Barf. “We sometimes forget just how in the tank much of the press is for Obama,” the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto observed last week in catching an effusive, to put it mildly, love letter to Barack Obama published in the August edition of Hearst’s Esquire magazine.
“2011 is the summer of Obama,” gushed Stephen Marche, genuflecting “‘I am large, I contain multitudes,’ Walt Whitman wrote, and Obama lives that lyrical prophecy.” More sophistry: “Barack Obama is developing into what Hegel called a ‘world-historical soul,’ an embodiment of the spirit of the times. He is what we hope we can be.”
A couple of Sunday interview show hosts again forwarded White House talking points about the necessity to include taxes, I mean “revenues,” in any debt ceiling increase deal with ABC’s Christiane Amanpour focusing on a single poll she highlighted for ammunition the public is on her side while ignoring how, by two-to-one, the public opposes raising the debt ceiling at all.
CBS’s Bob Schieffer touted how President Obama has made “concessions” but, he sputtered, “I don't hear any concessions from people on the other side. They just say no taxes, and that’s their negotiating posture.” He demanded of Senator Marco Rubio: “Can you have meaningful reform here without increasing revenues in some way?”
In a relatively inoffensive interview with President Barack Obama for Tuesday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Scott Pelley implied the Tea Party (and maybe congressional liberals too) should be blamed for blocking a debt ceiling deal (“Isn't the problem that a large number of the Members of Congress will not follow your leadership or the Republican leadership?”) and fondly recalled how “it wasn't that long ago when compromise in Washington was considered a virtue, not a vice.”
Pelley touted how “Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill were on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but they respected each other, they liked each other and they got things done.” That allowed Obama to use Reagan to scold conservatives: “If Ronald Reagan could compromise, why wouldn't folks who idolize Ronald Reagan be willing to engage in those same kinds of compromises?”
Two eastern European nations last week debuted commemorations to thank former President Ronald Reagan for playing an instrumental role in freeing them from communism. I only found sparse television coverage of the two “Reagan Centennial” events in Hungary and the Czech Republic, but thought I’d share what I located since the events didn’t earn much air time.
The accompanying video first shows a brief item on Wednesday’s Special Report where FNC played some video of a life-size statue of Reagan being unveiled in Freedom Square in front of the U.S. Embassy in Budapest. Second in the video, a short item from MSNBC on Saturday morning about a block of a street in Prague getting named for Ronald Wilson Reagan.
Last Saturday night I introduced my new Saturday night humor posting drawn from the clips Bret Baier runs at the end of FNC’s Special Report which he selects from video montages picked up from the late night comedy shows.
Tonight, the second edition, taken from NBC’s Tonight Show, of some pretty funny confusion on a British newscast which played the wrong soundbites at the wrong time -- turning an unidentified blonde woman, and the network’s own weather woman, into the Nazi leader Rudolph Hess. Watch below the jump for what Baier played on his Monday, June 27 program.
“The problem is this issue with the House Republicans,” NBC’s Chuck Todd declared Wednesday night in naming the culprit blocking help to Americans whom anchor Brian Williams asserted “are hurting every day and hoping for a result to make their lives better.”
In a story on President Barack Obama’s press conference, Todd maintained Obama and the Senate could come together, but he blamed the conservatives for preventing a debt ceiling deal, fretting over “that new conservative, the Tea Party caucus” which rejects “anything that even remotely looks like a tax hike on anybody.”
All three broadcast network evening newscasts awarded full stories Monday night to Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign announcement, with ABC and NBC unable to resist pouncing on Chris Wallace’s “are you a flake?” question to frame their stories. ABC’s Jonathan Karl highlighted how she’s “been accused of being loose with the facts, saying, for example, that the President's last trip to India was costing taxpayers $200 million a day. That's why Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace says he asked her” the “flake” question.
On NBC, Kelly O’Donnell also played the Wallace clip before focusing on how Bachmann “has been embarrassed by a string of factual errors, like placing the battles of Lexington and Concord in the wrong state. She missed the mark again in our interview, bringing up an unrelated and incorrect claim about her hometown.” (That would be about John Wayne’s birthplace.)
On Sunday’s This Week, ABC’s Christiane Amanpour repeatedly hit Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell with the White House’s plea for “revenue raising” measures, often the new euphemism for tax hikes, but when she talked to Democratic Congressman Jim Clyburn, the Assistant Minority Leader in the House, she failed to press him about agreeing to GOP spending cut proposals and instead only asked him about prospects for a deal.
Amanpour began with how reasonable President Obama and Democrats, who “need revenue,” are acting: “Democrats are saying they’re not putting, for the moment, tax hikes on the table, but they need revenue, they’re talking about closing loopholes, subsidies for wealthy corporations. Is that out of the question for you, or are you willing to entertain that?”
At the MRC’s “DisHonors Awards” last month I got a pretty good reaction to a compilation of those humorous clips Bret Baier plays at the end of his FNC show, usually drawn from funny takes and edited news video produced by the late night comedy shows. (For that “funny clips” compilation, scroll down on this page.)
So, I thought I’d bring the concept to NewsBusters with occasional weekend postings of the “best” of Baier’s choices. For this inaugural edition, I went back to Baier’s June 15 program for Jimmy Kimmel’s mash-up of a certain term used over and over during CNN’s June 13 Republican presidential debate, a mash-up which ends with a different phrase from Herman Cain. Watch below the jump. It’s short and funny.
The ABC and NBC evening newscasts have focused stories on Billy Bulger, the long-time Massachusetts Democratic political hack who is the younger brother of just-captured reputed mass-murdering Mobster Whitey Bulger, but both refused to identify Billy Bulger’s party affiliation. (The CBS Evening News has, so far, not even mentioned Billy.)
“While Whitey Bulger was running a gang, his brother was a celebrated star of Massachusetts politics,” ABC anchor Diane Sawyer trumpeted on Thursday night. On Friday night, NBC forwarded MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell to vouch that Billy had no information about the whereabouts of his fugitive brother while Jeff Rossen marveled: “Just as investigators say Whitey was ordering hits, his brother, Billy Bulger, was rising in state government, President of the Massachusetts state senate and later President of U Mass.”
Baier informed viewers of how, in NBC’s look at the reaction to the NBC Sports “omission of ‘under God’ from the Pledge of Allegiance during the U.S. Open golf coverage,” reporter Mike Taibbi “went on to reference the Obama impersonator who was pulled off stage early” during a GOP event “and Jon Stewart’s appearance on Fox News Sunday.” With the quoted words on screen credited to NewsBusters, Baier noted:
One conservative media watchdog said NBC was, quote: “Trying to submerge its own network’s ‘under God’ censorship into a greater narrative.”
On Tuesday night, NBC decided to highlight a series of stumbles by Republican presidential candidates, none of them all that significant (Romney having $100 bills in his wallet and Perry referring to Twitter as “tweeter”), before later in the newscast showing White House-produced video of a baby which stopped crying when handed to President Obama. “The White House would probably love for us to believe this next piece of videotape is evidence of special healing powers,” Williams announced, feeling obligated to make clear he realized “it isn't, but it is amusing.”
Looking at the announcement by Jon Huntsman, Andrea Mitchell cited his “faulty sound system,” how the press pass misspelled Huntsman’s first name and how “the press corps was first directed to a plane bound for Saudi Arabia instead of New Hampshire,” but “even there geography was a problem.” After a clip of Huntsman saying “we’ve just come this morning from New York where we announced in front of the Statue of Liberty,” Mitchell pounced, complete with a big map on screen: “Except he wasn’t in New York, it was New Jersey.”
Trying to submerge its own network’s “under God” censorship into a greater narrative, Monday’s NBC Nightly News managed to combine into one disjointed story, pegged to “a tough slog” over the weekend “when it comes to the campaign to get along in our public discourse,” the NBC Sports decision to remove “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance in its opening montage for the U.S. Open golf tournament, “distress” by “Republicans at a leadership conference over an Obama impersonator’s racially tinged jokes,” how “on conservative network Fox News, anchor Chris Wallace and liberal comedian Jon Stewart went at it” and that “Texas Governor Rick Perry won the loudest applause with this line.”
The awful remark, which NBC aired as its last example in a story which carried “BAD DECISIONS” as the on-screen tag: “Let's speak with pride about our morals and our values. Let's stop this American downward spiral!”
Put the lie in your lead and the truth deeper into your story, Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney relayed on Sunday in passing along advice he got from his late father. A few pages away, Washington Post ombudsman Patrick Pexton seemed to take that advice as he led his Sunday column, “The truth about the Sarah Palin e-mails,” by asserting: “If you read the mail to the ombudsman last week, you would think The Post organized a vigilante mob to burn Sarah Palin at the stake. That interpretation is complete balderdash.” He also insisted: “Nor was this a biased, one-sided effort to dig up dirt on Republicans and not Democrats.”
Not until the 17th paragraph of his lame 17 paragraph column did Pexton undermine his premise and let the truth out:
I think requesting the correspondence of public officials is a crucial tool for journalists. Sure, go ahead and get Obama’s e-mails from when he was an Illinois state senator. Why not? And I think crowd-sourcing is here to stay as a regular part of the future of this publication and others.
A gem of a letter appeared in the “Free for All” page of letters in Saturday’s Washington Post.
“Kindly let us know exactly where on your Web site we should go to participate in your ‘Let’s Get Obama’ project so we can interact with the objective mainstream media,” Michael Crawford, of Great Falls, Virginia, concluded.
Instead, on Friday night ABC offered a bunch of ways to describe Melaku , who caused a major incident when his car was found hidden in bushes near the Pentagon -- starting with anchor Diane Sawyer who identified him simply as a “Marine Lance Corporal.” Reporter Pierre Thomas referred to him as “the suspect” multiple times as well as a “Marine reservist,” “a 22-year old Ethiopian American” and a “lone wolf.”
Wednesday’s World News on ABC led with a report from the left-leaning Center for Public Integrity (Arianna Huffington is one of several liberals on the Board of Directors) documenting Barack Obama’s failure to meet his promise to “change” politics as usual and thus not sell access and give jobs to big donors, a report not touched by the CBS or NBC evening newscasts.
“Today,” Jake Tapper relayed, “the Center for Public Integrity issued a report concluding that, quote, ‘about one-third of Obama bundlers or their spouses joined the administration in some role,’ and ‘80 percent of those who collected more than $500,000 for Obama took “key administration posts” as defined by the White House.’”
Tapper zinged: “There is a difference between the Bush administration and the Obama administration, according to the Center: The Obama administration is worse.”
The night after CNN’s debate in New Hampshire with seven Republican presidential candidates, Anderson Cooper brought aboard left-wing “comedian” Bill Maher to ridicule them. Asked if he “had to vote” for one of them, he named Ron Paul since “he's a cut from a different cloth than the rest of those people who are of course selling their souls to the corporate interests who back them and who have just horrible, society-killing ideas about America.”
Later discussing Anthony Weiner, Maher used it as an opportunity to deride one of the left’s favorite targets they never tire of vilifying: “Dick Cheney used to go out and shoot birds by the hundreds that were like in a cage. To me, that's a lot more psychotic than anything Anthony Weiner ever did.” Maher insisted: “He shot and killed an incredible number of birds for absolutely no reason than a blood lust.” (Audio: MP3 clip)Video below:
Previewing Tuesday’s Early Show town hall meeting with Republicans on the economy, CBS’s Bob Schieffer, who pushes his Face the Nation guests to agree taxes must be raised, hailed a Republican, Senator Tom Coburn, for expressing a willingness to include a tax increase in deficit negotiations.
After dismissing the Republicans CBS assembled -- Monday afternoon at the Newseum -- for how they “pretty much stuck to the Republican line: Low taxes and cutting the deficit will eventually lead to economic growth,” Schieffer championed: “But it was Coburn who may have won the prize for candor.” Viewers then heard Coburn declaring: “I’ll stand up as a conservative Republican, one of the biggest deficit hawks in Congress, and say ‘I'll negotiate on taxes’ -- because our country’s in trouble.”
Much of the media made fools of themselves with their excited obsession over the release of Sarah Palin’s gubernatorial e-mails, but NBC News went the furthest, sending, as did CNN, reporters to Juneau as the network uniquely led its Friday night newscast by hyping the non-news as a major event. “On the broadcast tonight,” anchor Lester Holt heralded, “mail call. Thousands of pages of e-mail from Sarah Palin's time as Governor. What we're learning about her tonight.”
Following a story from “national investigative correspondent” Michael Isikoff in which “MSNBC.com investigative reporter” Bill Dedman had the gall to complain “we waited longer for these records than Sarah Palin was Governor, almost a thousand days,” NBC’s David Gregory recognized, in an understatement: “As Mike and his team are finding, not a lot of bombshells here.”
Asked by new CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley why Congressman Anthony Weiner “matters,” CBS Capitol Hill reporter Nancy Cordes on Monday night maintained he’s vital as a critic pushing Obama from the left.
“The President has a lot of critics on the right,” Cordes noted, “but Weiner is one of his most outspoken critics on the left wherever liberals feel that the President is straying too far from their principles,” so “it's unclear how well he's really going to be able to perform that role now, a role that even the President has said is very important.”
Looking at government as the best job creator, on Sunday’s This Week ABC’s Christiane Amanpour pushed her guests to agree the stagnant economy and growing unemployment argue for less concern about controlling federal spending and demonstrate the need for “another stimulus” big spending effort. Amanpour was undeterred by the failure of the ongoing “stimulus” spending pushed by President Obama.
“With the political wars over the debt, there is no chance for another stimulus,” reporter John Berman regretted in a set-up piece before Amanpour pleaded with Austan Goolsbee, Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers:
In a story which ironically included a soundbite from Republican Congressman Paul Ryan denouncing demagoguery on budget decisions, ABC’s Jake Tapper on Wednesday night sank to employing some of his own by citing a local government’s budget cut from two years ago for a drowning death on Memorial Day and then drawing a line to GOP efforts on the federal level to cut funds from food inspections and bomb detection methods.
Noting a White House meeting with Republicans and President Obama, anchor Diane Sawyer offered a dire warning against reducing any spending anywhere at any time: “Hovering over the meeting in that room, the stories of cuts already made and their consequences.”
ABC’s World News and the CBS Evening News on Wednesday night both allocated full stories to Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner and his evolving non-denial denials over the lewd photo sent from his Twitter account, but not the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.
Williams instead made the news judgment to skip Weiner and highlight the “PR problem” Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie faces for taking a state police helicopter to his son’s high school baseball game – and later found 25 more seconds to note the retirement of NBA star Shaquille O'Neal.
“GOP presidential contenders drift to the right,” reads the headline over a Monday night dispatch by the AP’s Charles Babington who devoted an entire story to fears “Republican candidates are drifting rightward on a range of issues, even though more centrist stands might play well in the 2012 general election.” (I caught a shortened version in Tuesday’s Washington Examiner.)
“Independents,” the Associated Press White House correspondent warned, “may be far less enamored of hard-right positions than are the GOP activists.” He soon repeated the “hard-right” pejorative as he relayed how “some in Obama's camp,” as if they are genuinely concerned for Republicans or offer any kind of reliable political insight, “say the presidential contenders risk locking themselves into hard-right positions that won't play well.”
A couple of weeks ago, actor/comedian Martin Short celebrated the killing of Osama bin Laden by singing, on the Late Show with David Letterman, “Bastard in the Sand,” a parody set to the tune of Elton John's “Candle in the Wind.”
As he played the piano and sang, he was accompanied by five people dressed as Navy SEALs whom the Late Show blog, the Wahoo Gazette, called “the Singing Navy SEALs.” A couple of the humorous stanzas:
In the afterlife, six dozen virgins sure sounded swell
So it must've burned your ass, when you ended up in hell.
It seems to me you lived your life like a bastard in the sand
Never knowing when the U.S. Navy SEALs would land.
“Do you think the Tea Party is losing some of its appeal?” So Harry Smith cued up a hardly independent guest on Sunday’s Face the Nation: Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic Congresswoman and Chair of the Democratic National Committee.
Earlier, the fill-in host was astonished House Majority Leader Eric Cantor would want to find cuts to afford extra spending for tornado recovery efforts: “One of the things you said earlier this week is that emergency funding should be offset by cuts to the budget deficit. Do you stand by that?”
Meanwhile, another round of Sunday panels meant more pleas to raise taxes. On Fox News Sunday, a frustrated Juan Williams fretted: “Republicans -- for all this talk about oh, the deficit, the debt, we have to be serious, entitlement reform – refuse to consider raising taxes.”
On Saturday night (May 28) C-SPAN twice ran the Media Research Center’s “DisHonors Awards,” and presentation of the “William F. Buckley Jr. Award for Media Excellence,” which took place May 7 at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC.
Before each airing, C-SPAN’s announcer warned: “This event contains language and comments that some viewers may find offensive.” I’d call that a good reason to watch.
The evening newscasts on Thursday night eagerly devoted time to fresh speculation, prompted by Sarah Palin’s upcoming bus trip from Washington, DC to New Hampshire, that she may jump into the presidential race, but they all made sure to point out her high negatives amongst non-Republicans, characterizing her as “divisive” and “polarizing” while raising concern she couldn’t beat President Obama.
“She's a divisive figure,” CBS’s Jan Crawford declared,” citing how “our latest polls show that a majority of Republican voters do view her positively, but, among all voters, only 26 percent do. So that gives Republicans some pause. They want someone that they think can beat President Obama.”
In full retreat, a humiliated and somber Ed Schultz opened his MSNBC show on Wednesday night by apologizing to Laura Ingraham for using, on his radio show, “vile and inappropriate language” to describe her, language he did not repeat. On Tuesday, the left-wing host had slimed the conservative talk radio host as a “right-wing slut” and a “radio slut.” (After Schultz’s statement, Thomas Roberts hosted the rest of the hour.)
Schultz pleaded: “I am deeply sorry, and I apologize. It was wrong, uncalled for and I recognize the severity of what I said. I apologize to you, Laura, and ask for your forgiveness.” He added that “I also met with management here at MSNBC, and understanding the severity of the situation and what I said on the radio and how it reflected terribly on this company, I have offered to take myself off the air for an indefinite period of time with no pay.” The official NBC management statement, however, said he had agreed to “one week of unpaid leave.”