Below is a compilation of NewsBusters postings which document how the morning and evening newscasts on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FNC, and PBS reported a number of major stories from the Gaza War, highlighting examples of the media either engaging in distortion or omitting relevant information that would have cast Israel in a more favorable light, including several times when the broadcast and news networks even ignored reports issued by the Israeli military after it had taken time to investigate and dispute accusations made against its troops which had previously been reported by the media.
On Monday’s The O’Reilly Factor on FNC, during the show’s regular "Reality Check" segment, host Bill O’Reilly highlighted the double standard exhibited by President Barack Obama and other prominent Democrats in the way they reacted so strongly to former Republican Senator Trent Lott’s praise of former Senator Strom Thurmond at his birthday celebration in 2002, and the President's recent more forgiving words about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s "Negro dialect" remark. O’Reilly quoted Obama’s unforgiving statement from 2002 regarding Lott, and then showed his recent statement giving Reid a pass. The FNC host also showed quotes of Democratic Senators Mary Landrieu and Debbie Stabenow from the Lott episode and noted their current unwillingness to comment on Reid.
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Monday, January 11, The O’Reilly Factor on FNC:
On Tuesday's The O'Reilly Factor on FNC, during the show's regular "Pinheads and Patriots" segment, host Bill O'Reilly highlighted an example of left-wing hatred from a man who appears to be part of the anti-war left, as O'Reilly showed video of the unidentified "deranged" man who started shouting at former President George H.W. Bush in a Houston restaurant. The heckler used obscenities and called the former President "murderous" and a "Zionist," and blamed him for millions of deaths.
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Tuesday, January 12, The O'Reilly Factor on FNC:
On Saturday’s Fox News Watch, as FNC correspondent Douglas Kennedy appeared as a member of the show’s panel, after host Jon Scott’s introduction to the show’s first segment – which involved President Obama’s response to the underwear bomber – Kennedy characterized Scott’s introduction as sounding "like it's written by Dick Cheney in his bunker." Complaining that he was ideologically outnumbered on the panel after left-leaning panel member Judith Miller – formerly of the New York Times – was critical of Obama, Miller declared, "Now, wait a minute. I am very, very liberal on a lot of issues," prompting Kennedy to exclaim, "You went to jail to protect Dick Cheney! Come on!":
Newsweek’s Howard Fineman appeared on Tuesday’s Countdown show on MSNBC to discuss Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s controversial remark that Barack Obama does not have a "negro dialect," and, when asked by host Keith Olbermann why Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to comment on the subject, Fineman argued that Republicans are afraid to engage Democrats in a battle over the issue of race relations, charging that they are "going to really look bad." He went so far as to suggest that Americans are nearly unanimous in viewing the Democratic party more favorably on racial issues, and, after citing the low number of minorities at the Republican convention, went on to charge that "fair-minded people" would say Republicans would lose to Democrats in a debate over racial issues.
Fineman claimed that, in addition to African-Americans, "everybody else in the society pretty much" would view Democrats more favorably on the issue:
Republicans don’t want to engage in a long, drawn-out discussion of who’s more committed to equality in this society, and who has done more politically for the African-American community in the last, oh, say, 40 years or so, because that’s an argument and a discussion Republicans are going to really look bad in, and they don’t want to continue it. Yes, Harry Reid made a very unfortunate remark, and, yes, it’s troublesome, but if you attempt to put the Republican party next to the Democratic party, it’s not only African-Americans who are going to look with the Democratic party with favor on questions of race relations but everybody else in the society pretty much, too.
He soon described "fair-minded people" as being those who would side with Democrats on race:
On January 6, 2009, there was an infamous explosion near the U.N.-run Fakhura school at the Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza, as the Israeli military did battle with Hamas fighters. The Israeli military’s official account of the incident, released in February 2009, contended that 12 people died outside the school, nine of whom were identified as Hamas members.
On Saturday's Fox News Watch, panel member and FNC correspondent Douglas Kennedy referred to Tea Party members as the "Tea Bag movement," prompting admonishment from host Jon Scott who pointed out that he was using the "pejorative" term. In the next segment, Kennedy went on to accuse Tea Party members of anti-Semitism and linked Obama/Hitler posters to Tea Party members, leading panel member Jim Pinkerton to remind viewers that an Obama/Hitler poster sometimes attributed in the media to conservative Tea Party members had actually been brought to a protest by left-wing supporters of Lyndon LaRouche – who ran for President in the past as a Democrat:
DOUGLAS KENNEDY: You know, just tell them to leave the swastikas home and the pictures of Hitler, and the, you know, they might gain a little more popularity.
JIM PINKERTON: The pictures of Hitler brought in by Lyndon LaRouche people, you know, who are actually, Lyndon LaRouche ran as a Democrat seven times.
KENNEDY: Yeah, but there's anti-Semitism and-
Panel member Judy Miller then jumped in and predicted that the Tea Party movement would help liberals by splitting the Republican party, prompting Kennedy to divulge some over-the-top wishful thinking:
As unusually cold temperatures in America of late have been making liberals scramble to fit the conditions into global warming theory, viewers of Friday’s CBS Evening News were informed by host Katie Couric that Britain is also enduring record winter conditions as the United Kingdom is experiencing "its longest cold spell in nearly three decades." The news brief was accompanied by a satellite image of the currently snow-covered island nation.
Below is a complete transcript of the item read by Couric from the Friday, January 8, CBS Evening News:
Appearing as a guest on Thursday’s Countdown show on MSNBC to discuss Obama's latest speech on terrorism, Newsweek’s Howard Fineman charged that, referring to Republicans, "they’re about division and they’re about fear."
At one point, Fineman even made it sound as if President Bush had been obsessed with leaving office before the next terrorist attack just so he could "claim he kept us safe," as if he were more worried about his legacy than keeping America safe in the long term. Fineman said: "And George Bush, even George Bush said that, you know, we could be attacked tomorrow. He didn`t like to talk about it. I knew him well and knew that he was counting the minutes and the days until he got out of there and could claim he kept us safe."
Crediting Obama with "cool, calm, and collectedness," and a "broad gauge and deep sense of the country," Fineman also voiced agreement with Keith Olbermann’s contention that, unlike President Bush, Obama treats Americans like "grownups" by talking to them realistically about the likelihood that some future terror plots will inevitably be successful:
A year ago today, when U.N. officials accused the Israeli military of killing the driver of a vehicle delivering relief aid to Gaza during the Israeli campaign against Hamas, all the broadcast and news networks reported the accusation on January 8, 2009, noting the U.N.'s resulting cessation of relief aid deliveries. But, after the Israeli military conducted an investigation and charged that Hamas was responsible for the killing, very few of the shows that reported the initial charges by the U.N. updated viewers on this important development. An examination of the morning and evening newscasts on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FNC, and PBS – including American Morning and The Situation Room on CNN; as well as Fox and Friends, the Fox Report, and Special Report with Bret Baier on FNC; and PBS's NewsHour – between January 8 and January 12, 2009, found that all these shows – with the exception of ABC’s Good Morning America – reported on the truck driver’s death at least once, with nearly all shows also directly relaying the U.N.’s charge of Israeli military culpability.
But only CNN's The Situation Room, on the January 9 show, took the time to briefly inform viewers that the Israeli military had denied responsibility for the incident as correspondent Nic Robertson related: "[The U.N.] said that two of their workers were killed by Israeli tank and machine gun fire. Israeli Defense Forces say they have investigated it. Now, they say it wasn't them, which implies that it must have been Hamas."
Appearing as a guest on the Thursday, January 7, Late Show with David Letterman on CBS, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow praised President Obama claiming that "he’s kind of quietly put together the most legislatively accomplished first year of any President in a generation," right after she referred to Obama’s "opposition" like Sarah Palin and the Tea Party activists as being "crazy." Maddow went on to credit Obama with preventing a Great Depression: