Speaking with Brookings Institution analyst Michael O’Hanlon on Tuesday about President Obama’s upcoming decision to increase troop levels in Afghanistan, CBS Early Show co-host Harry Smith worried: “...how much is this going to cost him on the Left? Because I’m – I’ve got this sense that there will be people on the Left of President Obama who are not pleased by this.”
Despite representing a liberal leaning think tank, O’Hanlon dismissed the political concern: “Of course that’s right, Harry. But I think the real risk is if the war isn’t won. You know, the Left won’t like this, but if in a year we can see progress, people will forget their original doubts and they’ll be glad there is an exit strategy emerging ahead.”
Prior to Smith’s discussion with O’Hanlon, White House correspondent Bill Plante reported on the soon-to-be-announced war strategy and pointed out: “A new CBS News poll shows 69% of Americans think the war is going badly. And only 36% believe more U.S. troops would make things better.” A clip was then played of another Brookings analyst, E.J. Dionne, who lamented: “We’ve been at this since 2003. We have spent a lot of money, we’ve lost a lot of lives. When does this end?” He mistakenly confused the start of the Iraq war with that of Afghanistan, which began in 2001.
At the end of CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday, host Bob Schieffer fretted over massive government spending but avoided blaming current Democratic proposals: “I’m not even talking about the cost of health care....It is now costing $1 million a year to keep one U.S. soldier on the ground in Afghanistan, not to mention that for every soldier there, we have one civilian contractor.”
Schieffer also cited reconstruction costs in Iraq: “I picked up the New York Times to discover we have spent more money rebuilding Iraq’s schools, hospitals, water treatment and electrical plants – $54 billion – than we have spent on any construction project since the Marshall Plan.” He described his reaction to the war spending: “...last week I got surprised – no, I should say had a jaw-dropping shock – a better way to put it – every time I picked up the newspaper and read about the numbers that we’re throwing around lately.”
In concluding his commentary, Schieffer wondered: “...when President Obama came calling to China, we owed the Chinese more than a trillion dollars...is going a trillion dollars in hock to one country made us more secure?”
Continuing the push for medical marijuana, on Monday’s CBS Early Show co-host Russ Mitchell declared: “As more youngsters are being diagnosed with autism, there is a growing need for alternative treatments. One California mother says medical marijuana has made vast improvements in her autistic son.”
Correspondent Hattie Kauffman reported: “Joey is severely autistic, so uninterested in food he was wasting away....But Mieko [Joey’s mother] claims it all changed with marijuana brownies.” Meiko Perez argued: “They’re seeing Joey come out. He’s never made noises. We didn’t even know he could make noise until the first batch of brownies.”
At the end of the brief report, Kauffman noted mild criticism of the controversial treatment: “The American Academy of Pediatrics opposes legalization of marijuana, but supports more research.” She then concluded: “Though there’s absolutely no evidence Marijuana cures autism, this mom says it has improved her child’s life.”
At the top of Friday’s Hardball on MSNBC, host Chris Matthews discovered the reason for President Obama’s political difficulties in recent months: “President Obama has his chin out on just about every hot issue out there....He’s exposed and vulnerable. His poll numbers are dropping. Is he just too darned intellectual? Too much the egg head?”
Later in the show, Matthews talked to Atlantic Media’s Ron Brownstein and USA Today’s Susan Page about Obama’s great flaw. He began by wondering: “I’m not attacking intellectuals because I do appreciate their contribution – but when politicians begin to get a little too intellectual, they lose connection with the American people....I begin to think this administration’s getting almost like one that you would imagine Adlai Stevenson running. Highly ethereal, highly intellectual, egg head. Not connected to real people and their emotional gut feelings about things.”
Page agreed and pointed out: “...there are many strengths to the Obama administration, but they’ve got an awful lot of people who went to Ivy League schools, which is great, but you also need some people who went to big state colleges.” Luckily, Page found an ‘average Joe’ in the administration: “Vice President Biden’s been the target of some fun, he is maybe the only voice in that inner circle that reflects that kind of big state school mentality.”
Citing a Democratic congressman who recently proposed a no whining day, on Friday’s Morning Meeting on MSNBC, host Dylan Ratigan asked: “...unemployment, health care, a couple of wars, Americans got plenty to be frustrated about these days...But some people say stop the whining....Is ‘shut up and deal’ the new American mantra?”
Ratigan made that question the topic of discussion for the ‘Trend or Talker’ segment near the end of 9:00AM ET hour of the show with correspondent Contessa Brewer and Financial Times U.S. managing editor Chrystia Freeland. Ratigan explained: “...the congressman, by the name of Emmanuel Cleaver, wants to declare the day before Thanksgiving complaint-free Wednesday.” He wondered: “Worthy proposition?”
Brewer replied: “Yeah, absolutely. Here you get a two-fer. No complaints on Wednesday and Thursday gives you something to be grateful for.” Freeland enthusiastically agreed with the idea: “I think the no whining day is a fabulous idea....What they say in preschools, you get what you get and don’t get upset.”
On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, after Rudy Giuliani suggested the Obama administration was trying to “satisfy left-wing critics” by trying 9/11 terrorists in civilian court, incredulous co-host Harry Smith saw no such connection: “But Hang on. So it’s – so the idea of them being tried in open court is a left-wing political agenda?”
Smith began the interview with the former New York City Mayor by skeptically wondering: “You said yesterday that this was a political decision. How is it – do you think it’s a political decision?” Giuliani responded: “Well, it’s a political decision because I believe that this is being done to satisfy left-wing critics....After all, it was lawyers in Attorney General Eric Holder’s law firm that challenged the military tribunal, challenged the habeas corpus, fought these cases all throughout. So I think this is a political agenda.”
After Smith was taken aback by the charge that liberal politics was involved in the decision, Giuliani began to explain: “Of course. Because they could be tried in military courts. As everyone else was up until now. And it would add-” Smith cut him off: “So as the attorney general yesterday, ‘we need not cower in the face of this enemy’” Giuliani shot back: “Please let me finish what I was saying. I didn’t get a chance to complete my thought.”
Citing an interview the President gave to White House correspondent Chip Reid, at the top of Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith declared: “An outraged President Obama says heads may roll when he returns from Asia, telling CBS News he’s furious over leaks about Afghanistan.” The leaks in question have highlighted the administration’s inaction on the war.
Rather than press the President on why he has failed to make a decision on Afghanistan, in the taped interview, Reid explained: “I asked the President if he’s as angry as Defense Secretary Robert Gates about all of the leaks coming out of his administration about the Afghanistan deployment decision.” Obama replied: “I think I’m probably angrier than Bob Gates about it....For people to be releasing information during the course of deliberations, where we haven’t made final decisions yet, I think, is not appropriate.” Reid followed up: “Is it a firing offense?” Obama responded: “Absolutely.”
After the interview clip, co-host Maggie Rodriguez was glad to see the President putting his foot down: “Good to hear that he has a zero tolerance policy on the leaks. That is no joke.”
The latest CBS News poll shows that Obama only has a 38 percent approval rating on his handling of Afghanistan, perhaps that is why the network is running defense for him.
At the top of Monday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric teased a story on the President’s trip to China by casting him as Reaganesque: “Mr. Hu, tear down that firewall. President Obama challenges China’s government to allow unfettered access to the internet.”
Couric introduced the segment that followed by continuing to play up the idea that Obama took a hard line on Chinese censorship: “In China today, he challenged leaders of the communist government to give people greater access to the internet.” Correspondent Chip Reid reported that the President’s actual statement on the matter was hardly so dramatic: “It’s one of the touchiest topics in China and the President’s long answer took on the tone of a polite lecture.”
A clip was played of Obama declaring: “I have always been a strong supporter of open internet use. I’m a big supporter of non-censorship....I have a lot of critics in the United States who can say all kinds of things about me. I actually think that that makes our democracy stronger...” Reid described those comments as a “rebuke” that “was aimed at China’s leaders.” However, He went on to admit: “...if they were watching it on TV, most Chinese were not, because the government allowed it to run on only one local channel in Shanghai. In the rest of China, they aired a soap opera.”
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez previewed an exclusive interview with Levi Johnston on the CBS entertainment show, The Insider: “Levi Johnston says he is winning the war of words between Sarah Palin and him. We’ll hear from him.” Later, correspondent for The Insider, Chris Jacobs, declared: “Sarah Palin lashing out at Levi and now Levi fires back.”
Rodriguez has conducted three exclusive interviews with the estranged father of Palin’s grandson in the last six months, the latest on October 29. In The Insider interview, Johnston is given the opportunity to continue his vicious, personal, and unsubstantiated attacks against the former Alaska governor, claiming: “I think she’s going out and talking and she’s just digging a bigger hole for herself....I just look at her in disgust. It’s almost funny that she’s like 46 years old and she’s battling a 19-year-old and I’m winning and I’m telling the truth. She’s lying and losing.”
On CBS’s Sunday Morning, New York Daily News Washington correspondent James Meek related President Obama’s visit to the graves of Iraq and Afghanistan war dead at Arlington National Cemetery: “Now, cynics may say this was just an Obama photo-op. But they weren’t there looking him in the eye. I saw a man fully carrying the heavy burden of command on a weighty day.”
In an article Meeks wrote for the Daily News on Thursday, he used harsher terms to denounce any “cynics” critical of Obama’s visit: “If they’d been standing in my boots looking him in the eye, they would have surely choked on their bile. His presence in Section 60 convinced me that he now carries the heavy burden of command.” To use such a personal experience to promote the current administration and attack critics seems rather cynical.
In the Sunday Morning piece, Meek almost poetically described the President’s appearance at the section of the cemetery reserved for Iraq and Afghanistan war dead: “I was in Section 60 that morning when he made an unscheduled stop before huddling with his war council on sending more GIs into harm’s way. In a bone-chilling drizzle, he and the First Lady walked through the rows of gleaming white headstones. I saw the President embrace grieving widows, mothers, and battle buddies tending to the graves of loved ones. He asked about each one.”
Appearing on Monday’s CBS Early Show to discuss Sarah Palin’s upcoming book tour, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer dismissed the former vice presidential candidate’s political ambitions: “I think she’s going to sell a lot of books. I think she’ll be a great attraction out, you know, as an amusement....But I can’t imagine that she has much future in politics. I really don’t.”
Early Show co-host Harry Smith began by asking Schieffer about Palin’s criticism of the McCain campaign in her book, ‘Going Rogue.’ Schieffer responded: “Well, this is Sarah Palin’s turn to get even....I don’t think it’s going to work.... it’s kind of like a baseball player going into a slump and blaming the manager or blaming the bat boy or blaming the fans or something.”
Schieffer went on to write Palin’s political obituary: “But I don’t think it’s going to help re-establish her as a, you know, as a political candidate. I – my guess is she’s not ever going to run for anything and I think if she did, I don’t think she would get very far.” Even Smith seemed to think that was premature, replying in a surprised manner: “Really?”
Speaking to the defense attorney for Ft. Hood shooter Major Nidal Hasan on Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith asked: “Do you think – and this is not from a scientific or even legal standpoint, but just as you’ve been able to speak with him, do you think he’s competent to stand trial?”
In his first question to Hasan’s attorney, retired Army Colonel John Galligan, Smith wondered: “First things first, you met with Hasan at some point yesterday. Is he coherent?” Galligan replied: “He’s coherent.” He then lamented: “I learned from, actually members of the media, that apparently he was going to be charged yesterday. I was surprised by that and I was saddened by the manner in which it occurred, because I – I received belated notice.”
Smith seized upon that statement: “How unusual is it for a case as important as this one is, for the suspect to be charged with a crime and for his attorney not to be present?” Galligan admitted: “Well, there’s no legal requirement that I have been present when the charges are preferred, under the manual.” He then added: “I was extremely upset to learn that they were going about this important step in the pre-trial procedural process without formally notifying me....my first five minutes with the client were spent almost apologizing for the manner in which it went down.”
Appearing on Friday’s CBS Early Show to discuss the release of Sarah Palin’s book, ‘Going Rogue,’ author Ann Coulter told co-host Harry Smith: “[John] McCain...was the media’s favorite Republican. So any criticism his side made of Palin was instantly printed and now we finally get the pay back. And I’m looking forward to it.”
Coulter made the comment after Smith asked about “the tension and the conflict between” the former vice presidential candidate and the McCain campaign. He went on to remark that Palin “represents a kind of orthodoxy within the Republican Party.” Coulter replied: “I’d put it a little differently....I would say she is an authentic American the way most members of the media are not, that certainly Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd do not represent the average American.”
Referring to the left-wing New York Times columnists who frequently attacked Palin, Coulter continued: “She can go and be comfortable in very many parts of the country where Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich would never deign to visit, much less be comfortable.” Smith clarified: “These are the people who might necessarily be critical of some of the things she has to say.” Coulter responded: “Yes, they certainly were.”
At the top of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: “...former Miss California, Carrie Prejean, almost walks off Larry King Live, saying his questions were inappropriate.” The headline on screen read: “Prejean Pouts.”
Co-host Russ Mitchell later reported in a news brief: “Prejean nearly walked out on CNN interviewer Larry King last night. Prejean had answered questions about a sex tape she made as a teenager....She then refused several times to discuss a settlement she reached with the Miss USA Pageant, but King persisted.” Mitchell failed to provide the context that Prejean had already completed a 30-minute interview with King and was strangly brought back for the final few minutes of the show.
Later in his report, Mitchell explained: “King tried to go to a caller from Detroit, but Prejean removed her mic and prepared to leave. She then changed her mind and completed the interview. She never did answer Mr. King’s question.” Co-host Harry Smith later noted: “And the fact is – is the reason she was pulling her mic is because she said ahead of time she wasn’t going to take questions from callers.”
Interviewing Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki on Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith cited a cause of the shooting at Ft. Hood: “...the Iraq war, the escalation in number of cases of post traumatic stress disorder...the more people go back to these fields, these theaters of war, either in Iraq or Afghanistan, it multiplies the incidence of these kinds of things occurring.”
Smith went on to ask Shinseki: “Is the Army and is the Veterans Administration really equipped to deal with this flood of a problem?” The VA secretary responded: “Veterans Affairs employs 19,000 mental health professionals to address things like PTSD and TBI and depression. And some of the other mental health issues that come up from time to time with exposing people to the high stress, high dangers associated with combat.” The shooter, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, never served in combat nor had post traumatic stress disorder.
Reporting for CBS Sunday Morning, correspondent Mark Phillips marked the 20th anniversary of the fall the Berlin Wall by noting the economic difficulty East Germany has faced in the aftermath: “It still isn’t easy for many. East German industry without government subsidy could not compete. The economy shrank by an estimated 50%.”
Phillips mourned the loss of state-run industries after the oppressed nation was freed from decades of communist oppression: “The eastern landscape is littered with the ruins of former state-supported enterprise. A million people have gone west looking for work.”
Earlier in the report, Phillips credited those responsible for the wall’s collapse: “The main players on that night 20 years ago were the people of East Berlin....But it was the behind-the-scenes players who really determined events that night, mostly by doing nothing. Then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev had refused to back the desperate GDR regime. Then President George Bush refused to gloat as the wall came down. Then German Chancellor Helmut Kohl went on to become the leader of a reunited Germany.” Ronald Reagan slipped Phillips’ mind.
At the end of Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer offered commentary on the cause of the mass shooting at Fort Hood: “That doctor [Major Nidal Hasan] should not have been at Fort Hood. I don’t care how hard-up the Army is for mental health professionals....sadly, this shows the Army still does not take protecting soldiers’ mental health as seriously as it does training them to shoot.”
Schieffer went on to argue: “And then there is the other part that often happens in government. Don’t deal with the problem, shuffle it off to somewhere else. When he had problems at Walter Reed hospital, the doctor was just packed off to Fort Hood.” In similar fashion, Schieffer “shuffled off” the responsibility of an overly politically correct media that continually denounces profiling of criminal suspects or terrorists.
Earlier in the broadcast, Schieffer asked Congressman Ike Skelton: “Do you think this is a sign that the military is simply overextended?”
On Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer tried to provide some perspective on the Fort Hood shooting, committed by an Islamic extremist: “It’s looking more and more like he was just, sort of, a religious nut. And you know Islam doesn’t have a majority – or the Christian religion has its full, you know, full helping of nuts too.”
Schieffer made the comments while speaking to Senator Lindsey Graham, who agreed that Muslims do not have “a corner” on extremism. Schieffer went on to wonder what role political correctness played in the shooter, Major Nidal Hasan, not being held accountable for radical comments he made prior to the attack: “Do you think the fact that he was a Muslim may have caused the military to kind of step back and be reluctant to challenge him on some of this stuff for fear that they’d be accused of discrimination or something like that?”
Graham replied: “I hope not. I hope – I hope that’s not the case....his actions do not reflect on the Islamic – Muslim faith” Schieffer added: “Well, I’m not suggesting that they do.” Promoting the very political correctness that Schieffer asked about, Graham argued: “But some people are. Some people are, and I want to say, as a United States Senator, that I reject that....Let’s don’t accuse people of basically giving him a pass because he’s a Muslim. Because I don’t think there’s any evidence of that.”
Appearing on the Dr. Nancy program on MSNBC Friday, NBC News terrorism analyst Roger Cressey warned against labeling the mass shooting at Ft. Hood as terrorism, despite the apparent radical views of the shooter: “We’ve heard some family references that he was being criticized for his Muslim faith, that’s all we know right now....It’s still premature to draw the terrorism conclusion.”
Prior to Cressey’s assessment, host Dr. Nancy Snyderman spoke with Dr. Stevan Hobfoll, director of the Traumatic Stress Center at Rush University Medical Center and asked about the mental health of the attacker, Major Nidal Hasan. Hobfoll made no hesitation describing the shooting as a terrorist act: “Strangely enough, terrorism is not in itself an area – an act of mental illness. I think this was a Jihadist act, it’s certainly psychologically abnormal what he did, but that doesn’t mean that he had any psychological disorder, per se.”
Thursday’s CBS Early Show looked back at 1954 as part of its ‘Time Machine’ series, with co-host Harry Smith praising former CBS anchor Edward R. Murrow for taking on Senator Joseph McCarthy: “McCarthy was on a kind of a witch hunt. Ed Murrow boldly recognized that and took him on....It was very gutsy and very risky on Murrow’s part....McCarthy was a bully. Ed Murrow said ‘I’m not going to stand for it.’”
Smith made the comments during a pre-taped video montage in which he and the other Early Show co-hosts reminisced about the time period. The montage concluded with co-host Maggie Rodriguez, who was off on Thursday, observing: “I think 1954 was an important year in American history because people stood up for what was right, whether it was desegregation or speaking out against a Senator who was targeting people as communists, it was a year of fighting for the truth.”
As the Media Research Center’s recently released special report Better Off Red demonstrates, Smith wasn’t exactly a staunch Cold Warrior. As the Soviet Union began to fall apart in 1990, Smith, then co-host of CBS’s This Morning, lamented: “Yes, somehow, Soviet citizens are freer these days — freer to kill one another, freer to hate Jews....Doing away with totalitarianism and adding a dash of democracy seems an unlikely cure for all that ails the Soviet system.”
UPDATE: Fox News White House correspondent Major Garrett corrected the record during Studio B in the 3PM ET hour on Wednesday (see video).
At 10:15AM ET during America’s Newsroom on Fox News Channel, co-host Martha MacCallum reported that in a gaggle with reporters Wednesday morning White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs claimed that President Obama did not watch election results Tuesday night but rather watched an HBO special about his 2008 campaign.
A tipster contacted NewsBusters questioning that report and after having acquired a transcript of the press gaggle, we have confirmed that the Fox News report was incorrect and Gibbs did not make any such statement.
Gibbs made this statement at the beginning of the untaped discussion with White House reporters:
One thing I should contextualize – the President obviously got updates about the election last night. He did not watch – as I told some of you – did not watch election returns. I wouldn’t read a ton into that since he didn’t actually watch election returns when he was running. If you did watch the movie on HBO – we called him and told him he won Iowa. He did not watch election returns.
Clearly Gibbs was simply referencing the HBO documentary as evidence that the President does not routinely watch election returns.
During the 10AM ET hour of America’s Newsroom on Fox News Channel, fill-in co-host Martha Maccallum told viewers what President Obama watched on election night while Democrats suffered big losses in New Jersey and Virginia: “Robert Gibbs said, well, he was actually watching, you know, the HBO special about his year-long campaign and how it all went.”
On Tuesday night the White House had worked to downplay the Democratic gubernatorial defeats by claiming the President did not watch the election returns. Apparently Gibbs thought it would look better if the commander in chief was watching a self-indulgent fawning documentary about himself. Interestingly, Obama apparently previewed the HBO special a few days earlier, as Gibbs himself explained to the blog Talking Points Memo: “White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says Obama has already seen ‘By the People’...Gibbs told TPMDC Obama’s review: ‘Thumbs up!’”
On FNC, Maccallum noted: “...we know that Michelle and the girls went to the Miley Cyrus concert last night... So he’s all alone in that big house, right? Nothing to do but sit back and watch – reminisce about the long campaign and watch HBO and the special.” The HBO documentary, ‘By the People,’ debuted on Tuesday, in commemoration of the one year anniversary of Obama’s election.
While analyzing the off-year elections across the country on Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith asked Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer about the New York 23rd congressional race: “...this notion that an insurgent conservative, orthodox conservative, would come in and really unseat the party’s choice for nominee there...is this a precursor of what might be happening a year from now?”
Schieffer used similar labeling to describe Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman and race’s impact on the GOP: “The Republican Party right now is still split. And I think right now it’s the conservatives who kind of have the juice....there is still no overriding philosophy, as it were, in the Republican Party, you’ve got the hard Right here and you’ve got the more moderate Republicans, right now I think the hard Right is driving the train in the Republican Party.”
Earlier, the two CBS hosts discussed the possibility of Democrats losing both governor’s races in New Jersey and Virginia. Schieffer dismissed the idea of such losses being a national referendum on the Democratic Party and President Obama: “I think these are curtain-raisers, Harry. I don’t think they’re going to give us much of an indication of what’s going to happen, you know, in the next presidential election.” Smith agreed: “Yeah, because some people would like to say this is about President Obama’s very, very short coat tails, but it seems that these races are being very much decided on an individual basis.”
On Monday, Smith asked former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney if the NY-23 race would “save or kill the Republican Party.”
Interviewing Mitt Romney on Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith alluded to the special election in New York’s 23rd congressional district and the success of Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman: “There’s a battle going on right now for the soul of the Republican Party. Conservatives say there’s no room for moderates there. Will this tactic save or kill the Republican Party?”
Romney argued: “Well, the Republican Party has always had a lot of voices and we are going to continue it be a big tent party. The New York 23rd race had a very anomalous situation.” Smith could hardly contain his smugness: “That’s not a big tent.” Romney replied: “I disagree with you. You look across the elected Republicans in Congress and Governors offices, they represent a pretty wide perspective of issues.”
With Democrats poised to potentially suffer across-the-board electoral losses on Tuesday and health care reform continued to be stalled in Congress, one wonders why Smith is not more focused on the battle for the soul of the Democratic Party.
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, the day before Halloween, co-host Harry Smith got into the spirit of things with a costume that will truly give viewers nightmares for years to come.
Smith, a news anchor often known for being in touch with his feminine side, decided to dress up as the late celebrity chef Julia Child. As he described it, he was “Julia Child channeling Meryl Streep, channeling Julia Child.”
The disturbing display featured Smith cracking eggs and brandishing a rubber chicken. It’s good to know that CBS is committed to maintaining the integrity and credibility of its lagging morning news program.
For the third time in six months, the CBS Early Show provided a soap box for Levi Johnston to continue his vicious personal attacks against Sarah Palin, as co-host Maggie Rodriguez proclaimed: “He is back on the offensive in this he-said-she-said battle that began shortly after the presidential election....he says he’s trying to show the world the real Levi.”
During the first part of the exclusive interview, which aired on Wednesday, Rodriguez sympathetically asked: “Are you hurt by all of this?....you really sound like somebody who’s dead set on hurting these people the way they hurt you.” Johnston replied: “...if she’s going to go out there and say stuff to me – about me, I’m going to leak some things on her. I mean that’s just how it is.”
At the end of the second part of the interview, aired on Thursday, Rodriguez read a statement from Palin reacting to Johnston: “‘we have purposefully ignored the mean spirited, malicious and untrue attacks on our family. We, like many, are appalled at the inflammatory statements being made or implied.’” Palin went on to take the broadcast network to task for even having Johnston on: “CBS should be ashamed for continually providing a forum to propagate lies.” Rodriguez attempted to justify the repetitive interviews: “...we raised all those questions about credibility and his motivation for doing this with Levi...we should say that we’ve also offered more than a dozen times to interview Sarah Palin, but she has declined each of those requests.”
Showing that the media sees every act by the Obamas as an historic achievement, at the end of Sunday’s Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer was amazed by the romping of First Lady Michelle Obama: “Michelle Obama took it to another level as she set records as the first First Lady to run barefoot across the White House lawn. She also became the first to jump rope there.”
Schieffer began his pointless rambling by looking at how past first ladies, all wives of Democratic presidents, shaped the position:
There was a time when presidential wives were seen on occasion but almost never heard and that’s too bad, some of them had a lot to say. But along came Eleanor Roosevelt and she changed the job description. She was heard a lot and created her own following. Jackie Kennedy brought some glamor to the job. And Hillary Clinton, well, the Clintons used to talk about two for the price of one and people are still talking about whether that was such a good idea.
After explaining how Mrs. Obama “took it to another level,” Schieffer praised her efforts as example to the rest of us: “But whatever her skills at jumping rope, she performed a mean hula hoop. And the kids loved it and it was just a reminder to all us grown-ups that whatever our jobs, it never hurts every once in a while to kick off your shoes and just have a little fun.”
On Sunday’s CBS Evening News, political analyst John Dickerson brushed aside criticism from former Vice President Dick Cheney that the Obama administration was “dithering” on Afghanistan: “...it puts Cheney out there as a kind of boogie man the administration can point to. He’s not terribly popular outside of conservative circles...in some ways, Dick Cheney is a gift for the White House.”
Dickerson, who is a contributing writer for the left-leaning blog Slate.com, has also filled in for Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer twice in the last six months, on the October 18 and July 5 broadcasts. He was responding to a question from Sunday Evening News anchor Russ Mitchell, who cited Cheney and wondered: “Are you hearing other sentiments out there along those lines?” Dickerson claimed: “Well, there’s been some elite opinion about the pause in the President’s thinking.”
An October 9 CBS News poll showed that there was more than simply “elite opinion” on the subject: “President Obama has a slide in his approval ratings on his handling of the situation in Afghanistan. In April, 58 percent approved of his handling of the conflict; by August, that number had fallen to 48 percent. In the most recent survey it has hit its lowest level yet, 42 percent.” An October 18 ABC News/ Washington Post poll placed public approval of the President’s handling of Afghanistan at 45 percent, with 47 percent disapproving of his handling.
In the 9AM ET hour of Morning Meeting on MSNBC Thursday, host Dylan Ratigan teased his colleague Contessa Brewer over her confusing Jesse Jackson with Al Sharpton on Wednesday: “And did you call Jesse Jackson Al Sharpton the other day?....Can we talk about that later?.... I think there’s some humor to be had in all this.” An embarrassed Brewer sarcastically remarked: “I would love to talk about this.”
While anchoring 2PM ET coverage on Wednesday, Brewer mistakenly introduced Reverend Jesse Jackson as Reverend Al Sharpton. After Jackson clarified his identity, she apologized: “I’m so sorry, the – the script in front of me said Reverend Al Sharpton...I know who you are, Reverend Jackson.”
As promised, the blooper was again brought up later in Thursday’s 9AM hour as MSNBC contributor Toure joked: “Contessa?....I’m not Al Sharpton....Just want to be clear on that.” Ratigan joined in: “This is not Al Sharpton....You understand that?” Toure went on to add: “I know you have that all black people look alike thing going on.” An upset Brewer shot back: “It wasn’t that. It’s – you know what, Toure?....Listen, thank you for clearing it up. I really appreciate that. Kind of you.” Ratigan declared: “Yeah. I'm not Al Sharpton either, Contessa, just for the record. I know I kind of have a slight resemblance.”
Showing that Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have become interchangeable, in the 2:00PM ET hour on MSNBC, anchor Contessa Brewer mistakenly introduced Jackson as Sharpton: “Joining me now to talk about this and the nation’s real problem of joblessness, the Reverend Al Sharpton....I’m so sorry, the – the script in front of me said Reverend Al Sharpton...I know who you are, Reverend Jackson.”
Brewer was just starting to bash capitalism as she made the error: “A Goldman Sachs adviser....Brian Griffith says, quote, ‘we have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieve greater prosperity and opportunity for all.’” She then sarcastically asked Jackson: “What’s your reaction to hearing someone say, you know, when it comes to income inequality, all’s well, the rising tide floats all boats?” Before replying, Jackson had to clarify his identity: “I’m Reverend Jesse Jackson.” Which prompted Brewer’s apology. Jackson went on to argue that Griffith’s claim was a “vulgar statement.”