The Democratic presidential nomination process isn't even over, yet on Tuesday CNN's Wolf Blitzer raised the media's favorite shorthand for vicious Republicans never forgotten from 1988, a name journalists can be counted on to resurrect every election season in order to discredit criticism of a liberal candidate, as he asked a guest how “worried” he was about Republicans energizing “elements of racism” by producing “Willie Horton kind of commercials...potentially against Barack Obama?” This, j
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center (MRC), the publisher of NewsBusters. He’s been the central figure in the MRC’s News Analysis Division since the MRC’s 1987 founding and in 2005 spearheaded the launch of NewsBusters.
Baker oversees the selection of the award nominees and “winners” for the MRC’s “DisHonors Awards,” presented at an annual gala, and each week he helps the Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard select a “Mainstream Media Scream.” Those picks are added, on a one week delay, to NewsBusters. (Archive for 2012-2014 on MRC.org)
In 2001, Weekly Standard Executive Editor Fred Barnes dubbed Baker “the scourge of liberal bias.”
For 13 years he compiled and edited the daily CyberAlert e-mail and online report. In late May of 2009 the CyberAlert became an e-mail-only product based on BiasAlert postings on the MRC's Web site. BiasAlerts since early 2012. (In February 2015, the MRC discontinued posting BiasAlerts on MRC.org and began feeding the newsletter via CyberAlert posts on NewsBusters).
An avid fan of the Washington Capitals NHL hockey team, in January of 2009 the Washington Post's "DC Sports Bog" took note of Baker's attendance at a Caps game with John Kerry: "The Caps, John Kerry and a Scourge."
Baker lived in Massachusetts through high school, whereupon he fled the liberal commonwealth for George Washington University in DC and, since graduation, a life in Northern Virginia. Full bio on MRC.org.
At the end of panel discussion, just before 7:30 PM EST Tuesday night about conservative opposition to John McCain, CNN analyst Roland Martin recognized his next comment -- about how only “extremists” in the GOP afraid of losing power are opposed to McCain -- might well upset conservatives and so cited NewsBusters in putting a warning up front:
I have something for NewsBusters.org for tomorrow. These are the extremists of the party who want to continue to hold on to their power. The bottom line is you're losing it. Your party is changing. Deal with it.
Couric set up the story by trumpeting how Clinton “remains focused, energized and anything but defeatist.” She soon wondered: “How do you do it? I mean, the satellite interviews, the speeches, the travel, the debates, the schmoozing, the picture taking, 24/7?” In seeming awe, a giggling Couric followed up: “But I'm talking about pure stamina” and marveled: “Do you pop vitamins, do you mainline coffee?” Later, as the two stood in a high school classroom, Couric cooed: “What were you like in high school? Were you the girl in the front row taking meticulous notes and always raising your hand?” Clinton denied that, prompting this exchange full of laughs and giggles:
COURIC: Someone told me your nickname in school was Miss Frigidaire. Is that true?
CLINTON: Only with some boys. [laughs]
COURIC: [giggling] I don't know if I want to hear the back story on that!
CLINTON: Well, you wouldn't want to know the boys either. [bursts out laughing]
In the past seven years, Bush administration policies have amounted to a systematic shredding of our nation's Constitution -- the illegal war it initiated and perpetuates; the torturing of prisoners; the espousing of "values" that include a careful defense of the "rights" of embryos but show a profligate disregard for the lives of flesh-and-blood human beings; and the flagrant dismantling of environmental protections. These, among many other depressing policies, have left us weak and shamed at home and in the world.
Koppel, the daughter of Ted Koppel, served as an international correspondent for CNN, then covered the State Department before spending her last months at CNN covering Capitol Hill. She proclaimed in the firm's press release that she wants to fight for “the voiceless in our society” as she embraced the “impressive roster of clients” and promised to help them “achieve their goals.”
Implying those on the right opposed to John McCain's Republican presidential bid are extremists beyond the politically acceptable, fill-in CBS Evening News anchor Harry Smith on Thursday night warned that McCain “still faces a tough battle to win the support of hard-line GOP conservatives.” Smith's characterization came a day after Time magazine's Web site headlined a Wednesday posting by Washington Bureau Chief Jay Carney, “McCain: Frail with the Far Right.” In the Thursday night CBS story in which Jeff Greenfield avoided pejorative labeling, Nicole Wallace, a CBS News political analyst who was Director of Communications for the Bush White House in 2005-2006, discounted those troubled by McCain -- whom she called “ABM Voters: Anybody But McCain” -- as “a smaller sliver of the party than we give them credit for being.”
That's the second time in eight days a former Bush operative turned network television analyst has dismissed or denigrated conservative concerns about McCain.
Noting presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain “gets good treatment” from journalists, former CBS News correspondent Bernard Goldberg predicted on Thursday's O'Reilly Factor that since the “media like him because he's the one who pokes his thumb in Republican and conservative eyes, mostly conservative eyes,” that's "going to end" and so “as soon as it's McCain against
The CBS Evening News concluded with a full story on the award to Stokes. Reporter Ben Tracy explained how Stokes was a “former athlete who chose the Marines over college after 9/11.” Noting he was “only a private,” Tracy related how “Sean stood out, often volunteering to go in first, directly in the line of fire. Wounded several times, he made it home twice.” Interspersed with reflection's from the Marine hero's father, Tracy observed that “this morning, on what would have been his 25th birthday, Sean was awarded the coveted Silver Star for courage in battle.”
In the February 4 interview session, with Democratic strategist Paul Begala, Republican operative Mike Murphy and Michele Noris of NPR, Vieira included her weekend activities in a question:
No state, not even Massachusetts or New York, was liberal to the CBS crew, but shortly before 10 PM EST Couric announced “John McCain has won the deeply conservative state of Oklahoma” and she later listed McCain's win in the “very conservative state.” In the next hour, Greenfield described California as “a conservative state for Republicans.” (Announcing Obama's win in Connecticut a little past 10 PM EST, Couric simply said the state “has a strong anti-war sentiment.”)
The night of the endorsement, ABC's David Wright adopted campaign slogans as he enthused about how “today the audacity of hope had its rendezvous with destiny. The Kennedy clan anointed Barack Obama a son of Camelot.” NBC's Lee Cowan radiated over how “the endorsement brought the Kennedy mystique to this campaign, not in a whisper, but a roar.”
Monday's CBS Evening News uniquely ran brief interviews with five presidential candidates, starting with Democrat Barack Obama. Couric wondered “how concerned” he was about CBS's poll showing him behind Clinton and then: “How critical is it for you to win the state of California?” Turning next to Clinton, Couric cited another aspect of the poll which “shows the two of you dead even. What happened?” With McCain, however, Couric raised former Senator Rick Santorum's charge that “I don't think he has the temperament and leadership ability to move the country in the right direction.” Couric was even more direct with Romney: “Do you believe John McCain has the temperament to be President of the United States?”
Three months after former ABC News reporter and anchor Carole Simpson bounded on stage in New Hampshire to endorse Hillary Clinton for President, on Monday night (as previewed in this earlier NB post), she hosted a Hillary Clinton town meeting telecast from 9 to 10 PM EST on the Hallmark cable channel. At the top of the paid show, Simpson trumpeted “Voices Across America: A National Town Hall with Senator Hillary Clinton” as “an historic event bringing together voters from across America to discuss the issues that matter and the changes this country needs.” Welcoming Clinton, Simpson enthused: “It's my honor to introduce Hillary Clinton.”
Video clip of how Simpson opened the info-mercial (55 secs): Windows Media (3.6 MB), plus MP3 audio (300 KB).
On FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, reporter James Rosen scolded the sloppy reporting of his journalistic colleagues, specifically how “the New York Times' lead article on the subject referred matter of factly to the 'trimming' of Medicare and Medicaid. In fact, Medicare will continue to see its budget grow, by 5 percent instead of 7.2 percent.”
Jay Leno on Friday night reminisced about admiring Tom Brokaw for appearing on the cover of the far-left Mother Jones magazine back in 1983, an interview in which Brokaw denigrated then-President Reagan from the left for “pretty simplistic” values and over how he didn't understand “the enormous difficulty a lot of people have in just getting through life, because he’s lived in this fantasy land for so long.”
With Brokaw on to promote his book, 'Boom!: Voices of the Sixties Personal Reflections on the '60s and Today,' Leno recalled: “I was just starting out in comedy and you'd been on the cover of kind of a left-wing, really left-wing magazine called Mother Jones. Then I thought this is really, wow, Tom Brokaw, 'cause you would have been the establishment and you're on the cover -- and that seemed, and I always wondered if NBC was annoyed or upset that you had done that?”
Not surprisingly, NBC wasn't bothered at all, Brokaw explained, “but Mrs. Reagan was really unhappy with me” for the interview, in which he acknowledged Ronald Reagan was poor as a child, but expressed how “I always thought that connection to people who were struggling was a little artificial because he really began to make it big at an early age.” Brokaw proceeded to recount how he kissed and made up with Nancy Reagan.
In the subsequent story, Jake Tapper asserted that with a black man or white woman “poised to make history,” there is “one way to top it.” He then played a clip of Wolf Blitzer asking during the debate: “Would you consider an Obama/Clinton or Clinton/Obama ticket going down the road?” Maintaining “the possibility is the talk of the town,” Tapper backed his supposition by highlighting the belief of his colleague, ex-Clintonista George Stephanopoulos, who predicted: “Because they're both fighting this out through Super Tuesday, I think the chances are better than ever before.” Challenged by Diane Sawyer to a bet in the clip Tapper played from Good Morning America, Stephanopoulos took her up: “Absolutely. I'll bet if she gets the nomination, she picks him.”
An ABC story Wednesday night attributed conservative opposition to John McCain not to McCain's more liberal positions on many issues, but to how McCain “basically is not going to answer to anybody, especially the conservative pundits or the conservagentsia. And they don't like that.” That claim that resistance to embracing McCain is a petty personal matter came from former Bush-Cheney campaign strategist Matthew Dowd, now an ABC News political contributor. ABC reporter Ron Claiborne buttressed Dowd's explanation, asserting: “And that has drawn attacks from the likes of radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.” Viewers then heard an audio clip of Limbaugh: “He is not the choice of conservatives, as opposed to the choice of the Republican establishment.” (MP3 audio clip, 23 secs.)
In contrast, over on the CBS Evening News, reporter Bill Whitaker accurately attributed the opposition to McCain's policy positions: “McCain is routinely savaged by Rush Limbaugh and other conservative stalwarts for breaking ranks on immigration, taxes and global warming.” Two weeks ago, CBS's Bob Schieffer was as off-base as ABC, insisting opposition to McCain from the right is because “he's always been willing to challenge the authority and a lot of Republicans just have not forgiven him for that.”
Meanwhile, on CNN between Bush's address and the Democratic response, Jeffrey Toobin used Bush to condemn all the Republican candidates for lacking “humanity” in their approach to immigration. The MRC's Rich Noyes alerted me to this from Toobin at 10:12 PM EST:
The broadcast network anchors and reporters were almost as giddy as Barack Obama over liberal Democrat Ted Kennedy's endorsement of the presidential candidate. ABC, CBS and NBC all led Monday night with it and ABC's David Wright adopted campaign slogans as he enthused about how “today the audacity of hope had its rendezvous with destiny. The Kennedy clan anointed Barack Obama a son of Camelot.” CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric teased, “Passing the torch: Barack Obama is tapped as the candidate to continue the Kennedy legacy.” NBC's Lee Cowan, who earlier this month conceded “it's almost hard to remain objective” when covering Obama, showed he also has a soft spot for the Kennedys as he radiated over how “the endorsement brought the Kennedy mystique to this campaign, not in a whisper, but a roar.” Viewers then got a soundbite of Kennedy yelling during the event at American University.
[UPDATED with Nightline, 1:05 AM EST: With “New Son of Camelot” on screen over video of Obama and Ted Kennedy, anchor Terry Moran trumpeted the “new son of Camelot. Ted and Caroline Kennedy pass the torch to Barack Obama to carry the legacy of JFK.” Moran soon hailed how “the political world was transfixed by the spectacle of the most powerful Democratic family of the 20th century christening a new torch bearer for the 21st.” David Wright repeated his “the audacity of hope had its rendezvous with destiny” line before championing the “merging ideals from two different eras” as “Obama is now an adopted son of Camelot.”]